the Second Week of Lent
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Mornings and Evenings with Jesus
He will joy over thee with singing. - Zephaniah 3:17.
OBSERVE, here is not only joy felt, but it makes itself known. For this singing (what a thought! God singing over his people!) may be heard, and it is intended to be heard, and intended to be heard by themselves. God would have them, like Enoch, have the testimony of faith with them. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” How often he says to the soul, “I am thy salvation”! Alone, in the house of God, in affliction, in the valley of the shadow of death,-with regard to all these, how often have Christians said,-
“Oh! what immortal joys I felt,
And raptures all divine;
When Jesus told me I was his,
And my Beloved mine!”
And God designs that his singing over his people should be heard by the world at large. Therefore by the prophet Isaiah he says, “Their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people; all that see them shall acknowledge them that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.” How often has he made a visible distinction between them and others in the dispensation of his providence! as we see in the case of Noah in the deluge, and Lot in the overthrow of Sodom, and of the Israelites in the plagues of Egypt. And if his people are allowed in public calamities to suffer with others, they do not suffer like others, for he can indemnify them by inward supports and by eternal remuneration. But he causes this to be known to others by the dispensations of his grace as well as his providence.
We know how high the godly stand in the conviction and esteem of the wicked. In company they may join in the laugh and mockery against them; but oh! when we witness them when they are alone, and when they think on that eternity on the -borders of which they must know they continually stand, how often do we find them saying, with Balaam, “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” And if the wicked do not choose to hear their God making declarations of his love to them now in life,-if they choose to pass through life deceived,-another world will soon undeceive them, for “then will he return to discern between the righteous and the wicked,-between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.”
Wherefore, if God thus delights in his people, let others be careful how they oppose or injure them; for he that toucheth them toucheth the apple of God’s eye, that is, the tenderest part of the tenderest of all beings. Who would strike the child of a giant whilst he was standing by? Who would strike a king’s servant whilst he was present? Let men take care what they do with regard to God’s children. He has bent his bow and made ready his arrow to shoot at the persecutors. On the other hand, they are so dear to him, that all that is done for them he considers as done for himself. He says, “He that receiveth you receiveth me.” “Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these, ye did it unto me.” And let us be followers of God as dear children; let us judge according to God’s judgment, and let us regulate our conduct by God’s conduct.
In our eyes, let a vile person be contemned; but let us honour them that fear the Lord, whatever their external circumstances may be. Let us say, with. David, “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, of them that keep thy precepts; the saints that are in the earth, and the excellent, in whom is all my delight.”
I will heal him. - Isaiah 57:19.
GOD by the gospel heals in two ways. First, He heals the anguish of a wounded Spirit. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” While some never feel their wounds, have never been disturbed in their conscience, others have their consciences bruised under a sense of guilt and a dread of wrath to come. Such an one mingles his drink with weeping. The world can no longer charm, nor old companions allure him. “The arrows of the Almighty stick fast within me,” said one of old, “the poison whereof drinketh up my Spirit.” “A wounded Spirit who can bear?” and a wounded Spirit who can heal? Men may skin over the wound, try many things, but it will break out again. Outward reformation, vows, fastings, alms’ deeds-from all these some endeavour to obtain peace of conscience, and although they may for a time obtain something like a calm, yet as the light in them increases, and as they become better acquainted with the Spirituality of God’s law, all their fears and despair revive; but nothing can relieve an awakened mind but the scheme of redemption revealed in the gospel. That alone can satisfy the sinner’s conscience which satisfied the justice of God- nothing but the blood of sprinkling, which “speaketh better things than the blood of Abel.”
Then, secondly, God by the gospel heals the moral maladies of our nature. This always accompanies the former. It would be endless to enumerate the diseases of our fallen and depraved nature. “The whole head is sick, the whole heart faint, and there is no help in us. But are we under the necessity of perishing? By no means. If there is no help in us, there is help laid upon one that is mighty. If there be no hope in us, there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. If there is no health in us, there is balm in Gilead, and there is a physician there. The same light that shows us our disease reveals to us also our remedy, and the grace that makes us feel the one enables us to apply to the other-and that is a Saviour, who is made unto us not only righteousness but sanctification, who not only justifies but renews; for if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away and all things become new.”
See a man under the agency of the spirit of God, delighting in the Saviour; he dedicates all he has and all he is to his service and glory, walking before him in newness of life.