Sunday, 28 February 2016



(John MacDuff, "The Words of Jesus")

"The very hairs of your head are all numbered!" Matthew 10:30

What a promise is this! All that befalls you, to the very numbering of your hairs — is known to God! Nothing can happen by accident or chance. Nothing can elude His inspection. The fall of the forest leaf — the fluttering of the insect — the waving of the angel's wing — the annihilation of a world — all are equally noted by Him! Man speaks of great things and small things — but God knows no such distinction.

How especially comforting to think of this tender solicitude with reference to His own covenant people — that He metes out all their joys — and all their sorrows! Every sweet — and every bitter — is ordained by Him. Even "wearisome nights" are "appointed." Not a pang I feel, not a tear I shed — but is known to Him. What are called "dark dealings," are the ordinations of undeviating faithfulness. Man may err — his ways are often crooked; "but as for God — His way is perfect!" He puts my tears into His bottle. Every moment His everlasting arms are underneath and around me. He keeps me "as the apple of His eye." He "bears" me as a man bears his own son!

Do I look to the FUTURE? Is there much of uncertainty and mystery hanging over it? It may be, much foreboding of evil. Trust Him! All is marked out for me. Dangers will be averted; bewildering mazes will show themselves to be interlaced and interweaved with mercy. "He keeps the feet of His saints." Not a hair of their head will be touched.

He leads sometimes darkly, sometimes sorrowfully; most frequently by cross and circuitous ways, which we ourselves would not have chosen; but always wisely, always tenderly. With all its mazy windings and turnings, its roughness and ruggedness — the believer's is not only a right way — but the right way — the best which covenant love and wisdom could select.

"Nothing," says Jeremy Taylor, "does so establish the mind amid the rollings and turbulence of present things — as both a look above them and a look beyond them; above them — to the steady and loving hand by which they are ruled; and beyond them — to the sweet and beautiful end to which, by that hand, they will be brought." "The Great Counsellor," says Thomas Brooks, "puts clouds and darkness round about Him, bidding us follow at His beck through the cloud, promising an eternal and uninterrupted sunshine on the other side." On that "other side" we shall see how every apparent rough blast has been hastening our boats nearer the desired haven.

Well may I commit the keeping of my soul to Jesus in well-doing — as unto a faithful Creator. He gave Himself for me. This transcendent pledge of love — is the guarantee for the bestowment of every other needed blessing. Oh, blessed thought! my sorrows are numbered — by the Man of Sorrows; my tears are counted — by Him who shed first His tears, and then His blood for me! He will impose no needless burden, and exact no unnecessary sacrifice. There was no unnecessary drop in the cup of His own sufferings; neither will there be in that of His people. "Though He slays me — yet will I trust in Him!" "Therefore comfort one another with these words."

Saturday, 20 February 2016

What is repentance?

What is repentance?
 (George Everard, "Welcome home! Plain teachings from the story of the Prodigal" 1871)

"I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father." Luke 15:18-20

Notice the spirit of deep self-abasement in the resolution which the prodigal made.

True repentance is intensely personal. The prodigal felt it was his own sin. "I have sinned!" He can scarcely see any sin but his own. He sees his own sin in the very worst colors. Study the fifty-first Psalm. See how David again and again speaks. It is my transgression, my iniquity, my sin ever before me.

True repentance beholds the wrong done to God by sin. The prodigal felt that his sin was primarily against God. It was a breach of His holy law. It was opposition to His holiness. It was sin against His goodness, and against redeeming love. So David cries in his bitter sorrow, forgetting for the moment the wrong he had done to Uriah — in the far greater wrong which his sin had done to God: "Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight!"

True repentance makes no excuses. The prodigal seeks for no palliation, no covering, no cloak. He says nothing of the circumstances which led him to do evil, or of companions who had drawn him aside. He does not attempt to shift the burden from his own shoulders to that of others. He makes no self-justifying pleas — he has too much sorrow, too much true brokenness of spirit, to desire or attempt it. One thing, and one thing only, he sees — his own terrible fall, and his own exceeding guilt.

True repentance takes the very lowest place. Once to be a son was not enough for him — but now he will be content even to be a slave or a hired servant! He feels utterly unworthy. As Jacob felt: "I am not worthy of all the mercies You have showed me." As the centurion felt when he sent to Jesus: "I am not worthy that You should come under my roof." So did the young prodigal esteem himself: "I am no longer worthy to be called your son."

Be sure that God delights in the humble and contrite soul. Lift yourself up in pride and self-satisfaction — and God will assuredly cast you down. Cast yourself down in humble confession of your sin — and God will assuredly lift you up. "God resists the proud — but gives grace unto the humble."

But we see here the purpose of the heart accomplished. The young man not only made the resolution, but he kept it, "So he got up and went to his father." He turned his back forever on that far country and his old companions — and turned his face homeward. Doubtless it was with many a tear, with many a bitter feeling of regret for all that had passed — since in so different a spirit he had trodden that path before. Yet onward he trudges with weary heart and weary footstep, in the hope that a place may still be found for him in his father's house.

Do you ask, What is repentance? I can scarcely better describe it than from the path of this wanderer. It is turning the back ...
  on sin,
  on the ways of the world,
  on the lusts of the flesh,
  on the service of the devil.

And it is turning the face God-ward, Heaven-ward, confessing all that is past, looking upward for grace to live holier, with one single desire — to abide in the fear and love of God.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Ten thousand foul sins and vices burst forth and turn earth into a Hell!

Ten thousand foul sins and vices burst forth and turn earth into a Hell! 
(George Everard, "The Curse Removed!" 1885)

"There shall be no more curse" Revelation 22:3

What a sad history our world has had! Ever since the tempter set his foot on earth, all the fair beauty and glory that pertained to man have well-near utterly perished!

Cursed is the ground for man's sake — thorns and thistles spring up apace! And far worse, man himself becomes as a thorn or a brier — instead of adorning the paradise of God.

Hatred and envy and evil passions of all kinds stir him up to immorality, violence, cruelty and murder.

The image of the righteous, holy God is lost.

Ten thousand foul sins and vices burst forth and turn earth into a Hell! Selfishness, pride, jealousy, oppression — bringing misery and confusion into all the relationships of life.

And the soul of man, once the palace of the King of Love — becomes the cage and dwelling-place of unclean spirits!

Oh the terrible weight of the curse which since the Fall has rested on man! Oh the woe and the wickedness which have blighted that which was once holy and fair and beautiful! The crown has fallen from our head — woe unto us that we have sinned!

But Jesus Himself bore on the cross, the penalty and the curse that sin merited — and now He gives in its place an everlasting and unchanging blessing!

There shall be a new Heaven, and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. God shall wipe away all tears from men's eyes. Sorrow and suffering, pain and death, shall no longer burden the earth.

"And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever." Revelation 22:3-5

Sunday, 7 February 2016

A diamond with a flaw — is better than a pebble without one!

A diamond with a flaw — is better than a pebble without one!
(George Everard, "The Home of Bethany" 1873)

"Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him." John 11:16

We often think only of Thomas as the picture of a doubting, unbelieving disciple. Let us not forget that there was in him the spirit of true self-denying love. Christ purposed to go into Judea. Thomas thought the Jews would kill Him — but if so, he was ready to share the danger.

We may learn a lesson here — let us look at the best side of a Christian's character.

"A diamond with a flaw — is better than a pebble without one!" A Christian may have some grave infirmity; he may fail very grievously at some crisis of his Christian career — yet for all that he may be one of Christ's jewels, and may shine brightly hereafter in His crown!

There is more breadth than depth!

There is more breadth than depth!
(George Everard, "Strong & Free! A Book for Young Men" 1882)

In the present day Christianity, there is more breadth than depth.

There is more profession of the truth — but less eminence in holiness.

Let not this be so with you. Be zealous to excel. Do not be content with a commonplace standard of Christian living. Press on to high attainments. Yield up your heart fully to Christ, and ask Him to fill every niche and cranny with Himself! Let every chamber of your heart be replenished from His own bounteous grace.

Let it ever be remembered, that from first to last your peace, your strength, your hope lies in a simple, whole-hearted dependence upon Christ alone. Think of Him at all times...
  as your High Priest and Intercessor before the throne,
  as your Leader and Captain in the warfare you have to wage,
  as your Righteousness and your Robe under the remembrance of sin,
  and as your Eternal Refuge and Portion amidst the various changes of this mortal life.

Be content with no half measures — be thorough and whole-hearted. Take the lowest place and cast yourself in deepest humiliation at Christ's feet. Then trust Him utterly. Believe that He will undertake all that concerns you. On your knees give yourself to Him to be His altogether and forever. Let there be no more reserve, no more delay, no more uncertainty. "Burn the bridge behind you!"

Life is short.
Eternity is near.
The soul is unspeakably precious.
Christ is All-mighty, All-merciful, All-faithful, All-sufficient!