“By the grace of God–I am what I am!” 1 Corinthians 15:10. This is the believer’s eternal confession! Grace found him a rebel against God–it leaves him a son of God! Grace found him wandering at the gates of Hell–it leaves him at the gates of Heaven! Grace devised the scheme of Redemption. Justice never would; reason never could. And it is grace which carries out that scheme. No sinner would ever have sought God–but “by grace.” The thickets of Eden would have proved Adam’s grave–had not grace called him out! Saul would have lived and died the haughty self-righteous persecutor–had not grace laid him low! The thief on the cross would have continued breathing out his blasphemies–had not grace arrested his tongue and tuned it for glory! “Out of the knottiest timber,” says Rutherford, “God can make vessels of mercy for service in the high palace of glory!” “I came, I saw, I conquered!” may be inscribed by the Savior on every monument of His grace. “I came to the sinner; I looked upon him; and with a look of omnipotent love, I conquered him!” Believer, you would have been this day a wandering star, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever! You would have been Christless, hopeless, and portionless; had not grace constrained you! And it is grace which, at this moment, “keeps” you. You have often been a Peter–forsaking your Lord–but brought back to Him again. Why have you not been a Demas or a Judas? “I have prayed for you–that your faith fail not!” Is not this your own comment and reflection on life’s retrospect: “Yet not I–but the grace of God which was with me!” Seek to realize your dependence on this grace every moment. “More grace! more grace!” needs to be your continual cry. His infinite supply–is commensurate with your infinite need. The treasury of grace, though always emptying–is always full. (John MacDuff, “The Night Watches”)
“God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8. All-sufficiency in all things! Believer! Surely you are “thoroughly equipped for every good work!” Grace is no scanty thing, doled out in pittances. It is a glorious treasury, which the key of prayer can always unlock–but can never empty! It is a fountain–full, flowing, ever flowing, overflowing! Mark these three ALL’S in this precious promise. It is a three-fold link in a golden chain, let down from the throne of grace, by the God of grace. “All grace!” “all-sufficiency!” in “all things!” and these to “abound.” Oh! precious thought! My need cannot impoverish that inexhaustible treasury of grace! Myriads are hourly hanging on it, drawing from it and yet there is no diminution. Out of that fullness we, too, may all receive, “grace upon grace!” My soul, do you not love to dwell on that all-abounding grace! Your own insufficiency in everything, met with a divine “all-sufficiency in all things!” Grace in all circumstances and situations. Grace in all vicissitudes and changes. Grace in all the varied phases of the Christian’s being. Grace in sunshine and in storm. Grace in health and in sickness. Grace in life and in death. Grace for the old believer–and the young believer. Grace for the tried believer, and the weak believer, and the tempted believer.Grace for duty and grace in duty. Grace to carry the joyous cup with a steady hand and grace to drink the bitter cup with an unmurmuring spirit! Grace to have prosperity sanctified–and grace to say through tears, “May Your will be done!” “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8. (John MacDuff, “The Faithful Promiser”)
“Say to the righteous, that it shall be well with him!” Isaiah 3:10. The human family is divided into a great variety of social and artificial distinctions. But, in the sight of God–there are but two classes, into which the multifarious elements of universal humanity can be resolved. There are only the righteous–and the wicked. Concerning one of these classes–God proclaims that it shall be well with them; while to the other–He pronounces a solemn woe. What makes the condition of a wicked man to be so fearful, is the solemn fact that God is against him! And what makes that of the righteous to be so blessed–is that God is for him! All the divine attributes are arrayed against the impenitent sinner–but when he becomes a saint, they all join to take his part. Such being the case, having the eternal Jehovah in all his boundless perfections on his side, it cannot be otherwise than well with him. It shall be well with the righteous, not merely in life–but in death.
It is appointed by the irrevocable decree of God–that all men must die.
There is no discharge in that war–no release from that mortal struggle! Wealth has no bribe which death will receive. Wisdom has no art by which death can be avoided. Power has no defense against death. Beauty has no charm to death’s eye. The voice of eloquence is lost to death’s ear. Even religion has no security from death’s stroke! Here the mightiest conqueror is vanquished–and the proudest of monarchs finds himself a slave! From its ruthless grasp–no age, no condition can escape! Those who are in the bloom and freshness of youthcannot escape–for “man, at his best estate, is altogether vanity!” The great and prosperous cannot escape–for “the rich man also died and was buried.” The wicked cannot escape–he is driven, yes, dragged away in his wickedness; the most fearful of all deaths is his–that of dying in his sins! Neither can the righteous escape–he must go the way of all the earth, and become a tenant of the silent grave! But at that solemn season, it shall be well with him! When the last sands of the numbered hour are running out; when his earthly friends will be compelled to leave him; when the cold dews of death will be standing in large drops upon his pallid brow; when every nerve and vein may be racked and wrenched in fearful agonies by the irresistible power of the grim tyrant–even then it shall be well with him! The dying strife will soon be over, and through death’s gloomy portals he will enter upon that blessed state where all is peace and bliss forever! “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life!” Matthew 25:46. (John MacDuff, The Christian’s Pathway, 1858)
O my God, I desire to approach the footstool of Your throne of grace. Glory be to Your holy name that I can enjoy freedom of access into Your presence, and with the confidence of Your child, unburden and unbosom to You all my needs and sins, all my sorrows and infirmities, all my perplexities and cares. Lord, how unworthy I am of the least of all Your mercies! What righteous cause have You to cut me down as a cumberer of the ground. How cold my love, how infrequent my prayers! How full is my heart, of pride and vain-glory, self and sin! How little have I habitually realized Your nearness, and sought Your favor as my chief good! There is enough of coldness and formality in my best approaches to Your footstool, to lead You in Your wrath to spurn me forever away! Let me see all my sin in the light of Calvary’s cross! I cast myself as a worthless unworthy sinner, at the feet of Jesus. I need daily, hourly washing at that fountain which He has opened for sin and for uncleanness. Wash me, gracious Lord–fully, freely, and forever! Let me know the blessedness of “no condemnation.” I come with all the great burden of my great guilt–to my great Savior! I seek to bring the unrighteousness of an unworthy creature, to the infinite righteousness and everlasting faithfulness of my loving Redeemer. You have borne with all my obstinacy, all my perverseness, and waywardness, and ingratitude. I am at this hour, the monument of a divine love–as wondrous, as it is undeserved. Where would I have been, blessed Jesus–but for You!
All that I am, and all I have–I owe to Your free, sovereign, unmerited grace! Whom have I in Heaven but You–and there is none in all the earth I desire besides You. You alone can fill up the aching voids of my heart. You are the only refuge for my sin-stricken, woe-worn spirit. I rejoice in the inexhaustible riches treasured up in You–that Your fullness is adequate to supply all my necessities; and out of that fullness I may still continue receiving, and that forever and ever! (John MacDuff, “Evening Incense” 1856)
“All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind!” Isaiah 64:6. Holy Father, Almighty God, we feel our weakness, our ignorance, our deep corruptions. We meekly knock at mercy’s gate. Regard us in tender love–for Jesus’ sake. Bend down Your ear–and grant Your smile. We are blind–be our light. We are ignorant–be our wisdom. We are steeped in selfishness–pluck all SELF out of us. In the deep sense of our guilt, we fly for refuge into the wounded side of Jesus! Be merciful, be merciful unto us–whose only hope is in Your unfailing mercy. Our sins rise higher than the heavens–but Your merits in our behalf surpass the very heaven of heavens! Our unrighteousness would weigh us down to hell–but Your glorious righteousness exalts us to Your heavenly throne! All things in us call for our damnation–but all things in You demand our forgiveness. We appeal, then, from Your throne of perfect justice–to Your throne of boundless grace! Blessed Jesus, we hide ourselves in the sure covert of Your wrath-appeasing wounds! Grant us to hear Your voice assuring us: that by Your stripes we are healed; that You have been bruised for our iniquities; that You have been made sin for us–that we might have Your divine righteousness; and that all our vile and grievous iniquities, are forgiven and buried in the ocean of Your sin-concealing blood! We are guilty–yet pardoned! We are lost in ourselves–yet fully saved in You! Enable us to cling firmly to Your cross–even as we now seek safety and repose beneath its sin-atoning shelter! Let floods of sustaining grace from Your inexhaustible treasury, enrich our poor and weary souls. If the enemy approaches, quicken our steps to flee into the wounds of Jesus as our sure refuge! Sheltered in the ark of safety, may we cease to tremble at all alarms. May You our good Shepherd lead us this day into the green pastures of His refreshing Word, and cause us to lie down beside the rivers of Your divine comforts. These prayers we humbly offer in the name of Jesus Christ, and trusting only in His saving merits. Amen. (Henry Law, “Family Prayers“)
“He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart.” Isaiah 40:11. Dwell upon the love and tenderness of our Lord Jesus! Notice who are the objects of His care: “the lambs,” which means not only those of tender age–but also those who have been newly converted; those who are young in Christian experience; and also those whose temperament is naturally timid, whose strength is feeble, and whose danger is great. Yes, you are the objects of Christ’s special attention, care and solicitude! You are those whom He takes up in the arms of His power, and lays on the bosom of His love! He knows your weakness, your timidity, your dangers! He will exert for you His tenderest sympathy, His greatest vigilance, His mightiest power. This expression however not only conveys the idea of great care of the weak–but the exercise of that care with a view to their preservation and growth. It means not only that He will cordially receive them, provide for their safety, be concerned for their comfort, and accommodate His conduct to their needs–but He will also nourish them through their infant existence, and raise them up to maturity and strength. (John Angell James, The Christian’s Progress)
I cannot see your heart. I do not know your private history in spiritual things. But from what I see in the Bible and in the world, I am certain I cannot ask you a more necessary question than that before you: Do you pray? I ask whether you pray, because prayer is an act in religion to which there is great encouragement. There is everything on God’s part to make prayer easy, if men will only attempt it. All things are ready on His side. Every objection is anticipated. Every difficulty is provided for. The crooked places are made straight and the rough places are made smooth. There is no excuse left for the prayerless man. (J. C. Ryle)
Now, to apply this for our own instruction, whenever any distrust arises, and all means of escape are taken away from us, whenever, in short, it appears to us that everything is in a ruinous condition, let us recall to our remembrance that Christ is called Wonderful, because he has inconceivable methods of assisting us, and because his power is far beyond what we are able to conceive. When we need counsel, let us remember that he is the Counselor. When we need strength, let us remember that he is Mighty and Strong. When new terrors spring up suddenly every instant, and when many deaths threaten us from various quarters, let us rely on that eternity of which he is with good reason called the Father, and by the same comfort let us learn to soothe all temporal distresses. When we are inwardly tossed by various tempests, and when Satan attempts to disturb our consciences, let us remember that Christ is The Prince of Peace, and that it is easy for him quickly to allay all our uneasy feelings. Thus will these title confirm us more and more in the faith of Christ, and fortify us against Satan and hell itself. ~ John Calvin
The import of the whole is this: “Though neither the figs, nor the vines, nor the olives, produce any fruit, and though the field be barren, though no food be given, yet I will rejoice in my God;” that is, our joy shall not depend on outward prosperity; for though the Lord may afflict us in an extreme degree, there will yet be always some consolation to sustain our minds…for we are fully persuaded, that our salvation is in God’s hand, and that He is its faithful guardian. We shall, therefore, rest quietly, though heaven and earth were rolled together, and all places were full of confusion; yea, though God fulminated from heaven, we shall yet be in a tranquil state of mind, looking for His [gracious] salvation…We may hence gather a most useful doctrine: that whenever signs of God’s wrath meet us in outward things, this remedy remains to us: to consider what God is to us inwardly; for the inward joy, which faith brings to us, can overcome all fears, terrors, sorrows, and anxieties…[Let us] not estimate His love by external things, but strengthen [ourselves] by embracing the promise of His mercy. John Calvin, Commentary on
The Lord reigns! “The Lord reigns! He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength!” Psalm 93:1. “The Lord reigns! Let the nations tremble!” Psalm 99:1. The Lord reigns! He who once bore our sins and carried our sorrows–is seated upon a throne of glory and exercises all power in heaven and on earth! Thrones, principalities and powers bow before Him. Every being and event are under His rule. His providence pervades and manages the whole, and is as minutely attentive to every part–as if there were only that single object in His view. From the tallest archangel, to the most irritating ant or fly–all depend on Him for their being, their preservation and their powers! He directs the sparrows where to build their nests, and to find their food. He overrules the rise and fall of nations; and bends, with an invincible energy and unerring wisdom–all events! So that, while many intend otherwise–in the outcome their designs all concur and coincide in the accomplishment of His holy will. He restrains with a mighty hand the still more formidable efforts of the powers of darkness; and Satan with all his hosts cannot exert their malice a hair’s breadth beyond the limits of His permission. Satan may rage–but he is a chained enemy! This is He, who is the Redeemer and Husband of His believing people. How happy are those whom it is His good pleasure to bless! How safe are those whom He has engaged to protect! How honored and privileged are those whom He enables and warrants to claim Him as their friend and their portion! Having redeemed them by His own blood–He sets a high value upon them! He esteems them His treasure, His jewels! He guards them as the pupil of His eye. They shall not lack, and they need not fear! His eye is upon them in every situation, His ear is open to their prayers, and His everlasting arms are under them for their sure support. On earth, He guides their steps, controls their enemies, and directs all His dispensations for their good! While, in Heaven, He is pleading their cause, preparing a place for them, and communicating down to them reviving foretastes of the glory that shall shortly be theirs! “The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 146:10 (Letters of John Newton)