September PM

* 09/01/PM

"Trust in Him at all times."
                                                    --Psalm 62:8

   Faith is as much the rule of temporal as of spiritual life;
we ought to have faith in God for our earthly affairs as well as
for our heavenly business. It is only as we learn to trust in
God for the supply of all our daily need that we shall live
above the world. We are not to be idle, _that_ would show we did
_not_ trust in God, who worketh hitherto, but in the devil, who
is the father of idleness. We are not to be imprudent or rash;
that were to trust chance, and not the living God, who is a God
of economy and order. Acting in all prudence and uprightness, we
are to rely simply and entirely upon the Lord at all times.

   Let me commend to you a life of trust in God in temporal 
things. Trusting in God, you will not be compelled to mourn
because you have used sinful means to grow rich. Serve God with
integrity, and if you achieve no success, at least no sin will
lie upon your conscience. Trusting God, you will not be guilty
of self-contradiction. He who trusts in craft, sails this way
to-day, and that way the next, like a vessel tossed about by the
fickle wind; but he that trusteth in the Lord is like a vessel
propelled by steam, she cuts through the waves, defies the wind,
and makes one bright silvery straightforward track to her
destined haven. Be you a man with living principles within;
never bow to the varying customs of worldly wisdom. Walk in your
path of integrity with steadfast steps, and show that you are
invincibly strong in the strength which confidence in God alone
can confer. Thus you will be delivered from carking care, you
will not be troubled with evil tidings, your heart will be
fixed, trusting in the Lord. How pleasant to float along the
stream of providence! There is no more blessed way of living
than a life of dependence upon a covenant-keeping God. We have
no care, for He careth for us; we have no troubles, because we
cast our burdens upon the Lord.

* 09/02/PM

"Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe."
                                                     --John 4:48

   A craving after marvels was a symptom of the sickly state of 
men's minds in our Lord's day; they refused solid nourishment,
and pined after mere wonder. The gospel which they so greatly
needed they would not have; the miracles which Jesus did not
always choose to give they eagerly demanded. Many nowadays must
see signs and wonders, or they will not believe. Some have said
in their heart, "I must feel deep horror of soul, or I never
will believe in Jesus." But what if you never should feel it, as
probably you never may? Will you go to hell out of spite against
God, because He will not treat you like another? One has said to
himself, "If I had a dream, or if I could feel a sudden shock of
I know not what, then I would believe." Thus you undeserving
mortals dream that my Lord is to be dictated to by you! You are
beggars at His gate, asking for mercy, and you must needs draw
up rules and regulations as to how He shall give that mercy.
Think you that He will submit to this? My Master is of a
generous spirit, but He has a right royal heart, He spurns all
dictation, and maintains His sovereignty of action. Why, dear
reader, if such be your case, do you crave for signs and
wonders? Is not the gospel its own sign and wonder? Is not this
a miracle of miracles, that "God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not
perish"? Surely that precious word, "Whosoever will, let him
come and take the water of life freely" and that solemn promise,
"Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out," are
better than signs and wonders! A truthful Saviour ought to be
believed. He is truth itself. Why will you ask proof of the
veracity of One who cannot lie? The devils themselves declared
Him to be the Son of God; will you mistrust Him?

* 09/03/PM

"The Lord trieth the righteous."
                                                    --Psalm 11:5

   All events are under the control of Providence; consequently 
all the trials of our outward life are traceable at once to the
great First Cause. Out of the golden gate of God's ordinance the
armies of trial march forth in array, clad in their iron armour,
and armed with weapons of war. All providences are doors to
trial. Even our mercies, like roses, have their thorns. Men may
be drowned in seas of prosperity as well as in rivers of
affliction. Our mountains are not too high, and our valleys are
not too low for temptations: trials lurk on all roads.
Everywhere, above and beneath, we are beset and surrounded with
dangers. Yet no shower falls unpermitted from the threatening
cloud; every drop has its order ere it hastens to the earth. The
trials which come from God are sent to prove and strengthen our
graces, and so at once to illustrate the power of divine grace,
to test the genuineness of our virtues, and to add to their
energy. Our Lord in His infinite wisdom and superabundant love,
sets so high a value upon His people's faith that He will not
screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened.
You would never have possessed the precious faith which now
supports you if the trial of your faith had not been like unto
fire. You are a tree that never would have rooted so well if the
wind had not rocked you to and fro, and made you take firm hold
upon the precious truths of the covenant grace. Worldly ease is
a great foe to faith; it loosens the joints of holy valour, and
snaps the sinews of sacred courage. The balloon never rises
until the cords are cut; affliction doth this sharp service for
believing souls. While the wheat sleeps comfortably in the husk
it is useless to man, it must be threshed out of its resting
place before its value can be known. Thus it is well that
Jehovah trieth the righteous, for it causeth them to grow rich
towards God.

* 09/04/PM

"Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin,
shall ye have."
                                               --Leviticus 19:36

   Weights, and scales, and measures were to be all according to
the standard of justice. Surely no Christian man will need to be
reminded of this in his business, for if righteousness were
banished from all the world beside, it should find a shelter in
believing hearts. There are, however, other balances which
weigh moral and spiritual things, and these often need
examining. We will call in the officer to-night.

   The balances in which we weigh our own and other men's 
characters, are they quite accurate? Do we not turn our own
ounces of goodness into pounds, and other persons' bushels of
excellence into pecks? See to weights and measures here,
Christian. The scales in which we measure our trials and
troubles, are they according to standard? Paul, who had more to
suffer than we have, called his afflictions light, and yet we
often consider ours to be heavy--surely something must be amiss
with the weights! We must see to this matter, lest we get
reported to the court above for unjust dealing. Those weights
with which we measure our doctrinal belief, are they quite fair?
The doctrines of grace should have the same weight with us as
the precepts of the word, no more and no less; but it is to be
feared that with many one scale or the other is unfairly
weighted. It is a grand matter to give just measure in truth.
Christian, be careful here. Those measures in which we estimate
our obligations and responsibilities look rather small. When a
rich man gives no more to the cause of God than the poor
contribute, is that a just ephah and a just hin? When ministers
are half starved, is that honest dealing? When the poor are
despised, while ungodly rich men are held in admiration, is that
a just balance? Reader, we might lengthen the list, but we
prefer to leave it as your evening's work to find out and
destroy all unrighteous balances, weights, and measures.

* 09/05/PM

"Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?"
                                                     --Job 38:16

   Some things in nature must remain a mystery to the most 
intelligent and enterprising investigators. Human knowledge has
bounds beyond which it cannot pass. Universal knowledge is for
God alone. If this be so in the things which are seen and
temporal, I may rest assured that it is even more so in matters
spiritual and eternal. Why, then, have I been torturing my brain
with speculations as to destiny and will, fixed fate, and human
responsibility? These deep and dark truths I am no more able to
comprehend than to find out the depth which coucheth beneath,
from which old ocean draws her watery stores. Why am I so
curious to know the reason of my Lord's providences, the motive
of His actions, the design of His visitations? Shall I ever be
able to clasp the sun in my fist, and hold the universe in my
palm? yet these are as a drop of a bucket compared with the Lord
my God. Let me not strive to understand the infinite, but spend
my strength in love. What I cannot gain by intellect I can
possess by affection, and let that suffice me. I cannot
penetrate the heart of the sea, but I can enjoy the healthful
breezes which sweep over its bosom, and I can sail over its blue
waves with propitious winds. If I could enter the springs of the
sea, the feat would serve no useful purpose either to myself or
to others, it would not save the sinking bark, or give back the
drowned mariner to his weeping wife and children; neither would
my solving deep mysteries avail me a single whit, for the least
love to God, and the simplest act of obedience to Him, are
better than the profoundest knowledge. My Lord, I leave the
infinite to Thee, and pray Thee to put far from me such a love
for the tree of knowledge as might keep me from the tree of

* 09/06/PM

"If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
                                                --Galatians 5:18

   He who looks at his own character and position from a legal 
point of view, will not only despair when he comes to the _end_
of his reckoning, but if he be a wise man he will despair at the
_beginning_; for if we are to be judged on the footing of the
law, there shall no flesh living be justified. How blessed to
know that we dwell in the domains of grace and not of law! When
thinking of my state before God the question is not, "Am I
perfect in myself before the law?" but, "Am I perfect in Christ
Jesus?" That is a very different matter. We need not enquire,
"Am I without sin naturally?" but, "Have I been washed in the
fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness?" It is not "Am I in
myself well pleasing to God?" but it is "Am I accepted in the
Beloved?" The Christian views his evidences from the top of
Sinai, and grows alarmed concerning his salvation; it were
better far if he read his title by the light of Calvary. "Why,"
saith he, "my faith has unbelief in it, it is not able to save
me." Suppose he had considered _the object_ of his faith instead
of his faith, then he would have said, "There is no failure in
_Him_, and therefore I am safe." He sighs over his hope: "Ah! my
hope is marred and dimmed by an anxious carefulness about
present things; how can I be accepted?" Had he regarded _the
ground_ of his hope, he would have seen that the promise of God
standeth sure, and that whatever our doubts may be, the oath and
promise never fail. Ah! believer, it is safer always for you to
be led of the Spirit into gospel liberty than to wear legal
fetters. Judge yourself at what _Christ_ is rather than at what
_you_ are. Satan will try to mar your peace by reminding you of
your sinfulness and imperfections: you can only meet his
accusations by faithfully adhering to the gospel and refusing to
wear the yoke of bondage.

* 09/07/PM

"There is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet."
                                                --Jeremiah 49:23

   Little know we what sorrow may be upon the sea at this 
moment. We are safe in our quiet chamber, but far away on the
salt sea the hurricane may be cruelly seeking for the lives of
men. Hear how the death fiends howl among the cordage; how every
timber starts as the waves beat like battering rams upon the
vessel! God help you, poor drenched and wearied ones! My prayer
goes up to the great Lord of sea and land, that He will make the
storm a calm, and bring you to your desired haven! Nor ought I
to offer prayer alone, I should try to benefit those hardy men
who risk their lives so constantly. Have I ever done anything
for them? What can I do? How often does the boisterous sea
swallow up the mariner! Thousands of corpses lie where pearls
lie deep. There is death-sorrow on the sea, which is echoed in
the long wail of widows and orphans. The salt of the sea is in
many eyes of mothers and wives. Remorseless billows, ye have
devoured the love of women, and the stay of households. What a
resurrection shall there be from the caverns of the deep when
the sea gives up her dead! Till then there will be sorrow on the
sea. As if in sympathy with the woes of earth, the sea is for
ever fretting along a thousand shores, wailing with a sorrowful
cry like her own birds, booming with a hollow crash of unrest,
raving with uproarious discontent, chafing with hoarse wrath, or
jangling with the voices of ten thousand murmuring pebbles. The
roar of the sea may be joyous to a rejoicing spirit, but to the
son of sorrow the wide, wide ocean is even more forlorn than the
wide, wide world. This is not our rest, and the restless billows
tell us so. There is a land where there is no more sea--our
faces are steadfastly set towards it; we are going to the place
of which the Lord hath spoken. Till then, we cast our sorrows on
the Lord who trod the sea of old, and who maketh a way for His
people through the depths thereof.

* 09/08/PM

"The exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe
according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought
in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead."
                                            --Ephesians 1:19, 20

   In the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, there was 
put forth nothing short of _a divine power_. What shall we say
of those who think that conversion is wrought by the free will
of man, and is due to his own betterness of disposition? When we
shall see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then
may we expect to see ungodly sinners of their own free will
turning to Christ. It is not the word preached, nor the word
read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy
Ghost. This power was _irresistible_. All the soldiers and the
high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb;
Death himself could not hold Jesus in his bonds: even thus
irresistible is the power put forth in the believer when he is
raised to newness of life. No sin, no corruption, no devils in
hell nor sinners upon earth, can stay the hand of God's grace
when it intends to convert a man. If God omnipotently says,
"Thou shalt," man shall not say, "I will not." Observe that the
power which raised Christ from the dead was _glorious_. It
reflected honour upon God and wrought dismay in the hosts of
evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every
sinner. It was _everlasting power_. "Christ being raised from
the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him."
So we, being raised from the dead, go not back to our dead works
nor to our old corruptions, but we live unto God. "Because He
lives we live also." "For we are dead, and our life is hid with
Christ in God." "Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by
the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness
of life." Lastly, in the text mark _the union of the new life to
Jesus_. The same power which raised the Head works life in the
members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!

* 09/09/PM

"And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon
the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white
                                                --Revelation 4:4

   These representatives of the saints in heaven are said to be 
_around the throne_. In the passage in Canticles, where Solomon
sings of the King sitting at his table, some render it "a round
table." From this, some expositors, I think, without straining
the text, have said, "There is an equality among the saints."
That idea is conveyed by the equal nearness of the four and
twenty elders. The condition of glorified spirits in heaven is
that of nearness to Christ, clear vision of His glory, constant
access to His court, and familiar fellowship with His person:
nor is there any difference in this respect between one saint
and another, but all the people of God, apostles, martyrs,
ministers, or private and obscure Christians, shall all be
seated _near the throne_, where they shall for ever gaze upon
their exalted Lord, and be satisfied with His love. They shall
all be near to Christ, all ravished with His love, all eating
and drinking at the same table with Him, all equally beloved as
His favourites and friends even if not all equally rewarded as

   Let believers on earth imitate the saints in heaven in their
nearness to Christ. Let us on earth be as the elders are in
heaven, sitting around the throne. May Christ be the object of
our thoughts, the centre of our lives. How can we endure to live
at such a distance from our Beloved? Lord Jesu, draw us nearer
to Thyself. Say unto us, "Abide in Me, and I in you"; and permit
us to sing, "His left hand is under my head, and His right hand
doth embrace me."

              O lift me higher, nearer Thee,
              And as I rise more pure and meet,
              O let my soul's humility
              Make me lie lower at Thy feet;
              Less trusting self, the more I prove
              The blessed comfort of Thy love.

* 09/10/PM

"Evening wolves."
                                                  --Habakkuk 1:8

   While preparing the present volume, this particular 
expression recurred to me so frequently, that in order to be rid
of its constant importunity I determined to give a page to it.
The evening wolf, infuriated by a day of hunger, was fiercer and
more ravenous than he would have been in the morning. May not
the furious creature represent our doubts and fears after a day
of distraction of mind, losses in business, and perhaps
ungenerous tauntings from our fellow men? How our thoughts howl
in our ears, "Where is now thy God?" How voracious and greedy
they are, swallowing up all suggestions of comfort, and
remaining as hungry as before. Great Shepherd, slay these
evening wolves, and bid Thy sheep lie down in green pastures,
undisturbed by insatiable unbelief. How like are the fiends of
hell to evening wolves, for when the flock of Christ are in a
cloudy and dark day, and their sun seems going down, they hasten
to tear and to devour. They will scarcely attack the Christian
in the daylight of faith, but in the gloom of soul conflict they
fall upon him. O Thou who hast laid down Thy life for the sheep,
preserve them from the fangs of the wolf.

   False teachers who craftily and industriously hunt for the 
precious life, devouring men by their false-hoods, are as
dangerous and detestable as evening wolves. Darkness is their
element, deceit is their character, destruction is their end. We
are most in danger from them when they wear the sheep's skin.
Blessed is he who is kept from them, for thousands are made the
prey of grievous wolves that enter within the fold of the

   What a wonder of grace it is when fierce persecutors are 
converted, for then the wolf dwells with the lamb, and men of
cruel ungovernable dispositions become gentle and teachable. O
Lord, convert many such: for such we will pray to-night.

* 09/11/PM

"Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness because of mine enemies."
                                                    --Psalms 5:8

   Very bitter is the enmity of the world against the people of 
Christ. Men will forgive a thousand faults in others, but they
will magnify the most trivial offence in the followers of Jesus.
Instead of vainly regretting this, let us turn it to account,
and since so many are watching for our halting, let this be a
special motive for walking very carefully before God. If we live
carelessly, the lynx-eyed world will soon see it, and with its
hundred tongues, it will spread the story, exaggerated and
emblazoned by the zeal of slander. They will shout triumphantly.
"Aha! So would we have it! See how these Christians act! They
are hypocrites to a man." Thus will much damage be done to the
cause of Christ, and much insult offered to His name. The cross
of Christ is in itself an offence to the world; let us take heed
that we add no offence of our own. It is "to the Jews a
stumblingblock": let us mind that we put no stumblingblocks
where there are enough already. "To the Greeks it is
foolishness": let us not add our folly to give point to the
scorn with which the worldly-wise deride the gospel. How jealous
should we be of ourselves! How rigid with our consciences! In
the presence of adversaries who will misrepresent our best
deeds, and impugn our motives where they cannot censure our
actions, how circumspect should we be! Pilgrims travel as
suspected persons through Vanity Fair. Not only are we under
surveillance, but there are more spies than we reck of. The
espionage is everywhere, at home and abroad. If we fall into the
enemies' hands we may sooner expect generosity from a wolf, or
mercy from a fiend, than anything like patience with our
infirmities from men who spice their infidelity towards God with
scandals against His people. O Lord, lead us ever, lest our
enemies trip us up!

* 09/12/PM

"I will sing of mercy and judgment."
                                                   --Psalm 101:1

   Faith triumphs in trial. When reason is thrust into the inner 
prison, with her feet made fast in the stocks, faith makes the
dungeon walls ring with her merry notes as she I cries, "I will
sing of mercy and of judgment. Unto thee, O Lord, will I sing."
Faith pulls the black mask from the face of trouble, and
discovers the angel beneath. Faith looks up at the cloud, and
sees that

               'Tis big with mercy and shall break
               In blessings on her head."

There is a subject for song even in the judgments of God towards
us. For, first, the trial is _not so heavy as it might have
been_; next, the trouble is _not so severe as we deserved to
have borne_; and our affliction is _not so crushing as the
burden which others have to carry_. Faith sees that in her worst
sorrow there is nothing penal; there is not a drop of God's
wrath in it; it is all sent in love. Faith discerns love
gleaming like a jewel on the breast of an angry God. Faith says
of her grief, "This is a badge of honour, for the child must
feel the rod"; and then she sings of the sweet result of her
sorrows, because they work her spiritual good. Nay, more, says
Faith, "These light afflictions, which are but for a moment,
work out for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of
glory." So Faith rides forth on the black horse, conquering and
to conquer, trampling down carnal reason and fleshly sense, and
chanting notes of victory amid the thickest of the fray.

              "All I meet I find assists me
              In my path to heavenly joy:
              Where, though trials now attend me,
              Trials never more annoy.

              "Blest there with a weight of glory,
              Still the path I'll ne'er forget,
              But, exulting, cry, it led me
              To my blessed Saviour's seat."

* 09/13/PM

"This man receiveth sinners."
                                                     --Luke 15:2

   Observe _the condescension_ of this fact. This Man, who 
towers above all other men, holy, harmless, undefiled, and
separate from sinners--_this_ Man receiveth sinners. This Man,
who is no other than the eternal God, before whom angels veil
their faces--_this_ Man receiveth sinners. It needs an angel's
tongue to describe such a mighty stoop of love. That any of _us_
should be willing to seek after the lost is nothing wonderful--
they are of our own race; but that He, the offended God, against
whom the transgression has been committed, should take upon
Himself the form of a servant, and bear the sin of many, and
should then be willing to receive the vilest of the vile, this
is marvellous.

   "This Man receiveth sinners"; not, however, that they may 
remain sinners, but He receives them that He may pardon their
sins, justify their persons, cleanse their hearts by His
purifying word, preserve their souls by the indwelling of the
Holy Ghost, and enable them to serve Him, to show forth His
praise, and to have communion with Him. Into His heart's love
He receives sinners, takes them from the dunghill, and wears
them as jewels in His crown; plucks them as brands from the
burning, and preserves them as costly monuments of His mercy.
None are so precious in Jesus' sight as the sinners for whom He
died. When Jesus receives sinners, He has not some out-of-doors
reception place, no casual ward where He charitably entertains
them as men do passing beggars, but He opens the golden gates of
His royal heart, and receives the sinner right into
Himself--yea, He admits the humble penitent into personal union
and makes Him a member of His body, of His flesh, and of His
bones. There was never such a reception as this! This fact is
still most sure this evening, He is still receiving sinners:
would to God sinners would receive Him.

* 09/14/PM

"I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not
hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and
Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."
                                                    --Psalm 32:5

   David's grief for sin was bitter. Its effects were visible 
upon his outward frame: "his bones waxed old"; "his moisture was
turned into the drought of summer." No remedy could he find,
until he made a full confession before the throne of the
heavenly grace. He tells us that for a time he kept silence, and
his heart became more and more filled with grief: like a
mountain tarn whose outlet is blocked up, his soul was swollen
with torrents of sorrow. He fashioned excuses; he endeavoured to
divert his thoughts, but it was all to no purpose; like a
festering sore his anguish gathered, and as he would not use the
lancet of confession, his spirit was full of torment, and knew
no rest. At last it came to this, that he must return unto his
God in humble penitence, or die outright; so he hastened to the
mercy-seat, and there unrolled the volume of his iniquities
before the all-seeing One, acknowledging all the evil of his
ways in language such as you read in the fifty-first and other
penitential Psalms. Having done this, a work so simple and yet
so difficult to pride, he received at once the token of divine
forgiveness; the bones which had been broken were made to
rejoice, and he came forth from his closet to sing the
blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven. See the
value of a grace-wrought confession of sin! It is to be prized
above all price, for in every case where there is a genuine,
gracious confession, mercy is freely given, not because the
repentance and confession _deserve_ mercy, but for _Christ's
sake_. Blessed be God, there is always healing for the broken
heart; the fountain is ever flowing to cleanse us from our sins.
Truly, O Lord, Thou art a God "ready to pardon!" Therefore will
we acknowledge our iniquities.

* 09/15/PM

"A people near unto him."
                                                  --Psalm 148:14

   The dispensation of the old covenant was that of distance. 
When God appeared even to His servant Moses, He said, "Draw not
nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet"; and when He
manifested Himself upon Mount Sinai, to His own chosen and
separated people, one of the first commands was, "Thou shalt set
bounds about the mount." Both in the sacred worship of the
tabernacle and the temple, the thought of distance was always
prominent. The mass of the people did not even enter the outer
court. Into the inner court none but the priests might dare to
intrude; while into the innermost place, or the holy of holies,
the high priest entered but once in the year. It was as if the
Lord in those early ages would teach man that sin was so utterly
loathsome to Him, that He must treat men as lepers put without
the camp; and when He came nearest to them, He yet made them
feel the width of the separation between a holy God and an
impure sinner. When the gospel came, we were placed on quite
another footing. The word "Go" was exchanged for "Come";
distance was made to give place to nearness, and we who
aforetime were afar off, were made nigh by the blood of Jesus
Christ. Incarnate Deity has no wall of fire about it. "Come unto
me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest," is the joyful proclamation of God as He appears in human
flesh. Not now does He teach the leper his leprosy by setting
him at a distance, but by Himself suffering the penalty of His
defilement. What a state of safety and privilege is this
nearness to God through Jesus! Do you know it by experience? If
you know it, are you living in the power of it? Marvellous is
this nearness, yet it is to be followed by a dispensation of
greater nearness still, when it shall be said, "The tabernacle
of God is with men, and He doth dwell among them." Hasten it, O

* 09/16/PM

"Am I a sea, or a whale, that Thou settest a watch over me?"
                                                      --Job 7:12

   This was a strange question for Job to ask of the Lord. He
felt himself to be too insignificant to be so strictly watched
and chastened, and he hoped that he was not so unruly as to need
to be so restrained. The enquiry was natural from one surrounded
with such insupportable miseries, but after all, it is capable
of a very humbling answer. It is true man is not the sea, but he
is even more troublesome and unruly. The sea obediently respects
its boundary, and though it be but a belt of sand, it does not
overleap the limit. Mighty as it is, it hears the divine
_hitherto_, and when most raging with tempest it respects the
word; but self-willed man defies heaven and oppresses earth,
neither is there any end to this rebellious rage. The sea,
obedient to the moon, ebbs and flows with ceaseless regularity,
and thus renders an active as well as a passive obedience; but
man, restless beyond his sphere, sleeps within the lines of
duty, indolent where he should be active. He will neither come
nor go at the divine command, but sullenly prefers to do what he
should not, and to leave undone that which is required of him.
Every drop in the ocean, every beaded bubble, and every yeasty
foam-flake, every shell and pebble, feel the power of law, and
yield or move at once. O that our nature were but one thousandth
part as much conformed to the will of God! We call the sea
fickle and false, but how constant it is! Since our fathers'
days, and the old time before them, the sea is where it was,
beating on the same cliffs to the same tune; we know where to
find it, it forsakes not its bed, and changes not in its
ceaseless boom; but where is man-vain, fickle man? Can the wise
man guess by what folly he will next be seduced from his
obedience? We need more watching than the billowy sea, and are
far more rebellious. Lord, rule us for Thine own glory. Amen.

* 09/17/PM

"Encourage him."
                                              --Deuteronomy 1:38

   God employs His people to encourage one another. He did not 
say to an angel, "Gabriel, my servant Joshua is about to lead my
people into Canaan--go, encourage him." God never works needless
miracles; if His purposes can be accomplished by ordinary means,
He will not use miraculous agency. Gabriel would not have been
half so well fitted for the work as Moses. A brother's sympathy
is more precious than an angel's embassy. The angel, swift of
wing, had better known the Master's bidding than the people's
temper. An angel had never experienced the hardness of the road,
nor seen the fiery serpents, nor had he led the stiff-necked
multitude in the wilderness as Moses had done. We should be glad
that God usually works for man by man. It forms a bond of
brotherhood, and being mutually dependent on one another, we are
fused more completely into one family. Brethren, take the text
as God's message to you. Labour to help others, and especially
strive to _encourage_ them. Talk cheerily to the young and
anxious enquirer, lovingly try to remove stumblingblocks out of
his way. When you find a spark of grace in the heart, kneel down
and blow it into a flame. Leave the young believer to discover
the roughness of the road by degrees, but tell him of the
strength which dwells in God, of the sureness of the promise,
and of the charms of communion with Christ. Aim to comfort the
sorrowful, and to animate the desponding. Speak a word in season
to him that is weary, and encourage those who are fearful to go
on their way with gladness. God encourages you by His promises;
Christ encourages you as He points to the heaven He has won for
you, and the spirit encourages _you_ as He works in you to will
and to do of His own will and pleasure. Imitate divine wisdom,
and encourage others, according to the word of this evening.

* 09/18/PM

"And they follow me."
                                                    --John 10:27

   We should follow our Lord as unhesitatingly as sheep follow 
their shepherd, for _He has a right to lead us wherever He
pleases_. We are not our own, we are bought with a price--let us
recognize the rights of the redeeming blood. The soldier follows
his captain, the servant obeys his master, much more must we
follow our Redeemer, to whom we are a purchased possession. We
are not true to our profession of being Christians, if we
question the bidding of our Leader and Commander. Submission is
our duty, cavilling is our folly. Often might our Lord say to us
as to Peter, "What is that to thee? Follow thou Me." Wherever
Jesus may lead us, _He goes before us_. If we know not where we
go, we know with whom we go. With such a companion, who will
dread the perils of the road? The journey may be long, but His
everlasting arms will carry us to the end. The presence of Jesus
is the assurance of eternal salvation, because He lives, we
shall live also. We should follow Christ in simplicity and
faith, because _the paths in which He leads us all end in glory
and immortality_. It is true they may not be smooth paths--they
may be covered with sharp flinty trials, but they lead to the
"city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
"All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep
His covenant." Let us put full trust in our Leader, since we
know that, come prosperity or adversity, sickness or health,
popularity or contempt, His purpose shall be worked out, and
that purpose shall be pure, unmingled good to every heir of
mercy. We shall find it sweet to go up the bleak side of the
hill with Christ; and when rain and snow blow into our faces,
His dear love will make us far more blest than those who sit at
home and warm their hands at the world's fire. To the top of
Amana, to the dens of lions, or to the hills of leopards, we
will follow our Beloved. Precious Jesus, draw us, and we will
run after Thee.

* 09/19/PM

"For this child I prayed."
                                                 --1 Samuel 1:27

   Devout souls delight to look upon those mercies which they 
have obtained in answer to supplication, for they can see God's
especial love in them. When we can name our blessings Samuel,
that is, "asked of God," they will be as dear to us as her child
was to Hannah. Peninnah had many children, but they came as
common blessings unsought in prayer: Hannah's one heaven-given
child was dearer far, because he was the fruit of earnest
pleadings. How sweet was that water to Samson which he found at
"the well of him that prayed!" Quassia cups turn all waters
bitter, but the cup of prayer puts a sweetness into the draughts
it brings. Did we pray for the conversion of our children? How
doubly sweet, when they are saved, to see in them our own
petitions fulfilled! Better to rejoice over them as the fruit of
our pleadings than as the fruit of our bodies. Have we sought of
the Lord some choice spiritual gift? When it comes to us it will
be wrapped up in the gold cloth of God's faithfulness and truth,
and so be doubly precious. Have we petitioned for success in the
Lord's work? How joyful is the prosperity which comes flying
upon the wings of prayer! It is always best to get blessings
into our house in the legitimate way, by the door of prayer;
then they are blessings indeed, and not temptations. Even when
prayer speeds not, the blessings grow all the richer for the
delay; the child Jesus was all the more lovely in the eyes of
Mary when she found Him after having sought Him sorrowing. That
which we win by prayer we should dedicate to God, as Hannah
dedicated Samuel. The gift came from heaven, let it go to
heaven. Prayer brought it, gratitude sang over it, let devotion
consecrate it. Here will be a special occasion for saying, "Of
Thine own have I given unto Thee." Reader, is prayer your
element or your weariness? Which?

* 09/20/PM

"In the evening withhold not thy hand."
                                             --Ecclesiastes 11:6

   In _the evening of the day_ opportunities are plentiful: men
return from their labour, and the zealous soul-winner finds time
to tell abroad the love of Jesus. Have I no evening work for
Jesus? If I have not, let me no longer withhold my hand from a
service which requires abundant labour. Sinners are perishing
for lack of knowledge; he who loiters may find his skirts
crimson with the blood of souls. Jesus gave both His hands to
the nails, how can I keep back one of mine from His blessed
work? Night and day He toiled and prayed for me, how can I give
a single hour to the pampering of my flesh with luxurious ease?
Up, idle heart; stretch out thy hand to work, or uplift it to
pray; heaven and hell are in earnest, let me be so, and this
evening sow good seed for the Lord my God.

   _The evening of life_ has also its calls. Life is so short 
that a morning of manhood's vigour, and an evening of decay,
make the whole of it. To some it seems long, but a four-pence is
a great sum of money to a poor man. Life is so brief that no man
can afford to lose a day. It has been well said that if a great
king should bring us a great heap of gold, and bid us take as
much as we could count in a day, we should make a long day of
it; we should begin early in the morning, and in the evening we
should not withhold our hand; but to win souls is far nobler
work, how is it that we so soon withdraw from it? Some are
spared to a long evening of green old age; if such be my case,
let me use such talents as I still retain, and to the last hour
serve my blessed and faithful Lord. By His grace I will die in
harness, and lay down my charge only when I lay down my body.
Age may instruct the young, cheer the faint, and encourage the
desponding; if eventide has less of vigorous heat, it should
have more of calm wisdom, therefore in the evening I will not
withhold my hand.

* 09/21/PM

"Gather not my soul with sinners."
                                                    --Psalm 26:9

   Fear made David pray thus, for something whispered, "Perhaps, 
after all, thou mayst be gathered with the wicked." That fear,
although marred by unbelief, springs, in the main, from holy
anxiety, arising from the recollection of past sin. Even the
pardoned man will enquire, "What if at the end my sins should be
remembered, and I should be left out of the catalogue of the
saved?" He recollects his present unfruitfulness--so little
grace, so little love, so little holiness, and looking forward
to the future, he considers his weakness and the many
temptations which beset him, and he fears that he may fall, and
become a prey to the enemy. A sense of sin and present evil, and
his prevailing corruptions, compel him to pray, in fear and
trembling, "Gather not my soul with sinners." Reader, if you
have prayed this prayer, and if your character be rightly
described in the Psalm from which it is taken, you need not be
afraid that you shall be gathered with sinners. Have you the two
virtues which David had--the outward walking in integrity, and
the inward trusting in the Lord? Are you resting upon Christ's
sacrifice, and can you compass the altar of God with humble
hope? If so, rest assured, with the wicked you never shall be
gathered, for that calamity is impossible. The gathering at the
judgment is like to like. "Gather ye together first the tares,
and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into
my barn." If, then, thou art _like_ God's people, thou shalt be
_with_ God's people. You cannot be gathered with the wicked, for
you are too dearly bought. Redeemed by the blood of Christ, you
are His for ever, and where He is, there must His people be. You
are loved too much to be cast away with reprobates. Shall one
dear to Christ perish? Impossible! Hell cannot hold thee! Heaven
claims thee! Trust in thy Surety and fear not!

* 09/22/PM

"When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is
higher than I."
                                                    --Psalm 61:2

   Most of us know what it is to be overwhelmed in heart; 
emptied as when a man wipeth a dish and turneth it upside down;
submerged and thrown on our beam ends like a vessel mastered by
the storm. Discoveries of inward corruption will do this, if the
Lord permits the great deep of our depravity to become troubled
and cast up mire and dirt. Disappointments and heart-breaks will
do this when billow after billow rolls over us, and we are like
a broken shell hurled to and fro by the surf. Blessed be God, at
such seasons we are not without an all-sufficient solace, our
God is the harbour of weather-beaten sails, the hospice of
forlorn pilgrims. Higher than we are is He, His mercy higher
than our sins, His love higher than our thoughts. It is pitiful
to see men putting their trust in something lower than
themselves; but our confidence is fixed upon an exceeding high
and glorious Lord. A Rock He is since He changes not, and a high
Rock, because the tempests which overwhelm us roll far beneath
at His feet; He is not disturbed by them, but rules them at His
will. If we get under the shelter of this lofty Rock we may
defy the hurricane; all is calm under the lee of that towering
cliff. Alas! such is the confusion in which the troubled mind is
often cast, that we need piloting to this divine shelter. Hence
the prayer of the text. O Lord, our God, by Thy Holy Spirit,
teach us the way of faith, lead us into Thy rest. The wind blows
us out to sea, the helm answers not to our puny hand; Thou, Thou
alone canst steer us over the bar between yon sunken rocks, safe
into the fair haven. How dependent we are upon Thee--we need
Thee to bring us to Thee. To be wisely directed and steered into
safety and peace is Thy gift, and Thine alone. This night be
pleased to deal well with Thy servants.

* 09/23/PM

"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe."
                                                     --Mark 9:23

   A certain man had a demoniac son, who was afflicted with a 
dumb spirit. The father, having seen the futility of the
endeavours of the disciples to heal his child, had little or no
faith in Christ, and therefore, when he was bidden to bring his
son to Him, he said to Jesus, "If Thou cast do anything, have
compassion on us, and help us." Now there was an "if" in the
question, but the poor trembling father had put the "if" in the
wrong place: Jesus Christ, therefore, without commanding him to
retract the "if," kindly puts it in its legitimate position.
"Nay, verily," He seemed to say, "there should be no 'if' about
My power, nor concerning My willingness, the 'if' lies somewhere
else." "_If thou canst believe_, all things are possible to him
that believeth." The man's trust was strengthened, he offered a
humble prayer for an increase of faith, and instantly Jesus
spoke the word, and the devil was cast out, with an injunction
never to return. There is a lesson here which we need to learn.
We, like this man, often see that there is an "if" somewhere,
but we are perpetually blundering by putting it in the wrong
place. "_If_" Jesus can help me--"_if_" He can give me grace to
overcome temptation--"_if_" He can give me pardon--"_if_" He can
make me successful? Nay, "_if_" you can believe, He both can and
will. You have misplaced your "if." If you can confidently
trust, even as all things are possible to Christ, so shall all
things be possible to you. Faith standeth in God's power, and is
robed in God's majesty; it weareth the royal apparel, and rideth
on the King's horse, for it is the grace which the King
delighteth to honour. Girding itself with the glorious might of
the all-working Spirit, it becomes, in the omnipotence of God,
mighty to do, to dare, and to suffer. All things, without limit,
are possible to him that believeth. My soul, canst thou believe
thy Lord to-night?

* 09/24/PM

"I sleep, but my heart waketh."
                                           --Song of Solomon 5:2

   Paradoxes abound in Christian experience, and here is 
one--the spouse was asleep, and yet she was awake. He only can
read the believer's riddle who has ploughed with the heifer of
his experience. The two points in this evening's text are--a
mournful sleepiness and a hopeful wakefulness. I _sleep_.
Through sin that dwelleth in us we may become lax in holy
duties, slothful in religious exercises, dull in spiritual joys,
and altogether supine and careless. This is a shameful state for
one in whom the quickening Spirit dwells; and it is dangerous to
the highest degree. Even wise virgins sometimes slumber, but it
is high time for all to shake off the bands of sloth. It is to
be feared that many believers lose their strength as Samson lost
his locks, while sleeping on the lap of carnal security. With a
perishing world around us, to sleep is cruel; with eternity so
near at hand, it is madness. Yet we are none of us so much awake
as we should be; a few thunder-claps would do us all good, and
it may be, unless we soon bestir ourselves, we shall have them
in the form of war, or pestilence, or personal bereavements and
losses. O that we may leave for ever the couch of fleshly ease,
and go forth with flaming torches to meet the coming Bridegroom!
_My heart waketh_. This is a happy sign. Life is not extinct,
though sadly smothered. When our renewed heart struggles against
our natural heaviness, we should be grateful to sovereign grace
for keeping a little vitality within the body of this death.
Jesus will hear our hearts, will help our hearts, will visit our
hearts; for the voice of the wakeful heart is really the voice
of our Beloved, saying, "Open to me." Holy zeal will surely
unbar the door.

              "Oh lovely attitude! He stands
              With melting heart and laden hands;
              My soul forsakes her every sin;
              And lets the heavenly stranger in."

* 09/25/PM

"Who of God is made unto us wisdom."
                                            --1 Corinthians 1:30

   Man's intellect seeks after rest, and by nature seeks it 
apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. Men of education are apt,
even when converted, to look upon the simplicities of the cross
of Christ with an eye too little reverent and loving. They are
snared in the old net in which the Grecians were taken, and have
a hankering to mix philosophy with revelation. The temptation
with a man of refined thought and high education is to depart
from the simple truth of Christ crucified, and to invent, as the
term is, a more _intellectual_ doctrine. This led the early
Christian churches into Gnosticism, and bewitched them with all
sorts of heresies. This is the root of Neology, and the other
fine things which in days gone by were so fashionable in
Germany, and are now so ensnaring to certain classes of divines.
Whoever you are, good reader, and whatever your education may
be, if you be the Lord's, be assured you will find no rest in
philosophizing divinity. You may receive this dogma of one great
thinker, or that dream of another profound reasoner, but what
the chaff is to the wheat, that will these be to the pure word
of God. All that reason, when best guided, can find out is but
the A B C of truth, and even that lacks certainty, while in
Christ Jesus there is treasured up all the fulness of wisdom and
knowledge. All attempts on the part of Christians to be content
with systems such as Unitarian and Broad-church thinkers would
approve of, must fail; true heirs of heaven must come back to
the grandly simple reality which makes the ploughboy's eye flash
with joy, and glads the pious pauper's heart--"Jesus Christ came
into the world to save sinners." Jesus satisfies the most
elevated intellect when He is believingly received, but apart
from Him the mind of the regenerate discovers no rest. "The fear
of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." "A good
understanding have all they that do His commandments."

* 09/26/PM

"Howl, fir tree, for the cedar is fallen."
                                                --Zechariah 11:2

   When in the forest there is heard the crash of a falling oak, 
it is a sign that the woodman is abroad, and every tree in the
whole company may tremble lest to-morrow the sharp edge of the
axe should find it out. We are all like trees marked for the
axe, and the fall of one should remind us that for every one,
whether great as the cedar, or humble as the fir, the appointed
hour is stealing on apace. I trust we do not, by often hearing
of death, become callous to it. May we never be like the birds
in the steeple, which build their nests when the bells are
tolling, and sleep quietly when the solemn funeral peals are
startling the air. May we regard death as the most weighty of
all events, and be sobered by its approach. It ill behoves us to
sport while our eternal destiny hangs on a thread. The sword is
out of its scabbard--let us not trifle; it is furbished, and the
edge is sharp--let us not play with it. He who does not prepare
for death is more than an ordinary fool, he is a madman. When
the voice of God is heard among the trees of the garden, let fig
tree and sycamore, and elm and cedar, alike hear the sound

   Be ready, servant of Christ, for thy Master comes on a 
sudden, when an ungodly world least expects Him. See to it that
thou be faithful in His work, for the grave shall soon be digged
for thee. Be ready, parents, see that your children are brought
up in the fear of God, for they must soon be orphans; be ready,
men of business, take care that your affairs are correct, and
that you serve God with all your hearts, for the days of your
terrestrial service will soon be ended, and you will be called
to give account for the deeds done in the body, whether they be
good or whether they be evil. May we all prepare for the
tribunal of the great King with a care which shall be rewarded
with the gracious commendation, "Well done, good and faithful

* 09/27/PM

"My Beloved put in His hand by the hole of the door, and my
bowels were moved for Him."
                                           --Song of Solomon 5:4

   Knocking was not enough, for my heart was too full of sleep, 
too cold and ungrateful to arise and open the door, but the
touch of His effectual grace has made my soul bestir itself.
Oh, the longsuffering of my Beloved, to tarry when He found
Himself shut out, and me asleep upon the bed of sloth! Oh, the
greatness of His patience, to knock and knock again, and to add
His voice to His knockings, beseeching me to open to Him! How
could I have refused Him! Base heart, blush and be confounded!
But what greatest kindness of all is this, that He becomes His
own porter and unbars the door Himself. Thrice blessed is the
hand which condescends to lift the latch and turn the key. Now I
see that nothing but my Lord's own power can save such a naughty
mass of wickedness as I am; ordinances fail, even the gospel has
no effect upon me, till His hand is stretched out. Now, also, I
perceive that His hand is good where all else is unsuccessful,
He can open when nothing else will. Blessed be His name, I feel
His gracious presence even now. Well may my bowels move for Him,
when I think of all that He has suffered for me, and of my
ungenerous return. I have allowed my affections to wander. I
have set up rivals. I have grieved Him. Sweetest and dearest of
all beloveds, I have treated Thee as an unfaithful wife treats
her husband. Oh, my cruel sins, my cruel self. What can I do?
Tears are a poor show of my repentance, my whole heart boils
with indignation at myself. Wretch that I am, to treat my Lord,
my All in All, my exceeding great joy, as though He were a
stranger. Jesus, thou forgivest freely, but this is not enough,
prevent my unfaithfulness in the future. Kiss away these tears,
and then purge my heart and bind it with sevenfold cords to
Thyself, never to wander more.

* 09/28/PM

"Go again seven times."
                                                 --1 Kings 18:43

   Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although 
you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of
answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when His
people are earnest in a matter which concerns His glory. The
prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and
never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should be
non-suited in Jehovah's courts. Six times the servant returned,
but on each occasion no word was spoken but "Go again." We must
not dream of unbelief, but hold to our faith even to seventy
times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel's
brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again. So
far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is
animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled,
but not abashed: her groans are deeper, and her sighings more
vehement, but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand. It
would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy
answer, but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and
to find it good to wait _for_ as well as _upon_ the Lord.
Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so
lead to contrition and spiritual reformation: deadly blows are
thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are
cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint, and miss
the blessing. Reader, do not fall into that sin, but continue in
prayer and watching. At last the little cloud was seen, the sure
forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with you, the token
for good shall surely be given, and you shall rise as a
prevailing prince to enjoy the mercy you have sought. Elijah was
a man of like passions with us: his power with God did not lie
in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why
not yours? Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity,
and it shall be with you according to your desire.

* 09/29/PM

"I found Him whom my soul loveth: I held Him, and would not let
Him go."
                                           --Song of Solomon 3:4

   Does Christ receive us when we come to Him, notwithstanding 
all our past sinfulness? Does He never chide us for having tried
all other refuges first? And is there none on earth like Him? Is
He the best of all the good, the fairest of all the fair? Oh,
then let us praise Him! Daughters of Jerusalem, extol Him with
timbrel and harp! Down with your idols, up with the Lord Jesus.
Now let the standards of pomp and pride be trampled under foot,
but let the cross of Jesus, which the world frowns and scoffs
at, be lifted on high. O for a throne of ivory for our King
Solomon! let Him be set on high for ever, and let my soul sit at
His footstool, and kiss His feet, and wash them with my tears.
Oh, how precious is Christ! How can it be that I have thought so
little of Him? How is it I can go abroad for joy or comfort when
He is so full, so rich, so satisfying. Fellow believer, make a
covenant with thine heart that thou wilt never depart from Him,
and ask thy Lord to ratify it. Bid Him set thee as a signet upon
His finger, and as a bracelet upon His arm. Ask Him to bind thee
about Him, as the bride decketh herself with ornaments, and as
the bridegroom putteth on his jewels. I would live in Christ's
heart; in the clefts of that rock my soul would eternally abide.
The sparrow hath made a house, and the swallow a nest for
herself where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord
of hosts, my King and my God; and so too would I make my nest,
my home, in Thee, and never from Thee may the soul of Thy turtle
dove go forth again, but may I nestle close to Thee, O Jesus, my
true and only rest.

                 "When my precious Lord I find,
                 All my ardent passions glow;
                 Him with cords of love I bind,
                 Hold and will not let Him go."

* 09/30/PM

"A living dog is better than a dead lion."
                                              --Ecclesiastes 9:4

   Life is a precious thing, and in its humblest form it is 
superior to death. This truth is eminently certain in spiritual
things. It is better to be the least in the kingdom of heaven
than the greatest out of it. The lowest degree of grace is
superior to the noblest development of unregenerate nature.
Where the Holy Ghost implants divine life in the soul, there is
a precious deposit which none of the refinements of education
can equal. The thief on the cross excels Caesar on his throne;
Lazarus among the dogs is better than Cicero among the senators;
and the most unlettered Christian is in the sight of God
superior to Plato. Life is the badge of nobility in the realm of
spiritual things, and men without it are only coarser or finer
specimens of the same lifeless material, needing to be
quickened, for they are dead in trespasses and sins.

   A living, loving, gospel sermon, however unlearned in matter 
and uncouth in style, is better than the finest discourse devoid
of unction and power. A living dog keeps better watch than a
dead lion, and is of more service to his master; and so the
poorest spiritual preacher is infinitely to be preferred to the
exquisite orator who has no wisdom but that of words, no energy
but that of sound. The like holds good of our prayers and other
religious exercises; if we are quickened in them by the Holy
Spirit, they are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, though
we may think them to be worthless things; while our grand
performances in which our hearts were absent, like dead lions,
are mere carrion in the sight of the living God. O for living
groans, living sighs, living despondencies, rather than lifeless
songs and dead calms. Better anything than death. The snarlings
of the dog of hell will at least keep us awake, but dead faith
and dead profession, what greater curses can a man have? Quicken
us, quicken us, O Lord!

This document (last modified October 06, 1995) from