Evening


“We die daily,” said the apostle. This was the life of the early Christians; they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. We are not in this day called to pass through the same fearful persecutions: if we were, the Lord would give us grace to bear the test; but the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are yet more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age. We have to bear the sneer of the world-that is little; its blandishments, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy, are far worse. Our danger is lest we grow rich and become proud, lest we give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth be not the trial, worldly care is quite as mischievous. If we cannot be torn in pieces by the roaring lion, if we may be hugged to death by the bear, the devil little cares which it is, so long as he destroys our love to Christ, and our confidence in him. I fear me that the Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our own undoing, unless our faith in Jesus be a reality, and our love to Jesus a vehement flame. Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God. Christian, do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardour; you need these things more than ever, and may God the eternal Spirit display his omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things, as well as in the rougher, “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

What is your desire this evening? Is it set upon heavenly things? Do you long to enjoy the high doctrine of eternal love? Do you desire liberty in very close communion with God? Do you aspire to know the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths? Then you must draw near to Jesus; you must get a clear sight of him in his preciousness and completeness: you must view him in his work, in his offices, in his person. He who understands Christ, receives an anointing from the Holy One, by which he knows all things. Christ is the great master-key of all the chambers of God: there is no treasure-house of God which will not open and yield up all its wealth to the soul that lives near to Jesus. Are you saying, “O that he would dwell in my bosom?” “Would that he would make my heart his dwelling-place for ever?” Open the door, beloved, and he will come into your souls. He has long been knocking, and all with this object, that he may sup with you, and you with him. He sups with you because you find the house or the heart, and you with him because he brings the provision. He could not sup with you if it were not in your heart, you finding the house; nor could you sup with him, for you have a bare cupboard, if he did not bring provision with him. Fling wide, then, the portals of your soul. He will come with that love which you long to feel; he will come with that joy into which you cannot work your poor depressed spirit; he will bring the peace which now you have not; he will come with his flagons of wine and sweet apples of love, and cheer you till you have no other sickness but that of “love o’erpowering, love divine.” Only open the door to him, drive out his enemies, give him the keys of your heart, and he will dwell there for ever. Oh, wondrous love, that brings such a guest to dwell in such a heart!

Sweet is the season of spring: the long and dreary winter helps us to appreciate its genial warmth, and its promise of summer enhances its present delights. After periods of depression of spirit, it is delightful to behold again the light of the Sun of Righteousness; then our slumbering graces rise from their lethargy, like the crocus and the daffodil from their beds of earth; then is our heart made merry with delicious notes of gratitude, far more melodious than the warbling of birds-and the comforting assurance of peace, infinitely more delightful than the turtle’s note, is heard within the soul. Now is the time for the soul to seek communion with her Beloved; now must she rise from her native sordidness, and come away from her old associations. If we do not hoist the sail when the breeze is favourable, we shall be blameworthy: times of refreshing ought not to pass over us unimproved. When Jesus himself visits us in tenderness, and entreats us to arise, can we be so base as to refuse his request? He has himself risen that he may draw us after him: he now by his Holy Spirit has revived us, that we may, in newness of life, ascend into the heavenlies, and hold communion with himself. Let our wintry state suffice us for coldness and indifference; when the Lord creates a spring within, let our sap flow with vigour, and our branch blossom with high resolve. O Lord, if it be not spring time in my chilly heart, I pray thee make it so, for I am heartily weary of living at a distance from thee. Oh! the long and dreary winter, when wilt thou bring it to an end? Come, Holy Spirit, and renew my soul! quicken thou me! restore me, and have mercy on me! This very night I would earnestly implore the Lord to take pity upon his servant, and send me a happy revival of spiritual life!

Why should our exalted Lord appear in his wounds in glory? The wounds of Jesus are his glories, his jewels, his sacred ornaments. To the eye of the believer, Jesus is passing fair because he is “white and ruddy;” white with innocence, and ruddy with his own blood. We see him as the lily of matchless purity, and as the rose crimsoned with his own gore. Christ is lovely upon Olivet and Tabor, and by the sea, but oh! there never was such a matchless Christ as he that did hang upon the cross. There we beheld all his beauties in perfection, all his attributes developed, all his love drawn out, all his character expressed. Beloved, the wounds of Jesus are far more fair in our eyes than all the splendour and pomp of kings. The thorny crown is more than an imperial diadem. It is true that he bears not now the sceptre of reed, but there was a glory in it that never flashed from sceptre of gold. Jesus wears the appearance of a slain Lamb as his court dress in which he wooed our souls, and redeemed them by his complete atonement. Nor are these only the ornaments of Christ: they are the trophies of his love and of his victory. He has divided the spoil with the strong. He has redeemed for himself a great multitude whom no man can number, and these scars are the memorials of the fight. Ah! if Christ thus loves to retain the thought of his sufferings for his people, how precious should his wounds be to us!

“Behold how every wound of his

A precious balm distils,

Which heals the scars that sin had made,

And cures all mortal ills.

“Those wounds are mouths that preach his grace;

The ensigns of his love;

The seals of our expected bliss

In paradise above.”

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