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Robert Hawker, The Poor Man’s Morning Portions

“The good will of him that dwelt in the bush.”—Deuteronomy 33:16

And who is this, my soul; who indeed can it be but Jesus? Surely he is the glorious person. It was good will, in the highest possible instance of it, that prompted his infinite mind, from everlasting, to love his people, to engage for them in suretyship engagements, and to stand up and come forth, at the call of God the Father, as the head of his body the church. It was a continuation of the same good will which prompted him, in the fulness of time, to assume our nature for the purposes of fulfilling those engagements. Then it was, indeed, he dwelt in the bush; for what is our nature, at the best, but a poor dry bramble bush, fit for burning? But yet, by Christ in it, so sustained, and so preserved, that though the bush burns with fire, even the fiery lusts of our corruptions, and the fiery darts of the wicked, and all the fiery opposition of the world, it shall not be consumed. Precious Jesus! what good will hast thou shewn, dost thou shew, and everlastingly wilt shew, to our poor nature, since thou hast been in it, and art now, indeed, the dweller in it. And did Moses, when dying, thus connect the first views of thy love, when from the burning bash thou didst make thyself known to him, as God tabernacling in our flesh, for the purpose of salvation, with his last views as he was closing his eyes to this world, and looking up to thee as God-man Mediator, and thus pray for thy good will to the church? Oh then, let my every-day meditation do the same. Lord Jesus, I would seek thee and thy good will beyond all the riches of the earth, and all the enjoyments of the world. Lord, I would never forget that it was thy good will which brought thee down from heaven; thy good will which prompted thee to die, to rise again, for poor sinners; thy good will which makes thee wash them from all their sins in thy blood; all the visits of thy grace here, all the glories of redemption hereafter; all are the purchase and the result of thy good will. Precious Lord, do thou, day by day, grant me renewed tokens of thy good will; and let those visits be so gracious, so sweet, and so continual, that I may think of nothing else, speak of nothing else, but the good will of my dweller in the bush. I would pray for grace to spend all the moments of my life here in receiving from thee grace and love, and bringing to thee love and praise, until thou shalt take me home to live at the fountain of thy good will, and the whole happiness of eternity consists in the praises of God and the Lamb, and in enjoying” the good will of him that dwelt in the bush.”

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“And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.”—Luke 18:7,8

My soul, mark for thy encouragement, in all thine approaches to a throne of grace, what Jesus here speaks, and never lose sight of it. Remember how well acquainted he, who came out of the bosom of the Father, must be with the Father’s mind and will towards his people, over and above the gracious exercise of his priestly office in their behalf. Now, my soul, do mark down distinctly what blessed things are here promised. First—God’s people are said in it to be his elect, his chosen, his jewels. “This people,” saith God, “I have formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.” Secondly—God’s people are a praying people; “they cry day and night to him;” they are unceasing in their applications; and they wrestle, like their father Jacob in prayer: “Lord, I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” Give me Jesus, and in him I shall have all things. He will subdue this corruption; he will soften this affliction; he will conquer Satan, and with him, all his temptations. Thirdly—God’s people will and must be exercised. There will be sometimes long silence at the throne. The enemy will endeavour to improve this to strengthen his temptation; he will suggest, ‘God hath forgotten thee; he will return no more; he hath cast thee off.’ Lastly—mark what Jesus saith; “Shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” Yes, yes, he will, I tell you, saith one who could not be mistaken; “he will avenge them, and that speedily.” When the hour of deliverance comes, it shall come so sudden, so sweet, so unexpected, that all their long waiting shall be forgotten; and it shall seem as if that promise of answering before they called was in it. And he will not only bless them, but avenge them of their foes. And whence all this, my soul, but because he is the Father of mercies, and God of all consolation. His people are his chosen, the gift of his love, the purchase of Jesus’s blood, the conquests of his Holy Spirit. Lord, cause me ever to keep those precious things in remembrance, and to hang on, and hold out, and never, never to give over pleading in Jesus, until I hear that precious voice, “Be it unto thee, even as thou wilt.”

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“And every oblation of thy meat-offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-offering: with all thy offering thou shalt offer salt.”—Leviticus 2:13

Ponder over these words, my soul, and looking up for grace, and the divine teachings, see whether Jesus is not sweetly typified here. Was not Jesus the whole sum and substance of every offering under the law? The Holy Ghost taught the church this, when he said, “the law was a shadow of good things to come, but the body is of Christ.” And did not the church, by faith, behold him as the salt which seasoned and made savoury the whole? Moreover, as all the sacrifices were wholly directed to typify him who knew no sin, but became sin for his people; the seasoning the sacrifice with salt, which was also a type of Christ’s purity and sinlessness, became a sweet representation, to denote that a sinner, when he came with his offering, came by faith; to intimate that he looked for acceptance in the Lord as his sacrifice, and for preservation in the salt of his grace, in Christ Jesus. And who then, among believers now, would ever approach without an eye to Jesus, and the seasoning with this salt all his poor offerings. Lord, grant that the salt of the covenant of my God may never be lacking; for where Jesus is not, there can be no acceptance. Lord, let me have this salt in myself, and may every renewed presentation of myself be there salted. Then shall I be as the salt of the earth, amidst not only the putrefaction of the world, but the corruptions of my own heart. Lord, say to us, and impart the blessing of thyself in saying it, “Have salt in yourselves;” and then shall we have peace with thee, and with one another.

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“To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”—Habakkuk 3:19

My soul, take down thine harp from the willow; and now the night is past, let the first of the morn find thee going forth, in the matin of praise, to the chief singer on all the instruments of his grace, which he hath strung thine heart to use to his glory. And who is this chief singer, but Jesus? Doth not the prophet say, “The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk in mine high places?” Surely he that is the Lord God of my salvation, is the chief singer, and chief musician of my song. And he that will be my portion, my everlasting portion in the upper world, will be my strength and song in this. Surely David would not have directed, as he hath, in such numberless places, his psalms to a singer among men, in the temple service, when the whole scope of the psalm itself treats of the Lord, and of his Christ. The root of the word singer, or musician itself, means the end. And” Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Come then, my soul, strike up this morning this hymn of praise. God the Holy Ghost is exciting thee. It is he which points to Jesus. He shews the king in his beauty, and bids thee behold his suitableness, transcendent excellencies, grace, love, favour, glory. Carry, then, all thy concerns to this chief musician. Put forth all thy strength to praise him, that while Jesus is attentive to the hallelujahs of heaven, he may hear thy feeble note, amidst all the songs which are offered him, giving glory to his great name, from the uttermost parts of the earth. Follow the prophet’s example, and let the goings forth of thy warmest desires be to the chief singer on thy stringed instruments:—The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth, and in my song will I praise him.”

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“By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.”—Hebrews 11:4

The Holy Ghost hath here marked down, by his servant the apostle, in the very first offerings which we read of in the bible, the vast importance of faith; by which it most decidedly proves, that it is faith which gives efficacy to all the offerings of his creatures. Faith in what? Nay—there can be but one view of faith throughout the word of God; namely, faith in the promised seed to bruise the serpent’s head. This was the first promise which came in upon the fall. Every offering, therefore, offered unto God, unless it had an eye to this, became offensive. Cain did not offer the first-fruits of the ground with an eye of faith in Christ—hence, he was the first deist the world ever knew. Abel, by faith, offered the firstlings of his flock with an eye to Jesus—and hence the testimony that God respected his offering. What a striking evidence is here, ray soul, of the vast and infinite importance of faith. Cain made an offering to God, and by so doing, he did, as the deists now do, acknowledge God to be his Creator; but not looking to him as a Redeemer, and thereby intimating that he needed none, both his person and his offering were rejected. Meditate on this, my soul, and learn by grace to mix faith in all that concerns thy soul. Oh keep an eye on Jesus, convinced that “there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” And if, through the gracious teachings of the Spirit, in taking of the things of Jesus, and shewing them unto thee, thou art able daily to apprehend by faith, and bring him (as the bee doth from the flower) his person, his work, his character, his relations, his grace, and righteousness, as the sent, and sealed, and anointed, of the Father, full of grace and truth; by thus living upon him, and living to him, and making him what he is to all his people, the Alpha and Omega of thy salvation; faith in him will give a sweet leaven to all thy poor prayers, and praises, and offerings, and thou wilt find favour with God, to the praise of the glory of his grace, who maketh thee accepted in the Beloved.

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“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.”—2 Timothy 1:9

Mark, my soul, all the precious things, if thou hast power or time to do so, which are contained in this blessed scripture. Eternity itself will not be sufficient to allow space to enumerate them; neither will thy ripened faculties, even when full-blown and full-fruited, be found sufficient to enter into the complete apprehension of them all. Who is it that is here said to have saved ns, and called us with an holy calling, but the holy, glorious, undivided Jehovah, existing in a threefold character of Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? For all have concurred in that blessed work; and all, in the essence of the One Jehovah, must have the joint praise and the joint glory to all eternity. Well, then, put thy salvation down to this glorious account: it is God who hath saved and called thee. Next, mark the order here set forth. Thou art said to be saved before thou art said to be called. Mark that! salvation precedes our knowledge of it. The covenant engagements of the Almighty Covenanters took place from everlasting. For so saith the apostle concerning the hopes of happiness founded on salvation: “In hope,” saith he, “of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” Next, my soul, take notice of the call itself. It is an holy call: for we are called to the fellowship and communion of Jesus Christ. “And as he who hath called us is holy, so are we called to be holy, in all manner of conversation and godliness.” See to it, my soul, that thy fellowship and communion is in the holiness and sin-atoning blood of Jesus. Lastly, never, my soul, lose sight of the cause of these unspeakable mercies—no, not for a moment. “We are saved and called, not according to our works, but according to his purpose.” Hence, what is God’s gift, cannot be man’s merit; and what resulted from infinite love, from all eternity, cannot flow from creature love in time. Blessed purpose, and blessed grace: and thrice-blessed, being given to us in God’s dear Son, even Christ Jesus, before the world began!

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“And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it: it shall not be put out. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar: it shall never go out.”—Leviticus 6:1 2, 13

Pause, my soul! behold the precept in one verse, and the promise in the other. The Israelites was not to put out this altar fire; and Jehovah promised that it should never go out. Neither did it, through all the Jewish church, until Christ came. And if it be true that it actually did expire (as it is said it did) the very year Christ died, what is this hut a confirmation of the grand truth of God concerning the putting away of sin by the blood of Christ? For is not fire an emblem, through all the scriptures, of Jehovah’s displeasure against sin? Ss not God said to be a consuming fire? And by its burning, and that miraculously preserved under all the Jewish dispensation, is it not meant to manifest Jehovah’s perpetual wrath, burning like fire against sin? And as the fire was never extinguished upon the altar, notwithstanding the numerous sacrifices offered, can any thing more decidedly prove the inefficacy of sacrifices under the law, how expensive soever they were, to take away sin? And is the fire now gone out? Hath God himself indeed put it out! Then hath he accepted that one offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, who came to put away sin, and hath for ever put it away by the sacrifice of himself. Hail, thou great, thou glorious, thou everlasting Redeemer! Thou art indeed both the High Priest and the altar, both the Sacrifice and the 6acrificer, whose one offering hath both put out the fire of divine wrath, and caused the holy flame of love and peace to burn in its stead, which hath kindled in every heart of thy people. Yes, yes, thou Lamb of God, it is thou which hast delivered us from the wrath to come! Thou hast made our peace in the blood of thy cross. Thou hast quenched, by thy blood the just fire of divine indignation against sin. Thou hast quenched no less all the fiery darts of Satan. Thou hast subdued the flaming enmity of our hearts, with all their fiery lusts and burning affections. What shall I say to thee, what shall I say of thee, what shall I proclaim concerning thee, Oh thou, the Lord our righteousness? Lord, help me to begin the song, and never suffer sin or Satan—nay, death itself, for a moment, to make an interruption in the heavenly note; but let thy name fill my whole soul, and vibrate on my dying lips, that I may open my eyes in eternity, while the words still hang there: “To him who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests unto God and the Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

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“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”—2 Timothy 4:8

Pause, my soul, over this blessed verse, and mark the very weighty things contained in it. Many a soul is for deferring the thoughts of this great day of God, and conclude, that the justification of the sinner cannot be known until the day of judgment. But, my soul, see to it, that thou art for bringing the firm and unshaken belief of it into immediate possession and enjoyment now; for surely Jesus hath effectually and fully provided for it. “Whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” See to it then, my soul, that thou dost not suffer thyself to live a day, no, not an hour, in a state of uncertainty upon a point of such infinite consequence, in which the pardon of thy sins, and the justification of thy person before God, is so highly concerned. If Jesus be thy Surety, his righteousness and blood must be thy full justification before God, and his salvation as much now as it will ever be. Pause then, and ask thine heart, dost thou love his appearing? Suppose the trump of God was this moment to sound, wouldest thou love his appearing? No doubt the moment would be solemn, but would it not be glorious? Is Jesus thine; his righteousness thine; his blood thy ransom? Wouldest thou love his appearing if these things were sure? And what makes them not sure? Art thou looking to any other righteousness? Hast thou not disclaimed all other saviours? Ask thyself again; dost thou love his appearing, in the season of ordinances, providences, retirements; in his word, in the visits of his grace; at his table, his house of prayer, among his churches, his people? Dost thou love his appearing in the conversion of every poor sinner; and doth the same make thee to rejoice over the recovery of such as angels do, when one repents? My soul, let these things be among thy daily meditations concerning Jesus; for then will thy meditation of him be sweet. And by thus making the justification of thy person in the blood and righteousness of Jesus thy daily comfort, thou wilt be prepared to love his appearing, in death, and finally at judgment; that when the Master comes, and calleth for thee, thou mayest arise with holy joy, and mount up to meet the Lord in the air, and receive that crown of Jesus’s righteousness which fadeth not away.

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“A friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”—Proverbs 18:24

And who is this, my soul; indeed, who can it be, but Jesus? None among the fallen race of Adam could ever redeem his brother; or, if he could, would have done it, at the expence of his own soul. But Jesus did all this, and more, when our cause was desperate, and gave himself a ransom for his redeemed. Oh for grace to mark the features of his love. It began in eternity, it runs through all time, and continues everlasting. As Jesus is himself, so is he in his love; the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. And how hath he shewn it? First, by engaging as our Surety; then paying all our debts; fulfilling the whole law; purchasing our persons; undertaking for our duty; nay, even to the conquering the stubbornness of our nature, and making us willing to be saved in the day of his power! And what is it now? Having accomplished redemption for us by his blood, he is gone to take possession of a kingdom in our name. There he still manifests “the friend that sticketh closer than a brother;” for he takes up all our causes, pleads our suits, and makes every case his own. And by and by he will come to take us to himself, that where he is, there we may be also. In the mean time he supplies all our wants, and this with a freeness, fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency, that knows no bounds, to manifest the unalterable friendship which he bears us. He visits us continually, sympathises with us in all our afflictions, and increases with his tender love the enjoyment of all our comforts; and all this, and a thousand other nameless, numberless tokens, Jesus is continually shewing, as proves that his whole heart and soul is our’s. So that he is a faithful, loving, constant, powerful, kind, everlasting, unchanging Friend, that sticketh closer than a brother. My soul, what wilt thou say to such a Friend? How wilt thou love him? Oh precious Lord, when! think of thy love and my ingratitude—but Lord, it is thine to love, thine to pity, thine to pardon. Lord, give me grace to appropriate thee to myself; and while thou art still saying to me, and to thy church,” I have called you friends,”—may I say, “This is my Friend, and this is my Beloved, O daughters of Jerusalem!”

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“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.”—Song of Solomon 8:6

My soul, is this the language of thine heart to Jesus? Yes, it is. Can any desire to be nearer Christ than thee? Can any long more to be worn as a signet upon his arm, and to lay nearer his heart than thee? And can any desire more than thou dost, to be sealed with his Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption? Surely, my soul, thou longest earnestly for these precious things, that that arm of Jesus, on which thou wouldest be set as a seal, may be ever clasping thee; and that heart of thy Redeemer’s upon which thou art engraven, as the high priest bore the names of the people of Israel, may be always folding thee, and hearing both thy person and thy wants before the throne, and thus unceasing fellowship may abound with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And canst thou not say, as the church did to Jesus, “For love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave?” For as death conquers all, and the grave admits of no rival, so thy love to Jesus, which he hath planted in thine heart hath conquered thee; and no rival, no partner, can divide the throne of thine heart with Jesus? Every thing in thee concerning Jesus, is as though on fire; and all the flames of thine affection burn with this language,” Whom have I in heaven but thee; and there, is none upon earth I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth; thou art the strength of my heart, and thou art my portion for ever.” But pause, my soul, is there not somewhat, in those precious words of the morning, in which Jesus may be supposed to say the same to thee? Surely, my soul, if thou forest him, it is because he first loved thee! And if the real cry of thine heart is to be set as a seal upon his heart, and upon his arm, depend upon it, it is because he hath been before hand with thee in both. Precious Redeemer! and dost thou indeed bid me set thee in my heart, and on my arm? Lord Jesus, I would wear thee in my heart. I would never, never suffer thee to depart from my arms. I would feel thee inward, manifest thee by every outward testimony; and as seals upon the arm and upon the breast are in sight, so would I set thee always before me, and tell the whole earth whose I am, and whom I love; that whither thou goest I would go, and where thou dwellest I would dwell: for I am no longer my own, but am bought with a price; therefore I would glorify God in my body, and in my spirit, which are his.

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“Therefore, thus saith the Lord, I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies.”— Zechariah 1:16

My soul, think what a sad state that land, that church, that family, that heart is in, where God withdraws but for a moment! This will be one way of rightly appreciating his presence. What a mercy, what an unspeakable mercy is it when God returns! For until he returns in grace, there will be no return to him in a way of seeking mercy. Pause, my soul, over the thought. Though a child of God loseth not the interest and favour of God in his covenant, because what unworthiness soever, as in ourselves, we must appear in before God, yet in Christ there is an everlasting worthiness, in which his people are accepted and beloved: yet if the Lord suspends his gracious influences on the soul; if Jesus speaks neither by Urim nor Thummim; if the Holy Ghost, though at home in the heart, manifests not himself to the heart; what shall the soul do? Ordinances are nothing if the God of ordinances be not in them. To look inward, the soul finds no peace. To look upward, there can be no comfort. For if the Lord commands the clouds to poor no rain upon his inheritance, their heaven is as brass, and their earth as iron. Hast thou, my soul, experienced trying seasons; and, though convinced of an interest in Jesus, hast thou languished after the sweet and blessed visits of his grace? Listen then to this precious scripture,” I am returned, saith the Lord unto Jerusalem with mercies.” Welcome, Lord, to my soul, to my heart! Thy presence is better than life itself. And the mercies thou hast brought with thee, in pardoning, quickening, renewing, reviving, comforting, strengthening me, will put more joy in my heart than thousands of gold and silver. There will be no barren ordinances, no barren hearts, no barren land, where our God comes. Thou hast said,” I will be as the dew unto Israel.” Oh what a revival in my poor heart; what a revival will thy presence make in my family; what a revival in thy churches; what a revival in this dear land of our nativity! Oh come, Lord Jesus, come in our midst; and let us hear thee say,” I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies.” “Thou shalt no more be termed forsaken, neither shall thy land any more be termed desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”

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“And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.”—Psalm 107:7

My soul, what are thy daily exercises concerning the way the Lord thy God is leading thee through a wilderness dispensation? Art thou convinced that it is the right way? What if it be a thorny way, a tempted way, frequently a dark way; yet art thou satisfied that it is the right way, because it is thorny, tempted, dark, and with numberless other exercises. This is the plan to judge by. And though, my soul, I trust thou hast grace enough given thee to see and know, in thy cool hours of thought, that whatever thy God appoints must be right, and his holy will must be done; yet there is an exercise of grace which goes much beyond these views of the subject, and which a believer is enabled to bring into practice, when he not only submits to a painful dispensation, but rejoiceth in it, because it is the right way. When he saith, I am afflicted; but afflictions are useful. I am in dark and trying circumstances; but these also are useful. I am buffeted by Satan; but this also I find to be right, because Christ is the more endeared thereby, and his strength is perfected in my weakness. My God is bringing me by a right way, to a city of habitation. Of this I am sure. And every step leading to the final attainment, is already marked by infinite wisdom, and provided for by infinite love; and Jesus himself is with me through all the pilgrimage. Hence then, I conclude, that if at any time I am at a loss to see my way, to find comfort in my way, or if I am obstructed in my way, still it is the right way, because Jesus himself is the way, and his unerring wisdom is in the appointment. Oh for grace in lively exercise, to be as satisfied now of all the despensations concerning the church and people, as when of old, in the wilderness! The Lord is leading forth by a right way, to bring to a city of habitation, whose builder and maker is God.

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“Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”—Genesis 22:12

My soul, ponder these words. By whom were they spoken? It is said by the angel of the Lord; probably the messenger of the covenant; he, who in the fulness of time, was to make known, face to face, to all Abraham’s seed, the whole revelation of Jehovah concerning redemption. It was a critical moment in Abraham’s life, and a trying moment to his faith. It is said, “Now I know.” Did not the Lord know before? Oh yes; but he that gave Abraham the faith, now afforded an opportunity for the exercise of it. My soul, how blessed is it to remark, that the largest gifts of grace are dispensed, when there is the largest occasion for them. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” And, my soul, do not forget to remark also, that our Isaacs, our children, our earthly comforts, are most likely to be continued to us, when the Lord gives grace and faith to be most ready at his holy will to part with them. When I can say, Lord, all that thou hast given me is thine; and if thou art pleased to take all, or any part back again, still it is thine own—not mine, but lent. Oh, for grace, like Abraham, to bless a taking God, as well as a giving God, and to withhold nothing from him. Pause, my soul, one moment longer over this precious portion. Is there nothing more to be gathered from it? Look again; read it over once more. Pass beyond Abraham, and contemplate the God of Abraham, and see if thou canst not discover the infinite, unequalled, astonishing love of God the Father typified in this solemn transaction; and while we behold Abraham, at the call of God, giving up his son, his only son; may we not behold God, uncalled, unsought, and without any one cause but his own free everlasting love, giving up his only begotten Son, as a sacrifice for the redemption of his people? The patriarch gave up his son but in intention; but God in reality. And, my soul, what oughtest thou now to say to God in the view of this transaction? Methinks I find authority, from these sweet words, to make a paraphrase upon them, and to make application of them, for all and every circumstance with which I may be exercised; and, looking up to God my Father in Christ Jesus, I would say, ‘Now, O Lord and Father, I know thou dost love a poor, sinful, unworthy worm as I am, seeing thou hast not withheld thy Son, thine only Son from me.’

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“My Father is the husbandman.”—John 15:1

Blessed truth, and blessed assurance, to the true followers of Jesus. Yes, Almighty Father! I would pray for thy continual teaching, to behold thee as the husbandman of thy vineyard, the church, in which thou hast raised up the Plant of Renown, the Man whose name is the Branch, the true Vine, in whom, and upon whom, and through whom, all thy redeemed, taken from the olive- tree that is wild by nature, are grafted, and bring forth fruit unto God. Yes, Almighty Father! I would desire grace to behold thee, and while I behold, to love, to praise, to adore thee, that from everlasting thou hast graciously been the husbandman of thy church. It was in thee, and from thee, as the contriver and appointer of all that concerned redemption, we trace the fountain and source of all that grace, mercy, peace, and favour here, with all the unknown treasures of glory hereafter, which thou hast placed in his most blessed hands, who is the Lord our righteousness. In every renewed view of Jesus, as the true Vine, which thou hast planted; and in every renewed communication from his fulness, nourishment, and life-imparting influences; may it be my happy portion, Oh Lord, to eye thee, as the husbandman, while I feel and know my union in Jesus as the Vine. And do thou, most gracious God and Father, condescend to act the part of the kind husbandman still. Let thine eyes be upon me for good, as the husbandman visits his vineyard. Water, Lord, with the heavenly dew of thy word and Spirit, the dry and languishing plantation. Oh that the Lord may give showers of blessing, and that he may be to me as the latter, and as the former rain, upon the barrenness of my heart. Preserve me, Lord, from the wild boar of the wood, even Satan, that he may never tread me down. Weed out, Lord, the briers and thorns, even the corruptions of my own heart, which would twine themselves with the tender branches. And lop off, Oh Lord, all the superfluous shoots, even the world’s enticements, which might prevent fruitfulness in Jesus. In all things, blessed God and Father, be thou the kind, the tender, the wise husbandman, in doing for me what thou seest to be needful, however painful to flesh and blood the pruning dispensations and wintry providences may be found. Do thou purge, as Jesus hath said, every branch that beareth fruit, that it may bring forth more fruit; and by thy gracious Spirit so cause me to abide in Christ, and that Christ may abide in me, that thou, my God and Father, mayest be glorified in my bearing much fruit, to the praise of thy grace, wherein thou hast made me accepted in the beloved.

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“In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.”—Psalm 89:16

See, my soul, what a blessed cause is again before thee to begin the month, and to carry it on through every day, and all the day, and in every part of the day, for joy in the name and righteousness of Jesus. And mark it with peculiar emphasis, that it is Jesus, as Jesus, the Christ of God, and his righteousness as the righteousness of God, in which all thy rejoicing is, and not in the finest frames, or spiritual exercises of thine own. A daily sense of a need of Christ, and as constant a sense of acting faith upon Christ; these form the foundation of every true believer’s joy, and make the savour of Christ’s name like ointment poured forth; And whence is it, my soul, that all the redeemed are said to rejoice in the name of the Lord all the day, but because the Lord hath saved them and redeemed them for his name’s sake? And whence is it said, that in his righteousness they shall be exalted, but because from their union with Christ, as their spiritual head, they are accepted in his righteousness, and are made the righteousness of God in him? Here’s an exaltation indeed, enough to make the heart of the most sorrowful glad, let outward circumstances be what they may; when inward joy and peace in believing give such a blessedness to the believer’s view of the name of Jesus. See to it then, my soul, that all thy fresh springs of joy are in him. Be very jealous over thyself, in the happiest moments of thy comfort, that Christ’s name, and his righteousness and salvation, lie at the bottom of thy joy. Where is Jesus? I would ask my heart, when I am most at ease and happy. Is he in this happiness? And is this happiness enjoyed, and enjoyed purely, because Christ is in it? Trace this, my soul, through all the parts of salvation, and through all thy paths in grace, and see whether thou art bottoming every hope and every mercy, both for time and eternity, in the name and righteousness of Jesus only: for, depend upon it, as Jehovah hath said, in the pardoning and blotting out the transgressions of his people,” I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for my name’s sake;” so it is to the everlasting praise of his name, that all the glory of salvation is, and must be ascribed. Nevertheless, he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.

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“Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?”—Isaiah 21:11

While this solemn inquiry may be supposed to have peculiar reference, as addressed to the servants of the Lord, whom he hath set as watchmen upon the walls of Zion, may it not be made personally to every man’s bosom also, as it refers to himself? And the repeating of it twice should seem to imply the importance and earnestness with which it should be followed up. My soul, what is the night with thee? Art thou watching in it more than they that watch for the morning: yea, I say, more than they which watch for the morning? How art thou exercising this watchfulness? Is all safe respecting thine everlasting welfare? Art thou watching the approaches of the enemy? Art thou watchful in prayer; watchful for the gracious moment of the Spirit’s helping thee in prayer; watchful in guiding thee in the exercise of it; watchful of the Lord’s gracious answers to prayer; and, like the prophet on the watch tower, having given in thy petition to the heavenly court, into the hands of thy High Priest and Intercessor, art thou waiting to see what the Lord will say unto thee? Lord, make me eminently watchful in these things. Go on, my soul, in this heart-searching inquiry. Art thou waiting and watching thy Lord’s return? What of the night is it now? May not Jesus come at even, or at midnight, or at cock-crowing, or in the morning? Pause, my soul. Suppose his chariot wheels were at the door, wouldest thou arise with holy joy, crying out, It is the voice of my beloved, saying, “Behold I come quickly?” And wouldest thou answer, “Even so come, Lord Jesus?” Oh for grace to be of that happy number, of whom the Lord himself saith, “Blessed are those servants whom, at his coming, he shall find so doing.”

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“My grace is sufficient for thee.”—2 Corinthians 12:9

My soul, gather a rich cluster this morning of those precious fruits which hang upon the tree of life—even upon Jesus. Thou wilt find their taste more sweet and pleasant than all the branches of the vine. Consider the fulness in thy Lord. Such a fulness indeed, by virtue of the covenant engagements in Jehovah, is treasured up in Christ, that all the grace every individual of his seed could possibly want in time, and all the glory hereafter—all, all is lodged in him. What a thought is here! Consider also the freeness of this grace. Never, surely, did God give any gift more free than when he gave his Son. And as the apostle from hence justly reasons: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” When, my soul, thou hast feasted thyself upon the fulness and freeness of the fruits of Jesus’s salvation, gather another rich portion for thyself with the hand of faith, in the suitableness and sufficiency there is in him for thee. Take the sweet words spoken here to Paul, but not limited to Paul, as if personally addressed to thyself. It is Jesus now speaks and saith this day, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” This is as if he had said, all the grace I have is for my people; and I have not only enough for all, but for every one; and I have it for thee. I have the very portion which I knew each would want every day, and all the day, through the whole of their pilgrimage state: from everlasting I knew their need; and from everlasting I have laid every individual child’s portion by, and do keep it for him to the moment required: and each shall find a suited sufficiency exactly answering to all their wants, and corresponding to all their necessities. Precious thought! Henceforth, my soul, cast all thy care upon Jesus; for thou now seest how he careth for thee. Morning by morning hear his voice, speaking personally to thyself,” My grace is sufficient for thee.”

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“We, being many, are one body in Christ.”—Romans 12:5

One of the most delightful of all thoughts, and which when fully enjoyed under the influence of the Holy Ghost, gives an unspeakable felicity in the heart, is that union and fellowship of Christ with his church. Ponder it, my soul, this morning. All the members of Christ’s body are but one body. the apostle saith, in Christ; “and he is the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” I would never, if possible, lose sight of this, because in the perfect conviction and assurance of it must be found all our security and joy. And the way by which this blessed truth, under divine teaching, will be kept alive in the soul, is this: I would behold myself, what I am by nature and practice in Adam, and connect with this view what I am by grace and faith in Christ. Now, as Adam was the common head of all his seed in nature, equally so is Christ the common head of all his seed in grace. Do I consider that, when Adam sinned in the garden, I as one of his children, and then, as scripture saith of Levi, in respect to his connection with Abraham, was in his loins, part of himself, and consequently implicated and involved in all the good or bad belonging to him? Then it will follow, that in Adam’s sin I sinned, and in Adam’s condemnation I was included. So then, as Adam did not transgress only for himself, but for all his seed, by nature, that should come from him; equally so when Christ fulfilled all righteousness, and when Christ expiated all sin by the sacrifice of himself, his seed were considered righteous in him; and his expiatory sacrifice, as the head of his people, must be, to all intents and purposes, the same as if they had been sacrificed with him. Cherish this thought, my soul, and never allow thyself to behold Christ as the Christ of God, in the capacity of a private or single person, but as the covenant Head, the Father’s Chosen, the Sent, the Sealed, the Anointed of God, in whom all his members are one body in Christ. See that thou hast the Spirit of Christ, by which thou art proved to be one of his. And for the full enjoyment of all the blessings contained in this union and communion with thy glorious head, daily and hourly remind God thy Father of all his covenant promises made to Christ as the head of his church and people, in which the Lord hath said,” I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.”

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“As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings; so the Lord alone did lead them.”—Deuteronomy 32:11, 12

Here learn a lesson, to form some faint idea how the Lord is unceasingly engaged in taking care of his people. If thy God condescends to represent it by such a similitude, is it not both thy privilege and thy duty to mark the several particulars of such grace and tenderness? The eagle not only possesseth in common with other creatures, the greatest affection for her young, but manifests a vast superiority over every other of the winged tribe in her management of her brood. She provides for them and protects them, as other birds of the air do; but in educating them, and the method by which she shelters them from danger, here is displayed such superior wisdom and power, as far exceeds whatever we meet with in other creatures. “She stirreth up her nest:” by which we may understand, she suffers not her young eagles to lay sleeping, but calls them forth to life and exercise. She” fluttereth over them,” as if to show them how they are to use their wings, and fly. And when she taketh them from the nest, this is not done like other birds, who carry their young in their talons, and in their haste or flight may drop them—or when pursued, or fired at by an enemy, may have them killed and herself not hurt; but the eagle beareth her young on her wings, so that no arrow from beneath can touch the young, until it hath first pierced through the heart of the old bird. What a sweet thought do these views afford; and what a blessed instruction do they bring! My soul, do they not teach thee, since the similitude is the Lord’s own, that he that hath stirred up the nest of thine old nature, in which thou wast born, because he would not suffer thee to sleep there for ever in the unawakened state of sin, and hath brought thee out, and brought thee abroad, and taught thee how to fly up, in devout aspirations after him, is the Lord? Is it not he that fed thee and sustained thee from thy youth, even until now; taught thee, and hovered over thee, and caused thee to” mount up as upon the wings of eagles; to run and not be weary; to walk, and not faint?” Yes, yes, blessed Jesus, it is thou that hast indeed borne me, as thou hast said, upon eagles’ wings, and brought me to thyself: so that I see, by this delightful comparison, that thou wilt not suffer any of thy little ones to perish; for “he that toucheth them, toucheth the apple of thine eye;”—nay, while on thy wings, he that destroyeth them, must first destroy thee. Oh Lord, give me grace rightly to enjoy and use such marvellous blessings. And since, to the wisdom and strength of the eagle, thou hast now added the tenderness and solicitude of the hen, do thou, Lord, gather me under thy wings, and nourish me with thy love and favour, that I may be thine for ever, and live here by faith, as hereafter I hope to live with thee in glory.

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“That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.”—Proverbs 22:19

My soul, mark for thy morning meditation, what is here said. Observe, in the first place, the general knowledge the Lord hath given of his saving truth and mercies in Christ Jesus, and which becomes a sufficient warrant and authority for all the world to believe in Christ, and to accept of Christ, to the salvation of the soul. Christ in the word is the Father’s authority for every sinner to believe the record God hath given of his Son; and the rejection of this command will be the condemning sin to every one who despises this plan of salvation, because he hath heard and then turned his back upon this love of God in Christ Jesus the Lord. My soul, ponder over this view of the subject, and then turn to another sweet and distinguishing property of God’s revelation which he makes by his blessed Spirit, in the particular apprehension of it. And this is done in every heart that is made willing in the day of God’s power, when the same grace which reveals Christ in the word, reveals Christ also in the heart, the hope of glory. Here the verse of the morning is confirmed in what God saith, that in order to every child of God putting his trust in the Lord, he hath made known to thee, even to thee, this day. Observe, my soul, the personal application of the divine truth. God, by his Spirit, makes it known to thee. It comes like a letter sent down from heaven. Who is it for? Read the direction. It is for thee, my soul. Thus faith takes home the contents to the heart, and finding how exactly every thing in Jesus and his salvation suits his own case and circumstances, he lives upon it, feeds upon it, takes it for his portion, trusts in God for the truth of it, and rejoiceth evermore. My soul, hast thou marked these distinct things? and dost thou know how to distinguish rightly between general proclamations of mercy, and special, personal enjoyments of it? Oh then, live up to the full enjoyment of God’s rich mercy in Christ; accept Christ, and use Christ, daily, hourly, to the glory of Father, Son, and Spirit; as the redemption by Christ was intended; and bless God more and more for his unspeakable gift.

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