March 22—Morning Devotion
“Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”—Jeremiah 2:2
Pause, my soul, over this condescending token of God’s love to Israel; and see whether it doth not hold forth to thee a blessed portion for thy encouragement. Israel had been most undeserving; but yet the Lord would put Israel in remembrance, by assuring his people that he remembered their love when God first formed Israel into a people. When he led them into the wilderness, and married Israel, they sung the praise of Jehovah in their love- songs, on the day of their espousals. ‘Now,’ saith the Lord, – ‘I remember thee in these things; for these were tokens of affection when thou wentest after me in following the pillar of cloud through the desert; in trusting to a harvest, though as yet the land was not sown.’ And may I, blessed Lord, sweetly interpret this precious portion with application to myself, as though my God so spake to me of the day of my espousals? Doth my God and Saviour remember me in the first awakenings of his grace, when, at the first mention of his name, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadab? Well, then, may my soul remember thee, Oh thou God of my salvation! The savour of thy past love and past experiences gives now, at this moment, new delight to my soul, and awakens new desires of communion with my God. The very recollection of what I then was, and how thou calledst me, and made my time a time of love; and how thou passedst by, and didst bid me live, and didst cleanse me, and take me home, and betrothedst me to thyself, and made me thine for ever; the very thoughts refresh my soul now; and these former experiences drive away present distresses and despondency. How is it, my soul, with thee now? Art thou less in frame – less in love? Hast thou not the same earnest liking to Jesus now, as then? Is the strength of thy love, and desires, and delights, abated? Look at this blessed scripture. Hear what God saith to Israel, in a time of Israel’s coldness. See how God’s love was not changed, though Israel’s was so abated. Art thou, my soul, conscious of the same? Art thou lamenting it; desiring, waiting for some renewed token of thy Jesus’s love? Is his name, his person, his righteousness still precious? Dost thou wait but for the whispers of his grace? See, here it is – I remember, though thou hast forgotten the day of thine espousals. Oh the wonderful condescersion of the Son of God! Behold, my soul, how, in this very way, he is preparing thine heart for the renewings of his love, and his sweet manifestations towards thee. Oh cry out with the church of old, under similar circumstances, “Draw me; we will run after thee.” Unless thou drawest, Lord, the distance will remain; but the desire of being drawn, shews the earnestness for union. Lord, I beseech thee, do this; bring me near to thyself, to thine everlasting embraces; then shall I run, nay, even flee to my beloved, and will hang upon thee as the vessel hangeth on the nail, and dwell, and remain with thee for ever.
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."