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self, and leads to that “ LOOKING UNTO JESUS” which is so fraught with peace, serenity, and a calm reposing upon the covenant mercy,
as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him” (John v. 21-23).
Further, beloved, with respect to the Person and work of Christ, we have this blessed assurance, that “ we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. iv. 15). Here we have Him in a oneness of nature and in His divine sympathies. Then, in regard to His triumphs and to that security and everlasting preservation which His Church_enjoys in Him, we read the apostle John's testimony, “ And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. i. 17, 18).
Beloved, we have dwelt somewhat upon these facts as being embodied in the opening words of our text, because we feel that all blessedness and satisfaction are to be found here, and here alone. And, if so be the Lord the Spirit is but graciously pleased to lead us into a personal knowledge and apprehension of Jesus, in His indissoluble oneness and relationship in and with His Church, and His covenant engagements on her behalf, then will there be such a holy rejoicing in the fact that He-"the Lord—will perfect that which concerneth us. Yes, beloved, it must be His doing, and His alone. And, depend on it, He will continue so to work, that each leading and every movement will indicate wisdom and love and power, and shall be clearly and unmistakably stamped as His! Sure we are, beloved, that “wonderful in counsel and excellent in working” as the Lord has been in regard to His past leadings and dealings, yet, as He proceeds to fulfil His word, “I have shewed new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them, they shall all equally bear the Divine impress. Upon every gracious interposition and merciful deliverance there shall be the old and familiar endorsement, “This is the Lord's doings, and it is marvellous
And thus will He secure to Himself the glory of His own work.
We too well know that, in the contractedness of our own little finite minds, we may at least at times imagine that we have almost exhausted the Lord's mercy and kindness towards us, in the ceaseless and immeasurable benefits which He has been pleased to bestow upon us; but, no, assuredly it shall be otherwise. In proportion as we are enabled to look off from self and the creature generally, and to live and walk by simple faith, in that very proportion shall we be able to
in our eyes.
rest in the covenant word of a covenant Lord, “Thou shalt see greater things than these.” The Lord never raises the hopes and expectations of His people for nought. He graciously keeps in view His own word : “Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name. Ask and receive, that your joy may be full.” “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Sure we are that it would be most unlike the Lord to guard and to guide His people for a certain time, and up to a certain point, and then to leave them. Oh, no :
“ His love in times past forbids us to think
Confirms His good pleasure to help us quite through." Of what avail would it be, and where were the benefit thereof, if the Lord were to undertake for His people, and to deliver only in part ? No; it must be a perfected, a complete, salvation. Anything short of this were of no real value. It would only be raising the expectations of His dear children to frustrate them, which would be directly contrary to His own gracious promise, " The expectations of the poor
“ shall not be cut off.”
The conviction, then, of the Psalmist, in the words before us, is, “ The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.” He will perfect -David means, He will finish, accomplish, execute—that which He has undertaken and thus far carried on. He will not leave it; it shall not be forsaken ; the work shall assuredly be completed, aye, that, too, in a way and manner worthy of the great and the glorious Designer. Men are wont to put a good finish to their work. Wherever thought and skill are required in connexion with an undertaking or enterprise, there is the greatest anxiety on the part of those interested that all should finally reflect the wisdom and the strength and the perseverance of those engaged in such undertaking or enterprise. The same idea, only in an infinitely larger and fuller sense, applies to our God in His redemption and salvation work. That was a solemn appeal of Moses, and a most powerful argument with the Lord, at the time He was angry with Israel on account of their rebellion, as we read in Numb. xiv. 13-16: “And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for Thou broughtest up this people in Thy might from among them ;) and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land : for they have heard that Thou, LORD, art among this people, that Thou, LORD, art seen face to face, and that Thy cloud standeth over them, and that Thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if Thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of Thee will speak, saying, Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which He sware unto them, therefore He hath slain them in the wilderness."
Dear reader, would that our faith and our hope and expectation kept pace with the Lord's kind and gracious leadings and dealings
. Would that we could remember that as the Lord is pleased to lead us
onward and homeward, there shall be the more marked and the more gracious manifestations and discoveries of His wonderful love and grace and power. “Now is our salvation nearer,” said the apostle,
than when we believed.” Towards the close of a long, and it may be dangerous, voyage, the passenger is looking anxiously for its termination, and his very heart leaps for joy at the first tidings that land is seen.
So with regard to the Lord's perfecting His work. Not only has much-very much-been passed through with respect to affliction and trial and temptation, but home is nearer; heaven is at hand; rest, eternal rest, about to be entered ; and Christ, in His unveiled loveliness, presently to be seen; and all the glories of “ the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” everlastingly realized. Oh, the wonders and the fulness and the blessedness of that saying, “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. Rely on it, dear reader, that every hope, each feeble desire, the veriest expectation in connexion with some of your brightest and most blessed times and seasons, were all taken notice of by God-yea, all infused and strengthened and prompted by Him, and shall all at length issue in the fullest and completest perfection. Oh, yes, if He hears the groanings of His prisoners; if the sighing of the needy comes up before Him; if He bottles up the tears of His sorrowing'ones; if the
1 very hairs of their heads are all numbered ; surely He will treasure up, and ultimately bring to a blessed issue, their every hope and expeotation. This is most olearly implied in that precious Scripture : "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another : and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembranoe was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Mal. iii. 16, 17). Mark the marginal reading, dear reader, for the word jewels, namely, “special treasure." Oh, see you not how much the Lord has at stake ?-more, yea, infinitely more, than the highly-privileged reçipients themselves ; for “the Lord's portion is His people ;” and how can He part with His portion ?-how surrender His inheritance ? Verily, He must "perfect that which ooncerneth them.”
Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever.” This was a sweet consideration on the part of the Psalmist, because, instruoted as he had been in a knowledge of the deceitfulness, treachery, and desperate wickedness and dopravity of the human heart, he knew full well that he should ever stand in need of the exercise of that
He knew that, as a poor sinner, he must be continuously drawing and drawing-yea, day by day and hour by hour-upon that mercy. He never could be independent. He never could do without it, As a ceaseless sinner, he should require ceaseless moroy.
Hence it was indeed a source of unbounded comfort and satisfaction to him that Jehovah's mercy “endureth for ever.” It was what he wanted, Reader, is this your case, feelingly and experimentally ? Has the Lord taught you what a sinner you are ? Are you day by day and moment by moment resorting to the footstool of mercy and the God of all grace? That was a notable saying of the never-to-be-forgotten WATTS WILKINSON, on his dying bed, "I can never get beyond the cry of the poor publican, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner.? » Equally striking was the saying of the God-honoured but man-despised WILLIAM HUNTINGTON, “I am sick of professors, sick of possessors, but, most of all, I am sick of myself.” These servants of God, and thousands
thousands in common with them, knew their need of mercy-rich, free, unmerited mercy; and hence they sing with the immortal TOPLADY
“ A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
My person and offerings to bring :
With me can have nothing to do;
Hide all my transgressions from view.
The arm of His strength will complete;
And never was forfeited yet;
Not all things below or above,
Or sever my soul from His love.
Eternity will not erase;
In marks of indelible grace;
As sure as the earnest is given;
The glorified spirits in heaven."
nder the weight of sin, suffering and sorrow, the next freely—and that eternally—from all sin and all sorrow, basking in the eternal sunshine and unclouded glory of the King in His beauty, in that land which now, for the most
part, seems “ a very far off,” and where
a “ the inhabitant never says, I am sick, and the people who dwell therein are forgiven their iniquity."
“O glorious hour! O blest abode,
Oh, dear reader, into what thorough puny insignificance does all and everything of earth dwindle before the contemplation of these great and glorious verities ! And, if the contemplation be so sweet, what must the reality be? Well, again, does Toplady sing :
“ If such the sweetness of the streams,
What must the fountain be,
Immediately from Thee ?” “Forsake not the works of Thine own hands." It is worthy of the most careful observation, dear reader, how dependent the Lord keeps His dear children upon Himself
. He leaves them not the slightest ground whatever for presuming upon Him, but implants and maintains in them a holy, reverential fear of His holy and blessed name. Hence we continually find coupled with the expression of holy confidence in the love, power, and divine faithfulness of Jehovah, an equally ardent appeal to Him or beseeching of Him. Such is the case in the language before us.
The Psalmist having, as we have seen, given utterance to his conviction as to the immutability and unchanging love of Jehovah, now adds his earnest entreaty that He would do the very things he had just said he was assured would be accomplished. This plea on the part of the Psalmist is in precise keeping with the Lord's own declaration, “For all these things will I be inquired of by the house of Israel to do them for them.” Now, in the prayer of David, there is the distinct recognition of the Lord's work. The work done in him and for him and by him he knew and testified to be the Lord's work. So the apostle was taught in after-days, “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Upon these grounds the Psalmist would honestly avow, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name be the glory, for Thy mercy and for Thy truth's sake.”
Beloved, the prayerful spirit which the Holy Ghost begets in the hearts of His dear people is one of the striking features of Divine, distinctive, and imperishable life. It was the turning-point in Paul's eventful history, “Behold, he prayeth.” That spirit is maintained throughout the whole pilgrim-course, and the language of the poet is strictly true :
"Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air,
He enters heaven by prayer." And how sweet, beloved, is the prayerful frame, whensoever and under whatsoever circumstances awakened by the Holy Ghost! So distinctive is it, and so wholly unattainable by any creature-effort, that, when thus awakened and thus maintained, there is felt, at least now and then, in the soul a holy conviction and a blessed assurance that prayer in very deed shall be answered. Yes, it is indeed true that praying breath was never spent in vain.” And why? Because all