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Last Updated on : Saturday, October 11, 2014

 

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Seasons of Comfort (Volume 2 )

Robert Roberts

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Sunday Number 32

Click here to bypass list Exhortation

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Contents  
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12
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Preface  
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Vol 1  
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GODźS GREATNESS SHOWN IN SMALL MERCIES

Each dayźs mercies č heedless partakers thereofč the reward of righteousness č the attainments of foolishness and ignorance č examples of wisdom č Christ is coming.

IT is customary with brethren leading us in prayer on these occasions to give thanks –for yet another opportunity of bringing Christ to remembrance.” To some it may seem a mere form of words. It is far from being so. It expresses a sincere sentiment for which there are weighty grounds. A thousand things might interfere with this privilege of coming together to soothe our jaded minds and comfort and purify our hearts by contact with divine ideas. When any of them do happen, we feel the reality of the privilege with an intensity that words cannot express. It is customary to speak of Godźs mercies as –more than the hairs of our head.” It is a Bible form of speech. It may seem an extravagant comparison. Reflection will show it otherwise. Our life is not just the one thing it seems to be. It is made up of a thousand things, interference with any one of which is the suspension of a mercy. Think of the multitude of conditions in our bodily frame that go to make up life and health: the multitude of infinitesimal vessels and tubes and little contrivances in the mechanism of the body, interference with any of which would produce pain and death. Each of these represents a separate mercy. While in health we may not think of it. It is well to look round that we may be helped in this matter. We may have had to go through a hospital some time or other č perhaps to visit some sick brother or sister. At such times, we see a multitude of forms of suffering, to any of which we might be subject č and any of which would be a great burden and involve great deprivation. For it is not the physical pain that is the measure of the evil. It is what infirmity cuts us off from: the enjoyment of activity, the continuance of usefulness, the communication of friends. So our freedom from disability is not to be estimated by itself alone, we have to consider what it ensures for us, and then we can see the greatness of small mercies. It may seem a small thing to be able to walk up the street to attend the breaking of bread; how differently it seems when we have sprained an ankle or broken a leg or taken a rheumatic agony. We then see how great is the mercy of sound limbs. We might go over every organ of the body and every part of every organ in the same way. See what sufferings and disablements might easily befall us, and keep us prisoners at home. And we shall then realise that it is no vain thing to give thanks –for yet another opportunity.” It might so easily happen that we could not have any more. We can say with intelligent emphasis that –His mercies are new every morning.” It but requires us to look round and consider. It is the characteristic of the brutish population now upon the earth that they do not consider, but appropriate all Godźs mercies to themselves unthankfully and even arrogantly and with consequent lack of mercy for others. It was Godźs complaint against Israel: –The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his masterźs crib: but Israel doth not know; My people doth not consider.” Why was the complaint placed on record? That men might afterwards know that people thus –unthankful and unholy” are offensive to Him. There is a popular impression abroad to the effect that if there is a God, He is kind without discrimination. That He is good to all is true, as Jesus says: sending His rain on the just and the unjust. But this does not mean that He takes equal pleasure in all. Far from. –The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in them that hope in His mercy.” As for the other class His own expression is, –My soul hateth.” This will not surprise us if we think. It is even so among men who are in the image of God. Righteous men find more pleasure in some than others. They may be equally kind and forbearing to all, but all do not yield them the same satisfaction. The wise give pleasure to the wise. It is a rule of the universe and holds good at its eternal centre. –God taketh not pleasure in fools.” –The foolish shall not stand in Thy sight: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” It is not in vain that we exercise our minds in this way. We may read how Daniel rebuked Belshazzar for his neglect in this respect: –Thou hast not humbled thyself, though thou knewest all this, but hast lifted up thyself against the God of heaven and hast praised the gods of silver and gold, of brass, iron, wood and stone which see not nor hear nor know, and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways thou hast not glorified” č –whose are all thy ways” č mark the expression: absolutely every little bit of faculty we have is His and in His hand. He could withdraw it in a moment. A sense of this will keep us dependent and humble and grateful and kind. The proud indifference that is common is irrational. It is hateful. It is destructive. God will bring down all high looks, and exalt to the final inheritance of the earth those only who have the beautiful humility that comes from wisdom č which is a very different thing from the dejection of moroseness or the cant of Pharisaical speech. Paulźs chief anxiety about the brethren was that they might know how to please God. It is a wonderful idea that man can yield pleasure to God. It is a revealed fact, so that we have only to note the fact and act on it. We cannot read the Bible regularly and attentively without becoming aware of what is well-pleasing to God. We shall discover a different form of action from what is in force among people who merely know nature (and very little of that) and know not God. It is written in the Psalms, –Many there be that say who will show us any good?” This is the universal question in effect. Everyone is desiring and pursuing good in some form or other. Some look for it here, and some there. Some seek it in politics, some in business, some in science, some in art, some in self- cultivation, some in social enjoyments. We read –The Lord looked down from heaven to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.” In the midst of all human seekings here is one thing that God is interested in and that most men have no taste for, the seeking of God. It is a seeking in which good is to be found. –The Lord is good to the soul that seeketh Him.” The full measure of the goodness can never be apparent in mortal experience, though even now the highest satisfactions are in the way of wisdom. The full measure is indicated in the Voice that speaketh thus: –I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honor are with me, yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold, and my revenue that choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness: in the midst of the paths of judgment that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance and I will fill their treasure...Whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord” (Pro. 8:17-21, 35). Here is a divine light thrown upon the movements of human life upon the earth. By this light alone, we see correctly. By any other light, we look upon a false picture. Man has filled the world with his own contrivances; kindled his own fires, lit his own lights. Society walks in this light, and delights in these contrivances. They seek and obtain honors one of another in a very pretentious paraphernalia of ceremonies and titles. They make a great ado with their ways and have eclipsed God with their own greatness. We are in danger of being sucked in by the current. We can judge the situation if we are but able to apply the tests that God Himself has given us. How many are there that seek God č (which is a very different thing from noisy doings in the public gaze). How many are controlled by a solicitude to realise His will in their lives? How many are there to whom the purpose of God is a matter of interest? His fear a practical motive? His honor a matter of concern? His commandments of a supreme and tender obligation? You may think, looking upon the world in the mass, –Oh, there are plenty if we knew them!” Judge by actual experience. See how men are in your familiar contacts. Do you find seekers after God in the street? Do you come in contact with them in the places of business? Do you come across them in the warehouse? In the workshop? In the field? Is it not the fact that they are scarcely to be met with at all; and that even such as profess godliness are found too often in simpering subserviency to the sinners by whom they are surrounded! A few here and there are to be found. The general flood of human life is godless. Why dwell upon it? Well, it is helpful as regards our own way. If we estimate the world in its true character, we are less likely to be influenced by it to our spiritual hurt, than if we assume it is alright with God. It is far from right. It is entirely astray from God. Even if it was an honest kind of world, it fails in the very first element of godliness in not knowing God, and not caring for Him, and not obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The knowledge of God is the first necessity of human life, though men as a rule do not realise it till it is too late.

They realise it for their dead ancestors but not for themselves. There is no final good in anything detached from God. Science is beautiful, but it is an empirical toying with Godźs inventions if pursued with reference to Him; a presumptuous gossiping about His property, who is Creator and Possessor of all things. Music is fascinating, but it lacks the real inspiration if divorced from His praise. Even for human uses, the best music can only be found in association with Bible themes. As for business what is a man profited if he gain the whole world as a godless man? Follow the life of any man who seeks good without God? Go clean to the other end, when his days are done. What have you? A decrepit old man, thoroughly tired out č without satisfaction č without hope; his conscience senseless, the future dark č life a puzzle, destiny a dimness, the universe a frightful maze. And now the light flickers in the lamp, and now it goes out, and now is all dark and finished. Order the coffin; send word to the registrar, arrange for a grave. Fix the funeral. Take him away, lower him to his place, shovel the earth. Leave him to the worms and forgetfulness. Is not this the end of all human attainments? Shall we then neglect the attainments? Oh, no; that is another thing. There is good in everything when God is in His place. That place is the throne. Let God be first with a man, and then –all things are clean unto you.” The most fervent men of God have in their time been the most capable in human achievements. See David, an accomplished musician, and an inventor of musical instruments. See Solomon, the greatest scientist of his age, wiser than all men... –Who spake of trees from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall. He speaks also of beasts and of fowl, and of creeping things and of fishes.”

See, Abraham, the capable man of business; Joseph, the supreme dictator of an empire: Daniel, the faultless administrator of a province. Natural men do not come up to men of God, even in natural things. But the great difference between the two is in their end. We are permitted to see the end of a man of God in David. We have his –last words.” His sun was setting, and he knew it; yet the future was not the blank and oppressive mystery it is with natural man. He was able to speak of something which he calls –all my salvation and all my desire.” He could rejoice in the Lord God of Israel as an high tower, a rock and a refuge, a shield and a deliverer. Here the merely natural man is silent. He has no tower č no shield č no salvation. He is merely a creature in the universe, without any abiding relation to the scheme of things as existing in the mind of its Proprietor. But with David, God has made –an everlasting covenant,” therefore he rejoices in hope, and will not fear though he walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Why did God make this covenant with David? No doubt we may say that it was part of His eternal purpose. But there are wheels within wheels. God made the covenant with David because David was chosen. But David was chosen, because, as he said: –He liked me above all my fatherźs sons.” And why this like? Because David was a man after Godźs own heart? And what made him a man after Godźs own heart? Because he recognised God as the Holder and Controller of the universe from everlasting to everlasting; and had Him constantly in view as the controlling fact of his life. His psalms show us where God was with him. Natural poets portray nature. God fills Davidźs effusions as the sun in the sky. Find a psalm without God in it. You cannot. Natural rulers employ their wealth and station for personal aggrandisement. How was it with David? He acquired incredible riches. What did he do with them? –I have prepared with all my heart, for the house of my God” (I Chr. 29:2). It all depends upon the use to which a man puts his wealth, as to what it is to him č whether his ruin or his salvation. Science, music, business č all things have their right place when God is on the throne. In the world God is not on the throne. But we are not of the world. We are striving after conformity to Him who said –It is my meat and my drink to do the will of Him that sent me.” We are asked to follow him. We excite the worldźs pity by the effort. Never mind, –The world passeth away, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” The end will justify all. There is final good in no other. All other paths end in darkness, however bright now. Christ stands at the end of if. Christ is coming. He will come as surely as the world is filled with the cross of his shame on church spire and prayer book cover, and it will then be manifest to all the world which class have sought good in the right channel č those who see man only in all they do and arrange, or those who have set God before them in the faith of His existence, the belief of His promises, and the obedience of His commandments.

 


 
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