Abbildungen der Seite

but turned away without drinking; the breezes stooped and kissed it by mistake, but caught the malaria in the contest, and carried the ague through the region, and the inhabitants caught it, and had to remove away : at last the very frogs disdained and deserted it; and Heaven in mercy to man, smote it with a hotter breath, and dried it up.

But did not the little stream exhaust itself ? Oh, no! God took care of that. It emptied its full cup into the river, which bore it to the sea, and the sea welcomed it, and the sun smiled upon the sea, and the sea sent up its incense to greet the sun, and the clouds caught in their capacious bosoms the incense from the sea, and the winds, like waiting steeds, caught the chariots of the clouds, and bore them away-away to the very mountain that gave the little fountain birth, and they tipped the brimming cup, and poured the grateful baptism down; and so God saw to it that the little fountain, though it gave so fully and so freely, never ran dry. And if God so blessed the fountain, will He not also bless you, my friends, if “as ye have freely received, ye also freely give ?" Be assured He will.



In a soul wholly in sin and a state of nature, there is no conflict, because the kingdom of Evil is there in full and quiet possession ; but in a soul in which the kingdom of Grace has found lodgment, and has erected its standard, the struggle is real and conscious. The leaven in its workings outward, struggles with the lump—the new life with the old—the natural with the spiritual man—the inward with the outward man--the new with the old man. Two kingdoms in the heart are contending for the soil.

In this position, the new man, asssailed and sorely vexed and oppressed, turns to God in prayer : "Do thou, therefore, preserve and strengthen us by the power of thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare ; but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, until at last we obtain a complete victory."

The first thing we need in this warfare is preservation-" Preserve us”-preservation in grace. Inward grace is the only ground of safety against outward enemies. When the fort is internally well manned the enemy assails it in vain. When the heart is comparatively empty, and lies open, it is easily taken. Grace-growth in grace, is the basis and beginning of the warfare. “It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace." (Heb. 13: 9.) Paul exhorts Timothy “Thou : therefore my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." (II Tim. 1: 1.) Hence Paul also prayed that the Christians at Ephesus might "be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man." (Ep. 3: 15).

İlere many mistake. They woula resist evil by resolution, by force of will, from considerations of prudence and self interest : they would sustain their purposes by outward fortifications, while behind all these there is an empty heart. In the natural physical man, what are arms, and ears, and eyes, without the heart's blood, by whose living flow all these have their power ; so in the spiritual. What are resolutions of the will, and determinate decisions of the mind, where the life of grace in the heart is wanting, by which alone these can be sustained. Without grace, the heart is a fort of reeds, a fortification of cobwebs—a protection like that of Jonah's gourd over a guilty head.

By grace are we saved. In the absence of this, all other help is in vain. Hence in praying to be delivered from evil, we ask, first and foremost, to be preserved in the state, and in the constant exercise of grace.

Having our position in grace, and having grace in living, growing power in us, we are ready to go forth in warfare against evil. Then me may add, as the next natural requisite, “strengthen us.”

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart.” “Strengthen thou me according to thy word.” Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee. Yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." (Is. 41: 10, &c.)

It is the Lord who overcomes our spiritual enemies, but He overcomes them by us. He wars against them by and through our prayers. Hence we do not pray Him to overcome them for us, but we ask Him “to strengthen us that we may overcome them.” We are to be the victors, yet nut of ourselves, but in the strength of God. “ The Lord is bis name: that strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong.” (Amos 5: 9.) Hence Paul sa s: "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." (ybil. 4: 13.)

Here two classes are prone to fall into mistake. One class will do all themselves. Depending on their own resolutions and efforts, they discard help. They need no church, no sacrament, no ordinances, no sapport from the communion of saints, no milk of the word, no restraint of public vows, no position in a gracious kingdom. Alone and direct in heaven will they believe, and for heaven strive.

The other class will have God to do all Himself; and in this error they act the same as the other class. They will have God to do it, not help them to do it. Hence they stand before the means of grace like an idle workman before his tools and will not touch them. At one time they say what good will it do if I use them, use these forms—as they wickedly call the means of grace—they are not the Saviour-He most do it—forgetting that the very way, and the only way in which be does it, is by these means. And, when met on this point, they say I am not fit to use them—God must do it! Forgetting that just because we are not fit, He gives us the means by the use of which we may be made fit. We are pot fit to come to God, and yet we would come to Him direct; and seek thus by Him to be made fit to use the means. Nut fit to go to

and says:

the means, but fit to go to God Himself, and to go direct ! What deadly, and yet what common errors are these. The drowning man says: “I am not fit to lay hold of the rope; the man on the shore who has thrown it to me, must do it." The weak and lame man will not take the staff that is handed to him, saying: “I must do it—there is no strength in the staff itself.” The farmer stands and looks over his fields

God must do it--plows and harrows are mere forms, and to use them is mere formalism." Or, if he wishes to be very humble, he takes the other view, and says : “After God—for he must do it--has given me the harvest, then I will use the plough and the harrow, for I am not fit to do it before.” The woodman stands and looks at the tree, saying : “Myself must bring it down, the axe in itself is nothing, has no strength to give me--to use it is a mere form—and when the tree is down, I will use the axe." Then indeed would it be formalism to use it -as it would be in religion to use the means of grace if we had the very thing which by them we are to secure !

How many are there who cannot, or will not, see that the means of grace are means to him in the struggle, not to Him who is through it. They decline their use for the warfare, as weapons by which to cut their way through all spiritual forts and foes, to God; but wish to come to God in some other way without them, and then use them in empty flourishes when the victory is complete. They are the formalists who would bandy the weapons after the foes are slain. They degrade the means of grace into mere forms, who empty them of gracious power--who deny that they are helps--who will have it that they are not armor for the weak and assailed, but ornaments to the strong and victorious. Such, reverse the order of holy Paul. They say:

“ When you are firmly established in grace, then you are fit to use the ordinances as evidences of your obedience."

Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” We must ever pray:

“Preserve and strengthen us by the power of thy Holy Spirit.” Why this? Because He is brought to us, and we to Him, in and by the use of the means of grace. As Christ instituted the holy sacraments before He sent the Holy Ghost, so we must use them before we come into His gracious and glorious fellowship. Does any one ask, with those on the day of Pentecost, and brethren, what shall we do ?" The answer is still the same : pent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

The Lord's words in regard to the spirit are: “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14: 17.) Paul says of saints : "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you." (I Cor. 6: 19.) It is by virtue of this indwelling of the Holy Ghost, that the Christian is made strong against all spiritual enemies.

The strength which the spirit furnishes is by the use of means, and through the ordinances. He does not speak of Himself-makes no new

Paul says,

« Men " Re

revelations, institutes no new ordinances. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us. In the Lord's Supper “it is the spirit that quickeneth.” The word of God is the sword of the spirit. We are to pray in the spirit—to sing with the spirit—walk in the spiritand, in, general, to worship God in the spirit. This we properly pray: “Preserve and strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare."

Satan is a spirit; the world in many of its forms is subtle as a spirit, and it is to our own spirits that these enemies seek secret access. How fit it is, and how consoling the fact, that it is by the aid of the great and good spirit, abiding in us, that we are enabled to guard against and resist these silent and insidious evils ! A spirit helps us against the spirit of evil; informing and warning us of their approach, when otherwise we could not be aware of it, and giving us strength for the victory.

With all these helps we must ourselves be vigilant and active. We need especially firmness, that we “may constantly and strenuously resist our foes." Indeed, these helps are given us for the very purpose of making us firm.

Firmness is indispensable. The double minded man is unstable in all his ways. There is a holy boldness and bravery, which is necessary to success in this warfare with evil. "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might." It is the spirit of Christ, and of the martyrs. It is faith unshaken, hope unwavering, love that never faileth. It is the confidence that reposes in the promises, and feels sure of victory. It is that holy manliness and godliness, which steadily resists the devil, overcomes the world, and never confers with flesh and blood. It fears God, but nothing else-follows the right, but nothing else—serves the truth, as it is in Jesus, and nothing else. Like a cedar, whose top indeed the winds shake, but whose roots are as firm as Lebanon ; so he may be beaten upon by waves of fleshly feeling, counter-currents of worldly life, and storms from the gates of hell, his foundations are sure beneath bim, his heart is fixed, his life is bid with Christ in God.

This firmness must be constant, enduring to the end, "until at last we obtain a complete victory." The contest against evil extends over the whole of life. Our victories are, or ought to be, daily victories. The struggle lasts to the end of life, because these enemies, the devil

, the world and the flesh, are with us, and do not surrender till the last.

As the last petition in the Lord's prayer is : " Deliver us from evil;" so it is the last we need utter when in death we pass the borders of these realms of sin, into the land of eternal freedom, whither neither Satan, world nor flesh can follows us. Then we shall be able to utter, as never before, the glorious doxology of our Saviour's prayer : “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever."

What an earnest, what á blessed contest. No Cæsar or Napoleon ever went into such a glorious strife; por in any victory won such laurels.

A nation may shout when its standard returns from the field of battle; but all heaven resounds with joy as one after another wios in this blessed warfare.


This is the caption of a beautiful and familiar hymn, composed by Dr. W. A. Muhlenberg, of New York, in 1824. As printed in the hymn books, however, it is only half the length of the original production. We publish it entire as revised by the author last year, and published by himself in a collection of what he calls his "metres.”

I would not live alway-live alway below!
Oh no, I'll not linger, when bidden to go;
The days of our pilgrimage granted us here,
Are enough for life's woes, full enough for its cheer.
Would I shrink from the path wbich the prophets of God,
Apostles and martyrs so joyfully trod ?
While brethren and friends are all hastening home,
Like a spirit unblest o'er the earth would I roam ?

I would not live alway-I ask not to stay
Where storm after storm rises dark o'er the way;
Where seeking for rest, I but hover around,
Like the patriarch's bird, and no resting is found :
Where hope, when she paints her gay bow in the air,
Leares its brilliance to fade in the night of despair,
And joy's fleeting angel ne'er sheds a glad ray,
Save the gleam of the plumage that bears him away.

I would not live alway-thus fettered by sin,
Temptation without and corruption within ;
In a moment of strength, if I sever the chain,
Scarce the victory's mine, e'er I'm captive again.
E'en the rapture of pardon is mingled with fears,
And the cup of thanksgiving with penitent tears :
The festival cup calls for jubilant songs,
But my spirit her own miserere prolongs.

I would not live alway-no, welcome the tomb;
Immortality's lamp burns there bright 'mid the gloom;
There, too, is the pillow where Christ bowed his head;
0! soft be my slumbers on that boly bed.
And then the glad morn soon to follow that night
When the sunrise of glory shall burst on my sight,
And the full matin song, as the sleepers arise
To shout in the morning, shall peal through the skies.

Who, who would live alway? away from his God,
Away from yon heaven, that blissful abode,
Where the rivers of pleasure flow o'er the bright plains,
And the noontide of glory eternally reigns;
Where the saints of all ages in barmony meet
Their Saviour and brethren transported to greet,
While the anthems of rapture unceasingly roll,
And the smile of the Lord is the feast of the soul.

That heavenly music! what is it I hear?
The notes of the barpers ring sweet on mine ear;
And see, soft unfolding those portals of gold,
The King all arrayed in his beauty behold !
0! give me, 0! give me the wings of a dove,
Let me hasten my flight to those mansions above;
Ay, 'tis now that my soul on swift pinions would soar,
And in ecstacy bid earth adieu evermore.

« ZurückWeiter »