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FLOWINGS FROM THE FULNESS OF A PRECIOUS CHRIST
INTO THE SOUL OF THE BELIEVER, THROUGH THE DIVINE COMMUNICATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
“ It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.” Coloss. i. 19. What for? Oh, blessed fact ! not to be shut up
in Himself“That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”—EPHES. iii. 19. BELOVED in the Lord, when you cut the pages of this Magazine another page in one of the chapters in your life's history will be turned over and a fresh one become unfolded. Whether such period of time finds you in the chapter of youthful experience, or in the mid-life of progress, or in declining years, must we not, in remembrance of the past, say,“ What hath God wrought?” * By the help of my God I continue unto this day.” Doubtless we have all had, even during the past year, our peculiar crosses and losses, trials and afflictions. The great thing is, have they been sanctified so that we live more to the Lord ? Personally we have been called to go down into the depths, but the Lord having graciously raised us up, our intense desire is to glorify Him. It was while thinking of the opening year, and offering up our lispings to God for His continued favour and support, that the two precious passages which head our paper came to us as New Year's portions: “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell;" and this, too, that the Church
might be filled with all the fulness of God.” What a precious fact is here! We might stay to think of Christ in connection with natural things, and it would be profitable; for, as the context tells us, “by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible; whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers, all things were created by Him and for Him." But, as the children of God are ever anxious to get at the spiritual tracings, notice that Jesus is not merely co-equal with the Father, but all blessings and the fulness of them are in Him. So that anything and everything in connection with salvation and the things which accompany it are to be drawn by His people from Him, through the communication of the Holy Spirit. It would seem that the poor woman spoken of in the Gospel, who had" an issue of blood twelve years,” became awakened by the Spirit to the sweetness of the fact that in Jesus alone was all power and blessing. She went from physician to physician, as many of us in early days went from watchman to watchman; but all was of no avail. We were not healed of the plague of sin. But faith, the result of the dawning of the life of God in her soul, caused her, regardless of all hindrances, to stretch forth her hand and touch His garment, and to say, “If I may but touch His clothes, I shall be whole." And she was right—the touch drew that virtue out of Jesus which dried up the fountain of her blood and healed her of her plague.
What a mercy, beloved, if you and I have experienced that touch of faith and its triumphant result, having received from Him, through the
Spirit, justifying righteousness and pardoning love and mercy. And it is now the further unfoldings of a precious Christ we want—the grace for grace which He has promised to give—the flowings from His fulness day by day during the untrodden future.
And what, beloved, is thine especial want? Is it more faith? Does the cry go up, “Lord, increase my faith ?” We do not mean duty faith, nor yet that which many believe the creature—yet dead in trespasses and sins-can exercise, telling us that by believing we live. We say, upon Scriptural grounds, it is just the contrarybecause we live, we believe. This is the like precious faith for which we pant. Oh, for an increase of it!-a faith that gains clearer views of Christ-a faith which lays hold of the verities of the Word of God -that, when we come to a divine promise, says, " That is for me! I care not what men say, nor for their opinions about it; those words in their simplicity just suit my need,—they are God's words, or His servants', as inspired by the Holy Spirit, and I believe them;" and then“chewing the cud” of such words. Oh, to go forward strengthened and comforted, and, as fresh food is wanted, to come again, and yet again, to the same source of divine help! And, dear reader, whether our need be in connection with temporal things or spiritual, we shall find the suited promise and portion for our outstretching faith. Another precious grace we shall require is more love.
What a mercy that Christ's is unfailing and everlasting! "I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." This is a fundamental point of our most holy religion. Take away electing love, and the whole falls to the ground. But it never can be removed; it was from all eternity settled and sure upon the vessels of mercy, “which He hath before ordained unto eternal life;" which love is the cause of all the blessings we realize and enjoy. But it is that gift and grace of love which vibrates through our hearts as drawn from Him. Do you say, "I feel so little of this; I am ashamed of the poverty of my love and of its fluctuating character ?" True, beloved, in comparison with His, it does indeed seem faint and weakly; yet that bubbling up, ever and anon, through all surrounding pressure, is genuine and pure, and thou mayest look up to thy Redeemer and say, "O precious Jesus, "Thou
“ knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee.'"
There is no hypocrisy here; it is the response of the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit. And, as well as more love, we want more light.
What a mercy that the Lord has not left us in the darkness of unregeneracy! We look back to the time when light first shone into our heart, and Jesus revealed Himself as mighty to save, with wonder, amazement, and gratitude. With some it was in a moment, with others gradual. Be this as it may, according to the working of the Spirit, if we have received a ray of divine light, our desire will be for more. We want light upon the sacred Word, and to read it with understanding hearts; light upon the pathway, that we may see the providences of God all right and wisely ordered; light upon the depths of truth that are treasured up in Jesus. O Lord, we beseech Thee, give us more of the grace of light until we behold Thee, the Light of Glory.
We shall need also more peace in connection with spiritual and temporal things. This also is to be drawn from the fulness of Christ, “the Prince of
Peace.” With regard to the former, though doubtful many of the children of God are as to whether personally they are safe for eternity, they think others so; but they cannot be satisfied as to their own state. such see in the victory of Christ over sin and flesh, death and devil, their peace.
Ah! death; that dreadful word to many of the children of God who realize an absence of peace in the thought and prospect of death. The inexhaustible fulness of Christ, together with His character of a Saviour -One who will “save to the end”-should satisfy us with regard to the dying hour. The flowings of the needed grace will be as much granted then as in our life's care; and more, for the greater our need the greater the grace. Oh, dear doubting one, fear not, "at eventide it shall be light.” Dr. Thomas Goodwin, when he came to that time, said, “ Ah! is this dying? how have I dreaded as an enemy this smiling friend!" And then, while still in the wilderness, in connection with temporals, what an absence of peace there is with us. Oh! how we are found troubling about this matter and the other—calculating upon things which may never come to pass—fretting and fuming with regard to the future, and shutting our ears to the still, small voice which whispers, " Leave it all to the Lord.” And by this we do not mean to imply the gaining a perfect freedom from strife with the uprising foes by the way-no; we shall have hourly worry to the grave, and continued warfare till we wear the crown of glory-what we mean is, that, in the midst of the worry, work, and warfare, there is the lull as we look up and think, “My Father knows all; Jesus fully enters into my hopes and desires ;” and then there comes through the Spirit a flowing of that peace which "passeth understanding,"
- better felt than expressed, and perhaps the accompanying glistening tear of gratitude in the eye, which we wipe away, obliged to dive into the fresh care of the moment.
In the world and the present state of society what contention—what struggling—what a sinful fastness—what underlying strivings for mastery and money! There is no peace to be found there. Men are whirled onwards as the straw upon the torrent, and on life's tide grasp at broken branches that will not hold them, or become entangled in the rushes of specious opinions and principles. Eternity will come upon them quick, and they must leave all. If you talk of this, and of affliction and sickness, “ Oh! we have no time to be ill,” is the response. Ah! they will have to find time to die presently. Well, how sweet to have a life -above all this, and to find in Christ that peace that the world can neither give nor take away. Dear reader, do you, with us, feel this to be so?
Again, our craving will be for more joy—that precious joy which lifts up our souls above the beggarly elements of time, and bids us take our harps from the willows and strike up a song of Zion. Well, we are not without such seasons; we do at times get on a mount of joy, and think of the land, though still distant. True, ten times over, the length and breadth is a scene of sharp fighting and conflict; still the Lord does favour us with upliftings of heart, and then do we feel what it is impossible to express. It is the old tale over again, spiritually realized, “And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water"-one for every tribe—"and threescore and ten palm trees; and they encamped there by the water." How refreshing the water after the toil-how welcome the shade after the heat of the day! But, alas ! how soon must they
press on from Elim's copious blessings unto the wilderness of Sin, there to murmur against God and forget His past goodness
"Strange and mysterious is my life ;
What opposites I feel within !-
Too often I am captive led,
Yet daily triumph in my Head.” But, again, with regard to our joy seasons. What a wonderful joy must have sprung up in the jailor's heart when, after having had pardoning mercy sealed home within, he found himself in company with Paul and Silas; and, setting meat before them, rejoiced, believing in God with all his house ! Here was the true brotherhood brought about in the Lord's own wondrous way, and a joy experienced by the jailor in a manner never known to him before. Blessed be God, we know a little of this joy when we realize the society of the Lord's dear people, and, better still, when we have the comfort of communion with the Lord Himself: “Thou hast made known to me the ways of life, Thou shalt make me full of joy with Thy countenance.”
Another grace of the Holy Spirit which we shall more and more require is that sweet gift of patience : "I waited patiently for the Lord." And with what result? “He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” still, my daughter, and see how the matter will fall.” And what was the result? Copious blessings fell into the lap and lot of Ruth from the fulness of Boaz. What contrary graces are patience and meekness to the spirit o the world! Impatience accompanies the power the worlding aims at, as well as the losses he sustains, and pride compasseth them about as a chain; indeed, the pride of the age is something fearful. Oh, may we be delivered from such a spirit, and with sanctified patience and meekness walk before the Lord! But nothing will bring us to this patience like sanctified afflictions. As St. Paul says, “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer." Ah! but art thou not
! going too far, Paul ? Surely there are but few of God's family who have attained to this patience in tribulation ? But he goes further, and says, “ We glory in tribulation also." Can you, dear reader, can I, glory
, in tribulation? Do we not tremble at the words, “ We glory in tribulation ?" The Lord alone can make us do so, by the flowings into our soul of this sweet grace of patience. And we are relieved by thinking of the words which the Apostle adds: “Patience worketh experience, and experience, hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.' And he tells us elsewhere that, through the infirmity of the flesh, the trial at the time is grievous, nevertheless, “afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them who are exercised thereby.”
But this " is given to us.” Ah! here's the secret. We cannot other-wise possess any gift or grace. Indeed, everything in connection with salvation is given to us--everything is an act of free grace and mercy, and we are put in possession of it. It is idle to talk of it depending: upon our acceptation, so that, if we refuse, the gift is obsolete and thrown into the hands of the Giver. The gifts that the Lord bestows are so valuable to the poor sinner made sensible of his condition that he receives them with astonishment. Refusal is out of the question; he can.
but stand to admire and magnify the Author and Giver of " every good and perfect gift.” For instance, He gives life divine. Is it with the unborn one to refuse it ? He gives all needful grace. Will the child of God be ever found saying, "I would rather not have it ?" No, no! It is all given to us, from first to last, so that God shall have re-echoed all the praise.
And, coupled with patience, oh, to possess, in increased exercise, that precious grace of meekness and submissiveness to the will of God already referred to !'"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Is there not a needs-be, beloved, for that particular trial of thine ? Is it not part of the needful discipline? Oh, then, think not hard thoughts of thy God, who has so wisely ordered all. We must, indeed, be ashamed of our peevishness and unbelief concerning things we meet with by the way. May the Lord cause us to be more submissive to His working, and may we, in the spirit of meekness, walk before Him. And yet it is encouraging to know He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” And often much of our repining is caused by the frailty of the body; and so He deals tenderly with us. It is, perhaps, a source of indirect hope that others of the family of God, who have reached the eternal shores, were the subjects of similar ups and downs, even the patient Daniel complains and repines, and yet, at another time, in a real trial, when his life was threatened, confidently exclaimed, “My God can shut the lion's mouth.” So the members of the one family fluctuate as far as frames and feelings, yet have a firm confidence in their covenant God.
Thus have we referred to some of the flowings we crave from the fulness of Christ, namely: More faith in a covenant God as to the spiritual and temporal things by the way; more love to Him who hath first loved us; more light to enable us to behold the beauties of Jesus; more peace, even that peace which "passeth understanding;" more joy to warm and strengthen our hearts; more patience under all the discipline by the way; more meekness, even the Spirit of the Master Himself. These are a few only of the many gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit we shall want throughout the new year. If our wants are only flesh pleasing, they will find no satisfaction in Christ. If they are engendered by the Spirit of God, they will find their all in Christ
Lord, empty me of self and sin,
And live on Christ, and Christ alone.” Nor must we omit to notice those two important words in our new year's motto, “It hath pleased the Father that in Him' should all fulness dwell." Oh, to think more of the Father's "Him!” It is because we do not search the Scriptures sufficiently, look away from Him so often, grovel so much amidst creature things and doings, that we become dwarfs in divine things, pigmies in religion, stunted in growth, groaning ones instead of glorying ones. Oh, that during this new year we may become increased with the increase of God, having such views of our glorious and gracious "Him” as shall make us cling to Him with full purpose of heart! And may the Spirit of God lift us up from the dust, anıl cause us to rise to the things that are treasured up in Him. His character and conquering, His love and life, His ways and work, are life-long themes for the Christian. But we hang upon the precious assertion that springs out of the Father's "Him," that the living Church, made up of