Come to us, Lord, in thine own way, and according to thine own measure; only delay not, but come quickly! We live when God is with us; without God we cannot live. We pray thee, therefore, at the Cross cf our Saviour, to come; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, dwell with us, break bread to us, reveal thyself to us, and give us a perpetual blessing. We rejoice when we see God; it is like seeing the morning light, the summer glory, the noonday in all its cloudlessness. Say to our souls that have been mourning thine absence, The winter is over and gone, and the time of the singing of birds is come. May the birds of heaven make their nests in our hearts, and sing to us songs of the summer-land. We bless thee if our hunger has led us to thy table, then the hunger was sent from God; we rejoice if our thirst has brought us to the right fountain, then was our thirst no accident, but part of God’s leading and education of the soul. We rejoice that in our Father’s house there is bread enough and to spare; and as for the river of God, it is full of water. Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, after love and beauty and purity, and divinest fullness of thought and life, for they shall be filled. Giving doth not impoverish God; withholding doth not enrich the Lord. Thou hast been giving unto us with both hands since we were born; thy right hand has been opened in power, and thy left hand in succour and tenderness. We have nothing that we have not received; it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed; we are the children of compassion, we are spared by the tears of God. We rejoice that all this highest thought of our souls takes us to Calvary. The Cross is the river of God, the fountain of joy, the beginning of immortality; yea, in it we see all figures and emblems signifying purity through pardon and peace, through righteousness, and bringing us into closer alliance with the living God. We would live on Calvary; we would build our house near the Cross. We can only live in mercy, for we are inclined to sin every moment; our prayer is but occasional, our sin is permanent. Yet we have hope in God through Christ; the Cross was not set up in vain, the Lord cannot be foiled in battle. Thou dost mean to save this little world, every man, woman, and young child in it; thou wilt lose no lamb from the flock. We leave it all with thee, only give us the answering heart when thou dost send to us the appeals of thy grace. Make us great in goodness; may we be strong and valiant in modest courage; may we derive all our strength from God; then shall our weakness be strength, and our extremity shall be God’s opportunity. Help us to be better men, in innermost thought, in nobleness of aspiration; make us eloquent in secret wordless prayer; may we commune with God all day, all night, then the morning shall give us a baptism of dew, and the day shall be succeeded by no gloom or darkness of night. Holy Spirit, dwell with us; come down out of heaven upon us, and abide upon our shattered lives, a new hope, a new defense, an inextinguishable glory. Rebuke us, but in mercy; let not thy rod smite us in all its scourging power, for which of the sons of flesh hath strength enough to stand against the scourge of God? We own our sins; we do not get rid of them by confessing them, but if we confess, thou art faithful and just to forgive, and thus by the divine act we have release from the guilt and the torment of sin. Behold how we have wasted our prosperity; we have written our own name upon it, and we have swollen ourselves with pride in the presence of the poverty that has fallen at our feet, and we have said to ourselves, Behold, we are not as other men. We have not been kind to the point of nobleness; we have given nothing, we have kept all we could, and therefore nothing has been given. If anything has been parted with, it has been forced out of us by shame, by social pressure; we would have kept it, every crumb and farthing, if we could. So we are before God as criminals: give us to know that we are pardoned by feeling that we can do the wrong no more. Wherein any have been just and generous and good, beneficent and useful, they desire to trace all to the action of the Holy Ghost. Not unto us, not unto us, say they, but unto God’s name be all the glory. We think of our loved ones at home, and far away, especially those who are weakened by pain, who have not been able to do their day’s work, and therefore have lost their day’s bread. We think of the weary, and the sad, and of those who are saying, Is this never to end? is the darkness always to deepen, and is the wind always to be filled with the sound of howling wolves? Oh, the heartache! Oh, the world’s great misery! Saviour of the world, is it our impatience that prays or our faith, when we say, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Amen.
Almighty God, thou dost grant unto man special moments: moments in which he sees his immortality, and knows it surely without doubt, and accepts it, not only without reluctance but with gratitude and delight and unutterable joy. If thou wilt grant us one such moment now, we shall be able to enter upon the engagements of the week with a sense of mastery and perfectness of dominion, and the world shall have no power against us. In the recollection of this lofty hour we shall pass through all the perils and engagements of the week as conquerors appointed of God. We ask thee now to open the door of heaven and let us overhear somewhat of the upper music. We ask thee to send a beam of light upon our life that shall enkindle upon it a glory above the brightness of the sun. We ask thee for a visitation of the Holy Spirit that shall animate us, renew our best purposes, recall our ambition from its debasement, and lift us up on high with a sure sense and a perfect and joyous consciousness of our sonship in God. We love the Saviour—we love his name—we gather around his cross, and as we touch it our dead bones live, all our hopes are rekindled, our delight is perfect in the Lord Jesus. Seeing therefore that we gather upon Calvary, and that every hand is laid upon the cross, that every heart is open with all its love to give welcome and rest and peace to the Son of God, enable us now to enter into the joy of our Lord. Keep us in the love of the truth—keep us steadfast in thy holy cause—save us from all hesitation, from all doubtfulness and uncertainty of mind—may we know that we rest upon the One Rock—that though the winds blow and the rains fall, yet our house cannot be overthrown. Amen.
– People’s Bible, The – The People’s Bible – 2 Chronicles 21 – Esther: Volume 10.
Almighty God, thou hast set above all things the cross of Jesus Christ thy Son. All things are now changed by that cross—all values, and meanings, and influences. Those things that were princely have become mean; ambitions have been rebuked, powers have been overthrown, and the weakness of God is stronger than the might of men. We now see these truths as we never saw them before, and they make us glad. We have been blind, we have been groping in infinite darkness, not knowing the right hand from the left; but now that we have seen the cross we know how all things lie, where heaven is, where thy throne is set, and we see a great light far away, shining like an infinite welcome. We bless thee for the cross of Christ: it is the way to heaven; it is the mystery of love; it is high above us like a great sky, yet round about us like a living air. We will not glory but in the cross: its shame is greater in glory than is all the pride in creation; its very weakness is almightiness; its condescension is majesty. Thy love is shown in the cross of Jesus; and we need that cross more and more as we see what sin is, and feel how poor and weak we are ourselves. Blessed cross! Tree of death, yet tree of life; an open way for sinners only into heaven’s eternal peace. Precious cross of Christ! The life of the world, the security of the universe; we gather round thee and bless the love that set thee up. We are crucified with Christ: nevertheless we live; yet not we, but Christ liveth in us: and the life which we now live in the flesh we live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us, and gave himself for us. No man entereth into this wisdom but he who is taught of God. Verily it is folly of all folly to those who serve the flesh and are greedy for the world. How nobly wise, how tenderly beautiful, is the cross of Christ to those who have begun to see that without the cross the world is a deception and life an intolerable lie! We praise thee for what visions we have had of the cross: they have made us glad; we can never forget them; they have given a new setting and tone to our whole life: we are debtors to the cross, and our debt we can never pay. Help us to think upon these things with steadfastness of attention. May we know that these are the deep things of God, that the universe is but a temporary accident, the momentary clothing of God, to be thrown off and forgotten, but at the heart of things lies the eternal fact of sacrifice. Save us from distracted attention; save us from mistaking things for great because they are only near; give us the genius of the heart which sees things as they really are; and give us that true wisdom which knows where to build the altar and to what to offer the tribute of our life. We are here but for a day or two; we are pilgrims and can tarry but for a night; we are on the high road: we cannot see more than one step at a time; the next step may be the grave, or there may be long checkered years yet before us and to be traversed: help us to lay hold of thy hand, O Leading One; to stop where thou dost stop; teach us that to obey is to conquer, that to receive God’s will and live it is to be in God’s heaven: then shall we have no unrest, or disquiet, or cancer of the heart eating out our love and peace; we shall be calm with God’s tranquility and steadfast in God’s almightiness. Regard us as men who need daily light and daily care. Thou didst never put two days into any man’s hand at once. We are not to boast of tomorrow. Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men: the true, the noble, the beautiful, the good are taken away like shadows; those whom we accounted as rocks are overturned, and we shall see their faces no more; the great and the small die. Help us to know that though we too must die, yet whilst we live we may live a doubly energetic or beneficent life. May we work with both hands earnestly, sparing nothing, hiding in our hearts the sweet thought that the Son of man may come today. Blessed are they who shall be found ready when he opens heaven’s door, and comes down to claim the issue of his sacrifice. May he see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied! In that spirit would we wait and toil and hope, not as fools but as wise, seizing time with a strong hand, and filling it to the full with duty and with sacrifice. Heal our broken hearts; dry our penitential tears; subdue our unholy anger, and lead us in the way everlasting. Speak to the old man, and he will be young again; lay thy hand, so gentle because so mighty, on the youngest child and the weakest life, and it shall become dignified and noble. Visit our sick-chambers; we steal up to them, lest the very noise of the footfall should injure those we love; do thou go in with the boldness of love, and heal our sick with the momentary health of the body or with the immortality which comes through faith. Watch us; care for us; be pitiful to us. We are bruised reeds; we are as smoking flax; we are as a flower which cometh for a little time and then passeth away because the wind is cold. We know our prayer shall be heard; for thy mercy reacheth unto the heavens. Amen.
– People’s Bible, The – The People’s Bible – 2 Chronicles 21 – Esther: Volume 10.
Almighty God, thou art indeed a consuming fire to them that are out of the way, whose hearts are obstinate and whose will has gone wantonly from God. Thou dost fight with fire. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. We come to thee for mercy,—for a gentle rain of mercy, pity, compassion, love. We have done the things we ought not to have done, and all we hold in our hands is a broken law. God be merciful unto us, sinners! Speak to us from the cross: there do thou commune with our hearts, letting us whisper our sin and rather hint at our shame than tell it in plain words. We bless thee for a gospel so many-sided; it is like a thousand doors opening upon the heart of God. The prodigal is welcome: therefore are we here,—not because of our goodness and perfectness, but because our of evil and imperfection. We are here where the cross is and the speaking blood—the sacrifice for the sins of the world: a mystery even greater than our sin, and for the mystery we bless thee. To no argument would we trust, to no wall of words would we come for security and rest, but to an infinite mystery, to that which is above us like a sky, beyond us like the horizon,—something without words, putting all speech to shame and confusion because of its inadequacy to express the infinite compassion of God. Where sin abounds grace doth much more abound. Who can be greater than God? What can be vaster than his love? What can get so deeply into the nature that the all-penetrating blood of Jesus Christ cannot remove it? Wash us, and we shall be clean. Undertake for us when our strength is all gone; when our sorrow is intolerable, do thou find the solace which we need; when we are blind through tears, do thou terminate the weeping by one night’s grief, that in the morning we may see a risen sun and a radiant sky. Amen.
– People’s Bible, The – The People’s Bible – 1 Samuel 19 – 1 Kings 13: Volume 7.
Almighty God, thou dost train us to strength and lead us to peace by thine own way. What strange things thou dost permit us to see; they shock our sense; yea, sometimes our piety revolts, and we begin to ask our souls most painful questions. Sometimes it seems as if thou wert absent altogether from thy creation, or as if thou hadst turned away from it in disdain, and left all men to do what they please. We have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading themselves like a green bay tree, and we have wondered where their root was, and how they came to be nourished by the light and the dew of heaven; they are not in trouble as other men: their eyes stand out with fatness; their houses are full of beautiful things, and their stables are full of horses, and as for their fields they abound in grass and in corn; and we have said to ourselves, surely God hath forgotten his own children, and hath lavished his love upon men who never name his name. The evildoer has outrun the doer of good, and has had rest and peace and plenty and fatness, when men whose souls are pure have been left without to lie down where they might, and suffer all the ills of contemptuous fortune. Behold, we have looked upon these things, and we have no answer to them. If they lie within the compass of time, then are we without reply to the mysteries which they present. Whilst we say these things our hearts go down within us; yea, they sink like lead in the waters. Then a voice is heard, saying, Their time is very short, their rope is very little, their opportunity is but a moment long: presently they will consume like the fat of lambs, into smoke shall they consume away, and the place of their root shall know them no more, and their evil shadow shall be chased from the earth. So then we take comfort in the words we have read—for ever; yea, for ever. Then any little measurable time set against this infinite period is as the twinkling of an eye, or as a watch in the night; it is nothingness and disappointment. Then we hear still further music from heaven: Rest in the Lord, wait patiently for him; commit thy way unto the Lord, and he shall bring it to pass; trust in the Lord, and do good. Such exhortations elevate us, bring us to a new level and tone of mind, and make us feel that we are not yet without teaching and without spiritual direction. Thou hast thine own way of teaching thine own school; we cannot tell altogether what it is, but we have come to believe that it is well, wise, best; we are now willing to do what once we could not do—to wait, to stand still, to expect and hope. This is thy miracle wrought in the heart. We praise thee for it. Once we were blind, now we see; once impatient, now time is nothing to us: the days come, and linger for a moment, and fly away, and the years are rounded off and the hour of consummation draws near. We bless thee for all thy care—tender, minute, full of detail, so that every moment has been treated as an eternity, and every pain as an agony, and every cry of sorrow and need as a mighty prayer. Thou hast anticipated all our wants: whilst we have been praying for them thou hast been spreading the table, so that when our eyes have been opened the feast has been ready. When we have said, we will hasten unto the sanctuary and tell God this, behold messengers have met us to say the prayer is answered. We thank thee for all personal testimony, for direct individual oath, sworn in the court of the universe and in the presence of men and of angels. We thank thee for the assurance that we are standing upon a rock, that what is over us is God’s own blue sky, full of hidden stars and warm with coming summer. So now we have no pain, or fear, or grief, dragging us down into unfaith and despair, but we know that the word of Jesus Christ thy Son shall be realized, that thy kingdom shall come, that thy will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven, and that thy day will burn as an oven against all evil. We cannot give up this holy truth, this poetry of the soul, this revelation of God; it is most to us when the world is least to us: disappointment helps our prayer; the emptiness of the world suggests the fullness of heaven; when there is no water in the channel, when our feet are pained and bruised by the rocks over which we pass to seek thy fountains, behold a voice says, The river of God is full of water. All this we have learned in the school of Christ under the discipline of the Cross and under the inspiration of God the Holy Ghost. We have learned this because of thy providence in the ages gone. All past time gathers up its fullness in our experience; so that we are not ourselves only: we represent the generations that are passed. We increase the faith of the olden time; we add to it our own experience, and speak it all with our own accent. Look upon men as they need to be looked upon. Too swift a glance would kill some men, because they are so weak; look gently upon those, as if not looking: come to them as a dawning day rather than as a flash of lightning. Speak comfortably to those who are much cast down, whether through bodily infirmity, or circumstantial difficulty, or domestic perplexity, and breathe into such the spirit of hope. Comfort those who do not know what to do because of the many ways which lie before them—some full of temptation, and others hard with difficulty. Be thou the guide and light, and a lamp unto the feet, a directing voice in the soul; then shall men be delivered from perplexity and led in an open way. Pity those who have seen how bad a master the devil is, and how hot are the wages of sin,—fools who have been led miles down the wrong road, and who have been evasive and false and equivocating, who have tampered with evil, who have compromised with wickedness and have gone near to being criminals, but who this day see how foul is the wrong road, how detestable is the evil spirit, how awful is the pit of hell. They have come back; they are in thy house; they are scourged; they are bent down; they feel that their bones are full of arrows, and that a spear is in their heart Wherein they repent and shed true tears of contrition, thou wilt be pitiful to them, and merciful, with an infinite gentleness, and even they may be brought to see how good a master is Christ, how mighty a Redeemer bows his head upon the Cross. The Lord permit us to walk still in his way, and teach us by the sufferings of others how we may avoid some suffering ourselves; may the lessons of the day not be lost upon us; may the events of the time be eloquent preachers, discoursing of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come; and lead us to say to the living Father, hold thou me up, and I shall be safe. The Lord heal broken hearts; the Lord himself make soft the bed of pain and the pillow of weariness; the Lord set a lamp in the house at midnight; the Lord receive the prodigal with open arms. Cleanse us by the precious blood—the blood of Christ, the atoning, sacrificial blood,—the mystery of eternity, the mystery of love. Amen.
– People’s Bible, The – The People’s Bible – Psalms: Volume 12.
Almighty God, our joy is that the tabernacle of God is with men upon the earth; it is not far away in the inaccessible heavens; it is here, close at hand, amongst our own houses, making all other habitations, if they will be so made, holy, and doors into heaven. May we understand so much of thy providence as will enable us to see that every place is praying ground, that not in this mount nor yet at Jerusalem shall men worship the Father, but everywhere men, with honest hearts, may address the throne of the heavenly grace. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. May our hearts hold communion with heaven; may it be easy to us, by reason of reverent familiarity, to pray to the living God through the living Christ, that so we may receive grace to help in time of need, and all mercy for the recovery of our souls from sin. “We have heard of the cross of Christ, and we know that thy love was manifested therein as nowhere else; we have seen the dying Son of God, we have heard his expiring cry, we have listened to the appeals of his infinite heart; now may we enter into the mystery of his shed blood, and know the joy of pardon, the rapture of liberty. We have seen somewhat of thy way, and we are glad: we have been touched by the divine power, no longer are we in bondage; we stand before God as free men, having been released by the gracious and mighty power of the Son of God. We commit ourselves to thy tender care; thou knowest what is best for us: we know that we cannot carry all the burden of life, but thou canst reduce the burden, or thou canst increase our strength. Teach us that nothing happens by chance, that we are under the rule and government of a good Father, and that all things are meant for our purification, for our mental enlightenment, for our spiritual refining, and at the end we shall praise thee for processes we could not understand. We would have no will but thine; thou seest to-day, and tomorrow, and the third day, and all time lies nakedly before thy vision: why should we interrupt thy processes, or question thy providence, or kick against the pricks? We will say, God knoweth, God is wise, God is love, God will not suffer anything to befall us to our harm: not our will, but God’s, be done. Upon all men let thy blessing rest—upon the old man who is nearing the end of the journey; upon the busy man who is full of plan and enterprise and strenuous endeavor; upon the young man whose life is all passion and enthusiasm and hope; and upon the little child, who lives the blessed life of unconsciousness; upon all estates, classes, and conditions of men let the divine blessing fall like a plentiful rain. This prayer we pray in the Name that is above every name. This weakness of speech we hide in the almightiness of Christ. Amen.