"Behold what manner of love the Father hath
bestowed.upon us, that we should be called the sons of God."—1 John
The sons of God! Can this indeed be true? Can
sinners, rebels, indeed acquire a title to such a name as this? The more
we think what God is, and what we are, the more wonderful
does this seem; wonderful, but not for a moment to be doubted, since
God hath said it. Well might the apostle, who knew love best, say,
"Behold what manner of love!" If such, then, is the name, what ought to
be the character of the believer? How holy, how humble, how
heavenly-minded ought he to be? How raised above the entanglements of
earthly vanities! How separate from a world lying in wickedness ! And
how ought he to rejoice! Let the world call him what it will, and
scorn him as it will, his is a title and an inheritance, compared to
which that of the world's proudest throne is but vanity; he may be
despised among men, but he is of those whom the Father hath called the
sons of God!
"Behold the amazing gift of love,
The Father hath bestow'd
On us, the sinful sons of men,
To call us sons of God!"
"My Beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my
love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the
rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of
the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard
in our land; the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the
vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my
fair one, and come away." —Sol. Song ii.
There are winters and springs in the Church, as well
as in nature, and not only in the Church as a whole, but in each
individual heart; and it may be that our own hearts are cold, and dead,
and hard at the very time when all creation is warmed with the breath of
spring, and everything around is bursting into life and beauty. Let us
listen to the voice of Jesus, if we would have our souls revived. Let us
open our hearts to the influences of the Sun of righteousness; He alone
can inspire new life into them. Then shall we be warmed into love, and
melted into penitence; tears, fruitful as spring showers, shall flow
when we think of our past indifference, and even more lovely than the
sweet spring of nature will be the spring of life and grace in the
"Speak, and by Thy gracious voice,
Make my drooping soul rejoice.
O beloved Saviour, haste,
Tell me all the storms are past;
On Thy garden deign to smile,
Raise the plants, enrich the soil;
Soon Thy presence will restore
Life to what seem'd dead before."
"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye
shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."—John xv. 7.
The question is often raised how far we are to
understand literally this promise of receiving 'whatever we ask. Perhaps
it may be best answered by considering it in connexion with the first
part of the text. If we abide in Christ, and have His words abiding in
us, we need not fear to take the full benefit of His promise, for then
we shall ask only what is in accordance with His will, or, as it is
elsewhere expressed, "Whatsoever ye ask in my name." (John xv. 18
; xvi. 23.) This abiding in Christ would put a stop to our asking for
vain things, or things inconsistent with His mind and will, and would
give full confidence in asking for the real blessings. Alas ! why do we
so little plead the promise and ask, believing that we shall
receive ? It is because of this unbelief that our prayers meet with
little returns compared with what such a promise as this would lead us
to expect. The spirit of belief and the spirit of prayer must come from
God; for this let us ask, and take this word of our Lord's as our sure
warrant, seeking to abide in Him, for through Him only can we find
"O Thou, by whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way,
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod,
Lord, teach us how to pray!"
"O Lord, how manifold are thy works ! in wisdom
hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches ; so is
this great sea."—Ps. civ. 24.
How wonderful is the variety in the works of God!
They are indeed manifold, and each is in its own way framed in
perfect wisdom, as even an unscientific eye may perceive. And as I value
a picture or piece of work because it was done by some dear friend,
whose mind designed, and whose fingers executed it, so may I look upon a
flower, or a shell, or any of God's fair works, and say, I love it for
my Father's sake, "my Father made them all!" Infinitely great as He is,
these things were not beneath His notice, and they tell me that
neither am I. Stars above, and flowers beneath, were designed and
fashioned by Him, but far more dear to His eye must be the human souls
He has created. It is because He is so great that nothing is too
small for His care; and therefore it is, that when He would reprove the
faithlessness of His people, He says, "Lift up your eyes on high, and
behold who hath created these things. .... Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and
speakest O Israel, my way is hid from the Lord?"
"Thus wisdom's words discover
Thy glory and Thy grace,
Thou everlasting lover
Of our unworthy race.
Thy gracious eye survey'd us
E'er stars were seen above;
In wisdom Thou hast made us,
And died for us in love!"
"Suffer little children to come unto me, and
forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."—Luke xviii.
How many a believing mother, how many a believing
little child, has blessed the Lord for those precious words! They are
the parent's warrant in teaching, and training, and praying with and for
the child. But for these words we might be tempted to agree with the
disciples who rebuked those that brought the little children to Jesus;
for unbelief and pride of intellect are apt still to say, "What can a
child understand of heavenly things? how can a child know God?" But
Christ's own teaching shews us the very contrary; instead of forbidding
the child to come, He warns us all, that unless we come as little
children, we cannot see the kingdom of heaven. The faith of a child must
be the pattern for us, for faith is of the heart, and not of the
intellect only. He invites the little ones to come to Him with their
childlike thoughts, and their lisping words ; and, perhaps, it is to
teach us in our pride that our understanding of heavenly things is,
after all, not much liker the great realities than the conceptions of
children are ! Let us bless the Lord for the revelation of Jesus
contained in those gracious words; they have won the heart of many a
dear infant to the love of the Saviour, and many redeemed babes will
praise Him throughout eternity for His call of love to the little
"'Permit them to approach,' He cries,
Nor scorns their humble name:
For 'twas to bless such souls as these
The Lord of angels came."
"Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come,
He will guide you into all truth."—John xvi. 13.
A most precious promise to those who seek truth, but
to those only who seek it through the right guidance. Men vainly think
that earnestness and diligence in the search are enough to
make them find the truth, but the promise is not given to any such
seeking—we must ask the Holy Spirit himself to be our guide, if we would
attain the knowledge of that which He alone can reveal. Let me, then,
lay fast hold of this promise, believing that the Spirit of Truth is
indeed willing to guide me. Let me never open the Book of Truth without
asking His guidance, and believing with peaceful confidence that He
grants it. Let me beware of trusting either to my own unassisted
reason or the reason of other men; why should I seek the light of
candles when I may walk in sunshine ? The Holy Spirit of God is really
present with His people, and never will fail to fulfil this promise to
those who truly ask His teaching through Jesus Christ,
"Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Let Thy bright beams arise,
Dispel the sorrow from our minds,
The darkness from our eyes."
"Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the
which also ye are called in one body; and be ye
thankful."—Colossians iii. 15.
This is a positive command of God to us, as much as
any other in Scripture; how important, then, to cherish in our hearts
this holy peace of God, and to seek that it may not only visit
but rule within us. We are to let the peace of God enter, He is
willing that we should possess it; but our own passions and follies and
sinful anxieties shut it out from our hearts, as persons with weak eyes
shut out the sunbeams from their room, and thus we often sit in the dark
when we might have the sweet sunshine of God's peace resting upon us.
Note the connexion between the enjoyment of peace and the exercise of
thankfulness—"let the peace of God rule, and be ye thankful;" as also in
Philippians iv. 6 and 7— "in everything, by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving . . . and the peace of God, which passeth
all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ
Jesus." There is no better way to bring back disturbed peace than to
lift up the heart and give thanks ; then we recall His mercies,
His love, His long-suffering, and almost before we are aware the cloud
has disappeared, or rather we have soared above it, and we feel again
what a Saviour Jesus is!
"Yet even the greatest griefs
May be reliefs,
Could we but take them right, and in their ways.
Happy is he whose heart
Hath found the art
To turn his double pains to double praise."