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nChrist
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« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2008, 04:00:47 PM »

The Footsteps of Jesus
By John MacDuff, 1856
Things to be sought - and things to be shunned

        Among the fruits of which the Apostle of specifies is love; a grace that cannot be too earnestly sought, as its value cannot be too highly estimated. Its importance may be shown by several considerations. One is, that the Savior expressed His will on the subject in the form of a new and express law. "A new commandment I give unto you - That you love one another." As the great Head of the Church, possessing all authority in heaven and on earth, the Lord Jesus was empowered to enact whatever laws He pleased; it is, however, worthy of remark, that in the exercise of that high function, the only subject on which He chose formally to legislate was the one under consideration. But it may be said, was not a command given of old testament to the same effect? Was not the second table of the moral law included in the saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself?" How then could it be called a new commandment? To this we reply, that it is evident that the love which Christ inculcated was of a different kind of love to that which the law of Moses required. The love prescribed by the old law was that of benevolence, while the love prescribed by the new law is that of delight. The one was loving-kindness - that is, the love of the kind, or the love of man as man; the other is the love of man as a follower of Christ. And not merely are they different in their nature - but also as regards the considerations by which they are enforced; the great Legislator Himself, in the latter case, proposing His own example as the motive to, and the model of, obedience. "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

        Again, the importance of love appears from the pre-eminence given to it above all other gifts and graces. "And now abides faith, hope, love - these three; but the greatest of these is love." It is here shown that love is the richest gem which sparkles in the Christian's crown.

        Love is greater than either faith or hope in several respects. It is so, in the first place, as it is the end for which the other two are bestowed. The great design of the gospel is to re-stamp upon man the moral image of God; and if that image consists in one thing more than another, it is in love, for "God is love." Now, the salvation of the gospel is applied by faith, and to look for its completion is the work of hope; but love is the completion itself, it is that state of mind which it is the design of God in all His dispensations to produce. A building cannot be erected without scaffolding - but the building is of more importance than the scaffolding, being the end for which it was put up; and when the building is finished, the scaffolding is removed.

        This leads us to observe, secondly, that love is greater than the other graces in point of duration. "Love never fails; but whether there are prophecies, they shall fail; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it shall vanish away." The shield of faith will be laid aside in heaven, for seeing and knowing will have succeeded to believing. And as faith will be turned to sight, so hope will be lost in full fruition. There will be no submission there, for the days of trial and mourning will be ended. There will be no self-denial, for there will be no cross to take up, and no burden to be borne. There will be no watchfulness, for there will be no enemy near; there will be no Canaanite left in the land; over the massive walls of the eternal city - no thief can ever climb, and through its adamantine gates no foe can ever enter. There will be no prayer there, for every need will have been supplied, every sorrow soothed, and every sin forgiven. But if these graces will be absent, love will be there; and not faint and feeble as here on earth - but in full vigor and maturity: it will be there, beaming in every eye, and burning in every breast, forever and ever. It is thus a grace that will be unending in its duration. If we possess it here, it will ascend with us above the skies, to be the temper of our souls to all eternity.

        There is another sense in which the pre-eminence of love appears. Faith and hope are comparatively selfish graces. We believe and hope for ourselves; but in the exercise of love we regard the well-being of others. Faith and hope are the channels by which the streams of joy and peace flow from God to us; but by love, we dispense of those streams to others. In the one case we are made the recipients of happiness; in the other we become its distributors. By the former we are made the heirs of salvation, to whom the angels of God minister; but by the latter we become ministering spirits ourselves, hushing the groans of creation, wiping away the tears of humanity, alleviating sorrow, and mitigating care on every hand, and leaving a blessing behind us wherever we go.

        We may observe, once more, that the importance of this grace appears from the fact, that in the epistles addressed to the early churches, there is something about love, especially about brotherly love, in them all. Addressing the Romans, the apostle says, "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;" and again, "Owe no man anything - but to love one another." If we turn to his first epistle to the Corinthians, we have one chapter entirely taken up with this topic, where its nature is explained, and its influence strikingly represented; and in the second epistle we find many affectionate appeals on the same subject. In the epistle to the Galatians, in addition to what is stated of the fruits of the Spirit, it is said, "For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh - but by love serve one another." Addressing the Ephesians, he says, "Be followers of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor." To the Philippians His language is, "For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the affections of Jesus Christ: and this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment." To the Colossians again, "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have to all the saints." In the epistle to the Thessalonians, we have the emphatic words, "But as touching brotherly love, you need not that I write unto you; for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another." Among the many things which Timothy was exhorted to follow after, one of the first was love. Just so with the believing Hebrews - the apostle was for provoking them, and for their provoking each other to love; and in closing the epistle he says, "Let brotherly love continue." In perfect harmony with these exhortations of Paul, are those of Peter. "Seeing," is his language, "you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto sincere love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently." To refer to the epistles of John would be needless. There is nothing but love there. With an affection worthy of him who leaned on the bosom of incarnate love and compassion, he beseeches us, with the overflowings of tender importunity, as little children, to love one another. Now from all this there is but one conclusion at which we can arrive, namely, that that which is thus so prominently exhibited, and so repeatedly enjoined, must be important in the highest possible degree.
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« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2008, 04:02:39 PM »

The Footsteps of Jesus
By John MacDuff, 1856
Things to be sought - and things to be shunned

        True religion, in a word, is love, and love is true religion. It is because love prevails in heaven, that religion prevails there. It is because there is no love in hell, that there is no religion in hell. And it is in proportion as love prevails in this world, that true religion prevails.

        But the fruits of the Spirit enumerated by the apostle are numerous and diversified. We may, however, in accordance with the above observations, regard each and all of the graces subsequently specified as so many modifications of the one we have been considering. What is joy - but love exulting! What is peace - but love reposing! What is long-suffering - but love enduring! That it "suffers long, and is kind," the apostle, in another place, expressly declares. And in "gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," we have what may be described as the amiability, the beneficence, the fidelity, the unostentatiousness, and the controlling influence of the same great principle. Or should it be thought that this representation is somewhat fanciful; no one can deny that if these several qualities are not actual modifications of love, yet that they are the inseparable adjuncts of it, and that where love abounds they cannot be absent.

        With the fruits of the Spirit the apostle contrasts the fruits of the flesh. "This I say then," is his language, "walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." These evil passions and propensities we are to shun as resolutely as we are to seek the virtues, so lovely and of such good report, to which we have just referred. And how many are the considerations which should induce us to guard against those fleshly lusts which war against the soul! If we live after the flesh - if we yield our members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity, the certain consequence will be death - a death which never dies. The word is gone forth and shall not return, "that the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars - shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death." May God, in His infinite mercy, deliver the reader from such a doom!
         

        ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

        Murmuring - Submission

        "Peace, all our angry passions, then,
        Let each rebellious sigh
        Be silent at His sovereign will,
        And every murmur die."


        "Why does a living man complain?" Lamentations 3:39.

        "It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him." 1 Samuel 3:18.


        Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards. And what we are born to as men, we are born again to as Christians. We are not therefore to think that any strange thing has happened to us, if sorrow, in any of its multifarious forms, befalls us here below, since the same afflictions are accomplished in our brethren that are in the world.

        "If you endure chastening," says the apostle, "God deals with you as with sons." But how should we endure it? It should be done in an inquiring spirit. We ought to be anxious to know the cause of the visitation. With the patriarch of old, our language should be, "Show me why You contend with me?" It should be done also in a prayerful spirit: for, "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray." And it should be done especially in a submissive spirit. We should not merely hear the rod - but kiss it. Instead of cherishing any feelings of murmuring and rebellion, under the afflictive dispensations of God's providence, we should humble ourselves under His mighty hand, that He may exalt us in due time.

        And how many considerations are there which should induce and promote such a spirit! If we compare our sufferings with our deserts, shall we not find abundant reason to banish every complaint, and hush into silence every murmur? Should we complain of light and momentary trouble - when we deserve to be tormented in hell forever? Should we complain of the chastisements of a gracious Father - when we have rendered ourselves obnoxious to the sentence of an angry Judge? Should we complain that God sits by us as a refiner to purify - when He might be a consuming fire to destroy? Should we complain that we have to pass under the rod of His love - when we might have been set up as a mark for the arrows of His indignation, the poison whereof might drink up our spirits? Could we look into the lake of fire, and have a sight of the wretched beings who are there writhing in deathless agonies - we should thank God for the most miserable condition on earth, if it were only sweetened with the hope of escaping that place of torment.
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« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2008, 04:04:11 PM »

The Footsteps of Jesus
By John MacDuff, 1856
Things to be sought - and things to be shunned

        Let us think, again, of the many mercies of which we have been, and still continue to be, the subjects. "And shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" not moral evil, for that cannot come from Him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; but what our old writers call penal evil, or the corrections with which He visits the children of men. It is recorded that a slave, on one occasion, was presented by his master with a bitter melon, which was immediately eaten by him. Seeing this the master asked how he could eat so nauseous a fruit? He replied, "I have received so many favors from you that it is no wonder that I should, for once in my life, eat a bitter melon from your hand." This answer, so striking and generous, affected the master deeply - so much so, that he gave him his liberty as a reward for the noble spirit he displayed. And is there not a lesson for us to learn from this? Should we not receive our afflictions from the Divine hand with similar feelings? Should we forget our blessings, which are so many - and dwell upon our crosses, which are so few?

        It would be well also for us to compare our sufferings with what others have had to endure. The people of God have been, in all ages, a suffering people; and one and another of them could say with special emphasis, "I am the man that has seen affliction." There was Job. So pre-eminent was his character that it was said of him by God Himself, that there was none like him in all the earth; and yet in a single day he was cast down from the highest pinnacle of prosperity to the lowest depths of adversity. In the morning he was the richest man in all the East. With patriarchal dignity he looked round upon the joyous circle of seven sons and three daughters; but in the evening he found himself without flock, or herd, or child. In the morning he flourished like a stately cedar, with its verdant branches spread around but in the evening, as if struck by the lightning's flash, his spreading honors are all scattered to the winds, and he stands like a withered trunk, solitary, and bare, and blasted. O what are our troubles compared with his? And did he murmur? No, he adored the hand that smote him; prostrate in the dust he exclaimed, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"

        Take the apostle Paul again. O what had he to pass through! Bonds and imprisonments everywhere awaited him. Perils and privations of every kind he had to endure. But none of these things moved him, neither did he count his life dear to himself, so that he might finish his course with joy.

        But let us turn from the servant to the Master, and consider Him. What was His condition during His earthly sojourn? He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, notwithstanding His infinite dignity and unsullied purity. "We suffer justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing amiss." Our sufferings are only partial; but He suffered in every way. Ours are only occasional; for hours and days of pain - we have weeks and months of pleasure. But His sufferings were uninterrupted - they accompanied Him from the manger to the cross. What He endured, especially during the closing scenes of His memorable career, passes all comprehension. Hear His heart-rending cry, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." "And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

        O shall we compare our sufferings with His? To do so would be to weigh a mote against a mountain. Well may we say -

        "Now let our pains be all forgot,
        Our hearts no more repine;
        Our sufferings are not worth a thought,
        When, Lord, compared with Thine."


        Let us think much, then, of what the Savior endured, if we are for bearing our trials with submission. We should consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest we be wearied and faint in our minds. The disciple, we must remember, is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord. And would you, Christian, wish to fare better than Him? Can the common soldier complain when he sees the commander enduring the same privations? Jesus Christ was a man of sorrows, and are you not to taste the bitter cup? He was acquainted with grief, and are you to be a stranger to it? Would you wish for the friendship of that world, whose malice He had to bear continually? Would you have nothing but ease - where He had nothing but trouble? Would you have nothing honor - where He had nothing but disgrace? Would you reign with Him hereafter - and not suffer with Him here? O say, then, with Him, "The cup which My Father has given Me - shall I not drink it?" And as you drink yours, O, think of His.

        "How bitter that cup, no heart can conceive,
        Which He drank quite up, that sinners might live;
        His way was much rougher and darker than mine,
        Did Jesus thus suffer - and shall I repine?"
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« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2008, 04:06:20 PM »

The Footsteps of Jesus
By John MacDuff, 1856
Things to be sought - and things to be shunned

        Another consideration that should produce a spirit of submission is, that our sorrows are not to last forever. "For surely," says the wise man, "there is an end; and your expectation shall not be cut off." That end is certain. Many a mariner has been ready to hail a desired haven which he never reached; and many a warrior has reckoned with confidence upon a victory which he never obtained. "We looked," said the Jews, "for light, and behold darkness; for peace, and behold trouble." But, O you suffering saint - it will not be so with you! Your deliverance from sorrow is as sure as the purpose, the promise, the covenant, the oath of God can render it. And not merely is it certain - but it is near. "For yet a little while, and He who shall come will come, and will not tarry." A few weeks, or months, or years more, and all will be peace and quietness and assurance forever. And, it must be added, that that end will be unspeakably glorious. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." There will be no shattered frame - no emaciated countenance - no furrowed cheek - no faltering voice in those blessed regions. There every eye shall sparkle with delight - every countenance will beam with ineffable satisfaction - every pulse will beat high with immortality - and every frame will be able to sustain without weariness an eternal weight of glory.

        O child of sorrow, think of these things. Be anxious to feel their hallowing influence, that resignation may have her perfect work, and that no murmuring spirit may be indulged in, even for a moment. In the sweet strains of the poet, we would say,

        "Whate'er your lot, whoe'er you be,
        Confess your folly, kiss the rod;
        And in your chastening sorrows see
        The hand of God.

        A bruised reed He will not break;
        Afflictions all His children feel;
        He wounds them for his mercy's sake,
        He wounds to heal.

        Humbled beneath His mighty hand,
        Prostrate His providence adore;
        'Tis done! arise - He bids you stand,
        To fall no more."

         

        ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

        Lukewarmness - Zeal

        "Dear Lord, and shall we ever live
        At this poor dying rate?
        Our love so faint, so cold to You,
        And Yours to us so great?"


        "For you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:20.

        "I would that you were cold or hot; so then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue you out of My mouth." Revelation 3:15,16.


        It is an undoubted - but mournful truth, that God is not served with diligence and zeal by the great mass of His professing people. There are many who are at ease in Zion; they are settled on their lees, like Moab of old. What if such were to keep a diary of their doings - what if they were to write down every day what they have done for God and His cause! What a record, we have reason to fear, would it be! What awful blanks would be presented on one page after another! Concerning how many days would there have to be written, "Nothing!" Concerning how many weeks, "Nothing!" Concerning how many months, "Nothing!" And alas! in instances which are far from being rare, concerning how many years, "Nothing!" Nothing to any purpose, nothing done with full resolvedness and devotedness of heart. O how solemn the thought! And it is still more solemn to think that such a register is kept - and that by One who knows our negligences and shortcomings far better than we do ourselves!
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« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2008, 04:08:02 PM »

The Footsteps of Jesus
By John MacDuff, 1856
Things to be sought - and things to be shunned

        There are many considerations which should constrain us to devote ourselves unreservedly to the service of God; but the chief is the obligations we are under for redeeming love and mercy. "You are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's," "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich." "He who spared not His own Son - but delivered Him up for us all; how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" With equal propriety the apostle might have drawn another inference - an inference to which the Christian, when his heart is in a right state, cannot fail to respond. If He spared not His own Son - but delivered Him up for us all; how should we not for Him also, freely give Him all things - wealth, labor, talents, yes, life itself? While we turn aside to see that great sight - while gazing, in the exercise of faith, on that spectacle of matchless love and grace which was exhibited on Calvary - has not our language been -

        "See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
        Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
        Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
        Or thorns compose so rich a crown!"


        And then, moved and melted by the amazing scene, have we not been compelled to add -

        "Were the whole realm of nature mine,
        That were a present far too small;
        Love so amazing, so divine,
        Demands my soul, my life, my all."


        Our reasonable service it is, truly, to make such a surrender; but while we are ready to acknowledge our obligations, how feebly in general do we fulfill them!

        In the apostles and early Christians, we have a striking specimen of the manner in which we ought to serve the Lord Christ. O what labors were theirs! What sacrifices! What sleepless vigilance! What overwhelming, all-consuming zeal! And has the Savior done less for us - than He did for them? Were the sufferings He bore for us less ignominious, His pangs let piercing, His blood of less value? Are the blessings He bestows upon us less precious - the salvation He offers us less glorious? Is the heaven He opens to our view less attractive, its rest less sweet, its joys less ravishing, its music less melodious? All that He did for them - He has done for us; the blessings He bestowed upon them - He is willing to bestow upon us. The love He bears towards us and the blissful prospects He sets before us, are the same. Must there not be then the same obligations in both cases; and should there not therefore be a similar consecration?

        And how powerful an argument for devotedness to the service of God, does the brevity of life supply! Should not the words of the great Master be ever sounding in our ears, "Work while it is day, for the night comes when no man can work." Should not the exhortation of the wise man be practically exemplified in our whole course and conduct, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave where you go."

        That was a noble reply that was once made by a Mohammedan hero on the field of battle. Although greatly fatigued by over-exertion, and well near fainting from loss of blood, occasioned by the wounds he had received, he was yet about securing other means for rushing into the thickest of the fight. A friend who stood by, perceiving the state he was in, earnestly entreated him to retire, and permit someone else to occupy his post. The veteran stood for a moment, and, pointing with his sword to the ground, he exclaimed, "This is the place for labor;" then lifting up his hand towards his imaginary paradise above, he added, "And there is the place for rest!" How beautiful an answer! How sublime a sentiment! Reader, adopt the words as your motto. Ever remember that this is the place for labor, and that there is the place for rest. Be assured that as you live for God here, so will you secure, not on the ground of personal merit - but on that of His free and gracious promise - endless repose hereafter.
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« Reply #20 on: June 15, 2008, 04:09:57 PM »

The Footsteps of Jesus
By John MacDuff, 1856
Things to be sought - and things to be shunned

        It has been remarked, and the assertion is doubtless true, although it sounds somewhat startling, that there is one privilege enjoyed by the people of God on earth that the saints in heaven do not possess. It is that of being instrumental in doing good to their fellow-creatures. The mighty warriors of the cross, who have reached their everlasting home, will not be favored any more in this way. Luther cannot now lift up his voice against the abominations of Popery. Whitefield cannot cross the Atlantic to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. Howard cannot dive into the depths of dungeons, nor plunge into the infection of hospitals. All the ranks of the glorified rest from their labors; their work is done. It is true that they serve God in His temple; but the service in which they are engaged appears to be that of worship, adoration, and praise. Does not this consideration loudly call upon us to make the most diligent use of all the opportunities we enjoy of doing good while we possess them. In a short time they will be gone forever.

        "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."


        ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

        Purity of Heart - Nominal Profession

        "My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
        I read my duty in Your Word;
        But in Your life the law appears
        Drawn out in living characters.

        O be my pattern, make me bear
        More of Your gracious image here;
        Then God the Judge shall own my name,
        Among the followers of the Lamb."


        "Not everyone who says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven." Matthew 7:21.

        "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14.


        The character given of our great High Priest is, that He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." By spotless, stainless purity, was He distinguished. In Him no spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing was found. As "the man Christ Jesus," the divine law was in His heart, and by His whole career, from the manger to the cross, did He magnify it and make it honorable. To all its requirements, He rendered uninterrupted and complete obedience. How ardently were His affections fixed upon His Heavenly Father; He had no other God before Him. No idol of wealth, or ambition, or vanity, had any ascendancy over Him. How exalted were His conceptions of the nature of God; the worship He paid Him was spiritual worship; He did not make any graven image, nor the likeness of anything in heaven above or the earth beneath. How did He reverence the name of God; it was a name dearer to Him than all other names; and the dishonor cast upon it by an ungodly world vexed His righteous soul, and filled it with holy indignation. How did He sanctify the day of sacred rest, delighting in its services, and consecrating its hours and moments to works of love and mercy. How did He honor His earthly parents as well as His Heavenly Father. Notwithstanding His exalted character, He cheerfully submitted Himself to them; and when in the agonies of death, He recognized and hallowed the earliest and dearest of nature's ties, and committed His mother to the charge of the beloved disciple. How full was His heart of love and tenderness to every human being! No one ever had so many enemies to encounter - but He never conceived a single purpose of hatred or ill-will against them. Although they were for killing Him, yet for their cruelty He returned nothing but kindness. How free was He from everything licentious, both in practice and in thought. No Bathsheba's beauty ever kindled an unchaste desire in Him. From the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes - He was entirely free. And as with the other precepts of the law - between Him and all injustice, and all falsehood, and all desires after the possessions of others, there was the farthest remove. Upon the tablet of His heart the whole of the ten commandments were engraved, and all were embodied, in their spirit and in their letter, in His outward conduct.
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« Reply #21 on: June 15, 2008, 04:11:28 PM »

The Footsteps of Jesus
By John MacDuff, 1856
Things to be sought - and things to be shunned

        As the Great Teacher come from God, He preached to the people the gospel of the kingdom; setting forth with matchless eloquence, the doctrines they were to believe, and the virtues they were to manifest. His life was a living commentary upon the truths which He taught. Every virtue that He preached - He practiced. Did He preach separation from the world? O how separate was He from it Himself. He lived above the world. Its forms and fashions, its pomps and pleasures had no influence over him. Did He preach humility? Never was one so humble as He. They were sincere words which He uttered, when He said, "I am meek and lowly in heart." Did he preach patience and forbearance? "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent - so He opened not His mouth." "When He was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not - but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously." Did He preach devotedness and zeal? It was His food and drink to do the will of His Father who was in Heaven. He went about - not for purposes of ease and enjoyment, not to admire the wonders of creation, or the treasures of art - but for the single object of doing good. Did He preach the necessity and importance of devotion?

        "Cold mountains and the midnight air
         Witnessed the fervor of His prayer."


        After spending the day with men in uninterrupted labors for their temporal and spiritual well-being, He often spent the night with God, seeking His face, and imploring His blessing. Did He preach love? Greater love than His was never shown. His tears, His agonies, His bloody sweat, His cross and passion, His life and death - all proclaim, "Behold how He loved us!" In every particular there was the fullest harmony between His precepts on the one hand, and His practice on the other.

        Child of God! we call upon you to turn aside and see this great sight. A marvelous thing it is to see One in our nature "who did no sin, neither was any deceit found in His mouth." Gaze, then, with adoring wonder, upon Him. By the eye of faith behold Him as the Lamb of God - a Lamb without blemish and without spot.

        "Looking unto Jesus" is one of the most important exhortations contained in the Word of God. And there are two aspects in which we are to regard Him, while so doing. We are, first, to look to Him as our substitute dying in our stead, giving Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. And we are to look to Him, secondly, as our great exemplar, for He left us an example that we should follow His steps. But it is especially in His purity that we are to aspire after conformity to Him. Those who have hope in Him as their surety, are to purify themselves even as He is pure.

        To be in Christ by a mere outward name will avail us nothing. We may carry the lamp of an outward profession - but if destitute of the oil of grace we shall never enter in to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Those only are savingly in Him - whose chief aim and object is to walk as He walked. If we are united to Him by a living faith, there is now, and there will be to us on the great day, no condemnation; but the practical proof that this blessedness is ours consists in walking, not after the flesh but after the Spirit.

        What then, reader, should be your petition, and what should be your request? It should be, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." It should be, "Sanctify me wholly, and let my whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless, unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ." It is said of the King's highway, that it shall be called the way of holiness; and the truth cannot be too frequently reiterated, that we receive the grace of God in vain, unless we are made inwardly and outwardly holy.

        All the truths and doctrines of the gospel have immediate reference to this great object. Think of those ancient purposes which were formed in the solitudes of eternity before men or angels were created. In many respects they transcend our loftiest conceptions; but, however mysterious in their nature, in their design they are exceedingly clear. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." With the purposes of God connect the gracious call of God: "For as He which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy."

        With the promises of God it is so likewise. They are given that we may thereby "perfect holiness in the fear of God." And so with the afflictive dispensations of His providence. It is by affliction that God separates the sin which He hates - from the soul which He loves! He chastens us for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. And with the preceding particulars we are especially to connect the death and sacrifice of the Redeemer. "He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Thus all God's dispensations, both in providence and grace, have direct reference to the purification of His people.
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« Reply #22 on: June 15, 2008, 04:13:06 PM »

The Footsteps of Jesus
By John MacDuff, 1856
Things to be sought - and things to be shunned

        "The desire of happiness" it has been said, "is natural; but the desire of holiness is supernatural" - it is not what man's carnal mind will aspire after. Have you, reader, any desires after holiness? If you have, cherish them more and more. Then existence is to be regarded as a token for good. We would say, for the encouragement of the weak and doubtful, that there may be holiness - even in the desire of holiness; that there may be grace - in the desire of grace; as, doubtless, there is sin in the desire of sin.

        How delightful is the thought that heaven is a land of perfect holiness. The good work, begun in the day of conviction, will then be complete. The mournful cry, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death," will not be heard there; for over all the principles of indwelling corruption a final victory will be gained. To one, in the days of His flesh, and she a guilty one, the Savior said, "Go, and sin no more." But what will be His language to His people as they are received in through the gates into the eternal city? He will say, not "go, and sin no more" - but "come, and sin no more!" O blessed prospect! O transporting thought! - to sin no more - to be done forever with it - done with it in all its deceitful forms, and in all its woeful consequences!

        "There we shall see His face,
        And never, never sin;
        There from the rivers of His grace,
        Drink endless pleasures in!"

         

        ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

        Life Everlasting - The Second Death

        "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore!" Psalm 16:11.

        "What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death." Romans 6:21.


        Those who walk in the footsteps of Jesus in this world, have a prospect ineffably glorious awaiting them hereafter. They have now to pass, it may be, through much that is painful; but were those sufferings a thousand-fold greater than they are, they would not be worthy to be compared with that "eternal weight of glory" of which the apostle speaks. If the believer's condition were that of the most extreme distress and poverty; if not a single beam of light were to break in upon his gloomy dungeon; if not a single drop of consolation were mingled with his bitter cup; if he had to travel through this waste wilderness amid perpetual assaults and alarms, without a moment's rest or safety - yet the end to which his manifold tribulations conduct him, will make ample amends for all.

        The end of the Christian's toils and trials is variously represented; but one of the most frequent and emphatic expressions which the inspired writers employ, is "everlasting life." To attempt to unfold the full signification of this phrase would be a fruitless effort. Brief as it is, it has depths of meaning which baffle all our powers of conception. But it is evident - taking a mere negative view of the subject - that in the state of being referred to, death will be a thing altogether unknown. This is dying world. Here death reigns, and that with a sway so absolute and universal, that nothing can resist or stand before him. The strength of man cannot - the whole of his energies are vain; death stamps a cruel mockery on them all. The art of man cannot - the physician himself is a dying creature, and death may seize him in his iron grasp, even while attempting to preserve the life of others. The varied conditions of man cannot - on the high and low alike he inflicts an equal humiliation. Here the mightiest conqueror is vanquished, and the proudest of monarchs finds himself a slave. The tenderest sympathies of man cannot. The husband would gladly live to protect his wife from the crude assaults of an evil world; the parent would not leave his children orphans in a region where the law of kindness is so feebly felt. Death's command, however, is given - and it must be obeyed. But there is a world where "there shall be no more death!"

        But there is more than the exclusion of death embodied in the expression. In heaven there will be not merely life - but life of the highest kind. Every element of bliss will it embrace. There will be perfect knowledge, and perfect purity, and perfect peace, and perfect liberty, and perfect love; and all these combined will constitute perfect life! And if, with its glorious nature, we connect its boundless duration - unending ages, far from producing any symptoms of decrepitude and decay - but contributing to preserve and augment, as they roll their ceaseless rounds, the blooming freshness and vigor of perpetual youth and beauty - we shall then have some faint idea of the import of the apostle's words, when he said - "You have your fruit unto holiness, AND THE END EVERLASTING LIFE!"

        In contrast with the final outcome of the Christian's career, we are reminded of the fearful termination of the course pursued by the ungodly. Many representations are given of sin - but they all point to one result - namely death. Is sin a way? It leads to death. Is it a work? Its wages is death. Is it a conception? It brings forth death. It is unprofitable in its nature here, and most fearful in its consequences hereafter, for "the end of those things is death!" Yes, thoughtless sinner, the things in which you indulge, and which you have been so often exhorted to abandon - their end is death! The end of gratifying your sinful passions - of loving this present evil world - of trifling with eternal realities - of rejecting the Savior, and despising the blessings of His grace - is death - a death which never dies!

        But Jesus came to deliver us from the bitter pains of eternal death. And by believing in Him the vilest sinner may be saved. He is the resurrection and the life; and those who are made partakers of Him, however aggravated their offences, shall not die eternally.

        "I have set before you life and death," was the language of Moses, when addressing the children of Israel. Reader, the same things are now set before you, and that in a far clearer light, and with much more solemn sanctions than they were set before the assembled tribes of old. And why are they set before you? It is that you may be led earnestly and diligently to seek the one; and that you may as earnestly and diligently endeavor to, shun the other.
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