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No more foes assailing
No more trial or watching,
Oh! the transport, pilgrim,
When thy journey's o'er
On heaven's verdant shore;
Christ the cross lays down
With His glorious crown.
"(Soi r for Ms."
A NEW YEAR'S MOTTO.
|t was an afternoon early in January, when the city missionary took his place in the midst of the little company he was wont to meet on the Sunday in the room of a sick man, long confined to bed. As he used to say pleasantly, " He could not go to the meeting, so the meeting came to him." The little gathering consisted, for the most part, of those who, like John Fox, were old, or sick, or weak, or, it may be, all three. These claimed the meeting as their own, and looked upon any others rather as intruders.
There was much to sadden as one looked round the poor and dingy room; want and sickness and sorrow were s» plainly marked on face and form. Yet, as one looked a little closer and longer, and saw how eagerly all listened to the words of life, and saw how the light of love and hope and joy chased the shadows from many a wan and worn face, one could rather rejoice, and thank God that to the poor the Gospel is preached, the Gospel that never sounded so full of blessing as, when spoken to such sufferers as these, it told of a Father's love, of a Saviour's finished work, of the Good PbysiciaD, of rest, and home, and heaven.
A warm welcome was always ready for this loved friend; and especially at this, the first meeting in the New Year, very hearty and friendly greetings and good wishes were exchanged.
The meeting opened with earnest and simple prayer for the promised presence of Him who has said, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them,"1 and for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, so freely given to them that ask.a A hymn followed, "Safe in the arms of Jesus," sung with weak and quivering, and not altogether musical voices; yet surely it "entered into the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth."
Mr. Andrews gave out his subject, " God for us." "Could there be a more blessed word for us, each and all, to carry through the year with us? Surely we may trustfully echo the whole verse,' If God be for us, who can be against us,'3 and exclaim with the Psalmist, 'The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?*1 These three little words, 'God for us,' are like a tiny bud in which a large and beautiful blossom is folded up, for what can we need or wish for that is not contained in them? Let us try and find out what there is here for us, one and all. Most of you are sick and weak, and all are poor as to the things of this world. What is it, then, to have the strong arm of our God for us? He says, 'Mine arm also shall strengthen him.'5 That strength is as great now, for 'His arm is not shortened,' as it was for St. Paul, to whom in his weakness it was said, 'My strength is made perfect in weakness,' who proved the truth of the promise, and has left us his testimony, 'When I am weak, then am I strong,' and 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.'6 The very feeblest who lays hold of the strength of God must be stronger than the very strongest on earth who has it not, for ' With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord (Jehovah) our God to help us, and to fight our battles.'1 You, John Fox, know something of this. It is not in your own strength you lie here, month after month, and year after year, hopeful and cheerful, a witness of the goodness and power of ' God for us.'"
1 Matt, xviii. 20. J Luke xi. 13. 3 Rom. viii. 31. * Psa. cxviii. 6" * Psa. lxxxix. 21. • 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10; Phil. iv. 13.
"Troe, sir; my poor patience and strength would soon fail, but my God's never comes to an end." "And," added another sufferer, "that same almighty Arm is good to rest on at all times; no matter how low I may sink, the word is still sure, ' Underneath are the everlasting arms.'"2
"For me," said a timid young woman, whose bright eye and flushed cheek and rapid breathing told too plainly of approaching death, "when I lie awake at night, and the thought and fear come, I must soon leave my fatherless little ones alone in a hard world, this verse comes to me with untold comfort, 'He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom.'3 I can trust my treasures with Him, and take courage."
"And not only have we the strong arm of our God for as," went on Mr. Andrews; "we also have His ear listening to us. Whether it be a feeble cry for help, a faint response, 'Yes, Lord, I come,' His gracious invitations, the submissive 'Thy will be „one,' breathed out from an almost breaking heart, a word spoken for Him, a word spoken of Him, a word spoken to Him, all, all are heard and listened to amidst all the loud voices of the whole universe. Here is an example. When the children of Israel, in the depth of their distress, cried to the Lord, He says to Moses,' I have heard their cry ... for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them.'4. And listen to this verse, that seems just sent specially for us here in our little meeting: 'Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels.'""
1 2 Chron. xxxii. 8. * Deut. xxxiii. 27. 3 Isa. xl. 11.
* Ex. iii. 7, 8. 5 Mai. iii. 16, 17.
"I know something of that blessing, too," said John. "I am sometimes all day long alone, but I never want for company, for I can speak to my good Lord, and He speaks to me by His Spirit, bringing one or another of His words to my heart. "In the long night, too, when other ears are shut in sleep, I can hold converse with Him who never slumbers nor sleeps, who is never absent, never too busy to hearken."
"And where His ear hears, there His heart pities. How many and bitter cries enter man's ear all unheeded, or, if heeded, how often he who would help cannot do so. But we can never cry to our God without His power and love coming forth in answer. For 'like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.'l Nay, His promise is, 'Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.'2
"Even this is not all we want, nor all that is contained in our little verse, 'God for us.' We are strangers here; we are travellers; we cannot see one step before us of all that may and must befall us in this New Year. And as we have His ear to hearken, so we have His eye to guide. 'I will guide thee with Mine eye.'3 And again, 'The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.'4 And, lest we might any of us think that promise cannot be for such as I am, we have again, 'To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.'5 For the many who lie awake through the long night it is blessed to know 4 The darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.'6
"Then, again, we have His hands for us. Those hands that built up the heavens are ever over us to shelter, to protect, making a sure refuge, a safe hiding-place from all danger. What evil will not those hands avert? what good will they not give? For they are providing hands as well as protecting. One of His names is 'Jehovah-Jireh,' 'The Lord will provide.'1 Shall His children want anything that is really for their good? Let us but 'pour out our hearts before Him,' empty out all that is in them, telling Him, our Father, all we want and all we wish, our needs, our cares, our desires, our sorrows, yea, and our joys too, and we shall be able to write 'Tried and Proved' as our experience after His word, 'My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.'a And this, * The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.'3 Then these hands are not only protecting and providing, but preparing all that is good and glorious for His people. 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.'4 When our blessed Lord was going back to His home in heaven, He comforted His disciples with the words, 'I go to prepare a place for you.'5 And at the last, when the welcome home shall be given to each and all of His servants, the multitude that no man can number, the words are, 'Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'"e
1 Psa. ciii. 13. * Isa. lxv. 24. * Psa. xxxii. 8.
* 2 Chron. xvi. 9. * Isa. lxvi. 2. * Psa. cxxxix. 12.
A pause followed, as if the good man's heart were too full for words, and he could scarcely keep back the tears as he looked round on the poor and sick and suffering and dying ones around him, with the good hope, the joyful assurance that before the year had closed some amongst them would have changed the misery and poverty of their present lot to stand in the presence of their God, with Jesus, and like Jesus, for ever.7
"Shall we not bravely meet all that may be before us with this watchword, 'God for us ?'" Many a glistening eye looked up in grateful, hopeful assent.
1 Gen. xxii. 14. * Phil. iv. 19. * Psa. xxiii. 1. 4 1 Cor. ii. 9. • John xiv. 2. 8 Matt. xxv. 34. 'I John iii. 2.