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though I knew something of the secret of joy in my God, yet as I laid down the pretty card I said to myself with a sigh, " I can't face the future a year at a time, and, thank God, I need not; it will only come to me day by day moment by moment, and perhaps before this new year grows old the Lord Himself will come, and bring our years to an end, like a tale that is told."
And then, with tears in my eyes, I opened my second envelope. The card it contained was very plain, pale blue, with a narrow silver border, and it bore the words, " Looking unto Jesus." Old familiar words! but they reached my very heart at that moment of sadness with the wonderful living power with which God's Word is imbued by His Spirit. They dispelled the vague dread and healed the soreness which my first New Year's card had made me feel, and spoke to me peace and strength; and this New Year's card, hanging framed on my wall, has been so comforting and helpful to me many a day since, that I cannot forbear writing down some of the precious truths it has spoken to me, in hope of cheering some who may be entering on a new year with a heart sad and sinking, as was mine that day.
i. "Looking unto Jesus" means trusting Him for help. This is the very beginning of a life of real Christian faith; the helpless, conscience-stricken sinner is invited to look unto Him, as the dying Israelite on the brazen uplifted serpent, for healing and salvation. "Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth," is His unbounded invitation to mankind. The temple of old was in this sense a beautiful type of Jesus, the appointed meeting-place where the Father's eye is resting in pardoning love, to which therefore the sinner's eye may be turned in full assurance of pardon. "That Thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which Thou hast said, My name shall be there: that Thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which Thy servant shall make toward this place."1 St, Paul writes to his Galatian converts of such 1 I Kings viii. 29.
looking unto Jesus as the only and entire foundation of their Christian faith. "Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you."1
And having thus trusted Him wholly as our Saviour from death eternal, it is our right, ay, and our bounden duty, to look unto Him with the same entire dependence in every kind of want and weakness. In every difficulty, anxiety, perplexity of our daily life, we may say, in full assurance of faith, like one of old, "We have no might, neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee."a Or when entangled, hemmed in by worldly, hostile surroundings, seemingly held fast down to earthly things, we need not weary ourselves with vain struggles, but rest our hearts on Him, and say, " Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net." We may indeed be made to wait for His succour, but oh, how restful such waiting will be while "looking unto Jesus;" while we can say, "As the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters ;... so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that He have mercy upon us";3 while we are trusting in His unfailing love which cannot, His almighty power which need not, delay one moment too long the looked-for blessing, "My help," can we triumphantly sing, "my help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth."4
2. "Looking unto Jesus" implies that we order all our ways with reference to Him, considering what is His will in all we do and say and think. Without this there can be no looking to Him in real peace-giving trust . "Study pure and holy walking," says Leighton, " if you would have your confidence firm, and have boldness and joy in God; you will find that a little sin will shake your trust more than the greatest sufferings." "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked," looking unto Jesus not as our guide alone, but our example.
And, as believers in Jesus, we are to refer to Him not
our doings alone, but all our sufferings. "Looking anto Jesus," there will be no fixing of our eyes on second causes, even though our trials come through the unkindness, the wrong-doing of our fellow-men; when we lift up our eyes we shall see ;l no man save Jesus only," and every care and sorrow will lose its bitterness, when we see in it His own direct and loving discipline.
1 GaL iii. I. * 2 Chron. xx. 12. * Psa. cxxiii. 2. * Psa. cxxi. 2.
3. Does our earthly sphere seem narrow? are our earthly interests limited ?" Looking unto Jesus," our true life has a boundless range. It is recorded of an old German philosopher that on being asked why he confined his daily walk to the narrow limits of his little garden, he answered: "The space here is truly very narrow, and very short too, but" (and he looked up to heaven as he spoke) "it is infinitely high." So may they truly say whose soul's eyes are lifted up to Jesus.
4. What deep comfort is there in this looking unto Jesus in the trial of separation from those we love! separation of any kind, but more especially that which is caused by His taking such loved ones to Himself. Since neither life nor death can separate us from the love of Christ, most surely nothing can separate from each other those who are united in His love. Every passage in God's Word which tells of the union of believers in Jesus tells us that for such there never can be real parting. "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." How can the fact that one, a little while sooner than another, lays aside this body of our humiliation touch our real union and communion with each other in Christ, who is our life? Dear reader, are you mourning the death of some dear one "fallen asleep in Jesus"? Consider for your comfort that since both of you are "looking unto Jesus," you are continually in spirit together; a little while, and the outward semblance of separation will be no more. Dwell on such words as these: "I pray that they all may be one as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us."1 "As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the
1 John xvii. 21.
members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ."1 "Ye are all one in Christ Jesus."2 "There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; . . . one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."3 "Will there be in heaven recognition of parted friends?" is a question sometimes asked, and oh, how anxiously asked by the bereaved! God's answer of unspeakable comfort seems to be, "Friends in Jesus cannot really be parted at all; it makes no difference that some of His members are still on earth in the body. Oneness of heart in 'looking unto Jesus' is an everlasting bond."
5. Yet we are waiting for the perfect manifestation of the sons of God, and so in our looking unto Jesus is involved a looking forward. While "our conversation is in heaven" even now in eternal reality, yet from thence "we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." 4 Well has it been said, "Nothing doth so establish the mind amidst the rolling and turbulence of present things as both a look above them and a look beyond them; above them to the steady and good Hand by which they are ruled, and beyond them to the sweet and beautiful end to which by that Hand they shall be brought."
Well may we, then, who believe in Jesus, go on our way in fearless confidence and joyful expectation, looking unto Him, looking for Him; day by day, hour by hour, we are drawing nearer to the place He is preparing for us, to the everlasting companionship of those to whom He has united us in Himself; to the unfading joys of our heavenly home; to His visible presence, whom, not having seen, we love; meanwhile, in whom, though now we see Him with faith's far-seeing eye alone, yet we rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. A. J. T.
1 1 Cor. xii. 12. * Gal. iii. 28. * Eph, iv. 4, 6.
4 Phil. iii. 20.
Beaut1ful Spring I we hail thee now,
Swiftly, yet surely, thou'rt nearing our clime,
And the songsters of air ever greet thee with chime,
As in concert they warble, or trill their sweet lays,
So grateful to heaven for warm sunshiny days:
While the hedgerow, ashamed of twigs leafless and bare,
Decks herself in green buds with such delicate care;
Then waits thy warm breath ere her full dress she weaves,
And nestles young birds 'mong her beautiful leaves.
Ah! sweet are thy gifts, gentle child of the wing,
Hail to thee! hail to thee! beautiful Spring!
Lavishly scatt'ring thy bounties around,
Peerless in beauty thy gifts are e'er found;
And where o'er the sward thy light footsteps have trod,
Crocus and daisy spring up from the sod:
But when through the woodlands thou wendest thy way,
All nature proclaims thee the bright Queen of May,
As in light verdant tints e'er so lovely to see,
Thou clothest with grace every high-arching tree.
Ah! thy chaplet of flowers round our hearts fondly cling,
Hail to thee I hail to thee! beautiful Spring!
Thou cheerest the suffering daughters of pain,
And breathest in sick-room thy fragrance again;
Through violet, primrose, or sweet sunny ray,
Thou gildest the gloom of a wearisome day,
And pointest with finger to beauty above,
Where all is enduring perfection and love;
Where, stainless and free from this body of earth, .
The soul shall inhabit the home of its birth.
Ah! sweet is the rest of the ransomed, who sing—
"All hail to thee, Saviour, the Life-giving Spring!"
H. D. I.