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And humbled, ashamed, there is but one prayer that rises to his lips, and it is that of the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
So also has many a Christian indirectly confessed with the good and holy Grotius, “I am that publican.” The review of life, with the keen insight which death seems to quicken, has awakened the conviction of utter sinfulness. The bright light of Eternity, coming down upon the soul ere it entered it, has revealed dark blots of sin upon the character unsuspected till then; and, self-abased and troubled, the dying saint has felt himself a sinner, and passed into the presence of God praying for mercy.
And truly it may be said that, living or dying, this is the most fitting state of mind in which a man can draw near to God. Jesus says that the publican's was the true state for a man to be in, and his the true prayer. He declared the man who condemned himself to be “justified," rather than the man who justified himself; for, adds the Lord, " he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
What a blessing that the mercy of God, to which the conscience-stricken soul appeals, is, like Himself, INFINITE ! Every true penitent may be sure of finding it. The riches of God's mercy have been revealed in Christ, “whom God has set forth to be the propitiation for our sins—and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Because He came, and by death made the atonement for sin; no sinner, pleading His merits, shall plead with heaven in vain. The man who acknowledges “ I am that publican," may be sure that, for Christ's sake, God will be merciful to him the sinner.
Sinful, sighing to be blest ;
Bound, and longing to be free;
“God be merciful to me !"
Sinfulness in all I see ;
“God be merciful to me!"
HERE is a wooden gate not far from my house.
This gate, which admits to a pleasant walk a good deal frequented by the townsfolk, has been
lately painted white. Its inviting surface has proved too strong a temptation for scribblers, and, consequently, the gate is now almost entirely covered over with writings in pencil. Of these writings, the good are very good; the bad, very bad. The gate has been taken advantage of by the wicked to advertise their own vile thoughts ; while, on the other hand, piously-disposed people have tried to counteract the evil by writing texts of Scripture on the gate. The other day, as I laid my hand upon the gate to open it, my eye fell upon words I have often seen similarly written up : “ Prepare to meet thy God," and immediately under them, “ God is love."
The two texts furnished me with ample subject for meditation during my walk, and it seemed to me that the one threw a very beautiful light upon the other.
The words, “ Prepare to meet thy God," sound in the ear with a voice of terror. They are fitted to work conviction within the heart of the sinner. If he thinks of their meaning, and that a time is coming when he must meet God, that thought fills his mind with terror and dismay; for how can he, in his sins, appear before the great judgmentseat of God? But here it is that the sinner often falls into error. When such thoughts of God fill him with discomfort he very naturally seeks to banish them. God to him is a name of terror, and his heart shrinks within itself from One whom it conceives to be its enemy. Yet how different is the truth. “God is love.” God is waiting, and willing to be gracious to that sinner. God is ready to bestow upon him the most precious gifts of His love.
The right way to prepare to meet a God of judgment at last is to go now and meet a God of love. To meet Him where His love is manifested in His Son Jesus Christ.
To prepare to meet a God of love is to prepare to meet forgiveness, and to meet blessing.
And that preparation is trust. We can trust anything to a wise and faithful and loving friend. Thus are we to trust God. He is wise, He is faithful, He is loving. If it were in the power of a loving mother to forgive all her child's sins against God, and give that child eternal life, the child might with the utmost confidence, and with a perfect assurance that there would be no disappointment, ask the mother for that glorious blessing. No earthly friend can bestow such a blessing; but our Father who is in heaven can. “ If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those that ask Him ?” The love of a mother to her child is but as a spark from the great central fire of the love of God. Trust God, and meet Him as a God of love in Christ Jesus, and you need have no fear to meet Him at last as the God of judgment. Nothing that loves God can ever perish; for there is eternal life in that love. Fear not, then, only believe, and you will know in your own blessed experience the salvation of our God.
In the Hour of Temptation.
in a sure place.” Such was the word of a bright
as I think of her shines to me again as in that vanished year. “What do you do, my child,” I asked, “when the wicked spirit tempts you ?” “Think of Jesus," was her prompt, wise, and beautiful answer.
“ Yes, it is well when tempted to think of Him; for He was tempted, “ In all points like as we are, yet without sin.” There are Christian people grievously assailed by the Evil One; and they are tempted to consider themselves as not Christians indeed because they are tempted. The holiest of men have not been exempt from temptation. Nor was our blessed Lord Himself. There is no sin in being tempted : the sin is in not resisting it. As a quaint old writer puts it, “We cannot help the birds lighting on our head, but we can help them making a nest in our hair.”
The purest and noblest of men have trodden the path we tread. They were not ignorant of Satan's devices; nor was our Saviour Himself. Then in temptation “ Think of
Tempted, He resisted the tempter. He wielded a sword we too can wield. He humbled Himself to our human level, and as man he met the great foe of men. When tempted to prove His Divine Sonship by making the desert stones into bread for the satisfaction of His hunger, He said, “ It is written, man shall not live by bread alone.” He thus comes close to every one of us. He resisted not Satan by the victorious out-flashing of His Divine glory. His sword of resistance was the written word of God. With God's word he opposed the devil's word. That is the weapon too for us. How manifold the serviceableness of the Holy Scriptures ! How important to search them, to know them! Would you see this value in resisting the Evil One ? “Think of Jesus.”
Satan could gain no advantage over Him. The word of God was the sword of victory. Satan, vanquished, left Him. His victory assures us of ours. He not only by His example teaches us how to resist, but he watches us in the conflict; prays for us, and by His almighty spirit helps us. “Greater is He who is for us, than all that can be against us."
Then in the hour of temptation, “ think of Jesus." How He thinks of us ! How He longs to bless and save us ! “ All power” is His. He can succour us. He can make us more than conquerors. Think of Him! Trust in Him! The contest may be keen : it cannot be long. Heaven is the home of peace. There, all conflict ended, “the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."