James Smith, 1860
The power of memory is a great blessing. To be able to store up facts, and truths, and circumstances that may be of use to us in years to come. To collect from the books we read, and lay up in this storehouse for future service is really a privilege. It is therefore of great importance, that young people should well store their memories with useful facts, striking texts, and sweet verses of hymns. God frequently called upon his ancient people to make use of their memories. "You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness." And again, "Remember the days of old." Deuteronomy 32:7. There are three things which we should especially remember,
First. How God tried his people.We sometimes imagine that our lot is especially hard, and our way peculiarly rough. But if we look back, if we remember what we have read — we shall leave off complaining, and perhaps be led to praise the Lord. What are our trials — compared with those endured by the Israelites in Egypt, in the wilderness, or afterwards in Babylon? Can we call our lot hard — when we compare it with those who wandered about in sheepskins, and in goatskins, in dens, and caves of the earth; being destitute, afflicted, tormented? What are our sufferings — compared with those of the martyrs and confessors, who by their prayers and courage, procured our liberty for us? What do we know of dungeons, racks, banishment from house and home, or of burning at the stake? Surely if we seriously think, and reflect upon the trials and sufferings of the Lord's people in the days of old — we shall be ready with gratitude to exclaim, "The lines have fallen to us in pleasant places! Yes, we have a goodly heritage."
Secondly. How God appeared for his people.As deeply as the Lord's people have been tried — they have never been forsaken. God has been true to his Word. He has supported them under their heaviest burdens, and at length delivered them out of all their troubles. They have ever found, that as their day — so has their strength been: and when all has been ill without — all has been well within. We cannot judge of the state of a child of God, by his external circumstances. He often enjoys most, when he seems to have the least to make him happy.
God's promises to his people are all true, and must be fulfilled; they have to exercise much patience sometimes — but even then, their deliverance is more striking and glorious. Four hundred and thirty years in Egypt was long for Israel, especially as things got worse and worse — but how singular, how glorious their deliverance at length! Seventy years in Babylon was long — but the time of deliverance arrived at length.
Just so, believer, though your trial may seem to be long — yet remember how the Lord appeared for his people of old — take courage, and expect him to appear for you.
Thirdly. How the Lord wrought by his people.What greater honor can the Lord confer upon us, than to use us in his work, and for the accomplishment of his gracious purposes. How did he work by Joseph, by Moses, by Gideon, and a host of others, in the days of old? How did he work by Lazarus, by the woman of Samaria, by Paul, and others, at the first introduction of the gospel? How has the Lord wrought by the feeblest, most obscure, and most unlikely instruments often — and so secured all the glory to himself!
Let us then remember the days of old, how the Lord wrought by his people, and ask, "Why shouldn't the Lord work by me?" If we wish to be used by God, in order to bring glory to God — let us put ourselves into his hands, and he will use us. He never refused to use one that was willing to be employed to do his work, in his own way.
"Remember the days of old!" Remember how God tried his
people; and so will you be able to answer Satan, when he comes to foster
your unbelief, fill you with fears, and shroud you in gloom! Then you will
be able to point him to God's people in trial — supported, supplied, and at
length delivered. Then you will be able to refer him to the faithfulness
of God in . . .
fulfilling his promises,
performing his Word, and
glorifying his great name.
Then will you be able to point him to the Lord's using weak and unworthy instruments in his work; instruments as weak and unworthy as you. Thus you will silence his misrepresentations, answer his accusations, and quench his fiery darts!
"Remember the days of old," how God appeared for his people, and how he has appeared for you; so will you be led to expect relief in the greatest straits, and deliverance out of the greatest troubles. Then you will be prepared to say, "He who has delivered his people in all times past — does deliver his people now, and I believe that he will yet deliver me." The past history of the church, and the Lord's dealings with us in the past, will feed hope, encourage patience, and stir us up to prayer: and hope, patience, and prayer, will be sure to bring us relief!
"Remember the Lord" how he wrought by his people; and
this will stimulate and direct you to act aright. You will not then be
discouraged by appearances, by the lack of immediate success, or by a sense
of your own unworthiness. But will be ready to say, "Neither is he who
plants anything, nor he who waters — but God who gives the increase."
You will plow in hope, sow in hope, and expect to be a
partaker of your hope. Look up — for it will draw down
blessings upon you. Look forward — for it will attract and
strengthen you. But whether you look backwards, or upwards, or forwards — be
sure you look to Jesus:
to his life as your example,
to his cross as your hope, and
to his glorious appearing, as the consummation of your joy!