by James Smith, 1860
I have just been reading of a Russian Princess, who writing to a good Missionary, in a time of general sickness and mortality, expressed her solicitude thus, "Are you all alive, my dear friend? Are you all safe? Are your souls in peace?"
Now, Reader, whoever you are, I want to put these questions to you, and I do so from a sincere desire to do you good, and make you happy. But unless you can answer these questions in the affirmative, you cannot be really happy, however you may manage to keep your conscience quiet and easy.
There are many, it is to be feared, who live an easy life, and die a quiet death — who are not safe, who know nothing of true peace; and as this may be your case, I wish to try and prevent it. May the Lord teach me so to write, and then so bless what I write — that this great end may be answered.
Are You ALIVE?You may think this a strange question at first, and wonder at my proposing it; but all are not alive, who seem to be so, for life is more than mere existence. Many are in the state pointed out by the Apostle, when he says, "She that lives in pleasure, is dead while she lives." Lovers of pleasure, and all who live in sin — are dead while they live. The living body, is but the coffin of a dead soul. No man is really alive — unless he has been quickened by the power of the Holy Spirit. And no man is quickened by the power of the Holy Spirit — who does not hate sin, love holiness, and study to please God.
If you are alive — you will pray, for prayer is the breath of the living soul; and of every one that is born again, it may be said, "Behold, he prays."
If you are alive, you hunger and thirst after righteousness, for those who are born of the Spirit, want to be right with God, they therefore long for a righteousness, to justify them before God; and for holiness, to fit them to live in the presence of God.
If you are alive, you feed on the bread of life, which is Christ Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ, you feel to be as necessary for your soul, as food is for your body; and as you daily need food, you must be daily fed in order to live, so you feel that you daily need Christ, and must exercise faith in him.
If you are alive, you will be found working for God, for all who are taught by the Holy Spirit, are desirous above all things else, to glorify and praise God; and they can only glorify and praise him, by doing and suffering his holy will, with zeal and patience.
I will not be tedious, let me then without adducing any more proofs of life, ask you to judge, and decide your case by these. Put these questions to your conscience, slowly, seriously, and as if a matter of the greatest importance was to be decided by your reply.
Do you pray? Has prayer become to you as natural as breathing? Do you pray alone? Do you pray in your family? Do you pray in the house of God? Do you feel that you may as well try to live without breathing — as without praying?
Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? Have you discovered that your nature is depraved, and needs to he purified by the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit? And, do you daily desire to be found in Christ, not having on your own righteousness — but his; and do you earnestly seek to enjoy the renewings of the Holy Spirit, that so you may not only have a title to heaven — but be prepared to dwell there in perfect holiness forever?
Do you feed on Christ? Is he often in your thoughts, and do thoughts of Christ revive, refresh, and strengthen your soul; as good food does the body of the hungry man? Are you living for God, desiring to please him, and endeavoring to serve him in your day and generation? If in answer to these questions, you can say, "yes" — then no doubt but you are alive. Or, if from timidity, you can only say, "Well, though I dare not positively say it is so, yet I can say, that it is my daily prayer and desire that it may be so," — then in your case there is a comfortable reason to conclude that you are alive. But allow the word of exhortation — be not satisfied where you are, or with what you have attained — but give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.
Are You SAFE?Have you carefully examined into your state — and can you on scriptural grounds conclude that you are safe? You cannot be safe — unless you are in Christ. As there was no safety for Noah, when the flood came on the earth — but in the ark; so there will be no safety for the sinner, when the last fire consumes all things on earth — but in Christ. Noah was taught that he would need that ark, he was made willing to enter into that ark, and he actually entered the ark, and was shut in there. Just so, must we must feel that we need a Savior, we must be made willing to come to Jesus, we must actually come to him, and we must venture our souls upon him, and become united to him, before we can be safe.
We may hear of Christ, we may read of Christ, we may talk of Christ, we may attend to the ordinances of Christ — and yet not be in union with Christ. And unless we are united to Christ by a living faith — we are not safe, we cannot be safe. Are you then, my reader, in Christ? Do you remember when you were without Christ — when you first began to feel your need of Christ — when morning, noon, and night, you were thinking about Christ — when your principal fear was, lest you should not be received and saved by Christ — when with trembling steps and palpitating heart you came to Christ — and when you cast yourself down before him, determined to be saved by him, or to perish there?
If so, do you not also remember, how you then and there committed your soul into his hands, and gave yourself away to him, to be his forever? At that moment you entered into Christ, you became united to Christ, and from that moment to the present, you have been safe in Christ. Safe! Yes, for what can separate you from his love? Safe! Yes, for Christ dwells in you, and you dwell in him. Safe! Yes, for having died for your sins, and having arisen for your justification — he is your Advocate with the Father, and ever lives to make intercession for you.
Are you safe, beloved? If you are in Christ you are — but if you are not in Christ! you cannot be.
Is Your Soul in Peace?If you are alive — if you are safe — it ought to be in peace. If God has quickened you by his Spirit, and if he has united you to his Son — then he is at peace with you; he loves you with an everlasting love, he daily watches over you, and he will make all things that take place, to work together for your good.
At peace! Surely you are, for what can harm you? What can
really injure you? With . . .
God for your Father,
the Lord Jesus for your Savior,
the Holy Spirit for your Comforter,
the oath and promise of God for your security, and
heaven for your final home —
what could agitate, disturb, or distract your mind?
At peace! Yes, if you have faith in God, confidence in the Lord Jesus, and implicit trust in the great and precious promises.
At peace! Surely you are, unless you have taken your eye off the Savior, and are looking into your own hearts, or on your imperfect lives.
At peace! Yes surely, being justified by faith, you have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
But have you peace?
Unless you are reconciled to God — you cannot have peace.
Unless you walk with God — you cannot have peace.
Unless you cast all your cares upon God — you cannot enjoy peace.
But, any believer, who rests on the finished work of Jesus, who sees God working in the dispensations of divine providence, and who exercises confidence in the covenant and promises of God — will have peace at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances.
Have you life, then, reader? If you have not, you may, Jesus can give it you — and he will, if you apply to him. He has never refused an applicant, or frowned on one who came to him; but he did complain of some of old, and exclaimed, "You will not come unto me, that you might have life."
Are you safe? You may be! Jesus says, "I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck them out of my hand." There is safety. But you may say, "Perhaps, I am not one of the sheep of Christ." Hear his own precious words, "This is the will of him that sent me, that every one who sees the Son, and believes on him — has everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." If you therefore perceive that Jesus is the Son of God, and believe on him — then you are one of his sheep, and he will give you everlasting life now, and will raise you up in glory at the last day.
Is your soul in peace? It may be, even though you are in poverty, or temptation, or persecution, or trial. For with a consciousness that we are accepted in the Beloved, that we are training for glory, and that all things that concern us, are arranged and provided for, by our Father who is in heaven — we may well enjoy repose.
O that sinners would come to Jesus, that they might have life, and so live unto God!
O that all who are under convictions or impressions, would seek union to Jesus, that so they may realize that they are safe!
O that all who are in union with Christ, would walk closely with God, in confidence, and filial love — that so they may enjoy peace.
Gracious God, give life to every dead soul that reads these lines — give peace to every troubled heart, whose eye rests on these pages — and may both writer and readers enjoy safety in Christ, be made conformable to Christ, and so be prepared to dwell forever with Christ, for your mercy's sake. Amen.