A Good Plan
James Smith, 1855
Most people are more or less like the models they set before them to imitate; it is of great consequence, therefore, that we endeavor to write after a good copy. Each saint has his peculiar excellency — but no saint is perfect; it is not wise, therefore, to fix upon any saint as our pattern. Our pattern should, if possible, be perfect. Jesus is perfect, let us therefore take him for our example — he is intended to be so. Those who rely on his merit — should tread in his steps.
"I have set the Lord always before me." Psalm 16:8. David set Jehovah always before him, and thought, spoke, and acted, as in his sight. Let us do the same. Let us set the Lord always before us for several important purposes.
To imitate him in his holiness, benevolence, and love: "Be merciful, even as your Father in Heaven is merciful."
To fear to offend him by indulging in any known sin: "Walk in the fear of the Lord all the day long."
To please him by acting in accordance with his holy Word. "You ought to walk and to please God."
To consult him in all difficult matters and trying times: "I will counsel you, my eye shall be upon you."
To praise him for the innumerable favors we receive: "O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endures forever."
To strengthen us for duty and for trials: "I will strengthen you, yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness."
To encourage us by his presence and promises: "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
To embolden us by delivering us from the fear of man: "The fear of man brings a snare — but he who trusts in the Lord shall be safe."
To supply us with all that we need, while passing through this wilderness: "My God shall supply all your needs, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
If we set the Lord always before us:
We shall be steady, steadfast, and immovable. We shall not be moved from the glorious foundation which God has laid in Zion, and on which all our hopes must rest — but we shall be like the Mount Zion, which cannot be removed — but abides forever.
We shall not be moved out of the hands of the Mediator — but shall be preserved by his power unto eternal salvation. He says, "I know my sheep, and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand."
We shall not be moved out of the heart of God, in which we dwell and enjoy safety and repose. "God is love, and he who dwells in love, dwells in God; and God dwells in him."
With the Lord always before us . . .
our faith will be strong,
our hope will be vigorous,
our humility will be deep,
our penitence will be abiding,
our evidences will be satisfactory,
and our example will be bright!
We shall be . . .
a credit to religion, and
an honor to God.
Let us, therefore, set the Lord always before us . . .
to meditate upon his love, grace, and goodness;
to admire his holiness, condescension, and long-suffering; and
to commune with him, as our Friend and righteous Father, from day to day.
Then we shall not . . .
dread death, or
be alarmed at the convulsions that take place in our world.
Our confidence will be strong,
our peace will flow like a river, and
our righteousness like the waves of the sea.
It is when we take the eye off the Lord, and look into SELF — that . . .
our doubts, fears and unbelief, arise and work,
Satan gains an advantage over us,
and the world fascinates or frightens us.
Let us, therefore, look . . .
out of self,
away from the world,
above our trials —
and look simply to Jesus!
This is the way to . . .
grow in grace, and
abound in every good work.
Let us look away . . .
from sin — to Jesus making atonement for it;
from guilt on the conscience — to Jesus as bearing the iniquity of our holy things before the Lord;
from imperfect duties deserving punishment — to his magnificent righteousness;
from our cold hearts and lifeless prayers — to his constant and prevalent intercession.
We shall never maintain . . .
peace in our consciences,
evenness in our walk, or
consistency in our lives —
but as we keep the Lord before us!
If, therefore, we wish to be happy,
if we desire to be holy,
if we would die in peace —
let us look only, always, and in everything to Jesus.
O Savior, may I set you before me as . . .
my fountain of supply,
my source of comfort,
my rock of strength,
my way of salvation,
and my bright example
— so that I may walk worthy the calling with which I am called, in all godliness and honesty!
In every difficulty — I will look unto the Lord; and in every trial — I will wait for the God of my salvation!