James Smith, 1855
"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows!" John 16:33
The lot of the Lord's people in this world is to be tried, afflicted, and sorrowful. If we belong to the chosen family — we must suffer persecution, temptation, and tribulation. The path to Heaven is not strewed with roses — to regale and delight us; but with crosses — to try and prove us.
Faith, if genuine, will be tried more than gold;
love, if of Divine origin, will be thoroughly proved; and
hope, as an anchor, will be found to be useful (Romans 8:24, 25).
There is nothing under Heaven that is unchangeable — but Jesus, his gospel, and glorious salvation. There is nothing on earth which is under the curse — but it is an enemy to, or an obstacle in the way of, the spiritual pilgrim. Everything earthly is empty, fleeting, and perplexing; and it must be so — that Jesus may be our all in all. Here on earth, we must have no continuing city — that we may seek one to come. Our trials, if sanctified, will lead us . . .
to live out of SELF — upon Jesus:
to renounce self — and depend only on Immanuel;
to abhor self — and fix our affections only on the Lamb who was slain.
They will lead us . . .
to weary of everything which is carnal,
to abhor all that is sinful, and
to seek durable riches and righteousness.
Nature does not, cannot love trials. But trials, attended with sanctifying grace — are the greatest blessings which God can bestow on us! "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes. I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me." (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75)
The pride of nature — and the glory of Jesus, are opposed to each other. The lower the sinner is brought — the more glorious the Savior appears!
The more the Pharisee is stripped — the more precious Jesus will become!
The poorer the beggar is — the sweeter is the grace which relieves.
Self must come down — in order that Jesus may be enthroned!
Therefore, we must expect to be . . .
crossed in our purposes,
opposed in our wishes, and
frustrated in our plans.
It must be so, if we belong to Jesus. But, though this is the case, yet trials are for our good — strength to persevere is promised, and in looking to Jesus, victory is certain. Jesus says to us, as God said to Moses, "Certainly I will be with you!" (Exod. 3:12).
The weaker we feel in ourselves — the safer we are in reality.
The more we fear a fall — the more likely we are to stand!
But when we are strong and secure in ourselves — we may expect to be cast down from our pinnacle. What need there is to dread, watch, and pray against carnal security!
The more we look to Jesus — the more we discover our own weakness, vileness, and Hell-deserving; and the more we prize his strength, righteousness, and love.
We had need to fear nothing but sin, for Paul tells us to "Take heed" (Hebrews 3:12, 13).
Sin is hardening, stupefying, and damning;
but grace is softening, quickening, and saving!
Sin brings sorrow, pain, and death;
but grace brings peace, comfort, and life!
Sin proceeds from Satan or our own hearts;
but grace proceeds from Jesus alone.
We should, therefore . . .
"seek grace" (Psalm 32:6);
"obtain grace" (Hebrews 4:16);
"have grace" (Hebrews 12:28).
God can only be served acceptably . . .
with his own grace,
in his own strength,
according to his own Word.
The Lord . . .
"shows grace" (Ezekiel 9. 8);
"gives grace" (Psalm 84:11);
"gives more grace" (James 4:6).
Christ is full of grace (John 1:14, 17);
the Spirit is "the Spirit of grace" (Zech. 12:10);
the Gospel is "the Word of grace" (Acts 14:3);
believing is "through grace" (Acts 18:27).
Justification is "by grace" (Romans 3:24).
Saints receive abundance of grace (Romans 5:17).
Christians are not under the law — but under grace (Romans 6:14).
God is able to make all grace abound toward us (2 Cor 9:8), because he is "the God of all grace" (1 Peter 5:10). He can do more for us than we are able to ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
Let us need whatever we do — his "grace is sufficient" (2
Corinthians 12:9) . . .
to pardon (Ephesians 1:7),
to work hope,
to impart everlasting consolation (1 Thessalonians 2:10),
to make us strong (2 Tim. 2:1),
to establish us (Hebrews 13:9),
to make us grow (2 Peter 3:18),
and to save us fully, freely, and eternally (Ephesians 2:5, 7).
The grace of God may be . . .
seen (Acts 11:23),
heard (2 Corinthians 1:12),
tasted (1 Peter 2:3),
known (Colossians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 8:9),
and wondered at (Luke 4:22; Zech. 3:8).
We are received by grace (Hos. 14:3);
we stand in grace (1 Peter 5:12);
and are saved alone by grace (Acts 15:11).
Grace . . .
begins salvation (Galatians 1:15; 2 Tim. 1:9),
carries on salvation, making the saint what he is (1 Corinthians 15:10),
and completes the work of salvation (Philippians 1:6).
Grace . . .
gives life (Psalm 30:5; Job. 10:12),
preserves the life given (Psalm 5:12),
bestows all suited mercies (Psalm 9:10),
exalts its possessor (Psalm 81:17),
satisfies (Deuteronomy 33:23),
refreshes (Proverbs 16:15; 19:12),
preserves us from being finally overcome (Psalm 40:2),
and stands directly opposed to works (Romans 11:5, 7).
Therefore grace should be admired, prized, and praised,
by the whole Church — in life, death, and forever. All that God . . .
does for us,
works in us, or
gives to us —
is for the praise of his glorious grace (Ephesians 1:6).
Reader, what do you think of grace?
Have you felt its power?
Have you seen its beauty?
Have you tasted its sweetness?
Have you heard its music?
There is no salvation — but by grace; and there is no salvation by grace — except we hear the truth, see the Savior, feel the power of God, and taste that the Lord is gracious.
Rest not in a religious form.
Be not satisfied with a religious creed.
But seek, search, and pray — until you know the grace of God in truth, and the God of grace as your Father, Savior, and Friend.
The gospel comes with welcome news
To sinners lost like me;
Their various schemes let others choose,
Savior! I come to thee.
'Twas grace my wayward heart first won;
'Tis grace that holds me fast;
Grace will complete the work begun,
And save me to the last.
Then shall my soul, with rapture, trace
What God has done for me;
And celebrate redeeming grace