The Kindness of God
James Smith, 1855
When the Word of God is opened up and brought home to the soul by the Spirit — it is incomparably sweet and precious. It presents such sweet views of Jesus — and gives such delightful tastes of his love. It displays the amazing condescension and wonderful love of God.
I have been looking at Isaiah 43:4, "Since you were precious in my sight — you have been honorable, and I have loved you."
What marvelous grace is here!
What a delightful and astonishing thought it is:
That such poor, vile, rebellious creatures — should be precious to the infinite, holy, and eternal Jehovah!
That He should delight in us! (Isaiah 62:4)
That He should shed His precious blood for us! (1 Peter 1:19)
That He should work precious faith in us! (2 Peter 1:1)
That He should make precious promises — to support, supply, and comfort us! (2 Peter 1:4)
That He should render Christ precious unto us! (1 Peter 2:7)
That He should indulge us with a knowledge of His thoughts, and make them precious to us! (Psalm 139:17)
That He should call us His precious children!
Well may we exclaim with David, "What am I — that You should be mindful of me?"
But, though our privileges are so great, and our comforts are so many — yet we are often distressed, troubled, and perplexed. This is needful. It is purifying. "Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: See, I will refine and test them — for what else can I do because of the sin of my people? " (Jeremiah 9:7.) Why should we expect to be free from that . . .
which all the Lord's family have passed through,
which Jesus has promised, and
which will work for our good? (Revelation 7:14; John 16:33; Romans 5:3, 5.)
But sometimes we do not desire to be free from trials — we only wish to be . . .
really devoted to God, and
resigned to Jehovah's will.
Then our prayer is, "Lord, make us . . .
an honor to the Christian religion,
useful in the world,
an example to your flock, and
indulge us with much communion with yourself."
This is often followed with . . .
Then the language of our hearts is, I wish to mourn before God on account of . . .
my lukewarmness, and
my lack of spirituality.
I have been carnal, sold under sin (Romans 7:14) — notwithstanding all my Lord's goodness to me. I have felt unchristian tempers working, vile lusts contending, and my besetting sins distressing me. I feel truly ashamed of myself; I mourn before God, pray for more grace, and yet am often overtaken again. "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me?"
I compare myself with others — and am distressed.
I look forward — and feel cast down.
I turn my eyes to Jesus — and obtain relief.
I can look nowhere else for comfort, nor to anything else with satisfaction. I feel . . .
ashamed of my prayers,
ashamed of my efforts to do good,
ashamed of my daily life.
I dare not think much, or long, upon these things, or I would be cast down with overmuch sorrow. It is Jesus in his precious blood — Jesus in his glorious righteousness — and Jesus as the prevailing intercessor — which cheers my heart. His precious promises, glorious person, and accepted sacrifice — strengthens my faith, raises my expectations, draws forth my affections, and imparts comfort to my mind. Could I once lose sight of Jesus, I would soon know what Hell means.
"All my hope on him is stayed,
All my help from him I bring."
Woe is me, that I feel such . . .
backwardness to prayer,
such coldness in prayer, and
so little heartfelt, satisfying communion with God, while at PRAYER. And what is prayer without personal fellowship with God? A mere shadow — an empty form — a dry exercise. I see the need of prayer, feel something of the importance of it, determine in my mind respecting it — but make no real advances. I feel sorry, cry to God, hope to amend — but remain where I was! How perplexing! How grievous! What a strong proof of the power of depravity within!
My BIBLE, how often neglected — how seldom read — how little prayed over — compared to what it should be! Lord, pardon, quicken, and give me more grace, that I may act more for your glory, desire to be useful, feel heartily willing to work — and yet seem unable to accomplish anything of importance.
I feel . . .
pride — and dread it;
self-importance — and fear it;
my own will opposing God's will — and pray against it.
I struggle, I long to be free.
Yet, I am often snared and taken in Satan's net (Ecclesiastes 9:12).
What a sinner I am!
What a depraved creature I feel myself to be!
I would be afraid for my dearest friend to know the worst of me, and yet the Lord, who does know the worst — still loves me, and says that I am precious in his sight.
Yes, God knew the worst of me — and yet chose me unto eternal life.
Jesus knew the worst of me — and yet died to redeem me.
The Holy Spirit knew the worst of me — and yet quickened, called, and cleansed me; and still carries on his work within me.
My ruling desire is to be wholly given up to the Lord and to his work, and to show forth his praises from day to day. But when I aim at this most, and think to realize it — I am baffled, opposed, and always hindered.
I see what is wrong — but cannot avoid it.
I see what is right — but cannot attain unto it.
I know what I wish — but I cannot enjoy it.
I read what God commands — but I cannot perform it.
In the midst of all, I bless God . . .
for Jesus Christ,
for free grace,
for a full salvation,
for a little comfort,
for a good hope,
for some sweet views,
for a glorious inheritance,
for an assurance of victory,
and for the promise of eternal triumph.
Nothing can . . .
separate from Jesus,
turn the current of his love, or
change the purposes of his grace.
His love is astonishing.
His ways are marvelous.
I change — he remains the same.
I sin — he pardons.
I cry — he hears and answers.
I ask for favors — and he kindly bestows them.
I fear — and he promises.
I wander — and he says, "Return."
I lament my folly — he whispers peace.
I feel poor and impoverished — he says, "All things are yours."
I imagine that I am alone — he says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
I expect that he will abandon me — he asks, "How can I give you up?"
I cry, "Unworthy, unworthy!" He says, "Ephraim is a dear son, a pleasant child."
I sigh, "The Lord has forsaken and forgotten me!" He says, "I cannot, I will not forget you."
I fear I shall be overcome. He says, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper."
I fear I shall lie down in darkness. He says, "The Lord shall be a light unto you."
I fear I have nothing. He says, "I have all things for you."
I say, "I can do nothing!" He says, "I will work all your works in you."
I say, "I am barren!" He says, "From me is your fruit found."
I cry, "I am thirsty!" He says, "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys, to give drink to my people, my chosen ones."
I complain, "I am weary!" He says, "Come unto me, I will give you rest."
I feel dry and parched. He says, "I will be as the dew unto Israel."
I say, "I need food!" He says, "My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed."
I fear I shall die. He says, "He who eats me, even he shall live by me."
I say at times, "All these things are against me!" He says "All things shall work together for your good."
I say, "I shall surely be overcome!" He says, "Nothing shall by any means hurt you."
I say, I am often left alone!" He says, "Lo, I am with you always."
I fear lest he should utterly consume me. He says, "I will spare you as a man spares his own son that serves him."
I fear I shall bring a disgrace on his cause. He says, "I will make you an eternal excellency."
I say, "I am all deformity!" He says, "You are all beautiful, my love, there is no spot in you."
I say, "I shall see him no more!" He says, "I will see you again and your heart shall rejoice."
I say, "Surely the Lord cannot love such a wretch!" he says, I have loved you with an everlasting love."
I say, he cannot have chosen one so vile and base. He says, "I have chosen you, and will not cast you away."
I say, "I am a vessel in which there is no pleasure!" He says, "My delight is in her."
I say, "I am desolate and forsaken!" He says, "Your Maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is his name, and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel."
I say, "I shall be left to myself at last!" He says, "I am a friend that sticks closer than a brother."
I say, "Set me as a seal upon your arm, as a seal upon your heart!" He says, "I will make you like a signet ring on my finger — for I have chosen you."
I cry, "Remember me, O Lord my God, for good!" He says, "You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God."
I cry, "Do not be terribly angry with us, O Lord!" He says, "I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you."
I say, "I beseech you, show me your glory!" He says, "Behold, I come quickly."
I cry, "Remember me with the favor which you bear unto your people!" He says, "As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you, and you shall be comforted."
I cry, "Tell me where you graze your flock." And he says, "Follow the footsteps of the flock."
I cry, "O that it was with me as in days that are past!" He says, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me."
I cry, "My soul is among lions!" He says, "Come down with Me — from where the lions have their dens and leopards live among the hills."
I say, "O that I was sure that Jesus loved me!" He says, "You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse."
I say, "I moaned like a mourning dove!" He says, "Your lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb, honey and milk are under your tongue."
I say, "I am exposed, and lie open to the attacks of enemies on every side!" He says, "You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain."
I say, "Do not look upon me, because I am black!" He says, "You are beautiful, O my love!"
I say, "I am totally unfit to be the bride of Jesus!" He says, "Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, my love, how full of delights!"
I say, "How miserable I am! Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig can be found to satisfy my hunger." He says, "At our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved."
I say, "I fear that my numerous sins and powerful corruptions, will cool the love of Jesus!" He says, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it."
I sigh, "I am feeble and sorely broken!" He says, "I will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax."
I say, at times, "He afflicts, and counts me for his enemy!" He says, "As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten! God deals with you as a son."
I inquire, "Where will all these things end?" he says, "I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also."
Lord, what is man that you are thus mindful of him, or the son of man, that you should set your heart upon him?
Thus the Lord . . .
answers all my objections,
banishes all my fears, and
shows my doubts to be sinful.
His grace is wonderful,
his love is unparalleled, and
his mercy endures from generation to generation.
O why did Jesus show to me
The beauties of his face?
Why to my soul did he convey
The riches of his grace?
O how could he so sweetly smile
On such a wretch as I,
I who his name did once revile,
And his dear truth deny!
But 'twas because he loved my soul.
Because he died for me,
Because that nothing could control
His great, his firm decree!