THE TREE OF LIFE by
Be Not Afraid Or, the
Voice of Jesus in the Storm
Immediately he spoke to them and said,
"Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Mark 6:50
Our Lord had just performed one of His most notable
miracles. He had fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish. Let
unreflecting doubters, wont to impugn the integrity of the Bible, and to
reject the evidence of miracles, candidly and solemnly weigh this fact, as
those who are responsible to God for their belief; and accept with humility
and faith the conclusion to which it must inevitably lead them- a firm
persuasion of the Deity of Christ and the truth of His Word. Anxious to
avoid the popular excitement to which this benevolent display of Divine
power gave rise, our Lord retired to a mountain, and was there alone. His
disciples, thus dismissed by their Master, "went down to the sea, and
entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum." It was during
this voyage the incident occurred which supplies our present subject. The
topic which it naturally suggests is, "THE VOICE OF JESUS IN THE STORM" -a
topic replete with deep instruction and sweet comfort.
There is a chapter in every Christian's higher life corresponding with
this incident in the life of Christ. The believer's path to glory is
"through winds and storms and waves." His spiritual life is, figuratively, a
voyage- tempestuous seas his pathway, but heaven the port he will ultimately
and surely reach. It is in the storm the voice of Jesus is now heard. Let us
consider the disciples in their present condition as illustrating much of
the spiritual history of the Christian.
The first spiritual storm he combats is, his earliest conviction of sin;
and a blessed storm it is! The Holy Spirit like "a mighty rushing wind,"
breathes over the soul, and the anxious cry of the Philippian jailer is
heard, "What must I do to be saved?" Until now the soul has lived in all the
quietness of spiritual insensibility. There has indeed been a calm, but it
was the calm of death; peace, but the peace of the grave. The soul has been
dead in trespasses and sins. But now there is a storm, an awakening, a
resurrection from a death of sin. The law of God has been applied to the
conscience, its holiness is seen, its condemnation is felt, and the soul
cries out, "Lord, save, I perish!"
My reader, has this storm of sin's conviction passed over you? Has it
roused you from your deep, Jonah-like sleep? Has it driven you out of your
lying refuges, your false pleas, and your fatal hope? Have you felt the
vessel of your soul sinking amid the dark, surging waves of condemnation
yawning to receive you? Spirit of the living God! blow upon the soul that it
may live! Alarm the careless, awaken the sleeper, quicken the dead, and
create such a tempest of sin's conviction, as the voice of Jesus alone can
We do not assert that all conviction of sin, in its first stage, partakes
of the same character. There is a diversity of operation in the Holy
Spirit's work. With some, the first storm of conviction is not so violent;
it is more the soft, gentle breeze, breathing as from the sunny south. With
others, it is the north wind that blows powerful and penetrating; but, in
both cases it is the same Spirit that quickens, and both operations
illustrate the mystery and sovereignty of divine grace.
Be careful, there fore, of ignoring your conviction because, measuring
your experience by others, you find your early conviction of sin was not of
so pungent and marked a character as theirs. This would be unwise. There are
two gates into the great temple of God's converting grace- the north gate
and the south gate. (Ezek. 44:9) Two individuals entering, the one by the
north, and the other by the south gate, will meet together in the same
sacred edifice, and together unite in the same eternal song, "By grace are
To deny, then, your conversion, because you were rather drawn to Christ
than driven, were borne to the cross upon the gentle wing of the south gale,
rather than upon the strong, rude wing of the north wind, would be both
unwise to yourself and dishonoring to the Spirit. You felt yourself a
sinner, you saw enough of the plague of your own heart to despair of all
salvation in and of yourself, and thus spiritually convinced you went in
faith to the Lord Jesus with the acknowledgment,
"Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on You."
See, then, that you do not grieve and disown the Spirit by denying His
most blessed work of grace in your soul. Wait His time; sooner or later, He
will show you more of your sinfulness, will reveal to you greater
abominations than you have yet seen, when your deeper experience, your
increased knowledge of Christ, and the blood that cleanses from all sin,
will enable you to look into this new 'chamber of imagery' in your soul
Acknowledge, then, the sovereignty of the Spirit in conversion, be
thankful, and praise God that you know anything at all of yourself as a
sinner, and anything of Christ as your Savior. "It is the Spirit that
quickens." Blessed are they who feel His gentlest breath!
"As blows the wind, and in its flight,
Escapes the glance of keenest sight,
So are the wonder-working ways
Of God's regenerating grace.
As over our frame we feel the gale,
Gently or mightily prevail,
So some are softly drawn to heaven,
And others as by tempest driven."
The disciples in the storm is also symbolic of some of the spiritual
exercises of the believer in his Christian journey. Probably, when these
disciples of Jesus embarked upon their voyage, they little dreamt of the
tempest that awaited them. They, doubtless, expected a smooth and safe
passage to the other side. And thus when many of God's people set out upon
the Christian voyage, and spread their sails to the fair, gentle breeze,
they little anticipate the tempestuous winds and high seas they will
encounter before they reach the haven where they would be.
But the Lord sees the 'needs be' for those storms, and so in wisdom and
love, He sends them. Hence, soul-storms consist often of a more painful
acquaintance with self- a deeper knowledge and conviction of indwelling sin-
the power of the law brought into the conscience- a sense of divine wrath-
the hidings of God's face- the fiery darts of Satan. All this is needful to
help the soul onward. We have need to be shaken out of our spiritual
slothfulness- to be roused from spiritual apathy- to be stirred up to
prayer. Light winds help us onward but little, smooth waves still less.
"More the treacherous calm I dread;
Than tempests bursting over my head."
This, perhaps, is in answer to prayer. You have long asked the Lord to
speed you in your heavenly course, to advance you in the divine life, to
increase your personal holiness, and to endear Himself to your soul. You
have longed to feel the Savior more precious, for a closer walk, for more
matured fitness for heaven, for a stronger and more favoring gale wafting
you more truly and rapidly onward to the eternal haven. The Lord has
answered your prayer in a way you may not have expected, but still it is the
right way. He has sent the storm; the waters have come into your soul; and
the frail, trembling bark has well-near submerged.
But what line can measure the increased speed your soul has attained
through those tempestuous days and dreary nights pursuing its way
homeward-bound? The character of God has been more blessedly unfolded to
you; you have got a firmer hold upon Christ; the faithfulness of the
Covenant has been more thoroughly tested; the promises have become more
precious; and all this has been in answer to your many earnest and
long-offered prayers that your soul might "grow in grace, and in the
knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." God has answered you, but in
His own way.
There are, then, the storms of adversity which the believer encounters in
his course. Our Christianity does not exempt us from those afflictive events
which are alike common to the world. Life is a troubled-sea; and all who
plough it more or less encounter the storms of adversity which sweep its
surface. Affliction, sooner or later, in some one or more of its endless
forms, is our portion here. It is a necessary discipline. It is a
preparatory process for the appreciation and enjoyment of heaven.
I do not think that heaven would have the enjoyment it possesses without
trial. Its happiness is so great, there must be an education, a fitness of
the soul for its enjoyment. That education is obtained in the school of
sorrow. All the saints in glory, headed by Christ their Leader, came out of
great tribulation. And if the Elder Brother- He, the sinless Savior, He, the
blessed Son of the Father- was not exempt from tribulation, shall we ask,
shall we desire it?
Diversified are the storms of God's people, deriving their character
often from the peculiar position in which each believer is placed in life,
just as the storms which sweep the ocean derive their intensity from the
latitudes in which they occur. Do we possess affluence? -the storms of
adversity sweep it away, and we are poor. Are we in places of power? -the
wind of popularity changes, and the idol of today becomes the football of
tomorrow. Is our table encircled by loved olive branches, or does the gentle
vine entwine in clinging beauty around our dwelling? -death enters and bears
away the fond treasure of our heart; the olive branch fades, the tender vine
is smitten and dies.
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers out of
them all." "Through much tribulation we are to enter the kingdom." But oh,
how helpful in our heavenly course are these rude and fierce tempests! Many
of the Lord's people will testify that their souls make little or no real
progress in the divine life, but under the pressure of adversity. As we have
remarked, light breezes and smooth seas help them on but little. The vessel
is so slow sailing, and withal so heavily-laden, that nothing but strong
winds and tempestuous waves, and cross seas, speed it on in its heavenly
To change the figure: just as the tempest impels the root more deeply and
firmly into the earth, the tree thus acquiring vigor and growth by the very
means that threatened to sweep it from the forest, so "God's trees of
righteousness," trees of His own right-hand planting, are "rooted and
grounded" in Christ and in faith and in love by those very trials,
afflictions, and sorrows which seemed the most adverse to their well-being.
Affliction is a sowing time, a growing time, a harvest time- the discipline
not pleasant now, but afterwards yielding the peaceable fruits of
righteousness to those who are exercised thereby.
Testify, O afflicted one, what a precious, priceless blessing that
affliction has been to your soul. Testify how the storm that made you poor,
enriched you with God's love; how the tempest that broke the stem of your
beautiful flower, brought you more closely beneath the shadow of the tree of
life; how the contrary winds, and the cross seas, and the surging waves
impelled your bark onward, giving you, through the glass of faith, a closer,
brighter view of the desired haven where Jesus is bringing all His spiritual
mariners. But for the storm how little should we know of His power who
controls our tempest, and of His love who quells our fears.
And where was Jesus while the disciples were in the storm? He was alone
in the mountain in prayer- in prayer for them! Why did He withdraw His
presence well knowing that dangers and fears awaited them? That they might
learn the great lesson of the Christian life, namely, that, "without Me you
can do nothing." It is thus the Lord now deals with us. He will have us know
our weakness, and dependence upon Him our strength. He will wean us from
ourselves, and deaden us to the world, and teach us where our great supplies
of grace and power and comfort are.
And all this time of our earthly storm and danger, where is Christ? He is
in heaven, now to appear in the presence of God for us." He is in glory
praying for His Church. With a sleepless eye of love resting upon our
storm-tossed souls, He is interceding for us with the Father, that our
afflictions engulf us not, that our faith fail not, that our fears prevail
not, but that we may be kept by the power of God through faith unto
Oh how sweet a truth is the intercession of Christ! How soothing and
sanctifying the thought, that we are now resting upon His bosom, are
entwined with His prayers, that our names are borne upon His heart, that our
needs are breathed from His lips, and that our people are ever represented
before God in His own! We make too little use of the intercession of Jesus,
our great High Priest within the veil. It is too seldom the subject of our
meditation, is too loosely entwined with the events and experience of our
daily, professional, and home life. By this neglect what loosers we are!
What a fount of sympathy our own hands seal, and from what a source of
succor we sever ourselves!
Is there any thought more strengthening, animating, and promotive of our
holiness, than that Christ is each moment praying for us in heaven? We ask
the prayers of the Lord's people, and are strengthened thereby. How much
more needed, precious, and prevalent the intercession of Christ! Earthly
friends die, or distance removes them, and in process of time we, perhaps,
lose their sympathy and prayerful remembrance. But, "Jesus ever lives to
make intercession for us." Exalted though He is in glory, the same heart
beats within that breast that throbbed and sorrowed and bled on earth.
Encircled by myriads of glorified spirits, He is not neglectful of His
saints below. He trod the path you now tread, and sanctified it. He passed
through your temptation, and foiled it. He drank your bitter cup, and
sweetened it. He traveled through your darkness, and illumined it. He bore
your cross, and lightened it. He suffered your persecution, and disarmed it.
He experienced your death, and plucked the sting from the last foe. He lay
in the grave, and left an undying light and fragrance there.
Look up to Him, then, as your Intercessor. Nothing that He asks the
Father is refused Him. He never receives a denial. Your suit, blended with
His own, prevails in the Chancery of heaven. And when through suffering, or
languor, or sorrow you cannot pour out your needs yourself, Christ is
praying for you, employing His interest in your behalf with God. And Him,
the Father hears aways.
And could the Lord be ignorant of, or indifferent to, the present
position of His disciples? Impossible! He beheld them from the shore. They
recognized not Him, but His wakeful, watchful eye rested upon them. "He saw
them toiling in rowing, for the wind was contrary unto them." The yawning
ocean, the billow's spray, the misty storm could not veil them from His
view. Lord, You know my present position. You see my mental conflict, my
spiritual exercises, my bodily infirmity, how high the waves, how contrary
the wind, how fierce the tempest, how exhausting the toil in rowing. Sweet
and comforting assurance, my reader!
Others- the nearest and the dearest- may know nothing of your inner life,
the world of excitement within, the anxiety of mind, the nervous pressure,
the spiritual conflict, the trial, the sorrow, the need through which you
are passing; enough, that Jesus stands upon the shore of glory, and gazes
down upon all the way you take with an eye of watchful, faithful love! Nor
will he ever remove that eye until He brings you home to Himself in heaven.
"Begone, unbelief, my Savior is near,
And for my relief will surely appear;
By prayer let me wrestle, and He will perform;
With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.
"His love in times past, forbids me to think
He'll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer I have in view,
Confirms His good pleasure to help me quite through."
But Jesus, as in the case of Lazarus, tarries. "It was now dark, and
Jesus had not come to them." Why this delay? Oh, there was infinite wisdom
and divine love in it. He waited but the fittest moment to appear on their
behalf. In the same light as we have already exhorted, let us view all the
Lord's postponements and delays in appearing on our behalf. He waits the
appointed time. It is, perhaps, dark- oh, how dark! -and still there are no
signs of Christ's coming to your help. Be it so. He would have you now
learn, that it is good for a man that he has hope, and quietly wait for the
salvation of the Lord."
There is no obscurity with Him, "He judges through the dark cloud." And
when the night, long and dreary, has deepened into a darkness that might be
felt, at this juncture Christ appears walking upon the water. It has been a
night of weeping, but now the morning dawns, and it is a morning of joy.
There is a day-dawn, beloved, succeeding the darkest and longest night of
our history. "The night comes, and also the morning." Faint not in the day
of adversity. Let faith and hope hold out, and patience have her perfect
work until Jesus comes. "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I
will get to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense."
O yes, Christ is coming! and all these clouds shall quickly melt into the
light and splendor of millennial and eternal day. The "Bright and Morning
Star," already high in the heavens, shines through the interstices of the
clouds which drape and darken the sky, and will soon beam forth in its full,
unclouded effulgence. This night of weeping will soon have passed, and then
will come the glorious morning, and the perfect and endless day of
"And about the fourth watch of the night He came unto them walking upon
the sea." The fourth watch, or about three o'clock in the morning, the
darkest and most wishful period of the night. Their emergency was His
gracious opportunity. The height of their fears was the measure of His love.
It is thus with his people now. It is dark, and Jesus has not come to us.
But it must grow darker still! The "fourth watch" must come.
The darker the night the more visible the stars, and more brilliant the
heavens. God's interpositions on our behalf are never so marked and grateful
as when our extremity is the greatest. Jesus' love never shines so bright,
His pity never appears so tender, His grace never so illustrious, as when we
are brought to our wit's end. He waits until the "fourth watch" of our night
of tempest and of anxious toil; and then, when weary and exhausted with
rowing against wind and tide, our difficulties only exceeded in their height
by the fears which they inspire, treading the crest of the billows He
advances to our deliverance!
What marvellous words are those- "walking upon the sea." He made it. He
set its bounds and He controls it; and now, in all the majesty of His Deity,
blended with all the sympathy of His humanity, He comes to the help of His
disciples. How truly did He now appear the Sovereign of the seas, the Head
of creation! "The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you; they were
afraid: the depths also were troubled." They acknowledged the Godhead, and
obeyed the voice of their Creator, proud that He trod their limpid pavement.
Who can tread the broken and dark waves that often dash and foam and
surge around us, but Jesus! What are our troubles, what our sorrows, what
our needs, what our difficulties, to Him! He can as easily control the huge
billows which come into our soul, as He walked upon the sea to the rescue of
His disciples. Oh, how we limit the Son of God! What low views we have of
Christ! -of His power, His grace, His love, His nearness to us at all times!
We turn again to the disciples. So supernatural was their Lord's
appearance as He approached them- His feet tipping with golden light the
mountain billows- the disciples were afraid, for they knew not that it was
Jesus. Little thought they how near to them, amid the storm and in their
highest fears, was their best, most powerful, and ever faithful Friend!
And thus we often, too, mistake our blessed Lord. We are so filled with
fear, are so desponding and sinking, that, looking at God's character
through His dealings, and interpreting His promises by His providences, like
the disciples in the storm, appalled and overwhelmed with terror, we cry out
for fear! And when, too, the Holy Spirit gives us a deep, and still
deepening, sense of our sinfulness, and we have a vivid perception of the
justice of God, seeing Christ through this dark and hazy medium, just as the
disciples saw Him only through the gray twilight of morning, we exclaim,
"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" mistaking our Savior for an
avenger, our Friend for a foe.
How groundless for the most part are the fears of the believer in Jesus!
There is but one thing we need fear- sinning against God. "How can I do this
great wickedness, and sin against God?" "You, God, see me." Such is the
strong language of a God-fearing man, a saint of God fearing only sin. But
we have no reason to distrust God, or to fear that Christ will not come to
us walking upon our troubled waves just at the crisis when our peril is the
greatest and our alarm the highest.
"He talked with them." He brought them at once into communion with
Himself. The first tones of His voice betrayed Him, and its first accents
allayed all their fears. Jesus talks with His people now. They hear His
voice amid the raging tempest, in the cloudy pillar, from 'the secret place
of thunder,' and in the still, calm hour of pensive thought.
"It is the voice of my Beloved," exclaims the Christ-loving disciple,
speak how and when it may. "My sheep hear my voice, and they know not the
voice of strangers." Have we this mark of the true sheep of Christ? Can we
distinguish the voice of God from man, the voice of truth from error, the
voice of Christ's true ministers from false teachers, the voice of Jesus
from the voice of all others? "The sheep follow Him, for they know his
Jesus still talks with His people. He speaks pardon to the guilty, peace
to the troubled, comfort to the sad, heart-cheer to the fearful, and hope to
the despairing. There is but one voice that can still the tempest of the
soul and give it peace. Let no voice but Christ's assure you of your
salvation- no voice but God's ever pronounce you pardoned. He has delegated
no priestly authority or power to man either to bind your sins or to loose
them, either to confess or to absolve you. It is daring presumption that
claims it, the deepest blasphemy that employs it, and the basest and most
abject prostration of the intellect that acknowledges it. I return to the
thought, let no voice but that of Christ pronounce your sins pardoned. Let
nothing but an applied Atonement, the blood sprinkled, allay your
convictions, quell your fears, and assure you that you are really, truly
And, then, with regard to prayer, endeavor to realize the idea of real
fellowship and communion to be just this- Jesus talking with you, and you
talking- as did the disciples on the mount- with Jesus. How will this
conception of what true prayer is simplify your approach to the mercy-seat!
Prayer is, Christ talking with us, and we talking with Christ. Dwell upon
this thought until all your vague, cold views of prayer vanish, and you find
yourself sitting at the feet of Jesus, bathed in the sunshine of His
presence, talking with Him in all the simplicity of a little child, and
gazing up into His face in all the confidence of a loving disciple.
"It is I, be not afraid." Such were the thrilling words with which He
calmed their excited feelings, soothed and assured their troubled minds.
Words of marvellous significance! Of all the many titles which He wore, not
one is mentioned now. Nor is this needful. This one word, this divine
personal pronoun, contained and expressed them all: "IT IS I"
Such is the voice of Jesus to us now. It speaks in every storm- faith
hears it in every circumstance of life. Christ's union with His people
involves His personal control of all the events of their individual history.
Indeed, there is not an incident in your momentous life which does not bring
Jesus to your side, riding as in a chariot, bright or somber. The checkered
events of your daily life are so many comings of Christ to you, and are
equally so many errands bidding you go to Him. He wants us to meet Him in
all His providential dispensations.
If each one contains His heart- as it most assuredly does- He asks the
union of our heart with His. Listen, then, to the voice of Jesus in the
storm. "It is I" -who raised the tempest in your soul, and will control it.
"It is I" -who sent your affliction, and will be with you in it. "It is I"
-who kindled the furnace, and will watch the flames, and bring you through
it. "It is I" -who formed your burden, who carved your cross, and who will
strengthen you to bear it. "It is I" -who mixed your cup of grief, and will
enable you to drink it with meek submission to your Father's will. "It is I"
-who took from you worldly substance, who bereft you of your child, of the
wife of your bosom, of the husband of your youth, and will be infinitely
better to you than husband, wife, or child. "It is I" -who have done it all.
I make the clouds my chariot, and clothe myself with the tempest as with
a garment. The night-hour is my time of coming, and the dark, surging waves
are the pavement upon which I walk. Be of good cheer, be not afraid; "It is
I -your Friend, your Brother, your Savior. I am causing all the
circumstances of your life to work together for your good. It is I who
permitted the enemy to assail you, the slander to blast you, the unkindness
to wound you, the need to press you. Your affliction sprung not out of the
ground, but came down from above a heaven-sent blessing disguised as
an angel of light clad in a robe of ebony. I have sent all in love. This
sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God. This bereavement shall
not always bow you to the earth, nor drape in changeless gloom your life.
It is I who ordered, arranged, and controlled it all! Be of good cheer; be
Oh, responds your heart: "Then, Lord, I bow humbly to Your will. I
welcome the affliction, and embrace the cross. It is no longer a baptism of
fire since You are with me. This couch of weakness is strength; this bed of
suffering is feathered; this flaming furnace is a paradise, while I hear
Your gentle voice floating above the storm, 'Be of good cheer: it is I; be
not afraid.' Enter, dear Lord, into the door of my heart, for You have it.
Then I shall rejoice in tribulation, glory in infirmity, and welcome the
storm. I cheerfully drink the cup of sorrow You have given me, and would
return it to You over-flowing with Your praise.
"The moment the disciples received Jesus into the ship, the wind ceased,
and there was a great calm. What an instantaneous and delightful change!
Thus is it with the tempest-tossed believer. When the Lord Jesus draws near
and manifests Himself, all is peace! The storm of mental anxiety subsides,
spiritual fear ceases, the burden is lightened, despondency vanishes, and a
great calm diffuses itself over the soul. "He stays His rough wind in the
day of His east wind." The fear that produces torment gives place to perfect
love; the legality that engenders bondage is succeeded by the spirit of
adoption, crying "Abba, Father;" and the heaven-bound bark glides placidly
along the dimpled sea, and rides gently over the gold-tipped waves, and
steers straight for the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ, into which it has are abundant entrance- and so He brings them unto
their desired haven.
All believers may not have this "abundant entrance" into glory- that is,
they may not all enter heaven in full sail- nevertheless, all shall
assuredly enter there, though, like Paul's shipwrecked mariners, "some on
boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship." Delightful thought, that all
who are in the gospel-ship, all who have God their Father at the helm, all
who have Christ for their pilot, shall weather every tribulation, and trial,
and temptation of life, and reach heaven at last!
But let it not, my reader, concerning yourself, be a matter of uncertain
and doubt. Agonize for an assured hope of heaven. Be satisfied with nothing
short of "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Press forward until you
have found the rest, the only rest, of a poor sinner in the blood and
righteousness of Christ. Then you may confidently commit yourself to all the
vicissitudes of the Christian's voyage. You may have cloudy skies, and
tempestuous seas, and dark nights, but you will find Jesus a "hiding-place
from the wind and a covert from the tempest."
He who created the winds will control them; He who made the sea will
command it; He who formed the clouds will balance them, and through deep and
dark waters will lead you to the Rock that is higher than you. In every
stormy wind, in every darksome night, in every lonesome hour, in every
rising fear, the voice of Jesus shall be heard, saying, "Be of good cheer:
it is I, be not afraid."
Do you shrink from the "swellings of Jordan?" Are you in bondage through
the fear of death? Do you dread the solemn, the appalling hour? Why these
fears! Jordan's waves are all under the control of Jesus! He has had more to
do with death than we ever shall. He passed through the trackless deep, and
left a path paved with the foot-prints of His feet; and when we reach its
banks, and enter the cold stream, we have only to follow His footsteps- for
He has abolished death- and pass dry-shod over Jordan.
Repenting sinner, Jesus waits to receive you. At the voice of your
weeping, He will be gracious to you. His own Spirit wrought in you this
contrition, unsealed these tears, inspired these desires, awoke these
confessions; and the work the Holy Spirit has begun in your soul, Jesus
Christ will complete in your full, free, and present salvation. But you must
believe in the Lord Jesus now, and with all your heart. You must accept Him
just as He is and just as you are, without qualification or demur. There
must be no adding to, or taking from, the Savior's work. Not a thought or
feeling that will cast the shadow of a shade upon His glory.
It would not be a greater dishonor to Christ to deny His very being than
to deny His ability and willingness to save a sin-distressed, wounded,
broken-hearted sinner. As to one point there can be but one rational
conclusion, namely, that unless you accept Christ as your only Savior, and
Christ receives you as an undone sinner, Christ and you can have no
agreement, or fellowship, or union whatever. If you are looking at works,
and duties, and fitness as grounds of acceptance with God, instead of
looking wholly and exclusively to Jesus, it will cost you dear in the end.
You must come to God, bringing nothing but your sins with you! You must
renounce your baptism, your obedience, your duties, your graces, your
sanctification, your tears, your humblings, your sacraments, as grounds of
acceptance, and nothing must be seen, nothing trusted in, nothing held up
but Christ. All these things, valuable in their proper place, yet mixed up
with your faith and love and trust in Christ, will but poison and corrupt
your graces, neutralize and defeat your salvation, and keep you out of
heaven forever. Christ must be, in the great matter of your acceptance with
God, all, and in all.
Be equally trustful and hopeful as to the well-being and safety of the
Ark of God, His Church, now tossing amid the billows. It is true, the sky is
lowering, and clouds are gathering, and the sea is swelling, and many of the
officers and crew are mutinous against Christ and His truth; nevertheless,
her great Captain and Pilot stands upon the heavenly shore, and He is
present by His Spirit, and watches with a sleepless eye of love His
storm-tossed Church ploughing through the deep, its way to glory. All these
things shall work together for its good; all shall conspire but for the
furtherance of the gospel, the triumph of His truth, the increase of His
kingdom, and the glory of His name.
Error may for a time be in the ascendant, Infidelity, Ritualism, and
Popery, may have their day; but, give Divine Truth time, and it shall, it
must win. The victory may be deferred, the contest may be protracted, the
end apparently uncertain; but the triumph is as sure as the result will be
manifest and glorious. Were it otherwise, we might well enfold ourselves in
the mantle of despair. If there be not in the gospel of Christ, if there be
not in the Church of God, if there be not in the eternal principles of truth
and righteousness, elements which give them a present superiority, and
ensure them a final supremacy, what stimulus should we have for present
effort, and what ground should we possess for faith and hope in the future!
But we have no misgiving. Possessing the consciousness of ultimate
triumph; firm in our belief in the divine promises, and in the final reign
of Christ, we are calm in defeat, hopeful in discouragement, and trustful
when all things seem against us. "Therefore will not we fear, though the
earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the
sea; though the waters roar and be troubled."
Amid the raging elements we hear the Heavenly Voice, "Be still, and know
that I am God." Yes, Lord, we will be still, trustful, hopeful. "The floods
have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods
lift up their waves. The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many
waters, yes, than the mighty waves of the sea."
It is well, my soul, though the dark cloud lowers,
And the reaper has gathered your choicest flowers;
Though the tempest roar, and the waves run high,
A sweet voice whispers- Fear not, it is I!
Those accents so tender, so loving, and kind,
Can scatter the tempest, and silence the wind;
Can still the rough waves into perfect repose,
And cause the waste desert to bloom as the rose.
Then, since it is the hand of an infinite God
That in wisdom corrects me, I'll smile at the rod,
Yes, rejoice in affliction, so graciously given,
To wean me from earth and allure me to heaven.
And when the wild storms of life's journey are past,
And the haven of glory is entered at last;
Midst the songs of the ransomed my anthem shall swell
To the praise of His name who did all things so well.