THE MAN OF GOD
Or "Spiritual Religion
Explained and Enforced"
by Octavius Winslow
The Man of God
"The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything
that was under Joseph's care; because the Lord was with Joseph, and whatever
he did, the Lord made it to prosper." Genesis 39:23
If ever God was in human history, it was that of Joseph.
Perhaps in no inspired record of the saints does there appear so little of
man; and so much of God, as in his whole career, from its obscure and lowly
commencement to its exalted and honorable close, was a continuous comment
upon the words which introduce this chapter of our work, "Lord was with him,
and whatever he did, the Lord made it to prosper." Let us meditate briefly
upon these two particulars- THE LORD'S PRESENCE WITH THIS MAN OF GOD, and
ITS CONSEQUENT INFLUENCE UPON HIS DESTINY.
THE LORD'S PRESENCE WITH JOSEPH-
A more privileged state it is impossible to conceive- the Lord with His
people. Less than the reality and the consciousness of this will not suffice
the true man of God. It was, doubtless, the assurance of this that bore up
the patriarch throughout his chequered and eventful history. And here we may
observe, in passing, that no reflective, ingenuous mind can trace his
history, and rise from its study with the conviction that that history is a
cunningly-devised fable- the whole a fiction and a myth.
"The Lord was with Joseph," and this was the secret of
his marvellous life. The Lord was with him, protecting his life when that
life had been virtually sacrificed by his brethren; the Lord was with him
when sold as a slave to the Egyptian merchants; the Lord was with him,
preserving him amid temptation in Potiphar's house; the Lord was with him,
cheering the loneliness of his prison; the Lord was with him as the
interpreter of Pharaoh's vision; the Lord was with him in each step of his
subsequent career- his sun and his shield, and his exceeding great reward.
Beloved, is the Lord really less with His people now? Oh
no! Look at this truth for a moment in a few particulars. The Lord is with
His saints, ordaining and shaping their every step. The man of God advances
in no uncertain, unprepared path in life. His whole career, from his cradle
to his grave, is a divinely-constructed map, prepared in the eternal mind,
purpose, and counsel of Jehovah. Nothing is left to contingency. There is no
crook in his lot, no divergence in his path, no event that bends, or shades,
or burdens it- but the Lord is in it- ordering, arranging, and controlling
all. It is, in truth, not his way, but the Lord's way by which he is led.
"Show me now YOUR way," is the prayer of the man of God.
The Lord is with His people in temptation. Were we exempt
from this part of our heavenly discipline, we should be exempt from one of
the most touching illustrations of the Divine presence, power, and love. In
nothing do we more exhibit our powerlessness than in this. The mightiest
saints have succumbed before the weakest foe when left by God to learn, by
sad experience, their self-impotence. Nothing but the power of God can keep
a man of God after he has been made a new creature in Christ Jesus. "Kept by
the power of God," is written, as upon the forehead, of every upheld, holy,
consistent man of God. The Lord is with us in temptation, subduing its heat,
lessening its power, quenching its darts, and delivering us out of its fiery
ordeal; restraining, overruling, blessing. "The Lord knows how to deliver
the godly out of temptation." Fear not, then, O man of God, the quiver and
the dart; both are under the control of Jesus, the once tempted One.
The Lord is with His people in adversity. Exempt from
this, we should be equally exempted from a page in our history forming one
of the most luminous in its record of Divine love and sympathy and support.
The inheritance of the saints in this life is that of adversity- their
inheritance in the life that is to come that of endless bliss.
The worldling has all his 'heaven' in this world. He has
nothing to anticipate but a "fearful looking for of fiery indignation,"
which will devour the Lord's adversaries. My unconverted reader, your future
is "written in mourning, lamentation, and woe." Your home will be hell; your
'god' will be Satan; your companions will be lost spirits; your "forever" an
immortality of woe, of suffering, and of banishment from God, "where the
worm never dies, and the flame is never quenched."
But affliction is the present lot of the saints. Beyond
the present it never reaches. It distills no moisture, casts no shade,
infuses no bitter in the future bliss of the glorified. It is a present
thing, momentary, passing forever away. But there is this accompanying
soothing, sanctifying truth- the Lord is with His people in adversity. And
to be assured of this, to know it from personal and blest experience, is
worth all the tribulation through which we have to pass in entering the
kingdom of eternal glory.
If the presence of a friend in sorrow is so sweetening,
if the silent sympathy in adversity of one we love is so soothing, oh, it is
the ideal of bliss on earth, the consciousness that, when the cloud of woe
is darkling over us, and the waves of tribulation are swelling around us,
and the waters are coming in upon the soul, the Lord is with us, to comfort,
support, and deliver us. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with
you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk
through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle
upon you." Sweet affliction! precious trial! that, like the surging billow,
uplifts the soul, and casts it upon the Rock that is higher than us!
Oh, is there any circumstance, or stage, or place in
which the Lord is not as truly with His saints as He was with Joseph? He is
with us to counsel our perplexities, to guide our feet, to supply our need,
to deliver us from the power of our enemies, to keep us from all evil, and
to bring us home to glory. Oh, to be assured that the Lord is with us, we
will not fear what man can do unto us. Precious presence of the Lord. It is
a shield of adamant, a garden of delights, a tower of strength, a portion of
heaven come down to earth. What is heaven- the heaven of heaven? Is it not
the full, the perfect, the unclouded presence of the Lord? And what is the
Lord's visible presence with us here, but the pledge, the foretaste of
heaven- what but heaven and earth kissing each other? It is thus the man of
God becomes familiar with the country to which he is journeying, with the
home in which he will forever dwell, with the companions with whom he will
eternally associate, and with the glorious Lord, whose presence will
constitute his highest heaven!
Oh, what a profound significance of meaning is in these
words, "The Lord was with Joseph." To have Jehovah with us is to be
encircled by every divine perfection, to be encompassed by a wall of fire
which no foe can penetrate, to dwell in the munition of rocks, our bread and
our water sure, to have ever at our side a flowing spring in drought, the
shadow of a great rock in the heat, a table in the wilderness, the divine
cloud and fire safely conducting our journey homeward.
"Such honor have all the saints." Child of God! though
less signally and manifestly, yet not less really or blessedly, is God with
you in all your history. Let faith deal with this truth in all its battles
and its trials. You may seem and feel at times alone. The sun may withdraw
itself, and the stars of night may be draped in cloud, and dark, and dreary,
and lonesome may be your way; nevertheless, let faith, whose most brilliant
achievements are when it is the most opposed to sense, grapple with thus
truth. "I am kept, guided, watched over, encircled by the Unseen God. The
Lord is with me, and I will endure as seeing Him who is invisible."
We now turn again to Joseph. We marvel not that, after
this declaration of the Divine presence encompassing him, it should be
added, "whatever he did, the Lord made it to prosper." And it was truly and
literally so: everything he touched seemed transmuted into gold; everything
he undertook was conducted to a successful issue; all his thoughts and
enterprises were crowned with the Divine favor and blessing.
"Whatever he did, the Lord made it to prosper." We learn
from this, the only source of true prosperity- the Lord's blessing.
Promotion comes not from the east nor from the west; in vain we rise up
early, sit up late, and eat the bread of carefulness; futile and fruitless
will be all our schemes, and plans, and toil, if God does not make it to
prosper. He alone can lift up our ways when they are depressed, make
straight our path when encompassed with difficulties, pluck our feet from
the net which entangles them, and conduct to a successful and honorable
issue all your thoughts, enterprises, and labors.
Take the prosperity of Joseph as a type and pledge of
your own. Acknowledge the Lord in all your ways as He did; let God's fear
rule you as it ruled him; be afraid only of sin, and shrink only from
compromising Christ's crown, and dishonoring Christ's name; and the Lord
will be with you, and that which you do, He will make it to prosper. He will
exalt you to wealth, distinction, and usefulness in this life; and in the
life to come, to honor, immortality, and glory!
"Father! for pleasant paths on earth
My spirit yearneth not;
For loving kindred's clasping hands,
And home, I ask You not.
I would forego all anxious thought,
And cast on You my care,
Content to see Your love in all
To trace You everywhere."
"Teach me to listen for Your voice,
When the world's storm howls loud;
Help me to look for light from You
Beneath the darkest cloud.
To feel Your hand the tempest rules,
That You can hear and save,
That You have set a bound unto
The wildest, stormiest wave."
"The tempest yet was never so loud
To drown the soul's faint cry;
Nor cloud so dark to hide Your child
From Your all-seeing eye.
Lighten mine eyes, that I may read
Each page of life to me
And from each passing hour receive
A message, Lord, from Thee."
"Lead me to seek, with patient prayer,
Your counsel for my stay,
And look to You to guide my steps
In Your appointed way.
With glad and grateful heart accept
The work Your wisdom wills,
And bless the hand that but in love
The cup of sorrow fills."
"Seeking what path You'd have for me
What heart to cheer or bless,
Even as I would ask of Thee
For comfort in distress;
Content to share in other's joy;
And if this may not be,
Still happy that my chequered lot
Was chosen, Lord, by Thee." -Anna Shipton.