The Untrodden Path

"You have not passed this way before."--Joshua 3:4

How solemn is the reflection that with a new cycle of time commences, with each traveler to Zion, a new and untrodden path. New events in his history will transpire--new scenes in the panorama of life will unfold--new phases of character will develop--new temptations will assail--new duties will devolve--new trials will be experienced--new sorrows will be felt--new friendships will be formed--and new mercies will be bestowed. How truly may it be said of the pilgrim, journeying through the wilderness to his eternal home, as he stands upon the threshold of this untried period of his existence, pondering the unknown and uncertain future, "You have not passed this way before."

But there is another thought inexpressibly soothing. Untried, untrodden, and unknown as that new path may be, it is each step mapped and arranged, and provided for in the everlasting and unchangeable covenant of God. To Him who leads us, who accepts us in the Son of his love, who knows the end from the beginning, it is no new, or uncertain, or hidden way. We thank Him that, while He wisely and kindly veils all the future from our reach, all that future--its minutest event--is as transparent and visible to Him as the past. Our Shepherd knows the windings along which He skillfully, gently, and safely leads his flock. He has traveled that way Himself, and has left the traces of His presence on the road; and as each follower advances--the new path unfolding at each step--he can exultingly exclaim, "I see the footprint of my Lord--here went my Master, my Leader, my Captain, leaving me an example that I should follow his steps." Oh! it is a thought replete with strong consolation, and well calculated to gird us for the coming year--the Lord knows and has ordained each step of the untrodden path upon which I am about to enter.

Another reflection. The infinite forethought, wisdom, and goodness which have marked each line of our new path have also provided for its every necessity. Each exigency in the history of the new year has been anticipated. Each need will bring its appropriate and adequate supply--each perplexity will have its guidance--each sorrow its comfort--each temptation its shield--each cloud its light. Each affliction will suggest its lesson--each correction will impart its teaching--each mercy will convey its message of love. The promise will be fulfilled to the letter--"As your day so shall your strength be."

And how blessed to know that all the provision for the untrodden path is in Jesus. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell." All wisdom to guide, all power to uphold, all love to soothe, all grace to support, all tenderness to sympathize, dwells in Christ. Let us, then, gird ourselves to a fresh taking hold of Christ. We must walk through this year not by sight, but by faith, and that faith must deal simply and directly with Jesus. "Without me you can do nothing." But with his strength made perfect in our weakness, we can do all things. Oh, be this our course and our posture--"coming up from the wilderness leaning on our Beloved."

Living in a world of imperfection and change, we must expect nothing perfect, nothing stable, in what we are, in what we do, or what we enjoy. But amid the dissolving views of the world that "passes away," let us take firm hold of the unchangeableness of God. The wheels may revolve, but the axle on which they turn is immoveable. Such is our covenant God. Events may vary--providences may change--friends may die--feelings may fluctuate--but God in Christ will "know no variableness, neither the shadow of a turning." "Having loved his own that were in the world, He loved them unto the end." And will it not be blessed to receive each new event of our remaining history as directly under the government and appointment of God? "He who sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new." That new thing, be it what it may, which will transpire in your coming history, He will have created for your greatest good and his highest glory.

Reader! if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you will enter upon a new stage of your journey by a renewed surrender of yourself to the Lord. You will make the Cross the starting-point of a fresh setting out in the heavenly race. Oh, commence this year with a renewed application to the "blood of sprinkling." There is vitality in that blood; and its fresh sprinkling on your conscience will be as a new impartation of spiritual life to your soul. Oh, to begin the year with a broken heart for sin beneath the Cross of Immanuel! looking through that Cross to the heart of a loving, forgiving Father! Be not anxious about the future--all that future God has provided for. "All my times are in your hands." "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you."

Let it be a year of more spiritual advance. "Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward." Forward in the path of duty--forward in the path of suffering--forward in the path of conflict--forward in the path of labor--and forward in the path to eternal rest and glory. Soon will that rest be reached and that glory appear. This new year may be the jubilant year of your soul--the year of your release. Oh, spirit-stirring, ecstatic thought--this year I may be in heaven! this year I may be with Jesus, leaning my head upon his breast--my conflict, my sin, my sorrow all over! this year all the glorious wonders of the upper world may burst upon my view, and I may mingle with apostles, and prophets, and martyrs--the "general assembly of the church of the first-born who are written in heaven." What manner of people, then, ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness? "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."

Reader! if you are not a believer in the Lord Jesus, Oh, that your New Year's Gift may be a new heart, a renewed mind, the second birth introducing you to a life for God. The Lord Jesus has solemnly, irrevocably affirmed, that unless you are born again of the Holy Spirit you shall not see the kingdom of God. Let not this new year be another year spent for SELF. Think of eternity--think of your solemn accounting--think of the coming of the Lord; and prepare to meet Him; "Awake, you that sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you life." Are you wondering if a wretch so vile as you may hope to be saved? Do you feel the serpent's sting? Do you know the plague of your own heart? Then we have joyful news for you! Throw yourself for acceptance and eternal life upon the infinite merits of Jesus, and you shall be saved. No merit but his, no intercessor but Him, no mediator but Christ will avail you. All the saints and angels on earth and in heaven cannot give you peace here or glory hereafter. Go to God simply and entirely through Christ, breathing no name but the name of Jesus, and God, for Christ's sake alone, will accept, pardon, and save you. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved."

Dear reader, if Christ is in you, and you are in Christ, and these blessed truths are heartfelt truths in your experience, then may I not wish you joy of the New Year into which the good hand of the Lord has brought you? The year that is passed has brought you nearer home; the year that has commenced may bring you to that home. There may we, through the everlasting love and sovereign grace of God, at last meet and sing together, "Worthy the Lamb that was slain!"

Ah! I shall soon be dying,
Time swiftly glides away;
But on my Lord relying,
I hail the happy day;
The day when I must enter
Upon a world unknown;
My helpless soul I venture
On Jesus Christ alone.
He once, a spotless victim,
Upon Mount Calvary bled!
Jehovah did afflict Him,
And bruise Him in my stead.
Hence all my hope arises,
Unworthy as I am:
My soul most surely prizes
The sin-atoning Lamb.
To Him by grace united,
I joy in Him alone;
And now, by faith, delighted
Behold Him on his throne.
Then with the saints in glory
The grateful song I'll raise,
And chant my blissful story
In high seraphic lays.

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