by James Smith, 1861
Our religion is sometimes at a very low ebb. What with trials without, stirring up corruption within, and the temptations of Satan taking advantage of our various defects — we can scarcely tell whether we have the root of the matter in us or not! At such times, we are led to look back, and to take hold afresh of those portions of God's word, which cheered and comforted us when we first began our pilgrimage. On one such sweet portion my eye is now fixed, may the Lord help me to write a few lines on it, which may do those good who are weak in faith, and weary in the way. "He will fulfill the desire of those who fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will save them." Psalm 145:19
The Characteristics.FEARING. Our fear is often of a very mixed character, partly legal and partly evangelical. Our fears are often very painful; and seldom are they beneficial.
When first awakened by the Holy Spirit, and led to see our lost state and condition — the principal object of our fear is the wrath of God. We know we deserve it, the guilt of sin in the conscience, fills us with alarm respecting it — and we fear that it will suddenly fall upon us. The eye of the mind is fixed on the threatenings of the word, and in them appears the holiness, justice, and majesty of an offended God. Our fears now gain strength, and terrible alarms often agitate the soul. We need the promises and invitations of the word, and long to appropriate them — but dare not so much as touch one of them. They are for the Lord's people — and we cannot believe that we are such; or they are for particular characters — and we dare not conclude that we are among them. O if we could but escape the dreadful wrath of God, if we were but delivered from his awful threatenings, if we had but a saving interest in his promises, or if we could but even claim his invitations — our fears would not be so strong, or so painful — but we cannot!
When the mind has been led to see something of the graciousness of the Divine character, and the nature and design of the great atonement — hope springs up, and our fear is somewhat changed in its character. We now fear sinning against God. If we could but abstain from sin! If we could but live a holy life! If our hearts were but clean! But when we turn the eye within, and see what a horrid pit of pollution the heart is, and mark the working of corruption there — we fear that we are too vile to be noticed, or regarded with pity or compassion, by a holy God. O what painful fears we feel working within us now — we fear that we must be banished from God, that we shall never see his face, or feel his forgiving love! We cannot see how a just God can ever forgive or justify such sinners as we are! If we could but pray, or repent, or believe, we might hope; but when we try to pray — we are all confusion; when we would repent — our hearts are as cold as ice, and harder than the nether millstone; and when we would believe — we feel as if we could believe anything but the gospel, and every one but God. Yet under all this, there is the fear of God — for conscience is tender, the soul is set against sin, and the walk is in accordance with God's precepts. Of such, though they have not peace, though they do not enjoy rest, though they are not happy — we must say that they "fear God."
They have had many and painful desires working within them, which desires indicate the bent of the mind, and the working of the Spirit of God. The principal, the ruling desire, is for a saving interest in Christ. This appears to the soul, as the one thing needful. If soul had this — it could endure any privations, suffer any pains, and do anything God requires; but without this — every duty is a task, and every privilege a burden. It cannot rest on general principles, saying, "Christ died for sinners, and therefore he died for me; or he is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, and therefore for my sins." It wants something more definite, something more distinct, something more satisfactory. It wants to see that Christ was its personal substitute, and its all meritorious sacrifice; doing all that the law required of it, and suffering all that the law threatened to inflict upon it. Or to realize that it is savingly interested in the person, work, and death of Jesus — being identified with Jesus, represented by Jesus, and doing and suffering in Jesus.
When such a sense of a saving interest in Christ is
obtained, then the desire of the soul is to know Christ, to know all about
Christ. To know Christ thoroughly, scripturally, and experimentally; so to
know him, as to commit all to him, and leave all with him.
Then the soul desires to hold near, dear, and close communion with him;
often to hear from him, having his word applied to the conscience and the
heart. The soul also longs to love him, trust him, obey him, enjoy him, and
praise him; to share with his people in all their joys and sorrows, griefs
and gladness, to be one with them on earth, preparatory to being one with
them in Heaven forever. Such are some of the desires of those who
The Lord's Loving-kindness."He will fulfill the desire of those who fear him." His Spirit kindled it, and his grace will fulfill it. This led the Psalmist to exclaim, "How excellent is your loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of your house; and you shall make them drink of the river of your pleasures." Not only satisfied — but abundantly satisfied. Not only satisfied — but filled with pleasure — drinking, as the thirsty traveler, of the river of pleasure.
O the sweet satisfaction felt, the intense pleasure experienced, when the Spirit seals home a sense of our saving interest in Jesus, unfolds the glory of his person and work, sheds abroad his love in our hearts, and seals us to the day of redemption! He gives freely, without any inducement on our parts, as it is written, "He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away." There was nothing in the party but hunger, poverty, and helplessness — and the Lord filled the soul, satisfying it fully. "He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
Poor tried soul, the Lord will fulfill your desires, he may delay to do so for a time — but he will make good his word, and you shall rejoice in him, and bless his name.
"He also will hear their cry, and will save them." Pray they cannot, according to their own apprehension — but cry they do, they must. As Peter, when sinking in the water, cried, "Lord, save me!" And the poor woman, overwhelmed with distress about her daughter, cried, "Lord, help me!"
So this poor soul cries, and cries often, and from the depths of the soul, "Lord, save me!" They cry — as the young ravens for food, or the young lions for prey, or the babe for the breast. Their brief prayers are the language of the new nature — the cry of the regenerated soul.
They cry, because burdened with sin, and terrified with a sense of wrath.
They cry for deliverance from their fetters, and the bondage in which they are held.
They cry against temptations, especially temptations to sin and despair.
They cry because of enemies, especially the enemy which would condemn their souls.
They cry for help in troubles, and deliverance from sin and Hell.
They cry for strength and direction, under a sense of weakness and perplexity.
They cry, and as the mother hears her infant, and flies to its relief; as the father hears his son, and runs to meet and forgive him, so the Lord hears the cry of a quickened soul, and saves it.
God-fearing souls are blessed. They hunger and thirst after righteousness, and they shall be filled. They want to be right, internally and externally, before God and before man, in state and in experience; for this they hunger and thirst — and with this they shall be blessed. They desire — for what God intends to bestow; they cry — for what God delights to give. He therefore will fulfill their desire, he also will hear their cry and will save them.
Is my reader, a poor, doubting, fearing soul? If so, let me say for your encouragement, that if you can trace out within your heart — a desire for Christ and his salvation, and if that desire is the abiding, ruling desire of your soul — it is a proof of the work of the Spirit of God in your heart; it is the smoking flax which Jesus will never quench — but will raise it to aflame. If you have a cry put into your heart for deliverance from sin, Satan, and Hell — then God has put it there, and he who put it there, intends to answer it. It may be a feeble cry, a pitiful cry, a painful cry — but the Lord will hear and answer it. Cry on then as the woman of Canaan did — cry so much the more, as discouragements increase, as the poor blind man in the gospel did — and Jesus will soon hear you, and answer you to the joy and rejoicing of your soul.
God notices desires and looks. He hears the desires of the humble, and satisfies the desire of every living soul — that is, of every one made alive by the Holy Spirit.
A look reaches his heart, raises his arm, opens his hand, and brings deliverance; as David testifies, "I sought the Lord and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him and were lightened; and their faces were not ashamed." God reads the desires of your heart. God notices the uplifted eye. God listens to the feeblest cry. God promises to appear and save the crying soul.
His promises meet our circumstances, and answer to our experience. The work of the Spirit within us, prepares us for the promises which God has made for us, and then the promises are fulfilled. When God fulfills his promises — he glorifies his own faithfulness, and fills us with joy and peace. Blessed, forever blessed, be our promise-making, and promise-fulfilling God. His mercy is ever great towards us, and his truth endures from generation to generation.
In thousands and millions of instances — has he already fulfilled the desire of those who fear him, and he will do so in millions more. In all ages he has heard the cry of the soul which desires grace, mercy, and salvation at his hands; he hears it now, and he will hear it evermore.
Holy Spirit, comfort the heart of the poor, depressed, and sorrowful soul, whose desire is toward you, and who longs to enjoy the salvation of God!