“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.” — Proverbs 4:13.
BLESSED God, our heart doth praise Thee, our inmost soul exults in Thy name, for the Lord is good, and His mercy endureth for ever. Thy people praise Thee, O God, for all that Thou hast been unto them, and we can each one set forth Thy worthy praise by reason of our personal experience of Thy goodness. Thou hast dealt well with Thy servants, O Lord, according unto Thy word. We bless Thee for teaching us from our youth, for some of us have known Thee, even from our childhood, and Thy word was precious to us even in our earlier days, when, like young Samuel, we were spoken to of the Lord. Now Thou hast borne and carried us these years in the wilderness with unchanging love and goodness, and there be some in Thy presence this morning who know that even to hoar hairs Thou art He — Thou hast made and Thou dost carry; Thou dost not forsake the work of Thine own hands. “Thy mercy endureth for ever,” and let Thy praise endure for ever also.
O Lord, we would cling to Thee more firmly than ever we have done: we would say, “Return unto Thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee, for Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears and my feet from falling.” We would this morning “take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” We would pay our vows unto the Lord now, in the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of all His people.” Blessed be the name of the Lord, we have been brought low, but the Lord hath helped us; we have oftentimes wandered, but He has restored us; we have been tried, but He has preserved us; yea, we have found His paths to be “paths of pleasantness” and all the ways of His wisdom to be “ways of peace.” We bear our willing witness to the testimony of the Lord, we set our seal that “He is true” and we cry again “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even with cords unto the horns of the altar.”
From henceforth let no man trouble us, for we “bear in our body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” We are His branded servants henceforth and for ever.
Our ear is nailed to our Master’s door-post, to go no more out for ever.
And now, Lord, we beseech Thee, hear the voice of our cry. Thy people would first of all ask Thee to deepen in them all the good works of Thy grace. We do repent of sin — give us a deeper repentance! May we have a horror of it, may we dread the very approach of it, may we chastely flee from it and resolve, with sacred jealousy, that our hearts shall be for the Lord alone. We have faith in Jesus, blessed be Thy name, but Oh strengthen and deepen that faith! May He be all in all to us; may we never look elsewhere for ground of rest, but abide in Him with an unwavering, immutable confidence, that the Christ of God cannot fail nor be discouraged, but must for ever be the salvation of His people. We trust we can say also that we love the Lord, but Oh that we loved Him more! Let this blessed flame feed on the very marrow of our bones. May the zeal of Thine muse consume us, may we feel that we love the Lord with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, with all our strength, and hence may there be about our life a special consecration, an immovable dedication unto the Lord alone.
O Lord Jesus, deepen in us our knowledge of Thee. Thou hast made the first lines of Thy likeness upon our character; go on with this work of sacred art till we shall be like Thee in all respects. We wish that we had greater power in private prayer, that we were oftener wrestling with the covenant angel. We would that the Word of God were more sweet to us, more intensely precious, that we had a deeper hunger and thirst after it. Oh that our knowledge of the truth were more clear and our grip of it more steadfast. Teach us, O Lord, to know the reason of the hope that is in us, and to be able to defend the faith against ill comers. Plough deep in us, great Lord, and let the roots of Thy grace strike into the roots of our being, until it shall be no longer I that live, but “Christ that lives in me.”
Holiness also of life we crave after. Grant that our speech, our thoughts, our actions, may all be holiness, and “holiness unto the Lord.” We know that there be some that seek after moral virtue apart from God. Let us not be of their kind, but may our desire be that everything should be done as unto the Lord, for Thou hast said, “Walk before Me, and be thou perfect.”
Help us so to do, to have no master but our God, no law but His will, no delight but Himself. Oh, take these hearts, most glorious Lord, and keep them, for “out of them are the issues of life,” and let us be the instruments in Thy hand, by daily vigilance, of keeping our hearts, lest in heart we go astray from the Lord our God. Until life’s latest hour may we keep the sacred pledges of our early youth. We do remember when we were baptized into the sacred Name — Oh never may we dishonor that sacred ordinance by which we declared that we were dead to the world and buried with Christ. Some of us do remember our early covenant with God, when we made over to Him ourselves and all that we had. Oh, in life’s last hour when we bow ourselves for weakness, may it be to bless that sacred bond and to “enter into the joy of our Lord.” And if Thou hast taught us anything since then, if Thou hast given us any virtue or any praise, may we hear Thee say, “Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Oh let no brother or sister become distinguished in grace and then decline, let none bear fruit and afterwards become barren, but may our path “shine more and more unto the perfect day.” It is this our spirit craveth after with strong desire, that the whole of our life from the commencement with Christ to its ending with our being with Christ, may glorify and bring help to His Church.
And now hear Thou us again while we cry unto Thee. Our chief desire is for Thy cause in the earth. We are often very heavy about it. ‘The days seem to us to be neither dark nor light, but mingled; oh that the element of light might overcome the darkness! We do pray Thee, raise up in these days a race of men that shall know the gospel and hold it fast. We do feel that we have so much superficial religion, so much profession without true possession to back it up. Oh, Lord, may our churches be built with precious stones, and not with wood, hay, and stubble. May we ourselves so know the gospel that no one can beat us out of it; may we so hold it that our faces shall be like flints against the errors of the age; so practice it that our lives shall be an argument that none can answer, for the power of the gospel of Jesus. And with this be pleased to grant to Thy churches more power over the sons of men. Oh Lord, make Thy ministers throughout all the world to be more fruitful in soul winning. Let us not rest without sowing the good seed beside all waters. Forgive us our coldness and indifference; forgive us that we sleep as do others, for it is high time for us to awake out of sleep. Oh Lord, do help us to live while we live; shake us clear of these cerements, these grave clothes, which cling to us; say to us, most blessed Jesus, what Thou saidst concerning Lazarus of old, “Loose him, and let him go.” May we get right away from the old death and the old lethargy, and live under the best conditions of life, diligently serving God. Convert the nations, we pray Thee! Help our dear brethren who stand far out in the thick heathen darkness, like stone sentinels; let them bear their witness well, and may the day come when the Christian church shall become a missionary church, when all over the world those that love, Christ shall be determined that He shall conquer. Thou hast not yet made the church “terrible as an army with banners;” would God she were. May those days of Christian earnestness come to us, and then shall we look for the latter day of glory.
And now, Father, save any in this house that remain unconverted. May this day be the day of their salvation. We would most earnestly entreat that some word may drop into the most careless heart; and this prayer especially, convert this day in this house of prayer, if it may please Thee, some that shall be very earnest Christians in years to come; take hold today of some whom Thou hast ordained to be like Paul, who shall be missionaries to the ends of the earth! Take hold of some that are specially set against Thee, some that are very bold spirits even in sin, thoroughhearted in their wickedness — convert such now! Say unto them, “See I have made thee a chosen vessel to bear my name unto the Gentiles,” and may there come such power with it that they may not be disobedient unto the heavenly vision. Thy Church needs such men. Oh that such were brought out to-day! We put it up as a prayer to be registered in heaven, and we mean to look for its answer, that Thou wouldst to-day take hold of some men that shall become afterwards leaders in the church of God, this day striking them down with the sense of sin and leading them to Christ.
The Lord bless our country. God save the Queen. Keep us in peace, we beseech Thee and in times of congress and deliberation may there sit in the council chamber One higher than the kings of the earth, and greater than the ambassadors thereof. Oh that long-continued peace might happen to this poor earth, for its wounds are many. Behold, how all things languish for the lack of peace — the Lord send it. Quicken trade and commerce, remove the complaining that is now heard in our streets. Kindly consider us in the matter of the weather, that the harvests may not be spoiled, and bless the people, O Lord. Let the people praise Thee, and “then shall the earth yield her increase.” The Lord grant all this, with the forgiveness of sin, the acceptance of our person, and assist us ever to live to His glory, for Jesus’s sake. Amen. SERMON: No. 1418. (June 9, 1878.)\par SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 4.HYMNS: 560, 632, 684.
THE ROCK OF OUR REFUGE
IN the shadow of the Rock let me rest, When I feel the tempest’s shock thrill my breast; All in vain the storm shall sweep while I hide, And my tranquil station keep by Thy side.
On the parch’d and desert way where I tread, With the scorching noon-tide ray o’er my head, Let me find the welcome shade, cool and still, And my weary steps be stayed while I will.
I in peace will rest me there, till I see That the skies again are fair over me — That the burning heats are past, and the day Bids the traveler at last go his way.
Then my pilgrim staff I’ll take and once more I’ll my onward journey make as before; And with joyous heart and strong I will raise Unto Thee, O Rock, a song glad with praise!