“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” — 1 John 1:7. “I will praise thee every day, Now thine anger’s turn’d away.
Comfortable thoughts arise From the bleeding sacrifice.
Jesus is become at length, My salvation and my strength; And his praises shall prolong, While I live, my pleasant song.”
LET our lips crowd sonnets within the compass of a word; let our voice distill hours of melody into a single syllable; let our tongue utter in one letter the essence of the harmony of ages: for we write of an hour which as far excelleth all the days of our life as gold exceedeth dross. As the night of Israel’s passover was a night to be remembered, a theme for bards, and an incessant fountain of grateful song, even so is the time of which we now speak, the never-to-be-forgotten hour of our emancipation from guilt, and of our justification in Jesus.
Other days have mingled with their fellows till, like coins worn in circulation, their image and superscription are entirely obliterated; but this day remaineth new, fresh, bright, as distinct in all its parts as if it were but yesterday struck from the mint of time. Memory shall drop from her palsied hand full many a memento which now she cherishes, but she shall never, even when she tottereth to the grave, unbind from her heart the token of the thrice-happy hour of the redemption of our spirit. The emancipated galley-slave may forget the day which heard his broken fetters rattle on the ground; the pardoned traitor may fail to re. member the moment when the ax of the headsman was averted by a pardon; and the long-despairing mariner may not recollect the moment when a friendly hand snatched him from the hungry deep: but O hour of forgiven sin! moment of perfect pardon! our soul shall never forget thee while within her life and being find an immortality.
Each day of our life hath had its attendant angel; but on this day, like Jacob at Mahanaim, hosts of angels met us. The sun hath risen every morning, but on that eventful morn he had the light of seven days. As the days of heaven upon earth — as the years of immortality — as the ages of glory — as the bliss of heaven, so were the hours of that thrice-happy day. Rapture divine, and ecstasy inexpressible, filled our soul. Fear, distress, and grief, with all their train of woes, fled hastily away; and in their place joys came without number. Like as terrors fly before the rising sunlight, so vanished all our dark forebodings, and “As morn her rosy steps in the eastern clime, Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl,” so did grace strew our heart with priceless gems of joy. “For, lo, the winter was past; the rain was over and gone; the flowers appeared on the earth; the time of the singing of birds was come; and the voice of the turtle was heard in our land; the fig-tree put forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape gave a good smell, when our Beloved spake, and said, ‘ Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.’” Our buried powers, upspringing from the dark earth, where corruption had buried them, budded, blossomed, and brought forth clusters of fruit. Our soul was all awake to gladness; conscience sang approval; judgment joyfully attested the validity of the acquittal; hope painted bright visions for the future; while imagination knew no bounds to the eagle-flight of her loosened wing.
The city of Mansoul had a grand illumination, and even its obscurest lanes and alleys were hung with lamps of brilliance. The bells of our soul rang merry peals, music and dancing filled every chamber, and every room was perfumed with flowers. Our heart was flooded with delight; like a bottle full of new wine, it needed vent. It contained as much of heaven as the finite can hold of infinity. It was wedding-day with our soul, and we wore robes fairer than ever graced a bridal. By night angels sang. — “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill towards men;” and in the morning, remembering their midnight melodies, we sang them o’er again.
We walked in Paradise; we slept in bowers of amaranth; we drank draughts of nectar from goblets of gold, and fed on luscious fruits brought to us in baskets of silver. “The liquid drop of tears that we once shed Came back again, transform’d to richest pearl;” the breath we spent in sighs returned upon us laden with fragrance; the past, the present, the future, like three fair sisters, danced around us, light of foot and gladsome of heart. We hail discovered the true alchymist’s stone, which, turning all to gold, had transmuted all within us into the purest metal. We were rich, immensely rich; for Christ was ours, and we were heirs with Him.
Our body, too, once the clog and fetter of our spirit, became the active partner of our bliss. Our eyes were windows lighted up with happiness; our feet were young roes bounding with pleasure; our lips were fountains gushing with song, and our ears were the seats of minstrels. It was hard to contain our rapture within the narrow bounds of prudence. Like the insects leaping in the sunshine, or the fish sporting in the stream, we could have danced to and fro in the convulsions of our delight. Were we sick, our pleasure drowned our pain; were we feeble, our bliss renewed our strength.
Each broken bone praised Him; each strained sinew blessed Him; our whole flesh extolled Him. Every sense was the inlet of joy, and the outlet of praise. As the needle stayeth at the pole, did our quivering frame rest on Him. We knew no thought beyond, ,,o hope above, the perfect satisfaction of that hour; for Christ and his salvation had filled us to the’ very brim.
All nature appeared to sympathize with us we went forth with joy, and were led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills broke forth before us into singing, and all the trees of the field clapped their hands. The adds, the floods, the sky, the air, the sun, the stars, the cattle, the birds, the fish — yea, the very stones seemed sharers of our joy. They were the choir, and we the leaders of a band, who at the lilting of our hand poured forth whole floods of harmony.
Perhaps our birthday found the earth wrapped in the robes of winter, but its snowy whiteness was an in keeping with the holiday of our spirit. Each snow-flake renewed the assurance of our pardon, for we were now washed whiter than snow. The burial of the earth in its winding-sheet of white betokened to us the covering of our sins by the righteousness of Jesus. The trees, festooned with ice-drops, glittered in the sun as if they had coined stars to shine upon us; and even the chill blast, as it whirled around as, appeared but an image of that power which had carried our sins away, as far as the east is from the west. Sure, never was winter less wintry than then, for in a nobler sense than the poet we can affirm — “With frequent foot, Pleas’d have I, in my cheerful morn of life, Trod the pure snows, myself as pure.” Grace enabled us to find a song where others did but murmur.
It may be we were brought to love the glorious Redeemer in the springtime of the year; and if so, our quickened spirit found all around it the counterpart of the world within. We, too, like the little flowers, were rising from our tombs; like the sweet birds, expecting brighter days, we sung the songs of promise; like the rippling brooks, unbound from our captivity, we leaped in hasty joy; and, like the woodlands, we were “prodigal of harmony.” The mountains, lifting their green heads to the sky, we charged to tell our Maker how we desired to approach his footstool; and the valleys, bleating with the flocks, were bidden to commend us to the notice of the great Shepherd of the sheep. The falling rains we thanked as emblems of him who cometh down “like rain upon the mown grass;” and the smiling sun we owned as a type of his great Lord, who bringeth healing beneath his wings. We walk’d The sunny glade, and felt an inward bliss Beyond the power Of kings to purchase.” Aye, and beyond the power of kings to guess if they, too, had not felt the same. As the portals of earth were opening for the coming of the summer, so were we preparing for glorious days of happiness and fruitfulness.
Everything in creation was in keeping with our condition, as if nature were but a dress made by a skillful hand, fitting our new-born soul in every part.
We were supremely blest. Our heart was like a bell dancing at bridal joys, and the world wan full of bells chiming with it. We were glad, and nature cried, “Child, lend me thine hand, and we will dance together, for I too am at ease since my great Lord hath loosed me from my wintry fetters; come on, favored one, and wander where thou wilt, for “The soft’ning air is balm; Echo the mountains round; the forest smiles; And every sense, and every heart is joy.’ Come on, then, and sport with me on this our mutual feast.”
If in summer we brought forth fruits meet for repentance, and were planted in the garden of the Lord, the soil on which we trod was prolific of emblems of our own condition, and of creatures sympathizing with our joy; and the sky which canopied our dwelling-place was woven like a tapestry with praises of our Lord. When the rainbow bridged the sky, we hailed it as the sign of the eternal covenant made with us by Him who keepeth truth to all generations; if the steaming river sent its exhalation to the clouds, we put our song upon its altar that it might ascend with it; if the dewdrops sparkled on the breast of morn, “the dew of our youth” rejoiced at their kindred beauty; or if the soft winds breathed odors, we bade them receive another burden, while we perfumed them with the name of Jesus. Whether we walked the sea-side, and thought the waves washed blessings to our feet, or found beneath the high rock grateful shelter from the heat, or drank the stream whose waters were sweeter to our taste than e’er before, we were by every object drawn upward evermore to contemplate the Lord our Redeemer who in every scene of nature was set forth in miniature. All summers had been winters compared with this; for now we had flowers in our heart, a sun in our soul, fruits in our spirit, songs in our thoughts, and joy and heat in our affections. Till then we never knew the glory of this mighty world, because we did not know it to be our Father’s and our own; but then we looked from the hill-top on the wide-spread scene with-the eyes of a young heir just come to his estate, or a fresh-crowned monarch whose fair dominions stretch beneath his feet far as the eye can see. Then we felt, in fact, what we had only heard in poetry, the noble birthright of a regenerated man — “His are the mountains, and the valleys his; And the resplendent rivers. His to enjoy, With a propriety that none can feel; But who, with filial confidence inspir’d, Can lift to heaven an unpresumptuous eye, And smiling say, ‘My Father made them all’ Are they not his by a peculiar right, And by an emphasis of interest his, Whose eye they fill with tears of holy joy, Whose heart with praise, and whose exalted mind With worthy thoughts of that unwearied love, That plann’d, and built, and still upholds a world So cloth’d with beauty for rebellious man?” O happy spirit! tuned aright to unison with a fair earth, man’s first inheritance, lost till by grace again we call it ours, and know it to be beautiful. Words fail to describe the Divine rapture of the spirit; and however well a poet may paint nature as he sees it, yet though he succeed to his own satisfaction, the new-born child of God, whose feelings are richer even than the wealth of poesy, will feel that he hath but, poorly penciled what his now enlightened eye beholds with raptures of delight.
This world is a great music-box, and he who hath the key can set it playing, while others with open mouth are wondering whence the song proceedeth.
Nature is a colossal organ, and the frail fingers of man may move its keys to thunders of music; but the organist is usually unseen, and the world knows not how such majestic sounds are begotten. Summer is earth in court-dress; and if the heart be so, it will know to what court summer belongeth, and will call him friend.
Need we reiterate our joys by laying autumn also under contribution?
Truly, if then we found our Lord, the ripened fruit did taste more lusciously than ever. The yellow suit in which the year was clad shone in our eyes like burnished gold. Even as old Autumn — “Joy’d in his plenteous store, Laden with fruits that made him laugh, full glad That he had banish’d hunger,” so did we rejoice that our hunger and thirst were satisfied with ripe fruit from the tree of life. The harvest-home echoed to our heart’s glad shouts, and the vintage songs kept tune with our loud rejoicings.
All seasons of the year are alike beautiful to those who know how to track the Creator’s footsteps along the road of providence, or who have found a token of his grace, and therefore bless the hour in which it came. There is neither stick nor stone, nor insect, nor reptile, which will not teach us praise when the soul is in such a state as that whereof we now are musing: — “There’s music in the sighing of a reed There’s music in the gushing of a rill; There’s music in all things, if men had ears;’ Their earth is but an echo of the spheres.”
F47 The one pardoning word of the Lord of all absolution hath put music into all things, even as the trump of the archangel shall breathe life into the dead. Those drops’ of atoning blood have put fair colors upon all creation, even as the sunrise paints the earth, which else had been one huge blot of darkness.
How doubly dear do all our mercies become at the moment when Christ shines on us! the bread of our table is well-nigh as holy as the bread of Eucharist; the wine we drink tastes as sacred as that of His consecrated cup; each meal is a sacrament, each sleep hath its Jacob’s vision; our clothes are vestments, and our house a temple. We may be sons of poverty, but when Jesus comes, for that day at least, he strews our floor with sand of gold, and plants upon the roof hard-by the ancient house-leek, flowers of sweet contentment, of which heaven need not be ashamed. We are made so happy in our low estate at that transporting word of grace which gives us liberty, that we do not envy princes their crowns, nor would their wealth tempt us from the happy spot where our Lord deigns to give us his company.
Oh that Blest day! again Our memory rushes back to it, and rapture glows even at its mention. Many days have passed since then; but as the one draught of sweet water refreshes the camel over many a mile of desert, so doth that happy hour still cheer us as we remember it. Beginning of the days of heaven! Firstborn of morning! Prophet of blessings! Funeral of fears! Birthday of hope I Day of our spirit’s betrothal! Day of God and day of mercy! — oh that we had power to sing the joy which kindles our passions to a flame while we review thee! or rather, oh that we had grace to hymn His praise who made thee such a day! Doth the stranger inquire, What hath so distinguished that day above its fellows? the answer is already knocking at the door of our lips to obtain an egress. We were released from the thraldom of sin, we were delivered from the scourges of conscience, we were ransomed from the bondage of law, we were emancipated from the slavery of corruption; death vanished before the quickening of the Holy Ghost, poverty was made rich with infinite treasures of grace, and hunger felt itself satisfied with good things. Naked before, we on that day put on the robes of princes; Mack, we washed ourselves clean in a bath of blood; sick, we received instant healing; despairing, we rejoiced with joy unspeakable. Ask her who has had the issue of her blood stanched by a touch; ask you healed demoniac, or his companion who throws away the crutch of his long halting, why on that day of recovery they were glad; and they will exhibit their own persons as reasons for their joy: so, O wondering gazer, look on us and solve the mystery of our enthusiastic song. We ourselves are our own answer to your inquiries.
Let us summon memory again to lead the choir, while all that is within us doth bleu His holy name. “He spake and it was done ;” “lie said, Let there be light, and there was light.” He passed by, in the greatness of his love and in the plenitude of his power, and bade us live. O eyes of beauty, how were ye outdone by his sweet looks! He was fairer than the sons of men, and lovelier than a dream when he manifested himself unto us. Lying by the pool of mercy, we pined away with disappointment, for none would put us into the healing water; but his love stayed not for an instant, he said, “Take up thy bed and walk.” Ah, where shall thunders be found which will lend us voices? where floods which can lend us uplifted hands? for we need these to utter half His praise. Angels, your sonnets and your golden canticles are poor, poor things for our sweet Lord Jesus. He deserveth notes which your voices cannot afford, and music which dwells not within the strings of your most melodious harps. He must be his own poet, for none but he can sing himself. He knows, and only he, that depth of love. within his bleeding heart, some drops of which we drank on that auspicious morning of redemption. He can tell, and only he., the transporting sound of that sweet assurance which laid our fears to rest in his own sepulcher.. He alone can testify what he hath wrought; for, as for us, we were asleep on the mount of joy; “when God turned back the captivity of Zion, we were like men that dreamed; our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.” F48 He, our Light; did light a candle around us; our “conversation was in heaven;” our soul made us like the chariots of Amminadib; “ Our rapture seem’d a pleasing dream, The grace appear’d so great.” We cried out in wonder, love, and praise, “Whence is this to me? F49 I and what am I, and what is my Father’s house, that the Lord hath visited me, and brought me hitherto.” F50 Our dark and loathsome prison still made our gat-meats to smell of its moldiness, and this quickened our gratitude for our deliverance.
Like Jonah, fresh from the whale’s belly, we were willing enough for service of .any kind; all too glad to have come up alive from “the bottoms of the mountains,” where we feared that “the earth with her bars was about us for ever.” Never did lark spring from his cage-door to the sky with half such speed as that which we made when we obtained our liberty from the iron bondage; no young roe e’er bounded so nimbly over the bills as did our hearts when they were “like hinds let loose.” “We could almost re- tread the steps of our pilgrimage to sing once more that song of triumph over a host of sins buried in the sea of forgetfulness, or drink again of the wells of Elim, or sit beneath those seventy palm-trees.
Dear spot of ground where Jesus met us! dear hour which brought us to his feet! and precious, precious lips of Jesus, which spoke us free! That hour shall lead the song, and every hour shall join the chorus of — “UNTO HIM THAT LOVED US,AND WASHED US FROM OUR SINS IN HIS OWN BLOOD,AND HATH MADE US KINGS AND PRIESTS UNTO GOD AND HIS FATHER,TO HIM BE GLORY AND DOMINION FOR EVER.AMEN.”
Had it been in our power to have handled the poet’s style and measure, we might more fully have expressed our emotions; but if our pen be not that of a ready writer, at least our heart is inditing a good matter. We close by an interacting account of conversion, illustrating its intense darkness, and its succeeding unspeakable light. It is an extract from that valuable and interesting biography, entitled, Struggles for Life. After hearing a powerful sermon, he goes home much impressed: — “I spoke to no one, and did not dare to lift; my eyes from my feet, as I expected the earth to open and swallow me. The commotion of my soul was altogether such as language cannot describe. I crept to my room, locked the door, and fell upon my knees; but no words came. I could not pray. The perspiration was oozing from every pore. How long! lay on my knees I know not-happily, this fearful agony of mine did not last long, or I should have died. Some hours elapsed — hours like ages; in which I felt myself before the throne of righteous judgment, and while the process was going on I was dumb. Had the salvation of my soul depended upon a word, I could not have uttered it.
But he who had smitten, graciously healed. As if they had been slowly unfolded before me, there appeared these never-be-forgotten words: — ‘The BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST CLEANSETH US FROM ALL SIN? “I had read and heard these wonderful words often, but now they appeared new to me. I gazed, believed, loved, and embraced them. The crisis was past. A flood of tears rushed from my eyes; my tongue was set at liberty. I prayed, and perhaps it was the first time in my life that I really did pray. “For three days after this! was filled with indescribable joy. I thought I saw heaven, with its blessed inhabitants, and its glorious king. I thought he was looking on me with unutterable compassion, and that I recognized Him as Jesus, my Savior, who had laid me under eternal obligation. The world, and all its concerns, appeared utterly worthless. The conduct of ungodly men filled me with grief and pity. I saw everything in an entirely new light: a strong desire to fly to heathen lands, that I might preach the good news to idolaters, filled my heart. I longed to speak about the grand discovery I had made, and felt assured that I had but to open my lips to convince every one of the infinite grace of Christ, and the infinite value of salvation. And I thought my troubles over, and that, henceforth, the same scenes of joy and hallowed peace were to pass before my eyes, and fill my heart.”
Such feelings are not the lot of all to the same degree; but an exceedingly large proportion of the Lord’s redeemed will recognize this experience as “the path of the just;” and some who read will rejoice to see here a fair copy of their inner life at this very moment.
May the God of all grace bring each of us to this fair land of Beulah, this palace of delights, this chamber of bliss. Amen.
TO THE UNCONVERTED READER FRIEND, — Thou art amazed at this, for it sounds like a wild legend or fairy tale. Thou knowest nothing of such joy; this is a spring from which thou hast never drawn living water. How much dost thou lose by thine impenitence, and how poor are the things which recompense thy loss!
What are thy delights but bubbles? what thy pleasure but sweet poisons? and what thy most substantial bliss but a deceptive, illusive vision of the night? Oh that thou wert able to judge between genuine and counterfeit, real and fictitious! Sure one grain of right reason would teach thee the superiority of spiritual joys to mere carnal excitements. Thou art not so far bereft of judgment as to put any one of thine high carnival days in competition with the time of pardoned sin. Thou wilt not venture to compare thy sweetest wine with that wine of heaven which flows into the lips of the sinner who is forgiven; nor wilt thou bring thy music into rivalry with that which welcomes the returning prodigal. Answer these two questions, we beseech thee, What doth it profit thee to sin against God? and, What shall it profit thee, at last,, if thou shouldst gain the whole world and lose thine own soul? Will a few carnal merriments repay thee for unnumbered woes? Will transient sunlight make amends for everlasting darkness? Will wealth, or honor, or ambition, or lust, furnish thee with an easy pillow-when thou shalt make thy bed in hell? In hell thou shalt be if thou hast not Christ. Oh! remember God is just; and, because he will be just,PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD!