The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.Calm After Storm
We can only understand the highest, sweetest meaning of this chapter in proportion as we enter into the spirit of the one which precedes it. That chapter we have read and studied. It is full of clouds, and darkness, and judgment. The Lord himself seems to have yielded to the spirit of contempt, and to have held in scorn even the work of his own fingers. The sarcasm of the Lord is intolerable. His laugh, who can stand? It is a laugh of judgment; it comes after certain moral experiments, and endeavours, and issues; it is not frivolity, it is a singular aspect of judgment, the only aspect which certain men in certain moods can understand; for they have withstood mercy, and compassion, and tears, and they have seen God himself in an attitude of supplication, in the posture of a suppliant and a beggar, and they have turned him from their heart-door. The only thing which he can now do is to laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh. We have walked through the dark valley of the preceding chapter, and now we come to a calm after a storm, to a sweet and beauteous song, to an eventide that carries the burden of its waning light easily, and that shines upon us with mellowest, most comforting sympathy. Who could claim such a God as a refuge? An hour or two ago he thundered in the heavens as Almightiness alone can thunder; nothing was sacred to him that defied him by its bulk and power and pride; he turned the earth upside down and laughed at its impotent endeavours at rectification. Who can flee to him, and call him by all these tender names—a strength, a refuge, a shadow, a sanctuary?
The very terribleness of God is a reason for putting our trust in him. Probably this view of the divine attributes has not always been sufficiently vivid to our spiritual consciousness. We have thought of God, and have become afraid; whereas when we hear him thundering, and see him scattering his arrows of lightning round about him, and behold him pouring contempt upon the mighty who have defied him, we should say, See! God is love. What does he strike? No little child, no patient woman, no broken heart, no face that is steeped in tears of contrition. On what does his fist fall? On arrogance, on haughtiness, on self-conceit, on self-completeness. He turns the proud away with an answer of scorn to their prayer of patronage. God is only terrible to evil. That is the reason why his terribleness should be an encouragement and an allurement to souls that know their sin and plead for pardon at the Cross.
In the fourth verse we find what we may term a completing view of the divine personality and government. Say whether there is aught in poetry that streams from a fountain with this fluency:—
"Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall" (Isaiah 25:4).
Here we come upon language which the heart can understand, and which the heart responds to with personal gratitude. Sometimes the Scriptures leave us. They are like a great bird with infinite wings, flying away to the centres of light and the origin of glory, and we cannot follow them in their imperial infinite sweep; then they come down to us and flutter near our hearts, and speak or sing to us in words and tones we can comprehend. This verse is an instance in point. Every man who has had large experience of life can annotate this verse for himself; he needs no critic, no preacher, no orator, to help him into the innermost shrine and heart of this holy place. Each of us can repeat this verse as a part of his own biography: each can say, Thou hast been a strength to me when I was poor; I never knew my poverty when thou didst break the bread; we always thought it more than enough because the blessing so enlarged the morsel: thou hast been a strength to me in my need and in my distress; when my father and my mother forsook me thou didst take me up; thou didst turn my tears into jewellery, thou didst make my sorrows the beginnings of paeans and hymns of loud and perfect triumph: thou hast been a refuge from the storm; when men could not bear me, tolerate me, see anything in me to touch their complacency; when the roof was broken through by the weighty rain, and when the flood put out the last spark of fire, I never felt the cold because thou wast near me, and in the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delighted my soul. Thou hast been a shadow from the heat; I could always fly to thee at noontide, and rest in thine almightiness as a flock gathers itself around the great tree, and tarries for a while during the sultry noontide. So long as men can say this, with all the passion of earnestness, with all the vividness of personal consciousness, the Bible smiles at every attempt to overthrow its supremacy, and waits to take in the last wanderer from its hospitable shelter. Remember, therefore, when reading passages that are surcharged with judgment, verses that are all lightning, Scriptures that are hot as hell with God's anger, that other Scriptures must be quoted if we would realise a completing view of God, as to his personality and government and purpose; and the last and uppermost verdict will be, "God is love." When God once begins to be gracious, turns away from judgment, and dawns upon the world's consciousness like a new morning, who can tell what he will do? He gives with both hands; he withholds nothing; he not only causes the storm to cease, he proceeds to positive hospitality, goodness, beneficence; he comes down to us to search into our need in all its extent and urgency, and crowns the day with infinite satisfactions.
Now he will make a feast, and the table shall be spread upon the mountain where it can be well seen; it shall be a grand public feast, and the angels shall sound the banquet trumpet, and call the hungriest first to eat God's bread. He will deign to take up Oriental figures in order to express the amplitude of his provision, and the lavishness of his proposal to feed and bless the race: The Lord of hosts will make a feast "unto all people" (Isaiah 25:6). What a gospel word is that—"all people." He only singled out one people that he might get at the rest. He never elected any one to stop at. He began by constructing a nation that he might by-and-by make a peculiar nation of the whole earth, and speak of his earth-church to all the other stars: and might he not in speaking of it speak almost with the boast of divine love? The feast shall be a feast "of fat things,"—an expression fully understood by the Oriental mind. "A feast of wines on the lees,"—wines that had rested long and become clarified, and have developed their richest flavour. "Of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined,"—as if repetition were needed to assure those who are called to the banquet that God had left nothing undone. When did God ever perform half a miracle? When did God say, I can do no more—I must return and complete this when my strength is recruited? When he lights this little earth there is more light runs off the edges to light other worlds than the little earth itself could contain; the earth has not room enough to contain the sun's hospitality of glory. So, throughout all the economy of providence, God's measure is good—good measure, pressed down, heaped up, running over, any image that will express fulness, largeness, repletion, redundance. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. A poor Deity, indeed, if our little fluttering wing could climb to any pinnacle of his! Who can understand not only the power but the generosity and beneficence of God?
But how can those who are in the mountain banquet-house be happy while death is ravaging down below? The Lord says in reference to that, that he "will swallow up death in victory" (Isaiah 25:8). We must not amend that expression—"swallow up." There is a sound in it which is equal to an annotation. We hear a splash in the infinite Atlantic, and the thing that is sunk has gone for ever. It was but a stone. Death is to be not mitigated, relieved, thrown into perspective which the mind can gaze upon without agony; it is to be swallowed up. Let it go! Death has no friends. Who names the ghastly monster with healthy pleasure? Who brings Death willingly to the feast? asks him to join the dance? begs him to tarry through the night, and weave stars of glory in the robe of gloom? Death has no friends. He is to be swallowed up, slain, forgotten. Yet in another aspect how gracious has death been in human history, What pain he has relieved; what injuries he has thrust into the silent tomb; what tumult and controversy he has ended. Men have found an altar at the tomb, a house of reconciliation in the graveyard, music for the heart in the toll and throb of the last knell. Even Death must have his tribute. He may not work willingly. He never saw himself. Let us be just. When Death is dead, will there be some other way into the upper city that is paved with gold, and calm with eternal Sabbath? Shall souls then ascend as did the Christ? Will chariots of fire then bear them to the city everlasting? Will angels then throng the house, and carry off the soul without wrench or pain, or need of heartbreak and farewell? How is it to be? for Death is dead, Death is swallowed up. Will some larger sleep enclose us in its soothing embrace, and woo us as with the voice of whispered love to the land of summer, the paradise of God? To our inquiries there is no reply in words. Yet may we not, even now, be so enabled to view death as to escape all its terrors? Even now death is abolished. With Christ in the house there is no death—there is but a hastening shadow, a flutter, a spasm, a vision, and then the infinite calm.
The prophet is here standing upon an equality with the apostle. The Apostle Paul uses the very same words, enlarges the same thought, with ineffable delight and thankfulness: he, too, sees the time when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, and death shall be swallowed up in victory, and men shall almost mock death, and say, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" It will be a noble avenging. Death has had long swing and rule and festival; he has eaten millions at a meal; what if the race should some day avenge itself upon the memory of death by noble song, not self-conceived but inspired by the very Christ who abolished death, and shall say tauntingly, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" produce your weapons—produce your triumphs! The avenging would not be unnatural or ignoble.
God has promised that a period shall be put to the reign of sorrow: "God will wipe away tears from off all faces" (Isaiah 25:8). Can we not wipe away our own tears? Never. If any man dry his own tears he shall weep again; but if God dry our tears our eyes shall never lose their light. It all comes, therefore, to a consideration of this solemn question—Who shall put an end to this sorrow? Shall we try frivolity—shall we drown our sorrows; shall we banish our grief by pre-engaging our memory by things that die in their using? Or shall we say, Thou living God of all joy, thou only canst put an end to human woe: make my heart glad, and then my face will shine; take the guilt away from my conscience and my whole nature, and then my tears will cease to flow? This is interior work, this is a spiritual miracle, this belongs to the reign of God and the ministry of grace. We resign ourselves, not passively and murmuringly, but actively and thankfully, to God, that he may make us glad with his own joy. The Lord awaits our consent to the drying of our tears.
Then God reveals himself by the overflowing abundance of his goodness:—
"And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation" (Isaiah 25:9).
How is a king's gift known? Surely by its royalty of fulness, by its having upon it no mark or stain of grudging or littleness. How is God known in the earth? By the very fulness of it; by the attention which has been paid to secret places, to little corners, to tiny things, to threadlets that only a microscope can see. He has finished, so far, this world as if he had never had another world on which to lavish his generous care. We know God by the superabundance of the festival. He never gives merely enough. Yet he never exercises his dominion in wantonness and prodigality, but always with that economy which waits upon the wisest generosity. If we sin against the light we insult the whole noontide. It is no little artificial light that flickers in the infinite darkness that we despise, but a whole firmament of glory. If we sin against Providence, it is against a full table that we rebel; and it is upon an abundant harvest that we pronounce our curse. The Lord leaves nothing half done, does nothing with a grudging hand, keeps back nothing for his own enrichment. Doth not the goodness of the Lord lead thee to repentance? What a noble companion would Goodness make for any man who longed to go home again! Goodness, beginning with the spring, passing into the summer, reddening and purpling with the hospitable autumn—yes, and not scorning the field of snow and the wind all frost, for even there God keeps sanctuary and the Most High his testimony. Sinners, therefore, with an infinite turpitude are they who force their way to their lowest nature, to their original type, to the hell that awaits unrighteousness, through goodness so vast, so delicate, so infinite.
Are we surprised to find such delineations of God in the Old Testament? All these visions might have come before us from some apostolic standpoint. Who has taught us to talk about the "Old" Testament and the "New," as if they were issued from different heavens, and signed by different deities? "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord"—one thought, one purpose, one love. The Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world: before there was any world to sin the sinning world was died for. Is this a mystery? only in words. Is this a contradiction? only in the letter. After long years of spiritual education the soul leaps up and says, Eureka! I have found it—I see it—I know the meaning now—thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift! When men turn their back upon the Old Testament they find no other. Even if they cling to the New Testament it is but half a book. The New Covenant can only be understood by those who are spiritually learned in the Old Covenant. The whole economy of God, in thought, in providence, in purpose, is one and indivisible. Then began the Christ of God at Moses, and the prophets, and the Psalms, and in all the Scriptures, to expound the things concerning himself. "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me." "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures." The ancient day came to the passing moment, and they constituted one bright morning; and in the light of that dawn they began to understand what might be meant by heaven.
Almighty God, the great storm is thine, the mighty wind, the all-shaking tempest: the clouds are the dust of thy feet: all nature is but the garment which thou hast put on for a moment. Our life is thy care, for thou didst form man in thine image and thy likeness that he might show forth thy praise. Thou dost use all ministries for the perfecting of our manhood, even calamities and losses and sore scourgings; these are processes by which thou dost bring us to fulness and assurance of sonship. They are hard to bear; we tremble under thy stroke; a cloud upon thy face destroys our heaven: yet we know not what we do when we murmur and complain. No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; but thou hast a purpose in it all, thou hast an afterwards, in which we shall see the vision perfectly, and understand the purpose, and call thy judgment Love. We will therefore put ourselves into thine hands, not of necessity, but consentingly, lovingly, wisely; for of this are we persuaded, that we are but of yesterday, and know nothing; we cannot tell what is best for us; we form our policies only to see them destroyed; we put up our plans, and behold they are thrown down by a strong wind. Better that thou shouldst rule, for all time, all space, lie naked to thine eye; thou seest all things at once; thou art Alpha and Omega: direct our lives, therefore, for us, and help us to cast all our care upon God, because he careth for us. We bless thee if we have come to this condition of soul: it is as the beginning of heaven, it brings sweet rest to the mind; we now take no thought for the morrow, so long as we hold on by God's strength, and know that his will is best. But all this we have learned from thy Son Jesus Christ: he is our Teacher, we have been scholars in his school, and we have learned of him; he spoke to us of the Father, of the Father's gentleness, and care, and love, and pity, and we listened to the music until it filled our souls, and we were enabled by thy strength to answer it with the gift of all our love. Henceforth we live not unto ourselves, but unto him who loved us, and bought us with his own blood. We would be Christ's wholly, body, soul, and spirit; we would that his name were written upon every faculty of ours, and that Holiness unto the Lord were our one title, and the one seal by which we can be known. Let thy rough wind blow, yea, let thine east wind steal forth upon the earth, only give us to feel that above all the winds is the ruling power of love, is the eye of pity, is the purpose of wisdom; then in the storm we shall find a resting-place, and in the roughest wind we shall bow before a secret altar where God will meet us, and give us joy in the midst of suffering. We cast ourselves into thy hands. Blessed are they who rest there: we hear a voice concerning them which says, No man shall pluck them out of my Father's hands. Amen.
And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.God, a Continual Discovery
The text reads like an exclamation, like a great utterance of glad surprise. We may discover in it the voice of people who have been long expecting deliverance, and have at length realised it. The text is, therefore, an exclamation. The exclamation is an argument. The argument is that God is a daily or continual discovery to the religious consciousness. He is always more than he was yesterday; the heart is continually exclaiming, This is what we have been waiting for; behold, this is the glory of God; every other thing we have seen is simple and common compared with what we now look upon. It is thus the visions of history come and go; but always there stands right up in heaven's centre the astounding light, old as eternity, yet new as a surprise. We are not dissatisfied with the past, we do not compare the present and the past invidiously, or to the disadvantage of the past; we look upon all things that are gone as but introductory, symbolic, and that vision or truth which we hold here and now is the God we have been waiting for. Let us, so to say, have the God of to-day. He is not new; he is gathered history, he is focused revelation; all that the prophets have spoken and the psalmists have sung concerning him we realise in his personality: and yet he is the God of to-day in a great, glad, solemn sense, the greatest that has revealed itself to the religious consciousness. That is orthodoxy—to be orthodox up to date, to seize the immediate vision, the present truth; not as something new, detached, isolated; but as the last flash of the ever-burning glory released to drive away some further reach of our great gloom. It is possible to hold on to the past, and yet to hold on to the present; and that is only truly modern which is ancient, and that is only truly worth keeping in antiquity which adapts itself to the immediate need of life's little day. We know what it is to be going through delightful and enchanting scenery. Hear the travellers: How beautiful is this land; how goodly a land to live in; how well the little cottage home would nestle on that slope or near yonder wood! Let a few miles be passed, and they say, No, this is the place—bolder, finer altogether in every landscape feature, more fresh air here: this is the place! A few miles farther on, and why is the party dumb? Some are blind with tears, all are silent: what is this? They have just beheld the Jungfrau, its majestic figure, its unspeakable purity, and their tears say, This—this! Do they despise the simpler country through which they have come? Not at all: but for that simpler country they never could have come to this great vision; they walked to it through the common turnpike, then up the rocky steeps, then along the greensward, and little by little they came into the presence of this revelation; then they said, This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. The man who can chatter in the presence of the Jungfrau can have no heaven.
This is the very glory and the chief delight of religious study. It is so that we apply the thought in the Bible. It is always on the next page that the former vision is eclipsed. We are delighted with all the pages; the first page gives us a creation, and we are pleased with the wonderful house in which we have to live; but by-and-by the house becomes more luminous and beautiful and hospitable; presently it is filled with love, and family life, and joy, and music; and we are continually saying as we read the Bible, This is the page. Yet it is not the page for to-morrow; the page for to-morrow is farther on, for all ages farther on. Never does there come a disappointment, but continually there burns or shines a hope which makes all realised joy seem small. If we had not the great hope we should be content with what we already hold in the hand; it is the hope which seems to turn all possession into more or less of mockery and disappointment. It is also the same with providence. Providence enlarges itself every day into some new vision or apocalypse. It does not seem as if we could have a better day than the present; yet when to-morrow comes we forget it as to its superior claim, and only remember it as a transient vision or stimulus by the way, thankful for it, yet it is to-day that brings into itself all things radiant and all things musical. God's providence never ceases. God has not written one providential chapter once for all, and then left the world to study it: God rewrites his Bible in the events of every day. The record of the present time is not the record of man, though man may think so. God often guides the hand that drives the recording pen. When we look back upon great breadths of journalism, we come to see that through the whole there has passed one organic thought, or nerve, or purpose, and that there has been shaping where we thought there was nothing but inchoateness and chaos. So when all the journal is written up to the last, when the weary pen writes Finis, the journal will have quite a Bible look. This is the wonder of God: he cannot be found out unto perfection; he cannot be measured and set up in standard figure; he is more like the horizon; evidently there, yet where?—place without locality. Approach the horizon; it enlarges and recedes. A child thinks he can clutch the golden band that circles the mountains at eventide, and yet behold he is farther away than ever his dreams wandered; it is here, there, yonder, beyond: an eternal lure, an eternal illusion as to the mere handling and literal realisation.
What is the proper attitude or disposition of religious students? "We have waited for him." That is the right attitude. Waiting does not imply lethargy. He does not wait who lingers in a do-nothing and slothful condition. That is not waiting, that is idleness; that is not tarrying, that is practical blasphemy. Waiting implies energy, hope, restrained passion. The man who really waits really burns. Waiting is not incompatible with service; on the contrary, it implies service, it implies desire, expectation. The man who has a great expectancy does not look down; his face is not a blank, it is a burning, glowing symbol; the expectation is in him, it makes him glow. He cannot be impetuous, petulant, querulous, vehement, or demonstrative; but in proportion to the hope or promise that is in him is his zeal. If we were to measure our waiting by our lethargy, surely some of us wait well! We are princes in slothfulness; we take every prize ever offered for lethargy. Do not call that waiting or standing still. It is an inversion of every thought and purpose of God.
What is the great end of religious discipline? The text in forms us: "He will save us." These are words so short that a child might remember them. They are but four in number, yet they hold within their little limit everything that can be thought about sin, history, recovery, destiny. "He will save us." He will not disappoint our waiting, he will not satirise our manhood; he is not a God who has given us the aspiration of angels and then condemned us to the fate of dogs: it is not by such paradox that the loving God administers his universe. Judge of your destiny by your present personality as seen or witnessed in your aspiration, your passion, your desire, your capacity for service; judge of the possible future by your greatest hours of consciousness or realised power and personality. Somehow you have been so constituted as to pray; then you cannot have been so made as to be destroyed like dogs. Whether you can commit suicide is another question; we can close our eyes against the noontide, and declare from our point of view it is midnight; in making such a declaration we are keeping strictly to the line of personal fact at a given moment; yet we are not speaking the universal truth. Men should be careful how they degrade partial personal experiences into universal propositions. We must not misjudge God. If we have been capable of waiting for him, by that very capacity of patience we prove that God has been meaning all the time to come to us and to save us. Singing means more than mere utterance. God never meant the soul that can sing to him to vanish like an extinguished spark. Take thy singing as a pledge of thy possible immortality in blessed heaven; take all the little beginnings and germs of personality and power as pledges that God means harvest—golden infinite harvest. Why not reason yourselves upwards? Why this continual groping after the grave as if it were the only home you were destined to occupy? You might reason the other way, and be really glad of heart, and have great riches of grace and treasures of hop and confidence. How long will ye refuse to accept the whole benediction of God?
Here, then, we have our three words, and we should keep them as three precious jewels,—that God is a daily discovery to the religious consciousness, that is to say, he is always more and more, clearer and clearer, nearer and nearer, tenderer and tenderer. Here is the attitude which the soul should maintain towards him—an attitude of waiting for him in the confidence that he will come; and here is the end for which all our religious consciousness should be cultivated—to be saved—not in some narrow, selfish, impoverished sense, but in the greatest sense: saved from despair, saved from moral degradation, saved from perdition, whatever that grim and awful word may mean; and not only saved from certain destinies, but saved into blessed inheritances and realisations, saved into manhood, into pureness, into virtue, into service, into liberty, into heaven. He does not preach the gospel who limits the word "salvation" to one act. Is there a greater word in human speech than this word salvation? He does mischief and not good who so speaks about salvation as to limit it to an aspect of selfish regard; on the other hand, he is the apostle of heaven who sees in salvation a new sphere of service, a new motive to action, a new pledge of immortality. We always use the word salvation with the word Christ. They were never meant to be dissociated. Christ did visibly come into the world of a certainty, but he was in the world spiritually from the foundation thereof. And he was only in the world thus incidentally because he was in the world before the world was created. Nor was he in existence simply as a Personality, a metaphysical Deity; he was in the creation as the Lamb slain, before a single line of stones had been laid as the foundation of the earth. We have often had occasion to say, and to rejoice in the saying, The atonement was rendered before the guilt was contracted. Here is a thought, then, of continually heightening sublimity. We do not exhaust God, we continually approach him; we cannot surpass him, he always leads our education, and heads our spiritual progress. We have read thus of the living God; we have said, This is God in judgment, he drowned the wide world, this is God; he burned Sodom and Gomorrah, this is God. Men are so prone to see God in terrible things—in pestilence, in famine, in sore distress, of family and nation. We then turn over into historic matter, and we say, This is God, ordering, shaping, leading all the movements of man, leading the blind by a way that they know not; lo, this is God! Then we go farther on, and come to the singing brethren, the Davids and the Asaphs of the ages, and as they touch their harps, and lift their trumpets to their lips, or breathe out psalm and song, we say in the church of music, This is God, and we have waited for him; this is the meaning of all government, of all history, music, song, rapture, gladness; this is our God, and we have waited for him. We pass on, and we come to the evangelists, we read their little condensation of history; we come to a place called Calvary; we see the uplifted Priest, we see the Agony, the Blood, the Dying, and we say, Lo, this is God; we have waited for him, and he will save us!
"Isaiah was not the first who attained to a knowledge of the personality of Messiah. Isaiah's vocation was to render the knowledge of this personality clearer and more definite, and to render it more efficacious upon the souls of the elect, by giving it a greater individuality. The person of the Redeemer is mentioned even in Genesis 49:10 : 'The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh (the tranquilliser) come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be' (i.e. him shall the nations obey). The personality of Messiah occurs also in several psalms which were written before the times of Isaiah; for instance, in the second and one hundred and tenth, by David; in the forty-fifth, by the sons of Korah; in the seventy-second, by Solomon. Isaiah has especially developed the perception of the prophetic and priestly office of the Redeemer, while in the earlier annunciations of the Messiah the royal office is more prominent; although in Psalm cx. the priestly office also is pointed out. Of the two states of Christ, Isaiah has expressly described that of the exinanition of the suffering Christ, while, before him, his state of glory was made more prominent. In the Psalms the inseparable connection between justice and suffering, from which the doctrine of a suffering Messiah necessarily results, is not expressly applied to the Messiah. We must not say that Isaiah first perceived that the Messiah was to suffer, but we must grant that this knowledge was in him more vivid than in any earlier writer; and that this knowledge was first shown by Isaiah to be an integral portion of Old Testament doctrine."—Kitto's Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature.
Almighty God, we come to the throne of grace, not of judgment, and there we may plead the blood that was shed for sin, and by the mighty mystery of the Cross, and all its gracious truth and meaning, we may enter into the mystery of pardon and into the joy of peace with God; therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We know the reality of the faith by the depth of the peace. This is the gift of God; this is the portion of those who have in them the Spirit of eternal life; this is their sign and their proof and their testimony. So, looking upon the calm of the soul, they live without fear, and they contemplate death in the spirit of victory. We bless thee for thy Word—beginning far away, taking our thoughts back to beginnings and suggestions, and from the Genesis of thy revelation conducting our thought onward and upward to the glorious Apocalypse. May we walk steadily all the way, marvelling at thy wonderful power, and adoring thy wisdom and thy grace; recognising thy sovereignty, and watching the continual and gracious unfoldment of thy high purpose. Thus shall the word of Christ dwell in us richly; we shall receive nutrition from heaven, and in the strength derived from the Bread of Life we shall go on from day to day, until being disembodied, and having no longer this weary tabernacle of the flesh, we shall enter into the joy of perfect spiritual worship, seeing God by the pureness of our heart, and worshipping him with all the faculties he has redeemed and sanctified. Comfort those who are dejected; give a word of counsel and inspiration to any whose thoughts are bewildered. Lead the blind by a way that they know not. Take out of to-morrow the cloud, or the sting, or the fear which makes men dread the dawn; and by giving us peace with God we shall also have given unto us peace with men, and we shall begin to pray where we expected to die. The Lord work this miracle for us in the name and grace of God the Son; then in the wilderness we shall have a garden, and in the place of the hot sand a fountain of living water. Amen.