“Salt without prescribing how much.”
Salt was used in every offering made by fire unto the Lord, and from its preserving and purifying properties it was the grateful emblem of divine grace in the soul. It is worthy of our attentive regard that, when Artaxerxes gave salt to Ezra the priest, he set no limit to the quantity, and we may be quite certain that when the King of kings distributes grace among his royal priesthood, the supply is not cut short by him. Often are we straitened in ourselves, but never in the Lord. He who chooses to gather much manna will find that he may have as much as he desires. There is no such famine in Jerusalem that the citizens should eat their bread by weight and drink their water by measure. Some things in the economy of grace are measured; for instance our vinegar and gall are given us with such exactness that we never have a single drop too much, but of the salt of grace no stint is made, “Ask what thou wilt and it shall be given unto thee.” Parents need to lock up the fruit cupboard, and the sweet jars, but there is no need to keep the salt-box under lock and key, for few children will eat too greedily from that. A man may have too much money, or too much honour, but he cannot have too much grace. When Jeshurun waxed fat in the flesh, he kicked against God, but there is no fear of a man’s becoming too full of grace: a plethora of grace is impossible. More wealth brings more care, but more grace brings more joy. Increased wisdom is increased sorrow, but abundance of the Spirit is fulness of joy. Believer, go to the throne for a large supply of heavenly salt. It will season thine afflictions, which are unsavoury without salt; it will preserve thy heart which corrupts if salt be absent, and it will kill thy sins even as salt kills reptiles. Thou needest much; seek much, and have much. C.H. Spurgeon
“His ways are everlasting.”
What he hath done at one time, he will do yet again. Man’s ways are variable, but God’s ways are everlasting. There are many reasons for this most comforting truth: among them are the following-the Lord’s ways are the result of wise deliberation; he ordereth all things according to the counsel of his own will. Human action is frequently the hasty result of passion, or fear, and is followed by regre
t and alteration; but nothing can take the Almighty by surprise, or happen otherwise than he has foreseen. His ways are the outgrowth of an immutable character, and in them the fixed and settled attributes of God are clearly to be seen. Unless the Eternal One himself can undergo change, his ways, which are himself in action, must remain for ever the same. Is he eternally just, gracious, faithful, wise, tender?-then his ways must ever be distinguished for the same excellences. Beings act according to their nature: when those natures change, their conduct varies also; but since God cannot know the shadow of a turning, his ways will abide everlastingly the same. Moreover there is no reason from without which could reverse the divine ways, since they are the embodiment of irresistible might. The earth is said, by the prophet, to be cleft with rivers, mountains tremble, the deep lifts up its hands, and sun and moon stand still, when Jehovah marches forth for the salvation of his people. Who can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? But it is not might alone which gives stability; God’s ways are the manifestation of the eternal principles of right, and therefore can never pass away. Wrong breeds decay and involves ruin, but the true and the good have about them a vitality which ages cannot diminish.
This morning let us go to our heavenly Father with confidence, remembering that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and in him the Lord is ever gracious to his people. C. H. Spurgeon
We must love Jesus, as carrying on this great work of our salvation. Go on then, O my soul, put fire to the earth, blow thy little spark, set before thee God’s love, and thou canst not but love.
In God’s love consider, 1. The time. 2. The properties. 3. The effects of it.
1. For the time. — 1. He loved thee before the world was made. Hast thou not heard, and wilt thou ever forget it — were not those ancient loves from all eternity? — 2. He loved thee in the very beginning of the world. Was not the promise expressed to Adam intended for thee? As thou sinnedst in his loins, so didst thou in his loins receive the promise. “It shall bruise thy head.” And not long after, when God established his covenant with Abraham and his seed, wast thou not one of that seed of Abraham? 3. He loves thee now more especially, not only with a love of benevolence, as before, but with a love of complacency: not only hath he struck covenant with Christ, with Adam, with Abraham, in thy behalf, but particularly and personally with thyself. And Oh! what love is this? If a woman lately conceiving, love her future fruit; how much more doth she love it when it is born and embraced in her arms? So, if God loved thee before thou hadst a being, yea, before the world, or any creature in it, had a being; how much more now?
Oh the height, and depth, and length, and breadth, of this immeasurable love! O my soul, I cannot express the love of God in Christ to thee. I do but draw the picture of the sun with a coal, when I endeavor to express God’s love in Christ.
2. For the properties of this love. — 1. God’s love to thee is a free love. “I will love them freely,” saith God. And, “The Lord did not set his love upon you, and choose you, because ye were more in number than any people, — but because the Lord loved you.” There can be no other reason why the Lord loved thee, but because he loved thee. 2. God’s love to thee is the love of all relations. Look, what a friend’s love is to a friend, or what a father’s love is towards a child, or what an husband’s love is towards a wife, such is God’s love to thee: thou art his friend, his son, his daughter, his spouse; and God is thy all in all.
3. For the effects of his love. — 1. God so loves thee, as that he hath entered a covenant with thee. Oh, what a love is this! Tell me, O my soul, is there not an infinite disparity betwixt God and thee? He is God above, and thou art a worm below: he is the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy, and thon art less than the least of all the mercies of God. O wonder at such a condescension! that such a potter, and such a former of things, should come on terms of bargaining with such clay as is guilty before him! Had we the tongues of men and angels, we could never express it.
God so loves thee, as that in the covenant he gives thee all his promises. Indeed, what is the covenant but a heap of promises? As a cluster of stars makes a constellation, so a mass of promises concurreth in the covenant of grace. Wherever
Christ is, clusters of divine promises grow out of him, as the rays and beams are from the sun. As God hath given thee his Son, so he hath given thee himself, and in that God hath given thee his Son and himself; this is a greater degree of love.
Christians! stand amazed. Oh, what love is this to the children of men! Oh, that we should live to have our ears filled with this sound from heaven! “I will be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee; I am the Lord thy God, I will be their God, and they shall he my people.” O my soul, where hast thou been? Rouse up, and set before thee all these passages of God’s love in Christ: are not these strong attractives to gain thy love? Canst thou choose to love the Lord thy God? Shall not all this love of God in Christ to thee constrain thy love? God in Christ is the very element of love. Every element will to its proper place. Now God is love, and whither should thy love be carried, but to this ocean or sea of love? “Come, my beloved,” said the spouse to Christ, “let us go up early to the vineyards, let us see if the vines flourish, whether the tender grapes appear; there will I give thee my loves.” The flourishing of the vine, and the appearing of the tender grapes, are the fruits of the graces of God in the assemblies of his saints. When thou comest to the word, prayer, meditation, be sure of this, to give Christ thy love. Isaac Ambrose
“Whose heart the Lord opened.”
In Lydia’s conversion there are many points of interest. It was brought about by providential circumstances. She was a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, but just at the right time for hearing Paul we find her at Philippi; providence, which is the handmaid of grace, led her to the right spot. Again, grace was preparing her soul for the blessing-grace preparing for grace. She did not know the Saviour, but as a Jewess, she knew many truths which were excellent stepping-stones to a knowledge of Jesus. Her conversion took place in the use of the means. On the Sabbath she went when prayer was wont to be made, and there prayer was heard. Never neglect the means of grace; God may bless us when we are not in his house, but we have the greater reason to hope that he will when we are in communion with his saints. Observe the words, “Whose heart the Lord opened.” She did not open her own heart. Her prayers did not do it; Paul did not do it. The Lord himself must open the heart, to receive the things which make for our peace. He alone can put the key into the hole of the door and open it, and get admittance for himself. He is the heart’s master as he is the heart’s maker. The first outward evidence of the opened heart was obedience. As soon as Lydia had believed in Jesus, she was baptized. It is a sweet sign of a humble and broken heart, when the child of God is willing to obey a command which is not essential to his salvation, which is not forced upon him by a selfish fear of condemnation, but is a simple act of obedience and of communion with his Master. The next evidence was love, manifesting itself in acts of grateful kindness to the apostles. Love to the saints has ever been a mark of the true convert. Those who do nothing for Christ or his church, give but sorry evidence of an “opened” heart. Lord, evermore give me an opened heart.
“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.”
We may understand this to refer to justification. “They shall walk in white”; that is, they shall enjoy a constant sense of their own justification by faith; they shall understand that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them, that they have all been washed and made whiter than the newly-fallen snow.
Again, it refers to joy and gladness: for white robes were holiday dresses among the Jews. They who have not defiled their garments shall have their faces always bright; they shall understand what Solomon meant when he said “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart. Let thy garments be always white, for God hath accepted thy works.” He who is accepted of God shall wear white garments of joy and gladness, while he walks in sweet communion with the Lord Jesus. Whence so many doubts, so much misery, and mourning? It is because so many believers defile their garments with sin and error, and hence they lose the joy of their salvation, and the comfortable fellowship of the Lord Jesus, they do not here below walk in white.
The promise also refers to walking in white before the throne of God. Those who have not defiled their garments here shall most certainly walk in white up yonder, where the white-robed hosts sing perpetual hallelujahs to the Most High. They shall possess joys inconceivable, happiness beyond a dream, bliss which imagination knoweth not, blessedness which even the stretch of desire hath not reached. The “undefiled in the way” shall have all this-not of merit, nor of works, but of grace. They shall walk with Christ in white, for he has made them “worthy.” In his sweet company they shall drink of the living fountains of waters. C.H. Spurgeon
“I have much people in this city.”
This should be a great encouragement to try to do good, since God has among the vilest of the vile, the most reprobate, the most debauched and drunken, an elect people who must be saved. When you take the Word to them, you do so because God has ordained you to be the messenger of life to their souls, and they must receive it, for so the decree of predestination runs. They are as much redeemed by blood as the saints before the eternal throne. They are Christ’s property, and yet perhaps they are lovers of the ale-house, and haters of holiness; but if Jesus Christ purchased them he will have them. God is not unfaithful to forget the price which his Son has paid. He will not suffer his substitution to be in any case an ineffectual, dead thing. Tens of thousands of redeemed ones are not regenerated yet, but regenerated they must be; and this is our comfort when we go forth to them with the quickening Word of God.
Nay, more, these ungodly ones are prayed for by Christ before the throne. “Neither pray I for these alone,” saith the great Intercessor, “but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” Poor, ignorant souls, they know nothing about prayer for themselves, but Jesus prays for them. Their names are on his breastplate, and ere long they must bow their stubborn knee, breathing the penitential sigh before the throne of grace. “The time of figs is not yet.” The predestinated moment has not struck; but, when it comes, they shall obey, for God will have his own; they must, for the Spirit is not to be withstood when he cometh forth with fulness of power-they must become the willing servants of the living God. “My people shall be willing in the day of my power.” “He shall justify many.” “He shall see of the travail of his soul.” “I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong.”
“I WILL LOVE THEM FREELY.”
This sentence is a body of divinity in miniature. He who understands its meaning is a theologian, and he who can dive into its fulness is a true master in Israel. It is a condensation of the glorious message of salvation which was delivered to us in Christ Jesus our Redeemer. The sense hinges upon the word “freely.” This is the glorious, the suitable, the divine way by which love streams from heaven to earth, a spontaneous love flowing forth to those who neither deserved it, purchased it, nor sought after it. It is, indeed, the only way in which God can love such as we are. The text is a death-blow to all sorts of fitness: “I will love them freely.” Now, if there were any fitness necessary in us, then he would not love us freely, at least, this would be a mitigation and a drawback to the freeness of it. But it stands, “I will love you freely.” We complain, “Lord, my heart is so hard.” “I will love you freely.” “But I do not feel my need of Christ as I could wish.” “I will not love you because you feel your need; I will love you freely.” “But I do not feel that softening of spirit which I could desire.” Remember, the softening of spirit is not a condition, for there are no conditions; the covenant of grace has no conditionality whatever; so that we without any fitness may venture upon the promise of God which was made to us in Christ Jesus, when he said, “He that believeth on him is not condemned.” It is blessed to know that the grace of God is free to us at all times, without preparation, without fitness, without money, and without price! “I will love them freely.” These words invite backsliders to return: indeed, the text was specially written for such-”I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely.” Backslider! surely the generosity of the promise will at once break your heart, and you will return, and seek your injured Father’s face. C.H. Spurgeon