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THERE are few subjects about which the Then, again, temptation affords us an opportubeliever needs instruction so much as in the nity of seeing what Christ is able to do. Just matter of temptation. A great deal of per- as physical disease and calamity brought multiplexity and unnecessary distress is often expe- tudes of sufferers to the feet of Jesus and formed rienced from not understanding the nature of the sphere in which He put forth His miracutemptation, and God's design in permitting it. lous power, so great temptations are the occaIt is important that we should clearly recognise sions of special manifestations of Divine grace the fact that temptation is not sin. That until and glory. It is at such seasons that the tried the will consents to it—until it is entertained but trusting soul gets views of Christ that days and cherished—temptation does not become sin. of comparative freedom from trial could never All God's children are exposed to temptation- have disclosed. it will meet them at every step of their journey. It is thus we learn how an Almighty Saviour Though its character may vary greatly at dif- can keep a weak and frail creature in the midst ferent stages of their spiritual progress, still of manifold temptations. there is no experience however advanced which But temptation has another important use. is free from the discipline of trial, or the assaults It is designed in order to bring into the region of Satan.
of practice what we hold in the region of faith. What then, we ask, is the use of temptation ? Every truth must pass through these stages. To teach us what we are. We never know our The truth in the Scripture becomes the truth real weakness until we are tried. We are not in our faith--this is the knowledge of faith. convinced of our utter insufficiency until the But it must now pass into practice. What we testing time comes. Progress in the Divine life really believe we act upon, and then the knowdoes not mean rising upwards merely; it also ledge of faith passes into the knowledge of means going down-sinking into a deeper sense experience. of our own emptiness and nothingness. This The articles of our faith will do us but little we do not learn all at once. It is a progressive good unless they are being translated into and continual experience of our need. Tempta- principles of action and into deeds of practical tion may therefore become a means of grace by obedience. keeping us humble, not by bringing us under Trial and temptation are the means by which the power of sin, causing us to fall, but by what we know by faith we get to know by making us continually sensible of our proneness experience. to yield to the power of evil, our liability to But if the question be asked, How am I to fall.
be prepared for temptation ?--we would answer, This use of temptation, or trial, enables us to see that you are grounded as to the possibility understand why the Apostle had given to him of being delivered out of all temptations. If the thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. xii.).
you cherish the thought that there are some
BY REV. C. A. YOX.
temptations which God permits from which will do in the spiritual world what the growth there is no hope at all of being saved, then you of the wild flowers of England is doing at this are providing the enemy of your soul with a moment among the rank vegetation of New Zeapoint of attack which makes your failure certain. land, and what the fire and the hoe of the settler Make yourself thoroughly acquainted with the have failed to do. We are told that the common Divine warrant for expecting to be delivered clover of our fields, tender as it looks, is actually out of every temptation. Be thoroughly certain rooting out the formidable New Zealand flax, that triumph in every conceivable case is pos- with its fibrous leaves and strong woody roots." sible. Do not wait to reason as to how it is to Thus nature affords a beautiful and striking be brought about, but occupy yourself with the illustration of the power of God's word in the Scripture warrant which leads you to expect a heart of the believer. Let it find a place in our complete protection and a safe deliverance out heart. Let it take deep root in our affections,
. of the power of the enemy. Take, for instance, and it will not only bring forth fruit after its that passage in 1 Cor. x. 13. Now, what is it kind, but it will effectually accomplish that, in that God engages to do for the tried believer ? the purifying and cleansing of the heart, which “ He will not suffer you to be tempted above no mere negative efforts in overcoming and that ye are able.” Then God fixes the limit. casting out the evil could possibly achieve. He knows exactly how far to permit the trial to go. He is able to adapt it to our strength or power of endurance.
THE WANT WHICH MAKES WEALTH. Again, God promises that with every temptation He will “make also the way of escape,
“When they wanted wine.”—John ii. 3. that ye may be able to endure it." What the This is the first miracle recorded of our blessed believer has to do at such seasons is simply to Lord Jesus Christ. He was at a wedding feast; rest on the faithfulness of God, and obey the and this was the turning-point of the feast—"they leadings of His Spirit. Satan will endeavour wanted.” This is the turning point in every soulto lead us to question the one and hold back feast. There must be a felt want, there must be from the other. But let us not be ignorant of known emptiness, before even God can satisfy. And his device-i.e., his thoughts (2 Cor. ii. 11). this want is created, not by ourselves, not by It is by getting us to reason and entertain his circumstances, but by the Holy Ghost. The Lord thoughts that he succeeds in making us wan- Jesus always recognised the working of the Holy derers from God. Let us, on the other hand,
Ghost. Without speaking of Him, He instantly have God's thoughts filling our minds ; let the recognised Him wherever He saw Him at work in Word of God dwell in us richly, and the evil heal. Whenever He said, “Thy faith bath saved
any soul, stirring the faith which made Him able to will be kept out. It is not by negatives that thee,” He was recognising the Holy Ghost. the believer lives.
This incident brings out how fond the Lord Jesus “The soil that is cleansed of thorns and is of giving joy to His children. He is always thistles by fire and sword speedily covers itself aiming at filling them with joy. But this is not with the old weeds again. The evils cut down first. The joy springs from peace, which branches to the ground have deep tap-roots, that go far out of the root of faith. Then there follows this beyond the reach of hoe and axe, and put forth blessed bright blossom of joy. God was always new shoots when stimulated by fresh tempta- bringing joy. Holy Scripture begins with a wedding tions.
day, when God Himself united Adam and Eve in “Only by the expulsive power of a new life the Paradise Garden of Eden, and Scripture ends can the old evil growth be effectually and per- with a bridal feast-His own marriage supper, “the manently destroyed. The sowing of the seed of
* Rev. Hugh Macmillan. goodness, even among the rank growths of evil, + Address at the New Year Devotional Meetings at Richmond.
marriage of the Lamb." And then, at the beginning friends, how much filling in there is in our prayers; of His Gospel, in the central hinge of His Book, He how much using of habitual words, which mean so appears at a wedding feast, where He provides for little! It is the voice which is choked with want every want, even the commonest household want. which reaches the heart of God. Our Father is rich,
I. If you would know what it is to have wine at He is yearning to give to us. Other fathers feel the your feast, the first condition is-put Christ in the pressure at not being able to give, but the pressure first place. He must be " in the midst;" He must God feels is that He cannot get hearts ready to receive, have the central place. He was invited as guest ready to open their needs to Him. He listens for first; but when He had entered He took His place the cry“I have no wine !” He is yearning to hear as Host, and to Him they went with their want. what it is we do really want, that He may satisfy. He must be Host where He is admitted as well as III. What next? “Woman, what have I to do guest. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; with thee? Mine hour is not yet come." You say if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I you have put Him in the first place ; you have put will come in unto him, and sup with him, and he your want before Him, but you do not find the with Me." He must have the first, the central answer comes, and the want is not filled. Yet God place, and every want must be brought to Him. does always answer every true prayer. But you must Do you want the wine of joy? Is it only glow you learn to wait. True prayer is like hard cash which want? You have got peace, but you have no glow; you want to invest. You take it to the banker, and you do not look like a Christian yet; you do not give it over to him. He puts it into the bank for you ; look like one who has looked at the Lamb of God, le invests it for you in the best way, in the way in and has seen Him bearing away your sins; but He which it will produce most. And you receive it, can give even that. Have you ever looked at the not as you put it in, but in the way which the sun setting, and seen its light falling on a river, banker knew would bring you most profit. Go on burning it with its own glow until it looked like a praying, my dear friends, who have dear ones for second sun? He wants us to glow thus in His light. whom you have prayed for years, go on ; God does Even on Sinai, among the shadows and sternness of not forget, He treasures every cry. It shall havo the Law, Moses' face so shone that he had to hide response ; it shall have an answer; you shall have his face. There is not much need for us to veil ours. return from it as lle pleuses. Oh , that the Lord Jesus had more cheery-looking
, He is speaking to many like this, “ Mine hour is bright, hearty friends, who live in His radiance, not yet come.” “Not yet”- that is hopeful ; when now, always receiving it, and not only living in the He says, "Not yet," it means, “But it will soon." remembered smile of years ago.
Blessed hope which He secretes for His praying, II. The second point is that we must spread out believing child ! "My Lord Jesus says not yet the want before Him the confession of want. then I will watch until He does." "They wanted wine”—the blessed, rich fruit of the to you, “May I, father? may I?” and you answer, vintage of Calvary. It will be given in fulness “Not yet, my child;" and the child knows what
He yearns for that day when He “shall you mean, and watches your face like a clock, and drink it new with you.” The joy of Jesus is a vine when the hour strikes on it, he says again, “May I which clusters round His Cross; every branch of it has now, father?” He wants to have His children trust grapes enough and to spare. He longs to crush them Him. He wants us to believe in His SOVEREIGN for
you who “ want” it. Do you know what a rich GRACE. We do not all believe it fully, though we Christ you have ?—80 willing to give you of the joy- talk about it. To believe it, means that we spread wine which was broached on Calvary. When you our wants before Him, and then leave them there, have a "want,” do you spread it out before Him? and trust Him to do as He thinks best. He wants When you see obstacles before you, and difficulties, to bring us into a condition of simple, absolute trust and the stone, which is very great, not rolled away, in Him: where we shall say, “ All is closed around
to the dear Master, “I have no wine." me; I see no way out, but I will trust.” Or if you see yoar brother has none, say for him, know anything of this? Like Hezekiah, do you " he has no wine." It is not an eloquent prayer, it turn your face to the blank wall, no opening before is not long; but it is the fullest there could be. Ah! you, no window to see out of, and there pray to
Your child says
the Lord against the blank, unresponsive wall of ready to do His Word? Wait and listen! Watch, His unrevealed will? You shall have a rich my Lord is going to speak, wait and hear what He return.
has to say. I believe in silent waiting upon Him. We do want to know more about sovereign grace. Strange how few do! Have you not noticed that We are in the habit of stirring up our feelings about if a pause is made for silent prayer, that after the the answers. We are stirring the fire at the wrong first mo ent or two people get restless, as though end, instead of fixing faith on the Pentecostal fire at God was not there unless a brother were audibly His end, in implicit trust in whatever He will do. praying ? We want to cultivate the habit of silence God works as He pleases, and when He pleases. We before God. We want to be waiting at His gates, often put a brisk speaker to the front, when it is waiting at the posts of His doors, of His lips, simple, perhaps, broken words which are needed. listening, until the gates lift up their heads, and the Sovereign grace is not going to be interfered with. King of Glory shall come out in all His kingly Give Him your faith, your prayer, then commit all, majesty and power! Ah, we know all this, and and trust alone, waiting for the answer of fire from yet we don't act it out! God's holiest servants feel Heaven. Lay the wood all ready, prepare every- the need of more of this silent waiting upon Him to thing to attract it, and then wait for the fire to renew strength.” Talking with Him may be waitfall. You plot and you plan, and lay everything ing, but waiting is not always talking. It is the old .80 well, and you think it is all perfect. So it friend that knows who is willing to wait. It is the would be, if there were the fire from Heaven. We little child whois restless. There is something grand, have often done this, made all our plans so well, something majestic, in waiting: like the boy who and want to keep them all in our own hands, and stood at the helm of the burning ship, when asked it all ends in failure, terrible failure, because we why he did not leave it, said, “My father bid me wait have not depended alone upon Him. Often, have here till he came." There is something very blessed we not seen our best-laid plans end in inextricable in waiting. It brings out our faith and submissive confusion? But at last He has revealed His prepared trust. When one loves, one waits, and waits. highway, cutting right through all our failings and What a glorious testimony it is to those around. contrivings. Suddenly His grand highway breaks “My Lord is worth waiting for !" And it ought through all, interrupts all, and we see His way plain, to plead to the One waited for. There was a poor and Himself upon it going before us.
woman in Paris, always haunting one place in the IV. There is a further important point. When public gardens, and when asked why she waited that holy woman, that woman of faith, had heard there, she answered, “He told me he would meet Him
say, “Not yet," and had looked right into His me here ; he told me to wait for him here." And eyes and read the coming answer there, she turned her poor brain was turned, as she waited for years to the servants and said, “Whatsoever He saith in vain ; but still she waited. My dear Lord never unto you, do it.” He is going to speak to you, He forgets ; He is sure to keep His appointment. “I is going to work.
He is sovereign will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” He is very grace. He has the kingly will. It is not for us to precise, always punctual to the moment. Do fathom it; it is for us to wait. My soul doth you know where you are sure to find Him? You magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in are always sure to meet Him at one place. At His God my Saviour !”
He is certain to come back there. It Could we act thus ? when He seems to withdraw may be long, but take some definite promise, and Himself and to refuse us, could we turn and say, hold on there, and say, "I will not leave this until “ Whatsoever He saith unto me I will do it”? It He meets me here." As a young man, one of the was wonderful faith in Mary, for as far as we know things which drew me most to my Lord, was the He had done nothing miraculous as yet ; He had way in which I found Him true to His promises. I not shown forth His glory before this. This is the took them quite simply, and never thought I was next thing necessary-obedience to His word. How doing anything foolish when I stayed by one, and this would end all our perplexities, if when He knelt on it, saying, “ Lord, Thou hast promised this, seemed to refuse we simply turned and said, " What- and I mean to have it.” Oh, friends, have you grown soever He saith do it”! Servants of God, are you so clever as not to believe that He means what He
He has a way.
says? Take one of His promises, and kneel by it, “ draw” in the obedience of hope ; hope, which is and say, “I will wait here until He comes." faith in the act of expectation.
And He will come: He will speak. The dear VII. Then, as here, you will find continual surLord does not mean us to be kept at a distance like prises of love. When you have tasted, you can tell slaves. He does not keep anything to Himself: He it is wine-His wine, the wine of the kingdom. has no secrets from His children, if they are ready All doubts are gone ; there is no more uncertainty ; to hear them.
every mist has evaporated. “ The servants knew." V. Then, after obedience to His Word, there They knew, who had had all the pain and weariness, comes the obedience of faith. If you are watching and the labour. Yes, they know, who have watched for His Word, He is sure to speak. Now He says, through dark nights with Him, and have waited for “Fill the waterpots with water.” They were sure the slow breaking dawn on the highway to the glory. to be there because the Lord wanted them; but no They know best His wine, who have been through one knew the purpose for which they were there. the toil of the want and the waiting. You may be waiting unused-you may be on the The governor of the feast called the bridegroom, shelf, put aside—you may be empty, but if it is in and saith unto him, “Thou hast kept the good wine His Presence, you are only waiting to be used; and until now.” Blessed, unselfish Lord! When it is if you are empty, you will be used. “ Fill with He who has turned the water of weakness into the water.” It was very simple, it was an old familiar wine of strength, and the tears of sorrow into the thing, nothing new; there was no charm about it, wine of angels, He yet permits the miracle to be but He bids you.
Do it because He bids you in attributed to others. He stands there, patient in the simplicity of faith. He says “ Fill;” do not His wondrous, kingly dignity, allowing all the praise the simplicity of faith. He says “ Fill;" do not to go to another. He stands aside, and hears it answer, It is not looking like wine, the wine I attributed to another. “ Thou hast kept the good want, and it makes the vessels heavier, they cannot wine until now.” be moved about so casily." And perhaps you stop
He shall have all the praise one day. But even and do not fill “ to the brim," and so you lose the then, when the day of the blessed wedding-feast fulness of the blessing. Ah, go on, “ Fill!" Your dawns, and He receives us at His table—our Kingly
Host, and heaven opens back into heaven, and when congregation, or your class, or your meeting ; go on all the ranges of eternity are revealed before Him, as if you had never done it before. Begin with the there in sight of angels and archangels, He shall story of Abraham, if you like, the father of faith, meet each faithful child with, “ Well done, good and
faithful servant !" But it was Thou! All the who went out not knowing whither he went, but knowing with whom he went. Begin where you done !" And yet He will give all the credit to His
glory is Thine dear Lord, it is Thou who hast " well will, but go on filling.
failing, faltering children, who have not half trusted VI. Then there comes the obedience of hope : Him as they might have done, not even as they “ Draw out now !” That is just where so many hoped they would have done. " WELL DONE !” stop; it is just this that so many dare not do.
Oh, friends, love Him more.
Admit Him every
where, at the feast or the funeral. Have Him more They wait and they fill, but they do not draw out about the house ; not in one room only, nor even in They fill, but no more with any idea that wine could all but one. If
you know anything of the dear come of it than if the Lord had never bid them Lord you will yearn to give Him the best of every“ Fill.” They preach, and speak, but they do not thing; you know that He will give you the best, “ draw out;” and there is a kind of death in their the “good wine,” and that His presence is filling
now, satisfying now. Give Him of your wine in tone, even when they are telling His most glorious
return. Christ says, Oh, give Me souls to drink! truth of new life, as if they did not half believe it. Do I thirst for souls. you? Is there death in your tone when you "fill”?
“At once I should have angwered, O Lord, drink! Remember the emancipation day in America. The Drink from me, Lord, where sin so often sips ;
Drain out the poison with Thy sinless lips. night before, hundreds and thousands of slaves,
Thus having cleansed me, quickly brim me o'er who knew and believed that it should bring them With living water from Thine unseen store.
Let the King drink! my heart, Lord, be Thy bowl; freedom, crept up the highest hills and watched
Drink to Thy glory from my brimming soul!” with hungering eyes for the dawn of the day which
Let us bring our broken brimming souls to Him was to set them free.
Is that the way you
now! Drink from every heart now, Lord Jesus, to for the dawn in the souls you "fill”? Do you Thy glory, Amen !