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day, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe" ; that is, unless their curi osity for signs was indulged, they would yield no obedience. Dr. John DeWitt says : “The same sunlight which, falling upon an opaque substance, brightens only the outer surface, leaving darkness within, may, fall ing upon what is thoroughly transparent, meeting with no obstruction, penetrate and irradiate its innermost depths.” To have a mind and heart open to conviction, ready to see the truth, and then to follow it, is rare but indispensable to a true and full acceptance o f the truth. DECEMBER 8 A S h ie l d fo r t h e S o u l “Meditate upon these things; give thy self wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all" (1 Tim. 4:15). There is nothing that will secure such docility, purity, obedience, and witness, as faithful and daily familiarity with the Holy Scriptures . . . It was a familiar say ing o f John Bunyan: “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer. Pray often; for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice of God, and a scourge to Satan.” If you shake a bottle that is half full, you can produce a violent disturbance in its con tents, but when the bottle is full to the brim, no shaking disturbs it To be occu pied with divine things is to any soul a shield from doubt and every form o f evil . . . It was a beautiful saying of the late J. Hudson Taylor: “ Satan may build a hedge about us, and hinder our movements, but he cannot roof us in and prevent our looking up.” DECEMBER 9 H a l l e l u j a h ! "His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:3). When Peter Mackenzie, the Durham miner, visited Madame Tussaud’s Exhi bition in London, and came to Voltaire’s chair, he leaped over the ropes that fenced it in, sat down in the chair, and before any one could remove him, sang out in a sten torian voice: “Jesus shall reign where’er the sun Doth its successive journeys run, His praise shall sound from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.” i The great and startling fact is that, while Infidelity has changed its shape and modes of attack a hundred times in eigh teen centuries, the Lord Jesus Christ is still moving on, conquering and to conquer; and he who would be on the winning side in the great final victory of the just, must be a believer in Him. “ When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret” (Matt. 6:6). “Enter into thy closet”—that is the shut- in-place; and eight times, in that single verse, the second personal pronoun in the singular number is found, teaching us the value of getting absolutely alone with God, looking God in the face, before we start on the duties o f the day. This habit of secret prayer, when joined to the other, daily DECEMBER 10 T h e S h u t - i n - P l a c e
reverent Bible study, puts a helmet on the head and a breastplate on the bosom; in fact, clothes the disciples in the whole armor o f God, and makes him proof against the wiles of the devil. DECEMBER 11 A F a t h e r ’ s T e n d e r C a r e “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (Psa. 103:13). With what tenderness the Lord treated the prophet (Elijah) 1Not only did He not lose sight of His fugitive servant, or visit him with reproof and rebuke, but He watched over him, miraculously ministered to his wants, and sent His angel to comfort him, who once and again roused him and said, “Arise and eat! for the journey is too great for thee I” Had God, just then, reproached him with his failing at this crisis, He would have broken the already bruised reed and quenched the already smoking flax. But n o : Instead of smiting him for his inconstancy and inconsistency, He soothed him with the balm o f compas sion ; He spoke no words of rebuke, but gave him nourishment—not a rod for his back, but food for his hunger. “He know- eth our frame”—how we are put together, and where the weak points are—and makes allowances for the moods o f which we are not so much the authors as the victims. We are all naturally like the snail; we carry our little world upon our back, and venture out o f our shell only to pick up dainty morsels. God puts us in the midst of the unsaved that we may get out of our selves ; He might send His angels to fly in the midst o f the heavens and proclaim the everlasting gospel, but what would become o f the believer? He would be a dwarf and a cripple. The reflex influence o f evangel istic effort upon the church itself is scar cely less important and valuable than the direct influence upon unsaved souls. DECEMBER 12 R e f l e x I n f l u e n c e “I have chosen you and ordained you that ye should go and- bring forth fruit” (John 15 :16). “I f a mdn therefore purge himself, . . . he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use” (2 Tim. 2 : 21 ). The ambassador of God . .. must dare to set up God’s unhewn altar that men may look only at the slain Lamb. He who, like Ahaz, brings into God’s courts the elab orate carved Damascene altar may hear the word of human approbation of his aesthet ics, but the Shekinah will grow dim. Preaching is a divine vocation, and its power must be of God. . . Upon your separation from the world unto God depends the degree o f your en dowment with the Spirit of holiness and of power. God uses in His temple and at His altar no unsanctified vessel; whether it be of gold or silver, of wood or of earth, it must be set apart unto the Master’s use. In proportion as your hand and heart and tongue are purged from the world’s uses, its frivolities, impurities, lusts, and solemn ly sanctified by separation for the holy service o f the sanctuary, w ill He, can He, make; them His implements and instru ments in the redemption of a lost world. DECEMBER 13 A t G od ’ s A l t a r
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