|by D. Hildreth
HERE we are on the verge of the perils of the last days. A few more conflicts and all will be over. A few more struggles between the flesh and the Spirit, and the dividing line which separates the righteous from the wicked of Adam's race, will be finished, the last hour of probation passed, the goal reached, and the doom of every individual of a fallen race sealed forever. This being the case, the people of God who understand these things should be making all preparation to bid a final adieu to a sinful world, which has afforded them a sort of home for the time being, they should be constantly absorbed in the theme of the coming of their glorious Redeemer, they should be cutting loose from the world and be fully awake.
We ought to avail ourselves of every portion of the word of God, and manifestation of his Spirit that will benefit us at this time. We are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. We must examine ourselves and prove our own selves. 2Cor.xiii,5; Ps.xxvi,2. Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest, says Jesus. Although this language is addressed particularly to the convicted sinner we can avail ourselves of it. Do we not labor and strive, watch and pray? Are we not sorely pressed by the powers of darkness? Do we not feel burdened many times? If so Jesus says to us, "Come to me." We then resolve anew to call on the Lord, and strive with all our powers. Day after day we wrestle and strive without much success. We go to the Lord in our distress, and ask, why is this? Perhaps the Lord then shows us that we have been relying too much on our own strength. We cannot do it all, neither will he do it all for us, and happy is that man who finds the exact place where he and the Spirit can labor harmoniously together, for the result will certainly be victory over every foe, and freedom in Christ. John viii,36.
We have now reached the place where we find ourselves poor and needy; in the greatest need of effectual and immediate aid. Now what shall we do, shall we cry mightily to God? Yes, but how, with our own strength? No; thank the Lord, a most precious promise here meets our case. "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace, and of supplications." Zech.xii,10. The Lord even helps us to supplicate a throne of grace. What more can we ask? Paul speaks of this in Rom.viii,26, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us;" that is, the Spirit prays through us. This reflects upon the benevolence, love, and condescension of God in the highest degree. What more can be done than has been done for us. Isa.v,4. But there is a principle which underlies the whole of this which must not be passed over, and that principle is faith. The church in the wilderness fell, through unbelief (Heb.iii,19), and this has always been its besetting sin. Chap.xii,1. Three prominent virtues of the Christian are faith, hope, and love. Paul says the greatest of these is love. 1Cor.xiii,13. The superiority of love may be explained in this manner. Faith reaches up and fastens upon a single object, that object being God. Love fastens with equal strength upon the same object, but at the same time runs out upon a thousand objects on the earth. Here it is superior. Again, faith commences about the time of conversion, reaches to the resurrection, and there ceases. Love commences with faith, runs parallel with it to the resurrection, and there instead of ceasing, expands and continues throughout eternity. Here again it is superior. But in the single relation the creature sustains to the Creator in the mortal state, which is greatest, love, or faith? Which is the greatest to love God with all the heart, or to remove mountains by faith? Hope is limited in duration the same as faith. Love was the favorite theme of the apostle John, but in his writings is the following remarkable expression, "And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." 1John v,4. Faith is the foundation upon which hope and love rest, for it is impossible to hope or love till we believe. Faith is the main pillar in the temple of love, and whenever a spiritual Samson succeeds in pulling it down, the edifice is in ruins. We must have faith then. Can we believe in our own strength? We cannot.
But some man will say faith is the act of the creature. So is prayer. We can do one in our own strength just as well as the other. The disciples prayed the Lord to increase their faith. Luke xvii,5. Jesus says, "Without me ye can do nothing." John xv,5. As faith is an act it is comprehended in this saying of Christ. It is said to be the gift of God. Eph.ii,8. "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." Heb.xii,2. This is conclusive. Man is feeble and helpless and cannot take a single step in his own strength. If he could he would have whereof to glory. God forbid that we should take the glory that belongs to him and give it to the creature, for the glory all belongs to God. The Lord helps us to believe, helps us to love, helps us to hope, helps us to pray, and helps us to overcome. Praise his holy name; he has not left us to do anything alone, but helps us to do it all. Then let us pray to the Lord not only to increase our faith, but to pour upon us the spirit of grace and of supplications. See Jer.xxxi,9.
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