The Poor Man's Morning and Evening Portions
Robert Hawker (1753-1827)
"Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ."—Phil. i. 23.
My soul, thou hast not, I hope, dismissed the solemn thoughts opened to thy view by the scripture of yesterday. Surely, since that last morning, thou hast had but too many renewed occasions to feel the truth of it. Sin is not only present with thee at all times, but in thee, and as inseparable from thy unrenewed part, as the shadow from the substance. Thou knowest this, thou feelest it, thou groanest under it; and the consciousness of it is, in itself, enough to make thee go humbly all thy days. All other afflictions are nothing to this affliction: this, like the ocean compared to rivers, surpasseth and swalloweth up all. It is indeed a soul-supporting thought, (and, blessed be God, thou feelest the sweetness of it,) that under all, and in all, Jesus is thy hope. And while sin is always present with thee, Jesus, thy Advocate and Propitiation, is present for thee with the Father. But though in Him, and his righteousness accepted and secure, yet the consideration how much thy daily short-comings and transgressions dishonour God, and deprive thee of comfort here, is matter sufficient to make thine eyes run down with water, and thine heart continually to mourn before the-mercy-seat. And will these things always be the same, whilst thou carriest about with thee this body of sin? Shall this perishing part of thine be always so unfavourable to the sweet and gracious desires of the soul? Shall I never, never truly and uninterruptedly enjoy Jesus until the body is dissolved, and the dust returns to the earth out of which that part of my nature was taken? Pause, my soul, and say - Hast thou not then a desire to depart, and to be with Christ! Is not the grave, in this view, not only made bearable, but even desirable-nay, even pleasant? What, shall I never be wholly free from sin, until that I am wholy freed from the body! Shall I never be secure of sweet enjoyment with Jesus in ordinances, in retirement, in prayer, in praise, until that I drop this body of sin? And wouldest thou not, my soul, gladly part with such a partner, near and dear as it is, if this partner, in its present state, so dreadfully robs thee of thy most precious enjoyments? It is true, death in itself is not desirable: but if only by dying thou canst enjoy Jesus; and if only by dying this body will lose its corruptions; if the grave hath a commission from thy Jesus to destroy that part only of thy body which is corrupt, and at the same time to act as a preserver of that part which Jesus at the last day will raise up to glory; if Jesus hath assured thee that, though worms destroy thy corrupt part, yet thine eyes, even thy bodily eyes, when raised up by Jesus a glorified body, shall see God; and if thy body, thus raised up and re-animated, shall then be not only wholly freed from all corruption, but equally disposed as the soul to praise thy God and Saviour for ever and for ever, and both soul and body unite as dear friends in this blessed service. Oh then, from henceforth never, my soul, look at death any more but as thy kind friend. It is to die to sin; but it is to live to Jesus. It is to be dead to all things but Jesus, that Jesus may be all things in life for ever. Oh then, for this desire to depart and to be with Christ!
"And the desire of all nations shall come."—Haggai ii. 7.
And who could this be, but Jesus? Who, but he alone, could be the object of desire; or able to gratify the desire of all nations? Sit down, my soul, this evening, and consider the subject to the full; and if the result be, as it surely must be, under divine teaching, that none but Jesus can answer to this character, and he most fully and completely comes up to it in every possible point of view; thou wilt find another sweet testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus, that he who alone is thy desire, hath ever been, and still is, to all that need and seek salvation, the desire of all nations. And, first, consider how universal the want of Jesus must be. "Ail the world is become guilty (the scripture saith) before God. "Romans iii. 19. Hence, in every nation, kindred, tongue, or clime, every poor awakened and convinced sinner stands in need of a Saviour; and, however diversified by language, customs, or manners, sin is felt exceeding sinful, and the desire of deliverance from its guilt and its consequences, however variously expressed, is the burden and cry of every prayer. Now suppose, that to souls of this description, Jesus and his glorious salvation was revealed, would not the desire of every heart be towards him? Surely every eye would be directed to Jesus, and every tongue call aloud upon his name. Hence it is that Jesus, and he alone, is the desire of all nations. And as all poor sinners, whether conscious of it or not, stand in need of salvation; so, secondly, it must be observed, that it is Jesus, and he alone, who can give salvation: for, as the apostle speaks, "there is salvation in no other, neither is there any other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts iv. 12. And how extensive and all-sufficient is Jesus, to answer the desire of all nations! As one sun in the heavens becomes a fulness of light, and warmth, and healing to a whole earth; one ocean to supply all the rivers and lakes, and the inhabitants of the world; so one Lord Jesus Christ is both the Sun of righteousness, and the everlasting river of life, which maketh glad the city of God. Every want, and every desire that can be necessary for time and eternity, all temporal, spiritual, and eternal blessings, are in Jesus. He that is the desire of all nations, is in himself sufficient to satisfy the desires of every living soul - Pause one moment, my soul, over this view of thy Jesus, and say, is He, that is, the desire of all nations, thy one, thine only one, desire, to which every other is subordinate, and in which every other is swallowed up and lost? See what answer thou canst give to the heart-searching question? And when, through grace, thou hast derived renewed conviction from this view of the subject, that none but Jesus can fully answer the desires of an awakened soul, close the month, as thou hopest to close life, with the blessed hope that he who is thy one desire now, will be thine everlasting portion to all eternity. Amen and Amen.