The Poor Man's Morning and Evening Portions
Robert Hawker (1753-1827)
"The justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."—Romans iii. 26.
And who is this, indeed who can it be, but Jehovah? "It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?" But, my soul, mark how each person of the Godhead is revealed in scripture under this character; as if to convince every poor sinner that is looking for redemption in Israel only in Jesus, that God can be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. God the Father justifieth the poor believing sinner: for he manifests that he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, having found a ransom in the blood of his Son for sin, whereby he is faithful to all his covenant promises in pardoning us, having received at our Lord's hand double for all our sins. God the Son justifieth also his redeemed: for it is expressly said by the prophet, "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." And that God the Holy Ghost justifieth, is as evident also; because it was through the eternal Spirit the offering of the body of Jesus Christ was offered, by which Christ is said to have been justified in the Spirit; and believers are said to be justified by virtue of it in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Hence all the persons of the Godhead concur in the act of justifying every believer in Jesus; by whom we have peace with God, fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. Here then is a portion to live upon through life, in death, and to all eternity.
"Who maketh thee to differ from another?"—I Cor. iv. 7.
My soul, sit down, in the cool of this lovely evening, and in the recollection of distinguishing mercies look up and behold the gracious hand that "maketh thee to differ from another"; until thine heart overflow, in a view of the wonderful subject, with thanksgiving, love, and praise. If thou wilt open the volume of thine own life (and surely, of all volumes, when explained by the word of God, it is the most interesting to read) thou wilt behold such a multitude of instances, in all the departments of "nature, providence, and grace," as under divine teaching, will bring home the question with the most awakened earnestness to the heart, and cause thee frequently to exclaim, as thou passest on, "Who maketh thee to differ from another?" Every defect of nature in others, every poor cripple, or the blind, or deaf, which thou meetest with; the want of intellect, or the want of understanding, yea, that thou wert not born among the reptiles of the earth, but among them who are created in the image of God, may, and ought to direct thy heart to the contemplation of him and his distinguishing favour, "in whose book all thy members were written!" And when, from the kingdom of nature, in the appointments of the Lord, thou followest the tract of thine own history into the kingdoms of providence and grace, and beholdest through all, and in all the distinguishing mercies with which thy life hath been marked, the question will arise all around, and in every direction, "Who maketh thee to differ from another?" What a mercy to be born in this land of thy nativity, and not among the dark places of the earth, where the name of Jesus was never heard, nor the sound of the church-going bell invites sinners to salvation! What a mercy to have had praying parents, who sought blessings for us before we had power to ask for ourselves! Or, on the other hand, if sprung from ungodly parents, who never, by advice or example, led us to the throne of grace, what a mercy, that under all such unpromising circumstances, without advice and without example, the word of God, and the ordinances of Jesus, are dear to us! Surely the apostle's words enter with a strength of inquiry under these views, "Who maketh thee to differ from another?" And, my soul, if now, as from a rising ground, thou lookest back, and tracest "all the way which the Lord thy God hath brought thee these many years, to humble thee, and to prove thee, and to shew thee what was in thine heart," thou beholdest thy Lord's gracious dealings with thee, compared to others: how many with whom, in thy boyish days, thou enteredst the field of life together, that are now no more; how many that still survive, but know not the Lord; how many, in circumstances far more promising than thine, and yet have come short of the grace of God! Views like these, and all the thousand, and ten thousand incidents connected with them, instead of lifting the mind with pride, are enough to humble the soul to the dust before God, and melt all the finer affections into the most heartfelt sense of the apostle's question, "Who maketh thee to differ from another?" Jesus, my Lord, behold me at thy feet! How shall I dare lift mine eyes to thee, while in the moment of recollection of thy distinguishing mercy towards me, I call to remembrance my baseness towards thee? Lord, is it possible, that in a life where so much grace hath abounded, sin should so much abound? That in every spot where my God hath erected a monument of his love, my sinful and ungrateful heart should have left an inscription of my unworthiness! What others feel, I know not; but blessed, for ever blessed be the unwearied patience and goodness of my God, that through his distinguishing grace alone, I am what I am; and while my soul desires to refer all and every part of divine mercy, in all the departments of nature, providence, and grace, into the Lord's own free, and rich, and sovereign pleasure; I praise him for having given me that precious testimony in my soul, which the Lord himself said should be the consequence, inwrought by his divine teaching in the heart: "I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; that thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God." Ezek. xvi. 62, 63.