The Poor Man's Morning and Evening Portions
Robert Hawker (1753-1827)
"My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi."—Song i. 14.
How full, indeed how infinitely full, abundant, and soul-satisfying is Jesus, in all that concerns life, light, grace, glory! A cluster of all is Christ; whether the copher of medicine to heal, or of sweetness to satisfy, or of riches to enlarge, or salvation to impart. Every way, and in every thing that is lovely or desirable, Jesus is a cluster indeed to his people. And whether we meet him in the valley or in the mount, in the plains of Jericho, or in the vineyards of Engedi, neither place nor situation, neither state nor circumstances, make any alteration in our Beloved; he is, he must be, Jesus, and that is always lovely.
"For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink, in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily, I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."—Mark ix. 41.
How little is this attended to in the charities of life! I fear, that even the soul which loveth Jesus most, doth not regulate his alms, whether of this world's goods, or of prayer, or of good wishes, when he giveth them, by this blessed standard. Dost thou not, my soul, plead guilty to this charge? Heavenly Lord! enlighten mine eyes to see thee in all thy representatives. And when I have only the cup of cold water to bestow upon any poor needy creature, yet let me give that in thy name! 'Do you belong to Christ?' should be the only question. This is a claim which carries every thing before it. Is it Jesus, who, in the person of his poor members, asketh the alms? Doth the Lord of life and glory condescend to be beholden to the poor creatures of his bounty; and of his own absolutely receives as a loan or debt? Surely the most selfish heart might here covet to be liberal. But, alas! love to Jesus is at too low an ebb to swell the tides for pouring into the parched ground of our neighbour's vineyard, from such principles. My soul, let this charming scripture be henceforth much upon thy mind. Take it about thee whithersoever thou guest. Look out for the Lord's poor, and so far read their characters, as to see that they belong to Christ. And if thy Lord hath made thee his almoner, if it be no farther than to minister the cup of cold water; yet let that cup be given in his name, and because they belong to Christ. Methinks, had it pleased my heavenly Father, to have entrusted me with ample circumstances, I should rejoice to follow the plan of his bounties, "who maketh his sun to rise upon the evil and upon the good; and sendeth the blessings of his rain both upon the just and the unjust." But even then, amidst the indiscriminate scattering of temporal blessings all around, the given cup of cold water to one of thine, thou blessed Jesus, because he belonged to thee, would be a cordial to my own heart, that needed no higher joy than the inexpressible felicity of testifying that myself as well as the receiver were both the Lord's poor, and the Lord's property.