The Poor Man's Morning and Evening Portions
Robert Hawker (1753-1827)
"As having nothing, and yet possessing all things."—2 Cor. vi. 10.
My soul, hast thou learnt this holy science? There are three blessed lessons the Holy Ghost teacheth on this ground. As, first, the believer is thoroughly emptied of himself. Art thou thus taught of God? Hast thou been led to see, to feel, to know, to be convinced that, after all thine attainments, after all thy long standing in the school of Jesus, thou hast nothing, canst do nothing, art worse than nothing, and, literally, hast no more in thyself now to recommend thee to Jesus, than the first moment thou didst hear of his name? This is to have nothing; this is to be poor in spirit. Secondly, dost thou possess all things in Jesus? Yes, if so be thou art living out of thyself wholly upon him; and how is this known? Nothing more evident. When a sense of my emptiness endears to me his fulness; my poverty, his riches; my weakness, his strength; my sins, his righteousness; my guilt, his blood; I truly possess all things, as far as I improve what Jesus is to his people, and rest upon him and the blessed fruits of his salvation, as God the Father designed him, who hath made him wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to his people. And there is a third precious lesson the Holy Ghost teacheth to the poor that have nothing, and yet possess all things; namely, so to possess Jesus himself that he may not only make his poor ones rich in his riches, but be himself their treasure; so to supply them not only with what they need, but to be himself their fulness; not on to open to them light and life, but to be himself both their light and life; so to impart to them salvation as to shew them that he is himself their salvation; and, in short, so to give them present peace, and the assurance of everlasting happiness in his blood and righteousness, as to give them the perfect enjoyment that he is himself both their present and everlasting happiness and their portion for ever. My soul, hast thou learnt, and art thou ever day more and more learning, these precious truths? Oh, then, look up to thy Jesus, and say with one of old, "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth; but thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."
"I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb."—Isa. xlviii. 8.
Humbling as the view is, it is profitable to look back, and trace all the way the Lord our God hath brought us, through many a year in the wilderness, to humble us, and to prove us, and to shew us what is in our heart; and this perhaps is the sweetest of all subjects, when the Holy Ghost takes us by the hand, and leads the heart back. Even from the first moment of conversion, to the very moment when taking the review, every step serves to prove what this scripture sets forth, that the Lord knew that his people would deal very treacherously, and be transgressors from the womb. My soul! let thy meditation, this evening, as it concerns thyself be to this amount: Where wert thou, when in a state of unawakened nature, and as all other carnal persons, intent only upon the best means of fulfilling to the desires of the flesh; living without God, and without Christ in, the world; a child of wrath, deserving wrath even as others? The Lord, who knew this, and also what undeservings would follow, still was pleased to visit thee with his great salvation. He manifested the riches of his grace in calling thee, justifying thee, adopting thee into his family, and putting thee among his sons: and he gave thee the Spirit of his Son in thine heart, whereby thou wert enabled to cry, "Abba, Father." And what hath it been since, but the same rich display of free and unmerited mercy? Doth he not know, that thou art still a transgressor? Doth he not continually wait to be gracious, when thy unthinking wandering heart is forgetful of him? Doth Jesus withhold or suspend his grace, and the manifestations of his favour, because thou art forgetful of him? Oh! not so. He deals by thee, as he did by Israel of old! When Israel remembered not the multitude of his mercies, but were disobedient at the sea, yea, even at the Red Sea, nevertheless, it is said, "he saved them for his name's sake," that he might make his mighty power to be known. So doth thy Jesus deal by thee. Though thou art a transgressor from the womb;" yet Jesus is Jesus still. The covenant promises of God the Father are the same; and the efficacy of Jesus's blood and righteousness the same: therefore Jesus deals by thee, not according to thy deserts, but according to his own free and sovereign grace. His love, and not thy merit, becomes the standard of his dealings with his people. Oh! how blessed is it to trace mercies to their fountain-head, and to behold God in Christ, dispensing pardon, love, and favour, from his own free and sovereign will and pleasure; and every renewed mercy carrying with it this divine signature: "Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel."