The Poor Man's Morning and Evening Portions
Robert Hawker (1753-1827)
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us."—Rom. viii. 37.
"More than conquerors? mark that, my soul. Conquerors all the soldiers of Jesus must be, for in his strength they fight, and he has himself subdued all our foes, even death, the last enemy, and Satan, whom the God of peace will bruise under our feet shortly. So that victory is sure. For we overcome by the blood of the Lamb, by the sword of the Spirit, and by the shield of faith, whereby we subdue all the fiery darts of the wicked. But though conquerors, how are we more than conquerors? Yes, through him that loved us, believers absolutely conquer him that is himself unconquerable. For, by union with Jesus, we may be said to have power with God, and to prevail. "I will not let thee go," said the praying Jacob, "except thou bless me." A blessing he came for, and a blessing he would have. So all the praying seed of Jacob have power through the blood and righteousness of Jesus, in like manner. Hence Jesus saith to his church: "Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me." Sweet and precious thought, my soul, never lose sight of it. Through him that loved thee, and gave himself for thee, thou art more than conqueror: nay, thy present victories are more than the victories of the church in heaven. For they have now no more conflicts with tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword; but, by him that loved us, we arise above the midst of them now, and while troubled on every side, we are not distressed; while perplexed, are not in despair. The love of Jesus is seen in these very exercises, and that in very love, and very faithfulness, the Lord causeth us to be afflicted. Hence, through him we conquer them; nay, we are more than conquerors. We love him that sends the affliction, because we discover his love in it; and as without that affliction, the love of our Jesus in sending it would in that instance not have been known, therefore here we have a blessed victory the church above cannot know. Precious Jesus! to thy love, however, and thy grace, be all the praise and all the glory; for under thy banner of love alone it is that we are more than conquerors.
"A sheaf of the first-fruits."—Levit. xxiii. 10.
This was a most interesting service in the Jewish church, and full of gospel mercies; When the Lord appointed "a sheaf of the first-fruits" of their harvest to be brought before him, and waved towards heaven, as a token that all fruits were of the Lord, and that he was both the giver and proprietor of all. And it hath reference to the person of Christ, both in his death and resurrection. For "a lamb of the first year, without blemish," was to be offered as a burnt-offering with it, to testify that the death of Jesus sanctifies and sweetens all; and Christ himself, in his resurrection, is the "first-fruits of them that sleep." My soul! dost thou observe this Jewish service in a gospel dress? Surely, the service is a reasonable service, and, if possible, more heightened now than then. When this law was given, the Israelite had no power to perform it; neither indeed was it intended to be observed, until the people arrived in Canaan. There was neither tilling of land, nor sowing of seed, in the wilderness; for the people were victualled by the immediate bounty of heaven; and we are told, that they ate the manna until that they came to Canaan. But when they were settled in the land which the Lord had promised them, and God gave them "fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness," surely it was meet thus to acknowledge God in his providences, as the providence of God had owned and blessed them. What sayest thou to it, my soul? Here was Jesus in the sheaf of the first-fruits. Here was the Father's blessing, acknowledged in the gift of Jesus. Here was Jesus represented in the lamb, which accompanied the service. Here was the waving it towards heaven, and a prohibition not to eat bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until God's portion had been first offered! Oh! my soul, wilt thou not learn hence, to trace Jesus in every one of thy blessings, and to bless thy God and Father for a sanctified use of every thing in Jesus! Help me, Lord, I pray thee, in my heart, in my house, in the field, in the city, in the church, in the closet, in the world, in the family, to be for ever waving before my God, "the sheaf of the first-fruits" in all his bounties. In Jesus I have all; in Jesus would I enjoy all; and then shall I most assuredly have that sweet promise for ever fulfilling in my heart: "Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine;" Prov. iii. 9, 10.