The Poor Man's Morning and Evening Portions
Robert Hawker (1753-1827)
"The stranger did not lodge in the street; but I opened my doors to the traveller."—Job xxxi. 32.
Though Job was thus hospitable, yet we know that angels would have lodged in the street, if Lot had not taken them in. Nay, the Lord of angels, when he came a stranger upon earth, had not where to lay his head. He came indeed "unto his own, but his own received him not." My soul, pause! Hast thou done better by thy Lord? Nay, thou hast not. And though thou knowest the precept the apostle had it in commission to tell the church, "not to be forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby," as in the instance of the patriarch, and others, "some have entertained angels unawares;" yet, my soul, how long did the Lord of life and glory stand without, knocking at the door of thine heart, by the ministry of his word and ordinances, saying—open to me; yea, and would have stood to this hour, had he not, by his own sovereign grace, put in his hand by the hole of the door, and opened to himself. Oh thou blissful stranger, didst thou indeed come from a far country, on this gracious, blessed errand, to seek and save that which was lost; and didst thou find every heart resolutely shut against thee? Didst thou, blessed Jesus, when travelling in the greatness of thy strength, open to thyself an entrance into the souls of thy people, by the sweet and constraining influences of thy Holy Spirit? Do thou, then, Almighty Lord, throw open the street doors of my heart for thy constant reception! Make them like the gates of that blessed city which are never shut day nor night. And cause my soul, like the prophet on the watch-tower, or Abraham in the tent door, to be always on the look out for my Lord's approach, that I may invite thee; yea, constrain thee to come in, and abide with me, and to make thyself known unto me, by the heart-burning discourses of thy word, and in breaking of bread and of prayer. Yes, yes, thou glorious Traveller! who art perpetually on the visits of thy love, I do know thee, I do sometimes catch a sweet glimpse of thee, and trace the footsteps of thy grace, in thy word, in thy ordinances, and in the various ways by which thy presence is discoverable. Indeed, indeed, thou heavenly Stranger, thou shalt not lodge in the street; but I will take thee home to my house, to my heart and soul; and thou shalt sup with me, and I with thee, according to thine own most gracious promise, and I will cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
"There they made him a supper."—John xii. 2.
We are very apt to suppose the blessedness of those hallowed seasons in which the Lord Jesus ate and drank familiarly with his disciples, as peculiarly given to the followers of our Lord in the days of his flesh. And, no doubt, there was a precious savour which Jesus manifested upon those occasions. He that laid aside his garments, and condescended to wash his disciples' feet, may well be supposed to have said and shewn a thousand gracious things in those seasons, which are not recorded. But, my soul, depend upon it, if we make Jesus a supper, or if Jesus invites us to his own, which is the same thing, there will be always a blessed savour of his person, work, and righteousness, when his person is the subject of discourse, and his work and righteousness the rich food of the soul. Our ordinary meals would be truly sanctified, if the love, and grace, and favour of the bountiful giver of them, became the chief conversation at our table. But is it to be wondered at, if carnal company mingle at our entertainments, that carnal discourse, and not that which tendeth to edification, should follow? And if Jesus be thus forbidden, how shall it otherwise be, but that every thing connected with Jesus is banished? How often, my soul, hast thou been at such tables, and in such society where thy master is not honoured; but where, at thy departure, thou mightest with truth have taken up the observation, and said, 'Alas! I have neither said ought which might benefit another, nor heard ought to be benefited by myself?' Blessed Lord, while I sit down at the refreshments of thy bounties, give me always to recollect from whom they come; and while I eat of the fat, and drink of the sweet, do thou, Lord, send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared. And cause me and mine, at every supper, to make thee a supper in a true spiritual enjoyment of thee. Oh! for thy presence to be always in view, and the savour of thy name to be as "ointment poured forth!" And do thou, Lord, by the sweet influences of thy Spirit, direct our conversation to the use of edifying, that we may talk of Jesus, while Jesus draweth nigh to us; and at every supper, think of the supper of the Lord; and by faith, enjoy that marriage-supper of the Lamb in heaven, at which we hope, ere long, to sit down for ever!