The Poor Man's Morning and Evening Portions
Robert Hawker (1753-1827)
"Faint, yet pursuing."—Judges viii. 4.
Surely what is said here concerning the little army of Gideon, suits my case exactly. I know that in Jesus the victory is certain; but I know also, that I shall have battlings all the way. From the moment that the Lord called me out of darkness into his marvellous light, my whole life hath been but a state of warfare; and! feel what Paul felt, and groan as he groaned, under a body of sin and death; "as sorrowful, yet rejoicing; as dying, but behold I live; as chastened, and not killed." Truly I am faint, under the many heavy assaults I have sustained; and yet, through grace, pursuing as if I had met with no difficulty. Yes, blessed Jesus; I know that there can be no truce in this war; and looking unto thee, I pray to be found faithful unto death, that no man may take my crown. But, dearest Lord! thou seest my day of small things; thou beholdest how faint I am. Thou seest also, how the enemy assaults me! and-how the world and the flesh combat against me. While without are fightings, within will be fears. Yet, dearest, blessed Lord, "in the Lord I have strength;" and how sweet is the thought, that though I have nothing, though I am nothing, yet thou hast said, "in me is thy help." Thou hast said, "the righteous shall hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger." The worm Jacob thou hast promised shall thresh the mountains. Write these blessed things, my soul, upon the living tablets of thine heart, or rather beg of God the Holy Ghost, the remembrancer of thy Jesus, to stamp them there for thee. "He giveth power to the faint; and to them which have no might, he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary; and the young men shall utterly fail. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings, as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
"Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"—Gal. iii. 3.
While beholding the church of Galatia, which set out upon true gospel principles, and before whose eyes Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth as crucified among them; yet after this, turning aside to seek justification by works; let thine evening meditation, my soul, be directed to this heart-searching inquiry: upon what art thou building thine hopes of salvation? Is it simply on Christ; or art thou mingling with the blood and righteousness of Jesus, somewhat of thine own, by way of justification? The question is exceedingly important; and the clear answer to it, of the first consequence to thy present peace, and everlasting welfare. See to it then, that there be no reserves, no limitations, nothing to qualify the plain and direct answer to the apostle's words; but that having begun in the Spirit, thou mayest truly say, thou dost not seek to be made perfect by the flesh. If this be thy case, thou hast learned to make a nice, but highly proper distinction between the great object of faith, which is Christ alone, and the fruits and effects of that faith, which are the gracious influences that Jesus, by his Holy Spirit, hath wrought in thine heart. It is very blessed, very desirable, to let the world, both of saints and of sinners, see our light so shine before them, that it may be not the subject of doubt, whose we are, and whom we serve. But, if any-attainments, which, by grace, my soul is blessed with, be made a part saviour in my views of justification; and I am not looking wholly to Jesus for this great work, as wrought out and completed by him; certain it is, that however I might begin in the Spirit, I am now turning aside to the flesh. Moreover, besides the motley religion I am thus taking up with, if what I feel, and what I enjoy in the fruits and effects, of faith, be made a part of my hopes and confidence; alas! when those feelings, and those enjoyments at any time abate, my hopes and confidence will abate also. And if justification be made a fluctuating principle, is it not plain, that I shall be void of comfort, when I most want it? And is it not, from this very cause, that so many precious souls go in leanness all their days, sometimes feeling hope, but for the most part, exercised with doubts and fears, according to what they feel, and not what Jesus is in their view; and because in themselves, they are looking for somewhat that may give a greater confidence in Christ? Pause, my soul, and inquire how the case stands with thyself: is Jesus the whole, in the way of a sinner's justification before God? Is he the Alpha and the Omega also? Dost thou regard him as both the Author and the Finisher of salvation? Is he the first and the last; and dost thou venture thine everlasting all upon Jesus? Pause once more, and then say, what are thy views in this distinction between the works of the Spirit and of the flesh? Hast thou so learned Christ?