Page images

to live by, not for the body but for the soul, and that is the profession of a beggar, certainly a suitable one for you and me. I took to it long ago, and began to beg for mercy from God; I have been constrained to continue begging every day of the same kind Benefactor, and I hope to die begging. Many of the saints have grown rich upon this holy mendicancy; they have indeed spoken of being daily loaded with benefits. The noblest of the peers of heaven were here below daily pensioners upon God's love; they were fed, and clothed, and housed by the charity of the Lord, and they delighted to have it so. How clear is it from all this that none of us can have anything whereof to glory! boasting is excluded, for let the beggar get what he may he is but a beggar still; and the child of God, notwithstanding the bounty of his heavenly Father is still in himself alone a penniless vagrant.

The psalmist also said, “ I am neeily." There are poor people who are not needy. Diogenes was very poor, but he was not needy; he had made

up his mind that he would not need anything, so he lived ina tub; he had but one drinking vessel, and when he saw a boy drinking out of his hand he broke that, for he said he would not possess anything superfluous. He was poor enough, but he was not needy; for when Alexander said, “ What can I do for you?” he answered, “ Stand out of my sunshine.”

So it is clear a man may be very poor, and yet he may not be burdened with need; but David was conscious of extreme need, and in this many of us can join him.

Brethren, we confess that we need ten thousand things, in fact, we need everything. By nature the sinner needs healing, for he is sick unto death; he needs washing, for he is foul with sin; he needs clothing, for he is naked before God; he needs preserving after he is saved, he needs the bread of heaven, he needs the water out of the rock; he is all needs, and nothing but needs. Not one thing that his soul wants can he of himself supply. He needs to be kept from even the commonest sins. lle needs to be instructed what be the first elements of the faith ; he needs to be taught to walk in the ways of God's plainest commandments. Our needs are so great that they comprise the whole range of covenant supplies, and all the fulness treasured up in Christ Jesus.

lie are needy in every condition. We are soldiers, and we need that grace should find us both shield and sword. We are pilgrims, and we need that love shonld give us both a staff and a guide. We are sailing over the sea of life, and we need that the wind of the Spirit shall fill our sails, and that Christ shall be our pilot. There is no figure under which the Christian life can be represented in which our need is not a very conspicuous part of the image. In all aspects we are poor and needy.

We are needy in every erercise. If we are called to preach, we have to cry, “Lord, open thou my lips.” If we pray, we are needy at the mercyseat, for we kuow not what we should pray for as we ought. If we go out into the world to wrestle with temptation, we need supernatural help, lest we fall before the enemy. If we are alone in meditation, we need the Holy Spirit to quicken our devotion. We are needy in suflering and labouring, in watching and in fighting. Every spiritual engagement does but discover another phase of our need.


And, brethren, we are needy at all times. We never wake up in the morning but we want strength for the day, and we never go to bed at night without needing grace to cover the sins of the past. We are needy at all periods of life: when we begin with Christ in our young days we need to be kept from the follies and passions which are so strong in giddy youth ; in middle life our needs are greater still, lest the cares of this world should eat as doth a canker ; and in old age we are needy still, and need persevering grace to bear us onward to the end. So needy are we that even in lying down to die we need our last bed to be made for us by mercy, and our last hour to be cheered by grace. So needy are we that if Jesus had not prepared a mansion for us in eternity we should have no place to dwell in. We are as full of wants as the sea is full of water. We cannot stay at home and say, “ I have much goods laid up for many years,” for the wolf is at the door, and we must go out a begging again. Our clamorous necessities follow us every moinent and dog our heels in every place. We must take the two adjectives and keep them close together in our confession—" I am poor and needy."

II. The second part of the subject is much more cheering. It is a ('OMFORTABLE CONFIDENCE—“Yet the Lord thinketh upon me.”

A poor man is always pleased to remember that he has a rich relation, especially if that rich relative is very thoughtful towards him, and tinds out his distress, and cheerfully and abundantly relieves his wants.

Observe, that the Christian does not find comfort in himself. “I am poor and needy.” That is the top and bottom of my case. I have searched myself through and through, and have found in my flesh no good thing. Notwithstanding the grace which the believer possesses, and the hope which he cherishes, he still sees a sentence of death written upon the creature, and he cries, “I am poor and needy.” His joy is found in another. He looks away from self, to the consolations whichi the eternal purpose has prepared for him.

Xote well who it is that gives the comfort. The Lord thinketh upon me." By the term “the Lord,” we are accustomed to understand the glorious Trinity. “The Lord thinketh upon me,” i.e., Jehovah, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. O beloved believer in Christ, it thou hast rested in Jesus, then the Father thinks upon thee. Thy person was in his thoughts

Long ere the sun's effulgent ray,

Primeval shades of darkness drove." He regarded thee with thoughts of boundless love before he had fashioned the world, or wrapped it up in swaddling bands of ocean and of cloud. Eternal thoughts of love went forth of old towards all the chosen, and these have never changed. Not for a single instant has the Father ever ceased to love his people. As our Lord said, “ The Father himself loveth you.” Never has he grown cold in his affections towards thee, O poor and needy one. He has seen thee in his Son. He has loved thee in the Beloved. He has seen thee

"Not as thou stood'st in Adam's fall,

When sin and ruin covered all ;
But as thou'lt stand another day,
Brighter than sun's ineridianı ray."



For you

[ocr errors]

He saw thee in the glass of his eternal purpose, saw thce as united to his dear Son, and therefore looked upon thee with eyes of complacency. He thought upon thee, and he thinks upon thee still. When the Father thinks of his children, he thinks of thee. When the Great Judge of all thinks of the justified ones, he thinks of thee. 0 Christian, can you grasp the thought? The Eternal Father thinks of you! You are so inconsiderable, that if the mind of God were not infinite it were not possible that he should remember your existence ! And yet he thinks upon you! How precious ought his thoughts to be to you! The sum of them is great, let your gratitude for them be great too.

Forget not that the great Son of Goil, to whom you owe your hope, also thinks of you. It was for you that he entered into suretyship engagements or ever the earth was. It was for you, O heir of heaven, that he took upon himself a mortal body, and was born of the virgin. It was for you that he lived those thirty years of immaculate purity, that he might weave for you a robe of righteousness. the bloody sweat in the garden; he thought of you, he prayed for you in Gethsemane. For you were the flagellations in Pilate's hall, and the mockeries before Herod, and the blasphemous accusations at the judgment-seat of Caiaphas. For you the nails, the spear, the vinegar, and the Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,Jesus thought of you, and died for you with as direct an aim for your salvation, as though there had not been another soul to be redeemed by his blood. And now, though he reigns exalted high, and you are * poor and needy," yet he thinks upon you still. The glory of his present condition does not distract his thoughts from his beloved. He is lovingly thoughtful of you. When he stands up to intercede, your name glitters on his priestly breastplate with the rest of the chosen. He thinks of you when he prepares mansions for those whom his Father has blessed. He looks forward to the time when he shall gather together in one all things in heaven and in earth that are in him, and he counts you among them. Christian, will not this comfort you, that the Son of God is constantly thinking upon you ?

Wemust not forget the love of the Spirit, to whom we are so wondrously indebted, he cannot do otherwise than think upon us, for he dwelleth in us, and shall be with us. If he dwells in us he cannot be unmindful

It is his office to be the Comforter, to help our infirmities, to make intercession for us according to the will of God. So let us take the three thoughts, and bind them together. “I am poor and needy, but I have a part in the thoughts of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." What fuller cause for comfort could we conceive ?

We have answered the question " who?let us now turn to what?The Lord thinketh upon me.” He does not say, “ The Lord will uphold me, provide for me, defend me.” The declaration that he “thinketh upon me” is quite enough. “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things,” says our Lord, as if it was quite clear that for our heavenly Father to know is to act. We poor shortsighted and short-armed creatures often know the needs of others, and would help if we could, but we are quite unable; it is never so with God, his thoughts always ripen into deeds. Perhaps, 0 tried believer, you have been thinking a great deal about yourself of late, and about

of us.

6. The

your many trials, so that you lie awake of nights, mourning over your heavy cares. “Alas!" you think, “I have no one to advise me and sympathise with me.” Let this text come to you as a whisper, and do you paraphrase in it into a soliloquy, “I am poor and needy, this is true, and I cannot plan a method for supplying my needs, but a mightier mind than mine is cogitating for me; the infinite Jehovah thinketh upon me; he sees my circumstances, he kuows the bitterness of my heart, he knows me altogether, and his consideration of me is wise, tender, and gracious. His thoughts are wisdom itself. When I think it is a poor, little, weak, empty head that is thinking, but when God thinks, thegigantic mind which framed the universe, is thinking upon me.” Have you attained to the idea of what the thoughts of God must be ? That pure Spirit who cannot make mistakes, who is too wise to err, too good to be unkind, thinketh upon us; he does not act without deliberation, does not come to our help in inconsiderate haste, does not do as we do with a poor man when we throw him a penny to to be rid of him, but he thoughtfully deals with us.” “Blessed is he that considereth the poor," saith the psalmist -those who take up the case of the poor, weigh it, and remember it, are blessed. This is what the Lord does for us: “ Yet the Lord thinketh upon me, considers my case, judges when, and how, and after what sort, it will be most fitting to grant me relief. Lord thinketh upon me.” Beloved, the shadow of this thought seems to me like the wells of Elim, full of refreshment, with the seventy palm trees yielding their ripe fruit. You may sit down here and drink to your full, and then go on your way rejoicing. However poor and needy you may be, the Lord thinkėth at the present moment upon you.

We have spoken upon who and what, and now we will answer the enquiry-How do we know that the Lord thinketh upon us? “Oh!" say the ungodly, "how do you know ?" They are very apt to put posing questions to us. We talk of what we know experimentally, and again they cry, “How do you know?” I will tell you how we know that God thinks upon us. We knew it, first of all, when we had a view of the Redeemer by faith, when we saw the Lord Jesus Christ hanging upon a tree for us, and made a curse for us. We saw that he so exactly suited and fitted our case that we were clear the Lord must have thought and well considered it. If a man were to send you tomorrow a sum of money, exactly the amount you owe, you would be sure that some one had been thinking upon you. And when we see the Saviour, we are compelled to cry out, “O my Lord, thou hast given me the very Saviour I wanted; this is the hope which my despairing soul required, and this the anchorage which my tempesttossed bark was seeking after.” The Lord must have thought apon us, or he would not have provided so suitable a salvation

We learn anew that the Lord thinks upon us when we go up to the house of God. I have heard many of you say, “ We listen to the preacher, and he seems to know what we have been saying on the road; the Word comes so home to our case that surely God bas been hearing our very thoughts and putting into the mind of the preacher a word in season for us.” Does not this show how the preacher's Master has been

for us.

thinking upon you? Then sit down and open the Bible, and you will frequently feel the words to be as much adapted to your case as if the Lord had written them for you alone. If instead of the Bible having been penned many hundreds of years ago, it were actually written piecemeal to suit the circumstances of the Lord's people as they occur, it could not have been written more to the point. Our eyes have filled with tears when we have read such words as these, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,

,” “ Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel, I will help thee, saith the Lord,” “In six troubles I will be with thee, in seven there shall no evil touch thee," I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” “ Trust in the Lord and do good ; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed,” and such like, which we could quote by hundreds. We feel that the Lord must have thought about us, or he would not have sent us such promises. Best of all, when we sit quietly at the feet of Jesus in the power of the Spirit of God, in solemn silence of the mind, then we know that the Lord thinks upon us, for thoughts come bulibling up one after another, delightful thoughts, such as only the Holy Spirit could inspire. Then the things of Christ are sweetly taken by the Spirit, and laid home to our hearts. We become calm and still, though before we were distracted. A sweet savour fills our heart, like ointment poured forth, it diffuses its fragrance through every secret corner of our spirit. Sometimes our svul has seemed as though it were a peal of bells, and every power and passion has been set a ringing with holy joy because the Lord was there. Our whole nature has been as a barp well-tuned, and the Spirit has laid his fingers among the strings, and filled our entire manhood with music. When we have been the subjects of these marvellous influences and gracious operations, if any one had said to us that the Lord did not think upon us, we should have told them that they lied, eren to their face, for the Lord had not only thought of us, but spoken to us, and enabled us by his grace to receive his thoughts, and to speak again to him.

The Lord not think of us! Why, we have proof upon proof. He bas very remarkably thought upon us in providence. Sh uld some of us relate the memorable interferences of providence on our behalf they would not be believed ; but they are facts for all that. William Huntingdon wrote a book called, The Bank of Faith,” which contains in it a great many very strange things, no doubt, but I believe hundreds and thousands of God's tried people could write “ Banks of Faith” too, if it came to that, for God has often appeared for his saints in such a way that if the mercy sent had been stamped with the seal of God, visible to their eyes, they could not have been more sure of its coming from him than they were when they received it. Yes, answered prayers, applied promises, sweet communings, and blessed deliverances in providence, all go to make us feel safe in saying, “ yet the Lord thinketh upon me.”

At this point we will close our meditation, when we have remarked that those who are not poor and needy, may well envy in their hearts those who are. You who have abounding riches, who feel yourselves to be wealthy in goodness, you who feel as if you could afford to look down upon most people in the world, you who are so respectable, and


« PreviousContinue »