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JANUARY 6.-—" Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." John xiv. 8.
How are we to understand this request ? We can hardly suppose, with some, that he desired a kind of personal representation of the Deity. Surely he could not be so ignorant as to imagine that God was in his essence visible, or that he could be held forth under any corporeal form or shape; especially as the Jews and Philip was a Jew-were forbidden every attempt to make any likeness of the Supreme Being. It is more probable, that he wished for some glorious display of God's presence and perfections, as Moses had done, and which he called God's face. If so, he knew not what he asked. The exhibition might have been fatal. “No man,”
says God, who knows our frame,“ can see my face and live.” Such a display of himself as he makes to the saints in light, would be insupportable in this weak state of flesh and blood. It certainly might have been useless. The Jews had such an exhibition of God, in the cloud of glory; but they corrupted themselves, and went after strange gods. Extraordinary and miraculous appearances would lose their impression, yea, by their repetition, they would be extraordinary and miraculous no longer. This is not the way in which God is to be known. Yet let us not revile Philip, concluding that we have never been liable to a like mistake. Have we never wanted a kind of immediate and sensible conviction that would exclude all possibility of doubt? Have we never been ready to exclaim, “Oh! if, with an audible voice, He would say, go in peace, thy sins are forgiven thee! Oh! if one who has passed the valley of the shadow of death would return; or some inhabitant of the world of spirits would assure me of a future state !" Ah! foolish wish. We have Moses and the prophets-Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.
But some, and among these is Doddridge, are disposed to commend rather than censure Philip. They take his meaning to be, "Oh! bring us to the knowledge of the blessed God, and we resign every other wish as nothing compared with this !”_much in the spirit of David, who had said of him, " Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.” Philip, therefore, only asks for a fuller manifestation and enjoyment of him—“Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.”
Yet can he be shown ? or, in other words, can he be known ?_It is true, Zophar asks, "Who by searching can find out God ?" But he adds, “who can find out the Almighty unto perfection ?" He cannot be completely known; but he can be really known, savingly known; known as the strength of our heart, and our portion for ever., And this knowledge can yield satisfaction to the possessor. It will suffice for our happiness hereafter ; and, therefore, the blessedness is expressed by our seeing God; and therefore David says, shall behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." Yea, it suffices the Christian at present. He can now say, “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: when I remember Thée upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches."
“When I can say my God is mine,
When I can feel thy glories shine,
And all that earth oalls good or great." It suffices—to teach him in whatsoever state he is therewith to be content-to embolden him in his work, in the face of all opposition and danger-to sustain him under every trial-and to raise him above the fear of death. Moses endured as seeing Him that is invisible. And Simeon was ready to depart in peace because his eyes had seen His salvation.
But this knowledge is to be derived from the Lord Jesus. “No one knoweth who the Father is but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him." "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which was in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Some would rather look for God in the world of nature ; but the Apostle tells us that “He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” He shows us the Father by his person-He is the image of the invisible God. By his sacrifice-in which we see so fully and harmoniously displayed his wisdom, holiness, righteousness, truth, and love. By His word—the most illiterate Christian, with " the word of Christ” in his hand, knows more of God than all the philosophers of Greece and Rome. How much does He teach us concerning God as the God of grace by the parable of the prodiga. son! And how much does He teach us concerning God as the God of providence by one saying; a sparrow falleth not to the ground without your heavenly Father, and the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” By the Spirit--this Spirit leads us into all truth; and it is the Spirit of Christ. We have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things.
Therefore to Him we are to apply, as Philip here did, and pray, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." He requires it from us; and He assures us our application shall not be in vain. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.
He never has been, never will be, never can be wanting to the promise upon which he causes us to hope. "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord : His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”
JANUARY 7.—"And the Apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith." Luke xvii. 5.
If we consider these words—In reference to the Being to whom they were addressed—“The Lord :” they teach us that He is the source of grace; and the object of worship.- If in reference to the persons who addressed Him—“The Apostles:" they teach us that even the Lord's disciples themselves have their imperfections; but feel them; and are concerned to be freed from them.--If in reference to the subject they express "our faith :" they teach us that faith is not finished at once; it admits of degrees ; and higher measures of it are attainable.-If in reference to the occasion which excited them-our Saviour's preceding charge: they teach us that an increase of faith is not only always desirable, but sometimes necessary. Observe what He had been enforcing. "Take heed to yourselves; if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him”-“ And the Apostles said unto the Lord, increase our faith"-and thus enable us to do it. But why faith in particular?. Why not increase our humility ? love ? patience ? Because faith is the root from which they grow, and as faith abounds, they will flourish. Because all things are possible to him that believeth. Forgiveness, so irksome to mere nature, will be practicable and easy as faith is in exercise, and we can believe not only the testimony that if we forgive not, we shall not be forgiven, but the assurance that God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us. Can we, who have had remitted ten thousand talents, seize a fellow servant by the throat, who owes us only a hundred pence?
But there are many other cases, the pressure of which will make us feel that we want more faith than we have at present; and should induce us to pray for an increase of it.
Has the Saviour said that He will deny those who are ashamed of Him and of His words ? And does He require us to own and consess him before men? And will this give offence to our connexions? and draw upon ourselves persecution and reproach? This is the work of faith ; and will only be practicable and easy as faith increases—“We ought,” said Peter and John, “to obey God rather than men.” “We cannot but speak the things which we see and hear." “They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” “By faith Moses feared not the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” Are you called to sacrifice an object
, that nature will never let go, without violence? "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac.”
Are you called to confide in God in great straits and difficulties -when His providence seems to oppose His promise--when means fail-and there seems no way of escape-when He says, “ Come, follow me through this dark dispensation. You are ignorant; but I know the way that you take. Here is my arm, feel this ; lean on this. The sorrow shall turn to your salvation, the trial shall be your triumph. The end will show that I am very pitiful and of tender mercy, and constrain you to say, “it is good for me that I have been afflicted.'” What is all this without faith? “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
How solemn was the order addressed to Moses, “Go up and die, and be gathered to thy people !" By years, infirmities, and disease, God is calling you to the same service-The living know that they shall die. And what is it to die? We know not, from our own experience, or the experience of others. But to bid farewell to every earthly scene—to be surrounded with weeping friends, whose presence we can neither dispense with, or endure—to bear sinking spirits and a body full of pain--to feel perhaps our unworthiness and sin more than we ever felt them before to enter into an untried and
eternal state--to think of appearing before Purity itself— be re-
JANUARY 9.-"He that loucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye."-Zech. ii. 8.
How admirably adapted to popular instruction and impression is the imagery of the Scripture ! . It is not taken from the learned sciences, or even from the mechanical arts-unless from their most simple and common operations with which all mankind are familiar: but from the aspects of nature, the seasons of the
the occurrences of life, and the parts, attributes, and functions of the human frame so fearfully and wonderfully made. Who does not in a moment understand and feel the allusion before us? “He that loucheth
toucheth the apple of His eye.” It reminds us of union. Sin had separated between God and us, and we were once far off. But we are made nigh by the blood of Christ. In Him we are reconciled to God, re-united to God, and become one with God again. And so entire is the connexion, that every kind of intimate union is employed to express it. We are one, as the father and the child, as the husband and the wife, as the head and the members are one-yea, as the soul and the body are one“He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit”-no wonder therefore that he that toucheth them toucheth the apple of His eye.
It shows valuation. Even a man's selfishness endears this member. The apple of his eye is a source of too much usefulness and pleasure not to be highly prized by him. He would part with a thousand things rather than lose this, or be injured in any part rather than be hurt in this. How precious to the Lord are his people! He calls them His portion, His jewels, His glory. They who attract and attach Him, are not the great but the gracious" To that man,” says He, "will I look, who is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word." He "taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in them that hope in His mercy.” “He will rejoice over them with joy, He will rest in his love, He will joy over them with singing.”
It bespeaks attention. As a man values the apple of his eye, so will he assuredly take care of it, and endeavour to defend it. And it is worthy of our notice how the Creator has fenced and guarded this little, but inestimably precious member from evil by the fluids and the coats, the lashes and the lids; and with what involuntary quickness nature teaches us to cover and secure it when exposed. Yet all this falls short of the care which God exercises over His people. The apple of the eye is not half so liable to injury as they are; but how superior is their protection! Lest any hurt them, He will keep them night and day. In two places His vigilance is spoken of under the figure before us. In the one it is implored : Keep me," says David, as the apple of the eye, hide me under
the shadow of Thy wings.” In the other, it is acknowledged: "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.” How well kept are those whom God thus keeps! "Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people sared by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places."
It expresses sympathy. The pupil of the eye is peculiarly delicate and sensible: and it is not necessary to run the point of a knife into it, in order to make the owner shrink. A mote, or, as it is here expressed, a touch, will offend, and instantly affect all his sensation. And is it not said, “In all their affliction He is afflicted ?" A friend sympathizes in a friend's sorrow: a mother feels a more sensible interest in a child's suffering. Yet Job says, “My friends scorn me:" and Isaiah says, the mother “may forget” her sucking child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb.". But a man's feeling with an injured member of his body, especially the eye, and the apple of the eye, is not only exquisite, but absolutely unavoidable. And not less certain, as well as tender, is the Lord's sympathy with his people—“He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye.” What a source of consolation is here! Especially when we remember that His sympathy is accompanied with boundless wisdom and almighty, power. “He doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number—to set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.” “Nothing is too hard for the Lord."
Let the adversaries of His people learn their danger. They hate the godly, and endeavour to injure them; and though their malice is often restrained, the Lord looketh at the heart, and will deal with them according to their intentions, wishes, and endeavours. And He considers them as opposing Hiniself. “Why,” said He to Saul, “why persecutest thou Me ?!' He did not persecute Him personally, but he was injuring His followers. The head was above his reach, but it felt the wounds he inflicted upon the foot. They who suffer for His sake, may well leave themselves to Him, whose they are, and whom they serve. He will surely plead their cause—“He that toucheth them toucheth the apple of His eye.”
Let this encourage us to do any thing for the people of God-He feels it as done to Himself. He'" is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” “He," said the Saviour, he that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth Him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."
Let His people also learn their duty. They see how He regards them, and is concerned for their welfare--How should they regard Him, and be concerned for His glory? They should feel His cause to be dear to them. They should be sorrowful for the solemn