Bulletin Edition July 2020

Psa. 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.


What a painful thing it is to be rebellious! There is hardly any feeling worse than rebellion to a man whose conscience is made tender in God’s fear. To have rebellion against a holy and wise God; rebellion against his dealings with us in providence; against his teachings in grace; because we have not more of the light of his countenance; because we have not more and clearer testimonies and manifestations! We know in our judgment that God cannot err in any of his dealings, and yet to find at times such dreadful rebellion against God, O how painful it is! The least trifle can work up rebellion. It does not need a storm or a gale to lift up its proud waves. The slightest breath, the faintest breeze that blows, will at times stir up the billows of the rebellious heart, and make it swell with tumultuous heavings.

But what a mercy it is to the poor souls that groan and grieve under a rebellious heart, that this ascended Mediator has received gifts for them! It is not your patience, meekness, and good temper, nor your gentle and quiet disposition, that bring down grace into your hearts; but God the Father has lodged all the graces and gifts of the Spirit in his dear Son, and they are given to you because you have a saving interest in his blood and righteousness.

The Lord teaches us this. If we were always patient, meek, holy, submissive, never harassed by the devil, and never felt the workings of corruption, we would begin to think we had some power to please God in ourselves, and would slight and neglect a precious Savior. But when taught by painful experience what a depraved nature and rebellious heart we carry in our bosom, when the Lord lets down a little mercy and grace into our soul, we then know the blessed quarter whence it comes, and learn to abhor ourselves and bless his holy name.


John MacDuff

“The Lord went before them by night in a pillar of fire.”

Is. 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

“What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.”—John 13:7.

A twin voice speaking from the Glory-Cloud. That Cloud, as of old, often conducts, as we have again and again noted, not by the short and easy way to the true Canaan, but through formidable leagues of desert. The cry of the fainting Hebrew host is repeated still: “We are entangled; the wilderness has shut us in.” So great also, now and then, is the gloom, that with misgiving hearts we ask—Can the testimony in our case, be indeed true—”He led them ALL the night with a light of fire”? “O rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” The luminous token, temporarily obscured, will in due time appear. He will subject you to no unnecessary peril, no needless circuitous road. Trust this promise; trust it in the dark; trust it when you fail to trace—”I will lead the blind down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will make the darkness bright before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.”

What a wondrous succession of wilderness watch-words! all crowned by the gracious assurance that HE “appoints all”; and that though the light of the Pillar-cloud may seem to us fitful and wavering, He does not, and will not, abandon His covenant Israel.

It was but the other day I saw a picture of a blind man. The name—the impressive title—given to it by the artist, was “Lighten our darkness, O Lord!” The subject of the picture was reading from the raised letters of a Bible. A lamp was throwing its brightness on the reader’s countenance, and on the hieroglyphics of the sacred page. God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, was then and there shining into his heart with the light of the knowledge of His own glory. The principal figure seemed from the reflected glow on the face to say, “And HE took the blind man by the hand and led him” (Mark 8:23). Here surely are suggestively portrayed what the Lord does with our rayless souls in the gloom of blinding trial—”If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me” (Psalm 139:11).

I love the thought—God the Leader of the blind; and in their very blindness interpreting His ways!

Turn we now to the added motto-verse. We have spoken of it specifically in a previous page. But we may recur to it here as a New Testament parallel with the Old. “What I do you know not now.” The Divine Brother in our nature, about to expiate the sins of the world by laying down His own life, uttered the saying. The time He uttered it was that, when surely, beyond all others, an electric chord of sympathy was linking Him with universal suffering humanity. He could then and there, with a deeper intensity and pathos, use the declaration He made of old in the night of the Exodus—”I know your sorrows.” The same balm-word was whispered in this the most solemn crisis of all time. It came from the lips of dying love. ‘I am about,’ He seems to say, ‘to encounter the hour and power of darkness for you. Will you not accept My own self-surrender and sacrifice, My tears and groans and agony, as the pledge that I can enter, from personal experience, into your uttermost griefs? I can send no unnecessary trial. Trust My “hereafter promise.” And, meanwhile, let the reverential saying be your own—the saying I am about to utter in the garden-shade, in the name of all sufferers—”This cup which My heavenly Father gives Me to drink, shall I not drink it?”‘

Yes, “hereafter.” “I will make” (not “I have made”) “crooked things straight.” “Hereafter”—Reader, let that word ring its solitary chime in your darkness. We cannot too often recall, how emphatically the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews loves to echo the same—”Nevertheless AFTERWARD” (Heb. 12:11). It is the Divine order and sequence. Present ignorance, future unfoldings. Present darkness, future illumination. Present blindness, the full vision of God; His “light of fire” transforming the arid wastes and sands of the wilderness into a pathway of safety and peace. Even in this world, when, as just noted, the atmosphere is dulled with haze and mist and cloud, we have flashing gleams from the Pillar—revelations, partial and incomplete it may be, of the ways of the Almighty, strange minglings of light and shadow. In the unblighted home above, there will be a finished retrospect of wisdom and faithfulness, the light of fire without the murky cloud—the pathetic appeal of the patriarch sufferer heard no more—”When shall I arise and the night be gone?” (Job 7:4).

Recognize, then, sorrowing one, God’s hand and presence in this, and all the solemn passages of your life; the day-cloud given to temper the heat of prosperity, the fire-cloud to counteract the noxious exhalations of adversity. “When I am weary and disappointed,” says a sympathetic writer, “when the skies lower into the somber night, when there is no song of bird, and the perfume of flowers is but their dying breath; when all is unsetting and autumn; then I yearn for Him who sits with the summer of love in His soul, and feel that earthly affection is but a glow-worm light, compared to that which blazes with such effulgence in the heart of God.” Other lights maybe obscured or missing; yours may possibly even now be either the mourner’s watch, with its hushed vigils, or you may be sundered by death from dearly loved ones, yearning for “the touch of the vanished hand.” You cannot be away from the touch of God. “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Grow not weary of His correction. He loves you through your anguish, and will yet assuredly vindicate the rectitude of all His procedure.

The lines seem so appropriate, in closing this meditation, that their familiarity will not deter transcribing them. They form the prayer and solace of all “Pilgrims of the night,” as they look upwards to their Guiding Pillar—

“Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,

Lead me on!

The night is dark, and I am far from home,

Lead me on!

O keep my feet: I do not ask to see

The distant scene—one step enough for me.

“So long Your power has blest me, sure it still

Will lead me on

Over moor and marsh, over crag and torrent, until

The night is gone.

And with the morn those angel faces smile

Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.”

Ceasing unavailing tears, look forward to the time when the promise of earth will be perpetuated without symbol in the heavenly city: and when a new meaning will be given to the old words of the Wilderness Leader—”But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”

Cruel bondage!

(from Octavius Winslow’s, “The Spirit of Adoption”)

The world holds all its devotees in cruel bondage!

It enslaves….

the intellect by its opinions,

the heart by its pleasures,

the imagination by its promises,

the soul by its religion.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2


We by nature and practice are slaves to sin and Satan. We are the sport of the prince of the power of the air, who takes us captive at his will. We are held down also by many hurtful lusts; or, if free from gross sin, are slaves to pride, covetousness, or self-righteousness. Perhaps some idol is set up in the chambers of imagery which defiles all the inner man; or some snare of Satan entangles our feet, and we are slaves, without power to liberate ourselves from this cruel slavery. We groan under it, as the children of Israel under their burdens, but, like them, cannot deliver ourselves.

But sooner or later the truth comes to our aid; the truth as it is in Jesus flies to the rescue of God’s oppressed family; the blessed Spirit opens it up and seals it upon the heart with a divine power. As, then, under his gracious influences they believe the truth, and feel its power and savor in their heart, a liberating influence is communicated; their fetters and shackles are loosened; the bondage of sin and Satan, and the power and strength of evil are sensibly broken, and a measure of holy freedom is enjoyed. There is no other way of getting from under the bondage of the law but by the application of the gospel, and by believing what the gospel reveals. As the truth, then, comes to the heart as the very word of the living God, power comes with it to believe; faith is raised up to credit the testimony; and as faith begins to credit the truth of God and receive it in hope and love, there is a sensible loosening of the bonds; and then the chains and fetters drop off of themselves. It is with the soul as it was with Peter in prison–when the angel came, and a light shined in the prison, and the angel’s words fell upon his ears, “the chains fell from off his hands.” There remained nothing then to bar his exit; for “the iron gate that leads unto the city opened to them of its own accord.” So whatever chains or fetters may hold the soul, let the angel of mercy come; let the message of salvation be revealed, the chains of unbelief drop off, the iron gate of hardness gives way, and the truth makes the soul blessedly free (John 8:32).

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