Bulletin Edition January 2021


John MacDuff

“This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose”—

“Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” John 6:37

An invitation to every burdened Israelite—every way-worn pilgrim of the wilderness, to come for shelter under the branches of the Heavenly Palm!

How these and such like gracious words which proceeded out of the mouth of Jesus, must have told on the wondering multitudes He addressed, those who never heard kind sayings before—who were led to imagine that it was learned scribes, or devout Pharisees, or austere Sadducees, or elaborate-robed priests, who alone had any hope of salvation! Can we marvel that “the common people heard Him gladly,” when He lifted them up from the dust of degradation; when He proclaimed boldly—”I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” I came not to call you rich—you learned—you who pride yourselves on your religious formalism and self-righteous austerities—but you broken-hearted penitents, weeping prodigals, despairing Magdalenes—you the most erring wanderers from the fold, who are really and earnestly seeking to return. “If ANY man thirsts, let him come unto Me and drink.” “If ANY man enter in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.”

Reader! say not, ‘This invitation cannot be for me. I cannot take my place under the gracious palm-shade, just as I am, with the memory of countless transgressions.’ Yes! it is just because you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, that He invites you to come. Come, just as you are. Christ does not require any previous qualifications. It is because you are weary He asks you to partake of the shelter. It is because of your poverty that He so importunately exclaims—”Behold, I have set before you an open door.”

When, in a season of scarcity and poverty, thousands thrown out of employment are forced to avail themselves of bread doled out to stop the rage of hunger, they are not heard to say, ‘We must have proper clothing first. We must first cover these children’s bleeding, frost-bitten feet, before we can venture to appear before the distributors of a city’s or a nation’s bounty.’ No; if they did so, it would invalidate their plea—it would send them home again to a cupboard, and hearth, and wardrobe, as empty as they left it. It is because they appear in tattered rags, and because hunger has written its appeal on their emaciated faces and in the hollow eyes of the hapless children at their side, that the door opens for relief.

There is no desert wanderer, haggard and footsore, who may not come to that grove of “exceeding great and precious promises.” God has made provision not for the strong only, but for the weak, the tempted, the sorrowful, the suffering. The feeblest bird may make a perch of these branches. The anointing oil of blessing poured on the head of the true Aaron, flows down to the very skirts of His garments, so that the least and lowliest are made partakers of His covenant grace.

It is well for us, however, to remember that there is but one Redeemer; and “neither is there salvation in any other.” A few days previous to the Elim encampment, there was but one way for the Hebrew host through the Red Sea from the pursuing hosts of Pharaoh. There was but one way for evading the destroying angel—by the sprinkling of blood on the doorposts of their dwellings. There was but one way, in a subsequent age, for Rahab escaping the general destruction of Jericho—by hanging out from her window the scarlet thread. There was but one way—by washing in the river of Jordan—that the proud Syrian captain of a yet later day, could have his leprosy healed.

The Hebrews, on that memorable night of the death of the firstborn, might have built up Egyptian pyramid on pyramid to keep out the messenger of wrath. It would have been of no avail. Or the army of a million, passing through the sea, might have piled its coral rocks to make an avenue through the waters. The wild waves would have laughed them to scorn and made them the plaything of its tide! Naaman might have made a toilsome pilgrimage to every river of Asia—from Abana and Pharpar, to the Euphrates and the Indus—but all would have been to no purpose. Nothing but ‘the waters of Israel’ would prove efficacious in curing his malady.

Let us make sure of a personal interest in the one great Salvation. That Almighty Redeemer remains, to this hour, immutable—all-sufficient—faithful among the faithless—changeless among the changeable. Bernard beautifully sang in the words of his familiar hymn—

“Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts!

Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men!

From the best bliss that earth imparts,

We turn unfilled to Thee again.”

Yes! you who are weary, sick at heart it may be of the world which has deceived you—bubble after bubble bursting in your hands; that gracious Savior, with outstretched arms, is waiting to welcome you back. With the hoarded love of eternity in His heart, He is ever repeating the “faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance” which heads this meditation—”whoever comes to me I will never drive away!”

“With a heart full of anxious request,

Which my Father in heaven bestowed,

I wandered, alone and distressed,

In search of a quiet abode.

Astray and distracted, I cried

Lord, where would You have me to be?

And the voice of the Lamb that had died

Said, ‘Come, My beloved, to ME!’

“I went—for He mightily wins

Weary souls to His peaceful retreat,

And He gave me forgiveness of sins,

And songs that I love to repeat;

Made pure by the blood that He shed,

My heart in His presence was free,

I was hungry and thirsty—He fed;

I was sick, and He comforted me.

“He gave me the blessing complete,

The hope that is with me today;

And a quiet abode at His feet,

That shall not be taken away.”

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11


We are very eager to put our hands to work. Like Uzzah, we must needs prop up the ark when we see it tumbling; when faith totters, we must come to bear a helping hand. But this is prejudicial to the work of God upon the soul. If the whole is to be a spiritual building; if we are “living stones” built upon a living Head, every stone in that spiritual temple must be laid by God the Spirit. And if so, everything of nature, of creature, of self, must be effectually laid low, that Christ may be all–that Christ, and Christ alone, may be formed in our heart, the hope of glory.

How many trials some of you have passed through! how many sharp and cutting exercises! how many harassing temptations! how many sinkings of heart! how many fiery darts from hell! how many doubts and fears! how much hard bondage! how many galling chains! how often has the very iron entered into your soul! Why? That you may be prevented from adding one stone by your own hands to the spiritual building.

The Apostle tells us that “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid,” even Jesus Christ. He then speaks of those who build “wood, hay, and stubble,” as well as of those who used “gold, silver, and precious stones;” and that the “wood, hay, and stubble” must be burned with fire. It is after the Lord has laid a foundation in the sinner’s conscience, brought him near to himself, made Jesus precious to his soul, raised up hope and love in his heart, that he is so apt to take materials God never recognizes, “wood, hay, straw, stubble,” and rear thereby a flimsy superstructure of his own. But this gives way in the trying hour–it cannot stand one gust of temptation. One spark of the wrath to come, one discovery of God’s dread majesty, will burn up this “wood, hay, and stubble” like straw in the oven.

The Lord’s people, therefore, have to pass through troubles, trials, exercises, and temptations, doubts and fears, and all that harassing path that they usually walk in, that they may be prevented from erecting a superstructure of nature upon the foundation of grace–“wood, hay, and stubble” upon the glorious mystery of an incarnate God.

Faith, in its practical exercise

(John Newton’s Letters)

That faith which justifies:

  purifies the heart,

  works by love, and

  overcomes the world.

That faith which justifies the soul, does likewise

receive grace from Jesus, whereby the heart is

purified, and the life regulated as befits the

Gospel of Christ.

Faith is of great use and importance in the daily

concerns of life. Faith gives evidence and reality

to things not seen, and realizes the great truths

of the Gospel—so that they become abiding and

living principles of support and direction while

we are passing through this wilderness.

It is a believer’s privilege to walk with God in the

exercise of faith, and, by the power of His Spirit,

to mortify the whole body of sin, to gain a growing

victory over the world and self, and to make daily

advances in conformity to the mind of Christ.

Faith, in its practical exercise, has for its object

the whole word of God; and forms its estimate of all

things with which the soul is at present concerned,

according to the standard of Scripture.

When our Lord was upon earth, and conversed with

His disciples, their eyes and hearts were fixed upon

Him. In danger He was their defender; their guide

when in perplexity; and to Him they looked for the

solution of all their doubts, and the supply of all their

needs. He is now withdrawn from our eyes; but faith

sets Him still before us, for the same purposes, and,

with the same effects, as if we actually saw Him!

His spiritual presence, apprehended by faith, is . . .

  a restraint from evil,

  an encouragement to every service, and

  affords a present refuge and help in every time of trouble.

The sweetest mercies of God!

(Robert Hawker, “Zion’s Pilgrim” 1827)

All afflictions which tend to . . .

  bring the soul to God,

  keep up a life of communion with the Redeemer,

  make us sensible of the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit,

  spiritualize our affections,

  wean our hearts from a world from which we must soon part,

and promote a more intimate acquaintance with that world in

which we are shortly forever to dwell—are undeserving the name

of afflictions! They are among the sweetest mercies of God!

God removes earthly comforts—in order to make room for heavenly

delights. He empties the soul of all creature-comforts—that He may

fill it with Creator-mercies. We should embrace our afflictions, as

affording the choicest proofs of divine love.

Divine guidance

(John Newton’s Letters)

In general, God guides and directs His people, by affording

them, in answer to prayer, the light of His Holy Spirit, who

enables them to understand and to love the Scriptures.

The word of God furnishes us with just principles, and right

apprehensions, to regulate our judgments and affections, and

thereby to influence and direct our conduct. Those who study

the Scriptures, in a humble dependence upon Divine teaching,

are taught to make a true estimate of everything around them,

and are gradually formed into a spirit of submission to the will

of God. They thereby discover the nature and duties of their

several situations and relations in life, and the snares and

temptations to which they are exposed.

The word of God dwelling richly in them, is a preservative from

error, a light to their feet, and a spring of strength and consolation.

By treasuring up the doctrines, precepts, promises, examples, and

exhortations of Scripture, in their minds, and daily comparing

themselves with the rule by which they walk, they grow into a

habitual frame of spiritual wisdom, and acquire a gracious taste,

which enables them to judge of right and wrong with a degree of

readiness and certainty, as a musical ear judges of sounds. And

they are seldom mistaken, because they are influenced by the

love of Christ, which rules in their hearts, and a regard to the

glory of God, which is the great object they have in view.

The Lord, whom they serve, does not disappoint their expectations.

He leads them by a right way, preserves them from a thousand snares,

and satisfies them that He is and will be their guide even unto death.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” 2 Corinthians 4:7


Gold and silver, those precious metals, take no injury, receive no spot of corruption from the vessel in which they are contained; let them be buried in the damp earth, no tarnish or rust forms upon them.

So spiritually, the grace of God in the heart, surrounded as it is with corruption, is not tarnished by it, the heavenly treasure is not contaminated, though lodged in an earthen vessel. Christ in the heart is not defiled by the inward workings of depravity, and by the base thoughts that strive perpetually against his grace, any more than the gold of the Bank of England is defiled by the dark and damp cellars in which it is stowed.

And what a mercy it is, that our corruptions cannot tarnish the grace of God; that our unbelief cannot mix with, and adulterate the faith of God’s elect; that our despondency cannot spoil and ruin a gospel hope; that our deadness, darkness, coldness, and rebellion cannot mingle with and defile the love of God in the soul! This heavenly treasure remains still as unpolluted and pure as when God first put it there; being a part of “the divine nature,” it remains uncontaminated by the filth and corruption that surround it.

Is not this a mercy for God’s tried people, that spiritual knowledge, living faith, gospel hope, heavenly love, and the fruits and graces of God’s Spirit in the soul can never be defiled; but, like the streams of a fountain, are ever gushing forth in pure water? What a blessing it is, that the pure grace of God in a man’s heart cannot be contaminated by the filthy streams that are dashing from a vile nature against it, like the torrents of water from a fire-engine against a burning house, but remains as pure as when God the Spirit first breathed it into the soul.

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