Bulletin Edition July 2022

“When thou passes through the waters, I will be with thee.” Isaiah 43:2


How many of the dear saints of God, when they have been brought into tribulation and sorrow, have found the fulfillment of this most gracious promise! And is there not one of these waters through which all must go–that deep and rapid Jordan (death) which every one must pass through? How dark and gloomy those waters have appeared to the eyes of many a child of God, in whom is continually fulfilled the experience of the words, “Who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” But how often have these waters only been terrible in prospect, in anticipation. How different has been the reality. When he comes down to the river’s bank and his feet dip in these waters, and it appears as though they would rise higher and higher, the Lord suddenly appears in his power and presence, and then the water sinks. He speaks a word of peace to his soul upon a dying bed–reveals Christ in his love and grace and blood–removes those doubts, fears, and disturbing thoughts which have perplexed him for years, and brings into his heart a holy calm, a sweet peace, assuring him that all is well with him, both for time and eternity. Has he not then the fulfillment of the promise, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you”?

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 119:71


We may have everything naturally that the carnal heart desires, and only be hardened thereby into worldliness and ungodliness. But to be brought down in body and soul, to be weaned and separated from an ungodly world by affliction sanctified and made spiritually profitable–to be brought to feel our need of Christ, and that without a saving interest in his precious blood our soul must be forever lost–how much better it is really and truly, to be laid on a bed of affliction, with a hope in God’s mercy, than to be left to our own carnality and thoughtlessness.

Affliction of any kind is very hard to bear, and especially so when we begin to murmur and fret under the weight of the cross; but when the Lord afflicts it is in good earnest; he means to make us feel. Strong measures are required to bring us down; and affliction would not be affliction, unless it were full of grief and sorrow. But when affliction makes us seek the Lord with a deep feeling in the soul that none but himself can save or bless, and we are enabled to look up unto him, with sincerity and earnestness, that he would manifest his love and mercy to our heart, he will appear sooner or later.

The Lord, who searches the heart, knows all the real desire of the soul, and can and does listen to a sigh, a desire, a breath of supplication within. He knows our state, both of body and soul, and is not a hard taskmaster to require what we cannot give, or lay upon us more than we can bear. But very often he delays to appear, that he may teach us thereby we have no claim upon him, and that anything granted is of his pure compassion and grace.


John MacDuff

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

“Be of good cheer; it is I–be not afraid.” Matt. 14:27

It surely was an exceptional season of fear and unrest with the disciples, that night-storm on the Sea of Galilee.

The saddest feature of the moment was that faith–the strong resolute faith of other times–had now deserted their better natures. They could see nothing but perilous environment, the surging billows and the darkness–for “it was the fourth watch of the night,” about three o’clock, when the gloom was deepest, and no flush of morn as yet had tinted the wild hills of Gadara. Strangely different from their experience on a former occasion! He was then with them. Though asleep on “a coil of ropes for His pillow,” He was there. They had the comfort of His Presence. They could awake (as they did awake) the weary slumberer; and the voice of the God within the toil-worn man rebuked the waves and turned the storm into a calm. Now it was different–their despairing monotone rather was, “How has He left us at the moment we most needed Him?” “Surely the Lord has forsaken me, and my God has forgotten me!” No, more, when He at last appeared on the crest of the waves, instead of recognizing Him with a shout of adoring welcome, they in their superstitious fear imagined that a demon of the deep, an apparition premonitory of death, had come from the spirit-world. Their cry was a cry of trouble.

To such unworthy turbulence and misgiving truly they need not have given way. We know from the context where He had been all night–on some adjoining mountain engaged in prayer–engaged in prayer for them, watching through the darkness their tempest-tossed bark, in sympathetic touch with their palpitating hearts, and eager to speak His word of power. At last it is spoken. He who comes down from the mountain oratory to tread the waters, pronounces His gracious rest words–the reassuring “It is I” (literally, I AM). It is preceded and followed by “Fear not”–“Be not afraid.” There can be no mistake. “O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto You? You rule the raging of the sea–when the waves thereof arise, You still them.”

It is a parable of profounder spiritual realities. In the unrest of the soul, amid the swirls and eddies of life’s ocean, Jesus comes to His people–most often, too, when darkness is deepest. The sensible tokens of His love and mercy seem withdrawn. In their misgiving and incredulity they wail out the plaintive cry, “Where is now my God?” He seems, in accordance with the narrative of the storm, “as if he would pass them by.” “My way is hidden from the Lord, my judgment is passed over from my God.”

“Be still!” Let patience have her perfect work. He will in His own time and way change the storm into a calm. We are, alas! often ourselves responsible for our unworthy despondencies. We turn our backs to the Sun of Righteousness. There is a shadow projected, but that shadow is our own. We conjure up some phantasms of unbelieving doubt. We say, like the disciples, “It is a spirit,” and we “cry out for fear.” Let us look away from ourselves, the surging waves and billows within us and around us, and keep the unwavering eye of faith on Him who is waiting to give rest to the weary, and peace to the troubled, and hope to the desponding. To revert to our figure, He has His Hospice built at every turn of the perilous way. He fences it with these same two buttresses–“Fear not; IT IS I; be not afraid.”

“O Redeemer! Shall one perish
Who has looked to You for aid?
Let me see You, let me hear You,
Through the gloomy midnight shade,
Utter You Your voice of comfort–
‘It is I; be not afraid!'”

In all time of our tribulation He will be true to His promise–“I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” As the Hospice is most valued by the tempest-beaten traveler, so every trial is a fresh reason for resorting to “the Refuge from the storm, the Covert from the tempest.” And when the last trouble of all, the hour of departure arrives, the Hospice-gates will be opened by the Divine Promiser of Rest, and the triplet-comfort fall for the last time on the ears of the weary and heavy laden– “Fear not; it is I; be not afraid.”

“This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is the place of repose.” Isaiah 28:12

Song 4:16 Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.


Anything is better than the dead calm of indifference. Our souls may wisely desire the cold north wind of trouble—if that alone can be sanctified to the drawing forth of the perfume of our graces. We should not shrink from the most wintry blast that ever blew upon plants of grace. Did not the spouse in this verse humbly submit herself to the reproofs of her Beloved; only entreating Him to send forth His grace in some form, and making no stipulation as to the peculiar manner in which it should come? Did she not, like ourselves, become so utterly weary of deadness and unholy calm—that she sighed for any visitation which would motivate her to action?

Yet she desires the warm south wind of comfort, too—the smiles of divine love, the joy of the Redeemer’s presence; these are often mightily effectual to arouse our sluggish life. She desires either one or the other, or both—so that she may but be able to delight her Beloved with the spices of her garden. She cannot endure to be unprofitable, nor can we.

How cheering a thought—that Jesus can find comfort in our poor feeble graces. Can it be? It seems far too good to be true. Well may we court trials or even death itself—if we shall thereby be aided to make glad Immanuel’s heart. O that our heart were crushed to atoms, if only by such bruising, could our sweet Lord Jesus could be glorified. Graces unexercised are as sweet perfumes slumbering in the cups of the flowers. The wisdom of the great Gardener overrules diverse and opposite causes—to produce the one desired result, and makes both affliction and consolation draw forth the grateful fragrances of faith, love, patience, hope, resignation, joy, and the other fair flowers of the garden. May we know by sweet experience, what this means!

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.


God’s people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when He chose His people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from the sicknesses and pains of mortality, was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, He included chastisements among the things to which they should inevitably be heirs. Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ’s last legacy, “In this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by Him, so surely are our trials allotted to us! He has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us.

Godly men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the “Father of the faithful.” Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs—and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old, that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy—as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honor are distinguished.

Though tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have His presence and sympathy to cheer them, His grace to support them, and His example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it.

Blessed suffering!
The following is from Bonar’s book,
    “The Night of Weeping”

Afflictions help us to get rid of sin.
Each pain is a nail driven through some
sin, another blow inflicted on the flesh,
destroying the very power of sinning.

We have not yet fully parted company
with this sinful world.  And, therefore,
God drives affliction like a wedge
between us and the world; or He sends
it like a plowshare right across our most
cherished hopes and brightest prospects
until He thoroughly wearies us of all below.

“He has made me weary,” said Job.
Nor do we wonder at the complaint.
Wearisome nights were his.  The
“ploughers ploughed upon his back,”
and drew many a long furrow there.
He might well be weary.

So with us. God makes us weary, too,
weary all over; thoroughly weary.
We are weary of a present evil world,
    weary of self,
    weary of sin,
    weary of suffering,
    weary of this mortal body,
    weary of these vile hearts,
    weary of earth,
weary of all but Jesus!
Of Him no trial can weary us.
Suffering only endears Him the more.

Blessed suffering! that makes Jesus
appear more precious and the world viler!

Blessed suffering! that brings Jesus nearer
to our hearts and thrusts the world away!

The cup of love!

(John MacDuff, “Gleams from the Sick Chamber” 1882)

Is. 38:15 What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul.

God Himself has mixed your bitter cup, and led
you to your ‘Gethsemane of suffering’.

All your sufferings . . .
  the existence of them,
  the duration of them,
  the intensity of them,
are appointed by your heavenly Father.

“Though now for a little while, if need be, you may
 have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” 1 Peter 1:6

Your heavenly Father can inflict no unnecessary pang.

You may presently be pain-stricken, and woe-worn.

There is a divine necessity for your present “fiery trial.”
No drop in the cup can be spared! “I will correct you
in measure.” Your heavenly Father, tenderer and more
loving than the tenderest earthly parent, tempers the
fury of the flames, saying, “Thus far shall you go, and
no farther.”

Happy for you, that you can write “if need be” . . .
  over that severest hour of distress,
  over every night of throbbing temples,
  over sleepless eyes,
  over every fresh thorn sent to buffet,
  over every heavy cross sent to carry.

When we are assured that nothing which is
appointed by our Father can come to us wrongly,
our cup of suffering becomes a cup of love!

Shall I not drink the cup my Father has
 given me?
” John 18:11

“For our light and momentary troubles are
 achieving for us an eternal glory that far
 outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

What verse is more soothing sight for a suffering
couch, or for a dying pillow? What verse is more
consolatory for a weary, burdened body? and above
all, for a weary, burdened, sin-stricken heart?

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
   Revelation 7:17

A tearless Heaven will make amends for all!

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