UPON WHICH ROAD ARE YOU TRAVELLING?
Taken from an address on Genesis 12:5, by
Augustus Montague Toplady
(Author of ‘Rock of Ages.’)
The reader of this address, and indeed the whole world at large, may be distributed into two kinds of people: those who are travelling to Canaan, and those who are going the direct contrary way. There are but two roads: the broad, which leads to destruction, and the narrow, which opens into life. Mankind are all travellers, and travellers at a swift rate. The grand point is – where are you travelling to? Are you desirous of knowing whither your footsteps tend, and toward what country your face is set? If so, have recourse to the Scriptures of truth, but study them on your knees; that is, in a spirit of prayer and with the simplicity of a little child.
Suppose, for instance, that we look at John 16:8, where Christ thus describes the office of the Holy Ghost and the effects which His converting influences have on the human mind: “When He is come He will convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment”; that is, He will, first, feelingly demonstrate to them their absolute sinnership and their total helplessness – working in them a deep sense and real hatred of self and sin; and He will, secondly, lead them to rest on Christ and on His righteousness alone for justification. Now, has God the Spirit done these things for you? Has He wrought, or begun to work these convictions in your soul? If He has not, nor so much as kindled a growing desire after Christ and His salvation in your breast, I dare not give you the right hand of fellowship. I dare not salute you as one of my fellow-travellers to the kingdom of God. No, you are yet in Egypt, and you will quickly be in Hell, except the Holy Ghost take you in hand and give you a new heart and lead you to Christ.
But, if you have ground to hope that this work of grace is experienced by you in some degree; if, on looking at your soul in the gospel-glass, you can discern the traces of faith, love, repentance and sanctification there, you are of the number of those who have been enabled, through grace, to set forth to go into the land of Canaan and, into the land of Canaan, you shall come.
Two things are particularly needful for you to observe:
That the world will endeavour to turn your feet out of the narrow way. If the wicked are so muzzled by providence that they cannot bite, they will snarl at least. If they cannot do you real injury, they will probably pelt you with scandal and sneer at you for being, in their opinion, righteous over-much. But let not this discourage you; but imitate the blind man in the Gospel, who the more he was exhorted by the multitude to hold his peace, cried out so much the more, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”
Beware of sin. May you be enabled to shun the remotest appearance of evil. Though a truly converted person cannot fall, so as to turn back finally and perish everlastingly; yet, if he is not kept watching unto prayer, he may lose his peace and joy in believing and that inward testimony of the Holy Spirit, that felt fellowship with God and that sweet tranquillity of conscience, without which living scarcely deserves the name of life. It is a sad thing when a believer is overturned on the road. Though he cannot lose his soul, yet a fall may break the neck of his comforts and make him go halting to his journey’s end. “The devil,” as one justly remarks, “is never better pleased than when he can roll a child of God in the dirt.” Beg of the Lord, therefore, to hold up your goings in His paths, that your footsteps slip not.
Yet, if you should fall, be humbled, but do not despair. May you be led to pray afresh to God – who is able to raise you up and to set you on your feet again – and helped to look to the blood of the covenant and say to the Lord from the depth of your heart:
‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Lo! Thy Captain calls thee out;
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.’
It has been justly observed that “it is one thing to fall into the mire, and another thing to lie in it.” When the Lord has graciously restored you, you will look upon sin as the bitterest calamity that can befall you, and consider those who would entice you to it as the very worst enemies you have.
Soon shall we arrive where not only sin, but every temptation to it and every propensity toward it will cease for ever. As a good man once said on his deathbed, “Hold out, faith and patience! Yet a little while and I shall need you no longer.” When faith and patience have done and suffered their appointed work, the disciples of Christ shall ascend from the wilderness to paradise. Then will they be able to say, “Called by the Lord’s effectual grace, we went forth into the land of Canaan; and – clothed with His righteousness and preserved by His power – into the land of Canaan we are come.” Even so, Amen.
THE LOVE OF GOD
God’s children share His everlasting love. Oh! that the love of God was shed abroad more abundantly in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us (Romans 5:5).
Its origin and duration should be pondered. It began before the birth of time. It will be fresh when time shall be no more. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). “The love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39). “God is love.” It is the very essence of His being. If it could expire, where would God exist?
Consider, also, its freeness. God loves not for anything seen or foreseen – known or foreknown – given or designed – destined or pledged. There neither is, nor can be, a moving cause independent of Himself. He loves, because He will love. The actuating motive, so to speak, is His own heart. This statement leaves nothing to be added.
Mark also, its never-varying brightness. It knows no mutability. “I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). “With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Man is fickle, as the restless wind. The Prince’s smile may be a frown tomorrow. The summer friend may freeze into a winter foe. Our perceptions of God’s love may indeed differ. A passing cloud may hide the sun; but its reality is the same – ”yesterday, and today, and forever.”
Its infinitude is an amazing thought. The heavens are high – but God’s love is higher. The ocean has vast depths, but it is deeper. Far is east from west, but its length has no horizon. We have no measure with which to estimate – no scales to weigh – no line to fathom it. No tongue can tell – no thought conceive – its boundless boundlessness. If happiness exists, it surely must be theirs who are encircled by this love.
Consider as well, its gift. We are enriched with the gift of gifts – the largest and the best, which Heaven could grant. God gives His co-eternal and co-equal Son, Christ Jesus the Lord. If worlds upon worlds with all their treasures, beauties, glories, had been piled into one pyramid, it would have been as the small dust of the balance, when weighed against this portion. Each one can truly say, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3). Christ – all that Christ is – all that Christ has – is granted as an inalienable possession.
What happiness results! He is the everlasting Father – we are begotten by the Word of His truth. “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee” (Isaiah 49:15); but Jesus is “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). His life belongs to His people, that they may live forever. His death is theirs, that the second death may touch them not. His blood is theirs, to wash them whiter than the whitest snow. His wounds are theirs, their hiding-place from wrath. His stripes are theirs, their healing balsam. His righteousness is theirs, their fit robe for the courts of Heaven. His prayers are theirs, that every blessing may be obtained. His advocacy is theirs, to silence the accuser’s voice. His whole work is theirs, that they may be forever saved. His glory is theirs, that they may be like Him, as He is. Is not this all-surpassing happiness?