Saturday, January 9, 2016

When my Saviour, my Shepherd, is near,
How quickly my sorrows depart!
New beauties around me appear,
New spirits enliven my heart:
His presence gives peace to my soul,
And Satan assaults me in vain;
While my Shepherd his power controls,
I think I no more shall complain.

But, alas! what a change do I find,
When my Shepherd withdraws from my sight!
My fears all return to my mind,
My day is soon changed into night!
Then Satan his efforts renews
To vex and ensnare me again;
All my pleasing enjoyments I lose,
And can only lament and complain.

By these changes I often pass through,
I am taught my own weakness to know;
I am taught what my Shepherd can do,
And how much to His mercy I owe:
It is He that supports me through all;
When I faint He revives me again;
He attends to my prayer when I call,
And bids me no longer complain.

Wherefore then should I murmur and grieve,
Since my Shepherd is always the same:
And has promised He never will leave
The soul that confides in His name?
To relieve me from all that I fear,
He was buffeted, tempted, and slain;
And at length He will surely appear,
Though He leaves me awhile to complain.

While I dwell in an enemy's land,
Can I hope to be always in peace?
'Tis enough that my Shepherd's at hand,
And that shortly this warfare will cease;
For ere long He will bid me remove
From this region of sorrow and pain,
To abide in His presence above,
And then I no more shall complain.
                                 John Newton

.....God’s children are impatient, as far as they are men, of reproaches; but so far as they are Christian men, they are impatient of reproaches in religion; “Where is now thy God?”  They were not such desperate Atheists as to think there was no God, to call in question whether there was a God or no, though, indeed, they were little better; but they rather reproach and upbraid him with his singularity, where is thy God?  You are one of God’s darlings; you are one that thought nobody served God but you; you are one that will go alone--your God!  So this is an ordinary reproach, an ordinary part for wicked men to cast at the best people, especially when they are in misery.  What is become of your profession now?  What is become of your forwardness and strictness now?  What is become of your God that you bragged so of and thought yourselves so happy in, as if he had been nobody’s God but yours?  We may learn hence the disposition of wicked men.  It is a character of a poisonful, cursed disposition to upbraid a man with his religion.
     But what is the scope?  The scope is worse than the words “where is thy God?”  The scope is to shake his faith and his confidence in God, and this that is which touched him so nearly while they upbraided him.  For the devil knows well enough that as long as God and the soul join together, it is in vain to trouble any man, therefore he labours to put jealousies, to accuse God to man, and man to God.  He knows there is nothing in the world can stand against God.  As long as we make God our confidence, all his enterprises are in vain.  His scope is, therefore, to shake our affiance in God.  “Where is thy God?”  So he dealt with the head of the church, our blessed Saviour himself, when he came to tempt him.  “If thou be the Son of God, command these stones to be made bread.” Matt. 4:3.  He comes with an “if,” he laboured to shake him in his Sonship.  The devil, since he was divided from God himself eternally, is become a spirit of division; he labours to divide even God the Father from his own Son; “If thou be the Son of God?”  So he labours to sever Christians from their head Christ.  “Where is thy God?”  There was his scope, to breed division if he could, between his heart and God, that he might call God into jealousy, as if he had not regarded him:  thou hast taken a great deal of pains in serving thy God; thou seest how he regards thee now; “Where is thy God?”.....                                                                                                                     Richard Sibbes

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