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Satan, and the world proved too strong for them, and they soon gave up the battle, wandered out of the way, and ended as all do who are not born from above, and “ kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation ” ? Well might the wise man say, “ Better is the end of a thing than the beginning.”
These considerations make the child of God tremble, lead him to seek for a good beginning, and for living testimonies in his soul that it is the Lord's work, and keep him very sensible of the Saviour's words, “Without Me ye can do nothing."
“ When any turn from Zion's way
(Alas ! what numbers do!),
Wilt thou forsake Me too ?
Unless Thou hold me fast,
And prove like them at last." Asa was prevalent in prayer. The Ethiopians came against him to battle with an army of one million soldiers and three hundred chariots. Asa's army did not number many more than half as many, and he did not appear to have any chariots; therefore, while his enemies were trusting in their horses and chariots and their numerous army, Asa was crying "unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing for Thee to help, whether by many, or with them that have no power : help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, Thou art our God; let not man prevail against Thee." In answer to this remarkable prayer, the Lord smote the huge host of Ethiopians, so that they were destroyed before Him. In this remarkable petition we notice Asa's faith and confidence in the Lord's power to help, and truly this is a certain mark that attends all real prayer," for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of all those who diligently seek Him." We then find how implicitly Asa left his case in the Lord's hands, feeling that the battle now was not his, but the Lord's. “Let not man prevail against Thee.” This should be another accompaniment to prayer, but the Lord's people, for the most part, come very short in this matter. They go to Him with their burdens and difficulties, but, instead of leaving them in His hands, and watching to see how the matter will fall, they immediately go to work to deliver themselves. This the Lord permits them to do, till they find all their strength is gone. Then He shows them their folly, and graciously enables the poor heavyladen souls to cast all their burdens upon Him, while they “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord”.
" When first before His mercy-seat
Thou didst thy all to Him commit ;
To trust His wisdom, love, and power." Asa had great zeal in the Lord's service. A prophet was sent to meet Asa, probably as he returned from fighting the Ethiopians, and spoke powerfully to him, showing how the Lord would continue to be his Helper all the while he continued to serve and trust in Him. The prophet's words, together with the recent deliverance wrought by the Lord on his behalf, seemed to have such a gracious effect upon the king, that he came out more boldly on the Lord's side than he had previously done; and such was his zeal for the Lord's honour that he removed his mother (1 Kings xv. 13) from being queen because she had made an idol. “ And Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron ” (2 Chron, xv. 16). Thus we see that the Lord's honour was more precious to him than his own flesh and blood. Not only did he destroy the false worship, but he did his utmost to establish the true worship, by renewing the altar of the Lord; and, for this purpose, he assembled all his people, with many out of the other tribes of Israel, “ who fell to him, when they saw the Lord his God was with him.” The congregation thus assembled entered into a solemn covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart, and with all their soul; and whosoever failed to do so should be put to death (Deut. xiii. 5—11). This was another very pleasing episode in Asa's life. The good work was so mightily revived in his soul that he ran diligently in the Lord's commands, and found wisdom's ways to be pleasantness, and all
her paths peace.
When the Lord is pleased thus to visit His dear children, by putting His hand a second time to the work, what life, vigour, and freshness seem to be infused into the soul! And this coming, as it frequently does, after a season of soul desertion, when the poor soul has felt like the bones in Ezekiel's vision-dry, very dryand often, too, as in Asa's case, in a time of great strait and trouble-oh, how delightful it is! It is like day after night, plenty after famine, joy after sorrow, the fresh bloom of spring after the barrenness of winter, and their joyful language is
“ If I loved my Lord before,
I would love Him ten times more ;
Lose myself in Jesus quite. What diligent search is then made for all Diabolians that still may be lurking in Mansoul! Every Queen Sin is dethroned, and every idol stamped in the dust, and the Lord alone is exalted in
that day. The company of the godly is greatly prized, and all the precepts and promises of the Gospel become more precious than the choicest earthly treasure. How the happy soul can then make a fresh surrender of itself to its best Beloved
soul and body's powers,
All I know and all I feel;
Take my heart, but make it new. Asa sinned in his old age. For thirty-six years Asa seemed to walk humbly with his God, and when he had reached that point. when it might be thought that he was safe from falling, then he fell—first in sending money to the king of Syria, that he might break his league with Baasha, king of Israel, and come to his assistance. How different his conduct now to when he was assailed by the Ethiopians! After this fall he sinned grievously by putting the seer in prison who was sent by God to show him his folly; and, last of all
, he displeased the Lord greatly because, when diseased in his feet, he sought not to the Lord, but to physicians. Thus he died, apparently under a cloud of God's displeasure, yet saved, we trust, although as by fire ; for the Word declares that “the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.” Does not the fall of this good man in his old age show us plainly that none are safe from temptation till quite out of the reach of sin and Satan? In fact, the Word of God abounds with like incidents. Noah's drunkenness, Abraham's slips, Lot's incest, David's adultery, Solomon's strange women, Hezekiah's pride, and Asa's fleshly confidence and oppression of the godly, were not when they were young in the way. No; then their hearts were tender, their weakness was sensibly felt, and their dependence on God was entire. Then it was that the Lord kept them as the apple of His eye, and hid them under the shadow of His wings. But when they had been brought through many battles, supported under heavy trials, preserved from foul temptations, then they became strong in themselves, and lost sight of their best and only Friend. Then was Satan's hour; then it was that he tripped up their feet, caught them in his net, and stripped them of all their strength as completely as Delilah stripped Samson. He soon blinded their eyes, made them to grind in the prison-house, and caused them even to make sport for the enemies of their God. But Satan cannot finally prevail over the Lord's chosen ones, any more than the Philistines could finally prevail against Samson; for we are told that, when Samson called on his God and said, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray Thee, and strengthen me only
this once, that I may be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes,” the Lord did as he requested, and Samson slow more of the Lord's enemies and his own at his death than ever he had done previously. So does every tempted, sin-besmeared, and devilhunted child of God obtain an everlasting victory over all his foes, through the help of Him who came to bruise the serpent's head. Thus is every heaven-born and heaven-bound soul compelled even to the end to acknowledge, with Paul the aged, that they are the greatest of all sinners and the least of all saints
“ Greatest sinners, greatly spared,
Love much and themselves debase ;
Rich of mercy, poor of grace !
This my sins too plainly prove ;
A FEW THOUGHTS ON SANCTIFICATION. This important Scriptural truth is one which is probably not much thought of, or dwelt upon, by most, yet perhaps would be very seasonable in the Church of God at the present time.
God is a holy God, and heaven a holy place, prepared for a people who are made meet for it (Col. i. 12), called a “holy nation” (1 Peter ii. 9), and our greatest mercy is to possess this meetness.
To sanctify is to set apart for a holy end and use. Thus the tabernacle, the altar, and all the vessels of the ministry were sanctified. These were "patterns of things in the heavens” (Heb. ix. 23). The tabernacle was sanctified by the glory of the Lord (Exod. xxix. 43), which was there revealed, and also by the sprinkling of oil and blood (Exod. xl. 9; Heb. ix. 21). So now, as the grace and glory of God, revealed in the Gospel, shine into our hearts, we are thereby sanctified, for the faith which perceives this grace purifies the heart (Acts xv. 9). Divine truth, relating as it does to the cross of Christ, is made powerful and effectual in washing and cleansing the sinner; and the mind, being under the illuminating influence of the Holy Spirit, the truth is obeyed (1 Peter i. 22; Rom. vi. 17). This is the anointing of the Spirit (1 John ii. 27), whereby many precious fruits are produced in the soul, and the flesh crucified (Gal. v. 22—24).
In the light of this teaching, sin is seen and felt, and the desire implanted in the heart to forsake it. Now we begin to
learn what opposites sin and grace are, and how naturally unholy we are. Forgiveness of sins, or justification, is what a sinner first desires to realize, and sanctification must be inseparably connected with it ; for to know pardon, and the way in which it comes to us, even through the shedding of the blood of Jesus, this must have a sanctifying influence upon the mind. By this blood we are redeemned, not only from the curse of the law, but also from the dominion of sin and Satan, and become the Lord's own inheritance, over which the Lord has a gracious claim to soul, body, and spirit; whilst the desire is, that we should be the Lord's, not in name only, but by doing those things which are agreeable to His mind and will. Here is the renewing of the mind, and conformity to the image of Christ. Nothing but the love and favour of God revealed to the heart could bring forth these things.
The office of the Holy Ghost is to take of the things of Christ, and to show them unto us (John xvi. 14), and communications of this kind have a sanctifying effect.
To this work the carnal mind especially discovers its enmity, because by it its sinful workings are opposed; and where a little experience of sanctification is attained, what sad dealings and painful backslidings we are exposed to, so that we can hardly discover anything of it in ourselves! Besides, it is doubtless the aim of Satan to work by various temptations, to bring us down into a more carnal state, hence the need of watchfulness.
We often hear that there is much of the spirit of the world in the Church, and we feel, as forming a part of it, that this is only too true, so that the evils of the age sadly leaven the Church.
For some years past, it is to be feared that several things have combined together calculated to encourage the spirit of infidelity. The large amount of false profession of religion has unquestionably increased the growth of this evil, which we firmly believe has also greatly injured many who hold the truth. In some cases, it is the consequence of other sins having gained an ascendancy over the mind and defiled the conscience. It is an evil dreadfully injurious to our spiritual vitality. In other cases, it may be the result of having held the faith for a time, but not in a pure conscience ; and here it proves an awfully destructive evil, whether a person continues or discontinues their profession. But, where any are the subjects of the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, repentance and deliverance will be granted.
Sanctification is ascribed to each Person in the holy Trinity. “Sanctified by God the Father” (Jude 1) may specially refer to the saints being set apart to obtain salvation (1 Thess. v. 9)the enjoyment of the heavenly inheritance (Acts xx. 32 ; xxvi. 18; 1 Pet. i. 4) which is reserved for them. They are set apart to