Handfuls On Purpose
Christian Workers and Bible Students
Outlines, Readings, Studies, Thoughts,
ITH the eighth volume I feel constrained to oiicr my
sincerest thanks to all who have so heartily assisted ia
making these books known to those who have been longing for
such help as they afford, and who have been in turn truly
thankful to God for them. Testimonies as to their usefulness
have been innumerable.
One of the best proofs of their suitability to meet a felt need is
the ever increasing demand for them by those who are busy in
the thick of the fight. The assurance that many Christian
workers have found them strengthening, and refreshing to their
own souls, has brought much refreshing to the heart of the
author. It was with this object in view that they were first
offered for publication. It is but a small and ordinary matter
to present thoughts to the mind, but it is, in our way of thinking,
a very great matter to be able in any measure to put wrne fresh-ness
and inspiration into a weary, languid heart. The Word d
God, as revealed in the “ Scriptures of Truth,” is the infallible
weapon of the Holy Spirit. Our strength and our victory lie
in getting into the citadel of God’s mind, and in allowing and
reckoning on the current of His will flowing through us, and
so accomplishing His own merciful and gracious purposes with
us. In His will, in His work, and in His way there is no failure
and no defeat.
Brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His
all-conquering might. Take that sword, the Word of God,
which is the only sword the Holy Spirit believes in and uses,
“Praying always with all prayer in the Spirit, and supplication
for all saints, and for me.”
Yours sincerely in His service,
GENERAL INDEX OF SUBJECTS
OLD TESTAMENT STUDIES
Deeu calleth unto Deeu. – 10 Things touching the K&g, – 11 Priceless Possessions. – – 14 Change, The Great, – – 16 Experience, A Blessed,- – 20 Waiting upon God, – – 21 Thirsting for God, – – 23 Joyful in God, – – – 25 Distress, A Cry of, – – 27 Testimony, A Joyful, – – 29 Millennial Reign, The,- – 31 Great Problem Solved,- – 34 Conditions of Blessing and Failure, – – – – 37 Reason Why, The, – – 39 Prayer, A Worker’ s, – – 41 Love, The Fruits of, – – 43 Sing Unto the Lord, – – 44 Song, The New, – – – 46 “ I Am’ s” in Psalm 119 “ I Will’ s ” in Psalm 119 – 48 – 50 ” I Have’ s ” in Psalm 119, – 52 Soul, as a Weaned Child, – 54 Praise, Reasons for, – – 54 Self-Exposure to God, – – 55 Prayer and Argument, – – 55 Testimony, A, – – – 55 Praise the Lord, – – – 56 Life, The Blissful. – – 241 Reasonsfor Blessing the Lord, 242 Believers’ Privileges, – – 244 Deliverances, The God of, – 246 Works of the Lord, The, – 248
What Shall I Render, – – 250
Wisdom’s Call, – – – 57 Wisdom’ s Preciousness, – 60 Wisdom’ s Character, – – 62 Wisdom’ s Provision, – – 66 Eternity in the Heart, a Key to Ecclesiastes, – – – 69
THE SONG OF SONGS.
Christ’ s Desirableness, – 72 Confession and Appeal, – 76 Answer and Encouragement, 79 Blessed Fellowship. – – 81 Times of Refreshing. – – 84 Proofs of His Love, – – 86 hlutuai D e l i g h t , – – – 89 Sorrowful Night, A, – – 92 Bed.Chariot,and CrownHis. 93 Personal Beauty, Her, Character and Influence, Prayer and Answer, – Slothfulness, and Results, Description of His Person, Anxious Inquirers, – Symbols of Character, Bridegroom’ s Visit, The, Workers Together, – L o v e’s Lon&tg, – – Bridearoom’ s Words of Comfort, – – – Plea for Others, A, – Closing Words, – –
– 100 – 102 105 – 107 – 109 – 111 – 112 – 114
– 116 – 118 – 119.d QENEEAL INDEX OF SUBJECTS.
NEW TESTAMENT STUDIES
Preaching, Results of, – – I81 Missionary Experience, – 183 Helnina the Saints. – – 186
The Infant Church, – – 122 Empowered Church, The, – 124 Witnessing Church, The, – 126 Power of the Gospel, The, – 129 Power, A Work of, – – 132 Challenge and Defence, The, 134 Appeal to God, The, – – 137 Testing Times, – – – 139 Apostolic Boldness, – – 142 Serving and Shining, – – 144 Apostolic Character, – – 147 Cities’ and Churches’ Need, 150 Soul-Winning, – – – 152 Conversion, Saul’s, – – 154 Testimony, Saul’s, – – 157 Faith, The Victory of, – – 160 Divine Preparation, – – 162 Gospel, The Apostolic, – – 164 Testimony, Peter’s, – – 167 Revival in Antioch, – – 170 Persecution and Deliverance, 172 Call of Barnabas and Saul, – 175 Goodness of God, The, – 178
Works,-Dispute About, – 189 Helpless, The Cry of the, – 191 Conversion, The Jailor’ s, – 193 Special Missions, – – – 196 Paul at Athens, – – – 198 Paul at Corinth, – – – 201 Paul at Ephesus, – – – 204 Worldly Wisdom, – – 207 Midnight Meeting, A, – – 209 Testimony, A Personal, – 212 Faith and Failure, – – 216 Paul’ s Defence : A Gospel, – 218 Trial and Cheer, – – – 221 Paul Before Felix, – – 224 Paul’ s Appeal, – – – 227 Paul, a Witness for God, – 229 Paul’s Shipwreck, or the Power of Faith,- – – 232 Paul Among Barbarians, – 235 Paul’ s Ministry in Rome, – 238
Faith, – – – – – 253 Work for Christ, – – – 288 Consecrated Life, A, – – 256 Spiritual Growth, – – – 288 Divine Encouragement, – 260 THE SHEPHERD AND SHEEP- Eternal Life, – – – 263 “ The Lord is My Shepherd,” 289 Sayings of Jesus: A Revela- I’ I Shall Not Want,” – – 289 tion of Himself, – – 267 “ He Maketh Me Lie Down,” 290 Holy Spirit our Teacher, The, 271 I‘ He Restoreth My Soul,” – 290 Mission Field, The, – – 274 “ He Leadeth Me,” – – 291 Rewards, – – – – 279 ” I Will Fear no Evil, – – 292 APOSTOLIC CHRISTIANITY – ” They Comfort Me,” – – 292 Faith, – – – – 283 “ Thou Preparest a Table,” – 293 Prayer, – – – – 283 “Thou Anointest My Head,” 293 Courage, – – – – 284 “ Surely Goodnessand Mercy Power, – – – – 284 Shall Follow Me,” – 294 Testimony, – – – 285 Revelations of the Spirit, – 294 success, – – – – 285 All One in Christ, – – 295 Example, – – – – 287 Let Us Go Forth, – – 295 Hope, The Blessed. – : 2;; Qualifications, – – – 295 Arm of the Lord, The, – Three-fold Testimony, – – 296 Peter, – – – – – 287 Pleasures of the Lord, The, – 296.QENERAL INDEX OF SUBJEOTB.
Precious Christ, The, – – 296 Relationships, Christian,
Satisfying Light, A, – – 297 Members of His Body, -Seven
Prayers, – – – 297 Privileges, Believers’, -Backsliding,
– – – – 297
Christ and the Common Revival, – – -People,
– – – – 300 Glorying in the Cross, -Count
the Cost, – – – 302 Attention, – – -Lamp,
Thy Word a – – 305 The Great Deliverer, -Son,
Remember, – – – 306
Formality, – – – – 310 Life-giving Breath, -Spiritual
Education, – – 310 The Treasure Hunt, -Tenacious
Self, – – – 310
INDEX OF TEXTS
1 SAMUEL. PSALMS. . . . 111.. – – – – – 256 cxix., – – – -PSALMS.
. . cyx., – – – -xxm.,
– – – – – 289 CXIX., – – – -xlii.
1-7, – – – XIV., – – – -xlvi.,
– – – -Ii.,
– – – -lvii.
1, 2, – – -lxii.
l-8, – – – lxiii. l-8. – – -lxvi.,
– – – -Ixix.
l-5. – – -lxxi.
15-24. – – -lxxii.,
xcv. 1-8, . . . XCVlIl., -c.,
cv. 1-4, – . . CVII., – cxi.:
_ – – _ – _ _ _ _ _ – _ _ – – _ _ – – . – _ _ – _ – – _ _ – _ – – . . . – _ – _ . – – _ _
– 20 – 21 – 23
– 27 – 29 – 31 – 34
37 – 307
– 39 – 41
– 43 – 44
cxix., 105, – – -cxxxi.
2. – – -cxxxvlii.,
– – -cxxxix.
23. 24, – -cxliv.
1, 2, – – c&i., – – – -P
i. 20-29, – – -iii.
13-20, – – -viii.
12-36. – – -ix.
1-6, – – -ECCLESIASTI-
iii. l?, – – – -SONG
i. 4, – – – -i.
5-7, – – – -i.
12-17. – – -ii.
1-7, – – – -ii.
8-13, – – -ii.
14-17, – – -iii.
1-4, – – – -iii.
7-11, – – -iv.
1-6, – – – -iv.
7-15. – – -iv.
16. – – – –
– 62 – 66
– 96 – 98
– 100.ai. INDEX OF TEXTS-Oontinued,
SONG OF SONGS.
v.l. . – – – – 10
v. 9-16, – – – – 10
vi. 1-3. – – – – 10
vi. 4-10, – – – – 10.
vi. 11-13. – – – – 111
vii. 10-13, – – – – 11;
viii. l-5, – – – – 114
viii. 5-7, – – – – lli
viii. S-10. – – – – 111
viii, 11-14, – – – – 115
viii. 5, – – – – – 29;
MATTHEW. . . . III., – – – – – 29i
vi. 27, 28, – – – – 28t
xiii. 30, – – – – 274
xi. 22, – – – – – 25:
xii. 37, – – – – – 3oc
L U KE.
xiv. 28. – – – – 3%
xvi. 25; – –
xiv. 26, – -xvi.
12-14, – -xvii.
23, – -ACTS.
i., – – -ii.
l-13, – -ii.
14-26, – -ii.
37-47, – -iii.
I-26, – -iv.
5-23. – -iv.
23-31. – -iv.
32-37, – -v.
1-16. – -v.
17-42. – -vi.
1-15, – -vii.
51-60, – -viii.
l-25, – -viii.
26-40, – -ix.
6, – – -ix.
1-19, – -ix.
20-31, – -ix.
32-43, – -x.
l-23,- – -x.
38-44, – -xi.
l-18. – –
– – 271
– – 294
– – 277
– – 122
– -1 24
– – 126
– -1 29
– – 132
– -1 34
– – 137
– – 139
– -1 39
– – 142
– – 144
– – 147
– -1 50
– – 152
– – 288
., – 154
– – 157
– -1 60
– – 162
– -1 64
– -1 67
xi. 19-26, – – –
– i%i – 17.5
_ _ – _ – – _ _ – _ _ – _ – – _ – – _ – . _ . – _ – – _ – – _ – – _ – -xix.
l-20, – – -xix.
21-41, – – -xx.
2-12, – – -xx.
13-27, . – –
_ – _ _ – – _ – – _ – – _ – _ – – _ – – _ – – _ _ – _ – – _ – – _ – -GALATIANS.
vi. 14, – – – -EPHESIANS.
v. 30, – – – -H
E B R E WS.
i. 1, – – – -i.
11, – – – – ” Will by no means clear the guilty ” (Justice).
Ex. 34, 6. The doctrines of Jesus Christ are pillars of
truth, and are as stable as the attributes of God.
3 . T h e Sacdfices. “ Wisdom hath killed her
beasts.” Wisdom hath made her sacrifices. Ample
provision could only be made through the shedding of
blood, the forfeiture of innocent life. God so loved the
world that He gave His Son. It pleased the Lord to
bruise Him. He hath put Him to grief. In this sacri-fice
there was the pouring-out of divine love, and life.
WISDOM hath done it, although man in his ignorance and
pride of intellect would protest against it.
4. The W&e. “ Wisdom hath mingled her wine.”
The wine mixed by the wisdom of the world can only
bring “ woe, sorrow, contention, babbling, wounds, and
redness of eye ” (23-30). This is neither worldly wine,
nor a worldly mixture. It is Wisdom’s own wine, and
Wisdom’s own mixture. The wine is pure, and the
spices are pure, the blend is the richest that thirsty,
languid souls can ever drink. Christ’s wine of joy is
mingled to suit each individual case. It is always a
wholesome mixture. The Lord hath another mixture
for a different class of people (Ps. 75, 8)..68 Handfuls on Purpose.
5. The Table. “Wisdom hath furnished her table ”
(v. 2). The wisdom of God hath put upon the table of
His grace every needful blessing. His table is well
furnished. My God shall supply all your need. Many
don’t realise their manifold need, and so cannot appre-ciate
the value of Wisdom’s provision.
6. The Servants. “ Wisdom hath sent forth her
maidens ” (v. 3). The feast being ready the heralds
of His grace are sent forth with free invitations. Wis-dom
hath her own servants, as well as her own house,
and a table. Salvation is of the Lord.
7. The CaU. “ Wisdom crieth upon the highest
places of the city.” It may be the servant’s voice, but
the call is that of “ Wisdom.” We are ambassadors for
Christ. It is God that beseeches by us (2 Cor. 5, 20).
The call is urgent, it is from the highest @aces of the city
that all may hear. It is a Call. I, To Tuvn. “Turn in
hither.” It implies conversion from the broken cis-terns
of the world to the well-furnished table of the Lord.
2, To Come. “ Come, eat of My bread, and drink of the
wine which I have mingled ” (v. 5). Come and eat of
that which the Wisdom of God has so abundantly pro-vided,
the bread of strength, and the wine of gladness
and inspiration. 3, To Forsake. “Forsake the foolish
and live “ (v. 6). Folly saith : ” Stolen waters are
sweet ” (v. 17). The wisdom of this world is foolishness
with God. Come out from among them, and be ye
separate, saith the Lord. 4, To go. “ Go in the way of
understanding ” (v. 6). Having turned to the Lord and
received of His gifts, we now go in His way, learning.Wisdom’ s Provision and hvitation. 69
of Him. He shall guide you with all truth when you
follow Him, leaning not on your own understanding
(3, 4-7). Come and take, then go and work.
ETERNITY IN THE HEART: A KEY TO
CHAPTER 3, II.
Newberry’ s rendering of this text enables us to see
the meaning of this book in a clearer light. “ He hath
set eter&y in their heart, dthout which no man can find
out the work that God maketh from the beginning to
the end.” The word translated “ world ” here only
occurs in one other place, where the meaning is ages,
or eternity. This book deals with “ things under the
sun ” : the mundane things of earth, seen in the light
of Nature’ s revealer. The “ Preacher ” begins with
“ Vanity of Vanities,” then proceeds to demonstrate
the truthfulness of his convictions. He gave “ his heart
to search out,” and to “ see all the works that are done
under the sun,” and to “ prove ” his heart with every
earthly good. He made “ great works,” and “ with-held
not his heart from any joy.” Yet he pronounced it
“ all vanity and vexation of spirit.” So deeply did he
drink of all the waters of the world’ s pleasures that he
said : I‘ What can the man do that cometh after the
king?” (z,12). What man can have any chance of satis-fying
his heart with the material things of earth, when
he, the richest and wisest man on earth, failed ? Why
did he fail so miserably after such an earnest, favour-able
and exhaustive experiment ? Here is the answer :
“ God hath set eternity in the heart.” That which.70 Handfuls on Purpose.
belongs to eternity cannot find its counterpart in those
things which are only temporal. Although there is
“ a time ” to every purpose under the heavens, there is
nothing circumscribed by time that is not “ vanity and
vexation of spirit ” to that which is eternal. As God
hath set eternity in the heart, He means to set eternal
things there. Observe-I.-
THE FACT OF IT. “ Eternity is in the heart.”
In its very constitution, as the workmanship of God.
The heart, here, may stand for man’s essential char-acter,
as distinct from the lower animal creation. When
Duncan Matheson prayed, “ Lord stamp eternity upon
my eyeballs,” he was uttering words which revealed the
most profound characteristic of the human soul. God
hath set eternity in the heart by setting there the
thought of it, the desire after it, kinship to it, and
capacity for it.
IL-THE EVIDENCE OF IT. The evidence of
this truth is apparent in the universal belief in immor-tality
found among the early Egyptians. Baby-lonians,
Persians, Hebrews, Hindus, Chinese, South Sea
Islanders, Druids and Celts. But perhaps one of the
most convincing proofs of it may be seen in the univer-sal
restlessness of the hzcman heart. Towards the things
of this world, like the sea, it is ever crying : “ Give,
Give,” and never fully satisfied therewith. One of the
wealthiest men in modern times declared to a friend “ I
am not to be envied ; How can my wealth help me ?
I would give you my millions if you could give me your
youth and health.” Youth and health in themselves.Eternity in the Heart. 71
could only enable him to repeat his own and Solomon’ s
abortive experiment. “ Man’ s life consisteth not in the
abundance of things which he ~ossessedh,” but in the
things which God possesseth. Surely the capacity of
the human heart for the love and fellowship of the
eternal God is an argument of no mean force. The
heart’ s desire, in its truest and best moments, is for the
“ things which are eternal.” Even pagan philosophers
have acknowledged this. “ The presage of a future
life,” says Cicero, “is most discoverable in the greatest
and most exalted souls.” When the glamour of sunny
circumstances vanishes in some calamity or domestic
affliction, then the deeper and more enduring instincts
of the soul assert themselves.
III.-THE PURPOSE OF IT. “ Without which
no man can find out the work that God maketh.” It
takes the attribute of eternity in the heart to contem-plate
the character of God and His work Eternity
in the heart is-I.
A Witness to the Eternity of God. It has been
set there as a testimony to the fact of His eternal
Personality, and man’ s kinship to Him.
2. A Protest against Worldly-mindedness. Just
as a man can profit nothing by gaining the world, and
losing his life, so the eternity in the heart can only be
deceived by loving and resting on the things of time-he
layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward
God (Luke 12, rg-21). Those who “ mind” earthly
things ” are enemies of that Cross which stands for
heavenly and eternal things..72 Handfuls on Purpose.
3. An Imentive to seek eternal things. The fact
that God hath set eternity in the heart, is surely meant
to be a powerful incentive to seek those things which
are above. “ Like draws to like.”
4. An Evidence of God’s love. Let the deep in the
heart call unto the deep that is in God. God hath set
that deep there that He might fill it out of the deep of
His own infinite fulness.
5. A Warning against the neglect of Salvation.
To neglect eternal salvation is to choose eternal death.
Eternity is in your heart whether it is found or lost.
“ Son, daughter, give Me thine heart.” He who hath
set eternity in it is best able to meet and satisfy its
THE SONG OF SONGS.
CHAPTER I, 4.
This ” Song of Songs which is Solomon’s ” is seldom
sung by self-seeking souls. To many carnal Christians
it is either too mystical or spiritual to be of any prac-tical
interest. It is a Song parable of Love, or spiritual
friendship, and must be interpreted as such. The
language is uniformly metaphorical, perhaps, that it
might be easily and growingly applicable to spiritual
relationships. The two leading personalities assume
the character of Bridegroom and Bride, suggestive at
once of Christ and the Church. This is confirmed by
the &tenseness of the language used throughout by both
parties, revealing deep and tender feelings. The first.The Song of Songs. 73
to speak is the Bride. This sudden outburst of burning
HER ESTIMATION OF HIS CHARACTER.
She declares that-I.
His love is better than wine. She knew this
because she had had some experience of it. Wine here
stands for the exhilarating and luxurious pleasures of
the world. But His love is more effectual, coming
from a better source, and producing better and more
lasting results. Wine is man-made, love is of God
(Rom. 8, 38-39).
2. His Name is an ointment poured forth. His
name is His character, a precious ointment, that con-tains
all the ingredients needed to heal the wounds of
humanity (Acts 3, 16). This ointment hath been
floured forth in Word, and in blood, that its efficacy may
be tested and enjoyed (z Cor. 8, 9). This pouring forth
of saving virtue implies God’ s generosity and man’ s
opportunity and responsibility. “ Therefore do the
virgins (pure hearts) love Him,” while the harlots pass
Him by. It is to the glory of Christ that He is loved by
the purest of minds. The savour of His name is eter-nally
satisfying (Acts 4, 12). “ Unto you which be-lieve
He is precious.”
II.-HER DESIRE FOR HIS APPROVAL.
She longs for-I.
His Personal favour. “ Let Him kiss me,” etc.
Him . . . me. Her aching heart, empty and lonely,
yearns for a token of His love. Nothing else can satisfy.
It is not enough to hear of His love, or see others re-12.74 Handfuls on Purpose.
joicing in it, “ Let Him kiss me.” Personal contact
needed. His kiss is a token of affection, favour, and
friendship. This grace can only come from Him.
God breathed into Adam-kissed him-and he became
a living soul. Matt. 4, 4.
2. His Personal Inflnerrce. “ Draw me, we will
run after Thee ” (v. 4). Having been reconciled, she
longs to follow. Christ is God’s magnet to draw souls
to Himself (John 6, 44). His influence over the life
should be an unceasing draw. He draws by His Word
and His Cross, wherever He is “ lifted up.” This
prayer of the Bride is a proof of her love for Him, and
devotion to Him. Her self-denial will affect others,
“ we will run.” The more powerfully our lives are
influenced by Christ the more swiftly shall we run after
Him, and the more likely are we to move others. It is
better to draw than to drive. If His influence does not
draw us after Him, there are other influences that will
certainly draw us from Him. He will have a willing
people in the day of His power.
III.-HER EXPERIENCE OF HIS FELLOW-SHIP.
Her prayer has been answered. He has drawn
and she did run, and the results have been abundantly
satisfying. We now find her-I
. Companying with Him. “ The King hath
brought me into His chambers ” (v. 4). These cham-bers
represent His own personal possessions. All His
unsearchable riches are at her disposal. His peace, His
rest, His joy, His wealth, what a portion ? These
present possessions represent the full Salvation Christ.The Song of Songs. 75
desires to give those who lovingly follow Him. He
brought her in, she never could have entered His cham-bers
without His liberty and guidance. The way into
the Holy of Holies is now open to every blood-washed,
Spirit-led soul (Phil. 3, 12-14)~
2. Rejoicing in Him. I‘ We will be glad and
rejoice in Thee.” With loving kindness has she been
drawn, and with infinite plenty hath she been satisfied.
The Bridegroom did it all for her, so she will rejoice in
Him. It is always with gladness and rejoicing that
anyone is brought into this King’s palace (Ps. 45,15).
There is no night there ; it is a banqueting-house, with
a canopy of love. All my springs, both the upper and
nether-for soul and body-are in Thee.
3. Testifying of Him. “ We will make mention of
Thy love” (v. 4, R.V.). His love, like Himself, cannot
be hid. His love, like Jonathan, constrained Him to
strip Himself for our adorning (2 Cor. 8, 9). Shall it
not also constrain us to speak forth its praise ? At
this world’s “ Babel Streams ” the heavenly minstrel can
only sit and weep if he has no other fountain opened.
Make mention of His love, for it is better than the
world’s wine. It is not a plant that grows among the
weeds of Nature’s garden, it is an exotic from above
(Rom. 5, 5) The “ @right ” love Him, although the
learned and the fashionable may reject Him (I Cor. 6, zg).
“ 0 cold ungrateful heart, that can from Jesus
When living fires of love within His heart dot11
burn.”.76 Handfuls on Purpose.
HER CONFESSION AND APPEAL.
C~IAPTER I, 5 -7.
L-HER CONFESSION. “ I am black, but
comely.” To many this is a seeming contradiction, if
not a perfect absurdity, but it is a very fit expression of
the two-fold nature of the Bride’s character, even al-though
she has been brought into His chambers of wealth
and beauty. She describes herself as-I.
“ Black as the tents of Kedar.” These tents of
Kedar, or of the Bedouin, who led a nomadic life in
Arabia, were blackened by the sun, and uncomely.
Like our own carnal mind it is black, and can be nothing
2. “ Comely as the curtains of Solomon.” The
graceful and costly curtains of Solomon could only be
seen from within. The king’s daughter is all glorious
within, if the outward appearance should look black
in the eyes of others. In the flesh life there is no good
thing, but in the Spirit life there is the beauty of the
Lord. While in our sins, we, like the Ethiopian in his
native land, were unconscious of our blackness. But
wondrous grace, her blackness did not disqualify her for
receiving His Comeliness. See Ezek. 16, 14 for the
secret of perfect beauty.
II.-HER EXPLANATION. She suffered from
different causes. “ I am black,” she says, because-I.
“ The sun hath scorched me” (v. 6, R.V.).
Look not with disdain upon me. I am black because
I have been long and severely exposed. If we had been.Her Confession and Appeal. 77
born and brought up in Africa the sun would have
blackened us too. How many are born into conditions
where they are morally blackened ere they know what
it means. Christ does not despise us although the com-plexion
of our character may have been changed by
exposure and sin.
” My Mother’ s sons were incensed against me ”
(R.$. Her “ Mother’ s sons ” may represent those
unspiritual church members, which are her professed
brothers and sisters. They don’ t like her dusky ap-pearance
; they are grieved and angry that she should
have such favour shewn her by the King. The proud
and the jealous have no appreciation of the grace of the
Lord Jesus Christ. Persecuted by your own household.
III.-HER OCCUPATION. “ They made me the
keeper of the vineyards.” This looked like a very
lowly task for the bride of a king. She offered no ob-jections
; she willingly gives herself to the service of
the thankless for His sake. AIthough the task was
common and arduous she humbly accepts the situation.
Those who love the Lord and are beloved by Him will
have their pride and patience tried in their service for
Him. “ Mine own vineyard,” she says, “ have I not
kept.” Was she to blame for this ? We think not.
The word “ But” supplied here, which is not in the
Hebrew, has had much to do with the misunderstanding
of the statement. A free rendering might be “They
made me guardian of that which belonged to others,
and so devoted was I to their interests that I sacrificed
my own. She made herself of no reputation, denying.78 Handfuls on Purpose.
herself for the good of others. This is the true attitude
and business of the Church. In this Christ Himself has
set us an example. “ He saved others, Himself He
could not save.” Self-forgetting love is the chief mark
of the Bride of Christ and the real motive to all mission-ary
enterprise. There are, of course, those who are SO
engrossed about the vineyard of the body that they
neglect the vineyard of the soul.
IV-.HER APPEAL. “Tell me, 0 Thou whom
my soul loveth ” (v, 7). It was first “ Kiss me,” then
“ Draw me,” now it is “ Tell me.” This indicates pro-gressive
experience. The appeal is to Him who is the
object of her soul’s love. There is “ none other name ”
to her. Those who love the Lord must love Him with
the whole heart. She makes three requests-I.
Tell me where Thou feedest Thy flock. This
implies that He has a flock, and that He feeds them.
His flock was given Him by the Father, redeemed by His
blood, and fed by His Word. He feeds them among the
green pastures of His revealed truth. He feeds His
flock where He Himself is, as the Bread of Life (John
2. Tell me where Thou resteth Thy flock at noon.
His people need rest as well as food. She feels her need
of both, and seeks after them. Rest at noon from the
burdensome heat of wearisome toil and oppressive cir-cumstances.
Where does He rest them ? Under the
shadow of His love and faithfulness.
3. Tell me . . . Why should I be as one that is
vailed, beside the flock of Thy companions ? (R.V.). To be.Her Confession and Appeal. 79
a vailed one is to be one unknown to others. The Lord
has many companions-Sunday companions-to whom
this devoted Bride is unknown. She asks, “ Why
should I he as one unknown to them, who company with
Thee ? ” Her heart yearns for fellowship with all who
profess to love her Beloved. But alas, the true Bride
of Christ is still as a vailed one to those who have only
the form of godliness denying the power. Why it should
be so is often a wonder to the sincere follower of Christ.
HIS ANSWER AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
C H A PTER I, 8-n.
In verse 8, the Bridegroom gives His gracious
answer to the Bride’s urgent request, “ Tell me.”
I.-HIS WORDS OF APPRECIATION. “ 0
thou fairest among women.” He knows how to speak
a word in season to the weary. What constitutes beauty
in His sight may be unattractive to the purblind multi-tude.
To her He is the “ Chiefest ; to Him she is the
“ fairest.” The deciding factor is love and personal
devotedness. So is it with Christ and His Church.
II.-HIS WORDS OF COUNSEL. In answer to
her question He now tells her-I.
Where she is to go. “ Go thy way forth by the
footsteps of the flock.” The footsteps of His flock in
every age have been the footsteps of faith as taught in
the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. To “ go forth” in
this direction implies a definite act of the will, and a
readiness to be separated from all that would hinder,.80 Handfuls on Purpose.
It is along this path that He feedeth His flock. ” Seek
the old paths, where is the good way,” and beware of
the “ New ” (John 14, 6). New revelations, and New
theologies that are not in accordance with the “ foot-steps
of the flock ” are to be rejected and avoided.
2. What she is to do. “ Feed thy kids beside the
shepherd’s tents.” The kids are the young of the flock
in which she has become specially interested. Personal
devotion to Christ leads to an earnest desire after the
good of others. Our Lord’s “ Lovest thou Me ” was
accompanied with “ Feed My lambs,” and always is.
The kids were to be associated with the flock, and so are
to be fed “ beside the shepherd’s tent.“ Their tents
were pitched for the convenience of the flock. The place
where the shepherd feeds his sheep is the place where
to feed the lambs, and what is “ green pastures ” to
the one will be “ green pastures ” to the other. There
is but one Lord, one faith.
III.-HIS WORDS OF COMPARISON. “ I have
compared thee . . . to a steed in Pharaoh’s chariot ”
(v. g, R.v.). This is His comparison, and must be full of
significance. It suggests-I
. Sou&drress. The King would have no blem-ished
steed in His chariot. The blind and the lame had
no place there. In God’s service, moral, spiritual, and
intellectual soundness is required. Salvation from the
deformity of sin needed-2.
Dig&y. The royal steed must be dignified in
its every action. A slovenly, cumbrous gait does not
become such. The servant of Jesus Christ must walk.His Answer and Encouragement. 81
worthy of the Lord. “ Lift up your heads.” Your
citizenship is in heaven.
3. Strength. Pharaoh’s chariot steed is no weak-ling
; it is clothed with power, and can smell the battle
afar off (Job 39, 25). Paul’s soul was prancing like a
steed when he said, “ I can do all things through Christ
which strengthened me.”
4. Activity. AIways ready for action is another
characteristic of the full bred, highly-developed steed.
Liveliness of disposition belongs to the perfect man in
Christ Jesus. “ Ready to every good work ” (Titus 3, I).
Always abounding in the work of the Lord.
5. Submissiveness. The steed in the kingly chariot,
with all its pomp and power, is very sensitive and
obedient to the guiding hand. So is the Bride under
the constraining love of Christ and His Holy Spirit.
Willing and Obedient.
6. Honours. The steed of Pharaoh’s chariot was
called to Royal service. It was associated with the
king for his work and pleasure. Bearing him whither
he would. We are also co-workers together with Him,
who is King of Kings. Called to bear His name among
the heathen (Acts 9,15). Take My yoke upon you.
THE BLESSED FELLOWSHIP.
CHAPTER I, 12-17.
After the Bride’s request and the Bridegroom’s
answer and encouragement, comes a season of refreshing
communion..82 Handfuls on Purpose.
I.-WHERE ? “ At the King’s table ” (v. 12).
The King has a table-that which displays His marvel-lous
provisions-the Word. The King “ sits ” at His
Table ” (R.V.) ready to welcome each invited guest.
It would be an unsatisfying table if the King Himself
were not there. Such is the “ Lord’s Table” (Luke
12, 37). The Scriptures, as the table of the King,
testify of Him. Great God, what a spread.
II.-HER EXPERIENCES. She declares, z&Zs
the King sat at His table-I.
That His spi$enard sent forth its fragrance (v.
12, R.V.). As this sweet-smelling shrub, in a congenial
atmosphere poured forth its fragrance, so in the warmth
of His presence, her afflictions flowed out copiously.
When His Spirit is received in fulness, then the love of
God, and love to God, will be shed abroad in our hearts.
2. That hm Beloved was to her as a bundle of
myrrh. The more love we have for Christ, the more
fragrant and precious will He become to us. Not only
myrrh, but as a bundle of it. We are told that Eastern
ladies carried myrrh in their bosoms to impart fragrance
to the person. Christ in the heart, makes a fragrant
life. To some He is but a “ root out of a dry ground.”
To them that believe, He is precious.
3. That His position was 07t her hearf. “ A bundle
of myrrh . . . that lieth betwixt my breasts ” (13,
R.V.). Betwixt the breasts is the seat of the heart-the
place where Christ delights to rest. He dwells in
the heart by faith (Eph. 3, 17)..The Blessed Fellowship. 83
III.-HIS WORDS OF COMFORT TO HER. Now
the Bridegroom responds to the glowing testimony of the
Bride. She has honoured Him ; He honours her. He
“ Thou art fair ” (v. 15). She has become very
pleasant in His eyes. Those to whom Christ is precious,
are precious to Christ. The more beauty we can see in
Jesus, the more of His beauty will be seen in us. To
be fair in His sight is better than being fashionable with
2. “ Thine eyes are as doves ” (R.V.). The eyes
are expressive of character. In those eyes He sees
simplicity and purity. The dove nature is seen in the
dove’s eyes. How different are the eyes of the hawk
and the fox : the eyes of the unclean and the deceitful.
Her whole nature had been subdued into the purest and
tenderest devotion. This is the beauty which the King
so greatly desires (Ps. 45, II).
IV.-HER WORDS OF RESPONSE TO HIM.
” Thou art fair, my Beloved, yea pleasant ”
(v. 16). Fair and pleasant characterises the Bride-groom.
Beautiful to the eye, and pleasant to the heart.
He satisfies the vision and meets all the needs of the soul.
2. “Our couch is green ” (R.V.). The resting place
of these mutual beloveds is as pleasant and refreshing
as the Love of God. They rest in His Love. They
have both been made to lie down in green pastures.
3. ” Our House has beams of cedars” (R.V.).
The house of the Church, in which both Bride and Bride-.84 Handfuls on Purpose.
groom delight, being built on a Rock ; its beams are
strong and enduring. Cedar wood is the most durable
of timbers-sometimes called shittim wood. The
superstructure is built to Stand.
4. “ Our Galleries are firs ” (R.V., Marg.). The gal-leries
may refer to steps of ascent, or to a series of bal-conies
for outward prospect. The fragrant firs and the
enchanting outlook, that widens the horizon, as they
arise, platform above platform. Such is the progressive
experience, and growing delight of those who abide in
fellowship with Him. Three times over, she uses the
word “ Our ” not “ My.” What have we, that we have
not received from Him, and what is Ours, is also His. It
is mutual enjoyment.
TIMES OF REFRESHING.
CHAPTER 2, 1-7.
In His Chambers, and in His Presence, she is in
the enjoyment of rich refreshing. “ In Thy Presence
is fulness of joy.” The conversation is the sweetest
and most endearing. Notice-I.-
HER CONFESSION. “ I am a Rose of Sharon,
a Lily of the Valley ” (R.V.). These words are often
quoted as spoken by the Bridegroom, but they are the
words of the Bride, and express her lowly opinion of
herself. The Rose of the plain and the Lily of the valley
were only common, modest flowers. She feels that in
herself, she is no better than others. But God hath
chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of
the kingdom (Jas. 5, 2 ; 2 Cor. 8, 9)..Times of Refreshing. 85
II.-HIS APPRECIATION. “As a Lily among
thins, so is My love among the daughters.” A lily is the
symbol of beauty, of purity, and of humility. To Him,
she is a lily arrayed in a beauty more glorious than that of
Solomon’s, but her position on earth is as one “ among
thorns.” Thorns represent the uncharitable, uncomely,
unprofitable, and hurtful. Their tendency is to choke
the Word of life-their end is to be burned. The lily is
amolrg the thorns, not of them, as the wheat grows among
the tares. There were saints in Cesar’s household.
Their position is one of suffering and testimony.
III.-HER BLISSFUL TESTIMONY. Observe
that it is all of Him. She refers to-I.
His Character. “ As the tree (citron or
orange) among the trees . . . so is my Beloved among
the sons ” (v. 3). She is a lily among thorns, He is
an orange tree among the fruitless trees of the wood :
the sons of men. He is “the Tree of Life.” None ever
found “ nothing but leaves ” here. This tree with its
thick deep green foliage, and ever ripe and luscious fruit
is the coveted place of shelter and refreshing to the weary-burdened,
thirsty pilgrim (Isa. 32, 2). This unique tree
yields its fruit every month. Let him that is athirst, come.
2. His Shadow. “ I sat under His shadow with
great delight.” There are other shadows, like Jonah’s
gourd, under which we may sit with fear. Only under
His shadow can we sit with “ great delight.” Here
only is security, love, power, and satisfaction. The
fruit of His labour and suffering is sweet ; Pardon, peace,
and hope. It is sweet to the taste of a weary, hungry,.86 Handfuls on Purpose.
thankful heart. Many have their taste so depraved by
eating the deceptive apples of Sodom, that they desire
not the fruit of the Tree of Life.
3. His Banqueting Howe. This is suggestive of
joyful company, and abundant provision. The House
of Prayer is a banqueting house, where the soul is re-freshed
and strengthened with His grace and truth,
being filled with the Spirit. “ He brought me ! none else
could. He leads me into the place of fulness of blessing.”
4. His Banner. “ His banner over me was love.”
This banner is the symbol of His conquering love ; under
it she has a triumphant entrance. Our liberty of access
comes through His prevailing Iove. “ He loved me, and
gave Himself for me.” This King sets His banner over
all His possessions. It is the banner of love, because all
the forces of love in His Kingdom are represented by it.
5. His Hands. “ His left hand under my head,
and His right hand doth embrace me.” She who has
such a warm place in the heart of His love, will not fail
to have a secure place in the hands of His power. His
left hand for support, and His right hand for protection.
” Underneath are the everlasting awns.” He fainteth
not. The beloved of the Lord shall dwell is safety by
Him (Deut. 33, rz). None is able to pluck His loved
ones out of His hand (John IO, 28-30).
PROOFS OF HIS LOVE.
CHAPTER 2, 8-13.
” The voice of my Beloved ” (v. 8). She hears His
voice ; it is the voice of love, a love that delights to
manifest itself in unmistakable words and actions..Proofs of His Love. 87
r. He Comes. “ Behold, He cometh.” The great
distance which separated Him and her, could only be
bridged by Him, through infinite love. He comes
powerfully, “ leaping upon the mountains.” He comes
C-JYf~JY, “ skipping upon the hills.” He comes to seek
and to save.
2. He Stands. “ He standeth behind our wall.”
There is no wall that can keep Him out, but “ OUY wall.”
The wall of indifference and unbelief. Yet He condes-cends
to stand behind it. Break down this wall, and
you will see the King.
3. He Looks. “ He looketh in at the windows ”
(v. g, R.V.). He takes advantage of every opening to
get into touch with our needy souls. No lover can be
more interested in hissweetheart than He is about His
own. Every desire after Him is a window through
which He can look into the soul.
4. He Reveals. “ He sheweth Himself through
the lattice ” (R.V.). It is the fondest longing of His
gracious heart to shew Himself, in all the wealth of His
character, to the lonely loving heart. “ He that
loveth me . . . I will manifest Myself to him ” (John
5. He Speaks. “ My Beloved spake ” (v. IO).
She has no doubt at all that it is His voice she hears.
What other voice could be so sweet, so surpassingly
charming ? There is no mistaking it.
6. He Imites. “ Rise up, my love, my fair one,
and come away.” He has come that He might take her
to Himself, and into the fair summer land of His Grace..88 Handfuls on Purpose.
“ Come away,” away from all that harms or hinders, into
His ways and works, where there is peace and power.
As sinners we go to Him, as disciples we go after Him, as
friends we go with Him.
7. He Elzcowages. The characteristics of spring
mentioned here (w. 11-13) are metaphorical of the new
life. It is spring-time in the soul, when the Sun of
Righteousness casts His warm reviving beams upon it.
All the blessings of this new life have their source in Him.
In these words of cheer, spoken to the Bride by the
Bridegroom, we have “The Gospel of Christ,” which
assures us that-(
r)* “ The winter (of Death) is past ” (v. II).
You hath He quickened who were dead. All in Christ
are a new creation . . . All things are become new
(z Cor. 5. 17). Passed from death into life, from winter
(2). “ The rain (of Judgment) is over and gone.”
As Noah, after the flood, stepped out into a new world,
so Christ, by His death on the Cross, brings US out of
condemnation into the glorious liberty of “ newness of
life ” (Rom. 8, I).
(3). “ The flowers (of promise) appear on the
earth.” After the death and resurrection of Christ,
the promises of God, spring up in fresh beauty and power,
as plentiful as the flowers of the field. “ The promise is
unto you,” pluck these precious gifts, and make your
life beautiful and fragrant.
(4). “ The time of Singing (Praise) is come.” It
well becometh the mornings of spring to be vocal with.Proofs of His Love. 89
song. The dawn of the new morning of spiritual life
is a time when every bird within the cage of our being is
set a singing, “ Praise ye the Lord,” sing and make
melody in your heart, for the Lord hath done great things
(5). ” The voice of the turtle (Holy Spirit) is
heard in our land.” While the flowers of promise appear
ilz the earth-offered to all, the assuring voice of the
Spirit only is heard in our land. To receive the promised
Spirit, as the Comforter and Guide, we must know the
Power of His CrOSS, (Gal, 3, 13-q).
(6). The season of Fruitfulness is at hand. “ The
fig tree ripeneth her green figs, and the vines are in
blossom ” (v. 13). There is now the prospect of a
priceless ingathering. This is the stage referred to in
John 15, 16. Blessing for others must be one of the
results of our Union with Him (Hosea 14, 8).
(7). The Call is repeated. ” Arise, my love, my
fair one, and come away.” Arise, don’t keep sitting in
the place of darkness and doubt. Thou art “ my love,
the joy of my heart,” come away into the full enjoyment
of all this Heaven-sent Spring brings within your reach.
In His Presence is fulness of joy. Wilt thou go with this
CHAPTER 2, 14-17.
To her, He is the “ chiefest among the thousands,”
to Him, she is the “ fairest among women.” The
fellowship of such must be sweet. Observe here-c.90 Handfuls on Purpose.
I.-HER SECURITY. As His own dovs-the
emblem of purity and affection-she is-I.
“ In the clefts of the Rock,” for safety (v. 14).
She dwells on high (Isa. 33,16), far above the reach of
the cruel fowler, in the cleft of the Rock of Ages, kept
by the power of God. The strength of Hills, which is
His, is also hers.
2. “ In the secret places of the ascent ” (Newberry),
for progress. Her position is one of safety, her privilege
is one of advancement. The Rock of defence is fre-quently
associated with the secret place of privilege
(Ps. 27, rg ; Isa. 33, 16). The power of the Spirit is
associated with the blood of the Cross. As sons, we are
in the cleft of the rock, as servants, we are “ in the secret
places of the stairs.”
II.-HIS LONGING FOR COMMUNION. He
desires of her two things, He says-I.
“ Let Me see tky countenance . . _ for it is
comely.” Comely with the beauty that He has put upon
it, by satisfying her heart with His love and goodness.
Lift up thy face unto God-His heart yearns to see His
own light in your eyes, and to have fellowship with thee.
“ Let Me hear uiy voice, for it is sweet.” It is
sweet to Him to hear thy voice in prayer to Him, in
praise of Him, and in testimony for Him. The voice
may be weak and trembling, but to Him it is sweet.
Let Him hear it often, for there are so many other voices
that must be harsh and painful to His gracious ear..Mutual Delight. 91
III.-HIS CAREFULNESS OVER THEIR POS-SESSIONS.
“ Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that
spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom ”
(v. 15, R.V.). The vineyards may represent spheres
of service. Into the sacred enclosure foxes, or false
teachers, have come (Ezek. 13.4). There are also “ little
foxes,” playful, innocent things in a way, but they
spoil the vines. The Bride and Bridegroom are co-partners
in this business ; what touches the vineyard,
affects them both. If we are vitally united to Christ,
we shall be vitally interested in His cause. What is to
be done with the foxes ? “ Take them.” Deal with
them as foxes.
IV.-HER JOYFUL CONFESSION. “My Be-loved
is mine, and I am His ” (v. 16).
I. His, by Grace and Choice. His, because He
hath set His love upon me, and hath chosen me as His
own. He loved me, and gave Himself for me.
2. His, by Faith and Self-surrender. “ I am His ! ”
He gave Himself for me, and I have given myself for
Him. Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price.
This is a union that is indissoluble in death or eternity.
3. His, until the Day break. Just now, her sphere
of action, in fellowship with Him, is among the shadows :
but when that great “ day ” dawns, these shall “ flee
away.” She is His, as really in the place of suffering, as
in the day of glory. Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadows . . . I will fear no evil, for
Thou art with me (Ps. 23, 4)..92 Handfuls on Purpose.
4. His, Icrobil He comes ag&. “ Turn, my
Beloved, and be Thou like a young hart upon the
mountains of division ” (R.V., Marg.). The young hart
can speedily overcome the hills and valleys, which sepa-rate.
When Christ comes again, He will come “ quickly”
the mountains that presently hide His visible presence,
and divide His waiting people, will flow down at His
Appearing. The cry of the Bride is, “ Come, Lord
Jesus, come quickly.”
A SORROWFUL NIGHT.
CHAPTER 3, 1-4.
These verses tell us of a lost fellowship, and a mid-night
I. The Search. “ I sought Him.” Why ? What
had happened ? Something had separated these lovers.
When the Holy Spirit is grieved, fellowship with the
Lord is broken. She sought Him because she was
deeply sensible of her loss. The more precious the Lord
is to us, the more sorrowfully shall we miss His presence.
2. The Time. “ By night.” It is always night
to the loving heart when He is not there. Distance
from Christ implies darkness ; for He is the Light of
3. The Munlzer. (I), She sought Him on His bed.
The bed is a place of ease and inactivity. But He is not
found here ; for the search is still in a slothful fashion.
(2), She sought Him in the Sfrcet, she is out of her bed
now, and into Society. But even in the city, she is
seeking for the living among the dead. Lost fellowship.A Sorrowful Night. 93
with Christ is not restored in this manner. (3) She
sought Him among the Watchmen (v. 3). “ Saw ye
Him ? ” Alas, even the Watchmen of Zion are not
always in personal touch with Him. She has also to
pass them by.
4. The Discovery. “ I found Him whom my soul
loveth ” (v. 4). When her own plans and methods and
efforts had been exhausted, He revealed Himself unto
her. She made this joyful discovery when alone. Mary
made a like discovery after a somewhat similar search
(John 20, n-16), “ I found Him.” There was no possi-bility
of her mistaking another for Him. He only could
satisfy her loving, trusting heart.
5. The Result. Having found Him, she says-(
x), “ I held Him.” She held Him fast, with the
heart grip of faith, like one clinging for very life. She
held Him, conscious of her own need, and of His
inexpressible preciousness. (2), “ I brought Him into
my mother’s house.” If He had been earlier brought
into her mother’s house, she might have saved herself
this time of weary searching. Fellowship with Jesus
Christ is sweet, but it is all the sweeter when He is
brought into the home circle. If you cannot bring
your mother and your brethren to Jesus, bring Jesus
HIS BED, HIS CHARIOT, AND HIS CROWN.
CHAPTER 3, 7-11~
These words, “ Bed, Chariot, Crown,” are all
emphasised in the Hebrew..94 Handfuls on Purpose.
I.-HIS BED. “ Behold, His bed.” His bed
represents the place of divine rest.
I. It was well defended. “ Threescore valiant men
are about it.” The place of His rest is strongly protec-ted.
“ He shall not fail, nor be discouraged.” Neither
the power, the number, nor the devices of the enemy
can disturb the rest of the Lord. To enter into His
rest is to be saved indeed. “ Come unto Me, and I
will give you rest.” His defenders are all “ expert
in war ” (v. 8).
2. The reason why. “ Because of fear in the night.”
We wrestle not against flesh and blood . . . but against
the rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph. 6, 12).
The foes that seek to disturb His rest, and ours, are
mighty, but they that are for us are greater. The
weapons of our warfare are not carnal.
II.-HIS CHARIOT. This is His “ Car of State ”
(R.V., Marg.). Like the Salvation of the Lord-I.
It was devised by the King. “ King Solomon
made himself a chariot ” (v. 9). The plan, the purpose,
and the material were all his own devising. So was it
with the Chariot of the Gospel. The whole scheme of
Redemption is according to the choice and mind of
God. Man’ s thoughts have no place here.
2. It was costly. “ He made the pillars thereof
of silver, the bottom of gold.” Solomon was not only
the wisest, but the richest man of the age, he only could
provide the materials for such a costly Car of State.
Silver and gold stands here for preciousness and per-fection.
The means of our Salvation was indeed a.His Bed, His Chariot, and His Crown. 9s
costly provision. Not silver and gold, but the precious
blood of Christ.
3. 1t ZpIas comfortable. It was I‘ inlaid with love ”
(R.V., Marg.). The covering was the purple of royalty,
but the lining was that of love. This phrase in itself is
ample warrant for seeking spiritual significance in this
Song. In this wonderful chariot there is Love all
around. What a blessed experience. You have to
get inside to know what is the length, the breadth,
the depth, and the height of this love, which passeth
4. It was for others. “ For the daughters of
Jerusalem ” (v. IO). 0 ! ye daughters of Zion, this
is the royal provision for you to take you to the King’s
palace. Written all round the Chariot of our Salvation,
are these words, “ Whosoever will, may come.” If any
man enter in he shall be saved and satisfied.
III.-HIS CROWN. “Go forth . . , and behold
King Solomon with the crown ” (v. II). Yes ! the
chariot paved with love leads to the vision of the
I. When did He receive it ? It was “ in the day of
his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.”
When Christ was resurrected and enthroned, it was the
day of His betrothal to His redeemed Bride, and a day
of great gladness to His heart.
2. Who gave Him the Crower 7 ‘ I The crown where-with
His Mother crowned Him.” The Mother is the
embodiment of Love and grace. God is Love. Love
sent Jesus Christ, the Son, and love crowned Him..96 Handfuls on Purpose.
“ On His head are many crowns.” Behold your Bride-groom
cometh, crowned with glory and honour. GO
forth to meet Him, and to be for ever with Him.
HER PERSONAL BEAUTY.
CHAPTER 4, 1-6.
” Behold, thou art fair, my Love : behold, thou
art fair.” This is not the Bride’ s own estimate of her-self,
but His. The features of the physical body are
here used as a similitude of the Church’ s moral beauty.
The outward appearance is taken as an analogy of the
I. Her Eyes are like dove’ s. Meek and affec-tionate.
The love of her heart beams out in her eyes.
“ The light of the body is the eye.” Like Him, she is
meek and lowly in heart.
2. Her Hair is like a flock of goats. Her hair as
a vail of covering gracefully hides her person, as a
flock of goats on Mount Gilead. The Bride is modest,
not self-assertive, and even her modesty is majestic
as the stately march of a flock of goats.
3. Her Teeth are like a flock of ewes that are newly
shorn (v. 2, R.V.). Numerous as a flock, and clean as a
newly-shorn lamb. The teeth of the Bride are not set
on edge, after the sour grapes of the world. They are
not spoiled by eating that which is not good (Isa. 55, 2).
They are not like lion’ s, for devouring one another.
4. Her Lips are like a thread of scarlet. They
have a healthy colour, and are well defined, because they
speak the language of the Crucified One. The lips of.Her Personal Beauty. 97
those who preach the “ blood of His Cross ” must
become like a thread of scarlet.
5. Her Speech is comely. Because it is seasoned
with the salt of His Spirit, and because it is the lan-guage
of a faithful loving heart. The speech of those
who speak of Him, who is altogether lovely, must be
comely. No corrupt communication can proceed out
of her mouth.
6. Her Temples are like a piece of pomegranate.
They are well developed, and indicate the highest wis-dom.
Her Bridegroom is made unto her wisdom and
righteousness. Those that are Christ’s are wise in Him.
7. Her Neck is like the tower of David (v. 4).
Strong, straight, and dignified. She is not stiff-necked.
The carriage or bearing of the Church of Christ ought
to be in keeping with her glorious destiny as the Lamb’s
wife. Why should the saint walk with his head bowed
to the earth, as if he were the conquered foe of the
8. Her Breasts are like young roes which feed among
the IiIies (v. 5). The breast is the symbol of Aflection.
They are like “ youlzg roes,” because they possess all
the vigour of youth, and all the warmth of a first-love.
These affectionate desires have pleasant pastures : they
” feed among the lilies.” He satisfieth the longing soul
9. Ker Purpose. “ I will get me to the mountain
of myrrh . . . until the day break and the shadows
flee away ” (v. 6). The “ mountain of myrrh,” and
“ hill of frankincense ” fitly represent “ heavenly.98 Handfuls on Purpose.
places in Christ Jesus.” This is the abiding place of
His people now, until the day of His Appearing break,
and the shadows of this earthly life of sorrow and suffer-ing
flee away before the glory of His Presence.
HER CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE.
CHAPTER 4, 7-15.
The many titles given here by the Bridegroom, to
the Bride, are a revelation of His high appreciation of
her character and preciousness to Him. His invitation
is most expressive, “ Come with Me ” (v. 8). His heart
longs for unbroken communion.
I. Come and Walk with Me (Col. I, IO). Agree-ment.
2. Come and Talk with Me (Luke ~4~17). Prayer.
3. Come and Work with Me (I Cor. 3,9). Service.
4. Come and Su@r with Me (Luke 14, 26-29).
5. Comb and Rejoice with Me (Matt. 2.5, 21).
6. Come and Dwell with Me (John 14,2-3). Glory.
Now observe the various titles used as indicating
her character in His sight.
I.-HER CHARACTER. He speaks of her-I
. As a Friend without spot. “ Thou art all
fair, my friend : there is no spot in thee ” (v. 7, New-berry).
The Church is Christ’s friend in this present
evil age, and should be holy and without blemish before
Him in love (Eph. 5, 27)..Her Character and Influence. 99
2. As the Companiort of His Choice. “ Come
with Me , . . from the lion’s dens ; from the moun-tains
of leopards ” (v. 8). Christ has not only chosen
us, but by following Him, we are delivered from the
power of those spiritual lions and leopards whose dens
are still in high places (Eph. 6, 12).
3. As a Sister and Bride. He calls her “ My
Sister, my Bride (v. 9). “ Spouse ” should always be
read “ Bride ” (R.v.). This double relationship comes
by birth and betrothal. Like Eve, the Church is “ bone
of His bones and flesh of His flesh “-Sister-and
also God’s gift to Him as an helpmeet-Bride. His
Incarnation and Resurrection explain these two
4. As a Garden enclosed (v. 12). A garden en-closed
is a place of private pleasure and profit. The
Church is Christ’s own private and delightsome property
It is well enclosed, protected by the walls of His almighty
power and everlasting love. Separated unto Him.
5. As a Founta& sealed. There are treasures and
possibilities connected with the Church that have not
been revealed. Our life is hid with Christ in God.
“ When He shall appear then shall we also be manifested
6. As a Well opened. “ A well of living waters
and streams from Lebanon ” (v. 15). While about her
there is much that is as yet sealed, or hidden from the
eyes of others, there is also much that cannot be hid.
The Church of God is a channel through which flows
streams of living waters. In each redeemed and satis-.100 Handfuls on Purpose.
fied soul there is a well of water springing up into ever-lasting
life (John 4, 14).
II.-HER INFLUENCE WITH HIM. What a
confession the Bridegroom makes when He says to her :
“ Thou hast ratisbd My heart ” (v. g), This is the
only place where this word is used in the Bible. He had
yielded His whole heart to her and she had taken it
away (R.V., Marg.). How had she succeeded in so
captivating and keeping His heart ?
I. With her Looks. “ Thou hast ravished My heart
with one of thine eyes.” Being single-eyed, her whole
body was full of heavenly light. Looking unto Jesus with
the clear confident eye of faith is delightsome to Him.
2. With her Love. ” How fair is thy love . . .
better is thy love than wine ” (v. IO). Our eye will
never ravish His heart, unless He sees our heart in it.
Be not deceived, He is not mocked. He who loved the
Church, and gave Himself for it, desires to see of the
travail of His soul, and to be satisfied in it.
3. With herlips. “Thy lips, 0 My Bride, drop as the
honeycomb” (v. II, R.V.). The words of her testimony
are sweet to Him. The Bridegroom was sanctified in
her heart, so she was ready always to give a reason of
the hope that was in her (I Pet. 3,15). Let the redeemed
of the Lord say so, for no other lips have such a sweet
story to tell as they, Honour the Lord with thy lips.
HER PRAYER AND HIS ANSWER.
CHAPTERS 4, 16 ; 5, I.
I. THE PRAYER. The Bridegroom has just been
comparing her to “ A garden enclosed , . . with.Her Prayer and His Answer. 101
plants . . . and pleasant fruits . . with trees of
frankincense . . . and chief spices ” (4, 12-15). Now
her intense desire is that she, as a garden, might
be worthy of Him ; and abundantly pleasing to Him,
so she prays-I.
For the Coming of the Wind. “ Awake, 0
north wind, and come thou south” (4, 16). The
Awrzkenbng and the ripening influence of the Holy
Spirit are urgently needed if our lives are to be fruitful
unto God. As the “ North wind,” He convicts ; as
the “ South,” he comforts and guides into all truth,
that we may grow in grace and knowledge.
2. For the Outflowing of the Spices. “ That the
spices thereof may flow out.” The spices-or new
graces of the character-would not flow out if they were
not there. It takes the wind, or breath of the Spirit, to
make them flow out right over the walls, in testimony to
the riches of His grace (Zec. 4, 6).
3. For thesatisfaction of her Beloved. “Let my
Beloved come into His garden and eat His precious
fruits ” (a.~.). She acknowledges that as a garden
she is His ; and that all she has, and is, are for Him.
What have we that we have not received ? It is His
desire and should be our delight that He should come
into our lives and make personal use of all the products
of the Holy Spirit in us. Ye are not your own. The
fruits of the unrenewed life are but sour grapes to Him.
II.-THE ANSWER. To her anxious request He
gives a speedy reply-.102 Handfuls on Purpose.
I. He comes. ” I am come into My garden ” (v
I), He comes into His garden : into the sacred en-closure
of the heart, and there manifests Himself,
claiming it as His own. “ My garden.” When we
yield ourselves unto God, our members will become
weapons of righteousness for Him.
2. He accepts. “ I have gathered My myrrh,
I have eaten My honeycomb, I have drunk My wine,”
etc. He has willingly and joyfully accepted for His
own use, all that had been so freely offered Him. What
is consecrated to Him will surely be accepted by Him,
and used for the honour and glory of His name.
3. He invites. “ Eat, 0 friends : drink, yea,
drink abundantly, 0 beloved.” See now His eager
desire that others should share His precious provision.
Let all who are friendly to Christ, shew their friendliness
by accepting of His proffered blessings. Eat. Christ’s
gifts cannot be received too freely, there is no danger
of excess here. “ Drink abundantly ” (Rev. 22, 17).
HER SLOTHFULNESS AND ITS SORROWFUL RESULTS.
CHAPTER 5, 2-8.
After a season of “ abundant ” feasting and fellow-ship,
there is the danger of yielding to selfish ease (v. I).
Let not His abounding grace lead to self-confidence and
apathy. The experience here is that of a backslider.
Why should backsliding follow times of refreshing ?
z. Her Sleep. “ I sleep, but my heart waketh.”
This describes a condition of spiritual inactivity while.Slothfulness and its Results. 103
the conscience is still awake. This is not the sleep of
death (Eph. 2, I), but of indifference and neglect.
Beware of sinning wilfully after that ye have believed.
2. Her Awakening. The voice of my Beloved
knocketh, saying, “ Open to Me.” She knows that it is
His voice that knocketh, but she only hears it in a
dreamy fashion. How tender is His call. ‘ I Open to
Me, My sister, my love, My dove.” The door of self-sufficiency
now stands between her and Him. See
Rev. 3, 17-20.
3 . Her Exctlse. “ I have put off my coat, how
shall I put it on ?” etc. (v. 3). A very little thing is an
excuse for a backslider. She had put off her coat, and
washed her feet, with the intent of self-indulgence.
How should she be disturbed, and her purposes thwarted?
She has fallen from her first love.
4. Her Repentance. “ I rose to open to my Be-loved
” v. 5). Her heart moved when she saw His hand
put in by the hole of the door (v. 4, R.V.). When her
heart moved she moved. Backsliding always begins
with the heart. If there is even a hole in the door,
His merciful hand will find it out, and seek a wider
5. Her Discovery. “ I opened to my Beloved, but
my Beloved . . . was gone ” (v. 6). While she opened
the door her hands and fingers “ dropped with myrrh ”
(v. 5). His gracious act in putting His hand on the
lock made it very pleasant for her to open to Him, but
when His fellowship is lightly esteemed it will be with-.104 Handfuls on Purpose.
drawn. Be not deceived, God is not mocked (Heb
6. Her Self-rejwoach. “ My soul failed when He
spake ” (v. 6). He had spoken to her (v. z), but instead
of instant obedience, she began to make excuse (v. 3).
Now, like Peter, she mournfully remembers her guilt
and failure. She knows exactly where the sin lay.
She had preferred selfish ease to obeying Him.
7. Her Miserable Conditiolz.-(
I ). Fellowship broken, ” I sought Him but
could not find Him.” Sin leads to separation. We
may not be conscious of it at the time, but when
the Spirit is grieved our communion with Christ is in-terrupted.
(2). Prayer unanswered. “ I called Him, but He
gave me no answer.” If we would ask and receive, we
must abide in Him (John 15~7). She has ceased to be
right with Him, so her prayers do not avail (Jas. 5,16).
(3). Testimony lost. ” The watchmen found me
. . . . smote me . . . wounded me . . . took away
my vail from me ” (v. 7). So changed was she that the
city watchman did not know her. Stripped of her
vail, she was brought to both sorrow and shame. Back-sliders
will always suffer in a measure from faithful
watchmen, they must be reproved and rebuked, and
made ashamed of themselves that they might more
keenly feel their guiltiness in disobeying their Lord and
8, Her Appeal. “ I charge you . . . that ye
tell Him that I am sick of love ” (v. 8). She was cast.Slothfulness and its Results. 105
down, but not destroyed. She pleads with those who
are in touch with Him to speak to Him on her behalf-to
pray for her. The Lord turned the captivity of Job
when he prayed for his friends. It is a Christ-like
ministry to make intercession for transgressors. It is
wise to seek the help of others, that we might be lifted
into a higher, Christian experience. “ Brethren, pray
for us.” But one must needs be “ sick of love ” to make
such a request as this.
HER DESCRIPTION OF HIS PERSON.
CHAPTER 5, g-16.
These ” daughters of Jerusalem,” as nominal pro-fessors,
do not help the Bride in her search for her Be-loved
(v. 8). They acknowledge her character as the
‘ I fairest among women,” but to them her Beloved is no
more than any other beloved. It is only a matter of
personal choice and devotion. But their question,
” What is thy Beloved ?” etc., stirred up her deeper
emotions to give this full and glowing testimony to His
matchless beauty, and incomparable character. She
knows Him, whom she has believed.
I. He is wkite and ruddy (v. IO). As a Nazarite
He was “ whiter than milk, and more ruddy than
rubies” (Lam. 4, 7). White and pure as the Son of God,
ruddy and healthy as the Son of Man. Divinely pure
and beautifully human.
2. He is the Ckiefest among tkousa~ds. In the
building He is the chief Corner-Stone. Among the
brethren He is the First-born. Among the resurrected
H.106 Handfuls on Purpose.
He is the First-begotten. He is the Alpha and Omega.
The First-born of every creature.
3. His head is as tlae most fim gold. Here is per-fect
purity of thought and the perfection of wisdom.
His thoughts are not only pure, but very precious.
4. His locks are bushy and black. His is the beauty
of divine youthfulness and strength. The same yester-day,
to-day, and for ever.
5. His Eyes are as doves’ (v. 12). They are full of
tenderness and compassion. They are also “ fitly set.”
They see things in their true light (2 Chron. I&, 9).
6. His Cheeks are as a bed of spices (v. 13). Lovely,
fragrant, a&active. There was that about our Lord
that drew and fascinated. Even the children were
influenced by it. He is fairer than the children of men.
7. His Lips are like lilies. They are pure and full
of grace ; for grace hath been poured into them (Ps.
45. 2). They drop sweetness.
8. His Hands are as rings of gold. (v. 14, R.V.).
Precious and endless in their working. How manifold
are Thy works (Ps. 104, 24). I have graven thee upon
the palm of My hand (Isa. 49, 16). Into Thine hand I
commit my spirit (Ps. 31, 5. 2 Tim. I, 12).
9. His Body is as bright ivory (R.v.). Ivory,
“ overlaid with sapphires,” is surely symbolic of purity
and incorruptibility. God would not suffer His Holy
One to see corruption. On the mount of transfigura-tion
it was seen to be overlaid with sapphires shining
like the sun..Her Description of His Person. 107
IO. His Legs are as pillars of marble (v. IS).
They are strong and unfailing. He is the Rock, His
work and ways are perfect (Deut. 32, 4). He fainteth
II. His Aspect is like Lebanon (v.R.). There is a
unique dignity about His general appearance that
makes Him pre-eminent among the sons of men, as
Lebanon among the hills.
12. His Mouth is most sweet (v. 16). Never man
spake like this Man (John 7, 46). Never man had such
a message as this Man. His mouth is most sweet, for
in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead ; full
of grace and truth.
13. He is altogether lovely. All the loveliness of
God is revealed in Him. What is more lovely than
love. God is Love. He that dwelleth in love dwelleth
Now, says the Bride, “ This is my Beloved, and
this is my Friend.“ Who wouId not covet such a
THE ANXIOUS INQUIRERS.
CHAPTER 6, 1-3.
It is not to be wondered at that after the Bride’s
magnificent testimony to His “ altogether lovely ”
character (vv. 10-16) we should immediately meet with
seeking souls. If Christ, in all His glorious fulness,
was more frequently preached, there would be no dearth
of results..108 Handfuls on Purpose.
L-THE INQUIRERS. These are the daughters
or virgins of Jerusalem. They are nominal professors,
members of the visible Church, who are as yet strangers
to Jesus Christ. Their lives are morally clean, but they
have no personal experience of His power and fellow-ship.
I. Whom they seek. They seek her Beloved.
“ Whither is thy Beloved turned aside ? that we may
seek Him with thee.” They seek Him of whom they
have just heard. Him who is so full of grace and truth,
the Mighty to save, and to satisfy. Hearing should
lead to seeking. Whom seekest thou ? (John 20, 15).
2. Where they seek. “ Whither is thy Beloved
gone. 0 thou fairest among women.” They seek Him
through her, who has been made fair through His come-liness
put upon her. Her fairlzess was her likeness to
Him, which made her testimony all the more effective.
Those whose character has not been beautified by the
grace of Christ will not be privileged to win souls.
II.-THE DIRECTIONS GIVEN. She is able to
tell them where He can be found. He is-I.
In His garden. “ My BeIoved is gone down into
His garden ” (v. 2). He delights to wander in the gar-den
of His Word, the “ Scripture of Truth.” There
ye shall meet with Him. Every book of the Bible is a
“ bed of spices.”
2. Feeding His flock. “ My Beloved is gone down
. . . to feed (His flock) in the gardens.” Here He
refreshes and strengthens His people, who, like Him,
take delight in this garden. “ Thy Word was found, and.The Anxious Inquirers, 109
I did eat it.” Man shall not live by bread alone, but by
every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of
3. Gathering lilies. “ Gone down into His gar-den
. . . to gather lilies.” His loved ones are like
lilies (2, z), here He gathers them, receiving them to
Himself, and making them a delight to His soul. He
who gathers the lambs in His arms says, “ Him that
cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.”
III.-HER PERSONAL TESTIMONY. ” I am
my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine ” (v. 3). I am
His, because I have given myself to Him. He is mine
because He has given Himself for me. He is mine,
because I have accepted Him ; I am His because He
has accepted me. We should be able and ready to give
a reason for the hope that is in us to all those that
ask. Such personal testimony is always encouraging to
SYMBOLS OF HER UNIQUE CHARACTER.
CHAPTER 6, 4-10.
It would seem that each time she extols His
virtues, speaking of the goodness and loveliness of His
character (vv. z-3), He in turn extols the virtues of
the Bride. They who honour the Lord shall be honoured
by Him. To her, “ He is altogether lovely ” (v. 16).
To Him, she is “ the choice one ” (v. 9).
I. Beautiful as T&ah (v. 4). Tirzah was a royal
residence, a place renowned for its beauty (I Kings.110 Handfuls on Purpose.
14, 19). The Church, true and clean, is a beautiful and
delightful residence of her Lord. ” I in you.” The
beauty of the Lord our God upon US.
2. Comely as Jerusalem. “ Zion,” like the Church,
is “ the perfection of beauty ” (Ps. 50, 2). Beautiful
for siltiation, none so favoured and honoured as she.
Like Jerusalem, she is well protected, the mountains of
God are round about her. The comeliness of her God
is upon her (Ezek. 16, 14).
3. Hopefd as the Morning. “ She looketh forth
as the morning” (v. IO). Her prospects are bright.
Her cause is as the shining light (of the morning) that
shineth more and more, until the perfect day dawns.
She has a blessed hope (Matt. 13, 43).
4. Fair as the Moon. The moon is the chief light
of the world in the absence of the sun. Ye are the light
of the world. ” Occupy till I come.” The moon’s
fairness is but the reflection of the unseen sun. So the
5. Clear as the Sun. While the moon is not so
brilliant as the sun, it is equally faithful in fulfilling its
appointed mission. The Church ought to be as clear
as the Christ in its doctrine, motives, and life. This
one thing I do.
6. Terrible as alz Army (v. IO ). This word
” terrible ” here and in v. 4 only occurs once elsewhere
in the Bible (Hab. I, 7). It means Awe-inspirilzg as
bannered hosts. There are tremendous possibilities
in ” bannered hosts.” Banners here are the symbols of
unity, conviction, courage, and confidence. The Church.Symbols of Her Unique Character. 111
in its goings forth on its divinely-inspired mission, with
its unfailing resources, its God-given armour and un-conquered
Leader, should be an awe-inspiring sight. Is
this what the Church is to-day ?
THE BRIDEGROOM’ S VISIT.
CHAPTER 6, 11-13.
I. The Place. “ I went down into the garden of
nuts.” The Church, as a whole, is compared to a gar-den,
and His people to nuts, whose lives are sweet to
Him, and well protected. Our life is hid with Christ in
God. He ‘ I went down.” AU His dealings with us
implies a going down on His part. He humbled Him-self.
2. The Pw+ose. “ To see the fruits ” (v. II).
And whither the vine flourished, and the pomegranates
budded. He came seeking fruit, and to see how His
green plants prospered. The tree that is planted by the
rivers of water should bring forth fruit in its season
(Ps. I, 3). Every tree planted by our Lord has river
privileges, and is therefore without excuse. In Me is
thy fruit found. See John 15, 1-5.
3. The E#ect. “ Or ever I was aware, My soul
(desire) set Me among the chariots of My princely
people” (v. 12, R.v.). Suddenly, His chief desire was
to identify Himself with the martial movements of His
beloved and princely people. Those who would bring
forth fruit unto Him, by their life and testimony, shall
have the joy-inspiring presence of their Lord and
Saviour. “ Lo, I am with you.” Pentecost is the expres-.112 Handfuls on Purpose.
sion of His sudden desire to go forth with His princely
people in their service for Him.
4. The Cdl. “ Return, return, 0 Shulamite ;
return, return, that we may look upon thee ” (v. 13).
“ Shulamite ” is the feminine for Solomon, and might
be rendered, Return, 0 Solomonite. She is called by the
King’s own name, as the disciples of Jesus Christ was
called “ Christians ” first at Antioch. Perhaps this call is
in response to her anxious inquiry in chapter 5,8. If His
soul is to abide with His princely people, they must with
their whole soul return to Him. Fruitfulness is con-ditioned
by His abiding in us, and we in Him.”
5. The Questiolc. She now ventures to ask :
“ Why will ye look upon the Shulamite ? ” (v. 13).
What will ye see in her ? She has nothing that she has
not received worth looking at. It is all by the grace
of God that we are what we are. Although “ in me,
that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” Yet He
desires to see His own comeliness and workmanship in us.
6. The Answer. His reply is wonderful. He
sees, as it were, “ The advance of two companies ”
(R.V., Marg.). There are before His eyes two great
and happy companies, constituting the whole redeemed
family of God. A joyful company in heaven, and a
joyful company on earth, both singing the song of the
conquering blood of the Lamb. Rejoice in the Lord.
CHAPTER 7, 10-13.
In the first part of this chapter He gives another
description of the personal virtues of His Bride. He.Workers Together. 113
begins with referring to her “ beautiful feet,” and ends
with comparing her mouth to wine that causeth “ the
lips of those that are asleep to speak ” (v. 9). The
testimony of the Church ought to lead to the awakening
of those that are asleep to speak forth the praise of
His glorious Name. There is here-I.
Confession. “ I am my Beloved’ s,” and His
desire is toward me” (v. IO). Joyful and fruitful
service is impossible until our own personal relationship
with Christ is properly adjusted. If His desires are
to be toward me, and His love fill My heart, He must
be the beloved of my soul. I must be wholly His.
2. Consecration. “ Come, my Beloved, let us go
forth into the field,” etc. (v. II). Her heart is now
enlarged, so she longs to go forth into the field of mission-ary
service. She knows that without Him she can do
nothing. She says, “ let us go. The “ fields,” the
“ villages,” and the “ vineyards,” may represent three
aspects of service. The evangelist, the pastor, and the
teacher. Whether our work is in the open field, gather-ing
the villagers, or ministering to the vineyards, we
equally need the presence and power of our loving Lord
3. Resolution. “ There will I give Thee my love ”
(v. 12, R.V.). If we do not give Him our love, &%, in
the place of service, with all its trials and difficulties,
we are giving him nothing. The love of Christ must
constrain us. Are there not those who are more ready
to give Him their labour than their love. Here in this.114 Handfuls on Purpose.
world of sin and sorrow, He gave us His love, here,
amidst the toil and strife, give Him thy love.
4. Satisfaction. ‘ I At our doors are all manner of
precious fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for
Thee, 0 my Beloved” (v. 13, R.v.). In union with
Him, the fruits will be precious and plentiful. The
workers’ souls will be abundantly refreshed, and fruits
will be “ laid up ” for their Lord and Master, that He
may see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied.
Just now, we are workers tog&w with Him !
CHAPTER 8, r-5.
Wherever there is intense love, there will be un.
mistakable proof of it.
I.-HER PASSIONATE DESIRE is seen in her
I. To have the liberty of a Sister. “ 0, that Thou
wert as my brother, I would kiss Thee, yea, and none
would despise me” (v. I, R.V.). She is eager to
make a public profession of her love and devotion to
Him. It is so becoming to shew love for a brother,
without provoking the sneer, or suspicion of others.
Why should the public expressions of our love to Christ
lead to ridicule, any more than to a brother or a
sister ? The world understands natural, but not spiritual
2. To bring Him into her Mother’s house.
The “ Mother’s house,” or household, may repre-sent
the Assembly of His people. The Church at.Love’ s Longing. 115
Laodicca had great need of one such to bring the re-jected
Christ inside. The household of faith should
profit by the special individual experience of each.
3. To cause Him to drink of spiced wine. There is
a burning desire to refresh and cheer His soul with the
best. What shall I render unto the Lord for all His
benefits ? The wine of our natural love, spiced with
the divine love shed abroad in our hearts, is ever pleasing
4. To have her whole person sufifiortcd and pro-tected
by His power. “ His left hand under my head,
His right hand should embrace me ” (v. 3). The more
we know of the love of Christ, the more shall we seek to
trust Him. Those who have taken refuge in the Eternal
God shall have underneath them the everlasting arms
(Deut. 33, 27). The head that is resting on His hand
shall be without anxious thoughts (Matt. 6, 25).
II.-HER NOTE OF WARNING. ” I charge you
. . . that ye stir not up my Love until He please ” (v. 4).
She warns the daughters of Jerusalem against saying or
doing anything that would tend to produce disturbing
influences. True love to Christ is jealous for His Will and
Work. We must learn to wait on Him, ” until He
III.-HER MANNER OF WALK. “Who is this
that cometh up from the wilderness leaning upon her Be-loved
? ” (v. 5). The virgin daughters ask this question,
one of another, as they look at the walk of the Bride
with the Bridegroom. Observe-.116 Handfuls on Purpose.
I. Where she is ; “ In the wilderness.” It is a
picture of ‘, the Church in the wilderness ” (Acts 7, 38).
In the world, but not of it. Pilgrims and strangers on
2. Where she was going ; “ Up from the wilder-ness.”
This is not our rest ; we look for a city, whose
builder and maker is God. Up from the sphere of
service and suffering to the place of rest and reward.
3. How she went ; “ Leaning upon her Beloved.”
Walking with Him, and resting on Him, is the Christian
pilgrim’s joy and privilege.
THE BRIDEGROOM’ S WORDS OF COMFORT.
CHAPTER 8, 5-7.
This is one of the most impressive passages in the
whole Book. It contains His definition of His own
love. He declares-I.-
WHAT HE HAD DONE FOR HER. “I
awakened thee ” (v. 5, R.v.). The first impulse of the
new life came from Him. “ He first loved us.” He
found us asleep, and insensible to His nearness, His grace,
and His goodness. You hath He quickened who were
II.-WHAT HE DESIRES TO BE TO HER.
He pleads with her to set Him-I.
” As a Seal upon her heart.” When Christ
Himself is fixed on the heart, then the actions of the
life become as His signet, revealing the impress of His
character (Hag. z,z3). When this seal is on the heart,.The Bridegroom’ s Words of Comfort. 117
then every thought and feeling is stamped with His
2. “ As a Seal upon her arm.” When the arm is
made bare for service, the Seal of His authority and
power should be visible. The Seal of Christ and of His
Holy Spirit must first be in the heart for life and love
before it can be on the arm for power and service.
III.-WHAT HE HAS FOR HER. Infinite love.
I. A love that cannot die. “ It is as strong as
death.” Death is strong, but it is not stronger than His
love. The strength of this love is the strength of the
2. A love that cannot be quenched (v. 7). Al-though
the enemy comes in like a flood, it cannot
quench this love, which is indeed “ A very flame of
the Lord ” (v. 6, R.v.). A fire that shall never go out.
“ I have loved Thee with an everlasting love.” The
many waters of sorrow and suffering cannot quench it.
Herein is love (I John 4, g-10).
3, A love that cannot be drowned. I‘ Neither
can the floods drown it.” It cannot be extinguished,
neither can it be overwhelmed or buried in the depths.
It will succeed in manifesting itself.
4. A love that cannot be bought. “If aman would
give all the substance of his house for it, he would utterly
be contemned.” (v. 7). A man can no more purchase
the love of God, than he could purchase the Son of God.
All the s&stance of man, moral or material, is utterly
worthless as a price for His love. God doth not sell.118 Handfuls on Purpose.
His love, He commendeth it toward us, while we are
yet sinners (Ram. 5, 7-8).
A PLEA FOR OTHERS.
CHAPTER 8, 8-10.
She has just had another and a fuller revelation of
His unquenchable love, and the result of it is : anxiety
for others. When the love of God is shed abroad in our
hearts, we will fall in love with the loveless.
I.-THE BRIDE’S INQUIRY. It was regarding
“ a little Sister ” (v. 8). Although the unconverted are
lotclcr in standing than the children of God, there is still
kinship between them-Sisters.
I. The Sister’s defect. “ She hath no breasts.”
The breast is emblematic of Affection. She hath no love
in her heart. This is a most lamentable condition to be
in, but it is exactly the state of every unrenewed soul.
No love for Jesus Christ.
2. The difficulty. “ What shall we do for our
Sister in the day when she shall be spoken for ? ” Yea,
even she will be spoken for by Him whose name is Love,
and who died for us even while we were yet sinners.
What shall we do for her, who is so loved by Thee, and
who has no love in response to Thee]? This is a problem
that is still with us. He loves the loveless, “ I called
. . . ye refused.”
II.-THE BRIDEGROOM’S REPLY. There are
two possible results.
I. She may be built up. “ If she be a wnll, we
will build upon her a palace of silver ” (v. 9). If there.A Plea for Others. 119
is any stability in her, and if she is willing to receive all
that we can give her, then the breasts of her affection
will be lifted up like a “ turret of silver ” (R.V.).
Love begets love, we love Him because He first loved US.
z. She may be nailed up. “ If she be a door, we
will enclose (fix) her with boards of cedar.” If she prove
as unstable, and as easily moved about with every
wind, as an unfixed door, through which all or anything
may go, then we will nail her up, and make her to feel
her bondage and helplessness. If souls are not won by
love, then they will be condemned by the law. The
Bride and Bridegroom co-operate in the work of
III.-HER PERSONAL TESTIMONY. She now
gives a little bit of her own experience-I.
” 1 am a wall ” (v. IO, R.v.). I am steadfast
and trustful. I will not be moved. I know whom I
have believed. This is not vain boasting.
2. “ My breasts are like towers.” My affections,
she says, rise up unto Him like towers in the skies.
She loves Him with all her heart.
3. “ I, in His eyes . . . found peace” (R.V.).
Where there is stability of purpose and a heart of
love, there will be the enjoyment of His favour and
peace (Col. 2,7). By the grace of God, I am what I am.
CHAPTER 8, 11-14.
In the closing words of this matchless Song we have
reference made to-.120 Handfuls on Purpose.
L-THE KING’ S POSSESSION, “ Solomon had
a vineyard at Baal-hamon,” which means “ the place
of a multitude ” (v. II). The Church, or vineyard of the
Lord, is in the place where the multitude is, because it
is intended to be a blessing to the multitude.
I. What He did with it. “ He let out the vine-yard
to keepers.” This vineyard needs to be kept, and
all called of God and empowered with the Holy Spirit,
are put in trust with the affairs of their Lord and King.
They occupy for Him.
2. Why he let it out. “ For the fruit thereof.”
The purchase of this vineyard cost Him much (Acts
20, 28). Those who reap the advantage of it, are re-sponsible
to the King. Mark 13, 34.
II.-THE BRIDE’ S RESOLUTION. “ My vine-yard,
which is mine (myself) is before me ; Thou . . .
must have a thousand”-the full amount. Each worker
in the vineyard will have reward-two hundred, but Thou
must have a thousand. Honour must be given to whom
honour is due ; but the Lord must be exalted far above
III.-THE BRIDEGROOM’ S IN JUNCTION.
I. To whom spoken? To her “ that dwelleth in
the gardens” (v. 13). She who dwelt in the clefts of
the rock ” (2, 14) now dwells in the gardens of sepa-ration
and dehght. The rock for safety, the vineyard
for work, the garden for pleasure.
2. To what purpose ? He says to her, “The com-panions
hearken to thy voice : cause Me to hear it.”
It is good that others should hear our voice in testi-.Closing Words. 121
mony, but it is better that He should hear it in praise
and prayer. Thy Redeemer loves to hear thy voice.
Cause Him to hear it often.
IV.-THE FINAL INVITATION. This book of
“ Unvailings,” like the book of “Revelation,” closes
with an earnest cry for the coming of the Bridegroom
in His power and glory. “ Make haste, my Beloved ”
(v. 14). Come quickly, “like a roe or a young hart
upon the mountains.” This is the attitude of a faithful
loving, longing Bride. This is our hope. “ For our
citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we wait for a
Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shah fashion anew
the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed
to the body of His glory, according to the working
whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Him-self.”
(Phil. 3, zo-ZI, R.v.). Even so, come, Lord Jesus..122
Handfuls on Purpose.
THE INFANT CHURCH.
The infant Church was mighty in its infancy. The
present-day snare of +recedency was unknown in those
early days of simple, child-like trust, when everything
seemed to be sprinkled with a dewy resurrection fresh-ness.
May this newness of life be ours. TO this end
let us look at some of those features which characterised
the members of the infant Church, and let us ask our-selves
whether we as His sheep have the same marks
I. They were in fellowship with their Risen Lord.
“ To whom He showed Himself . . . and assembled
together with them ” (verses 3 and 4). The resurrec-tion
of Christ was an unquestionable fact to them.
He had now become their very life. I‘ Christ our life.”
They had each personally experienced the power of His
presence-a presence which not one of the unbelieving
ever knew. Do we know what that means ?
2. They received the @xmse of the Holy Ghost.
“ Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many
days hence ” (verse 5). This great “ promise of the
Father ” (verse 4) is made to every heaven-born child
of God, and should be as definitely accepted as the pro-mise
of eternal life. This promise was not given that
they might be more fully justified before God, but that.The Infant Church. 123
God might be more fully justified in them before the
world (Ezek. 38, 16). See Acts rg, 2.
3. They were obedient to His Word. “ Then re-turned
they unto Jerusalem, . . . and went up into an
upper room ” (vv. 12-13). The Lord had told them
to wait for the fulfilment of the promise, so they had
come to wait. They did not gather together to discuss
the manner, the time, or extent of the promised out-pouring,
but to WAIT. They had made up their minds
simply to do their Master’ s bidding, and leave the rest
with Him. “ Go thou and do likewise.”
4. They were united in Spirit. “ These all con-tinued
with one accord in prayer and supplication ”
(verse 14). Why should they pray when they had His
sure word of promise ? Was not the very certainty of
the promise a powerful incentive to wait and to pray ?
A Pentecostal day will come at any time when there is
the same unity of spirit and persistent, believing prayer
(Matt. 18, rg-zo).
5. They honoured the Scriptures. “ Peter stood
up and said, Men and brethren, this scripture must
needs be fulfilled,” etc. (vv. 15-20). Peter and the one
hundred and nineteen that were with him had no
difficulty at all as to David being the author of Psalm
6g, and that he spoke prophetically under the guidance
of the Holy Ghost (2 Tim. 3, 16). He who handles the
Word of God so as to foster discredit has grieved the
Holy Spirit, and done the work of the devil.
6. T”hey brought their dificulties to the Lord in
p r a y e r. “ Thou, Lord, knowest the hearts of all :.124 Handfuls on Purpore.
show whether of these two Thou hast chosen ” (21-24).
Two had been named to fill the one office. They were
quite willing to sink their own individual preferences,
and accept him whom the Lord should commend. As
it was then, so is it now. Only the called of God will
succeed. If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God.
The infant Church was mightier than the aged Church of
the present day. Why ? Well, Why ? The clamant
need of the church is :-I.
A new revelation of the Risen Christ.
2. A fuller experience of the power of His Resurrec-tion.
3. An unwavering faith in His Word.
4. A fresh baptism of the Holy Ghost.
3. The spirit of unity amongst believers.
6. Believing prayer.
THE EMPOWERED CHURCH.
ACTS 2, 1-13.
A praying Church will always be a powerful Church.
The true and real influence of a Church does not consist
in the number or social position of its members, not in
the stateliness of the building, nor in the largeness of
its contributions, but in the presence and $0~8~ of the
Holy Ghost. Where the ministry of the Spirit is absent,
the Church is but a breathless body. “ It is the Spirit
that quickeneth.” Observe-I.
Where they were. ” They were all with one
accord in one place ” (v. I). They were in “ one place ”
just because they were all of “ one accord.” This is a
condition of heart that is absolutely necessary to the.The Empowered Church. 125
receiving of the power of the Holy Spirit. To be filled
with the Spirit we must be emptied of all self-seeking
and uncharitableness. When brethren dwell together
in unity, then the Lord will command His blessing.
2. When the Bkslng came. “ When the day of
Pentecost was fully come.” According to the type,
that was fifty days after (Christ as) the sheaf of first-fruits
was presented as a wave offering (Lev. 23,
15-16). God’s workings are always in harmony with
the “ fulness of time ” (Gal. 4, 4). He does nothing
prematurely ; there is an eternal fitness in the divine
seasons. There is an earthZy as well as a heavenly
counterpart in all the arrangements of Him whose work
is perfect. The Holy Ghost is still ready to come upon
all those who are ready to receive Him. They that wait
upon the Lord shall exchange strength.
3. How the Blessing came. “ Suddenly, as a
mighty, rushing wind, and as cloven tongues of fire ”
(vv. z-3). It did not come through a process of growth
or development ; it was not evolved out of their own
inner consciousness ; it was the direct gift of the Father
in answer to their believing prayer, and in iulfilment of
His own gracious promise. It came as “ mighty wind ”
and as “ tongues of fire,” symbolic of a personality that
cannot be limited or controlled by the mere will of man
(John 3, 8).
4. To whom the Blessing came. ” It sat upon each
of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost ”
(vv. 3-4). God is no respecter of persons ; every
waiting, believing heart was filled with the Spirit..126 Handfuls on Purpose.
They each received the like gift, although the manifus-&
ion of the power in their individual lives was
different ; yet it was the same Spirit. The lesson
undoubtedly for us is that every believing disciple of Christ
may and should be “ filled with the Holy Ghost.” More
than that, each one in that upper room baptised of the
Holy Spirit was perfectly conscious of the fact. In this
respect between the first century and the twentieth
there is no difference (Luke II, 13). The same God is
rich unto all that call upon Him.
5. The Eflects Produced. These were twofold :
(I) Upon themselves. “ They were filled, and spake
with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
They were possessed and controlled by the mighty
power of God. As earthen vessels they were charged
with heavenly treasure a precious gift that is for ever
hidden from the worldIy-wise and revealed only unto
babes (Matt. II, 25). (2) Upon others. “ Many were
amazed and marvelled ; . . . others mocked ” (vv. 7-13).
The coming of the Holy Spirit is always certain to be a
telling innovation. There is no hiding of His power.
It is such an unearthly movement that ungodly philoso-phers
are all amazed and in doubt, saying one to another,
What meaneth this ? (2 Cor. IO, 4). This was in truth
a “ wealthy ” church, it was rich in spiritual power and
THE WITNESSING CHURCH.
ACTS 2, 14-36.
“ This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof wb all
ure witnesses ” (v. 32)..The Witnessing Church. 127
A quickened Church, or a quickened soul, will be
certain to give Jesus the pre-eminence. Had not
Christ said that “ When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come,
He shall glorify Me ? ” (John 16, q-14). The Church
or the individual that is not glorifying Jesus Christ as
the crucified and risen Son of God cannot be filled with
the Spirit. We are assured of this, that the Holy Ghost
will not give His glory to another than Jesus Christ, in
whose name He has come, and whose work He seeks to
continue on earth. So when ‘ I Peter, filled with the
Spirit, stood up with the eleven and lifted up his voice ”
it was to preach “ Jesus and the Resurrection.” Spirit-filled
men have no other theme. We shall note, briefly,
the outstanding features of Peter’s Pentecostal testi-mony,
and here he speaks as the mouthpiece of the
whole Church. He testified-I.
To the Transformation of his Brethren. ” These
men are not drunken, as ye suppose ” (v. 15). There
was undoubtedly a very marked change in their be-haviour.
They were intoxicated sure enough, but not
with the world’s wine, as they supposed, for they were
filled with the new wine of the Kingdom of God. But
the natural man cannot understand the things of the
Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him (I Cor.
2. To the Fdfilment of Prophecy (vv. 16-21).
At the marriage at Cana, the best wine-the gift of
Christ-was kept to the last. So in “ these last days ”
the best wine has been given in the coming of the Holy
Ghost. Between this promise made to Joel and the.128 Handfuls on Purpose.
fulfilment there lay twenty-four generations ; but His
faithfulness faileth not. The Spirit has been given, but
“ all fEesh ” have not yet been touched with the flame of
this life-quickening fire. But surely this also will come
to pass. Let us join the Lord’s remembrancers, and
pray for it. The testimony of a Iiving Church must be
to God’s faithfulness to His Word.
3. To the Divine A#proval of Jesus of Nazareth.-“
A man approved of God ” (v. 22). The works that
Jesus did were the works that no other man could do
(John 15, 24). H is “ miracles, wonders, and signs ”
were incontestable evidence of His holiness and super-human
power, of His actual oneness with the invisible
and almighty Father (John 14, IO- II). This Man
approved of God still waits His approval of men.
4. To the G&t of Rejecting Christ. “ HIM . . .
ye have taken, and by wicked (lawless) hands have
crucified and slain ” (v. 23). Peter, filled with the Holy
Ghost, knows no fear, and sees no contradiction between
“ the determinate counsel of God ” and the terrible law-lessness
of those who crucified His Son (Luke 22, 22).
After Pentecost, the first act of the Holy Spirit upon the
ungodly was to convince of murder. What is sin ?
Sin is lawlessness, rebellion, usurpation.
5. To the Power of His Resamection. “ It was
not possible that HE should be holden of death ” (v. 24).
He who claimed to be “ the Resurrection and the Life ”
proved His claim by rising from the dead (John IO, 17).
As it was not possible for the powers of death and hell
to hold Him, neither is it possible for them to hold those.The Witnessing Church. 129
who by faith are in Him (John 5, 24-25 ; 2 Cor. 4, 14).
A witness to the power of His resurrection must have a
resurrection experience (x Peter I, 3).
6. To the Inspiration of David. David spoke con-cerning
Christ, for he “ foresaw the Lord always before
his face ” (v. 25, and Ps. 16, 8.) As the One who, ac-cording
to the promise of God, ” He would raise up to
sit on His throne ” (v. 30). To deny the prophetic
character of the Psalms of David is to reject the testi-mony
of the Holy Ghost by whom Peter now was speak-ing
(Luke 24, 44). Those moved by the Holy Ghost
are “ holy men ” and are never moved to declare things
which are inconsistent.
7. To the Certailaty of Christ’s Exaltation. The
coming of the Holy Spirit was not only the fulfilment of
a promise, but also the guarantee that He who had been
crucified was now ” by the right hand of God exalted ”
(vv. 33-36), and made “ both Lord and Christ.” Al-though
all authority has been given Him, He still waits
with outstretched arms to give “ gifts unto men ”
(John I. 12). When Christ’s death, resurrection, and
exaltation are firmly believed and emphatically preached
signs and wonders will be done in His name.
THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL.
ACTS 2, 37-47.
Peter’s sermon was in the power of the Holy Ghost,
so there were “ signs following.” There was-I
. De.@ Colzvictiolz. “ When they heard they
were pricked in their heart ” (verse 37). ‘ I They felt.130 Handfuls on Purpose.
the nails wherewith they had crucified Christ sticking
fast in their own hearts as so many sharp daggers.”
When the Spirit of Grace is poured out, sinners are sure
to see Him whom they have pierced (Zech. 12, IO).
He came to convince of sin (John 16, 8). How shall
they hear without a preacher, and how shall they preach
with convicting power unless they are sent ?
2. Open Confession. ” Men and brethren, what
shall we do ? ” This burning question (Acts 9, 6 ; 16,
30), wrung from Spirit-pierced hearts, declares this fact,
that salvation must come from God. “What shall I do ?”
A convicted sinner never knows of himself what to do.
It is not in man. But when frank and full confession is
made the guiding light will speedily dawn (I John I, 9).
3. Plain Directions. “ Repent and be baptised
every one of you, . . . and ye shall receive the gift of
the Holy Ghost, for the promise is unto you ” (vv. 38-40).
Peter’s word was not, “ Reform, and be more civilised,”
but “ Repent, and be baptised.” To repent was to
change their minds completely regarding Jesus Christ,
whom they rejected ; and to be baptised implied the
renouncing of the old life, and an open confession of
Christ as their Lord. In doing this they would receive
the gift of the Holy Ghost, that they might be endued
with power to overcome the world and be witnesses unto
Him who died and rose again. Have you received the
Holy Ghost since you believed, “ for the promise is
unto yo+4 ? ” (v. 39),
4. Joyful Reception. “ They gladly received His
Word ” (v. 41). The offer of “ the remission of sins ”.The Power of the Gospel. 131
through repentance was like cold water to a thirsty
soul ; they gladly received it. No condemned criminal
ever received a free parden more willingly than they ac-cepted
the offer of mercy. This is theGospel that God
is commanding all men everywhere to repent and believe.
Three thousand brought in, “ but yet there is room.”
5. Steady Progression. “ They continued stead-fastly
in doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and in
prayers ” (v. 42). They were God-made converts, and
so the true signs of an inward transformation are clearly
evident. These were-love for the Word, love for
one another, love for their absent Lord, and love for pri-vate
and public payer. Being grafted into the living
Christ, they became possessed with His Spirit, and grew
in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour .
6. Hearty Co-operation. “ They were together
and had all things common ” (vv. 44-45). This, per-haps,
not of necessity, but because of their warm aBEec-tion
for one another, and practical mutual interest.
This spirit is very beautiful, and reveals the wonderful
influence the love of God has when shed abroad in our
hearts, Jesus Christ had given His all for them ; now
they were prepared to give their all for Him and for one
another (Eph. 5, 2). What hinders the continuance of
this spirit of brotherhood ? Lack of faith in God,
worldliness, and selfishness.
7. Great Jubilation. “ Gladness of heart ; prais-ing
God ” (w. 46-47). Repentance is the narrow gate
that leads into the happy home of a heavenly Father’s
heart. The hearts that were pierced with conviction.132 Handfuls on Purpose.
now praise God for salvation. Weeping may endure for
a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Acts IO, 43).
This Gospel in the power of the Spirit is still the
power of God-To
pierce with conviction the heart of sin.
To compel men to confess their need.
To bring the joy of forgiveness to a believing heart.
To keep in fellowship those who obey.
To turn self-denial into a great delight.
To fill the heart with praise to God.
To make the life a testimony for God.
A WORK OF POWER,
Acts 3, r-26.
“Is Christianity a failure ? ” We might as well ask
is the sunshine a failure ? The Christian&d paganism
that is being substituted for Pentecostal life and power
is a failure because it offers hungry souls stones for
bread-it never touches the unutterable need of the
human heart. It was very different with Peter and
John, filled, as they were, with the Spirit of prayer and
of power. In this chapter we have :-I.
A Picture of Need. “ A certain man lame
. . . laid daily at the’ gate ” (vv. z-3). He was both
poor and helpless. But he was willing to be laid in the
my of getting help-“ at the gate called Beautiful.”
He was not too proud to beg or to lay his deformity
in the path of prayer. If he had been ashamed to confess
his need he probably never would have experienced the
healing power of the name of Jesus..A Work of Power. 133
2. A Work of Faith (vv. 4-6). Peter and John said,
“ Look on us ! ” and the lame man, having such a door
of hope opened, gave heed unto them “ expecting some-thing.”
Men filled with the Holy Spirit are sure to
awaken expectancy in the minds of others. They had
neither “ silver nor gold,” but they had something
infinitely better ; they had faith in the saving name of
the risen Christ. Calvary and Pentecost are God’ s
remedy for lame and helpless humanity.
3. A Miracle of Grace. “ Immediately his feet
and ankle bones received strength ” (vv. 7-g). Having
been healed through the power of the name of Jesus
(v. 16). He gives an unmistakable testimony to it by
“ leaping, walking, and praising God.” Then did the
lame man leap as a hart (Isa. 35, 6). When a poor.
lame, hopeless soul comes into contact with Him who
is the Resurrection and the Life, there will be a joyful
transformation ; the place of the beggar is forsaken for
the place of the worshipper (v. 8).
4. An Awakening of Wonder. ” All the people
ran, . . . greatly wondering.” Peter said, “ Why look
ye so earnestly on us ? ” (VV. 11-12). The amazed and
bewildered people could only see the instruments that
were in the hands of the invisible wonder-working
Saviour. Peter and John were the channels of a
“ power and holiness ” not their own, but Christ’ s.
All power is given unto Him, and Pentecost means the
imparting of that power to His disciples, for the glory
of His name..134 Handfuls on Purpose.
5. A Charge of Guilt (w. 13-16). Peter, quick to
take advantage of this sudden awakening of interest,
charged them with the “ denial of the Holy One,” and
“ killing the Prince of Life,” then declared that ” faith
in the name of Him whom they had killed had made
“ this man strong.” Thereby proving that God had
raised Him from the dead. Every redeemed and
healed soul is a witness to the fact of Christ’s resur-rection
(2, Tim. I, IO).
6. An Offer of Mercy (vv. 17-21). We think we
see the tear in Peter’s eye when he said : “ Now, brethren,
I wot that through ignorance ye did it . . . Repent
and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”
Their sins were very great, but the blood of Jesus Christ,
whom they had crucified, was able to cleanse them all
away. By thus repenting the times of refreshing from
His presence would come unto them.
7. A Word of Warning. “ Every soul that shall
not hear that prophet shall be destroyed ” (vv. 22-23).
To despise the messenger of the Lord is to despise Him
that sent Him (Luke IO, 16). He that heareth these
sayings of Mine and doeth them shall be likened to a
wise man. Hear, and your soul shall live.
THE CHALLENGE AND THE DEFENCE
ACTS 4, 5-23.
In preaching ‘ I Jesus and the Resurrection,” Peter
and John were thrusting the sword of truth right into.The Challenge and the Defence. 135
the hearts of the king’s enemies. If Jesus who was
crucified has risen again then they are the vilest sinners
on the face of the earth, for by consent they had killed
the Holy Son of God. If Christ is not risen, then all
preaching and faith are alike vain (I Cor. 15, 14).
I. The Challenge. “ By what power, or in what
name, have ye done this ? ” (vv. 5-7, R.V.). The
power was self-evident in the healed man ; the name
was a mystery. Was it Satanic or Divine ? The
challengers were numerous and influential. “ Rulers,
elders, scribes, the high priest, and as many as were
of his kindred.” How could they rejoice in the healing
of this lame-born beggar, when their own personal
dignity was in danger of being lowered in the eyes of
the people ?
2. The Defence. Peter being “filled with the
Holy Ghost ” was ready to give a faithful and courageous
reply (vv. 8-12). His searching words were to ring
out to “ all the people of Israel ” that it was through
the power of “ the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom
they had crucified,” that this man was made whole,
and that he was a standing witness to the resurrection
of Jesus, and to their own guilt. The stone which they
had cast aside as unfit for use had been lifted up by God
and made both the foundation and the chief corner of
a new and better structure. On this foundation only
spiritual living stones could be built, and by this “ Head
of the corner ” both Jews and Gentiles were to be made
one. “ All one in Christ Jesus.” Other foundation.136 Handfuls on Purpose.
can no mall lay ; “ for there is nolze other name under
heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”
3. The Results. (a) They marvelled at the bold-ness
of Peter and John (v. 13). But they had to con-fess
that, although they were “ unlearned and ignorant
men,” they had stamped on their characters the
features of Jesus. God had chosen the foolish things to
confound the wise (I Cor. I, 27). The treasures of
God’s grace are still hid from the wise and prudent,
and revealed to humble, trustful babes (Matt. II, 25).
(b) They were silenced when they beheld the man that
was healed standing with them (v. 14). Transformed
lives by the power of the Risen Christ are the best
apologetics for Christianity. In the cause of Jesus
Christ, words are mere empty prattle, without the power
of the Holy Ghost (I Cor. 4, rg). (c) They were
moved by a guilty fear (vv. 1518). They could not
deny that “ a notable miracle had been done,” but they
were anxious that it should ” spread no further ! ”
What amazing perversity I By their speaking in the
name of Jesus great good had been done, but they
would “ command them not to speak any more in the
name of Jesus.” They could speak as long as they
liked in their own name-as long as no souls were saved
-but they were not to preach Christ and Him crucified
in the power of the Spirit, for that would work such
revolutions as would upset their peaceful theories, and
spoil the regular quiet and decorum of their manner of
worship. The descendants of these unbelieving for-malists
are still among us ; who would rather have the.The Challenge and the Defence. 137
order and quiet of a graveyard that the stir of a revival
by the Spirit of God. (d) They let them go (vv. 19-23).
Peter and John would not lower the banner one single
inch, for they “ could not but speak the things which
they had seen and heard.” Being “ let go ” they found
their own company-those who were possessed by the
same Spirit-members of the same heavenly family.
To which company do you belong?
THE APPEAL TO GOD.
ACTS 4, 23-31.
“ Being let go they went to their own company.”
It is an old saying that “ fowl of like feather flock
together.” Just as when the needle is set free from
every hindrance, it will gravitate to the pole, so those
hearts kindled with the same spiritual flame will be
powerfully attracted one to another. This love for
those who love the Lord is an evidence of heavenly
kinship, and a mark of our separation from the world.
As soon as Peter and John had “ reported,” they all
fled together in prayer to their city of Refuge, which was
the God of their Risen Lord. Prayer is the secret of
all strength and consolation, while as servants we suffer
for His name. Let us notice some things about this
It was Believing. “ Lord, T HOU art God.”
They did not pray into unresponsive space, they talked
into the very ear of God. “ He that cometh to God
must believe that He is.” Their God was the God.138 Handfuls on Purpose.
“ which made heaven, earth, sea, and all that in t/tern is.”
The God of creation, not of evolution.
2. It was United. “ They lifted up their voice
to God with one accord ” (v. 24). They had already
proved the value of united prayer. They would
trust to see the power of it again. They seemed never
to forget the words of their now Glorified Master. “ If
two of you shall agree,” etc. (Matt. 18, 19). United
believing prayer is one of the mightiest weapons God
has put within the reach of His people. Every Church,
no matter how small, has this sword of overcoming
power hanging at its girdle. 0 that it were unsheathed.
Alas, that it hath slept so long in the scabbard of unbelief.
3. It was Scripkral (vv. q-28). These holy men
of God, possessed by the same Spirit which taught the
prophets of old, are neither afraid nor ashamed to make
mention of David as the author of Psalm 2, and to
interpret his words as the infallible testimony of the
Holy Ghost. It will give power to our petitions if
the Word of God dwells in us richly. The Polychrome
Bible is the gallows on which Higher Criticism will yet
4. It was Definite. “ Now, Lord grant that with
all boldness they may speak Thy Word” (v. zg). How
could they speak the Word of God with boldness, if they
did not know assuredly what was the Word of God ?
They prayed for, and expected, an immediate answer.
“ Now,” they spread out their needs as Hezekiah did
the letter, and with the same sudden, overwhelming
manifestations (Acts 14, 3). There is a great difference.An Appeal to God. 139
between saying prayers and making a direct personal
appeal to God for a present declaration of His saving
5. It w a s Christ-Honouring. I‘ That signs and
wonders may be done by the name of Thy Holy Child
Jesus ” (v. 30). They were far more c.oncerned about the
honour of Christ than the honour of the Church. This
is always characteristic of Spirit-filled lives. If the
NAME of Jesus does not get the prominence, signs and
wonders will not be done by the “ stretching forth of
His hand.” Our self-sufficiency will always paralyse
the wonder-working hand of the Holy Spirit.
6. It was ANswered. “And when they prayed
the place was shaken ; they were all filled with the Holy
Ghost, and spake the Word of God with boldness ”
(v. 31). To be filled with the Spirit is God’s answer to
all our needs as His servants and witnesses. There is a
great difference between speaking the Wovd of God
and giving the opinions of men about it. The one is the
wheat, the other is the chaff (Jer. 23,28). The order here
is Suggestions, Praying, Shaking, Filling, Testifying.
ACTS 4, 32-37 ; 5, 1-16.
The power of a Church will be according to the
measure by which that Church is filled with the Holy
Ghost. When a Church is of “ one heart and of one
soul,” it is an evidence that there is no controversy
among them ; then they look every man “ not on his
own things ” (4, 32-37). The proof that we love God.140 Handfuls on Purpose.
is that we “ love our brother also.” The story of
Ananias and Sapphira is an unquenchable beacon of
warning to all who would live godly ; it is like some
terrible hand with five dreadful fingers. Here they are-I.
Human Deceitfulness. Ananias and Sapphira
had beautiful names, but they had crooked and deformed
natures. Like the other disciples, they sold their
possession, but, unlike the others, they “ kept back
part of the price.” They put on the sheep’ s skin,
but they were still goats at the heart. They went a
loltg way in the Christian life in laying a part at the
apostles’ feet, but they went the wrong way in pretend-ing
that they were giving all. Like Achan, they hoped
to enrich themselves by deceiving the Lord. The heart
must be “ deceitful above all things,” for it would
deceive the very God of Heaven.
2. Satanic IqGence. “ Why hath Satan filled
thine heart to lie against the Holy Ghost ?” (v. 23). This
“ Liar from the beginning ” still seeks to deceive by
filling the heart with thoughts that are opposed to the
Spirit of God. Beware of his “ fiery darts “-those
burning desires to honour self more than God. With
regard to the service of Christ, first thoughts are usually
best. Their first thought was to give all, their second
was to keep back part of the price. Whatever would
hinder us from seeking first the Kingdom of God and His
righteousness is of the world, the flesh, or the devil.
3. Unexpected Detection. It must have been an
awful awakening to Ananias when he had laid the
money at the apostles’ feet, expecting their benediction,.Testing Tines. 141
to hear instead those soul-piercing words, “ Ananias,
why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie against the Holy
Ghost ? ” The sins of the heart cannot be hidden from
God any more than the blood of a murdered Abel. Men
filled with the Holy Ghost, like Peter, are quick to detect
the lying spirit of the devil in a false professor. Try the
spirits, whether they are of God (I John 4, I). Re-member
Lot’s wife, and also the man without the
wedding garment (Matt. zz, 12).
4. Divine Judgment. “ Ananias, hearing these
words, fell down, and gave up the ghost ” (v. 25). There
was but little time, between the flash of conviction and
the stroke of vengeance. He may not even had time
to say, “ God be merciful to me, a sinner.” He that
hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be cut off. He that
covereth his sin shall not prosper. He may go a long
way round about, but some time, and that suddenly, the
great searchlight from the Throne of God will break
in upon him, bringing irretrievable self-condemnation
and death. Let false professors beware, for no human
disguise will ever hide a heart-lie from Him who is the
5. Fatal Disappointment. It is extremely sorrow-ful
to think of his wife coming in about “ three hours
after, not knowing what was done,” expecting, perhaps,
to find her husband exalted to a place of honour, and
with the same lie on her lips and in her heart, to be met
with the same sudden and overwhelming retribution.
God is no respecter of persons ; the same sin meets with
the same condemnation. Sapphira may have been a.142 Handfuls on Purpose.
beautiful woman, as her name indicates, but outward
comeliness is no shelter for inward deceit. This start-ling
vindication of the holiness of God had a very
salutary effect in putting a wholesome fear into the hearts
of many (v. 13), and magnifying the power of God
in the life and testimony of the apostles (John 14, 12).
ACTS 5, 17-42.
One of the most pronounced effects of Pentecost was
the bringing of the disciples into a closer and more vital
relationship with Jesus as their risen Lord. By this
fiery baptism were they all made “ one body,” and,
planted together in the likeness of His death, were also
made in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom. 6, 5-6).
So that they now knew Him in the power of His resurrec-tion
and the fellowship of His sufferings. No one can
enter into the heaven-born fellowship of His sufferings
who has not entered into the soul-sanctifying power of
Pentecost. The disciples were not able, nor were they
asked, to take their God-given stand for Him, who was the
Truth and the Crucified, until they were all filled with the
Holy Ghost. Neithercan we withoutthe sameequipment.
I. They suffered for Him. They were put “ in
the common prison ” (v. 18). They well knew that it
was their love and their likeness to Jesus Christ that
brought this persecution upon them ; it was “ for His
name.” If any man would live godly he must suffer.
The words of their Master were now being fulfilled in
them (Luke 21, 12). The rulers were filled with in-.Apostolic Boldness. 143
dignation and fear for the doctrine of the apostles had
filled Jerusalem, and, if true, it proved them to be the
murderers of the Son of God (v. 28). Those who
preach a doctrine like this, that drives guilt and con-demnation
home to the hearts of self-righteous men,
will also know what it is to suffer.
2. They were encouraged by Him. “ The angel of
the Lord brought them forth and said, “ Go, stand and
speak all the words of this life ” (w. 19-20). Those
who are faithful to God, their Saviour, have miracles of
mercy wrought for them that others can never under-stand.
This new deliverance and fresh commission
must have been a mighty buttress to their faith. They
were to go and speak to the people all the words of THIS
LIFE. This life, which was divine and eternal, and was
offered to all who repent of sins and believe in the Lord
Jesus Christ (I John 5, II). Those who would speak all
the words of I‘ this life ” will always have plenty to
speak about, and these are the words that the $eo@ need.
3. They were devoted to Him. ” Behold the men
whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple and
teaching the people ” (vv. z-q). They were not dis-obedient
to the heavenly vision, These Spirit-taught
men knew nothing worth living for apart from doing
the will of God. The desire to please Jesus Christ was
the overmastering passion of their souls. One is your
Master, even Christ, and if we are true to Him, we shall
speak out, and live out, all His revealed will. To sub-stitute
our own thoughts for the “ Words of this Life ”
is to deny the Lord, and to become false witnesses..144 Handfuls on Purpose.
4. They weve fearless for Him. “ We ought to
obey God rather than man,” etc. (vv. 29-32). Although
they had just escaped from prison they were not afraid
to look the enemies of Christ in the face and say, “ God
hath raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a
tree. The Spirit of God had come to “ convince the
world of sin ” through the lips and lives of those in whose
heart He dwells. The sin-convicting power of the Holy
Ghost is hindered and thwarted by the downright
poltroonery of many of Christ’ s ambassadors. The fear
of man bringeth a snare, not only to the soul of tile
preacher, but also to the Gospel which he preaches.
5. They weve joyful in Him. I‘ They rejoiced that
they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name ”
(vv. 41-42). They did not lift up their hands in pious
horror at the thought of doing anything to bring shame
upon their own name if Jesus was to be honoured
thereby. Only those filled with the Spirit can take
pleasure in reproaches for Christ’ s sake (z Cor. 12,
IO). We are not ashamed of our Scottish martyrs who
suffered as Christians, but we may well be ashamed of
those who are ashamed to suffer for His name’ s sake
(I Peter 4, 13-16).
SERVING AND SHINING.
ACTS 6, 1-15.
The portion before us here may be divided into two
A NEW TRIAL. The number of the saved
had grown rapidly, and so the work of administering.Serving and Shining. 145
help to the needy ones was becoming increasingly
I. The Complaint (v. I). The Greek-speaking
J ews “ murmured because their widows were neglected.”
This neglect could not be wilful. It is pleasing to note
how careful these early brethren were about the interests
of their sorrowing, suffering sisters.
2. The Remedy. “ Look ye out men full of the
Holy Ghost,” etc. (vv. 2-4). There are two important
lessons for us here, the first is, that to minister “the Word
of God ” is a more urgent business than doling charities
to the poor ; and the second, that even for the simple
work of distributing gifts among the needy the filling of
the Holy Spirit was needed. The Lord wouldnot have
the poor of His people relieved in the manlzer in which a
man may relieve the hunger of his dog ; but in the
tenderness and compassion of the Spirit of Grace, that
the receiver may be doubly blessed thereby. It is not
of God that the poor among His flock should be con-stantly
reminded of their pauperism. All those who
have seen that God-inspired work among the orphans at
Bridge-of-Weir must feel thankful to God for the ab-sence
of the very smell of the “ charity-workhouse ”
3. The Results. “ They chose Stephen, a man full
of the Holy Ghost . . . and the Word of God increased ”
(vv. 5-7). These seven men, whom they had “ looked
out,” were not chosen because of their social position or
scholarship, but because they were “ filled with the
Spirit ; ” this is the indispensable equipment for accept-.146 Handfuls on Purpose.
able service in the eyes of the glorified Christ. The
Word of God is sure to increase in power and fruitful-ness
through the ministry of such men. If the “ Word
of God ” is not increasing in its hold upon the hearts and
lives of its hearers it is because it is preached in the
spirit of doubt and fear, instead of in the power of the
II. A NEW TESTIMONY.-Stephen’s face b e-came
a witness to Stephen’s faith.
I. See Him Serving. Being “ full of faith and
power, he did great wonders ” (v. 8). The secret of
Stephen’s wonder-working influence is an open one, and
within the reach of every servant of Christ. He had
two mighty hands-“ faith and power “-and with these
it became easy for him to do great things. This strength
is not something we may put off or on, like a garment, it
belongs to the constitution of our spiritual manhood
(Acts I, 8).
2. See Him Suflering. Stephen was never more
like his Master than when they sought false witness
against him (Matt. 26, 59). Truly they hated him
without a cause. In this fiery trial he was filled with a
wisdom and spirit that “ they were not able to resist,”
thus experiencing the fulfilment of the Lord’s promise
(Luke 21, IS). Men filled with the Holy Spirit are sure
to stir up the enmity of the carnal mind. But greater is
He that is in you, than he that is in the world (I John 4).
3. See Him Shining. All those who sat in judg-ment
on him “ looking steadfastly, saw his face as it had.Serving and Shining. 147
been the face of an angel.” The glory of his trans-figured
soul-by the indwelling Spirit of God-shone
through his eyes as the windows of that body of his
which was the temple of the Holy Ghost. This was a
new witness to the sanhedrim, of the resurrection and
glorification of Jesus of Nazareth, whom they crucified,
and in whom Stephen trusted. It is the Spiritual Life
within us that is the light that shines through us. “ The
life is the light of men.” Let your light so shine.
But our light will be darkness, unless, like Stephen,
we are filled with the Spirit of Life (z Cor. 3,rS). Covet
earnestly the best gift.
A CTS 7, 51-60.
Stephen’s defence is a masterpiece of spiritual
policy and power. He did not begin his address by
saying, “ Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart.”
No ; but with these very courteous words-“ Men,
brethren, and fathers, hearken.” He that winneth
souls is wise. We might observe here :-I.
His Knowledge of Scripture.-This Spirit-filled
man had a clear and comprehensive grasp of the doing
and purposes of God in Old Testament history. The
knowledge of the will of God will always be a mighty
weapon in the hand of anyone full of the Holy Ghost.
The Spirit of God will have but little to work on, unless
our hearts are filled with the words of God. This is the
secret of successful prayer (John 15, 7). It is the.148 Handfuls on Purpose.
honest heart which hears the Word and keeps it, that
brings forth fruit (Luke 8, 15).
2. His Faithfulness. “ Ye stiffnecked . . . ye do
always resist the Holy Ghost ” (vv. 51-53). A man filled
with the Spirit cannot but be courageous, for the King-dom
of God ; the truth burns like a fire in his bones,
while sin, and the things of eternity, stand out before his
anointed eyes in the clear light of Him who sits at the
right hand of the Father in heaven. They are in an
awful condition who resist the Holy Ghost by the stiff-ness
of their wills and the hardness of their hearts.
They may be “ cut to the heart ” (v. 54) by a faithful
testimony, but unless they are “ pricked in. the heart ”
(vv. 11-37) they will “ gnash with their teeth,” and die
in their sins.
3. His Vision. While “ they gnashed on him with
their teeth,” he saw the ” glory of God.” Our heavenly
Father has always rich compensation for His suffering
children. Seeing “ Jesus standing on the right hand of
God ” is a wonderful balm for the wounds made by the
teeth of the enemy. This revelation to Stephen is the
vision that is ever before the mind of those who, like
him, are enabled by the power of the Holy Ghost,
through faith, to look up “ steadfastly into heaven.” It
is the work of the Spirit to reveal the things of Christ to
the believing heart (John 16, 14). To have the vision of
the soul filled with the glory of the exalted Redeemer
is to have the life consciously “ hid with Christ in God.”
4. His Martyrdom. “ They stoned Stephen, call-.Apostolic Character. 149
ing upon God and saying . . . Lord, lay not this sin to
their charge ” (vv. 57-60). This first martyr for Christ
was a witness to that overcoming grace of God in the
heart which constrains to pray for them “ which des-pitefully
use you.” If the death of Stephen was but
the means in the hand of God of sending the goads of
conviction into the soul of that “ young man whose
name was Saul ” (9, 5). then it was a death that has
helped to open up a channel of life and blessing to the
world. The Kingdom of Jesus Christ never suffers
defeat through the killing of His followers. The blood-stained
prayers of those saints who suffer martyrdom
for His name’s sake, God in grace will mightily avenge,
“ The blood of the martyr is the seed of the Church.”
5. His Mercifulness. “ He kneeled down and
cried, Lord lay not this sin to their charge.” The love
of a merely natural heart never constrained any one so
earnestly to seek the highest good of those who were
committing the greatest personal wrong. This last cry
of the dying martyr is a convincing proof of the trans-forming
power of the love of Christ in the heart. This
merciful spirit manifested in Stephen’s last breath
toward those sin-blinded murders is the spirit Jesus
Christ has sent into the world to seek and save it.
“ This sin ” which they were committing was an awful
one. They were destroying the temple of the Holy
Ghost. If Stephen had not been filled with the Holy
Ghost he would not have been stoned. “ Inasmuch as
ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have
done it unto Me.”.150 Handfuls on Purpose.
THE CITY’ S AND THE CHURCH’ S NEED.
AC-B 8, 1-25.
We may learn from this portion :–
I. That Persecution is sot alz Unmixed Evil (vv.
1-5). If the Church at Jerusalem had been allowed to
remain in the very comfortable position into which they
had settled down (chap. 4, 32) it would have been a
long time before “ the regions beyond ” would have had
the Gospel of Christ preached unto them. The wind of
persecution “ scattered abroad ” the good seed of the
Kingdom, which sprang up into fresh harvests of souls
for the glory of God. What is true in the history of the
Church is true also in the individual experience, so that
we may glory in tribulations (Rom. 5,3 ; Matt. 5,11-12).
2. Thaf the Great Need of a Cify is Christ. “ Philip
went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ
unto them . . . . and there was great joy in that city ”
(vv. 5-11). No field of labour could possibly look more
unpromising than Samaria did at that moment. Simon
the sorcerer, an agent of the devil, had got the people by
the ears, for “ they all gave heed unto him, from the
least unto the greatest,” and were completely bewitched
by him. They were so carried away with “ lying won-ders
” that they had no w,its left for sober judgment.
What better are the multitudes in our cities and towns
to-day, who are bewitched by the deceitfulness of riches,
the excitement of gambling, the love of pleasure, the
allurements of Satan, and the deceitfulness of a heart at
enmity with God. Slum souls, grovelling in the mire.The City’ s and the Church’ s Need. 151
of iniquity, loving the darkness rather than the light.
Philip, .being full of the Holy Ghost, preached Christ unto
them. Holy Ghost men have no other remedy but God’s
to offer sin-blinded souls being driven into perdition. He
did not preach science and philosophy, history, morality,
or the “ learned results of criticism.” He preached
CHRIST, as the sin-bearing Redeemer, and tinclean
spirits were cast out and useless, crippled lives were
healed and restored, “ and there was great joy in the
city.” The joy of souls emancipated from the deluding
powers of darkness.
3. That all Believers Should Receive the Gift of the
Holy Ghost (vv. 14-17). Samaria had “ received the
Word of God “-the message of life declared to them by
Philip, through Christ-but as yet the Holy Ghost
“ had fallen upon none of them.” They had been con-verted,
but they had not yet been anointed. To Peter
and John the receiving of the Holy Ghost was as definite
a blessing as the receiving of the forgiveness of sins.
In apostolic days the gift of the Holy Ghost accom-panied
the remission of sins. Paul’s first ques-tion
to the Ephesian converts was, “ Have ye received
the Holy Ghost since ye believed ? ” (Acts 19, I). He
was anxious that they not only should be disciples, but
that they should be powerful witnesses for Christ. The
receiving of the Holy Ghost is as absolutely necessary for
service as the receiving of Christ is for salvation.
4. That the Power of God cannot be Purchased with
Gifts. Simon said, “ Give me this power,” and offered
to purchase the gift of God with money (VV. 18-25). The.1521 Handfuls on Purpose.
power of the Holy Ghost cannot be given as a reward for
anything that man can do or give ; it is the “ Gift of
God.” Is it not possible for us to be offering this prayer
of Simon’ s in another form ? We would not, perhaps,
say, “ Give me this power,” for I am rich, but in our
hearts we may have been saying, “ Give me this power,”
for I am cIever, or for I am earnest. God does not
barter with man about the Holy Spirit. Let your prayer
be, ” Give me this power,” for I am weak ; and believe
that ye receive, and ye shall have (Isa. 40, 29-31 ; Luke
ACTS 8, 26-40.
There are several examples set before us here,
to which we shall do well to take heed. There is an
Anxiety of Soul (vv. 27-28). It was no trifling
curiosity that brought this Ethiopian nobleman, this
chancellor of the exchequer, up to Jerusalem to worship.
He was, doubtless, an earnest seeker after the soul-satisfying
truth of God, and as an honest, anxious in-quirer,
he had, meanwhile, laid everything else aside
that he might seek this one thing needful. He came to
Jerusalem that he might hebear; he searched the Scrip-tures
that he might see. Those who seek with all their
heart will speedily find (Jer. 29, 13).
2. Obedience to God. When Philip received the
call to “ Arise and go . . . . he arose and went ” (vv.
26-27). His desire was to do the will of God, whether.Soul-Winning. 153
that was in the quiet of “ the desert,” or in the excite-ment
of a mighty spiritual revival. He went out, like
Abraham, by faith, not knowing whither he went.
This was God’s way of meeting those Spirit-begotten
longings that were in the heart of that anxious Ethiopian
pilgrim. In some way or other the earnest prayers of the
needy will be answered, while they use the means within
their reach. God could have blessed the eunuch without
Philip’s aid, but it hath pleased the Lord to make those
whoare filled with the Spirit co-workers togetherwithHim.
3. Enthusiasm for Souls. At the bidding of the
Spirit ” Philip yun thither to him ” (v. 29-30). Only
those whose hearts have been enlarged by the Spirit of
God will run in the way of His commandments. Men
filled with the Holy Ghost will always be at home in
dealing with an anxious soul. Real enthusiasm in the
work of God is a rare accomplishment in these cold,
intellectual, critical days. Those who would be wise to
win souls must be willing to “run and join themselves
to their chariots ; ” to get alongside of them, not as
unfallen angels, but as fellow-pilgrims to eternity, seek-ing,
by the help of the Holy Spirit, to lead them to a
saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
4. Faithfdness to the Bible. The anxious Ethio-pian
was reading the prophet Isaiah at chapter fifty-three
; Philip, filled and guided by the Holy Ghost,
began at the same scripture, and preached unto him
Jesus ” (vv. 32-35). We have teachers among us now
who are evidently filled and guided by another spirit, for
they would gravely rebuke the modern Philips for such
L.154 Handfuls on Purpose.
a misuse of the Bible. But “ AU Scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and IS profitable for doctritie.” And
“ they are they which testify of Me,” said the Son of
God. Philip preached unto him Jesus. Who else can
meet the need of a sin-smitten soul ? What other
preaching could be of any avail ?
5. Readiness to Confess. “ Faith cometh by hear-ing.”
The eunuch heard the Gospel from the lips of
Philip, and believed and was saved. Now, he was
ready andwilling to be cut off from hisown religious beliefs
and habits, and to confess Christ in baptism. To him it
was an outward sign of his inward fitness to join the family
of the redeemed in the House of God on earth, and be
numbered with the joint-heirs of Christ. Faith should
always be accompanied with confession (Rom. IO, g-10).
6. Happiness 4n Chkt. “ He went on his way
rejoicing ” (v. 39). Being justified by faith, he had
peace with God, now he goes on his way rejoicing in
hope (Rom. 5, I-Z). The darkness is passed, the true
light now shines in his heart. What a change Jesus
brings into the life when He is received and trusted.
The great majority of business men go on their way
plotting and scheming, instead of rejoicing, because they
are strangers to the blessedness of the man whose sins
are forgiven (Ps. 32, I-II).
SAUL’ S CONVERSION.
ACTS 9, I-19.
The claims of all other religions can be met by mere
outward conformity, but Christianity demands the re-.Saul’ s Conversion. 155
generation of the inner man. Even unconverted men like
Saul, as touching the law, may live blameless lives in the
sight of men, but the converted man is one whose whole
heart has been twned to God. The process is here
exemplified in the experience of Saul. We see him-I.
Asa Rebel. “ Saul yet breathing out threaten-ings,”
etc. (v. I). Yet, after all the evidences he had
had of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the life and tes-timony
of Stephen, witnessing the triumphant death
of a Christian is seldom enough to slay the enmity of
the human heart against the revealed will of God.
2. As a Prisoner (w. z-4). He was apprehended
by a “ light from heaven.” The search-light of God was
turned upon this religious burglar on the way to Damas-cus
to rob the Church of its living treasure. There is
nothing the evil-worker dreads more than the light (John
3, 20). From this moment Saul could speak of himself
as the “ prisoner of Jesus Christ ” (Phil. I). Like many
another sinner, he was apprehended “ suddenly.” The
light of truth flashed into the heart by the power of the
Holy Spirit is still God’s way of subduing rebels to
Himself. The pressure of the light was so overwhelm-ing
that he fell to the earth. This light, like the Word of
God, was quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged
sword (Heb. 4, 12). The weapons of our warfare
are not carnal.
3. As an Inquirer. “ Who art Thou, Lord ? ”
Along with the arresting LIGHT there came a “ voice,
saying, Why persecutest thou Me.” When the truth
comes in the power of the Holy Ghost there is always a.156 Handfuls on Purpose.
voice with it, making the sinner feel that it is with HIM,
not it, that he has to do. This question reveals the
terrible blindness of Saul’s heart and mind-he knew
Him not. How could he possibly know Him and live at
enmity with Him. It was very different with Stephen
(vv. 6-55). But light from the Lord is sure to lead
to an honest inquiry after Him.
4. As a Convert. “ Lord, what wilt Thou have me
to do ? ” (v. 6). “ Trembling ” at the discovery of his
past sin and guilt, “ and astonished ” at the greatness
of the Lord‘s mercy and grace, he asks this question, as
a true penitent, ready and willing to yield himself to do
His will. This is conversion. Not the talking about
religious duty, but the entire surrender of the whole
being to the person and service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Saul repented at once, as soon as he discovered the
error of his ways (Matt. 18, 3). As a disciple he was
easily led (v. 8).
5. As a Worshipper. “ Behold he prayeth ” (v.
II). Saul had frequently said his prayers, but now he
prayed. Now his renewed heart yearned for fellowship
with the risen Lord, who had revealed Himself to him.
A young convert once said–” Before I was converted I
prayed to myself, but now I pray to God.” Those who
don’t know Jesus Christ as their own personal Saviour
can only draw nigh unto Him with the lips ; they wor-ship
they know not what.
6. As a Witness (vv. 15-19). Before this he was a
vessel fitted for destruction, but now “ he is a chosen
vessel “-having been cleansed and transformed by the.Saul’ s Conversion.
grace of God-“ to bear My Name,” as precious treasure
“ before the Gentiles.” As a vessel, he was made
strong, for he was to “ suffer great things ” for His
Name’s sake. He was often cast down, but not des-troyed.
As a vessel, he was made meet for the Mas-ter’s
use, being ” filled with the Holy Ghost ” (v. 17).
We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excel-lency
of the power may be of God and not of us. Saul’s
conversion and equipment for Christ’s service has been
given for a pattern to them which should hereafter be-lieve
on the Lord Jesus Christ (I Tim. I, 16). Be ye
filled with the Spirit.
SAUL’ S TESTIMONY.
ACTS 9, 20-31.
Paul, in writing to the Galatians, refers to his con-version
in very striking language. He says-“ It
@eased God, who called me by His grace, to reveal His
Son in me, that I might preach Him.” The words here
put in italics give us the whole Gospel in brief. Saul
was not disobedient to the heavemy vision.
I. A Courageous Stand. “Straightway he preached
Christ as the Son of God” (v. 20). It was impossible
for Saul to be a Unitarian, or for any one who, like him,
has been transformed in heart by the power of the re-surrected
Christ. He who was an enemy to Jesus, now
becomes one of His most successful recruiting sergeants.
He was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ (Rom. I, 16).
2. A Suggestive Questiolz. “ Is not this he that
destroyed them ?” etc. (vv. 21-22). Yes ; this is he, yet.158 Handfuls on Purpose.
it is not he, for Saul the persecutor has died, and Saul the
preacher has been quickened from the dead. The lion
has been converted into a lamb, and a religious icicle has
suddenly become a flame of holy fire. Henry Martyn
said–” If I could see a Hindoo convert, I would see the
dead raised.” Who can explain the process of resurrec-tion
? So is every one that is bow of the Spirit (John
3. A Vigilant Enemy. “ They watched the gates
day and night to kill him ” (vv. 23-25). The more “Saul
increased in strength ” the more bitter did the enemies of
Christ become. All those who would grow in grace may
be prepared for a growing opposition in some quarters.
The subjects of the “ Kingdom of God ” will surely be
despised by the subjects of the “ Kingdom of Satan.”
But the servant of Christ need fear no evil, there will
always be a “ basket ” or a hole in the wall for them in
time of need. It is said that “ man is immortal till his
work is done.”
4. A Confession of Discifileship. “ He assayed to
join himself to the disciples ” (v. 26). When Saul
offered himself as a member to that Church of Jerusalem
which he had so lately persecuted, “ they were afraid of
him “-perhaps thinking this was another of his dodges
to catch them-“ and believed not that he was a disci-ple.”
But as he had been brought into the fellowship of
Jesus Christ, he longed for the fellowship of the saints.
It is a certain sign of discipleship when we love the
people of God, and seek the company of the redeemed.
5. A Brothedy Act. “ Barnabas took him and de-.Saul’ s Testimony. 159
clared unto them how he had seen the Lord ” (vv. 27-28).
This ‘ I son of consolation ” did a most gracious work in
smoothing the way for this new convert. There are dis-ciples
still who seem slow to believe the testimony of
those who have been s&de&y transformed by the grace
of God. It will ever be a blessed and Christ-like minis-try
to help those who are misunderstood.
6. A Confivmang Testimony. ” He spake boldly in
the name of the Lord Jesus ” (v. 29-30). The fact of Saul
being changed was very soon apparent. Hewas now doing
the same work for which Stephen was stoned, and in the
same fearless and powerful manner, because he was ani-mated
by the same heaven-born motives. (Gal. I, 15-16).
7. A Grand Result. This result was five-fold.
(a) They had peace (v. 31, R.v.). How sweet this calm
was after the fiery tempest of persecution. How sweet
peace is after the inward battle of sin and unbelief.
(b) They were edified. Built up in the holy faith,
strengthened by the study of the Scriptures. (4 They
walked in the fear of the Lord. Their daily life was lived
in the presence of Him who said–” Lo, I am with you
alway.” (d) They had the comfort of the Holy Ghost. The
promised Comforter had come (John 14, 16), they had
received Him, and were now experiencing the blessed-ness
of His indwelling. (e) They were mzcltiplied.
Success is absolutely certain to any Church bearing these
characteristics. Peace, wisdom, comfort are still being
eagerly sought after by the restless “ men of the world.”
0, that they could see these blood-bought gifts exhibited
in the lives of Church members to-day..160 Handfuls on Purpose.
THE VICTORY OF FAITH.
ACTS 9, 32-43.
For a time the name of Saul drops out of the record,
and the halo of divine glory is seen on Peter. To him
was given the keys of the kingdom, and he used them
well in opening doors for others. He came down to
see the saints. “ How sweet to mingle with such
kindred spirits here “-and the poor paralysed AZneas
was able to bless God for his visit. “ He had kept his
bed for eight years ” (v. 33). Like a man sick and
paralysed by sin, he was utterly helpless and hopeless,
apart from the saving power of God. “ Peter said unto
him, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” This bold
declaration recalls Peter’s unstaggering faith in his risen
Lord, and, according to his faith, so was it done unto
him. Peter knew that it was glorifying to the name
of Jesus that he should venture much in Him.
HIS VICTORY AT JOPPA.-I.
Why he Went. The disciples sent unto him
two men desiring that “ he would not delay but come ”
(vv. 36-38). They had been suddenly plunged into
sorrow through the death of their beloved Dorcas.
What a mercy that Peter, the man of Pentecost, was
only a few miles off. The more we are filled with the
Holy Spirit, the more shall we be able to minister the
consolation of Christ to the needy.
2. What he Saw. With tearful eyes the widows
showed him “ the coats and garments which Dorcas
made.” While the great battles of Roman Emperors.The Victory of Faith. 161
have been forgotten, the gracious deeds of Dorcas are
being held in everlasting remembrance. Every “ Dorcas
Society ” is a monument to her immortal memory.
Whatsoever we do for the glory of God shall be as gold
and silver and precious stones ; all the testing fires of
time and coming judgment shall never be able to
efface their beauty, or dim the memory of them in the
mind of God (I Cor. 3, 11-14).
3. What he Did. The several acts of Peter here
in raising Dorcas from the dead may be suggestive to
us as to how we may be successful in restoring souls to
the new life which is in Christ. (a) “ He put them all
forth ” (v. 40). This was a work that God only could
do, so he gets alone with God. Everything that would
in any way distract our faith in Him must be put out.
(a) “ He kneeled down and prayed.” Special definite
prayer is needed. Peter’s whole soul was centred on
this one thing. When Elijah prayed for rain we may
be sure that at that time he prayed for nothing else.
When a beggar cries for everything he usually gets
nothing. (c) He called on her by name. “ Tabitha,
arise ! ” It is not enough that we speak to God, we
must speak to the people, and speak to them fiersolzally,
and as if we expected them to hear and believe at
once. Peter did not say, “ Tabitha, I hope you may
see your way to get up soon,” but, “ ARISE ! ” In the
name of the Risen Christ, arise from the dead. (d) He
gave her his hand and lifted her up. This is a beauti-ful
touch of real sympatlzy and tenderness. If we would
Lift up new-born souls, we must not only speak the.162 Handfuls on Purpose.
truth, but speak it in love. As soon as she ” saw
Peter,” she felt the uplifting power of his com-passionate
hand. (e) “He called the saints and presented
her alive.” He would have them all rejoice in this
victory through the grace of God. The result was that
“ many believed in the Lord.” Such results are sure to
follow where there is definite, prayerful dealing with
God for the deliverance of souls from the power of
ACTS IO, 1-23.
Caesarea was the headquarters of the Roman
Governor. Cornelius was captain of the one hundred
Italians who formed the bodyguard. The Jewish and
the Gentile streams meet and mingle in Peter and
Cornelius. The time had come for the overflowing of
the river of grace that had so long been limited to the
narrow channel of Israel. “ It was the bursting of the
chrysalis, in which the life has been preserved indeed,
but confined.” Let us look at-I.
CORNELIUS THE PETITIONER.-I.
His Character. “ Devout, feared God, gave
alms, and prayed alway ” (v. 2). This is a very brief
biography of a great man, who dared to be holy in the
most unlikely circumstances. Do we wonder that his
influence was such that all his house feared God ? A man
may be a brave soldier, and yet be a religious coward.
2. His Vision (vv. 3-6). He who prays much will
see much. God is ever ready to unlock the treasures.Divine Preparation. 163
of His grace to the humble seeking heart. The vision
came about the ninth hour-the hour of prayer (chapter
3, I). It brought him a message of personal assurance
(v. 4), and also a plain word of direction (v. 5). When
God answers our prayers there is no doubt about it,
everything is so perfectly clear and God-like.
3. His Obedience. As soon as the heavenly
messenger was departed, he sent to Joppa, about
thirty miles off, for Peter (vv. 7-8). The willing and
trustful heart will never seek a more convenient season
than now. It is such joy to the man of prayer to know
the will of God that it becomes his delight to do it.
II. PETER THE PREACHER.-I.
His Call to Cmarea. “ Send to Joppa and call
for Peter ” (v. 5). God could easily have made the
angel His messenger to bring to Cornelius all the light
and comfort he needed, but He chooses redeemed ones
to be co-workers together with Him in the preaching
of the Gospel.
2. His Love of Prayer (vv. g-10). Time never
hangs heavily upon those who delight in secret fellow-ship
with the Lord. While the dinner was being
cooked, Peter was pleading, perhaps, that his way might
be made plain as to where he should next go to preach
3. His Strange Prefiaration (vv. 11-23). T he
vision of the “ great sheet ” or “ vessel ” let down from
heaven was certainly intended as a revelation to Peter
of the gracious purpose of God to gather all sorts into.164 Handfuls on Purpose.
His kingdom, through faith in Christ Jesus. When
the hungry apostle saw this strange lot, and was asked
to receive them, he refused to have anything to do with
them. He would have no fellowship with the “ common
and unclean.“ But these, “ all manner of four-footed
beasts, wild beasts, creeping things, and fowls of the
air,” represented all manner of sinners, wild sinners,
creeping, grovelhng, earth-worm sinners, and intellec-tual,
high-flying sinners, but no longer “ common or
unclean,” for God hath cleansed them by the blood of
Christ, through faith in His name. They were all
one in the “ vessel,” even as we are ‘ I all one in Christ
Jesus,” both Jew and Gentile. The little “ creeping
thing ” was equally safe with the strong beast or the
fowl of the air, all tied up together in the bundle of
life. They were taken from the earth, but their abode
was in the heavenlies ; they were sent back to the earth
as a testimony to the cleansing power of God. Wild
beasts and creeping things, such were some of you, but
ye are washed.
The effect of this vision on Peter was that he was
now ready and willing to preach the Gospel to euery
creature (vv. 42-43).
THE APOSTOLIC GOSPEL.
ACTS IO, 38-44.
It was a very warm reception Peter got from
Cornelius. No medical professor ever had a more
hearty welcome from any pain-stricken patient. He
received him as one shut up in a besieged city would.The Apostolic Gospel. 165
receive the General of the relief force. Blessed are the
feet of them that bring good tidings. “ He fell down
at his feet “ (vv. 23-26). Then Peter went in and
“ talked with him.” As they each rehearsed their
individual experience, it became abundantly clear to
both that God had been guiding them, and that they
were both brought together to witness a very definite
manifestation of His grace and power (vv. 27-33).
Peter’s vision prepared him to go wherever God
should send him. The vision of Cornelius prepared him
to receive all that God should give him (v. 33).
In this we have a very decided example of how God
may prepare a people and a preacher when times of
reviving are about to come from His presence. The
spring of blessing began on both sides in secret prayer,
where every heaven-born revival has its human origin.
Peter never preached to a more interested audience than
this, and although the meeting was small, the results
were mighty and far-reaching, because he preached unto
I. Jesus, the Anointed One. “ God anointed
Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost ” (v. 38). This
anointing took place at Jordan when the Spirit of God,
like a dove, lighted on Him (Matt. 3, 16). “ Him hath
God the Father sealed,” who was His eternal Son, and
into whose hands the salvation of sinners and the glory
of the Father have been committed.
2. Jesus, the Compassionate One. ” Who went
about doing good.” Having been ” anointed to preach
the Gospel to the poor ” (Luke 4, 18), His pitiful eyes.166 Handfuls on Purpose.
were ever on the look-out for humble, needy souls,
that He might bless them with His good. 0, the depth
of that GOOD that was in Him.
3. Jesus, the Mighty One. “ Healing all that were
oppressed of the devil.” He preached deliverance to
the captives, for He had come that He might destroy
the works of the devil (I John, 3, 8). The devil op-presses
with the burden of darkness, of doubts, and of
hopeless despair, affecting the mind, the heart, and
future prospects. He not only delivers from the thral-dom
of the devil, but heals the wounds sin and Satan
had made. He was mighty, for the Almighty One was
with Him (v. 38 ; John 14, IO).
4. Jesus, the Suffering One. ” Whom they slew
and hanged on a tree ” (v. 39). What condescension and
gracious self-emptying is this ? He who delivered
others from the oppressive death-grip of the devil
submits to be oppressed to death at the hands of men.
They slew that loving, tender heart of His with their pride
and unbelief before they hanged that weak, exhausted
body on the tree. He suffered for us, the Just for the
5. Jesus, the Risen One. “ Him God raised up
the third day.” “ God loosed Him from the pangs of
death, because it was NOT POSSIBLE that He should be
holden of it ” (Acts 2, 24). The love of God for His Son
and for those for whom He died, made it impossible that
death should keep Him. Being raised from the dead,
He is “ declared to be the Son of God with power “-with
power to save and keep all who believe on His name..The Apostolic Gospel. 167
6. Jesus, the Exalted One. “ Ordained of God
to be the Judge of q&k and dead ” (v. 42). All judg
ment hath been committed unto the Son, because He is
the Son of Man (John 5, 22-27). In 2 Cor. 5, IO we
have the judgment of the quick-those alive unto God.
In Rev. 20, 11-q we see Him judging the dead-those
who have died in their sins.
7. JTSSUS, the Universal Saving One. ” Whoso-ever
believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins ”
(v. 43). “ Through His name ” the door of Mercy and
Access has been thrown wide open, and through this
open door the voice of divine entreatyris now being
heard in the Gospel. When this door is shut no man
will be able to enter in (Luke 13, 24-25).
The effects of Peter’s sermon were most manifest.
He preached Jesus, and ” signs and wonders ” followed
ACTS II, 1-18.
Every new move of the Spirit of God is likely to
stir up doubtful questionings in the hearts of some
conservative Christians. The Church has not yet
learned to hail with joy any Spirit-directed innovation
that brings glory to God in%the salvation of sinners.
They contended with Peter for having fellowship with
Gentiles, although they knew that they had “ received
the Word of God ” (w. r-3). We ought always to be
liberal-minded as the Holy Ghost is, otherwise we are
narrow-minded. Where did we learn that the Gospel.Handfuls on Purpose.
was only to be preached on a certain day in the week, in
a stated place at a fixed hour ? Is not the Church of
God an army on a campaign against the enemies of
Christ and of righteousness ? Would any nation permit
its army to fight only one day in the week, and allow
its foes to do their deadly soul-destroying work all the
other six days ? Peter had carried the holy war into
the enemies’ country, and had gained a glorious victory,
but was now gravely charged with imprudence by those
who had preferred to stay at home. Peter’s defence
is beautiful for its humility and simplicity. If it was
analysed we might find in it-I.
A Spirit of Prayer. “ I was in the city of
Joppa praying ” (v. 5). Those who are possessed by
the spirit of prayer will always iind a time and place for
the purpose of prayer. Yes, ” in the city,” as well as
out of it. If the fire of divine love has been kindled in
the heart, flaming tongues of holy desires will leap
2. A Heavenly Vision. This “ vessel, let down
from heaven by four corners ” (v. 5), was to Peter, as
we have seen, a revelation of the purposes of God in
relation to the Gentiles. The secrets of heaven are still
revealed to those who wait upon God in secret prayer.
Such exchange their own weakness for the uplifting
strength of His manifested will (Isa. 40, 31).
3. A Definite Commission. “ The Spirit bade me
go.” Men of faith and prayer hear voices and see
visions that other mortals are quite incapable of under-standing
(z Cor. 12, 4). Under the guiding Sljirit of.Peter’ s Testimony.
God things will also be done that will look foolish and
absurd in the eyes of the worldly wise. We cannot be
filled with the Spirit to excess.
4. A Special Preparation. ” He showed us how
he had seen an angel in his house ” (vv. 1x-14). Cor-nelius
was also prepared like Peter for fuller blessings
through prayer. The soil of the centurion’ s heart was
made ready for the seed of the Word. “ He shall
tell thee words, wonder-working words, words whereby
ye shall be saved.” Words, in the power of the Holy
Ghost, are spirit and life.
5. A Divine Manifestation. “ As I began to
speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them ” (vv. 15-16). The
Spirit who bade him go sealed Peter’ s testimony for
Jesus by His coming down in mighty power upon the
hearers, baptising them into the mystical body of Christ,
and so making of twain, one new man.
6. A Sileming Question. “ What was I, that I
could withstalad God? ” (vv. 17-18). Well done, Peter !
That was a dexterous stroke with the sword of defence.
What could he do, being caught in the rush of that
heavenly wind that “ bloweth where it listeth.” He
could no more withstand the pressure of the Spirit of
God than Saul of Tarsus could withstand the “ light
from heaven.” “ When they heard these things they
held their peace and glorified God.” They saw the hand
of God in it, and they had grace enough to praise Him
for it, although they themselves had no hand in it. Is
this the grace wherein we stand ?
M.170 Handfuls on Purpose.
THE REVIVAL IN ANTIOCH.
ACTS II, 19-26.
Antioch was the eastern capital of the empire.
There was a great exhibition on in this metropolis, not
of human art and industry, but of the mighty saving
grace of God. Such an unprecedented show, that it
was well worth the while of Barnabas going all the
way from Jerusalem to see it. Those who would
travel back in the line of history to the purity and
power of primitive Christianity must take care that they
don’ t lose their way in that “ valley of the shadow of
death,” called “ The Dark Ages.” The pure light of
the Gospel shines most brightly at the dawning of this
new day :-I.
THE REVIVAL AT ANTIOCH.-I.
The Origin of it. “ The persecution that arose
about Stephen ” drove those nameless disciples “ as far
as Antioch.” In this case the wrath of man was made
to praise the Lord (Ps. 76, IO). They thought evil
against the Church, but the Lord meant it for good
(Gen. I, 20). The things which happened unto them
fell out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel (Phil.
2. The Means of it. There was first the I‘ preach-ing
of the Word ” (v. 19), “ preaching the Lord
Jesus ” (v. 20). There was, second, “ the hand’ of
the Lord with them.” The Word of the Gospel of Christ
is the weapon in the hand of the Holy Spirit (I Thess.
I, 5). We preach Jesus, and the hand of the Lord.The Revival in Antioch. 171
works wonders, Thus we are labourers with God (I
Car. 3, 9).
3. The Results of it. “ A great number believed
and turned unto the Lord.” The turning of the heart to
the Lord is the evidence of having believed. The great
end of all preaching should be to turn men unto the Lord.
John Owen said, long ago, that “ Ministers are seldom
honoured with success unless they are continually
akmhg at the conversion of sinners.” This is a true
II. THE VISIT OF BARNABAS.-Observe-I.
What He Was. “ He was a good man, full of
the Holy Ghost and of faith ” (v. 24). He was an all-round
good malz (Acts g, 27), baptised with the Holy
Ghost and full of faith in the Gospel, which he preached,
expecting direct results. These are the elements
which constitute the g;ifl of the evangelist.
2. What He Saw. ” He saw the Grace of God ”
(v. 23). A Roman philosopher could only see in this
movement “ a vile superstition,” where the Spirit-anointed
eyes of Barnabas saw “ the grace of God.”
A man’s inward character determines what he shall see.
The Athenians saw, with great pride, their many gods ;
but Paul saw “ the city wholly given to idolatry.” There
are things which can only be “ spiritually discerned,”
and the “ Grace of God ” is one of them. When yozl
go into a city, what seest thou ?
3. What he Felt. “ He was glad.” His heart
was filled with joy at seeing the work of God prosper,.172 Handfuls on Purpose.
although he had no hand in it. A man’ s character is
unmistakably revealed by what saddens or gladdens
him. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.
4. What he Did. “ He exhorted them all . . . to
cleave unto the Lord.” To cleave unto Him as the
branch does to the vine (John 15, 4). As a helpless
child would do to its mother ; and as a faithful follower
and friend, ‘ I with full purpose of heart.” Be ye
steadfast and unmovable (I Cor. 15, 58). He also
sought for Saul to help him in the work (vv. 2.926).
It is a great matter to be able to set others to work for
God. It was here and at this time, that disciples were
first called Christians. What a sweet, suggestive title.
They were called after the name of Christ because they
had believed on Him, and turned to Him, and were now,
with full purpose of heart, livirtg for Him. Would that
all who are called Christians in our days had these
marks of the sheep of Christ. How sad to have a name
to live, and yet be dead.
PERSECUTION AND DELIVERANCE.
ACTS 12, 1-17.
The infant Church was not rocked in the cradle
of ease, or nursed in the lap of luxury. It had early to
face the fiery baptism of persecution. Herod thought
that he had done a fine stroke of business when he dis-covered
that the killing of James with the sword had
“ pleased the Jews ” as well as himself. So he proceeded
to gain further honour by apprehending Peter also. But.Persecution and Deliverance. 173
He that ruleth in the heavens said, “ So far, but no
farther.” Herod had already got to the end of his
tether. Look at Peter-I.
His Perilous Condition. Peter was kept in
prison, guarded by sixteen soldiers (w. 4-5). The
sentence of death seemed hanging over him ; in him-self
he was utterly helpless and hopeless. Such is the
condition of all those who are under the power of the
god of this world (John 3, IS).
2. His Faithful Remembralzcers. ” Prayer was
made without ceasing unto God for him ” (v. 5). Thank
God, all the forces of earth and hell cannot close the door
of prayer-this highway to heaven-this secret blood-stained
path into the very audience chamber of the King
of kings. We may not be able to speak to our friends
personally, who are suffering affliction for the cause of
Christ, or who may be led captive by the devil at his
will, but we can speak to God on their behalf. The
prayer of faith will save. Many have been pulled out
of the fires of sin, as Peter was pulled out of prison, by
“ effectual, fervent prayer.”
3. His Peaceful Submission. “ That same night
Peter was sleeping between two soldiers ” (v. 6). That
same lzight that Herod was to bring him forth to
condemnation and death Peter’s mind was so calmly
resting in the good will of God, that he went to sleep
as sweetly as a babe in its crib, rocked by a loving
mother’s hand. It is well known that Argyle, the
martyr, had to be awakened out of his sleep that morn-.174 Handfuls on Purpose.
ing he was executed. Easy lies the head that wears a
crown of holy innocency. Even on the cold, damp
pavement of a dungeon the Grace of God can make us
to lie down as in green pastures.
4. His Su$entatural Deliverance. ” The angel of
the Lord came,” etc. (v. 7). Soldiers are poor clumsy
things in the presence of an angel, yet not more clumsy
than the ways of men are, compared with the ways of God.
His salvation is perfect. There was the Divine Presence.
“ The angel of the Lord ” in personal touch with the
needy one. There was the Light shining in the prison.
Into the place of darkness the light of heaven came
(2 Cor. 4, 6). There was the smiting of the prisoner,
the awakening touch of the Messenger of God. “ When
He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will convince.”
There was the call, ‘ I Arise up quickly ! ” God hath
commanded all men everywhere to repent, and believe
the Gospel. There was the ogler of liberty. “ His
chains fell from his hands.” The Gospel of Christ
offers liberty to the captives ” (Luke 4, 18).
5. His Instant Obedience. I’ And so he did.”
Peter was wise enough neither to argue nor object. He
was profoundly conscious that “ Salvation is of the Lord,
and that his privilege was to trust and obey. Salva-tion
had come to his prison-house ; he gladly accepted
it as God’s message to his soul. Be ye not disobedient
to the heavenly vision.
6. His Perfect Assurance. “ Now I know of a
surety that the Lord hath delivered me” (vv. IO-II).
No conqueror ever had a more triumphant march than.Persecution and Deliverance. 175
Peter had from the State prison to the street. Those
soldiers in charge of his life remained blind and dumb
as he passed them by, and the ponderous gate swung
open at his approach. How could he be anything else
than SURE that he was saved, after such an experience
of the mighty power of God (Dan. 6,22). Do you know
of a surety that the Lord hath delivered you ?
7. His Joyful Testimony. “ He declared unto
them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison ”
(vv. 12-17). It was a wonderful story that Peter had to
tell ; the story of God’ s salvation is always so. While
Peter continued knocking at their door, it was God’ s
answer to their prayers seeking admission, but they
would hardly believe it. Those who have been delivered
by the Lord should not be ashamed to confess Him by
telling how great things He hath done for their souls.
THE CALL OF BARNABAS AND SAUL.
ACTS 13, I-~2.
After a missionary in China had been showing
them the folly of idols, and had preached Jesus to them,
one old man said–” Stop and tell us, for we cannot find
the door.” How sad to think of the multitudes who are
groping in the dark for the door of eternal life and cannot
find it. How shall they hear without a preacher, and
how shall they preach except they be sent. The Holy
Ghost is very desirous to thrust out labourers ; pray
ye Him. The young Church at Antioch had grown in
number and power. Among the notable converts was.176 Handfuls on Purpose.
Manaen, who had been a companion of that Herod who
ordered the death of John the Baptist, and who mocked
the Lord Jesus Christ, “ setting Him at naught.” But
by the grace of God he was plucked as a brand out of
the fire. As the members of this Church “ served and
fasted,” the Holy Spirit met their real need by pressing
home to their hearts this message of definite direction,
“ Separate Me Barnabas and Saul.” Perhaps they had
been waiting on the Lord for special guidance, as to
how they might further the cause of Christ when this
unmistakable call came-I.
It was a Divime Call. ” The Holy Ghost said,”
etc. (v. 2). They were as surely ‘ I called of God ” as
was Aaron. As all fitness for this service must come
from Him, so also must the call. The Holy Ghost wil’l
never choose a man possessed by the spirit of the world
as an ambassador of the Kingdom of Christ.
2. It was a Personal Call. “ Barnabas and Saul.”
There was no room for questioning as to whom the Lord
meant, neither was there any occasion for envy or
jealousy. The Holy Spirit divideth to every man
severally as He will (I Cor. 12, II). Not everyone that
saith Lord, Lord, is fit for the service of God. “ No
man taketh this honour unto Himself but he that is
called of God ” (Heb. 5. 4).
3. It was a Call to Separation. “ Separate Me,”
etc. Barnabas and Saul were to be separated unto the
Holy Ghost, that He might breathe the will of God
through them, as He had done with the lzoly mm of
God in old time (2 Peter I, 21). To be used of the Holy.The Call of Barnabas and Saul. 177
Spirit we must be separated from the world, and entirely
yielded unto HIM, as vessels meet for His use. But we
are not to suppose that those who remained in Antioch
were not separated unto God. We can live the separated
life anywhere by living for His glory.
4. It was a Call to Work. “ For the work where-unto
I have called them.” Only those who are Itew
creatures in Christ Jesus can have a hand in the work of
this “ new creation.” We are not called to ease and
idleness, but to be “ workers together with Him,” who
hath called us into this holy calling. Have we entered
into this work whereunto God, the Spirit, hath called
us ? Or are we idlers in His vineyard ?
5. It was a Call which met the Approval of the
Brethyem. “They sent them away” (v, 3)’ but not
without “ fasting and prayer.” It would be a great
blessing to the Church and the world to-day if the Church
was anything like so willing to recognise, and send forth,
those who have been called of the Holy Ghost to do the
work of an evangelist. By their fruit ye shall know
them. These holy men were “ solemnly ordained,” not
with dinners and toasts ! but with “ fastings and
prayer.” There were no “ hip, hip, hurrahs ! ” but
there was a solemn doing of the will of God. Many
modern ordinations are a scandal to the cause of Jesus
6. It was a Call, Followed by Mighty Deeds. HOW
can we believe that we are called and empowered by
God if ” signs and wonders ” worthy of God are not
being done through us in His name ? (vv. 5-12). Two.178 Handfuls on Purpose.
wonders were wrought here by Barnabas and Saul,
(a) The overcoming of the sorcerer. This ” child of
the devil ” and “ enemy of all righteousness ” was
smitten with temporary blindness. The works of the
devil were destroyed. (b) The conversion of the deputy
(v. 12). The salvation of the governor of the island,
and the silencing of Elymas, the enemy of God, were
surely works worthy of the HoIy Ghost, unto whom
Barnabas and Saul had been separated.
THE GOODNESS OF GOD.
ACTS 13, 13-43.
Paul and Barnabas had penetrated to the far away
Antioch in Pisidia, and on the Sabbath day they quietly
took a seat among the worshippers in the synagogue.
Being asked, as strangers, if they had a word for the
people, “ Paul stood up ” and delivered such a “ word ”
as they had never heard before. This first recorded
address of the great Apostle to the Gentiles may be en-titled,
“The Goodness of God.” Paul may have taken
the pattern of it from that great address of Stephen’ s,
which must have been to him most memorable. He
THE GOODNESS OF GOD REVEALED IN
HIS DEALINGS WITH ISRAEL.-(I) They were
Chosen (v. 17). God had been pleased, through grace,
to make them His people, chosen, not for good in
them, but as the monuments of His mercy (Deut. 7,
6). (2) They were Delivered (v. 17). When they were.The Goodness of God. 179
strangers in the landof Egypt, “ with an high arm He
brought them out.” He saved them from the house of
bondage. (3) 2%~ were Preserved (v. 18). For forty
years His long-suffering patience bore with their mur-murings
and unbelief. Yet, as a people, they were
kept from perishing (Ps. 95, g-10 ; z Peter 3, 9). (4)
They had a @ace Prepared for Them (v. rg). Seven
sinful Canaanitish nations were cast down and des-troyed,
that they might have a possession. Thg forces
of iniquity have all to be overcome ere the children of
God can enter into their inheritance. (5) He S@plied
Their Need. He gave them judges, a prophet, and a
King. Then He raised up David, a man after His own
heart (w. 20-22). David was a type of Jesus Christ,
as a man raised zip by God, to do His will among the
people. Paul, true to his mission, at once links on the
Christ to the seed of David, and shows next-II.
THE GOODNESS OF GOD REVEALED
IN HIS SON JESUS CHRIST.-(r) He was Given
Accord&g to Promise (v. 23). He was the rod out of
the stem of Jesse, and the branch out of his roots (Isa.
II, I). Prepared in eternity, and raised up in the fulness
of time as a Saviour. (2) He was Heralded by John (vv.
24-25) as the Baptiser with the Holy Ghost and fire,
whose shoes he was not worthy to loose. (3) He was
Condemned by the Rulers (vv. 26-29). Paul makes it
clear that Christ was slain by those who found “ no
cause of death in Him,” thus bringing out the awful
enmity of the natural heart against the Holiness of God.
(4) He was raised from the Dead (v. 30). This was a.180 Handfuls on Purpose.
startling dogma for the apostle’ s hearers. Dogmatic
was he? Yes ; as dogmatic as the Son of God. He
spake as one having authority (I John I, I). If a man
cannot speak dogmatically on these great verities of
the Gospel, then let him hold his peace, for he has no
message from God to the people ; and there is plenty
of sickly namby-pambyism in the worId already. (5)
He was Preached by Eye-wdnesses of His Resurrection
(w. y-37). We have not followed cunningly-devised
fables. The resurrection of Christ is quite in harmony
with His unique life and testimony. Christ’ s death and
resurrection are the two pillars of the bridge of GRACE.
(6) He is now able to Save all who Believe (vv. 38-39).
“ All that believe are justified. This is another blessed
dogma (Rom. 3, 28). No. The law of Moses could
never do this. It is through His blood the forgiveness
of sins come (Eph. I, 7).
III. THE WARNING AGAINST DESPISING
THIS GOODNESS.-“ Beware, therefore,” etc. (vv. 40-
41.) Despisers are sure to perish. God is still working
this work of salvation in our days, in the hearts and lives
of all who believe. Yet there are many who still “ des-pise,
and wonder, and perish ” in their unbelief, although
a man-saved and transformed by the power of this
Gospel-declare it unto them. Behold, therefore, the
“ goodness of God ” as exhibited in the life, death, and
resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Saviour of Men, and
let thy heart be bowed and broken by repentance.
These words of Paul were to many as good news from a
far country, so they wanted to hear them again the.The Goodness of God. 181
next Sabbath. No other story can bear to be repeated
so often as this.
RESULTS OF PAUL’ S PREACHING.
A C T S 13, 42-52.
Somehow or other, wherever these first preachers
of the Gospel went, they succeeded in creating a stir.
If they “ turned the world upside down ” it was because
the world was wrong side up. Men who have been
made, as it were, into new bottles, and filled with the
new wine of the kingdom of God-the Holy Spirit-cannot
possibly act as ordinary mundane mortals.
They are intoxicated by a new possession that excites
to a holy enthusiasm for the eternal honour of the Lord
Jesus Christ. It is impossible for a man full of the Holy
Ghost to be cold and formal ; the Word of God burns
in his bones as an unquenchable fire ; he cannot but
speak the things which he has seen and heard. The
effects of Peter’s sermon were emphatic and varied-I.
There was a Desire to Hear. “ The Gentiles
besought that these words might be preached to them
the next Sabbath” (v. 42). The Gospel had been so
preached that morning that a real thirst had been created
in the hearts of many to hear it again. There were many
anxious inquiries at the close of Peter’s address (v. 43).
“ After meetings ” are no new thing.
2. There was a general Awakening. ” The next
Sabbath day there came almost the whole city together
to hear the Word of God ” (v. 44). It must have been.182 Handfuls on Purpose.
an intensely interested audience that Paul and Barnabas
addressed that day. We should see the multitudes
oftener crowding together “ to hear the Word of God ”
if they were sure that the Word of God was going to
be preached. Much of the present-day preaching does
not seem to stir up any interest whatever in the Word
of God. Multitudes of sermon hearers are in total dark-ness
as to what the Bible teaches.
3. There was Bitter Opposition. “ The Jews were
filled with envy, and spoke against Paul,” etc. (v. 45).
There was no fear of Paul ever bringing himself under
that woe that comes upon those of whom “ all men
speak well of.” The proud, envious Jews, like the
Prodigal’s “ elder brother,” could not rejoice in that
Grace of God which saves sinners and transforms them
into sons. Those who would preach “ the Word of God ”
must be prepared for the “ contradiction and blasphemy”
of self-righteous, religious sinners, who are entirely out
of sympathy with God in the salvation of the lost. But
their opposition only stirred up the apostles to greater
boldness, and to bring a more direct charge against
them (v. 46). How sad to think of those who, in the
pride of their heart, judge themselves unfit to receive
everlasting life as the gift of God’s grace through Jesus
Christ, His Son.
4. There was Joy among the Gentiles. “ They were
glad and glorified the Word of the Lord ” (v. 48).
See Rom. 15, 9-12. These ‘ I other sheep ” which were
not of this Jewish fold were heartily glad to get into those
life-giving pastures of His Word. The hungry Gentiles.Results of Paul’ s Preaching. 183
are fed, whik the self-satisfied Jews are sent empty
away. To the poor the Gospel is preached with God-honouring
results. “ Ye will not come to Me that ye
might have life.”
5. There was Apparent Defeat. “ They expelled
them out of their coasts ” (v. 50). It is melancholy to
think of “ devout and honourable women ” lending
their influence to such an unholy and dishonourable
cause. They may cast out the servants of God, but they
cannot cast out the seed of the Word that has been sown
in the hearts of the people. No ; the purpose of God in
the lives of His chosen and consecrated servants can
never suffer defeat. All things work together for good
to them that love God (Rom. 8, 28).
6. There was Grace Trizsmphad. “ The disciples
were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost ” (v. 52).
When the preachers were expelled from them God gave
them a greater blessing in filling them with the Holy
Ghost, and so sealed them unto the day of the final re-demption
(Eph. I, 13). These young disciples were
rejoicing over a new found treasure, which they knew
would enrich them during all the ages that were yet to
come, while these persecutors had yet to reckon with
that dust which the apostles shook off their feet against
ACTS 14, 1-20.
In Iconium, Paul and Barnabus “ so spake that a
great multitude believed . . . boldly in the Lord,” so.184 Handfuls on Purpose.
that He ‘ I granted signs and wonders to be done by their
hands ” (vv. 1-3). Signs and wonders are not likely
to be gralzted where the Word of God is so preached that
a great multitude are sent to sleep. Preaching “ boldly
in the Lord “-not in the strength of our carnal wisdom
and fleshly energy-will certainly be accompanied with
the witness-bearing power of the wonder-working pre-sence
of God (Heb. 2,4 ; Mark 16, 20). Wherever God
grants signs and wonders to be done, you may look for
persecutions (vv. 4-6). The rulers of darkness will
always oppose a violent disturbance of their kingdom.
I. AN EXAMPLE OF FAITH.-This man, who
had been “a cripple from his mother’s womb,” was a
picture of hel#lessness (vv. 8-g). He had never walked,
and in all likelihood never hoped to walk. Such liberty
and joy were not seemingly for him. Have we ever
thanked God for the use of our feet. But this same man
“ heard Paul speak,” and that faith which “ cometh by
hearing ” sprung up as a new-born faculty in the sorrow-ful
soul of the cripple. He hears, and he believes, that
the Risen Saviour is able to heal him. See, there is a
new light in his eye, it is the light of that new hope that
is born of the Spirit of God, through the preached Word.
He has “ faith to be healed,” and the Spirit-taught
apostle is quick to perceive it, and calls him to “ Stand
upright on thy feet ! ” (v. IO). And he ” leaped and
walked.” He leaped before he walked, not only for joy,
but perhaps also because he had never yet learned to
walk. This great change was none the less real because
it came szlddenly.Missionary Experience. 185
II. AN EXAMPLE OF FOLLY.-When these
idolatrous Lycaonians saw the well-known cripple leap-ing
and walking, they foolishly supposed that their gods
had come down in the likeness of Paul and Barnabas.
The gods of idolaters are deaf and dumb and dead.
How could they heal a poor cripple, and where could
they “come down” from ? (vv. 11-13). But from their
blind enthusiasm, let us solemnly learn how possible
it is for us to be very earnest over religious notions that
are only imaginary and delusive. How thankful we
should be for the written Word of God, which is as a light
shining in darkness, whereunto we do well to take heed.
Any amount of ” oxen and garlands ” will never make
a wrong thing right. They called Barnabas, Jupiter ;
and Paul, Mercurius ; but these heathen Galatians are
not the last of those who have attempted to adapt the
things of God to their own idolatrous practices (Jude 4).
III. AN EXAMPLE OF FAITHFULNESS.-It
is possible that Paul and Barnabas may not have under-stood
the people when they spake “ in the speech of
Lycaonia,” but as soon as their purpose of sacrifice was
known they were quick to make a vehement protest
against all forms of man-worship. They “ rent their
clothes ” as an outward sign of inward horror-of hearts
rent with agony at the thought. So jealous were they
of the honour of God, that nothing pained them so deeply
as that they, as the servants of Christ, should have the
place in their thoughts and minds that their Lord and
Master alone should have. The longing of their hearts
and the object of their lives was to “ turn them from
N.186 Handfuls on Purpose.
these vanities unto the Living God ” (vv. 14-18). They
were “ men of like passions with themselves,” but what
a difference the grace of God had made. Elijah was a
man of like passions as we are, but how few of us can
pray as he did (James 5, 17). How differently Herod
acted when the people worshipped him. “ He gave not
God the glory,” and immediately the angel of the Lord
smote him (Acts 12,22-23). Seek the honour that comes
from God only (Dan. 4, 37).
IV. AN EXAMPLE OF FICKLENESS.-In a
few days after they “ stoned Paul, drew him out of the
city, supposing he had been dead ” (v. 19). There is not
much between the world’ s honours and its frowns, be-tween
its “ garlands ” and its stones. To-day they cry,
“ Hosanna ! ” to-morrow, “ Crucify ! ” What a Friend
we have in JESUS, the same yesterday, to-day, and for
HELPING THE SAINTS.
ACTS 14, 19-28.
“ Once was I stoned ” is the name of one of the
medals Paul received for his faithfulness to Jesus
Christ (2 Cor. II, 25). There is not much between the
praises and the anathemas of an ungodly crowd (vv.
18-19). Woe be to them who seek their happiness in the
favour of men, instead of the favour of God. It was
perhaps while Paul lay outside the city of Lystra, as one
dead, that he had that ” unspeakable ” experience of
being “ caughzd up into paradise,” so that whether “ in
the body or out of the body he could not tell ” (2 Cor.
12, 3-4). If so, see how the Lord can compensate His.Helping the Saints. 187
suffering servants that they might be able to “ glory in
tribulations also.” After preaching the Gospel in Derbe
and making many disciples (v. 21, R.V.), they began
their great return journey, which was crowded with
holy deeds and crowned with abundant results.
I. They Colzfirmed the Souls of the Disci#es (v.
22). This is a very needful work, if young believers are
to be saved from backsliding. To confirm a soul in the
faith is to strengthen that soul against the temptation
and assaults of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Deal
tenderly with young converts, show them the whole
armour of God, and tell them how to put it on. Give
them line upon line, and perhaps a little of your own
experience, if you have any.
2. They Exhorted to Continue in the Faith. The
Christian fight is a fight of faith. F A I TH, fighting
against feelings, failings, and appearances. As ye have
therefore received the Lord Jesus-by faith-so walk ye
in Him. Continue trusting in the promise of God
against everything that seems opposed, and so make
God true, if it should make every man a liar. This is
the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
There is a great need for faith, for it is “ through much
tribulation that we enter into the kingdom of God ”
(v. 22). In the world ye shall have tribulation, but
faith clings to Him who hath said, “ Be of good cheer ; I
have overcome the world.”
3. They Ordained Elders in every Church (v. 23).
It was needful, in the absence of the apostles, that
suitable and trustworthy men should be elected as rulers.188 Handfuls on Purpose.
and teachers. They would likely be appointed by the
vote of the people. All men are not fit to r&e and to
“ labour in word and doctrine.” Since the beginning
there have been those who, through divine grace, and
a more entire consecration of themselves to God, have
become better qualified for spiritual service than others.
Covet earnestly the best gifts.
4. They Commended them to the Lord. After being
called they were handed over to the Lord as His own
private property that He might use them as it may
seem good in His sight. Do you think this would be a
hardship ? It is glorious liberty. Ye are not your own,
for ye are bought with a price.
5. They Preached the Word (v. 25). Oh, what a
Word was this that filled and fired their souls with an
unquenchable desire to labour and suffer for the salva-tion
of men and the glory of the name of Jesus Christ.
From the day of Paul’s conversion to the day of his
translation you never find him “ off duty.” He was
as much a witness for Jesus out of the pulpit as in it.
” To me to live is Christ.”
6. They Rehearsed all that God had done WITH
THEM (v. 2 7 ). It was a wonderful story of grace they
had to tell. The Lord had done not only great things
for them, but great things with them. There be many
who are ever ready to tell us what God has done for
them, but we long most of all to hear what God has been
able to do with them. If you are saved, God hath
wrought a great work for you. If you are consecrated,
God will do a great work with you..The Dispute About Works. 189
THE DISPUTE ABOUT WORKS.
ACTS 15, 1-35.
I. THE CAUSE OF THE DISPUTE (vv. I-Z).-It
arose about as to whether the Gentile converts should
be circumcised “ after the manner of Moses ” or not.
Those brethren that came down from Jerusalem were
so strong in their arguments for it as to make it ” neces-sary
to salvation.” These nameless men, which dis-turbed
the peace of the Church with this controversy,
are the forerunners of a class still extant, who are not
famous for spirituality of mind or success in the Lord’s
work, but who are for ever ready to put those right who
are being greatly owned and blessed of God. The most
unspiritual are usually the greatest sticklers about
forms. Paul and Barnabas, who had seen so much of
the grace of God, hotly opposed this attempt to bring
them back into bondage. So keenly did Paul feel it that
in writing to the Galatians shortly after, he says : “If ye
be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing ” (v. 2).
II. THE CONFERENCE AT JERUSALEM.–It
was agreed to submit the case to the General Assembly
at Jerusalem (vv. z-21). So the evangelists hastened
thither. After they had given their report, “ declaring
all things that God had done with them,” the burning
question was at once introduced by certain converted
Pharisees, who had enough of their old nature still in
them as to make it hard for them to believe that
Gentiles could be saved I‘ without the works of the law.”
After “ much disputing,” Peter rose up and addressed.190 Handfuls on Purpose.
the Assembly as one clothed in the authority of God.
He spoke of what his eyes had seen of the power of the
Gospel among the Gentiles, how God had “given them
the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us,” putting no
difference between them, “ purifyilzg their hearts by
faith.” There was great stillness in the court when
Barnabas and Paul again addressed the audience (v.
12) on the special subject before them, taking care to
show that the wonderful works wrought among the
Gentiles were the works of God. The river of His grace
is always too broad for the narrow channel of man’s
pride or prejudice. The next to speak is James-a man
deeply taught in the Scriptures. He shows from the
Word that it was the purpose of God to take out of the
Gentiles “ a people for His name,” and takes the further
liberty of submitting to the Church the divine pro-gramme
of the present dispensation. A people “ for
His name ” are now being taken out, through the
preaching of the Gospel of Christ. This is James’s first
point. The second is the return of the Lord : “ After
this I will return.” Third, the restoration of Israel :
“ Build the tabernacle of David.” Fourth, the Millen-nium
: “ That the residue of men might seek after the
Lord ” (vv. 14-17). In closing his magnificent address,
he makes this wise proposal : That the Gentile con-verts
should not be troubled about forms that were not
vital to their life and usefulness, but that they should
be asked to abstain from those heathenish practices
that were so common around them (v. 20).
RESULTS.-James’s motion was car-.The Dispute About Works. 191
ried unanimously. Letters of congratulation and sym-pathy
were sent by special messengers to all those
affected by this controversy. It was a cause of great
joy to them when they heard that “ it seemed good to
the Holy Ghost to lay no unnecessary burden upon
them ” (v. $3). The goodness of the Holy Ghost in
this respect is not always acknowledged by those who
rule in some ecclesiastical courts. The true object of
Church government is not to advocate or elaborate
men’s opinions, but to find out the mind of the Holy
Spirit of God, and to do it. Where the Spirit of the
Lord is, there is liberty.
THE CRY OF THE HELPLESS.
ACTS 16, 9-15.
Paul and Silas had been “ forbidden of the Holy
Ghost to preach the Word in Asia,” and when they
assayed to go into Bithynia, the “ S$irit suflered them
nof.” These are facts full of deep significance to every
servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. They reveal how
completely the Holy Spirit has control over their lives.
It is the mission of this Great Teacher come from God to
guide us into all truth, and to carry on the work of God
through the lives of those who are wholly yielded up to
Him. Our subject may be divided into three parts-I.
The New Call. Ii Come over into Macedonia,
and help us ” (v. 9). It now became plain to Paul why
the Holy Spirit had been closing other doors in his face.
Macedonia needed the help that Paul and Silas,
apostles of the Cross of Christ, were able to give..192 Handfuls on Purpose.
What help could they have given if they had not been
possessors of the grace of God and the knowledge of
His saving power, through the death and resurrection
of His beloved Son. The best help anyone can get is to
be lifted out of a life of sin and hopelessness into a life
of holiness and victory. How the vision came to Paul
we need not stop to inquire, it was simply the Lord’ s
way of revealing His will to His servant (Rom. IO, 14-15).
May we not hear this cry for help, in a muffled fashion,
rising in one form or another from every grade of
social life to-day ?
2. The Immediate Response. They at once obeyed,
“ assuredly gathering that the Lord had called them to
preach the Gospel unto them ” (v. IO). Paul and the
Gospel were so vitally joined together that an open door
to him meant an open door for the Gospel of Christ.
When Paul said, “ To me to live is Christ,” he was
stating not an article in his creed, but the all-absorbing
principle of his heaven-born existence. Let us beware
of being disobedient to any heavenly vision that may
be beckoning us into new spheres of service, or into
higher and fuller experiences of the deep things of the
Spirit of God. It is only those who, like Paul and Silas,
have had their lives enriched with the grace and power
of Jesus Christ that can render the help that is needed
to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death
3. The Blessed Results (v. 13-15). They were not
long in finding out the place of prayer. It may have
been a spot by the river-side, set apart as a public.The Cry of the Helpless. 193
oratory, because of its natural adaptations. In this
roofless “ house of prayer ” Paul and Silas sat and
spake the wonderful words of life to the women which
resorted thither. The interest centres in a “ certain
woman named Lydia, whose heart the Lord ofierted.”
She had been a worshipper of God, but now the door of
her heart was opened to receive the message of the
Gospel, sent to her by the Lord, through His servants.
Take note that the “ Word of Salvation ” sent from
God to man is not so much for the head as for the heart.
With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.
The open heart will always be “ attentive unto the
things ” spoken by the servant of God, and God is sure
to open hearts for the reception of the message that He
hath sent. Another evidence of the open heart is a
willingness to confess Christ and a love for the fellow-ship
of the people of God (v. IS). We can never work
out our own salvation until God hath worked it in us.
Some hearts are opened as with the gentle kiss of light
(z Cor. 4, 6), others have been broken open as with a
rod of iron. To open the heart to the Lord is to give
Him the control of all the springs of the life. Son, give
Me thine heart.
THE JAILOR’ S CONVERSION.
ACTS 16, 16-40.
These incidents remind us of a picture gallery,
where you have different scenes grouped together, and
that, perhaps, strike you most by way of contrast.
Shall we look at each separately 7.194 Handfuls on Purpose.
I. A Picture of Demolziac Possession. ” A damsel
possessed with a spirit of divination ” (v. 16). How
sad to think of this nice-looking young woman, wholly
given over to the control of a deceitful, wicked spirit.
She was the property of several sin-hardened wretches,
who probably sold her half-mad ravings as the oracles
of God. What she cried after the apostles on their
way to the prayer meeting was quite true (v. 17), but
then the words had such a hollow, fiendish ring about
them that “ grieved ” Paul ; so, by faith in the name
of Jesus Christ, he “ commanded the evil spirit to
come out of her.”
2. A Picture of Selfishness ad Cruelty (v. 19-q).
“ When her masters saw that the hope of their gains
was gone,” because the poor girl was now delivered
from the soul-maddening power of the devil, instead
of being thankful to God for such an emancipation, and
because her salvation touched their pockets, they sought
the ruin of the servants of God. “ The love of money
is the root of all evil.” The spirit that possessed her
masters was no better than the spirit which possessed
the deluded damsel ; for greed of gain they would traffic
in the souls of their fellow-creatures.
3. A Pi&we of Heaven-Bow Ha@iness. “ Paul
and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God ” (v. 24).
Although lying in the deepest, darkest hole of that
miserable prison, with bleeding backs and aching limbs,
the joy of the Lord so filled their hearts that they were
able also to “ glory in tribulation.” What but the grace
of God could make anyone sing in such circumstances..The Jailor’ s Conversion.
“ The prisoners heard them.” Might not this have
been one of the reasons why God permitted His servants
to be cast into prison, These fellow-prisoners also share
in the victory which God wrought, for “ everyone’s
bonds were loosed.”
4. A Pkctuve of Divilts Inte~vcdioon. “ Suddenly
there was a great earthquake,” etc. Paul and Silas
v&s&d the devil in the damsel, but no doubt they
firayed for those who had despitefully used them and
persecuted them (Matt. v. 44). Having calmly and
joyfully trusted in God, the mighty, wonder-working
hand of God is now stretched out for their deliverance.
Truly, when they prayed “ the place was shaken.”
This was a fulfilment of Psalm JO, 15.
5. A Picture of Sudden Conversion (vv. 27-31).
It was a very dark moment in the experience of the
jailor when he drew out his sword intending to commit
suicide ; but it was immediately followed by the
brightest experience he ever had. “ He called for
a Iight ” that might guide his feet into the inner prison
of the suffering saints, but when he cried, “ Sirs, what
must I do to be saved ? ” he was calling for another
light that might guide his feet into the paths of righ-teousness
and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Then
they told him words whereby he and all his house
should be saved (v. 31). Just as he had been saved
from self-destruction through the word of the apostle-“
Do thyself no harm, for we are all here “-so can he
be saved from the power of sin and the wrath of God by
“ believing on the Lord Jesus Christ ” (John 3, 16)..196 Handfuls on Purpose.
6 . A Picture of Joyfd Fellowshifi (vv. 32-34).
What a change. A few hours before this the jailor
was fastening their feet in the terrible stocks. Now he
is bathing their wounds, taking them into his house,
and spreading the best he has before them, eating with
them, “ and rejoicing, believing in God with all his
house.” He had been suddenly awakened out of his
sleep, but now he was at one with the servants of God,
and with them enjoying an early hallelujah breakfast-such
a scene as would do credit to a modem Salvation
Army “ glory feast.”
A CTS 17, 1-14.
It was a long journey from Philippi to Thessa-lonica
(about IOO miles) for two men who had just
lately been beaten with “many stripes.” But as the
sufferings of Christ abounded in them, so also did the
consolation of Christ (2 Cor. I, 3-6). About one year
after this Paul reminds the Thessalonians that their
entrance unto them was after they “ had suffered and
were shamefully entreated at Philippi” (I Thess. 2).
It was often at great personal sacrifice that these early
apostles preached the Word.
I. EXPERIENCES AT THESSALONICA.-I.
Where they wed. There was a synagogue of
the Jews there, “ and Paul, as his manner was, went in.”
There seems to have been no synagogue at Philippi, the
only recognised place of worship being the place by.Special Missions. 197
“ a river side, where prayer was wont to be made ”
(chap.r6,13). The manner of this evangelist, wherever he
went, was to seek out the “ house of prayer,” because
there was there liberty given for prayer and exhortation.
2. What they did. “ Paul reasoned with them out
of the Scriptures.” He proved to them, from Moses,
the Prophets, and the Psalms that Messiah must suffer
death and be raised again from the dead, and that Jesus
of Nazareth, whom he preached, was that same Anointed
One. “ This Jesus whom I preach.” This preacher
was never ill off for a text. He was so in love with
Jesus, as his Redeemer and Lord, that he could glory in
no one else. No one can preach the Gospel of Christ
as it ought to be preached, unless it is the all-absorbing
passion of their soul.
3. How they succeeded. “ Some believed, and
some were moved with envy ” (vv. 5-9). The Gospel,
in the power of the Holy Ghost, is either a savour of
life or death, of justification or condemnation, according
as it is received or relected. In either case a change of
attitude toward God will take place. If the enmity is
not slain thereby, it is likely to be embittered. “The baser
sort ” are always ready to oppose the Kingship of Jesus.
II. THEIR EXPERIENCES AT BEREA.-In
obedience to the Word of their Lord, “ If they perse-cute
you in one city, flee to another,” they set off by
night for Berea, a distance of sixty miles. They found
the people here-x.
Open-heavtd “ They received the Word with
all readiness of mind ” (v. II). Their minds were not.198 Handfuls on Purpose.
sealed with prejudice ; they were quite prepared to
give this new doctrine a careful and favourable consi-deration.
The minds of many Gospel hearers are like
a well-trodden footpath in a field ; the seed may fall
on it, but it never gets a chance of entering into it.
There is no readiness to receive the Word.
2. Noble-hearted. “ They searched the Scriptures
daily whether these things were so.” A willingness to
bring all teaching to the test of the “ Scriptures of truth ”
is an evidence of nobility of mind (v. II). What could
be more noble than a soul eager to know and obey the
mind of God ? There is something fatally wrong with
our thoughts and opinions if they cannot stand the
test of God’s revealed will as found in His Word. If
we are building on a sandy foundation, surely the sooner
we find out our folly and danger the better.
3. Honest-hearted. “ Therefore many of them
believed” (v. 12). Having been convinced of the truth
of Paul’s teaching, after searching the Word for them-selves,
they were honest enough to believe it. When a
good and honest heart hears the Word, it keeps it and
brings forth fruit with patience (Luke 8, 15). Be
honest with God. If any man will do His will, he shall
know whether the teaching is of God (John 7, 17).
PAUL AT ATHENS.
ACTS 17, 15-34.
The reason why Paul came to Athens is stated in
the previous verses. It may simplify the lessons
here just to put them in this modern form-.Paul at Athens. 199
I. The Preacher. Paul. A man learned in a ll
the wisdom of the philosophers, A man who had been
soundly converted by God to a special revelation of
Jesus Christ. A man with a definite commission from
the Risen One. A man who had already suffered much
in the service of Christ. A man with a soul ablaze with
love for his fellow-men, who knows no fear, and who is
prepared to face all the wisdom of the Greeks, in the
name of his Lord and Master. A preacher who has
always a message, and who is never ashamed to tell it
2. The Preparation. “ While he waited, his
s@i2 was stirred in him ” (v. 16). The city was stocked
with thirty thousand gods, many of them magnificent
works of art. But Paul was no mere sight-seer. He
looked upon things in the light of the revelation of God
in Christ and of eternity. While others could only see
Grecian handiwork in Athenian “ devotions,” this man
of God saw “ the city wholly given to idolatry.” The
man whose eyes God hath opened will look upon “ the
things which are unseen.” In many of our towns or
cities there are signs of “ religious devotions ” that are
not of God enough to stir the spirit of any preacher
who has the heaven-lit eyes of the apostle.
3. The Pulpit. “ Then Paul stood in the midst of
Mars’ Hill ” (v. 22). That was after he had been in
the synagogue and the market place preaching unto
them “ Jesus and the Resurrection.” As the lonely
evangelist stood in the midst of that open-air court,
while the Athenian dignitaries rested on these rock-.200 Handfuls on Purpose.
hewn seats, he was occupying the leading pulpit of the
city. It was a bold stand that he took, but he believed
that the Lord who stood by him, was worthy of the
highest place in this philosophical centre. Paul counted
this a great privilege for his Master’s sake.
4. The Audience. “ Ye men of Athens ” (v. 22).
No preacher ever addressed a more critical congregation ;
they made it their life’s business to inquire into every
new thing (v. 21). In the Epicureans, he had a company
of high-minded Rationalists, whose god was their belly ;
the Stoics extolled virtue, but denied human responsi-bility
and future judgment. In them Paul was face to
face with the wisdom of Socrates and Plato, but in him
they were face to face with the “ wisdom of God.”
The world by wisdom knows not God.
5. The Sermon. It was not read, it was poured out
of a burning heart. The szlbjcct was “ HIM.” Whom
therefore ye ignorantly worship,, Him declare I unto
you. This preacher always found a short cut to Christ
because he gloried in Him (Gal. 6, 14). The Heads
of this wonderful sermon are very clear. He preached
(a) The Existence and Creative Power of God. “ God
that made the world,” etc. This was a blow at the
Epicurean theory of evolution or “ chance.” (b) The
Spiritual Character of God (v. 25). He is not wor-shipped
“ with men’s hands.” Out of the heart are the
issues of life. (c) The Universal Brotherhood of Man.
“ Made of ooze blood all nations.” (d) The overruling
Providence of God. He hath determined the times before
appointed (v. 26). (e) Man’s Need of God, “ They should.Paul at Athens. 201
seek the Lord.” (/) The Universality of the presence
of God. ” He be not far from every one of us ” (v. 27 ;
Isa. 55, 6). (g) That God Himself is the source of all
Life. “ In Him we live, and move, and have our being ”
(v. 28). How much more fully is this truth realised by
those whose “ life is hid with Christ in God ? ” Then
came the Application-(a) Something we ought not
to do. “ We ought not to think that the Godhead is
like unto gold,” &c. (b) Something we ought to do.
We should ucpent, for “ God hath commanded all men
everywhere to repent ” (v. 30) ; and “ because He hath
appointed a day in which He will judge the world by
Jesus Christ ” (v. 31 ; Rom. 2, 16).
6. The Results. (a) Some mocked (v. 32). The
doctrine of the resurrection and final judgment cut at
the roots of their selfish lives and false philosophy.
What made Felix tremble, made them mock. Any fool
can do that. (b) Some hesitated. “ We will hear thee
again,” they said. They wavered, and lost their op-portunity,
for they never heard him again (v. 33). (c)
Some believed. The Gospel is the power of God unto
salvation to everyone that believeth.
PAUL AT CORINTH.
ACTS 18, 1-17.
Athens was perhaps the hardest field in which the
apostle had ever attempted to sow the good seed of the
kingdom. The wisdom of this world is one of the
sirongest forts of the kingdom of Satan. Paul writes no
epistle to the Athenians. When he visited Corinth, the
0.202 Handfuls on Purpose.
capital of Achaia, he must have found it a busy and
populous centre of commerce. Let us look at him
AS A TENTMAKER.-“ Because he was of
the same craft he abode with them and ZVO@~” (v. 3).
It was a principle with Paul that if any man “ w&d not
work, neither should he eat.” Rather than burden
anyone with the responsibility of his board and lodgings,
he would labour night and day (2 Thess. 3, 8). Paul
was courageous enough to preach the Gospel to the
Athenian professors at the Mars’ Hill University ;
he was also humble enough to act as a journeyman
tentmaker in the workshop of Aquila. Whatsoever ye
do, do it heartily as unto the Lord.
II. AS A REASONER.-“ He reasoned in the
synagogue every Sabbath ” (v. 4). Paul did not reason
with them merely to bring them over to his way of think-ing,
or to prove his own superior scholarship ; he reasoned
with them “ out of the Scri$tures ” (chap. 17, z), that he
might bring them over to the mind of God concerning His
Son Jesus Christ. If the will of God, as revealed in the
Scriptures of truth, has not become the governing and
impelling factor in our lives, then is our preaching vain,
and men will remain in their sins. Many preachers
nowadays, instead of reasoning out of the Scriptures,
go out 01 the Scriptures to reason. Instead of giving
the people bread, they offer them luminous dust.
III. AS A WITNESS.-“ He testified to the Jews
that Jesus was the Christ.” He not only could reason.Paul at Corinth. 203
with them over an open Bible, but he could also give his
own personal testimony to the Messiahship and saving
power of Jesus, who was called Christ. Had he not seen
Him, and heard Him, and been transformed by His won-drous
grace ? (Acts 9). Mere finger-Post preachers may
be correct, but they are always cold, and stiff, and lifeless.
God never sent anyone to preach Christ who had not
first Christ revealed in them (Gal. I, 16). “ We speak
that we do not know.”
IV. AS A PROTESTANT.-“ When they opposed
. . . he said, Your blood be upon your own heads ; I
3m clean ” (v. 6). He protested against the unreasonable
opposition and wilful blindness of these Jews by turning
his ministry specially to the Gentiles. That very dust
that he shook off his raiment will remain as a witness
against them. It is a very solemn thing to grieve the
Spirit of God, so that the message of the Gospel, which
is the message of Life, is turned into a sentence of death
(Ezek. 3, 18-19).
V. AS A SOUL-WINNER.-“ Many of the Corin-thians
hearing, believed ” (vv. 7-8). His turning away
from the Jews was the salvation of these Gentiles. If
you don’ t come into the marriage feast of the Gospel,
another will, for every seat will be occupied when the
King comes. But the apostle’ s testimony among the
opposing Jews was not in vain ; it never was. Among
the converts he had “ Crispus, the chief rder of the
synagogue.” My Word shall not return void.
VI. AS ONE BELOVED BY GOD.-“ Then
spake the Lord to Paul,” etc. (vv. 9-10). If there was.204 Handfuls on Purpose.
any$.ngering doubt or fear in Paul’s mind as to the wis-dom
of turning away with the Gospel from his own kins-men,
this message from the Lord would give him perfect
rest. There was in it (I) a word of cheer, “ Be not
afraid ; ” (2) a word of counsel, “ Speak and hold not thy
peace ; ” (3) a word of assurance, “ I am with thee ; ” (4)
a word of $romise, “ No man shall hurt thee ; ” (5) a word
of ho+, “ I have much people in this city.” They are
always blessed who are heaven’s favourites.
VII. AS ONE DESPISED BY MEN,-“ The Jews
made insurrection with one accord against Paul ” (w.
12-17). Woe unto you when all men speak well of you.
The more intently anyone seeks the glory of God in the
salvation of souls, the more bitter will those self-righteous
religious formalists become. They beat Sosthenes in
the presence of a careless governor (Gallio), but as to
Paul, it happened unto him just as the Lord had said.
“ No man shall set on thee to hurt thee.” Be thou
PAUL AT EPHESUS.
ACTS 19, 1-20.
Paul did a great service in bringing Priscilla and
Aquila to Ephesus. Next to winning souls, there is no
greater work than putting others in the way of doing
better service for God. Jealousy is a cruel monster that
would hinder us from rejoicing in the success of others.
It was surely the guiding hand of God that brought
Apollos into contact with these two deeply taught
disciples (chap. 18, 26). If they were not eloquent them,
selves, they were able, by the grace of God, to sharpen.Paul at Ephesus. 205
the sword of the mighty Apollos. He knew only John’s
baptism, and evidently was a stranger to the mighty
baptism of the Holy Spirit. He was a fervent, eloquent,
diligent believer in the Lord, but he lacked what many
preachers still lack, a definite baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Apollos was not too proud to sit at the feet and learn of
those who were less scholarly, but more deeply spiritual,
than himself. Humility is a characteristic of all who
are prepared to be used in the work of God.
Paul, having again visited Jerusalem, returned to
Ephesus. His heart must have been cheered in finding
there “ certain disciples ” (v. I). His first question
was a searching one-“ Have ye received the Holy
Ghost since ye believed ? ” He did not wish these
young believers to be, like Apollos, strangers to this
gift of the Ascended Christ. The apostle knew that
without this they were in great danger of backsliding, or
of living fruitless and powerless lives. It was well that
he did, for they had not even heard of the Spirit of
Pentecost, having only known the “ baptism of John.”
But as soon as they heard of this second blessing they at
once yielded themselves, that they might receive it.
“ Then the Holy Ghost came on them, and they spake
with tongues.” No one ever yet received the baptism
of the Holy Spirit without signs following. It is im-possible
for anyone to be filled with the Spirit and yet
no supernatural works following. How will ever the
world be convinced that God is in us if no God-like
wonders are being wrought ?
The Church of God will never be anything else, in
the eyes of an ungodly world, but an impotent thing,.206 Handfuls on Purpose.
beating the thin air until experimentally this great
truth is grasped. God will not give His glory to another
on earth save the Holy Spirit. This is a question
of urgent and tremendous importance for every believer
in Jesus Christ. “ Have ye received the Holy Ghost
since ye believed ? ” Pentecost must follow Calvary
in the experience of every one that would honour God
by a life of service. And we say it in all tenderness,
the will of God is not being done in the lives of those who
are not filled with the Spirit.
For two years Paul spake of the “ things concerning
the kingdom of God ” (v. IO). Some believed not, but
all that dwelt in Asia heard the Word of the Lord Jesus.
Whether men received the message of God or not, Paul
sounded out the “ Word of Life.” He did not seem
to troubie himself much about results. He knew the
Word would not return void to Him who sent it. His
great business as a preacher was to make men Iteav.
The miracle of the “ handkerchief ” seemed to ex-cite
the jealousy and emulation of the vagabond Jews ;
they, too, would work miracles for their own glory in
the name of “ Jesus, whom Paul preached ” (v. 13)) but
the demon-possessed “ overcame them and prevailed
against them.” The victory of the man with the evil
spirit over those would-be exorcists was proof enough
that they were not sent by God, and that they were not
possessed by the Holy Ghost. No one can be a match
for the devil in his own strength. The powers of dark-ness
will always prevail against those who are not in
themselves right with God. “ Jesus I know, and Paul
I know, but who are ye ? ” said the demon. It is a.Paul at Ephesus. 207
startling fact that devils know no enemies but those
filled with the Spirit and in living touch with God. It
is by “ He that is in you,” who is “ greater than he that
is in the world,” that we overcome the world, the flesh,
and the devil.
ACTS 19, 21-41.
“ No small stir ” was created in Ephesus through
the faithful testimony of Paul. When the Word of
God is preached in the power of the Holy Ghost sent
down from heaven, it is as a two-edged sword piercing
and dividing asunder the things that affect both soul and
spirit. It is the flash-light of the Eternal Throne of
God cast upon the iniquitous thoughts and acts of men,
and is always sure to produce a consternation when it
suddenly falls upon those who love the darkness rather
than the light.
Demetrius became almost demented when he saw
that his idolatrous “ craft was in danger.” It mattered
nothing to him how many souls were being blessed of God,
in being redeemed out of heathen darkness, so long as
his purse was not affected. This silversmith, like many
others, could be very religious so long as it brought him
a good income. He showed real “worldly wisdom ”
in gathering together “ the workmen of like occupation ”
to protest against the teaching of Paul. It would be
good for us if we were half so earnest in contending for the
truth as those men were for their heathenishsuperstitions.
In connecting “ this our craft ” with the “ great
goddess Diana,” Demetrius did a magnificent stroke of.208 Handfuls on Purpose.
business. His craft and his god were to stand or fall
together. Is there not a more urgent lesson here for
every Christian worker ? Is our work for Christ so
vitally connected with Him that His honour waxes or
wanes according as we succeed or fail in His service ?
As through the work of Demetrius and his associates’
images of their god were made and circulated among
the people for the glory of Diana, so, through the work
of Paul and his companions in labour, images of his God
were being created and circulated for His glory and
honour ill those souls that had been transformed by the
Holy Spirit. Here the powers of the kingdom of Satan
and the forces of the kingdom of Christ meet in terrible
conflict. Do we wonder that “ the whole city was
filled with confusion ? ” These enemies of God were
blinded by the smoke of their own guns. In their
desperation they caught two of Paul’s companions and
made a rush for the public oratory (theatre), that their
triumph might be all the more conspicuous. Paul, the
fearless, would at once have faced those lions in their
own den, but his trustworthy friends advised him not to
“ adventure himself” (v. 31). The scene in the theatre
was like the troubled sea casting up mire and dirt.
“ Some cried one thing, and some another.” Confusion
reigned ; for the greater part of the mob knew not for
what reason they had come together. But like all
other narrow-minded, sin-blinded bigots, they could
say one thing, and for the space of two hours they kept
saying it: “ Great is Diana of the Ephesians ! ” What
is the use of us crying up the greatness of our God if we
ourselves act like a lot of silly imbeciles. It is easy to.Worldly Wisdom. 209
preach on the faithfdrtess of God while we show by our
acts that we are living in unbelief. The town clerk
seemed to be a man worthy of his honourable position ;
faithful, clear-headed, and reasonable. He knows how
to manage the tumultous crowd by first speaking a
word of praise for the world-renowned city and its
goddess (v. 35). Then, in substance, he declares, seeing
that the God which ye worship is the greatest that ever
came from heaven, and that the things which ye be-lieve
are infallible, and “ cannot be spoken against,”
ye ought to show the reality of your faith by being calm,
and not doing anything rashly. How very applicable
all this is to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Is He not great ? Did He not come down from
heaven ? Has He not spoken things which cannot be
overthrown ? Ought we not then to be “ quiet, and do
nothing rashly ? ” He that believeth shall not make
haste. When we know that greater is He that is for
us than all that can be against us, surely we can well
afford to be quiet and do nothing rashly. They that
wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.
A MIDNIGHT MEETING.
ACTS 20, 2-12.
One prominent characteristic of the great apostle
of the Gentiles was his intense carefulness over young
believers, that they might be established in the faith
(v. 2). He counted no personal sacrifice too great so
that they might be made strong in the Lord, to live and
witness for Him. It is not enough that we are saved :.210 Handfuls on Purpose.
we are saved to serve. We fail in our ministry if we
do not lead young converts into the secret joy and
power of His service. It is a great matter to lead a soul
into the saving knowledge of Christ, but it is an equally
important matter to lead a soul into active work for
God. A soul yielded to Christ is a soul saved, but a life
given to Him is a life saved. We are not rewarded at
last for being saved, but for works done in His name
and for His glory. It might help us to grasp the teach-ing
of this portion more easily if we look at-I.
The Speaker. “ Paul preached unto them,
ready to depart on the morrow ” (v. 7). His stay at
Troas was short, only “ seven days,” but it was a memor-able
time. Who could ever forget a sermon by Paul ?
When the soul of a preacher is aflame with heaven-born
fire, the bread of life is sure to be served in season. It
is possible even to preach the truth in such a way as to
sicken even a hungry soul. The Gospel of the Love of
God must be served hot if men are to receive it gladly.
We feel perfectly sure that Paul would give no coun-tenance
to read sermons.
2. The Time. “ The first day of the week, when
the disciples came together to break bread.” The “ first
day of the week,” which is our Sabbath, is a day for
which we should continually thank God. It is the
memorial of Christ’ s resurrection, and the “ breaking of
bread ” was the memorial of His death. Paul seems to
have waited the whole week to get this opportunity of
ministering the Word to them. Were there no Sabbaths,
how few, even in our own Christian country, would ever.A Midnight Meeting. 211
think of going to hear the Word of God. Let us pray
that the sanctity of it may be long preserved.
3. The Place. “ The upper chamber, where there
were many lights ” (v. 8). Ever since Pentecost, the
discifiles seem to have a special liking for the “ upper
room” (chap. I, 13). Hieing an all-night meeting, they had
need of lights, but perhaps the “malzy lights” suggests
the willingness of all the disciples to provide abundance
for the occasion. The natural consequence would be
the heating of the atmosphere to an excessive degree,
which may partly account for the window being open,
and the sleepy young man falling over.
4. The Speech. “ Paul continued his speech
until midnight ” (v. 7), and after taking some refresh-ment,
he “ talked a long while, even till break of day ”
(v. II). The people who clamour for short sermons
are not likely to be found at a midnight meeting.
From the attitude of some modern church-goers, you
would think that they look upon listening to the preach-ing
of the Word of God as a kind of penance that should
be made as short as possible. They are perfectly satis-fied
with the smallest crumb of the heavenly bread for
their souls, then they go home and have a dinner with
five courses. It is quite true that there are some ser-mons
long at five minutes, while others are short at
fifty. Everything depends on the man and the message
5. Th InterraqSwz. “ Eutychus sunk down with
sleep and fell from the third loft ” (v. 9). This young
man suffered severely for his “ first sleep in the kirk ; ”
he nearly lost his life. Are there not multitudes in oui.212 Handfuls on Purpose.
own days who are running the risk of losing their souls
through the same drowsy habit, and with only about the
tenth part of the provocation that befel Eutychus ?
Immediately Paul ran to the help of the unfortunate
man, and by “ embracing him ” restored him again to
consciousness, to the great comfort of the disciples.
Are there not-in another sense-many fallen ones
lying within our reach who might be vestored to a new
and better life if only they were embraced by the arms of
Christian love and faith ? We shall never be successful
in “ lifting the fallen ” unless we can take them into the
affections of our hearts.
A PERSONAL TESTIMONY.
ACTS 20, 13-27.
Paul’ s company sailed into Assos, he arranged to
meet them there, preferring himself to walk the distance,
which was only a few miles ; perhaps that he might have
a quiet time of meditation by the way, or that he might
have some further opportunity of preaching the Gospel.
A true Christian can enjoy the presence of God in the
highway, just as much as anywhere else. It is said of a
certain man of God that he used to walk along the road
with his hat off, so conscious was he of the nearness of
the presence of the Lord. Paul faithfully kept his ap-pointment,
as every honourable man should, (v. 14).
There are some who always study to be late. If they
cannot be notable in one way they will in another. It
is he that is faithful in the least that will be honoured
in the much..A Personal Testimony. 213
To save time they passed by Ephesus and halted at
Miletus, from whence Paul sent for the Ephesian elders,
that he might leave with them his last parting message.
His words to them were in the form of a personal testi-mony.
It was no egotism that moved the apostle to
give them this perfect photograph of his ownspiritual
character as a servant of Christ. We feel profoundly
thankful to him for it, as it gives us a true picture of
what every servant of the Lord Jesus Christ should be.
Let us carefully look at it.
I. He was Humble. “ Serving the Lord with all
humility ” (v. 19). There is no room for pride, or
selfish boasting where the Spirit of the “ meek and lowly
in heart ” rules. The Lord can never be smved in any
other way but in “ all humility of mind.” Brokenness
of spirit is an essential condition even of fellowship with
Him, and there can be no real service for Him out of the
communion of the Holy Ghost. His humility is further
seen in his working with his hands for the support of
himself and those who were with him (v. 34). He was
not ashamed to call himself “ the least of the apostles ”
and to declare that it was “ by the grace of God I am
what I am.”
2. He was Compassionate. He served the Lord
“ with many tears and temptations ” (v. 19. “ He
ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears ”
(v. 31). Paul’s ministry was not a cold, formal, glass-eyed
business. His words were moist with the heart-dew
of divine love and tenderness. Many preachers
use the words “ I tell you,” but how few can add, I‘ even.214 Handfuls on Purpose.
weeping.” (Phil. 3-18). We might as well throw stones
at the people, as heartless words of wisdom. The truth
must be spoken in love. The man who cannot weep
over the enemies of the Cross of Christ fails to make
full $roof of his ministry. We can weep over our own
sorrows and losses, and if the interests of Jesus Christ
were as real to us we would also weep over His. Ser-vant
of God, is your heart right ?
3. He was Faithful. “ I kept back nothing that
was profitable,” etc (vv. zo-zr). He taught from house
to house, both Jews and Greeks, preaching repentance
towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ,
and shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God
(v. 27). Paul had no theories of man to defend, he had
a revelation of God to declare. It is a most lamentable
fact that one of the most prominent doctrines of this
great apostle-repentance toward God-has almost
died out of the modern sermon. To seek popularity,
and the praise of men, instead of to declare the whole
counsel of God, is to become a traitor to Christ, and a
stumbling-block to the souls of men. Only the faith-ful
shall be rewarded (Luke 19, 17).
4. He was Submissive. “ I go bound in spirit
unto Jerusalem . . . but none of these things move
me ” (w. 22-24). Although Paul had the witness of the
Holy Ghost that “ in every city bonds and afflictions
waited for him,” there was no offence in his heart at
this painful providence. In nothing that the finger of
God touched was he offended. He believed that all
things work together for good to them that love God.A Personal Testimony. 215
(Rom. 8, 28). “ Bonds and afflictions ” are not in
themselves evidences that we have erred, and so need
them as chastiserrseds , they are often conditions neces-sary
to the discipline of the soul, for further and deeper
experience of the things of God. Our Lord’s sufferings
were in no sense corrective, but served, in one way, as a
5, He was Devoted. “ Neither count I my life
dear unto myself, that I might finish the ministry . . .
of the Gospel of the grace of God ” (v. 24). To publish
the Gospel of the grace of God was a thing more dear to
Paul than his own life. It was his meat and drink to
do the will of his Redeemer and Lord. He could say,
“ To me to live is Christ.” The Gospel is never preached
as it ought to be, unless by those who are more desirous
to glorify God than themselves. He who seeketh
“ great things for himself ” is morally unfit for the
service of Christ. If any man would come after ME, let
him deny himself.
6. He was Courageous. “ I have not shunned to
declare unto you the whole counsel of God ” (v. 27).
No “ fear of Man ” could fetter the tongue of this faith-ful
witness. A full-orbed Gospel had been revealed to
him, and at any personal cost he was determined that
not one ray of it should be hindered from shining
through him. The perfect love with which the heart of
Paul was filled cast out all fear. He loved the Lord Jesus
Christ and the souls of men too intensely to keep back
anything that was profitable (v. 20). It is a base and false
charity that shuns to declare the whole counsel of God..216 Handfuls on Purpose.
FAITH AND FAILURE,
ACTS 21, 1-36.
I‘ St. Paul was a great trader of Christ both by
land and sea.” So said John Trapp, and it is a most
suggestive saying. No merchant could more urgently
push his wares than Paul pushed the things of the
Kingdom of God. Wherever he went, whatever he did,
it was always as an ambassador for Christ. To him
religion was no cloak, to be thrown off or on as occasion
demanded. It was the bone and sinew and vital
breath of his being. As Saul, he was crucified with
Christ ; as Paul, he had no existence but in Him and
for Him. “ To me to live is Christ.” Note here some
further things about him-I.
His Sorrowful Prospect. While on his way to
Jerusalem, he was warned at least twice of dangers,
and of certain imprisonment, if he should go there at
that time (vv. 4-11). El% knew before this-by the
Holy Ghost-that bonds and afflictions awaited him
in every city (vv. 20-23). In his unconverted days, he
“ profited much in the Jew’s religion ” (Gal. I, 14) in
that he was honoured and praised of men ; but all was
sacrificed for Him, who had called him by His grace,
and who had promised to show him what great things
he must suffer for His sake. He was called into the
fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.
2. His Fearless Faith. Paul’s reply to their
united entreaty was short and decisive. “ I am ready ”
(v. 13). Ready, not only to be bound, but to die for.Faith and Failure. 217
the name of the Lord Jesus. The secret of peace and
victory in the face of all trial and persecution is to
connect the NAME of the Lord Jesus with it. He who
can say confidently, “ Who shall separate me from the
love of Christ ?” will also be able to add “ We are more
than conquerors through Him.” “ I am ready.” What
a ring of unstaggering confidence there is in this. How
much has been lost politically, commercially, morally,
and spiritually for the want of being ready when the
crisis came. It was “ they that were ready ” who went
in when the Bridegroom came ; they who were getting
ready were shut out.
3. His Powerful Testimony. “ He declared what
things God had wrought among the Gentiles” (vv. 17-20).
Having arrived at Jerusalem, and having been warmly
welcomed by the brethren, Paul gave them another
chapter out of his life’s book, thrilling with the wonders
of the grace of God. Those who by faith attempt
much for God, will have experiences that will glorify
God (v. 20). If we would see the wonder-working
power of God, we must needs “ launch out into the
deep “-into the deep of God’s fathomless grace, and the
unsearchable riches of His Son. Believe and thou shalt see.
4. His Compromising Meekness (vv. 21-26). See-ing
that there were so many in Jerusalem who believed
that Paul’s teaching led the converts to “ forsake
Moses,” the elders persuaded him to show his devotion
to the law of hiloses by shaving his head, and joining
himself with those four men who were about to present
themselves as observers of the law of the Nazarite
P.218 Handfuls on Purpose.
(Num. 6, 13-18). This was intended to shut the mouths
of those who madly cavilled against the apostle’s
preaching, and showed the great humility of Paul,
when he submitted to it for their sakes. He was willing
to be made all things . . . that he might save some.
5. His Conspicuous Failure (vv. 27-31). The
very means he used to disarm the enemy became the
cause of offence. He had shaved his head through the
fear of man ; now he is caught in the snare. We
cannot but think that, in his willingness to please the
brethren, and perhaps to justify himself in the eyes
of men, he for the time being failed to “ stand fast in
the liberty wherewith Christ had made him free.” But
in any case trouble was sure to come upon him in Jeru-salem,
for the Holy Ghost had already witnessed to
this, and the beloved Paul seemed in no way disappointed
with the terrible consequences.
6. His Rescue by the Soldiers (w. 32-36). This
was a sad scene. The worshippers of the temple of
God going about to kill him, whose body was the temple
of the Holy Ghost. Religious formalists are always at
war with the Spirit of God, for where the Spirit is there
is liberty. The chains of the Roman soldiers were more
merciful than the tongues of these hypocrites. But a
man of God is immortal till his work is done.
PAUL’ S DEFENCE, A GOSPEL.
ACTS 22, 1-21.
Paul’s life is an exhibition of what the grace of God
can do. Even in the most trying and unexpected cir-.Paul’s Defence, A Gospel. 219
cumstances, he could possess his soul in patience. See
his beautiful courtesy, “ May I speak unto thee ? ”
(vv. 21-g) and note his wonderful wisdom and courage
when he asked, as a ” Jew of Tarsus and a cz’tizcn of no
mean city,” he might be allowed to speak to the people
What a blending of giant strength with child-like
simplicity. Having received permission to speak from
the stairs of the castle, he addresses the religious rabble,
not as blood-thirsty enemies, but as “ Men, brethren,
and fathers.” His defence takes the form of a personal
testimony. He is not so anxious to justify himself
before the people as to show them what great things
God had done for him. He refers to himself here-I.
As a Learned Jew (v. 3). He was no ignorant
bigot, no prejudiced Gentile, but a Jew born in the
famous free city of Tarsus, and educated at the feet of
the great Gamaliel : a Hebrew of the Hebrews.
Paul’s natural gifts and high-class training made him
one of those men that were not to be easily deceived.
2. As a Zealous Persecutoor. “ I persecuted this
way unto the death” (v. 4). This way refers to the
way of Christians, the way he now walked. In carrying
out the unenlightened conviction of his heart, he thought
he ought to oppose the things connected with the name
of Jesus (Acts 8, 3). The “ I thought ” of the unre-generate
man is always contrary to the mind of God.
There is a religious enthusiasm that has not been kindled
by the holy fire from heaven, but by the fire of hell.
3. As a Conquered Foe. “ 1 fell unto the ground ”
(vv. 6-7). A sudden burst of soul-convicting light from.220 Handfuls on Purpose.
the presence of the glorified Saviour, overwhelmed the
haughty Saul ; smiting him to the earth. What other
power could have arrested such a sinner and subdued
such a determinate will ? When God speaks it is with
convincing power. What can speak more effectively
than light ? By the light of His Word He still brings
rebel souls to the dust. Is not My Word a hammer and
a fire, saith the Lord. With this hammer God, the
Spirit, can break the rocky heart to pieces.
4. As a Humble Itiquiw. ” And I answered,
Who art Thou, Lord ? . . . What shall I do, Lord ? ”
(v. 8-10). Those questions reveal a radical change in
the mind and heart of Saul, but between the first and
the second there comes the revelation of Jesus Himself
to his soul. When anyone is ready to obey the light
and the voice of God’s Word they will not be left
long in ignorance of the saving power of Jesus. But,
Who art Thou ? should be followed with, What shall I
do ? for we are saved to serve (Luke I, 74).
5. As a Comforted Believer. “ Brother Saul,
receive thy sight ” (vv. 11-13). At first he “ could not
see, for the glory of that light ” had blinded his eyes to
every earthly object. The light of the glory of God is
always an eye-blinding light to the glory of this world.
“ Brother Sad.” How soothing this salutation would
be, coming from the lips of the saintly Ananias ; and
as an evidence that the Lord, whom he had met, desired
to bless him, he received his sight, a new sight for the new
world into which he hadnow entered. With him old things
had passed away, and all things had now become new..Paul’s Defence, A Gospel. 221
6. As an Instructed Disciple. ” God hath chosen
thee, that thou shouldst know His will . . . and be
His witness unto all men ” (vv. 14-16). He was called
to be a witness to the resurrection of Christ, as one born
out of due season. The Gospel which he preached was
not received of man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ
(Gal. I, 12). Through Ananias he learned more fully
the purpose of God in calling him. Have we learned
all that God, by His grace, means us to be and to do ?
7. As a Divinely Commissioned Apostle (w. 17-21).
It was while praying in the temple that the vision of
God came, saying, “ Make haste . , . out of Jerusa-lem.
. . . Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto
the Gentiles.” Is it not usually while praying that the
vision of God’ s will is made known ? (Acts g, II ; 30).
Ask and ye shall receive. As a “ chosen vessel,” Paul
was not sent on his own charges, but was filled with
the wealth and power of the name of Jesus (Acts 9, 15).
He was divinely called, divinely commissioned, and
divinely equipped. So is it with all the true servants of
the Lord Jesus Christ.
A DAY OF TRIAL AND A NIGHTOF CHEER.
ACTS 23, 1-24.
After spending a night in the rocky fortress of
Antonia, Paul was brought down to answer for himself
before the chief priests and all their council. The
leading points in this portion will perhaps be more
easily grasped if we put them thus-.222 Handfuls on Purpose.
I. An Honest Confession. “ I have lived in all
good conscience before God until this day” (v. I).
To have a conscience “ void of offence toward God ”
was the constant ambition of the apostle (chap. 24,16).
There are some whose consciences are seared as with
a red-hot iron, through their many refusals to obey
the Word and will of God. A good “ conscience’,” is one
in perfect harmony with the mind of God, and is the
guarantee of a blissful life.
2. A Holy Indignation. ” God shall smite thee,
thou whited wall,” etc. (vv. 2-4). This may seem
harsh, but the pure righteous soul of the prisoner was
so grieved that the man exalted to administer justice
should, through personal hate, order him to be smitten
“ contrary to the law.” The high priest’s business was
to condemn the wicked, and not to smite the righteous
(Deut. 21, 5). We are told that in the beginning of the
Jewish wars this same priest was actually smitten to
death by a captain of the Jews.
3. _4 Skilfd Attitude. “ But when Paul per-ceived,”
etc. (v. 6). Paul was a man whose eyes the
Lord had opened, and so was quick to take in a situa-tion.
He was wise as a serpent, but not so poisonous,
because he had also the harmlessness of the dove. In
declaring himself a Pharisee, and a believer in the re-surrection,
he was stating that which was absolutely
true, for none could be more jealous for the truth of God
4. A Divided Jwy. “ There arose a dissension
between the Pharisees and the Sadducees ” (vv. 7-10).A Day of Trial and a Night of Cheer. 223
Before this they both cried, “ Away with this fellow
from the earth,” but now the Pharisees attempt to
justify Paul by saying, “ Perhaps an angel hath re-vealed
it to him.” This was also a side-thrust at the
Sadducees, who denied the existence of angels and
spirits. We have here an old exhibition of a modem
sin, that of putting partyism, personal passions, and
interests before the truth of God and the general
cause of righteousness.
5. A Divine Encouragement. “ The night follow-ing
the Lord stood by him and said, Be of good cheer,
Paul” (v. II). It was a blessed night, luminous with
the glory of His presence, and his soul comforted with
His word of promise. How easy it is for the faithful
Saviour to meet the need of His suffering saint. He
can speedily turn our prison house into a “ palace
beautiful.” While Madame Guyon was lying in a
French prison, she said “ the very stones of her prison
shone like rubies in her eyes.” He knows how and when
to speak a word to the weary.
6. A Dastardly Plot (vv. 12-15). These forty
fanatics, who bound themselves neither to eat nor drink
until they had killed Paul, doubtless thought that they
were doing God’s service, but such take good care never
to consult God about it. There is no night black enough
to hide such murderous plans from the eye of the Lord.
The counsel of the wicked shah come to naught, their
words shah not stand (Isa. 8, IO).
7. An Unexpected Discovery (vv. 16-24). This
son of Paul’s sister was a brave young lad. He evidently.224 Handfuls on Purpose.
had overheard the plot, perhaps those cruel men wera
so intent on their fiendish purpose that they paid no heed
to the boy near by. The boy heard, believed, a nd
acted at once. To go up to the castle on a prisoner’s
behalf was a bold venture, but love constrained him.
His timely effort was crowned with success. He was
the means of saving the life of his beloved uncle. Pro-crastination
is not only the “ thief of time,” but it is
also the thief of souls and of heaven. What thou doest,
PAUL BEFORE FELIX.
ACTS 24, 1-27.
The journey from Jerusalem to Casarea was over
sixty miles. To Paul it was a triumphal march out of
the clutches of his would-be murderers. The Lord knows
how to deliver the godly. Five days later the high
priest with the elders, and the orator, Tertullus, arrived
as the accusers of the prisoner. The priest and the
elders had made the bullets, and hired this eloquent
orator to fire them ; but he missed the mark, for Felix
had knowledge of “ that way.” Look at-I.
THE ACCUSATION.–After Tertullus had
spoken some flattering words to the voluptuous Felix, he
launched four terrible charges against the holy apostle.
( I) A Pestilent Fellow. A man whose character is
thoroughly diseased, and a danger to the morals of the
people. (z) A Mover of Sedition. A disturber of the
national peace, and an enemy to the Roman Government.
(3) A Ringleader of the Nazarelzes. A religious fanatic,.Paul Before Felix. 225
A man who has gone crazy over the supposed resurrec-tion
of Jesus who was crucified. (4) A Profaner of
the Temple. A rank heretic. A man who has no regard
for the true worship of God. The charge was as foul
as the prince of darkness could make it. The image of
the “ father of lies ” was stamped upon it.
II. THE DEFENCE.-Paul makes no attempt to
flatter the governor, but is glad to mention the fact
that Felix had been for “many years a judge of the
nation,” and was well able to understand the nature of
the case (vv. IO-II). (I) He Denies the Charge (vv.
12.13). What else could he do but hurl their hate-kindled
darts back to their own bosoms with the chal-lenge
that they “ cannot prove the things whereof they
accuse me.” (2) He makes a confession of his faith
in the Word of God (v. 14). Of his hope toward God,
and the resurrection (v. 15). Of the purity of his aim
in seeking “ always to have a conscience void of offence ”
(v. 14). Because of the true, child-like simplicity of
his character, Paul could not but speak out the deep and
tender feelings of his soul. These things formed the
very tissue of his spiritual life. (3) He gives an Ex-planation
(vv. 17-21). He tells, in simple, truthful
language, what in reality did happen. The trzdh always
suits best, and the honest and the upright love it.
III. THE DEFERMENT.-When Felix heard
these things he made up his mind to do nothing till
Lysias, the chief captain of the Roman band at Jerusa-lem,
should come and explain matters more fully to him
(vv. 22-23). Meanwhile Paul was to have liberty and.226 Handfuls on Purpose.
the privilege of seeing the friends who may call on him.
The honest man has scored a victory.
IV. THE PRIVATE HEARING.-Felix, willing to
entertain his wife, who was a Jewess, and also evidently
believing that Paul’s name was one to conjure with,
sent for him, and had a private interview, which re-veals
: (I) A Courageous Pkoner. Called to explain
to them the cause of his “ faith in Christ,” hedid not
fail to reason with them of “ righteousness, temperance,
and judgment to come.” He took this quiet oppor-tunity
to rebuke the noble sinners personally. Truly,
he sought not great things for himself. (2) A Cowardly
Judge. Although he trembled at the truthful words of
his blameless prisoner, yet he “sent for him” and “ bound
him,” just as he thought it might bring gain or honour
to himself (vv. 26-27). But Paul lived before another
Judge, whose mercy and grace had never failed him
(Acts 23, I). Those who dare for Jesus Christ, can
dare to stand alone. Felix was convicted-he trem-bled-
but he was not converted. His conscience con-demned
him, but his stubborn will, through fear of
man, or of woman, refused to yield. He proposed
to consider this matter when he had a more convenient
season. How readily we are to forget that there are
two sides to a “ convenient season.” We cannot make
a spring season at will. A farmer may have more
time to sow his seed in the winter, but what would
it profit him ?
The most convenient of all seasons for getting
right with God, is when His Word is pricking us to.Paul Before Felix. 227
the heart, and when we are trembling under the power
PAUL’ S APPEAL UNTO CIESAR.
ACTS 25, x-12.
Paul had now been two years in prison. A new
governor had just arrived (Festus) to take the place of
Felix This was a new opportunity for those “ Chief
of the Jews ” whose hearts were still full of murderous
hate at the apostle, and they were quick to take advan-tage
A Cunning Plot. They sought the favour of
Festus that they might persuade him to send for Paul
to Jerusalem, so that they might have a chance of killing
him by the way (vv. 2-3). They were not privileged
to kill Paul, but they were surely guilty of murder in
the sight of God. “ He that hat&% his brother is a mur-derer.”
The Lord looketh upon the heart.
2. A Reasonable Profiosal. It must have been
very disappointing to these enemies of the apostle when
Festus refused to yield to their sinister request (vv. 4-5).
Caesarea, being the Roman headquarters, was the proper
place for trial. As many of them as were able-having
sufficient time and means-and we may add, sufficiently
hardened in heart, could go with him and “ accuse this
man.” But it was not @slice these Jewish rulers
wanted, it was the death of him who preached “ Jesus
and the Resurrection.”
3. A Renewed Charge. The next day, after Fe&us
arrived, Paul was brought out for the third time to be.228 Handfuls on Purpose.
examined. The complaints of the Jews were many and
grievous. They were as numerous and as black as so
many lying tongues could make them, but not one of
them could they prove. It has been said that “truth
seldom goes without a scratched face.” He who Him-self
was the TRUTH had a face more marred than any
mans. Those who live at enmity with God will always
love the darkness rather than the light. Christ said they
hated Me without a cause, and they will also hate you.
4. A Renerued Delzial. All the vile charges they
brought against Paul could not bring the faintest tre-mor
to his heart, or blush of shame to his cheek ; he had
not “ offended in anything at all.” Those who live
before God with a goodconscience need fear no evil (chap.
23, I), for greater is He that is in them than he that is
in the world. It is the Spirit of God in the believer that
wars against the wicked spirit that works in the children
of disobedience (Eph. 2, 2).
5. A Strange Request. F&us said to Paul,
“ Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem to be judged ? ” Why
does the judge ask the prisoner as to where he might be
judged ? He is now wavering, and, being desirous to
favour the Jews, he becomes “ double-minded and un-stable
in his ways ” (Isa. I, 6-8). Those who would
have the light of truthfulness to shine in their lives
must, in heart, walk in the light.
6. A New Weapon. When the wide-awake apostle
saw that his judge was likely to be bribed over to the
side of his bloodthirsty enemies, he unsheathed an un-expected,
but mighty, weapon of defence. “ I appeal.Paul’ s Appeal Unto Char. 229
unto Caesar.” As a Roman citizen, not proved to be a
criminal, he had this right. When Festus answered,
“ Unto Cmsar shalt thou go,” it was another victory for
the man of God. The finger of God is clearly seen in this.
Had not the Lord told him just a little while ago that he
must witness of Him at Rome (chap. 23, II). Now he has
the promise of being taken there free of all charge, to
preach the Gospel in Rome also. Truly, God moves in a
mysterious way, making all things work together for
good to them that love Him.
PAUL AS A WITNESS FOR GOD.
ACTS 26, 1-32.
When King Agrippa came to Caesarea to salute
Festus, the new governor, he was told the story of Paul,
the prisoner ; how the charges brought against him had
not been proven, and how he had ” appealed to Cmsar.”
Festus was quite pleased that Agrippa should hear him
on the morrow, in the hope that this might help him out
of the “ unreasonableness ” of sending a prisoner to
Augustus without being able to “ signify the crimes
laid against him.” So Paul is brought out once more
and permitted to speak for himself. The apostle’ s de-fence
was the story of his conversion-this was always
his apologetic for Christianity. Like the sword of
Goliath, “ there is none like it.” It so affected Festus
that he thought Paul had gone mad through “ much
learning ; ” it so touched the conscience of Agrippa that
he said, “ Almost thou persuade& me to be a Chris-.230 Handfuls on Purpose.
tian.” Look at Paul’s defence, then, as revealing the
characteristics of a true Christian-I.
HE IS A CHANGED MAN (vv. g-q).-Once
he did many things contrary to the name of Jesus. Now
he was His bond-slave. The change was radical and
complete, wrought not by the will of the flesh, nor the
will of man, but of God. He was born from above.
No one can be a Christian without being “ born again.”
A new nature is needed before we can see the things of
the kingdom of God, or enjoy the fellowship of Christ,
the only begotten of the Father.
II. HE IS AN EMPOWERED MAN.-Em-powered
by the Lord Jesus Christ to be a witness unto
Him by opening the eyes of sin-blinded men, and turning
them from the power of Satan unto God (vv. 16-18).
God does not send us a warfare on our own charges (Acts
I, 8). The evidence that a man is sent by God is that
he does the work that none others can do by their own
strength and wisdom. Signs must follow those who
III. HE IS AN OBEDIENT MAN.-“1 wasnot
disobedient unto the heavenly vision ” (v. 19). To be
disobedient to the heavenly call is to seal our own
spiritual doom. Neither did he dishonour Him who had
called him by immediately conferring with flesh and
blood (Gal. I, 1516). He settled the matter right off
with the Lord Himself as to what he would do.
IV. HE IS A DIVINELY HELPED MAN.-“
Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue.Paul as a Witness for God. 231
unto this day” (vv. 21-22). He had been often perse-cuted,
but never forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.
He had experienced the promise of his Lord-“ I will
never leave thee.” Every fait/&l servant of Christ will
be able, at the close of life, to raise an Ebenezer to the
honour of His name. Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.
V. HE IS A DEVOTED MAN.-“ Saying none
other things than those . . . that Christ should suffer”
(v. 23). Paul was wholly yielded up to the interests of
Christ and His cross. He meant it when he said, “ To
me to live is Christ. I am determined to know nothing
among men save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Unless our lives are entirely yielded up to Him our
testimony for Him will be powerless and fruitless.
VI. HE IS A MISUNDERSTOOD MAN.-Fes-tus
said, “ Paul, thou art beside thyself ; much learning
doth make thee mad ” (v. 24). The natural man re-ceiveth
not the things of the Spirit of God, they are
foolishness unto him. To those who are in a perishing
condition “ the preaching of the cross is foolishness ”
(I Cor. I, 18). The disciple is not greater than his Lord.
Did they not say of Christ, He hath a devil and is
mad ? (John IO, 20).
VII. HE IS A COURTEOUS MAN.–” I am not
mad, most noble Festus.” Honour to whom honour is
due. The grace of God will always teach a man to be
civil. There is no man on earth who can better afford
to honour the nobility than the Christian, for he him-self
has been exalted into the ranks of the blood-royal
of heaven. Children of God..232 Handfuls on Purpose.
VIII. HE IS A FAITHFUL MAN.-“ King
Agrippa, believest tltoz~ the prophets ? ” This personal
appeal to the king must surely have come to him with
startling suddenness, while it reveals the simple, fearless
courage of the man whose heart God had transformed,
and perhaps a real longing for the spiritual and eternal
well-being of Agrippa. Paul had always an eye on his
Master’s business ; pulling men out of the fire of sin.
IX. HE IS A SATISFIED MAN.-When Agrippa
confessed that he was “ Almost persuaded to be a Chris-tian,”
see how quickly Paul shows him that it is the
better part. “ I would to God that thou and all . . .
were altogether such as I am, except these bonds ” (v.
zy). There was not a richer or happier man in Czsarea
than Paul. The peace of God was in his heart, and
the unsearchable riches of Christ were his.
PAUL’ S SHIPWRECK, OR THE POWER
ACTS 27, I-44.
The taking of Paul the apostle to Italy was one
of the most important and far-reaching undertakings
ever attempted by the powerful Government of Rome.
The coming of that lonely prisoner was the coming of
the Ambassador of Heaven to establish a new and ever-lasting
kingdom among the Gentile nations of the earth.
It was the planting of that new tree, the leaves of whicl.
will ultimately heal the nations. Behold how great a
matter a lit;!e fire kindleth. We cannot go into detail.Paul’ s Shipwreck. 233
here, but will seek some spiritual lessons from the out-standing
features. We note-I.
A PERILOUS POSITION.-“ Exceedingly
tossed with tempest . . . neither sun nor stars . . . and
all hope taken away ” (vv. 17-20). We can scarcely
imagine a more agonising predicament. Such is a true
picture of those who have been awakened by the Holy
Spirit to a real sense of their guilt and danger as sinners
in the sight of God. Tossed with fear and alarm, with-out
seeing any guiding light, and all hope of salvation
taken away. At that time ye were without Christ,
having no hope (Eph. 2, 12).
II. A MERCIFUL REVELATION.-“ The angel
of God stood by me, saying, Fear not, Paul . . . God hath
given thee all them that sail with thee ” (vv. 23-24).
The effectual, fervent prayer of this righteous man
hath availed much (James 5, 16). It was doubtless in
answer to Paul’ s earnest pleadings that this answer was
given. What a victory of faith it was. Are we not
reminded here of God’ s answer to the cry of Christ’ s
heart, “ I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheri-tance
? ” All who sail in the same boat with Jesus Christ
will be eternally given to Him.
III. A FAITHFUL PROCLAMATION.-“ Where-fore,
sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God ” (vv. 22-25).
It was a “ glad and glorious Gospel ” that Paul had to
preach to those whose souls were sinking in despair.
It was, indeed, the Gospel of Salvation. “ There shall
he no loss of any man’ s life.” It was a Gospel of cev-0.234 Handfuls on Purpose.
tainiy to Paul, for he adds, “ I believe God that it shukl
be, even as it was told me.” Such is the Gospel of Christ
to all who, like Paul, have received it as a revelation
from God. Only those who believe the Word of God
have any Gospel ot certain salvation to preach.
IV. A NECESSARY CONDITION.–” Except
these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved ” (v. 31).
Paul warns the soldiers that if the sailors are allowed
to desert the ship, they could not be saved (v. 30).
There is no inconsistency between the sovereign grace
of God and the responsibility of man in the use of
prescribed means. The promise was that “ all would
be saved ; ” the condition was, “ abiding ” in the ship.
The Gospel of Christ offers salvation to all, but the con-dition
is, believe in Him and abide in Him.
V. A COMPASSIONATE EXHORTATION.-“
Wherefore, I pray you to take some meat, for this is for
your health ” (v. 34). No shepherd could be more careful
over his flock than Paul is over those 276 fellow-passen-gers.
He seeks not only their salvation, but their
health and comfort. But God’s order is salvation
FIRST, then health, and better houses if you will. The
Holy Ghost is the agent in every God-sent revival, and
He nezIer begins with the social conditions of men,
always with their sinful, sorrowful spirits. But here
note that eating, as well as abiding, is a condition of full
salvation. “ Thy Word was found, and I did eat it.”
VI. A WONDERFUL TRANSFORMATION.-“
Then were they all of good cheer ” (v. 36). What a
contrast between the experiences mentioned in vrrse.Paul’ s Shipwreck. 235
29, “all hope taken away,” and verse 36, ‘ I good cheer.”
What has made the difference ? The $romise of salva-tion.
After they had got the assurance that none of
them would perish, they were able to eat with gladness
of heart. It is so with all those who, by faith, receive
the promise of God in Christ Jesus (Acts 16, 31). Those
who have had their feet taken out of the fearful pit of
despair and planted upon the rock of God’s Word will
have the “ good cheer ” song put in their mouth (Psalm
VII. A PERFECTED SALVATION.-“ And so
it came to pass that they escaped all safe to land ” (v.
44). Not all in the same way ; not all at the same time ;
but all enjoyed the fulfilment of the same promise of de-liverance.
If they had not been obedient and abode in
the ship, they would not have got the “ boards ” and
“ broken pieces ” to float them ashore. It is always
safe to trust God and obey His will. “ None perish that
Him trust.” Christ shall lose none of those whom the
Father hath given Him (John 6, 39) ; in some way or
other all shall come safely to the heavenly land. But
how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation.
From Paul’s action at this crisis we may learn the value
and power of individual faith in God.
PAUL AMONG THE BARBARIANS.
ACTS 28, I-IO.
” They all escaped to land.” This seems to have
been the third time that Paul had “ suffered shipwreck ”.236 Handfuls on Purpose.
(z Cor. II, 25). There are few who have ever had such
vivid glimpses of heavenly things as Paul, and few who
have ever had to szlfler so much for the cause of Christ.
It would appear that every new spiritual experience
needs its counterbalance of suffering. We observe
h e r e-I.
UNEXPECTED KINDNESS.-“ The barbar-ous
people showed us no little kindness ” (v. 2). Although
the inhabitants of this island were not Romans, they were
not savages. They had the “ milk of human kindness ”
in their hearts. The fire was a welcome sight to those
who had just come out of the sea into the drenching rain
and biting cold. The Lord has many a way of scatter-ing
crumbs of comfort to those who fear His name
(John 21, 9). Doubtless Paul looked upon this fire as if
it had been kindled by the hand of Jesus Christ.
II. HUMBLE SERVICE.-“ Paul gathered a
bundle of sticks.” The great apostle of the Gentiles did
not think it beneath him to go a-searching for fuel to help
to dry the clothes of those soldiers and sailors who were
his companions in tribulation. He had learned from
his Master that the way to be greatest of all is to be the
servant of all. The deeper our experience is of the
greatness of God’s grace the more generous and atten-tive
shall we be to those little things that minister to the
good of others. Paul did not need to be told to “mend
fhe fire ” before he did it. ” Consider one another to
provoke unto love and good works.”
III. ANOTHER TRIAL.-“ There came a viper
out of the heat, and fastened on his hand, a.nd he shook.Paul Among the Barbarians. 237
off the beast into the fire.” Why should the self-hum-bling
effort of the apostle to comfort others be rewarded
with the sudden grip of a poisonous viper ? Why ?
Paul does not know, but he believes that “ all things
work together for good to them that love God.” Those
who would sacrifice themselves for the warming up of
their shivering fellow-creatures need not be surprised
although the heat should bring to life some torpid snake
that will seek to fasten itself to that hand of mercy.
Is it a temptation to sin, either in thought or act, shake
the slimy thing off into the fire from whence it came, and
possess your soul in patience.
IV. FALSE JUDGMENT.-These islanders, judg-ing
by appearance, thought first that Paul must be a
murderer, then they believed him to be a god (vv. 4-6).
When the viper succeeded in catching him, they con-demned
him, but when he conquered the viper they
adored him. There is not much between the frown and
the favour of those who know not the truth as it is in
Christ Jesus. The world is always ready to applaud
those who succeed, and is quick to believe in the worth-lessness
of the man who happens to become the prey of
that venomous snake called calumny. It was such a
viper that came out of the heat and fastened on Joseph
while in Potiphar’s house, but he shook it off, and felt
no harm (Gen. 39, q-14). The devil often spoils his
pictures by using a brush that is too big.
V. GENEROSITY REWARDED.-Publius was
entertaining an angel unawares when he received Paul
and lodged him and others for three days (v. 7). He.238 Handfuls on Purpose.
was amply recompensed for his kindness in the healing of
his father by this mysterious prisoner. In some way or
other God will compensate those who give even a cup of
cold water to His disciple. Paul the prisoner was stiIl
Paul the apostle. No circumstance in which he was
placed could ever mar his authority or stain the purity
of his apostolic mantle.
VI. NEEDS SUPPLIED.–” They honoured us,
and laded us with such things as were necessary ” (v. IO).
They had lost their all by the shipwreck, but now, be-cause
of the merciful wonder-working power of Paul, all
their needs for the journey to Rome were supplied.
Truly the presence of this man of God among them was
the salt that saved them from the corruption of death.
The ungodly do not know how much they owe to the
presence of those who believe in God. Judgment could
not fall upon Sodom until Lot was taken out (Gen. 19,
22). When the “ preacher of righteousness ” was shut
up in the ark then the flood came.
PAUL’ S MINISTRY IN ROME.
ACTS 28, 11-31.
The entrance of Paul into Rome, although unknown
and unheeded by the multitude, was a greater event than
the coming of an army of soldiers or the arrival of a fleet
of battleships. He was as a corn of wheat cast into the
ground to die, but destined to bring forth such fruit as
would be a blessing to the nations of the earth. The
possibilities of one single life, wholly yielded to God, and
possessed by His Holy Spirit, are, for us, incalculable..Paul’ s Ministry in Rome. 239
Paul‘s life and testimony have been given as an example
to them who should hereafter believe (Phil. 3. 17).
I. THE CHEERING SALUTATION.-When
Paul saw the brethren who had come to meet him, “ he
thanked God, and took courage ” (v. 15). Appii Forum is
about twenty-seven miles from Rome, but some of the
weaker brethren could only go the length of ‘ I the Three
Taverns,” a distance of seventeen miles. The angel-like
ministry of encouraging the hearts of God’s tried and
suffering servants is quite within the reach of all the
brethren who care to make a little self-sacrifice for their
sakes. Don’t wait till they come to you for sympathy,
go and meet them. There are wonderful comfort and
consolation in mutual faith and love (Rom. I, 12).
II. THE PRELIMINARY CONFERENCE.-After
three days Paul, who was “ suffered to dwell by
himself, called the chief of the Jews together,” etc. (vv.
16-22). Although he had suffered so much at the hands
of his Jewish brethren, yet his heart’s desire and prayer
to God for Israel was that they might be saved (Rom.
IO, I). He tells them of his sufferings in Jerusalem, and
the reason why he was “ bound with this chain.” They
had heard about this sect that was I’ everywhere spoken
against,” and were desirous of hearing from his own
lips what he had to say about it. No man on earth
could better tell them the story of the Gospel of
III. THE STORY TOLD.-On the day appointed
for this special purpose “ there came many to him into
his lodging,” etc. (v. 23). Has there ever been any-.240 Handfuls on Purpose.
where such a “ lodging-house ” gathering as this ?
A prison turned into a church, the prisoner the preacher;
the subjects were “ The Kingdom of God and the Things
Concerning Jesus.” The arguments are drawn from
Moses and the prophets, and the sermon lasted “ from
morning till evening.” Once more, note that Paul, ever
since his conversion, knew lzotkg anaong melz save
Christ and Him crucified. Why should it be otherwise
with preachers now ?
IV. THE DIFFERENT RESULTS.-“ Some be-lieved,
and some believed not ” (v. 24). Yes, thank God,
” some believed.” Wherever Christ is faithfully preached
some will believe and be saved, while others will prefer,
through unbelief, to remain vessels of wrath, instead of
being changed into vessels of mercy. The preaching of
the cross is to them that perish foolishness. No matter
how clearly the word of salvation is preached, it will not
profit unless the hearing of it is mixed with faith (Heb.
4. 2). By grace are ye saved through faith.
V. THE FINAL MESSAGE.-These are solemn
and decisive words recorded in verses 25-29. They con-tain
Paul’ s last words of warning and rebuke to his im-penitent
brethren according to the flesh. They had
eyes and ears, but they failed to use them in a proper
manner, because their heart had become gross and
sensual through pride and self-righteousness (v. 27).
There are none so blind as those who don’t want to see.
Those who have “ pleasure in unrighteousness ” will
not believe the truth, but will readily believe a lie unto
their own condemnation (2 Thess. 2, x1-12)..Paul’ s Ministry in Rome. 241
VI. THE TWO YEARS’ MINISTRY.-For two
whole years in his own hired house, and with a soldier to
guard him, Paul kept an open door for inquirers after the
“ things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.” With all
confidence he preached, “ no man forbidding him.”
Here several of Paul’s richest epistles were written.
How much the Church of God owes to Paul’s imprison-ment
eternity alone can reveal. It was out of Bedford
jail that Bunyan’s ” Pilgrim’s Progress ” came. It is
often out of the depths of our deepest trials that our
richest fruits are found.
THE BLISSFUL LIFE.
The metrical version of this psalm has been re-cognised
almost by universal consent as the churches’
National Anthem. It is a psalm of blissful experiences.
A BLISSFUL KNOWLEDGE.-“ Know ye
that the Lord He is God.” It is a great thing to know
assuredly that the Jehovah of theBible, inwhom we trust,
is the God of the whole earth, and of the whole universe.
II. A BLISSFUL RELATIONSHIP.-“ It is
He that hath made us, and we are His.” “ We are His
people, and the sheep of His pasture ” (R.v.). With
regard to our character, we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2, IO). With regard to
our safety and provision, we are the sheep of His
pas&e (John IO, 27-28)..242 Handf’ uls on Purpose.
III. A BLISSFUL SERVICE.-“ Serve the Lord
with gladness, come before Him with singing ” (v. 2).
You would almost think from the appearance and tone
of some religious meetings that we should serve the Lord
with sadness, and come before Him with whining. His
service is joyful when His servants are holy and hopeful.
IV. A BLISSFUL FELLOWSHIP.-“ Enter into
His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with
praise ” (v. 4). To enter within His gates and courts
was to come into the place of personal communion.
Since our Great High Priest went into the holiest,
through the re& vail, this privilege of fellowship is now
V. A BLISSFUL OBJECT.-“ His Name ” (v.
4). As there are fathomless depths of riches in Nature,
so are there boundless depths of spiritua1 wealth in
His Name. His Name is Wonderful. His Name is
a Strong Tower. To know His Name is to trust in Him.
VI. A BLISSFUL TESTIMONY.-“ The Lord
is good ; His mercy is everlasting. His truth endureth ”
(v. 5). The Lord is good-He is Love. Can anything
be more desirable ? His mercy lasts; it is neither
fickle nor uncertain. His truth stands unchanged
and unchangeable. He is the Way, the Truth, and
the Life. ” Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”
REASONS FOR BLESSING THE LORD.
PSALM 103, 1-5.
Call upon thy soul to bless the Lord, to bless His
holy Name, because–.Reasons for Blessing the Lord. 243
I. HE PROVIDETH ALL HIS BENEFITS.-“
All His benefits ! ” What does this all mean ?
Nothing that would benefit man hath He kept back.
In the gift of His Son He hath pledged Himself to
supply all our need (I Tim. 6, 17).
II. HE FORGIVETH ALL INIQUITIES.-Be-cause
of His infinite compassion, He keeps mercy for
thousands, forgiving iniquity. He must either punish
iniquity or forgive it, He cannot change its character.
Light can have no fellowship with darkness.
III. HE HEALETH ALL DISEASES.–1ti1-
pities refer to acts, but the disease to the polluted
spring from whence the acts came. Every part of
man’s moral nature is diseased. ” In me, that is, in
my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” But His healing
power, the blood of Christ, cleanseth from all sin.
See Ps. 107, x7-22.
IV. HE REDEEMETH FROM DESTRUCTION
(From ihe fit, R.v., Marg.). He not only forgives and
heals, but delivers from the sphere of darkness and
disease ; brought into a purer atmosphere, into the
Kingdom of His own dear Son, and so saved from un-clean
and destructive influences.
V. HE CROWNETH WITH LOVING KIND-NESS.-
The loving kindness of God makes a very
beautiful and comfortable crown for the head. Those
who have been healed of all their diseases will be crowned
with honour in their life and testimony (Ps. 5, 12)..244 Handfuls on Purpose.
VI. HE SATISFIETH WITH GOOD.–” All His
benefits ” are spread out for the bIood-washed soul.
They shall be Ii made to drink of the river of His plca-sum
” (Ps. 36,8). The pure in heart shal1 see God.
God only can satisfy with good, and only those saved
and healed by the Lord can be satisfied with that which
is pure and good. The carnal mind cannot love the
things of God. Redemption implies capacity for good.
VII. HE RENEWETH LIKE THE EAGLE.-The
eagle renews its youth by an outward regeneration.
The soul that has been saved and satisfied is regenerated
both within and without. Those born from above
have youth renewed, because they are a new creation
in Christ Jesus.
PSALM 105, 1-4.
In these few verses there is a seven-fold privilege
I. GIVING THANKS TO HlM.–” 0 give thanks
unto the Lord.” The giving of thanks implies the
consciousness of great favour bestowed. “Thanks be
unto God for His unspeakable gift.”
II. CALLING UPON HIM.-“ Call upon His
Name.” Liberty of access to Him, and to plead His
own Name, is a greater privilege than we have ever
yet realised. John 14, 14.
III. WORKING FOR HIM.-“ Make known His
deeds among the people.” His mighty acts of grace,.Believers’ Privileges. 245
in Christ Jesus, are well worthy of being made known.
The people are perishing for lack of such knowledge.
Preach the Word.
IV. SINGING TO HIM.–” Sing unto Him, sing
psalms unto Him.” Yes, make a joyful noise unto the
Lord, who hath done such great things for us. In
heaven, with thundering voice, the harpers harp with
their harps (Rev. 14,2x). Worthy is the Lamb now
to receive the praises of our hearts and lips.
V. MEDITATING ON HIM.-“ Meditate ye on
all His wondrous works” (R.V., Marg.). There is a time to
speak, and a time to sing, but there must also be a time
to think. ” Think on these things.” One of our Lord’s
last words to His disciples was : “ Remember Me.”
See Malachi 3, 16.
VI. GLORYING IN HIM.–” Glory ye in His
Holy Name.” To glory in His Name is to glory in Him-self.
We may well glory in Him, who is all glorious in
Himself, and whose love and grace have been poured
into our desolate lives, that we might be saved and
VII. TESTIFYING FOR HIM.-“ Seek the Lord,
and His strength. Seek His face evermore.” Those
who have seen His blessed face, in Jesus Christ, cannot
but counsel others to seek it. His face is His favour,
it is worth seeking for, it is for “evermore.” The Lord
and His saving strength is the clamant need of the
human soul. “ Seek the Lord while He may be found.”.246 Handfuls on Purpose.
THE GOD OF DELIVERANCES.
In this psalm we have a four-fold picture of “ the
redeemed of the Lord ” (v. 2).
I. FROM WEARINESS TO REST (w. 4-B).-Here
are three words which fitly express the substance
of each section-Destitution, Petition, Salvation ; or,
Need, Prayer, and Deliverance.
I. THEIR DESTITUTION. They were “ wanderers
in the wilderness,” as those who had lost their way,
in “ solitary ways,” bye-paths, perplexed and wearied.
They were “ hungry and thirsty,” their souls clamouring
for what they could not get. “ Their soul fainted in
them,” sank down in despair. Utter failure of works.
2. THEIR P E T I T I ON. “ Then they cried unto the
Lord ” as a last resort. Shut up to faith. Heaven’s
ear, like heaven’s door, is always open to the cry of need.
3. THEIR S ALVATION . “ He delivered them.”
He only could. How ? By leading them forth by
“ the right way.” Led into truth, out of error and de-ception,
that they “ might go to a city of habitation,”
to a place of fellowship and plenty. Oh, praise Him
for His goodness.
II. FROM DARKNESS INTO LIGHT (vv
THEIR C O N D I T I ON. They were sitting “ in
darkness,” they knew not where they were. The,,,.The God of Deliverances. 247
W0l.Q “ in the shadow of death “-a place of imminent
danger. “ In affliction and iron “-a condition of pain-ful
bondage. And this because they “ rebelled against
the words of God ” they were defeated; “ heart
broacghi down with labour.” They were helpless.
“ None to help.”
2. THEIR PETITION. “ Then they cried unto the
Lord.” It was high time. What a mercy that they
had some one to cry to who is mighty to save.
3. THEIR SALVATION. “ He saved them . . .
brought them out of darkness . . . and broke
their bonds asunder.” In His deliverance there is
light and freedom. Eph. 5, 8 ; Luke 4, 18. Oh, praise
the Lord for His goodness.
III. FROM SICKNESS TO HEALTH(vv.rS-21).-I.
THEIR CONDITION. “ Their soul abhorreth
all manner of meat.” They were so sick of their old
life and its pleasures that nothing belonging to it was
enjoyed. “ They drew near unto the gates of death.”
Dying of starvation. Results of deep conviction.
2. THEIR PETITION. “Then they cry unto the
Lord.” This is the cure for those that are sick of the
world and its mocking pleasures. Isa. 55, 2.
3. THEIR SALVATION . “ He saved them.” He
despised not any. How this was done. “ He sent His
Word, and healed them.” His Word believed is always
efficacious in the soul (Matt. 8, 8). He “ delivered
them from their destructions.” His healing powers
rescue the life from death and destruction..248 Handfuls on Purpose.
IV. FROM DANGER TO SAFETY (vv. 23-31).-I.
THEIR DANGER. “ They stagger like a drunken
man.” Driven to and fro, tossed with tempest. Mental
bewilderment. They are “ at their wits’ end.” At
the point of utter despair. Undone. “ Their soul is
melted.” All courage and hope gone. Woe is me.
Who shall deliver me ?
2. THEIR CRY. “ Then they cried unto the Lord.”
It takes a lot to make some men stagger God-ward.
3. THEIR DELIVERANCE. “ He bringeth them
out,” as He brought Israel out of Egypt when at
their “ wits’ end.” “ He maketh the storm a calm ”
when He comes aboard the troubled soul (Matt. 8, 26).
” He bringeth them into their desired haven.” Whom
He bringeth out, He desires to bring in. Out of the
Kingdom of Satan into the Kingdom of His dear Son.
Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness
and wonderful works.
THE WORKS OF THE LORD.
As is the workman, so is the work. The works
of the Lord are-I.
GREAT (v. 2).-They are as unsearchable as
Himself, All His works praise Him, because they are
a credit to the Worker. This is evident in His work
of Creation, Redemption, and Providence (Ps. 104,
24). His work is great in every sense as to quality,
variety, utility, and Eternity..The Works of the Lord. 249
II. DESIRABLE. “ Sought out of all them
that have pleasure therein ” (v. 2). His works a re
expressions of His thoughts, and such thoughts are very
deep and precious (Ps. 92, 5). What depth of thought
there is in the Redemption by Jesus Christ. How
earnestly this work is sought out by all them that have
pleasure therein. It is a profitable search.
III. HONOURABLE.-“ His work is honour
and majesty ” (v. 3, R.v.). There is a becoming dignity
about the work of Creation and Redemption that
reflects great honour on the Worker. The salvation
of Jesus Christ by the Cross brings eternal glory to His
Name. ‘ I The Lord is holy in all His works,” and
notably in the work of the Cross.
IV. MEMORABLE.-“ He hath made His won-derful
works to be remembered ” (v. 4). His works
of grace and mercy in behalf of His people are to be
held in everlasting remembrance. Who can forget
the day of their conversion to God, the day of de-liverance
from guilt and sin, and the dawn of His light
and peace in the soul ?
V. POWERFUL. “ He shewed His people the
power of His works ” (v. 6). Israel saw the mighty
power of His working in their salvation from Egypt,
in their passing through the Red Sea, and across the
opened Jordan, and in the downfall of the walls of
Jericho. But what hath God wrought for tis, and in
us ? Hath He not shewed us the power of His work
by the Cross for us, and by the Holy Spirit in us ?
R.250 Handfuls on Purpose.
VI. TRUTHFUL. ” The works of His hands
are truth and judgment ” (v. 7, R.v.). They are in
perfect truthfulness to the needs of the case. His
work of grace and of salvation is exactly what we need,
and all we need. Just and true are the ways of the
King of saints (Rev. rg,3). He is the Way, the Truth,
and the Life.
VII. ETERNAL. “ They stand fast for ever
and ever ” (v. 8). Man’ s works, like himself, will
wither like the grass, but the Word and work of the Lord
shall stand for ever. Our righteousnesses rot like
filthy rags, but the work of His regenerating Spirit,
the renewing of the Holy Ghost, stands fast for ever.
I give to My sheep eternal life, and they shall never
perish. It is God who worketh in you both to will and
to do of His good pleasure. “ His work is perfect.”
WHAT SHALL I RENDER?
” What shall I render unto the Lord for all His
benefits toward me ? ” (v. 12). This is a deeply per-sonal
and sensible consideration.
I. WHAT ARE HIS BENEFITS TOWARD
ME ? There is-I.
AN INCLINED EAR. “ He hath inclined His
ear unto me ” (v. 2). He hath not turned His ear
away from me, but, like an anxious father, He hath
bent His head to listen to the cry of His child. What a.What Shall I Render? 251
precious privilege to have the listening, sympathetic
ear of God.
2. DELIVERANCE FROM DEATH (v. 3). “Thou
hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from
tears, and my feet from falling ” (v. 8). We have this
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15,55-57;
Rom. 6, 23).
3. BOUNTIFUL TREATMENT. “The Lord hath
dealt bountifully with thee ” (v. 7). Out of His own
fulness and in infinite grace hath He supplied all your
need. Luke 15, 22-23.
4. FREEDOM FROM BONDAGE. “ Thou hast loosed
my bonds ” (v. 16). The bonds of sin, doubt, and fear
have been snapped. Liberty to serve with gladness
the Great Deliverer.
II. WHAT SHALL I RENDER UNTO HIM ?
I. I WILL LOVE HIM (v. I). “ We love Him
because He first loved us.” I will yield Him the affec-tion
of my heart because He hath loved my soul out of
the pit of corruption.
2. I WILL CALL UPON HIM. yes. “ As long as I
live ” (v. 2). This is a very expressive way of shewing
our gratitude to GOD. This method would not serve
3. I WILL REST IN HIM. “ Return unto thy
rest, 0 my soul” (v. 7). I will shew my confidence
by resting my soul entirely in Him. This He desires.
Matt. II, 28-29.
4. I WILL WALK WITH HIM (v. 9). I will order.252 Handfuls on Purpose.
my daily life in a.ll its details as before His eyes. To this
life was Abraham called (Gen. 17, I). I will choose
Him as my constant companion (z Cor. 5, 7).
5. I WILL SPEAK FOR HIM (v. IO, R.v.). I will
testify to what He hath done for my soul. My lips
shall speak His praise, and my tongue shall not be silent.
6. I WILL TAKE FROM HIM (v. 13). We render
honour to Him by taking more from Him. This is not
after the manner of men. I will shew Him how much
I appreciate His grace by drinking more deeply of the
“ Cup of Salvation.”
7. I WILL OFFER TO HIM. “ I will offer to Thee
the sacrifice of thanksgiving . . . I will pay my
vows unto the Lord.” (vv. 17-18). The sacrifice of
thanksgiving may not seem a very costly gift, but it is
well pleasing unto God (Heb. 13, 15-16). Render to
Him the calves of your lifis (Hosea 14,~). And let the
vows of devotion and service made to Him be duly paid
in fhc @scncc of His people..Faith.
M ARK II, m.
Consecration to God and faith in God ought to
characterise every servant of God. And who can tell
the limits of the possibilities of such ? There are many
believers in Jesus, but few consecrated to Him. Fewer
still who actually prove His faithfulness in fulfilling
all His promises.
I. THE NATURE OF FAITH.-Faith is the
substance of things hoped for, etc. (Heb. II, I). Faith
acknowledges the things unseen, and acts as if they were
visible. So Noah built the ark (v. 7). So Moses for-sook
Egypt (v. 27). “ Seeing Him who is invisible.”
“ Blessed is he who hath not seen and yet hath be-lieved
” (Isa. zo,29). Through faith Jacob coveted the
birthright (Gen. 25, 31). And because Esau could not
see its value he dispised it and sold it. “ Oh, I see it ”
is not equivalent to “ Oh, I b&eve it.” For with the
hcarl man believeth (Rom. IO, IO). God judgeth the
heart. A clear head is no evidence of a believing heart.
II. THE OBJECT OF FAITH.-“ Have faith in
GOD ” (Mark II, 22). Means must be used, but means
must not be the object of trust. They are but the
ditches we dig. God must fill them (z Kings 3, 16).
God can be trusted to fulfil every promise He hath.254 Handfuls on Purpose.
made, for “ God is faithful ” (I Cor. IO, 13). He
says, “ I will rtot suffer My faithfulness to fail ” (Ps
8~~33). And again, “ My covenant I will not break.
Nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips ” (Ps.
8% 34). How, then, can His $ower be doubted. Noth-ing
shall be impossible with God. “ Is anything too
hard for Me ? ” (Jer. 32, 27). The object of our faith is
“ One who cannot lie,” One who cannot change,
One who cannot fail.
III. THE GROUND OF FAITH.-The WO RD
OF GOD which liveth and abideth for ever (I Peter I, 23).
“ He that believeth as the Scriptures hath said ” (Isa.
7,38). Every word of God is petrified (Prov. 30,5).
There is no dross, nothing to be put away. To be
received just as it is given. We are to desire the
sincere milk of the Word. Many seek to boil it down
before receiving it. They attempt to refine what God
has already purified. The Word is not only pure, but
“ sure.” “ Sure Word of prophecy.” The Word of the
Lord shall stand for ever (Isa. 40,8). Because it is
already “ settled ivt heaven ” (Ps. rrg, 89). Then the
ground of our faith is as faithful and true as the
Object of it.
IV. THE EXERCISE OF FAITH.-Abraham
believed God (Rom. 4, 5), and went out, not knowing
whither he went (Heb. II, 8). He had but “ His Word,”
as we have. Caleb believed God when he said “ Let us
go up at once and possess it ” (Num. 13,30). God had
promised to give them the land, and he believed,
although the difficulties were great and numberless.Faith. 255
Peter believed when he said, “ Nevertheless (although
there seemed nothing but failure), at 7%~ word I will
let down the net” (Luke 5,5). His word was all he had,
but it was enough. And he even ventured to walk on
the sea with a “ Come ” from Jesus. Paul exercised
faith when he said, I’ I believe God, that it shall be cvelt
as it was told me” (Acts 27, ~5). Do you ?
V. THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF FAITH.-Be-lieve
and thou shalt see (John II, 40). Did Abraham not
believe and see when made rich ? And Caleb ? Peter
believed and saw a great draught. What was Joshua’s
testimony ? ” There failed not aught which the Lord
had spoken. All came to pass ” (Josh. 2~4.5). What
was Solomon’s testimony 400 years after ? “ Blessed
be the Lord, there hath not failed one WOY~ of all which
He promised ” (I Kings 8, 56). Again, in Mark 14, 16,
we read, the disciples wmt forth and found, as He
had said unto them. If they had not gone forth they
could not have proved the truthfulness of His word.
Is there a single case where faith has been disappointed
in all the Revelation of God ? And if not, will there
ever be one ?
VI. THE NEED OF FAITH.–Have faith in
God. He cannot do many mighty works through us,
because of our unbelief. “ If ye have faith as a grain of
mustard seed nothing shall be impossible unto you”
(Matt. 17,zo). All things whatsoever ye ask, believing,
ye shall receive (Matt. 21,~~). “ All things are yours,
for ye are Christ’s.” This is either true or it is not true.
If it is not true, we can have no confidence in God..256 Handfuls on Purpose.
If it is true, then why is it not our experience ? Might
Jesus not say to us : “ 0 fools and slow of heart to be-lieve
all that I have spoken. Let the question be
faced. “ Believe ye that I am able to do this ? ” (Matt.
9, 28). If He can say to you, “ Great is thy faith,” you
may also expect that it shall be unto you, “ even as
thou ze&“(Matt. 15, 28).
VII. THE RESULT OF FAITH.-Many won-derful
results are recorded in Heb. II. It would be
impossible to mention all the possibilities of faith,
since it is written, “according to yozcr faith it shall be
done unto you.” There is no limit given. We are
straightened in ourselves. “ If thou canst believe,
all things are possible to him that believeth ” (Mark
9, 23). Elias prayed, and it rained not by the space of
three years and a half. He prayed again, and the heaven
gave rain (James s,17-18). Hezekiah trusted in the Lord
God, and there was none like him (z Kings 18, 5).
There are none to-day like those who trust God.
A CONSECRATED LIFE.
I SAMUEL 3.
In looking over the facts recorded regarding the
early years of Samuel’ s life, they seem suggestive of
the experiences of a soul that has been born of God,
and wholly devoted to Him. We see him-I.
ASKED OF THE LORD (chap. r, zo).–Hannah
looked upon Samuel as one given from God in answer
to many tears and much bitterness of soul (v. IO),.A Consecrated Life. 257
after being mocked and misunderstood by him who
should have sympathised and helped (v. 14). How
much do we owe to Christ, to His tears and prayers,
and bitterness of soul, for our life from above. How
little we think of our being given to Christ by the Father
in answer to His prayers. “ Born from above ” is
true of every child of God. We must believe that we
are the “ given ” of God. One of the “ All that the
Father hath given Me.” Our citizenshi+ made sure.
II. CONSECRATED TO THE LORD (chap.
I, z8).-He is now given back to the Lord, to belong to
Him, ” as long as he liveth.” That which is truly God’s
ought not to be withheld from Him. “ I live, yet not
I, but Christ in Me.” This life, then, should be given
back to God “ as long as he liveth.” “ Ye are not your
own.” Keep not back part of the price. Hannah’s
conduct with her first and much loved child might seem
hard to the carnally minded, but she could say, “My
heart rejoiceth” (chap. 2, I). Those who surrender all
to God can always rejoice. Every child of God ought
to be wholly Gods. If we are the gifts of the Father to
His Son Jesus Christ, for what purpose is it ?
III. MINISTERING BEFORE THE LORD (chap.
2, 18).-He was but a young minister (being a child).
It was but little he could do. It was but little he knew,
for the Lord had not yet revealed Himself to him (chap.
3. 7). But although he was both weak and ignorant,
that did not hinder him from doing what he could.
He believed although he understood little. Jeremiah
said, “ Ah, Lord God. I cannot speak, for I am a child ”.258 Handfuls on Purpose.
(Jer. I, 6). God wants us to be children first, before
we are men in service (child-like spirit). But the
willing child will become the wise man. It is in our
weaklzess we must come. He gives power to the weak.
IV. WAITING ON THE LORD (chap. 3, IO).-The
Lord had spoken twice to Samuel, and he ran to
Eli. He is not the only one who has run to man at the
voice of the Lord. Paul says, “ Immediately I con-ferred
not with flesh and blood.” To know His will,
we must wait on Him with open ears. Speak, Lord,
for Thy servant heareth. It is a good point gained
when we are willing to know what the will of the Lord
is, but wait& is willingness in practice. How natural
for us to run out and in and serve man, but how different
to be silent before the Lord.
V. TAUGHT BY THE LORD (chap. 3, II-14).-While
waiting Samuel learned what the will of the Lord
was. Those who are taught in the deep things of God
are those who wait much on God. To be unwilling to
wait is to be unwilling to be taught, and just to do our
own will. When God teacheth, the ear shall tingle that
hears the tidings. The word of the Lord will not be in vain.
Paul’s preaching was “in demonstration of the Spirit, and
of power.” The divinely commissioned will be divinely
taught, the Bible is a dry book to those who wait not.
VI. WITNESSING FOR THE LORD (chap.
3, IS).-Though he at first feared (v. 15) to shew the
truth to Eli, yet afterwards he told him every whit, and
hid rcothiting. Could he be a faithful servant and keep back.A Consecrated Life. 259
part of the truth ? Many Gospel hearers might justly
complain that the half has not been told them. The
preachers either have no vision (v. 15) or else they fear
to shew it. How can a man be a witness if he has had
no vision. He is like a servant out of work ; he may
busy himself here and there, but he has no reward from
his labour. The faithful will know God’s counsel, and
will declare it all (Acts 4, 20).
VII. WALKING WITH THE LORD(chap. 3,rg).-“
The Lord was with him, and did let none of His words
fall to the ground.” If we are faithful to God He will
prove Himself faithful to us. I‘ He dwells with the
humble and the contrite ” (Isa. 57, IS). We cannot
climb to abiding fellowship with God. It is not the
result of our efforts, but the flowing forth of great grace
into the depths of the broken spirit. As the waters
abide in the deep so will God dwell with the humble.
VIII. ACKNOWLEDGED AS OF THE LORD
(chap. 3, 20).-“ And all Israel knew that Samuel was a
prophet of the Lord.” How did they know ? Just
because he declared the truth of God. And God was
with him. The one that lives in the presence of God
will be acknowledged as belonging to God. “ They took
knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus ”
(Acts 4, 13), when they saw their power and boldlzgss
(see margin, v. 20). Faithfulness to God is what all
expect from a servant of God. If the world sees not
this, the conclusion must be either we are hypocrites,
or else there is no God.
IX. PRIVILEGED BY THE WORD OF THE.260 Handfuls on Purpose.
LORD (chap. 3, zr).–I’ The Lord revealed Himself to
Samuel by the Word of the Lord. The Word is the instru-ment
through which we must know Him. It is the Chris-tian’
s telephone, and our ear must be attentive to His
Word if we would know His mind and will. We cannot
know Himself apart from this. In shutting out His
Word we shut the appointed means of communication
between our souls and God. “ They have rejected the
Word of the Lord, and what wisdom is in them ? ” (Jer.
The Lord Jesus Christ never sends anyone a war-fare
on their own charges. He takes the responsibility
of supplying all the need of those who go forth at His
bidding to do His wilI (Phil. 4, rg). No man ever
attempted to run a greater business than the apostle
of the Gentiles, because no man was ever more deeply
convinced of the wealth and wisdom of his PARTNER in
the business. Lo, I am with you. In the following
texts we have a six-fold revelation of how Paul was
encouraged by his Lord and Master in his great mis-sionary
I. BY A SPECIAL CALL TO SERVICE (Acts
22, x8-zr).-It was while firuying in the temple at
Jerusalem–shortly after his conversion-that he heard
this definite call from God-“ Depart, for I will send
thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” No one has ever
accomplished any great work for Christ who has not
been conscious of a distinct call from Him to do that.Divine Encouragement. 261
work. The service of God, like any other Governmental
service, implies a definite engagement, and a mutual
understanding as to terms. The Holy Ghost, as God’s
representative on earth, is the only agent authorised by
Him to hire labourers for His vineyard (Acts 13, 2 ;
Heb. 5, 4). He was encouraged
II. BY A SPECIAL WORD OF PROMISE.-“
Be not afraid . . . for I am with you” (Acts
18, 9-10). Faith in the promise of His presence is
the secret of courage and boldness in the service of the
Lord. He does not say that no man shall oppose thee,
but ‘ I No man shall kwt thee “-as a witness for Him.
This promise was fulfilled to the letter. He was often
thrashed and imprisoned and maligned, but as a witness
for Christ no man or devil was able to hurt him. He
finished his course with joy, because he fought the good
fight in faith. Hiding in God, no weapon that is formed
against us can prosper. This is the heritage of the
servants of the Lord (Isa. 54, 17).
III. BY A SPECIAL MESSAGE OF CHEER.-“
Be of good cheer, Paul, for thou must bear witness
also at Rome ” (Acts 23, II). The news that a for-tune
had been left him would not have been half so
cheering to the heart of Paul at any time as that he was
going to be permitted to preach the Gospel of Christ in
Rome also. How very considerate our Lord is. He is
always ready in one way or other to drop into the troubled
hearts of His servants some word that brings consola-tion
and comfort. He knows how to speak a word to
the weary. This Good Shepherd is specially careful.262 Handfuls on Purpose.
over those sheep whose lives are endangered through
following Him. The Christian life should be one of
I‘ good cheer,” because every good thing is ours in
Christ Jesus (Rom. 8, 28).
IV. BY A SPECIAL ASSURANCE OF SALVA-TION.-”
Fear not, Paul. God hath given thee all
them that sail with thee ” (Acts 27, 23-24). What
a gift this was ! What a triumph of faith and prayer !
What an encouragement this would be to him, in his
future ministry, to expect great things from God, and
to look for many souls for his hire. Blessed is he that
believeth, for there shall be a performance of those
things which were told him from the Lord (Luke I, 45).
They that are wise win souls.
V. BY A SPECIAL IMPARTATION OF
POWER.-“ The Lord stood with me and strengthened
me” (2 Tim. 5,17). Five times he did receivefortystripes,
save one, and six times did the Lord manifest Himself
to him in times of need. When all men forsook him
(v. 16), and were ashamed of him and his testimony,
his faithful and glorified Master stood by him, as one des-pised
and rejected with him, but mighty to save and to
help. Many a foreign missionary knows what this
means when they have been left to stand alone for the
cause of Christ.
VI. BY A SPECIAL SUPPLY OF GRACE.-“
He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee ” (2
(Cor. 12, 9). The Lord was not pleased to remove the
thorn, which was to Paul as a “ messenger of Satan,”
but He was greatly pleased to give him as much of His.Divine Encouragement. 263
grace as would enable him to triumph gloriously over
the affliction. The servants of Christ must not expect
the source of every difficulty and sorrow to be removed ;
but they must expect “ grace sufficient,” like the in-coming
tide, to lift their souls like a ship above the threat-ening
rocks. Who would not glory in their infirmities
to be a partaker of the power of Christ ?
“ He lives who lives to God alone,
And all are dead beside ;
For other source than God is none,
Whence life can be supplied.”
I. THE SOURCE OF THIS LIFE.-I.
IT COMES FROM THE ETERNAL FATHER (Jer.
IO, IO, marg.). He who inhabiteth eternity is the Foun-tain
of this living water. The living God, and King of
eternity. Born of God.
2. IT IS OFFERED THROUGH THE ETERNAL SON
(Rom. 6, 23). “ The same was in the beginning with
God ” (John I, z). “ The Word was made flesh and
dwelt amongst us.” This is that eternal life : the Good
Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep.
3. IT IS BEGOTTEN BY THE ETERNAL SPIRIT (Heb.
9. 14). “ You hath He quickened who were dead.”
It is the Spirit that quickeneth. Salvation is of the
4. IT IS ORDERED BY AN ETERNAL PURPOSE.
Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.264 Handfuls on Purpose.
(Eph. I, 4). Promised before the world began. A
precious truth demanding simple faith (Heb. II, 3).
5. IT IS SUSTAINED BY ETERNAL THINGS (2 Cor.
4, 18). The things of this world cannot satisfy the
desires and affections of this eternal and God-given life
(CQl. 2, I-3).
6. IT IS DESTINED FOR ETERNAL GLORY (I Peter
5, IO). It has come from God, and is going to God.
II. THE POSSESSION OF THIS LIFE.-I.
IT IS NOT INHERITED BY WORKS (Matt. 19, 16).
By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in
His sight (Rom. 3, 20). To offer works as a price is to
make God a debtor (Rom. 4, 4).
2, IT IS THE PROMISE OF GOD. (I John 2, 25).
The promise of the true God that inhabiteth eternity.
This promise is the word of life. He speaks and it is
3. IT IS A GIFT (Rom. 6, 23). Divine life can
alone come from God. It must be given for it cannot
be bought. What was lost through sin can only be
attained through grace.
4. IT IS IN CHRIST (I John 5, II). It hath pleased
God that this fulness should dwell in Him ; in Him
who is alive for evermore. He that hath the Son hath
5. IT IS RECEIVED BY FAITII (John 3,x5). Not of
works, lest any man should boast. This is the work
of God that ye believe. Grace shuts up to faith.Eternal Life. 269
6. IT CONSISTS OF KNOWING GOD (John 17,3).
The living they praise Thee. I know whom I have
believed. I know My sheep and am known of Mine
Whom sayest thou that I am ?
7. IT CONSISTS OF HAVING GOD (John 6, 54).
,’ As many as received Him,” etc. (John I, 12). Know-ing
and having the Eternal One is being in possession
of eternal life. It is not having hope, but having the
Christ who is our hope.
III. THE FULNESS OF THIS LIFE.-This
fulness is seen-I.
IN THE SOURCE FROM WHENCB IT COMES (ha.
57, 15). The unchanging and Almighty One. This
blessing comes from I‘ the high and lofty One ” like
the cool, refreshing stream which flows from the high
and lofty hills, crowned with eternal snow.
2. IN THE PURPOSB OF THE GIFT. God so loved
the world that He gave His Son (John 3, 16). He
knew all that the world needed, and He knew that in
giving His Son, He was giving the world everything it
3. IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST (I John I, 1-2). What
love and wisdom, grace and power, were manifested in
the life of Jesus ! All fulness dwells in Him who is the
image of the invisible God.
4, IN THE PROMISES OF GOD (John IO, 28). What
promises are ours in Christ ! Having given US His Son,
how will He not with Him also freely give us all things ?
3. IN THE LIVES OF GOD’S PEOPLE. Those who
S.266 Handfuls on Purpose.
have subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, ob-tained
promises, out of weakness were made strong,
waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies
of the aliens (Heb. II, 33-34). His riches are seen in
His kindness towards us (Eph. 2, 7).
IV. THE POWER OF THIS LIFE.-It is eternal,
and so possesses all “ the power of an endless life ”
(Heb. 7, 16). This life has in it-I.
A SIN-HATING POWER (John x2,25). It being
a holy life-divine nature-it instinctively abhors
that which is un-Christ-like.
2. A WORLD-DESPISING POWER (I John 2. IS).
This eternal life, born and nourished by things unseen,
cannot love this present evil world.
3. A SELF-FORGETTING POWER (Mark IO, 30). A
life that finds its highest good in being good and doing
good. The life of Jesus manifested in our mortal flesh
(2 Cor. 4, II).
4. A SINNER-LOVING POWER. Although sin is
hated, the sinner is loved for Jesus’ sake. “ Love your
enemies, pray for them that persecute you.”
5. A HOPE-INSPIRING POWER (Titus I, 2). Each
individual believer, standing before God, resting in His
will, is a confirmed and joyful optimist.
6. A DEVIL-CONQUERING POWER. In this eternal
life there is such a power of rcsistancs when exercised
by faith that the devil must flee from you (James 4, 7).
7. A GOD-GLORIFYING POWER. Having been
made alive unto God, we must glorify Him in our bodies.Eternal Life. 267
and spirits, which are His, and look for the time when He
shall be glorified in His saints, and admired in all them
that believe (z Thess. I, IO).
THE SAYINGS OF JESUS: A REVELATION
Each saying of Jesus is a ray of divine light. The
sun can only be seen by the light which itself emits.
So Jesus, the Light of the World, can only be under-stood
by “ the sayings concerning Himself.”
I. THE SAYINGS OF JESUS REVEAL THE
DIVINITY OF HIS OWN CHARACTER.-He mani-fests
As THE F IRST AND THE LAST (Rev. I, 8). A
striking declaration of the eternity of His Being.
2. As HAVING POWER OVER DEATH AND HELL
(Rev. I, 18). The keys are the emblems of authority.
He carries them, because through dying He has pur-chased
3. As TH& FULI;ILLING OF PROPIIECY (Rev. 22,16).
As David’ s Lord, He is the Root ; as David’ s Son, He
is the Offspring ; as the predicted Messiah, He is the
Bright and Morning Star.
4. As THE SACRIFICE OF SIN (John 12, 32). The
lifting up of the brazen serpent was typical of the lifting
up of the bruised Son that wounded ones may be healed.
5. As THE LIG~IT OF THE WORI_D (John 8, Ia).-He
will be better understood as our Light, when we have
received Him as our Life..268 Handfulr on Purpose.
6. As THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE
(John x4,6). He is the Life to save, the Truth to satisfy,
and the Way to walk.
7. As T~IE BREAD OF LIFE. He is the Bread of
God (John 6, 33), satisfying all the claims of God.
He is the Bread of Life, to satisfy all the wants of man.
Also, angels’ food.
8. As THE SOURCE OF FRUITFULNESS (John 15).
Everything the branch needs may be found in the Vine-Abide.
g. As THE S OURCE OF P OWER (Matt. 28,x8).
The power is in Himself ; abiding in Him we abide in
IO. As THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE (John II,
25). He alone can resurrect dead souls into life. He
will resurrect the bodies of His saints into the glorious
image of His own eternal life.
II. REVEAL HIS OWN RELATIONSHIP TO
HE WAS SENT BY THE FATHER (John 8, zg). He
who sent Him was with Him. He who sends us has
also promised to be with us.
2. HE IS LOVED BY THE FATHER (John 5, 20).
This love is manifested in the Father showing Him all
things. Is not Christ’ s love to ns exhibited in a like
3. HE HAD THE AUTHORITY OF THE FATHER (John
5, 22). Those who honow not Him honour not the.The Sayings of Jesus. 269
Father. The Father’s authority is despised when
Christ is despised.
4. HE POSSESSED LIFE LIKE THE FATHER (John 5,
26). The life of Christ, like the Father’s, is a life-imparting
life, He is the author of life.
5. HE WAS INDWELTBY THE FATHER (John 14,x0).
The Father’ s works were wrought out in Him. “ It is
God who worketh in us.”
6. HE WAS SUBMISSIVE TO THE FATHER (Matt.
26,29). The evidence of an indwelling Christ is a will
entirely yielded to Him.
7. HE ALWAYS PLEASED THE FATHER (John 8,29).
He pleased not Himself. If we can truly say, “ I seek
not mine own glory,” we may please Him too.
8. HE MANIFESTED THE NAME OF THE FATHER
(John 17, 6). “ Ye are the epistle of Christ.”
g. HE FINISHED THE WORK GIVEN HIM BY THE
FATHER (John 18,4). The finishing of the work is to us
as it was to Him, the gaining of a victory.
IO. HE YIELDED HIS SPIRIT TO THE FATHER
(Luke 23, 46). Home is sweet when the will of the
Father has been done, and His name glorified. Surely
now those longings expressed by the loving, suffering
Son will be fully satisfied (John 17, I).
III. REVEAL THE NATURE OF HIS OWN
HE CAME NOT TO BE MINISTERED UNTO (Matt.
10,28). The great ones of the earth love to be lionised.270 Handfuls on Purpose.
and feasted. He came to give what the world needed-“
2. HE CAME TO GLORIFY THE FATHER (John 17,4).
The goodness of God is made to pass before us in Christ
His Son. He magnified the Father’ s name in the
presence of the people.
3. HE CAME TO SHOW us A LIFE OF FAITH (John 5,
30). He could say, “ The words that I speak, I speak
not of Myself.” His faith was in His Father, and so
the Father acted through Him. May Christ so dwell in
our hearts by faith.
4. HE CAME TO REVEAL A LIFE OF SELF-DENIAL
(John 8, 50). So truly human was Jesus Christ that he
might have sought His own glory, but He did not. He
came to seek and to save that which was lost.
5. HE CAME TO MANIFEST PATIENCE IN POVERTY
(Matt. 8, 20). Godliness, with contentment, is great
gain. Gain won through faith.
6. HE CAME TO SUFFER AND TO DIE (Mark 8, 31).
This was a necessity laid upon Him, because of the love
He had for us. “ He bore our sins in His own body.”
7, HE CAME TO OPEN A NEW WAY (John IO, 9).
The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep, that He
might become the Door into the pastures that are ever
8. HE C AME THAT H E MIGHT BECOME THE HEAI)
OF THE CORNER (Matt. 21, 42). Despised and rejected
of men, God hath highly exalted Him. Among the
ten thousand stones in the building He is the chiefest..The Sayings of Jesus. 271
g. HB CAME, AND Ha WILL COME AGAIN (bfatt.
25, 31). His promise is, “ I will come again” (John
14, 3). It will be a personal appearing. “ This
same Jesus ” (Acts I, II). He comes in His glory to
raise the dead, to change the living, to take vengeance
on them who obey not the Gospel, to destroy Anti-christ,
to restore His people Israel, to rule the nations,
to reward the faithful, and to bring in everlasting
righteousness. “ Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
THE HOLY GHOST OUR TEACHER.
There are two great personalities which are much
forgotten in these days-the devil, the father of lies;
and the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth.
I. A DIVINE TEACHER IS NEEDED.-Every
sinner needs a Divine Saviour ; every saint needs a
Divine Teacher. “ He shall teach ” (John 14,26) ought
to be as real to us as “ He shall save ” (Matt. I, 21).
This great Teacher is needed because-I.
TEE THINGS OF GOD KNOWETH NO MAN (I Cor.
2, II). Every unregenerate man is ignorant of the
things of God. Man cannot find out God by ssarching ;
only by r6u6lation. This revelation is by the Holy Spirit
(I Cor. 2, II).
2. THE NATURAL MAN CANNOT RECEIVE THE THINGS
OF GOD (I Cor. 2, 14). Not only has the Holy Spirit to
Y6ved the things of God, but He must also change the
heart, and give the nature to receive them..272 Handfuls on Purpose.
3. HOLY MEN OF OLD WERE TAUGHT BY THE SPIRIT
(2 Peter I, 21). Holy men to-day must have the same
Teacher. He shall guide you into all truth (John 16,13).
II. A DIVIYE TEACHER HAS COME.-I.
HE WAS SENT BY THE FATHER IN THE NAME OF
T~IE SON (John 14, 26). Both Father and Son are
deeply interested in the education of His children.
This gift implies that there is much more for Christians
in this life than mere salvation from wrath.
z. HE HAS COME TO INSTRUCT (Neh. g, 30). Two
things every Christian ought to be-clean and wise.
Ignorance of the things of God is an evidence of a
3. HE SEARCHETH ALL T HINGS (I Cor. 2, IO).
This Teacher is all-sufficient ; the deep mysteries of
God are known to Him and revealed by Him.
4, HE ABIDETH IN You (John 14, 17). “ Your
body is the temple of the Holy Ghost” (I Car. 6, 19).
He is always at hand, so that “ Ye need not that any
man teach you ” (I John 2, 27).
5. HE SPEAKETH IN You (Matt. IO, 12). He
must speak through us before He can speak to us. It
is not ye that speak, for ye are dead, and your life is
hid with Christ in God.
III. THE CHARACTER OF HIS TEACHING.-He
is the Spirit of wisdom, counsel, and knowledge
(Isa. II, 2). This text will be best understood by read.
ing it backwards..The Holy Ghost our Teacher, 273
I. HE SHALL NOT SPEAK OF HIMSELF (John 16,
13). Like Christ, He makes Himself of no reputation.
Does this feature of our Teacher characterise us ? Not
I, but Christ.
2. HE AWAKENETH THE EAR (Isa. I, 4, R.v.).
Lord, give us the hearing ear. Ears some have, but
they hear not. Why ? Asleep.
3. HE USES THE WORD (Eph. 6, 17). Being the
Spirit of truth He delights in the word of truth and
seeks to guide us into the truth.
4. HE RECEIVES THE THINGS OF GOD FOR us
(John 16, 14). All the fulness is in Christ ; the Spirit
receives and takes of the things of Christ that He might
show them unto us.
5. HE SHOWS THINGS TO COME (John 16, 13).
Now, since Christians are beginning to honour the Holy
Spirit, they are beginning to understand “ things to
6. HE BRINGS TO REMEMBRANCE (John 14, 26).
He writes the truth in the heart and recalls it to our
minds when needed. His memory never fails Him.
Filled with the Spirit is the cure for a bad memory.
7. HE DIVIDES HIS GIFTS (I Cor. 12, 8). “ He
divideth to every man severally as He will.” (I Cor.
12, II). Covet earnestly the best gifts. Who teacheth
like Him ? (Job 36, 22).
IV. THE PRIVILEGES OF THE TAUGHT.-I.
THEY KNOW H IM (Eph. I, 17), not only as.274 Handfuls on Purpose.
their Saviour, but as their daily sufficiency and coming
2. THEY KNOW WXA? IS FREELY GIVEN THEM (I
Cor. z, 12). They have, by faith, laid hold on the
unsearchable riches of Christ. To such the promises are
3. THEY ARE QUICK TO UNDERSTAND (Isa. II, 3).
Being taught of God they have the mind of God, and so
quickly apprehend His will.
4. THEY SPEAK IN WISDOM (I Cor. 2, 13). The
Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in
5. THEY HAVR AN HOLY UNCTION (I John 2, 20).
The heavenly breath is felt where the Spirit is. Paul
judged not by the speech but by the $o~lcr (I Car. 4,
6. THEY NEED NO OTHER TEACHER (I John 227).
Whether we read or hear the Word of God, let us sit
at His feet. Learn of Me.
7. THEY ARR HELPFUL TO OTHERS (Isa. I, 4, R.v.).
This is the secret of a useful life-God working in you,
both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
THE MISSION FIELD.
I. LOOK AT THE FIELD.-I.
THE FIELD IS THE WORLD (Matt. 13, 30). The
Church is in the world, that it might be a blessing to.The Mission Fidd. 275
the world. The seed of the kingdom is sufficient for,
and suitable to, every part of the field.
2. A WORLD IN BONDAGE (John 5, 19, R.v.). Pos-sessed
and polluted by the evil one. The thorns and
briars of sin are the natural fruits of the soil.
3. A WORLD UNDER CONDEMNATION (R o m . 5,
12). All have sinned ; all are guilty ; all under death,
that He might have mercy upon all.
4. A WORLDLOVEDBYGOD( John3,16). ThatGod
does love the world is abundantly manifest in the gift
of His Son. Why He did love such a world is a mystery
to man and an eternal praise to God.
5. A WORLD ATONED FOR BY C H R I ST. He is the
propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also
for the sins of the whole world (I John 2, 2). He is
the mercy-seat, where the broken law is covered, and
where all may meet with God.
6. A WORLD IN IGNORANCE OF GOD (I Cor. I, 21).
It is sad to think of the millions still in ignorance of
God’s love and of Christ’s atoning death. The soil
cannot but be fruitless for good while it is yet destitute
of the good seed.
7. A WORLD READYFOREARVEST (John6,35-36)
Christ saw the field already white in His day, because
He saw already the grace and power by which this great
work could be done. Alas ! that so little should be
yet gathered in. “ Oh, where are the reapers ? ”.276 Handfuls on Purpose.
II. LOOK AT THE WORK: .-It
is said that when the Duke of Wellington was
asked if it was worth while sending missionaries to a
certain people, he said : I‘ What are your standing
orders ? ” Well, here they are–
I. Go INTO ALL THE WORLD (Mark 16, 15). The
great Redeemer had His eye and heart on every part of
the field when He gave His life a ransom for all.
2. BE WITNESSES UNTO ME (Acts I, 8). This
implies more than mere testimony. We cannot be true
witnesses of Christ’ s transforming, cleansing, keeping
power, unless we have in heart been renewed, possessed,
3. TEACH ALL NATIONS (Matt. 28, 19). All
nations need the knowledge of Christ. Christ is suffi-cient
for the needs of all nations.
4. PREACH THE GOSPEL (2 Cor. IO, 16). The
tidings of the Father’ s love ; of the Saviour’ s sufferings
and triumph ; of the Spirit’ s presence and power ; ol
the coming of the King.
5. DECLARE HIS GLORY (I Chron. 16, 24). De-clare
the glory of His character ; the glory of His resur-rection
; the glory of His future kingdom.
6. BID TO THE MARRIAGE (Matt. 22, 9). Don’ t
forget to give each and all a hearty invitation. God is
no respecter of persons. Whosoever will may come.
7. PRAY THE LORD OF THE HARVEST (Matt. g,
28). Pray HI~Q to thrust out labourers into His harvest.
Pray Him to thrust out those who are waiting on money.The Mission Field. 277
to send them. The Church is waiting on the means to
send them. “ Pray Him to send,” and the means will
be sent with them.
III. LOOK AT THE WORKERS-I.
THEY ARE POSSESSED (John r7,23). The vessel
needs filling before it can be a blessing. Paul had the
Son revealed in him before he was called to preach Him.
Moses had the vision before he received his commission
(Ex. 3, I-IO).
2. THEY ARE SENT (John 17, 28). Sent as the
Father has sent the Son. What does that mean ?
Think of where Christ came from, what He came to do,
and how He did the will of His Father.
3. THEY ARE FAITHFUL (Acts 8, 4). Though
scattered abroad by persecution they preached the
Word everywhere. Faithful to Him who called them.
Ye serve the Lord Christ.
4. THEY ARE TAUGHT (Jer. I, 7). He who dwells
within teaches how and what to speak. Out of your
hearts shall flow rivers of living water. This spake He
of the Spirit.
5. THEY ARE DEBTORS (Rom. I, 14-15). We are
debtors to all classes, inasmuch as we have that com-mitted
to us (the Gospel) which all need. We owe the
unsaved the Gospel. The Lord give us grace to pay
6. THEY ARE COURAGEOUS (z Cor. IO, 16). They
went into the regions beyond, where the Gospel was as.278 Handfuls on Purpose.
yet unknown, not boasting in the fruit of other men’s
labours. Dare to be a Daniel.
7. THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL (Acts 17, 6). The
world needs to be turned upside down, for just now it
is wrong side up. Its feet, instead of its face, are turned
to God. Who is sufficient for these things ? Greater
is He that is in you.
IV. LOOK AT THE ENCOURAGEMENTS.-I.
THINK OF THE WILL OF GOD (I Tim. 2, 3-4).
It is His will that all be saved. He willeth not the
death of any. In seeking the salvation of men we seek
the fulfilment of His will.
2. THINK OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST (Gal.
I, 4). How precious is that shed blood in the eyes of
God the Father ; how powerful is that blood to cleanse.
3. THINK OF THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT (Acts I, 8),
which proves a resurrected Saviour and an accepted
Advocate. By the Spirit’ s presence the living Saviour,
in all His love and power, abides within us.
4. THINK OF THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL (Rom. I,
16). The message we have to proclaim is the divine
complement to human need. It is God’s panacea for
the woes of the world.
5. THINK OF THE PRUMISE (Matt. 28, Ig-zo).
“ Certainly I will be with you.” This was God’s
answer to Moses. “ Who am I ? ” The question is nota
“ Who am I ? ” but, “ Who is He that is with me ? ”
6. THINK OF THE REWARDS (Mark IO, zg-30). “ Ye.The Mission Field. 279
shall receive wages.” What a fee ! Heaven’s coin
paid in grace by the hand of the King.
7. THINK OF THE DIVINE PURPOSE. All the ends
of the earth shall see the salvation of God. All kings
and nations shall yet serve Him. The kingdoms of
this world shall yet become the kingdom of our Lord
and of His Christ. Be not weary in well-doing.
What manner of love is this ? that God should so
love us as to give up His Son to die for us, and then
reward us for every little thing done for Him. Oh, the
grace of God-it is grace upon grace. Look at-I.
THE REWARDER.-Rewards are usually
given according to the dignity of the rewarder.
I . T HINK OF l&s GREATNESS (Col. 3, 24). The
Lord Himself is the rewarder. The world was made
by Him and for Him. He inhabiteth eternity. He
speaks and it is done.
2. THINK OF H IS RICHES (Gen. 15, I). Is it
earthly blessing ? The earth is the Lord’s and the
fulness thereof. Is it spiritual gifts ? The fulness of
the Godhead dwelleth in Him. He who was rich be-came
poor, that we, through His poverty, might be
3. THINK OF HIS GOODNESS (Matt. 6, 4). How
sweet arc these words : “Thy Father Himself.” The
Father who gave His Son, how will He not, with Him,
freely give us all things. 0 how great is Thy goodness !.280 Handfals on Purpose.
4. THINK OF HIS FAITHFULNESS (Phil 2, 8-10).
The One who, for God, became a worm and no man, is
exalted by God with a name above every name. We
see Him enduring the cross, and we see Him crowned
with glory and honour (Heb. 2, 9). Having been
faithful to His only Son, He will be faithful to His every
II. THE REWARDED.-Not every one will
have their works rewarded. The wood, hay, and
stubble will be burned. If any man’ s work abide, he
shall receive a reward (I Cor. 3, IZ-15). Rewards are
THE EARNEST SEEKER (Heb. II, 6). Not
those who seek rewards merely, but Him-“ My soul
thirsteth for the living God.”
2. THE CAREFUL WORKER ( I Cor. 3, 13-14).
Take heed how and what ye build. Remember the
testing fire. Be diligent in this business ; be fervent
in spirit-red hot.
3. THE CHEERFUL GIVER (Matt. IO, 42). The Lord
loveth a cheerful giver. Whatsoever ye do, do it
heartily. The least thing done in Christ’ s Name will
4. THE RIGHTEOUS SOWER (Prov. II, 18). Jesus
Christ was the righteous Sower. What a reward
He has received ! (Heb. 2, 9). Let us follow His
example (Ps. 126, 6).
5. THE UPRIGHT DEALER (2 Sam. 22, 21). The.Rewards. 381
Christian ought to do his business as in the sight of God,
with an equal balance and with clean hands.
6. THE HUMBLE WALKER (Prov. zz, 4). The re-ward
of humility is riches and honour. Christ humbled
Himself, wherefore God highly axalted Him (v. zg).
7. THE STEADFAST BELIEVER (Heb. IO, 25).
Whatever hinders your confidence in God is robbing you
of a great recompense of reward. Listen not to the
tempting devil. This is the victory-even our faith.
8. THE GODLY SUFFERER (Matt. .$II-12). Jesus
Himself, as our Captain, was consecrated through
suffering. We suffer with Him that we may be also
g. THE FAITKPUL WARRIOR (2 Tim. 4, 8). On
God’s side the battle is the Lord’s ; on our side it is the
fight of faith. Be faithful unto death and gain the
crown of life.
III. THE REWARDS-I.
THEY ARE GREAT (Gen. 15, I). Will be ac-cording
to the greatness of the Giver. To have Himself
is to have an exceeding great reward. “ If He is mine,
then all is mine.”
2. THEY ARE SURE (Col. 3,24). Because they are
of the Lord. He is faithful that hath promised.
3. THEY ARE VARIED. Every man shall receive
according to his own labour (I Car. 3. 8). In this case
it will not be “ every man his penny.” The penitent
thief cannot expect the reward of the laborious Paul.
T.282 Handfuls on Purpose.
4. THEY ARE SUFFICIENT (Matt. 25. 21). Doubt-less
everyone will be abundantly satisfied with their
own reward. His “ well done ” will be enough for this.
But what is meant by “ the joy of the Lord ? ”
5. THEY ARE ETERNAL (2 Cor. 4, 17). These are
laurels which never wither ; blessings which perish not
with the using. Who can count the value of “ an
eternal weight of glory ? ”
6. T HEY ARE TO BE COVETED (2 John 8). Men
will beguile us of our reward if they succeed in beguiling
us away from lovingly serving the Lord. Press on
toward the mark for the prize.
IV. THE REWARDING.-I.
WILL BE ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS (I hr. 3,
13). He shall reward every man according to his
work (Matt. 16, 27), not according to his profession.
2. WILL BE OPENLY (Matt. 6, 4). Secret acts for
Christ are n?t to be only secretly rewarded, although
the faithful worker gets many a secret reward.
3. W I L L B E I N T A I S P R E S E N T r1~~(Luke18,2g-30).
The rewards are not all reserved for us in heaven.
Daniel’s self-denial was rewarded with heavenly wis-dom
4. WILL BE IN THE LIFE TO COME (Rev. 22, 12).
When clothed upon with our house which is from heaven,
we will be the more able to receive and enjoy heavenly
5. WILL BE WHEN H E COMES (Matt. 16, 27)
The great rewards are bestowed when the Rewarder Him,.Rewards. 383
self appears. When He comes fov His saints they shall
receive the newbody-the eternal fitness. WhenHecomes
with His saints they shall be rewarded with honours.
6. W ILL BE DURING H IS REIGN (Rev. 20, 4).
Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?
7. WILL BE THROUGH ALL ETERNITY (2 Cor. 4,17).
Where I am there shall ye be also-“ For ever with the
APOSTOLIC CHRISTIANITY: AS SEEN IN
The history of the Prodigal in Iuke rg is pretty
much the history of the Church. Now that she “ be-gins
to be in want,” she must needs ” Arise and go back ”
to her original sphere of power and prestige. What did
those early saints believe ?
I They believed in the DI V I N I T Y o f J e s us
Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3, 16
2 They believed in the ATONING work of Christ, 20,28
3 They believed in the WORD of Christ . . . . . . . . . 27~25
4 They believed in the GOSPEL of Christ .*…*… 8, 5
5 They believed in the NAME of Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . 3, 16
6 They believed in the PRESENCE of Christ . . . x8,9-10
7 They believed in the POWER OF THE HO LY
SPIRIT, I, 8: 2,38: 8, I.=,: IO, 44-45: II, 16: x5,8
I They Prayed at stated times .*…………………. 3J r
2 They Prayed, believing in Much Prayer . . . . . . . . . . 6, 4.284 Handfuls on Purpose.
3 They Prayed with great Simplicity . , . . . . . . . , . . . . . 4, 24
4 They Prayed, expecting an Answer . . . . . . . . . 4, 29-Y
5 They Prayed and Fasted together, IO, 30 : 15,3 : 1423
6 They Prayed and received Revelations,
7, 55-56 : IO, 9-11 : 22, 17
7 They Prayed before parting, 13, 3 : 20, 36 : PI, 5
They had courage-I
To Preach doctrines that were despised ……… 4, 2
2 To Rebuke sinners in high places …….. .4, II : $30
3 To Speak the whole Counsel of God ….. .20,27 : 4,20
4 To Stand amidst Persecution …………………… 8, I
5 To Live above the fear of man ……… 5, 29 : 4, 19
6 To Hazard their lives for Christ’ s sake, 15,26 : 20,24
7 The Secret of this Courage … Acts I , 8 : 13, 4
I.-THE NATURE OF THIS POWER.
I It was not Social power ………………………… 2J7
2 It was not Monetary power …………………… 3,6
3 It was not Intellectual power ………………… 4, 13
4 It was Spiritual power.. …………………. I, 8 : 6, IO
H.-THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THIS POWER.
By the Power of the Holy Ghost-I
The Coward is made Courageous ……………. ..2. 14
2 The Sinner is Convicted and Humbled …… 2, 37-38
3 The Persecuted is Satisfied with Glory ………… 7, 55
4 The Perplexed is Answered and Guided, 8,29 : x6,9
5 The Convert is Empowered for Service …… 9, 17-20.Aportolic Christianity. 285
6 The Servant is Separated and Sent . . . . . . . . . . . . 13, 2-4
7 The Enemy is Fearlessly Denounced . . . . . . . . . . . .13,9-10
There is no uncertain sound here. They testified-I
That Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.. .2,36 : g, 20
2 That God raised Him from the dead . . . . . . 3, 15 : 4,33
3 That His Name has power to heal through
Faith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..*……………………. 3,x6
4 That Salvation is Only in His Name . . . . . . . . . . . . 4, 12
5 That Christ is the God-Ordained Judge of all, IO, 42
6 That all believers are Justified from all things, 13, 39
7 That all believers should rcccive the Gift of the
Holy Ghost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2,39: 19,2
In Receiving the Promise of the Father, I, 4 : 2, 4
2 In Converting sinners unto God . . . . . . . . . . . . 2, 41 : 4, 4
3 In Working Miracles of Grace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , 3,~ : x6,18
4 In bringing Answers to their Prayers, 4, 31 :
12, 5 : 16, 26
5 In Spreading their doctrine abroad . . . . . . 5, 28 : 42
6 In Getting immediate result through preaching
Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..*………… 8,5-8 : g, 20-21
7 In Raising persecution because of their faith-fulness
. . . . . . . . . 4, 21: 13, 50-52: 14, 2: 17, 32
8 In doing the work given them to do . . . . . . . . . . . . 26, r8.286 Handfuls on Purpose.
THE BLESSED HOPE.
TITUS 2, 13-14.
We don’ t hope for what we already possess. Every
Christian has Forgiveness of Sins, Peace with God, and
This blessed hope is characterised as-I
A Good Hope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Thess. 2, 16
2 A Sure Hope .,………………………. Heb. 6, 18
3 A Living Hope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Peter 1, 3
4 A Saving Hope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rom. 8, 24
5 A Purifying Hope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..*………. 1 John 3,3
6 A Comforting Hope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Thess. 4, 18
It is the blessed hope of-I
The Individual .,…………….,……….. Acts I, II
2 The Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John 14, 1-3
3 The Servant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , .*….,…. Luke 19, 13
4 Of Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rom. II, 26
5 Of Creation _…………………….. Rom. 8, 22-23
THE ARM OF THE LORD.
As revealed in Isaiah.
The Arm of the Lord is symbolic of Christ, as His
hand is of the Holy Spirit.
I His Character, as Jehovah’ s representative, Isa. 40, IO
2 Salvation through Him . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Isa. 40, 11
3 Condition of Salvation, “ Trust ” . . . . . . . . . Isa. 51, 5
4 The Call . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Isa. 51, 9-10
5 The Unvailing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Isa. 52, I0
6 The Appeal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. ..“………… Isa. 53, 1.The Arm of the Lord. 287
7 The Testimony . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..a Isa. 59, 16
8 The Final Victory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Isa. 63, 12
Cursed be he that maketh flesk his arm (Jer. 17, 5).
Acrs 20, 19-28.
“ Be ye followers of me,” said the apostle, ” Even
as I also am of Christ ” (I Cor. II, I).
He is an example for us-r
In Humble Service for God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v. 19
2 In Faithfulness to the Word of God _.__. _… . v. 20
3 In Shewing the right attitude toward God . . . v. PI
4 In being Taught by the Spirit of God . . . . . . w. 22-23
5 In Patiently suffering the will of God . . . . . . . . . v. 24
6 In Preaching the Kingdom of God . . . . . . . . . . . . v. 25
7 In boldly Declaring the whole Counsel of God, v. 27
8 In Caring for the Church of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v. 28
The Biography of Peter is singularly instructive
for every follower of Christ.
I His Call. The first of the Twelve ……… Matt. IO, 2
2 His Courage ………………………… Matt. 14, 28
3 His Confession ………………… Matt. 16, 15-16
4 His Impulsiveness ……… Matt. 17,4 ; John 18, IO
5 His Self-Confidence ………………… Mark 14, 29-31
6 His Indifference ……………………… Mark 14, 37
7 His Cowardliness …………………… Mark 14, 54
8 His Denial ………………………… Mark 14, 6%7r
9 His Repentance ……………………… Mark 14,72.288 Handfuls on Purpose.
IO His Forgiveness ……………………… Mark 16,7
II His Faith ……………………………… John 20, 2-4
12 His Love ……………………………… John 21, 7
13 His Devotion …………………………… John 21, 15
14 His Boldness ………………… Acts 2, 14 ; 4, 19-20
15 His Power ……………………… Acts 3, 6 : 5, 3
He was a man of like passions as we are : Be of
WORK FOR CHRIST.
ACTS 9, 6.
I The Field is Large ……………………… Matt. 13, 38
2 The Need is Great ……………………… J b 4135 0 n
3 The Time is Now …………………… Gal. 6, IO
4 The Callis Urgent ………………………… Matt. 20,6
5 The Work is Varied ……………………… Matt. 13, 34
6 The Partner is Almighty …………… 2 Cor. 6, I
7 The Means are Provided ……………… Luke rg, 13
8 The Reward is Sure ……………………… Dan. 12, 3
MATT. 6, 27-28.
I Growth implies life. Life is a Mystery . , . . . . John 3,3
2 Growth implies favourable Conditions.
3 Growth is wrd, where there is life.
4 Growth is gradual. “ First the blade.”
5 Growth is not the result of Eflorf “ Consider the
lilies” (v. 27).
6 Growth implies healthy activity at the roots. Re-ceiving
7 Growth is needful to perfection of character..Outlines on the Twenty-Third Psalm. 289
THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP.
I .-“ THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD ” (v. I).
I. WHO IS THIS S HEPHERD ? “ Jehovah.” Who
was, and is, and is 50 come. The title occurs 7,600 times.
Jehovah Rohi. “ The Lord my Shepherd.”
2. How HE HAS BECOME A S H E P H E RD. “All
have gone astray” (Isa. 53, 6). He came to seek and
save the lost.
3. WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR THE SHEEP.
He has entered the door of the fold ..,..,…… John IO, z
He has given His life for the sheep . . . . . . . . . John IO, II
He has given His sheep eternal life . , . . . . . . .,, . . John IO, 28
He has given them the proof of eternal security,
John IO, 29
4. WHO ARE HIS SHEEP ? It is characteristic of
hear His Voice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v. 27
They knew Him . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v. 14
They follow Him . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v. 27
II.–” I SHALL NOT WANT ” (v. I).
I. WHO SHALL NOT WANT ? He who can truly
say, “ The Lord is my Shepherd.”
2. WHY HE SHALL NOT WANT.-Because the
Lord is his Shepherd, and HE is rich in possessions,
wise in administration, strong to defend, and gracious
to give..290 Handfuls on Purpose.
3. WIIAT IS IT TO BE IN WANT ?
It is to be like Belshazzar when weighed in the
balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dan. 5, 27
It is to be like the Prodigal in the far country,
Luke 15, 14
It is to be like the Foolish Virgins without oil,
M a t t . 25, 8
Itistobeliketherichmaninhell . . . . . . . . . . . . Luke16,24
III.-“ HE MAKETH ME TO LIE DOWN ” (v. 2).
These words imply-I.
PLEASANT FEEDING. ” Green pastures.” The
pastures of God’s Word are always fresh, tender, satis-fying.
2. PEACEFUL R E S T I NG. He maketh me to lie
down. Resting implies not only satisfaction, but a
conscious feeling of perfect security.
3. GENTLE CONSTRAINING. ” He maketh rnd to lie
down.” What gracious compulsion His is.
4. PLEASANT WALKING. “ Beside the still waters.”
(“ Waters of quietness,” marg.). The Scriptures of
truth, the Lord’s day of rest, the sweet hour of
5. FAITHFUL LE A D I NG. “ NC leadeth me.” He
leads into the fulness of blessing. “ My soul followeth
hard after Thee” (Ps. 63, 8).
IV.-“ HE RESTORETH MY SOUL ” (v. 3).
I. WHEN IS R ESTORATION NEEDED ?
When in a Weak and Fainting condition.
When in a Sinful and Backsliding state..Outlines on the Twenty-Third Psalm. 291
2. WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF BACKRIDING ?
Following afar off, through fear or shame.
Discontent and Restlessness with the leading of God
Growing disregard for the fellowship of saints.
Secret neglect of His “ green pastures ” and preference
for the thoughts of men.
3. How IS RESTORATION EFFECTED ? “ He re-storeth.”
By the Shepherd’ s look . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Luke 22, 61
By the Shepherd’s crook ,…….*….,….*.. Ps. 119, 67
V.-“HE LEADETH ME, FOR HIS OWN
NAMES SAKE (v. 3).
I. THE LEADER. “ He leadeth “-By
the Word of His mouth.
By the Example of His Life.
By the Promptings of His Spirit.
2. THE LED. “ He leadeth Afe.‘ ”
Because my eye is on Him.
Because I believe in Him.
Because I yield to Him.
3. THE PATHS. “ Paths of Righteousness (Right-ness).
Into the path of Peace.
Into the path of Prayer.
Into the path of Power.
4. THE PURPOSE OF HIS LEADING. “For His
own Name’ s sake.”
For the Sake of His Word..292 Handfuls on Purpose.
For the Sake of His Work.
For the Sake of His Will.
VI.–” I WILL FEAR NO EVIL” (v. 4).
I. TESTING EXPERIENCE . “ The valley of the
shadow of death.”
The valley of temporal Adversity.
The valley of severe bodily or family Affliction.
The valley of bitter persecution.
2. BLESSED ASSURANCE. ” I will fear no evil.”
I will fear no evil place .*.,……*..*.*………….. World
I will fear no evil thing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flesh
I will fear no evil one . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Devil
3. JOYFUL TESTIMONY. “ Thou art with Me.”
Thou art with me as the Way.
Thou art with me as the Truth.
Thou art with me as the Life.
VII.–” THEY COMFORT ME” (v. 4).
The “ Rod and Staff ” comfort because they are
His and they are His all the auy.
I. THE COMFORT OF HIS ROD (club).
It was their Wea#on of defencc against the enemy.
It was the Breaker up of their way among thorns and
2. THE COMPORT OF HIS STAFF (Crook).
With it they were rescued from danger.
Under it they were numbered for safety.
The rod and the staff are emblems of the Power of
the Spirit, and the assuring character of His Word..Outlines on the Twenty-Third Psalm. 293
VIII.-“ THOU PREPAREST A TABLE BE-FORE
ME ” (v. 5).
I. WH AT? “ Thou preparest a table.” A table
tells of forethought and fellowship.
2. WHO? “ Thou preparest.” This preparation is
perfectly consistent with His character.
3. WH E RE? “ In the presence of mine enemies.”
Shepherds sometimes cut down branches to feed the
4. FOR WHOM ? “ Before ms.” Personal exper-ience
of His special care.
IX.–” THOU ANOINTEST MY HEAD, MY
CUP RUNNETH OVER ” (v. 5).
There is a vital connection between the anointed
head and the overflowing cup.
I. THE ANOINTED H E AD. (Oil a symbol of the
a sign of man’s separation unto God.
It is the Seal of God’s Consecration (filling) of man,
for His Service.
2. THE OVERFLOWING CUP. The overflowing Cup
is the result of the overflowing oil.
It means a life of abounding satisfaction, “running over.”
It means of Life of,Blessing for others. The overflow
is not waste, but for the salvation of others.
It means a Life of Joyful Testimony. “ My cup run-neth
over.” No wonder when “ the Lord is the
portion of my cup.”.294 Handfuls on Purpose.
x. – “SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY
SHALL FOLLOW ME ” (v. 6).
When we can say, “ He lea&h me,” we may con-fidently
say, “ Goodness and Mercy shall follow me.”
I. THE PILGRIM’S ATTENDANTS.
“ Goodness ” to gather up the prccdous results
of our lives.
“ Mercy ” to cleanse and forgive the faults and
z. THE PILGRIM’S CONSOLATION. ” All the days
of my life.”
All the dark and stormy days.
All the bright and fruitful days.
3. THE P I L G R IM’S H O ME. “ The House of the
The house that has been prepared by the Lord.
The house where the Lord Himself dwells.
Time is but the dressing-room of Eternity.
4. THE P ILGRIM’S C ONFIDENCE . “ I will dwell
in the House of the Lord for ever.”
He knows Him in whom he has believed.
He believes and expects what He has promised.
THE REVELATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
JOHN 16, 12-14.
I He Reveals the Pierced Saviour . . . . . . . . . . . . Zech. 12, IO
2 He Reveals the Way into Truth . . . . .._.. John 16, 13
3 He Reveals the Love of God . . . . . . . . . . . . Rom. 5, 5
4 He Reveals the Things of Christ . . . . . . . . . John r6, 14.The Revelations of the Holy Spirit. 295
5 He Reveals the Things God hath Prepared, I Cor. 2, IO
6 He Reveals the Valley of Need . . . . . . . . . . . . Ezek. 37, I
7 He Reveals the Path of Service . . . . . . . . . . . . Acts 8 29
ALL ONE IN CHRIST.
HEBREWS 2, II.
I In Christ we are Possessed by one Life . . . John rg, 5
z In Christ we belong to One Body . . . I Cor. 12, 12-14
3 In Christ we are joined by One Spirit . . . . . . I Cor. 6,17
4 In Christ we are Secure on One Standing, John x7,21
5 In Christ we are Stones of One Building . . . Eph. 2,22
6 In Christ we are Membersof One Family, Eph.3,14-15
7 In Christ we are Parts of One Temple . . . Eph. 2,2x-22
“LET US GO FORTH.”
HEBREWS 13, 13.
I. WHAT F ROM ?
From the Formality of a Powerless Religion.
From the Pleasures of a Sinful World.
From the Deceptions of a Self-centred Life.
2. W HAT To ? “ Unto Him.”
Unto Him as those who believe in Him.
Unto Him as those who are separated to Him.
Unto Him as those who are prepared to Suffer with Him.
Unto Him as those who will Testify for Him.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR SERVICE.
I Come to Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,..I…… Matt. II, 28-29
2 Go for Christ …….I….. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Matt. 28, 19.296 Handfuls on Purpose.
3 Trust in Christ . . . . . . . . . . . ..*………………. Matt. z&20
4 AL% like Christ .._………….,.,…….. John 13, I4-15
THE PLEASURE OF THE LORD.
I With regard to His Enemies . . . . . . . . . Ezek. 33, II
2 With regard to His Son . . . . . . . ..*………..hVj3,IO
3 With regard to His Word . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Isa. 55, II
4 With regard to His Gospel . . . . . . . . . . . . I Cor. I, 21
5 With regard to His Service . . . . . . . . . . . . Gal. I, 15-16
6 With regard to His people . . . . . . . . . I Sam. 12, 22
7 With regard to His Purpose .a………* Luke x2,32
THE PRECIOUS CHRIST.
I PETER 2, 7.
I. THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST. “ He is Pre-cious.”
In Him is Costliness, Rarity, Adaptability.
2. To WHOM CHRIST IS PRECIOUS. “ Unto you… .
which believe.” His sweetness must be tasted to be
3. WHY CHRIST IS PRECIOUS TO THE BELIEVER.
Because He is their Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cal. 3, 4
Because He is their Sustenance . . . . . . . . . . . . John 6, 55
Because He is their Peace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eph. 2, 14
Because He is their Character . . . . . . . . . . . . I Cor. I, 30
Because He is their Example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Peter 2, 21
Because He is their All-sufficiency . . . . . . . . . 2 Cor. 8, 9
PAUL’ S THREEFOLD TESTIMONY. ACTS 27, 23-25.
I As to His Life. “ Whose I am.”
2 As to his Work. “ Whom I serve.”
3 As to his Creed. “ I believe God.”.Seven Prayers in Matthew. 297
A SATISFYING SIGHT.
I JOHN 3. 2.
I Who shall we see ? See Him.
2 Who shall see Him 7 “ We shall.”
3 How shall we see Him? “ As He is.”
4 What will be the effect of seeing Him ? ” We shall
be like Him.”
5 Is this quite certain ? I‘ We shall.”
SEVEN PRAYERS IN MATTHEW 8.
I The Cry of Misery. “ If Thou wilt Thou canst
make me clean ” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..*…………….. v. 2
2 The Cry of Compassion. “ Lord, my servant
lieth at home sick,” etc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vv. 5-6
3 The Cry of Faith. “ Lord speak the word only ” v. 8
4 The Cry of Procrastination. “ Suffer me first ” v. 21
5 The Cry of Fear. “ Lord save us, we perish ” . . . v. 25
6 The Cry of Opposition.,. “ What have we to do
with Thee ? ” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v. 2g
7 The Cry of Rejection. “ They besought Him
that He would depart ” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .v. 34
JER. 8, 5. REV. 2, 4-5.
I. SOME OF ITS CAUSES.
I The fear of man. Ashamed to confess.
2 Worldly associations in business or companionship.
3 Unequally yoked with unbelievers in marriage.
u.298 Handfuls on Purpore.
4 Yielding to the desire for what is t)cw rather than
5 Maintaining an unforgiving spirit toward another
(Mark II, 25-26).
6 Harbouring unclean thoughts and feelings.
7 Refusing to make confession to God when conscious
of having sinned.
II. SOME OF ITS EVIDENCES.
I Neglecting the Word of God as the bread of life.
z Little desire for secret prayer and communion with
3 Growing fondness for worldly pleasures.
4 Satisfied with present attainments in spiritual things.
5 Trifling excuses for neglecting Christian fellowship.
6 Tendency to discontent and fault-finding.
7 Decreasing anxiety for the salvation of others.
III. TEE RE M E DY.
Return. Repent. Confess. Renounce. Perform.
Jer. 8, 5 ; Rev. a, 4-5.
THE CHRISTIAN’S RELATIONSHIP.
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we are related-I
To the Father as CHILDREN,
John 20, 17 ; Matt. 6, g ; Rom. g, 26
2 To the Son as SERVANTS, Matt. 23, S-IO; John 13,13
3 To the Spirit as TEMPLES, I Cor. 6, 19-20, and as
CHANNELS, John 7, 38
4 To the World as WITNESSES, Acts I, 8 ; John 17, 18
5 To one another as BRETHREN, Matt. 23,8 ; Heb. 2, rr.Our Privileges. 299
MEMBERS OF HIS BODY. EPH. 5, 30.
The Church, as His Body, is all that is visible of
Christ to the world. In one Spirit are we all baptised
into one body.
As Members we enjoy one Gracious Privilege
As Members we have one UnquestionabIe Security
Col. 3,3 (,‘ in Christ”)
As Members we obey one Sovereign Will . . . Eph. 523
As Members we are energised by One Mighty
Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I C o r . 12, 7-11
As Members we are united in working out One
Great Purpose ,….,….,.,..*………….. 2 Cor. 6, I
As Members we have a special care one for
another . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I John 3, 16
As Members we are specially cared for by the
One to whom we belong . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eph. 5, 29
OUR PRIVILEGES. J UDE 20-25.
But ye beloved-Building
on the Faith of God.
Praying in the Spirit of God.
Keeping in the Love of God.
Looking for the Mercy of God.
Manifesting the Compassion of God.
Active in the Work of God (v. 23).
Hating garments that are unlike God.
Kept by the Power of God.
Faultless in the Presence of God..300 Handfuls on Purpose.
CHRIST AND THE COMMON PEOPLE.
MARK 12, 37.
Three times over in this chapter the enemies of
Christ try to “catch Him in His words” (vv. 14,23,28).
The result in each case is, as it aIways has been, utter
defeat. “ The common people heard Him gladly.”
This is Mark’s interjection, right between the ” Sayings
of Jesus” (vv. 37-38), and there is a world of revelation
I.-THE COMMON PEOPLE. Who are they ?
They were in Christ’s day, as they are largely now,
“ Sheep without a Shepherd.” Society is composed
of three classes. The intellectual, the monied, and the
labouring poor-Wit, Wealth, and Work. The heart
of humanity is somewhere near the centre of the “ com-mon
people ” who take things at their surface value.
II.-THEY HEARD HIM GLADLY. Why?
There is no specific reason given, but much is implied.
To the poor the Gospel is preached. The Gospel of
Christ, like the Sabbath, was made for man, and is
specially suitable for the masses. It was the learned
who sought to entangle Him in His talk (v. 13). Some
of our modern scholars are very active in the same
vain business. They heard Him gladly-.Christ and the Common People. 301
I[. BECAUSE H E TREATED THEM FAIRLY. He
shewed no respect of persons. He did not talk of them
as the “ dregs ” or “ scum ” of Society, or as those
belonging to the “ vulgar throng,” or as members
of the “ many headed beast.” He dealt with them as
“men ” because in His eyes “ All souls are precious.”
2. BECAUSE HE SPOKE TO THEM PLAINLY. He
talked like one of themselves. The philosophers
of Greece and Rome kept the common people in brutish
ignorance. Jesus Christ had the “ tongue of the
learned,” not that He might speak great swelling
words of man’ s wisdom, far beyond the reach of the
ignorant multitude, but that He might “ know how to
speak a word in season to him that is weary ” (Isa. 50,
4). He was wiser than the wisest, yet His language
was child-like in its simplicity.
3. BECAUSE OF HIS SYMPATHY. He could not
look upon the hungry multitude without having “ com-passion
on them ” (chap. 8, 2). His heart was in all
that He said. Love is ever more powerful than logic.
4. BECAUSE OF HIS TEACHING. He knew what
was in man, and His words were abundantly fitted to
meet man’ s need. He knew that there was sin in man,
and also much weary restlessness, and inexpressible
thirst. So He said, “ If any man thirst let him come
unto Me ” (John 7, 37). The burdened and heavy laden
were lovingly offered His rest (Matt. II, 28). Our
poet Burns once told a friend that “ the gift of grace in
Christ was far too good news to he true.” But this
Gospel of Christ is absolutely true..302 Handfuls on Purpose.
5. BECAUSE HE SPOKE WITH AUTHORITY. There
was no note of uncertainty in His teaching. ‘He did
not speculate. He declared the truth. He had a
message from God to men, and He knew it, and fear-lessly
delivered it. So must His servants speak, if
they would honour Him and win men for God. “ We
know in whom we have believed.”
But note that “ hearing Him gladly ” is not
enough. It is possible to hear Him gladly, and ulti-mately
treat Him madly. “ The glow of a warm im-pression
is one thing, the sturdiness of an enduring
principle is another.” The “ common people ” can cry
“ Hosanna ” to-day and “ Crucify ” to-morrow. The
stony-ground hearers receive the Word with gladness,
yet bring forth no fruit (Mark 4, 16-17). It is not He
that heareth gladly shall be saved, but “ He that heareth
and believeth ” (John 5, 24).
COUNT THE COST.
LUKE 14, 28.
Man is not a mere creature of circumstances, like
a plant. Christ expects us to act as reasonable men,
and to sit down and count the cost before starting any
very serious undertaking. This “ tower ” referred to
stands for beauty, safety and prospect, and is applica-ble
to all “ character builders ” (v. 27). We cannot
count the cost until we have first the vision of some
great possibility before us. No wise man desires his
life to end like the tower of Babel, in shame and con-fusion.
To live the Christian life is indeed a great and.Count the Cost. 303
solemn undertaking. Many begin this tower and seem
not able to finish, bringing themselves into ridicule,
and the tower into a laughing stock. Count the cost.
I.-THE COST OF BEING A CHRISTIAN. It
is costly. It costs some more than others. Natural
temperament, early training and environment may
influence greatly. Whatever the price, it must be paid.
We must count on-I.
GIVING UP ALL S IN. Christ gave Himself for
us that He might ” redeem us from all iniquity ”
(Titus 2, 14). Sin is the worst of all investments.
Every scheme in which it has a place is rotten. The
wicked must forsake his ways.
2. SU RRENDERING THE WILL. “ What wilt Tkw
have me to do?” must be the attitude of the soul.
We must count what it will cost the self life to put
Christ first in everything, and to seek first His Kingdom.
3. SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD. We are to go
after Him bearing His cross (v. 27). By His cross
the world is to be crucified unto us, and we to the world
(Gal. 6, 14). When we find our all in Christ it is easy
to give up all for Him. If any man love the world,
the love of the Father is not in him.
4. OPPOSITION BY THE WO R LD. The world that
hated Him will hate you also. Noah by his work of
faith condemned the world (Heb. II, 7), and no doubt
the world condemned him. Abel had to suffer because
his works were righteous. In the world ye shall have
tribulation, but be oi good cheer, I have overcome
the world..304 Handfuls on Purpose.
5. TEMPTATION BY THE DEVIL. The ungodly are
not tempted as the Christians are. Through the lust
of the eye and the pride of life he still offers his subtle
illusions. But Christ is able to deliver and succour
6. SELF-DENIAL. ” If any man would come after
Me, let him deny himself.” The Christian life is a life
of faith in the Son of God, and so must be a life of se2f-denial.
“ Not I, but Christ.” Christ counted the cost
when He came forth to live the life of the Father among
sinful men. As the Father sent Me, so have I sent you.”
But consider also-II.-
THE COST OF NOT BEING A CHRISTIAN.
If the soul’s wealth of capacity and power is invested
in the things of this world, utter and eternal bankruptcy
will surely follow. Can you afford this ? The business
of a Christless life is an awfully expensive one. He
shall suffer loss. What a loss ! The loss of-I
The Forgiving Love of God the Father.
z The Saving Power of Christ the Son.
3 The Comforting Presence of the Holy Spirit.
4 The Assuring Promises of His Holy Word.
5 The Joy of Service in His prevailing Name.
6 The Blessed Hope of seeing Him, and being
7 The Glories and Rewards of His Everlasting
Kingdom and Presence.
COUNT THE COST. What did it cost the prodigal
to come ? His rags and his wretchedness..The True Guide. 305
THY WORD IS A LAMP.
P SALM I-19, 105.
An unquestionable light is in it, adapted and
suitable for every age. No modern light can equal it.
It is as Pollock says, ” This lamp from off the ever-Iasting
Throne.” It is-I.-
A READING Lamp. A lamp for reading the
mind and thoughts of God, and also for reading our
11.-A HEATING Lamp. An incandescent glow
that bums like a fire in the bones (Jer. 20, 9).
111.-A TRAVELLER’S Lamp. A lamp for my
feet, and a light for my path. It is equally useful in
every country and clime.
IV.-A MINER’S Lamp, suitable for the deepest
pit of sin, and the darkest places of work and service.
Proof against the black damp of the evil heart.
V.-A SAFETY Lamp. Sir Humphrey Davy’s
discovery has in no sense lessened its value. Can be
used in the most dangerous places. C.H. 4 gas of the
world has no damaging effect on it. It is not only a
Safety, but a Saving lamp.
VI.-A LIGHTHOUSE Lamp. It stands aloft
and its beams shine out over the dark waters of a needy
world. To neglect its warnings is to suffer shipwreck.
It is a divine Search-light flashing out in the darkness
of this sin-shadowed earth..306 Handfuls on Purpose.
VII.-A NIGHT Lamp. Gentle enough to shine
with its mellow flame in the sick-chamber, bringing
heaven’s light into the weary heart, and brightening
the pale face, with the eternal hope that is in Christ
Jesus our Lord (Ps. 23).
LUKE 16, 25.
On the authority of Christ this “ ce~rtais rich man ”
must be taken as a real historical person. This startling
appeal is made to his memory.
I.-MEMORY IS A MARVELLOUS GIFT. Loss
of memory means loss of all usefulness, of all dignity
and responsibility ; it is the loss of our identity.
The brain itself is a mere pulp, it is the mind that re-members,
now and in eternity.
II.-MEMORY IS THE STOREHOUSE OF THE
SOUL. “ Son, remember.” Its capacity for storage
is tremendous. Be careful what you put into it, as
such goods may be required again. It may be a palace
of precious keepsakes, or a chamber of horrors. It is
a museum of records of events, the reference book for
a coming judgment. It is the seed plot of this life,
and of that which is to come.
III.-MEMORY IS AFFECTED BY THE STATE
OF THE HEART. “Son, remember.” What we are
choosing now is determined by what we love. If we
love the world then our hearts will be set on it. We
remember most clearly what we have loved most dearly.
Our youthful impressions, because of their intensity,.Son, Remember. 307
usually abide longest with us. Some set their hearts
on “ things above,” while others “ mind earthly things.”
IV.-MEMORY IS THE REPRODUCTIVE
FACULTY. “Son, remember.” It supplies the evidence
for the final judgment, and may be one of “ the books
which will be opened in that great day.” When a
Christless man dies he has “ nothing left but a majestic
memory.” We never speak of a sinful memory ; it
may be weak or strong, but it is not in itself sinful,
as it is but a mirror that reflects back what has been
set before it. “ Son, remember that thou in thy Zife-time
received&,” etc. Here “ Remembrance wakes
with all her busy train, swells at the heart, and turns
the past to pain.” Peter wept when he thought there-on.
Soul, remember that this is thy lifetime, and that
the best of all “ good things “-the Gospel of Christ-is
within your reach. Receive Him, and then your
sins and iniquities will be remembered no more.
REVIVAL. “ Wilt Thou not revive us again ?” Ps. 85, 6.
I. THE NEED OF REVIVAL. The need is apparent
wherever there is Coldness, Languidness, and Fruitless-ness.
2. THE S OURCE OF R E V I V AL. ” Thou.” It is
God, the Spirit, that quickeneth. No artificial appli-ances
will bring a revival in Natnre.
3. THE MEANS OF REVIVAL. “ Wilt Thou not ?‘ I
The fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much.
James 5. 17; Ps. 65, 9 ; Isa. 40, 28..308 Handfuls on Purpose.
4. T HE S UBJECTS OF R E V I V AL. “ Us.” It is a
5. THE EFFECT OF REVIVAL. “ That Thy people
may rejoice in Thee.”
HEBREWS 2, I.
We are called upon here to give heed to-1.
Our Privilege. “Things which we have heard.”
Precious things revealed to us by the Gospel.
2. Our Duty. “We ought to give earnest heed.”
Hear, and your soul shall live. Strive to enter in.
3. Our Danger. “Lest at any time we should let
them run out as leaking vessels ” (margin). In at the
one ear and out at the other. Hold fast that which
GLORYING IN THE CROSS.
GAL. 6, 14.
We glory in the Cross because in it we see-I
The Fulfilment of Prophecy. Gen. 3, 15. Isa.
55. Dan. 9, 24-26.
2 The Love of God Exhibited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I John 3, 16
3 The Love of Christ Declared. . . John 15, 13 ; Gal. 2,20
4 The Removal of that which was against us, Col. 2, 14
5 The Redemption price for our souls . . . . . . Gal. 3, 13
6 The Way of Escape from our sins . . . I Peter 2, 24
7 The Foundation of our Peace established,
CO]. I, 20 ; Eph. 2, 16.Spiritual Blindness.
There is an insect that has a very close resemblance
to the “ bumble bee,” but which is a terrible enemy to it.
Because of its likeness, it sometimes finds its way in a
fraudulent manner into the bees’ nest, and there deposits
eggs. But when these eggs are hatched the larvae
devour the larve of the bees. It comes in as a friend
and helper, but turns out to be a devouring enemy.
Such is that secret sin harboured in the heart. It eats
away the vitals of the spiritual life, and effectually
destroys the power of growth and usefulness. It is all
the more dangerous when it comes in the likeness of a
friend and helper in the work.
“ Men tell us sometimes,” says Drummond, “there is
no such thing as an atheist. There must be. There
are some men to whom it is true there is no God. They
cannot see God, because they have no eye.” When the
fool says in his heart, there is no God, it would appear
that in his foolish heart he believes what he says, because
he has actually no capacity for seeing God, because of
the blindness of his heart. That purity of heart which
sees God, is a God-given eye to see Himself..310 Handfuls on Purpose.
There is a variety of apple called “Apple-John,”
which is considered to be in $erfection when it is
shrivelled and withered. There are also those who
believe in an apple-John religion, which to them is
perfect only when it is thoroughly dried up of all
spiritual power and utterly destitute of the sap of life
and growth. The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
True education is not the cramming of the mind with
different ideas, but the developing of our capacities,
so that their real character may be brought out to the
best advantage, and the highest purposes of our lives
accomplished. In the caterpillar all the rudiments of
the butterfly may be seen, but a great change is needful
to liberate the higher faculties, and make the caterpillar
that new creature it seeks to be. Jesus Christ said,
“ Learn of Me.” He educates by regenerating the
character and opening the way for the full development
of all the capacities of the new man. To learn of
Christ, then, is to be conformed into His likeness, and so
be able to fulfil all the purposes of God in the new life.
Perhaps the most ferocious animal in creation is the
“ hamster rat.” When it takes a grip, rather than yield
it will allow itself to be beaten in pieces with a stick. If
it seizes a man’s hand, it must be killed before it will.Apt Illustrations. 311
quit its hold. How like this “hamster rat ” is our own
proud, unyielding, sinful self. That selfish spirit, that
would cling to and suck the life out of the new heaven-born
nature, will not quit its hold until it has been put to
death. LIFE-GIVING BREATH.
In South America the wind from the marshes comes
charged with the germs of intermittent fever, and often
the most deadly cholera accompanies stillness in the
atmosphere. A storm is the best purifier of the air, and
the inhabitants long eagerly for it. From the marshy
places of our lower nature the fever of lust and
unsanctified passion comes. The stillness of inactivity
and do-nothingness is always favourable to the cholera of
doubt and unbelief. The great preventive is the soul-stirring
breath of the Holy Ghost. When He comes as
a mighty, rushing wind, the whole atmosphere of the
life is purified.
THE TREASURE HUNT.
What a flutter was created in the minds of many by
the ;620 prize offered by the proprietor of a Scottish
paper to the one who finds the hidden medallion. With
what eagerness have many been searching night and
day, heedless of who sees them, or of what others may
think. They are seeking for treasure which they believe
is within their reach. Although only one can possibly
get the prize, yet hundreds will search. The treasure of
“eternal life ” lies hidden in the open field of God’s
Word, and although every searcher may find this prize,
how few there be that seek it.