Christian Love 39: Prideful Dust

By Hugh Binning

 

Lowliness and meekness in reputation and outward form, are like servants, yet they account it no robbery to be equal with the highest and most princely graces. The vein of gold and silver lies very low in the depths of the earth, but it is not therefore base, but more precious.  Other virtues may come with more observation, but these, like the Master that teaches them, come with more reality.  If they have less pomp, they have more power and virtue.  Humility, how suitable is it to humanity! They are as near of kin one to another, as homo and humus, and therefore, except a man cast off humanity, and forget his original, the ground, the dust from whence he was taken, I do not see how he can shake off humility.

Self knowledge is the mother of it, the [The word homo (man) has been supposed to be derived from humus (the ground) because man sprang from the earth.  Quintillian’s objection to this derivation of the word is that all other animals have the same origin. (quasi vero non omnibus animal bus eadem origo. Instit. Orator lib. i, cap. 6) Such an objection however has but little pull.  For though, according to the account which Moses gives of the creation, the earth at the command of God, not only brought forth man, but other creatures, (Genesis 1:24) man alone was called Adam because he was formed of the dust of the ground, knowledge of that humus would make us humiles.

Look to the hole of the pit from which we have been made. A man could not look high that looked so low as the pit from which we were taken by nature, even the dust, and the pit from which we are created by grace, even man’s lost and ruined state.  Such a low look would make a lowly mind. Therefore pride must be nothing else but an empty and vain swelling, a puffing up. “Knowledge puffs up,” not self knowledge.  That casts down, and brings down all superstructures, flattens out all vain confidence to the very foundation, and then begins to build on a solid ground. But knowledge of other things seen outside ourselves, joined with ignorance of ourselves within, is but a swelling, not a growing, it is a bladder or skin full of wind, a blast or breath of an airy applause or commendation, will extend it and fill it full. And what is this else but a monster in humanity, the skin of a man stuffed or blown up with wind and vanity, to the shadow and resemblance of a man; but no bones or sinews, nor real substance within?  Pride is a disfigurement.  It is nature swelled beyond the intrinsic terms or limits of magnitude, the spirit of a mouse in a mountain.  And now, if any thing be gone without the just bounds of the magnitude set to it, it is imperfect, disabled in its operations, worthless and unprofitable, yes, unnatural like. If there is not much real excellence to fill up the circle of our self-conceit, then surely it must be full of emptiness and vanity, fancy and imagination must supply the vacant room, where solid worth cannot extend so far.

 


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R.C. Chapman’s S.O.S. 2:17

By Robert C. Chapman

 

“Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether”. (Song of Solomon 2:17)

 

Lord, You have brought me out of darkness into marvelous light! In Your light! Old things have passed away, all things have become new! (2nd Corinthians 5:17) My soul, admiring the glories of Your grace, sees a new heaven and a new earth, which I once had no eyes to see!

What shall I render to You because of Your rising upon my soul that was covered by darkness? Calling to mind my former time of ignorance and hatred, says my soul, it is now no more night, but noonday! You are the brightness of the glory of God! Your light is infinite! No clouds surround You, nor shadows of the law.  I do not come to Sinai, the mountain of blackness and tempest, but to Mount Zion, to God the judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the new Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaks better than that of Abel!

The way into holiness is now made clear, and I have boldness of access there by the blood of my Lord! But if I take account of my profiting and knowledge of You, alas! I am of yesterday, and know nothing.

I chide you, my soul, and ask, why so dull of understanding, why so little you know of the glorious One and altogether lovely? O pity, Lord! Your needy one! Yes, You know my nature, and You pity me! You see, that while caged in this house of clay, I could not endure to behold You face to face: at such a sight I should, like him who once leaned on Your heart, fall at Your feet as dead!

So long as I sojourn here, (detained a little while for Your glory) You will not oppress me with Your brightest beams, the shadows still hide You in part, and I see through a glass darkly.  Lord! I wait for the time, I wait for it more than they that watch for the morning, when I will behold You face to face! I long for Your glorious appearing; but my waiting is patient, for You are indeed swift to help me: as a roe and a young hart leaping over the mountains of separation.

Your Spirit make me triumph now in You, and to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory! And I know, when the vision will come, I will say, “It did not tarry or lie.”

 

[This has completed R.C. Chapman’s book on the Song of Solomon]

Christian Love 38: He Lived It

By Hugh Binning

 

That is the proper excellence and glory of it.  All arts and sciences have their principles, and common axioms of unquestioned authority.  All kinds of professions have some fundamental doctrines and points which are the character of them.  Christianity has its principles too.  And principles must be plain and undeniable; they must be evident by their own light, and apt to give light to other things.  All the rest of the conclusions of the art are but derivations and deductions from them.

Our Master and Doctor follows the same method.  He lays down some common principles some fundamental points of this profession, upon which all the building of Christianity hangs.  “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly.” This was the high lesson that his life preached so exemplary, and his doctrine pressed so earnestly, and in this he is very unlike other teachers who impose burdens on others, and themselves do not so much as touch them.

But he first practices his doctrine and then preaches it.  He first casts a pattern in himself, and then presses us to follow it.  Example teaches better than rules, but both together are most effective and sure.  The rarest example and noblest rule that ever was given to men are here met together.  The rule is about a thing that has a low name, but a high nature.

 


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R.C. Chapman’s S.O.S. 2:16

By Robert C. Chapman

 

“My beloved is mine, and I am His: He feeds among the lilies.” (Song of Solomon 2:16)

 

How large your pasture, O my soul! Fair and pleasant! In Him all fullness dwells! Immanuel is the express image of the Father, the brightness of His glory: Jesus’ name, how excellent!

The heavens and the earth are the work of His hands: They all will grow old as a garment; as a piece of clothing He will fold them up; and they will be changed by a ward of His power at the last day.

He Himself is the same, and His years have no end! This glorious One, this treasure infinite, is mine by title everlasting! My Lord, the Lamb of God, has bound me to Himself in everlasting bonds! He delights in me: His church is His garden of lilies, where my beloved continually resorts.  It pleased Him to set His heart upon me! When will You manifest Yourself to me! I know You are mine! You are my Beloved, Holy One! Eternal Almighty One! My portion!  O give me to see You, to be filled with the knowledge of you, obedience to You, worship of You, delight in You: these fruits of Your Spirit will be sweet to Your taste, a banquet to my glorious Lord.

 


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Christian Love 37: Majesty of Meekness

By Hugh Binning

 

Having, then, such a Teacher and Master, sent to us from heaven, shouldn’t we then glory in our Master?  But some may suppose, that he who came down from heaven, filled with all the riches and treasures of heavenly wisdom, should reveal in his school unto his disciples, all the mysteries and profound secrets of nature and art, about which the world has plodded since the first taste of the tree of knowledge, and beaten out their brains to the frustration of all their spirits, without any fruit, but the discovery of the impossibility of knowing, and the increase of sorrow by searching. Who would not expect, when the Wisdom of God descends among men, but that he should show unto the world that wisdom, in the understanding of all the works of God, which all men have been pursuing in vain; that he by whom all things were created, and so could uncover and manifest all their hidden causes and virtues, all their admirable and wonderful qualities and operations, as easily by a word, as he made them by a word; who would not expect, I say, but that he should have made this world, and the mysteries of it, the subject of all his lessons, the more to illustrate his own glorious power and wisdom?

And yet see, those who came into his school and heard this Master and Doctor teach his scholars, they who had been invited to come, through the fame and report of his name, would have stood astonished and surprised to hear the subject of his doctrine; one come from on high to teach so low things as these, “Learn of me, I am meek and lowly.” Other men that are masters of professions, and authors of sects or orders, aspire to some singularity in doctrine to make them famous.  But behold our Lord and Master, this is the doctrine he vents!  It has nothing in it that sounds high, and looks big in the estimation of the world.  In regard of the wisdom of the world, it is foolishness, a doctrine of humility from the most High!  A lesson of lowliness and meekness from the Lord and Maker of all! There seems, at first, nothing in it to allure any to follow it. Who would travel so far as the college of Christianity to learn no more but this, when every man pretends to be a teacher of it?

But truly there is a majesty in this lowliness and there is a singularity in this commonness.  If you would stay and hear a little longer, and enter into a deep search of this doctrine, we would be surcharged and overcome with wonders.  It seems shallow till you enter but it really has no bottom.  Christianity does not make great noise, but it runs the deeper.  It is a light and superficial knowledge of it, a small smattering of the doctrine of it, that makes men despise it and prefer other things, but the deep and solid apprehension of it will make us adore and admire, and drive us to an O altitudo! “O the depth both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).  As the superficial knowledge of nature makes men atheists, but the profound understanding of it makes men seek God so all other things, vilescit scientia, “grow more contemptible by the knowledge of them.” It is ignorance of them which is the mother of that devout admiration we bear to them. But Christianity only, vilescit ignorantia, clarescit scientia, is common and low, because it is not known.  And that is no disparagement at all to it, that there is no one who despises it, but the one who doesn’t know it, and anyone who knows it, can do nothing but despise all things it once knew other than it.

 


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R.C. Chapman’s S.O.S. 2:15

By R.C. Chapman

 

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)

I am troubled and ashamed, as this warning strikes the ear, this precious warning voice of my Beloved! Alas! My neglected spirit, what has it not cost me! When I should have been watching my affections with all jealousy of love to my Lord, I have been hindered with much serving; I have been of a doubtful mind; and keeping the heart with all diligence has been forgotten.

How much of the proud Pharisee cleaves to me still, who washes the outside of the cup and the platter, heedless of that which is within! (Matthew 23:25; Luke 11:39)

O my soul! Are you not ashamed! Think to yourself, that, as Jesus is the church’s Husband, so it is the greatest duty of the bride, the Lamb’s wife, to give Him her heart! Watch therefore, against those things which take from Him of your love.  Your husband, who His own self bore your sins in His own body on the tree, is now in heaven to present you to the Father: so you are holy and blameless before Him in love! Do not refrain, therefore, to search for those little foxes, those subtle sins that cheat you with a flattering smile, those foxes that have their holes in the depths of the heart.

Jesus Himself, is the light to show you these little enemies that do you so grievous trouble.  Beware, I charge you, of descending without His lamp into the dark caverns.  You will only be bewildered there, unless Jesus goes with you:  You will be terrified, instead of humbled; confounded, instead of instructed.  Therefore, let Jesus be wisdom to you in the blood of His cross, that precious blood, which blotted out all your iniquities, will bring to light your hidden evils! By its sprinkling, you will discern the humble cloak of pride, you will see how the heart can be puffed up with wind, and feed upon the east wind of empty thoughts, instead of Christ! You will see the guilt of neglecting the whispers of the Lord’s love, through self sufficiency in your dealing with little matters without the help and fellowship of your Lord, of ungentle behavior toward brothers, and of the lack of tenderness toward the ungodly.

These things, and other numberless things, you will perceive and hate; and if the tender grapes of your inward grace and comfort have suffered loss, and Jesus has withdrawn Himself, you will justify Him and say: Lord, my heart sins have grieved You, and in all Your correction You are holy and full of love.

 


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Christian Love 36: Learning Meekness

By Hugh Binning

 

Humility is the root of charity, and meekness the fruit of both.  There is no solid and pure ground of love to others, except that the worthlessness of self-love be first cast out of the soul; and when that excessive evil is cast out, then charity has a solid and deep foundation: “The end of the command is charity out of a pure heart,” (1st Timothy 1:5).  It is only such a purified heart, cleansed from that poison and infection of pride and self-conceit which can send out such a sweet and wholesome stream, to the refreshing of the spirits and hearts of the church of God.  If self-glory and pride have deep roots fastened into the soul, they draw all the sap and virtue downward, and send little or nothing at all up to the tree of charity, which makes it barren and unfruitful in the works of righteousness, and fruits of mercy and meekness.  There are obstructions in the way of that communication, which only can be removed by the plucking up of these roots of pride and self-conceit, which prey upon all, and incorporate all in themselves and their own benefit, yet, like the lean cows who devoured the fat ones, are never the fatter or more well-favored.

It is no wonder, then, that these are the first principles that we must learn in Christ’s school, the very A-B-C s of Christianity: “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls,” (Matthew 11:29).  This is the great Prophet sent by the Father into the world to teach us, whom he has, with a voice from heaven, commanded us to hear: “This is my well-beloved Son, hear him.” Shouldn’t the fame and report of such a Teacher move us? He was testified of very honorably, long before he came, that he had the Spirit above measure, that he had “the tongue of the learned;” (Isaiah 1:4).  He was a greater prophet than Moses, (Deuteronomy 18: 15,18) that is, the wonderful counselor of heaven and earth (Isaiah 9:6) the ““Witness to the people,” a Teacher and “Leader to the people.” And then, when he came, he had the most glorious testimony from the most glorious persons, the Father and the Holy Ghost, in the most solemn manner that the world ever heard of, (Matthew 17:5) “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Now, this is our Master, our Rabbi, (Matthew 23:8).  This is the Apostle and High Priest of our profession (Hebrews 3:1)  “the light of the world and life of men,” (John 8:12 and 6:33,51)

 


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R.C. Chapman’s S.O.S. 2:14

By R.C. Chapman

 

“O my dove, that is in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your countenance is comely.” (Song of Solomon 2:14)

Does it make you moan, O my soul, complaining, that, while Jesus calls you His dove, you are still so much like the beast of the forest, the men of this world; who, like their father, Satan, are full of pride, envy, self-will, discontent, and coveting?  These things, to your grief, hurry you away from Jesus; and so fickle are you, so movable your ways, that when He banquets you with his smile, then you are most close to forsaking Him!  O what dirtiness is in you!  Dirtiness on you!  Yet do not be cast down, O my soul; neither be anxious within me; for, listen!  The voice of your Beloved!  Though in your own eyes some fierce wolf or filthy swine, your Lord calls you His dove! And He will never take away His Holy Spirit from you.  Do not think because He will prove you with truth, and open to you the secret chambers of your heart, that He will, therefore, cast you off.  He hates putting away; He bids you to call to mind the safety in the clefts of the rock.

I charge you, do not dishonor Him by unbelief, as though He were capable of change! Behold the mountains, they may depart; and the hills, they may be removed that seem to stand fast for ever, showing defiance to the power of earthquake  and tempest, yes, even of time itself! But Jesus!  He is the mighty God, and His kindness will not depart from you.  He is Alpha, Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the ending.  His name is I am!  Behold your Rock, smitten by the hand of God the Father, from Whom gushed out the waters.  Of these waters drink forever, O my soul!  The wounds of Jesus are your everlasting life.  The blind world didn’t know your access within the holiest of all, for they didn’t come to the blood of sprinkling: but, O do not be unmindful of your high calling!  Jesus Himself invites you!  He does not delight only in the songs above, those who see Him face to face: He would have you humbly bold to speak with Him, who says, “Let me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is comely.”

 


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