“THY people shall be willing in the day of thy power.”
The Holy Ghost gave unto David glorious and comforting views of Christ. For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.” – Mark xii. 36. Our Savior in citing this portion of the holy Scriptures declared his own eternal Godhead, and that he, the Incarnate Word, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Thus he silenced and confounded his adversaries who charged him with blasphemy in claiming to be the Son of God. From quotations made from this Psalm, in the New Testament Scriptures, it is very clearly seen that the language of this Psalm is speaking of Christ and his church. David by the Holy Ghost was enabled to “see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.” Christ is risen from the dead, and is become the firstfruits of them that slept. He ascended to heaven, and is set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. There enthroned and crowned, reigns the Head of the church, the Incarnate Son of God.
“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Christ has a people. So it is written of old, “The Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance,” and when the Son of God was about to be made flesh and dwell among us, it was declared of him, “His name shall be called Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” Christ speaks of them saying, “Thou gavest them me,” and they are described as “all which the Father hath given me.” – John vi. 39. His people then are the elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, and given unto the Son of God in the covenant ordered in all things and sure, wherein Christ is the Head and Husband of his people. Our Prince and Savior having saved his people from their sins by the sacrifice of himself, is now seated upon his mediatorial throne to give unto Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. From his glorious high throne he pours down upon the election of grace his Spirit and graces, and grants them times of refreshing from his presence, bringing to pass the fulfillment of the word, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” The people of God in their earthly estate are far from being the friends and willing ones of Christ. In their Adamic nature they are enmity against God, enemies in their minds by wicked works, and have no disposition of soul to bow beneath the sceptre of the Son of God. So darkened are their eyes with the depravity of their flesh that they see no beauty in the King that they should desire him. But the Lord hath published the decree, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Christ hath all power in heaven and earth. He made the worlds, the winds and the waves obey him, and in the everlasting covenant the Father hath given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him. (John xvii. 2.) How strong was he when as the Captain of our salvation he vanquished Satan, made an end of sin, and triumphed over the grave. He, death’s conqueror, is risen from the dead, and dieth no more. The Son of God went up with a shout, robed in his sacred, incorruptible manhood. He is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. The Lord’s Christ is not the powerless myth that people talk about. The so-called Christ proclaimed in the popular religion of the day is one whose success in saving people from their sins and bringing them to heaven depends upon the actions of frail, sinful creatures. Their doctrine is, He would save sinners if they would let him. What a worthless Christ would such a Christ be. But the Lord’s Christ in the day of his power captivates his people; his love and mercy revealed in their hearts apprehends them, and holds them fast; they are called by grace, and respond to the omnipotence of his gracious work in their souls. Though in times past there was estrangement and non-intercourse, and like the Jews and Samaritans, there were no dealings with Christ. He was undesired, but in the time of love, (Ezek. xvi. 8,) in the day of his power, he came to us, he dealt with us in such a way that we were won by his kindness, and we have been friends ever since. They that are with the Lamb are called and chosen and faithful. (Rev. xvii. 14.) To be among the called of God is to experience a gracious and invincible work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and this divine work constitutes and presents us unto Christ a people made ready for him. It is not in the first Adam nature or life that the elect are the willing ones of Christ, but in the day of his power they are quickened with eternal life, they are born of the Spirit, they are made partakers of the Spirit of Christ, and thus joined unto him they are new creatures, a new creation. The natural creation is wondrous, and glorious, but it hath no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth, for the glory of the new creation surpasses in excellence the things that are seen. All God’s works in nature are temporal, and shall be dissolved, but the new creation is destined to endure eternal ages. When all the work of the everlasting God shall be consummated in the regeneration of the church of Christ, of which the crowning act is the resurrection of the mortal bodies of the elect, at the last day, to immortality, incorruption and eternal glory, then shall the members of Christ’s body be conformed to the image of God’s dear Son, and then shall it be seen what a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory is the portion of the new creation. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” It is then this living and transforming power of the Lord, constitutes the called of God a new creation, wherein they are made and become Christ’s willing ones; and I am sure that when with the eyes of our understanding enlightened by the Spirit we contemplate the amiableness of God’s workmanship in his new creation, that the glories thereof will be seen to far surpass the glories of the material universe.
“Thus saith the Lord, I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good: but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” I will and they shall, thus the eternal covenant stands. The fear of the Lord, which is a fountain of life, works marvelous things in the poor sinner. He is born again, he was dead in trespasses and sins, but is now alive, possessing life divine in his soul; now he sees things he never saw before, and feels manifold things to which before he was insensible. By the teaching of the Holy Spirit God’s chosen discover what a dreadful condition they are in, that they are vile transgressors under the curse of God’s righteous law. Their consciences become burdened with guilt, and darkness, and sorrow is their portion. Guilt and its consequences may be fastened upon a man’s conscience, and under Satanic power he may be driven to such desperation as to take his own life, as did Judas Iscariot, but not so with God’s beloved elect. He grants to them repentance unto life. The Lord graciously humbles them under the knowledge of their iniquities, and bows their hearts in godly sorrow at his feet, and there with a contrite heart they mourn over their sins. (Ezek. vii. 16.) Blessed mourners! Under the Lord’s gracious discipline the enmity of their heart is subdued, and they no longer despise Jesus Christ and his gospel. Now, in their; sore i need as guilty, perishing sinners, Jesus is the one sought for, and as the Holy Spirit unfolds to them the way of mercy the gospel has sacred attractions unto which their yearning hearts flow forth. O the preciousness of the gospel! All its blessedness is for the poor and needy, the hungry and thirsty, the captives, the lowly, the contrite in heart.
Then again they are made his willing people, because the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto them. He creates and maintains in their souls heavenly affections, and thus with loving-kindness they are drawn to Christ. (Jer. xxxi. 3.) Who can resist the omnipotence of the love of Christ? It breaks every barrier down, conquers all opposition, and transforms a foe into an affectionate friend. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said signifying what death he should die.” In the day of his power we are drawn to the crucified One. We have eyes of faith and love given us to see him the conqueror of sin and death, how gloriously he wrought in behalf of poor sinners, traveling in the greatness of his strength, mighty to save, and when in our guilty and distressed souls hope is imparted by the Comforter that all was for our sakes, then our hearts are bowed to him. (2 Sam. xix. 14.) A vision of Jesus in his acts of love, has a power divine within us, and the gracious work of the Spirit persuading us that he gave himself for us, then a transformation takes place within us, we are overcome in melting, wondering gratitude, as that sweet thought passes through our hearts: “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” How affectionately we would hold fast this thought; yes, dear children of God, you know as more and more Christ Jesus is revealed to you, the more and more you are drawn to him. Being drawn we run after him, as the spouse says, “Draw me, we will run after thee.” We are sick with sin, and are willing to be healed by the great Physician. (Exodus xv. 26.) We are lost and perishing, and in the day of his power willing to be saved, willing to be clothed, willing to come unto him that we might have life, willing to slake our thirst at the river of the water of life, (Rev. xxii. 17,) willing to take his yoke upon us, to serve him forever, willing that he should reign over us, willing to suffer for his sake, and sometimes so great and gracious is his power working in us that we are brought into sacred acquiescence to his good pleasure, and can say, even in sore tribulation, “Thy will be done.” Christ is revealed by the Spirit unto us the Captain of our salvation, the King of glory, the Lord mighty in battle, and having eyes of faith and love given us to behold him, though poor and sinful, the ends of the earth, we see his ensign from afar and flock to his standard. For he will lead us on from victory to victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. We willingly follow him, having an eye to his atoning sacrifice for sin, his righteousness for our justification, and amidst our conflicts with sin and temptations we sometimes can sing the battle song of faith: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” But our text invites us on to the contemplation of additional glories of the riches of God’s grace, for it is published in the decree, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness.” This is their appearance, thus the willing ones are apparelled. In their standing in relationship to the first Adam they cannot be viewed in such array. Ah no! In our earthly life all is sinful, the finest garments woven by the flesh are not lit to be worn in the presence of the King. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” We have no holiness, no comeliness in our fleshly nature, and as we are led to know how depraved we are we see, and feel, too, with grief that we are a mass of wounds and bruises and putrefying sores, the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. (Isaiah i. 5, 6.) “Behold, I am vile,” exclaimed one, (Job xl. 5,) and “O wretched man that I am!” cries out another. (Rom. vii. 24.) The presentation of Christ’s willing ones unto himself in the beauties of holiness is not that fancied holiness of the pharisee, who trusts in himself that he is righteous, and despises others. (Luke xviii. 9.) What then are the beauties of holiness in which the willing ones are so lovely in the eyes of the Lord? It is that perfection of beauty which the Lord puts upon them, as it is written, “Thy renown went forth among the heathen, for thy beauty, for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I bad put upon thee, saith the Lord God.” – Ezek. xvi. 14. Christ is the Lord our Righteousness. (Jer. xxiii. 6.) The doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness (Rom. iv. 6,) is full of blessedness to those who feel the nakedness and shame of their unrighteousness. Grace brings a poor sinner to submit himself unto the righteousness of God. Finding he has no righteousness of his own to put on, how willing he is to be dressed in the best robe, (Luke xv. 22,) the wedding garment. (Matt. xxii. 11.) Christ loved the church and gave himself a sacrifice for her, he hath espoused her to himself, (Hosea ii. 19,) and grants unto her that she shall be arrayed in fine linen clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. (Rev. xix. 8.) O Zion, thou art a perfect beauty! Thine admiring Redeemer, ye willing ones, says, “Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah: comely as Jerusalem.” Thy wrinkles and blemishes, blots and spots, are all removed. Our Savior hath cleansed them away in his sufferings and blood. He died to redeem thee from all iniquity. Thou art all fair, there is no spot in thee. There is no condemnation, O believer in Jesus; thy Savior’s obedience and blood hide all thy transgressions from view.
There is also a marvelous work of beauty wrought in God’s elect by the holy Spirit, described in the Scriptures to be the sanctification of the Spirit. This internal beauty verifies that divine word, “The King’s daughter is all’ glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.” – Psalm xlv. 13. All the lustre of material adorning fades and dies, it is soon tarnished, it is corruptible. But the beauties of holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord, are immortal. Believers, after the inward man, are as a glorious palace. Indeed, the King in his beauty dwells in them amidst the loveliness of those graces which the holy Spirit has wrought in them and constantly brings forth in them. This internal loveliness of Christ’s willing people is called “the hidden man of the heart, the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (1 Peter iii. 4; Eph. iv. 24.) The Lord’s willing ones are beautified with bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, love, joy and peace, gentleness, goodness, and they are kindly affectioned to God and his truth and to one another. (Col. iii. 12; Gal. v. 22; Rom. xii. 10.) O, dear children of God, thy Redeemer and King greatly desires thy beauty, he is thy Lord, and in all thy lovely graces worship thou him. (Psalm xlv. 11.) O, my heart yearneth and crieth out, “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.” Ah, while we are in this world the beauties of holiness put upon and wrought in the elect are often obscured from our view by the motions of our depraved nature, then in full view we behold with grief and shame our vilenesses, or we are so languid, feelingly so dead to divine things, it seems to us impossible that there can be anything of the beauties of holiness about us. O, the icyness of my heart with its languid, frozen prayers, its dull, formal praises. It is the revelation of Jesus anew to our souls that has gracious healing efficacy, bringing us forth again in the beauties of holiness. We put on afresh, in faith and love, our beautiful garments, (Isaiah Iii. I,) and all the attributes of the new creation are called forth into fervent exercise, and as lovely, sweet-smelling flowers, our faith and love, peace and joy, and prayer and praise abound. O Jesus dear, thy word is very true, “From me is thy fruit found.” – Hosea xiv. 8.
Let us still go on to consider our text; it declares, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.”
Christ is the Morning; his going forth is prepared as the morning, (Hosea vi. 3,) even a morning without clouds. (2 Sam. xxiii. 4.) He is the light of life, the bright and morning star, the Dayspring from on high, who visits his people and scatters all the darkness of sin and death, and shines upon them in all the healing warmth of his love.
The Son of God came into the world to abolish death, and bring life and immortality to light unto his church. He gave himself a sacrifice for our sins, descending in suffering unto death, but when he arose from the tomb he unlocked the portals of death and came forth for our justification. Christ the Sun of Righteousness arose in triumphant radiance, bringing life and immortality to light. Christ is risen, the first-fruits of them that slept, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. When Jesus our King arose from the grave, all the clouds were gone, our sins and iniquities which were as a thick cloud were blotted out by his atoning sacrifice. No clouds of wrath, no frowns of displeasure, greeted our risen Redeemer, but the smiling, approving countenance of God the Father greeted the risen, Incarnate Word, and he was full of joy. “Thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.” – Acts ii. 28. Christ is our morning; from him streams forth that marvelous light of love and salvation, of justification and glory, in which believers live and rejoice. When he appears our dawning is begun, the darkness is past, and the true light shineth. When Jesus shines upon us there is no gloom, no night, no sin, no curse, no pain or sickness, these former things flee away at his presence. This willing people then are the fruit of the Morning. The morning brought them forth in the beauties of holiness; they are the children of light. Before Christ brought them forth how dark was their condition, they were captives in the kingdom of darkness. Satan, sin and death held them fast: “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.”
“Thou hast the dew of thy youth.” This is speaking of Christ. “My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.” Christ, and his church in him, hath immortal youth, they shall never grow old. To the beauties of holiness Christ and the church are one, and altogether lovely; they shall live for ever and ever. No sin, therefore no corruption, no decay, no wrinkles or blemishes or any such thing shall ever come upon Christ and his church.
“Thou hast the dew of thy youth.” What sacred mysteries the gospel declares. Look at this, Christ and the church are one, (Eph. v. 31, 32,) and his body, the church, being under the guilt, the stain, the curse of their iniquities, he came in the fullness of time to save his people from their sins. Thus when in his spotless manhood he took upon himself our transgressions, to make atonement for them, he descended with all our infirmities, all our sicknesses, all our sins upon him; he made himself of no reputation; he took all our shame. He stood before his bride, and for her sake he hid not himself from shame and spitting. He was her shield from all ignominy and everlasting reproach; it fell upon him. Our Head, our Lover, our Surety, humbled himself and became obedient even unto death; he was made a curse for us. Thus he descended with all our woes, all our wrinkles, blemishes and spots upon him, but he purged them away in the shedding of his precious blood. “He died unto sin once.” This was enough, for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. And when he arose from the tomb how glorious and triumphant was he. He dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him. Never more shall Christ suffer for our sins; he came forth in immortal youth; his visage is no longer marred, his form no more bowed down with anguish beneath the curse of our sins; the travail of his soul is over. How blessed! His eyes no longer flow with tears, his body is no more baptized with bloody sweat, all his sighs and groans are spent, for he poured out his soul unto death and redeemed his church from hell, and now by faith we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor. (Heb. ii. 9.) Then, as he is, so are we, in this world accounted unto God. 1 John iv. 17.) “Ye are complete in him.” In union with Christ is all our beauty, and we shall reign in life by him. This is our destination for which we are apprehended of Christ Jesus. (Phil. iii. 12.) “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Like him! Yes, we shall bear the image of the heavenly, we shall be glorified together with him. Now, in our earthly estate our bodies are weak, they decay, they are corruptible and die, but when the Lord shall descend with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, he will quicken our mortal bodies by his Spirit that now dwelleth in us, and we shall be changed, and we shall be raised incorruptible, fashioned like unto the glorious body of our risen Savior.
FRED. W. KEENE.
North Berwick, Maine.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 70., No. 2.
JANUARY 15, 1902.