MARKS OF GRACE
“Well, it is no easy matter to do what you require, but I will give you my view whether you will accept it or not. The believer hangs upon his God; the hypocrite hangs upon himself. The hypocrite hangs upon the promises of God, but it is not on the promises that the believer hangs. On what else does the believer hang? you say. The believer hangs upon the God of the promises. But is that not the same thing? you ask. Ah, no! Many have laid hold of the premises of God who never came to know the God of promises. As Dr. Kennedy of Dingwall put itÂ—’They never saw the man child: they never reached the Son. They have only the swaddling clothes: they have only the shroud. They never saw Christ after the Resurrection!’
“Child of God, have you not known some professing Christians who have wind and tide with them whenever you meet them? There is no scarcity of promises with them and they open them out before your eyes. This promise and that other one is theirs. You feel ill at ease in their presence when you find yourself tossed about and unable to lay hold of anything more comforting than, ‘O, that I knew where I might find Him’. Precious little comfort can the child of God take from promises or from anything else if He in whom all the promises of God are ‘yea’ and ‘amen’ is hiding His face from him.
“But what can be done with the hyprocrite, you ask? Neither you nor I can make anything of him nor improve him in any wise. You may fire your ammunition at him all your days but you won’t even make a chink in his armour or mark him in any way. Friend, this firing should be done with the greatest care. Many within these walls know well what happens when a bullet hits a rock. It may bounce back and there is no saying where it will stop. So it is when you aim at the hyprocrite. You are far more likely to hurt someone whom you would like to help and encourage than penetrate his defences.
“And is there, then, no cure for the hypocrite? There is one cure and one only for him, even that the law of God should be let loose upon him. There is nothing else that will strip him naked. That is how it was in the experience of some of us. The law of God left not one rag upon our back.
“And now what is the case with you? You are tired of your old corrupt nature and of Satan’s temptings of you. They are so like each other that you cannot tell from which direction the assaults upon you come. But take courage, for when you feel
yourself most corrupt and vile it is then you are nearer to the Lord. Is this not the way the Lord is teaching us?”
At another meeting he spoke as follows:
“One mark of the Lord’s people is that they are tired of the world and that the world is tired of them. They are also tired of themselves, but the Lord from time to time sends them showers of reviving and quickening. The Lord’s people feel weary in every day and age. For my own part there is so much of ‘self with me as to weary me utterly. If I open my mouth at all, this self raises its head somewhere.
“Another mark is that they are a praying people. They are asked to pray without ceasing. But can they do that? you ask. Although they cannot, they are enjoined to do so and they strive towards that end. And what is prayer? Among other things the Lord’s people are ever conscious that the eyes of the Lord are upon them when they try to engage in it and there is an outpouring of their love for Him in their words. If not, they are exactly like ‘sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.’
“Mere words do not constitute prayer, but true prayer contains ‘words’ that very often cannot be expressed or uttered. The prayer of the graceless man can be very lengthy. The Lord Himself set us an example of how to pray, but there are those who repeat His prayer like a rhyme with no real understanding of its meaning. As a godly man expressed it once, ‘It would be better for your heart to lack words than for your words to lack heart’. But there is a short prayer which the child of God frequently has. It consists of only four words and if he does not feel his need for
it, there is something wrong. That prayer is, ‘Save me from myself.
“There is no merit in assuming a posture in prayer that may look devout if the heart is not right. The Mohammedan will lie face downwards in the mud in a posture that avails him nothing. And learned, graceless men can use words in plenty but there is no form of ignorance as great as theirs. Mr. Spurgeon says of such, ‘Many D.D.s are fiddle-de-dees’. Their unsanctified learning can only cause harm to God’s cause.
“The natural man prays but he does not want an answer to his prayer. You ask what authority I have for saying that. The natural man does not really accept the fact that God exists. How, therefore, can he expect an answer from one in whose existence he does not believe? We are told in the Word that ‘In the counsels of his heart, the Lord is not at all’. There is a vast difference between a mental assent to the doctrine that God exists and truly believing that He does.
“There is a longing and a desire after the Lord in true prayer. But only those whose soul experience it is to be in such a needy state can understand what that means. And those who are in that state do not go away empty-handed, for the Lord hears their desires (Psalm 10: 17).
“Prayer is also an acceptable sacrifice (Psalm 51: 17). There is something there that cannot be expressed in words. No one has this prayer of sacrifice except the man whose heart the Lord has prepared and to whom He taught it. It cannot be learned otherwise.”
(Extracted from “Alexander MacAskill”, 3/-, K. J. Macleay, Free Church Manse, Beauly, Inverness-diire.)