Quotes by John MacDuff
It is not merely the pleadings of patriarchs and prophets, apostles and martyrs, men strong in faith giving glory to God. Neither is it the prayers enshrined and intoned in imposing ritual, rising from the great congregation amid ornate temples, and borne on the wings of enchanting music – but the groan, the glance, the tear, the tremulous aspiration of smitten penitents, the veriest lisping of infant tongues; the unlettered petitions morning and evening of the cottage home, where the earthen floor is knelt upon, where the only altar is the altar of the lowly heart, and the sacrifice that of a broken and contrite spirit.
The night dews of affliction and disappointment may fall thickly upon it – the storms of sorrow may beat heavily against it – the winds of adversity may howl fearfully around it – but, like those fabled lamps of which we read, that, century after century, illumined the sepulchers of the east – burning with calm and steady light, amid the desolation of all earthly things – unchanged and unextinguishable; so does this joy – this living spark struck off from the great source of light and life – outlive all deaths, all changes, until it accompanies the freed spirit of the believer in whom it dwells, back to those abodes of joy from whence it came.
Tell the men of the world, and, let them see by your example and spirit, that Christianity is not the gloomy thing they imagine – that a life of holiness is a life of real happiness – of happiness for time and for eternity. But, oh! tell them, there is something gloomy – the joy, which blazes for a moment like a dazzling meteor, and then vanishes forever – the hopes, which are dependent on worldly possessions and worldly pleasures.
The attributes of God, once so full of terror, are become [the Christian’s] shield, his stronghold, and his triumph; and he can think of all the glorious perfections of the Almighty, and then say, “I will go unto God, my exceeding joy.” His resistless power, His infinite wisdom, His unchanging fidelity to His word – all these are sources of triumph to everyone who, having believed in Christ, has become a child of God.
Many a good and righteous cause on earth has been lost by the death of its advocate. But our Advocate, as He is without beginning of days, is without end of years. As the tinkling bells of the High Priest’s vestments were heard by the crowd in the outer court, while he himself was ministering within the veil – the sound conveying to them the assurance that he was still engaged in the solemn act of intercession – so the ear of faith can still catch up the music of these sacred chimes – these silver bells in heaven – “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!”
The best Christian has not always a joyous day. Our sins make sorrows needful – our lack of watchfulness may bring disquietude and doubt, and, instead of “rejoicing in the Lord,” our hearts may be filled with despondency and gloom. Christian! if you have not this joy “abiding” in you now, you have cause for alarm; for, be assured, it is suspended, not from any lack of love on the part of your Savior, nor from any forgetfulness of you by the Holy Spirit, but, because you yourself have become less watchful, in guarding the citadel of the heart.
Believer! is not this the source – the proper source of your joy – that Jesus lived, and suffered, and died for you – that He paid “all that great debt” you owed to law and justice, and washed away the foul stain of your guilt, in His own most precious blood?
Children of God… will you not bear witness, that, through all your trials and troubles, the faithfulness of your Savior’s love has been the “very joy of your hearts?” You have had many crosses and losses – has He ever deserted you? You have been in severe afflictions, and have seen the flowers of many a “sweet hope” wither and decay – did your Friend desert you then? Others may have proved faithless – all other help may have failed you – friendship’s help, promised help, expected help – all, all may have been but as the foam upon the billow, as the footsteps in the sand – but, has Christ ever failed you? Could you, in the darkest and the saddest hour of your grief, say to Him? “Lord, You have promised what You did not perform.” Will you not bear witness concerning the past? – “Not one good thing has failed, of all that the Lord has promised – all has come to pass.”
No power in the universe can rob you of it; none, but yourself, can even diminish it. “Your joy no man takes from you.” What the power, or love, or presence of man can create – the power, or hatred, or absence of man can destroy. But, the joy of the believer has a different origin, and, as no man bestowed it, so no man can take it away. It has God for its author – the living Rock of Ages for its ever-flowing fountain – the Holy Spirit for the golden channel, which it conveys into the heart. Thus, coming from the fountain of joy, it is of immortal origin – and, is far above the reach of mortal enemies. All the sorrows of earth – all the temptations of hell, are vain against this joy. So far from being diminished by what would crush earthly happiness, and reduce the stoutest heart, without Divine grace, to hopeless dejection – it is only realized more fully, amid the raging fury of the hurricane, or the dreary gloom of a starless midnight.
Christ has entered alone into the holy place, having Himself obtained eternal redemption for us. The solitary Surety on earth, He is the solitary Intercessor above. No other voice pleads with the Father; no other priest or minister, saint or angel, can be of any avail in coming between the sinner and God.
We dare not, indeed, presume to speculate or dogmatize on the manner of this intercession. It is a silent inarticulate speech and pleading. The voice of Abel’s blood is represented, by a bold figure, as crying from the ground. That blood, it need not be remarked, was in reality mute. So doubtless is it with our Divine Intercessor. There may be no articulate accents, no audible utterances. He sprinkles no material blood. But this we know, that He has carried with Him to His intercessory throne a glorified body, still bearing the visible marks of earthly humiliation and suffering – the perpetual memorials of His atoning sacrifice – so that that blood may still be said to have a voice before the throne – “The blood of sprinkling which speaks better things than that of Abel.”
Some theological writers have ingeniously drawn an analogy between creation and providence, atonement and intercession; that just as Providence is the sustaining of the creative work – so that if Christ’s continual upholding arm were withdrawn, the outer material world would soon lapse into disorganization – so, the intercession of Jesus is the carrying out, and carrying on, of His propitiatory and mediatorial work – the complement of the great salvation consummated on Calvary.