Diary of Jessie Thain
- The Friend of R.M.McCheyne.
Jesse wrote her diary during 1844-7. We know little about her, but McCheyne was engaged to be married when he tragically died, and it is conjectured, not without evidence, that Jessie was the young lady concerned. She was certainly absolutely devasted by his death.
The diary fell into the hands of a Scottish Minister who edited and published it in 1955, as a booklet, priced 2 shillings and sixpence. Although most references are to McCheyne, there are references to other Ministers, one of whom is Dr. R. Smith Candlish, then at Edinburgh.
Friday, 29th November.
A week past last Lord's day was the Sacramental Sabbath here. I tried to renew my covenant with the Lord at His Table and to give myself and all that I am and have to His service. But, alas, how coldly done. Nevertheless, O Lord for Thine own name's sake, and because of Thy rich mercy in Christ, accept of me and make me altogether Thine, and if it be Thy Holy will, cause me to be useful in my day and generation! Heard Dr Candlish on Thursday forenoon from Psalm 32 v. 1 and 2, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity and in whose spirit there is no guile."
A clear, full gospel sermon. Each one of these expressions, "transgression," "sin," "iniquity" and "guile" rises in meaning above the others - the mercy, holiness and justice of God are all seen in them. The preacher spoke of the spiritual character or frame of mind connected with this state -"in whose spirit there is no guile." What kind of guile is that which the natural man has? It is expressed in these words, "if we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" 1st John 1 v. 6-8.
There are two kinds of guile that hinder men from believing - chapter 2 v. 4, "He that saith I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him." There is a kind of guile to which professing Christians are liable. What are the elements or ingredients of the blessedness here spoken of? Verses 3 and 5, "When I kept silence my bones waxed old, through my roaring all the day long. I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." This purpose of confession ended the strife. David was done forever with trying to patch a righteousness of his own. Another aspect of this blessedness is security in trouble. "Thou art my hiding place; Thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance." Believers are the Lord's hidden ones. Just as when a child is in any danger, without a moment's thought as if by instinct, it runs at once and hides in its mother's bosom; so when the child of God is in trouble his first impulse is to hide in God, Who is our refuge and a very present help in trouble.
Another aspect of this blessedness is found in the Lord's guidance (verse 8), "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye." When you have sinned, does Christ's eye make you weep as it did Peter? Or when you are hesitating as to what path you should take, does Christ's eye when it meets you make you start back? And when you are unwilling to make some sacrifice for Jesus' sake, when His eye looks upon you. does it stir you up, as if He were saying to you, "Will you grudge to sacrifice for me Who died for thee?" But if you are asking the world's question "May I?" and "Must I?" then you are renouncing the privilege of children. You should rather stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, for God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and «f love and of a sound mind.
Dr Candlish gave us a most delightful sermon again in the evening from John 7 v. 37-39, "In the last day that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, 'if any man thirst let him come unto Me and drink '."He began by speaking of the feast of tabernacles, in allusion to which these words of Isaiah are written, "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." And in the last day of the feast, One is seen standing in the midst and crying, "If any man thirst . . . ." The language of the people was, "who will show us any good?" And Jesus told them that if they would drink of the water which He would give them, it would be within them a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. "He that believeth on Me as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters. But this spake He of the spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified." Enquire in what sense the Holy Ghost is here said to be given and received.
First, in respect of 'His personal presence. He is a living person, Romans 15 v. 30, "Now I beseech you brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake and for the love of the Spirit."
Second, in respect of His powerful working. He works, upon all the faculties, the understanding, conscience, heart and will.
Third, in respect of His blessed fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc. The fruit of the Spirit working on the soul consists of our being convinced of our sin; of our minds being enlightened in the knowledge of Christ, and the issue of the process is that we are persuaded and enabled to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel. There is here the simplicity of a little child. Let us enquire also what is the connection here between the Holy Spirit being given, and Christ being glorified. "For the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." He was given in the Old Testament times, on the faith of Christ being glorified. Abraham saw Jesus' day afar off and was glad. The Holy Ghost is given because He is Christ's purchase, satisfaction being given by Jesus, He purchased the Spirit for His people. He is Christ's special gift. In regard to the outpouring on the day of Pentecost, it is written of Jesus, "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." But specially is the Holy Ghost given because He is Christ's witness. "He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine and shall show it unto you." "But when the Comforter is come whom I will send . . . ." He testifies of Jesus as a complete Saviour, that He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. He testifies of His birth, His baptism, His life, His sufferings, His death, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension, in short, to show us that all we need is treasured up in Him.
What is the connection between the Holy Ghost being received, and the exercise of faith? "This spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive." There is a certain measure of the Holy Ghost even without faith, for unless the Spirit draw us we would never lay hold on Jesus; so that the Lord gives the Holy Ghost even to those who are not believers. But in this God is sovereign. He says, "My Spirit will not always strive with man." "I beseech you," said Dr Candlish, "not to presume on the dispensation of the Spirit. But, children of God, if you are asked what is the connection between the Holy Ghost being given and your believing in Jesus? You may answer, faith unites me to Jesus and being one with Him, I receive the Spirit. Another reason is my faith interests me in the everlasting covenant. All the promises of God are to me Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. One of the promises, for example, is, "I will pour water on him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground." The wicked is an illustration of what we have been saying, regarding the difference in the way in which the Holy Ghost is given to believers and unbelievers. The world receive the bounties of God's providence as well as 'His children, for it is written, "He maketh His sun to shine on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." And so the unconverted sometimes receive common influences of God's Spirit, whereas the believer receives the Holy Ghost on the footing of a covenant engagement. "Ye are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" and He will continue it to you for His own name's sake.
Notice the measure and manner of this indwelling. "He that believeth on me as the scriptures have said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." There are two particulars here regarding believers. First, they have the source of their joy within themselves. They do not need to draw from those broken cisterns, that can hold no water. They have the fountains of life itself to which to repair. It is 'Christ within you the hope of glory.' It was a great blessing to the Israelites to have a flowing stream following them all the way through the wilderness, which Rock, we are told, was Christ. It is your privilege to have the well within you. But if Jesus be within you, consider what should the streams be that flow from this fountain; not shallow but broad streams; not stagnant but living water. These waters are your Christian comforts - peace, joy, hope. They are your Christian graces - faith, love, obedience, delighting in God's law, meekness with long-suffering. If you are languishing, come to Christ again to be revived and if these waters are flowing copiously in your heart then blessed are ye. And "what great blessings you may be to the dry ground arouud you! When the Holy Ghost came down in such abundance on the early church, we are told what the effect was, "Fear came on every soul and many wonders and signs were done by the Apostles."
This sermon I enjoyed more than I can express. It was a rich feast to me indeed.
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