Mixed Marriages and the Government of God

 •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 9
[The following remarks were made on a particularly solemn instance, where a young sister (converted in 1853) fell into the snare of accepting an offer of marriage made by a worldly man.
This she had contrived to conceal from the assembly of Christians where she lived; but a delay, which arose out of seemingly accidental circumstances, gave occasion to a brother's discovering her intention and warning her solemnly. She owned the wrong, but persisted; left for a relative's, where she sickened of a violent fever, which for the first she owned to be the chastening of the Lord, and died after three days, His word having penetrated and brought her not only to entire self judgment, but fullness of joy. The details for various reasons are omitted.]
The preceding history relates, in all Christian simplicity, facts which show how God can interfere in judgment to deliver His children from the sad spiritual consequences which flow from a want of faithfulness. A young Christian allowed herself to be drawn into accepting an offer of marriage with an unconverted man. Her conscience plainly showed her that she was acting against the will of God. But she did not know how to stop at the first step, and not having at once rejected, as unfaithfulness and sin, the thought of that which was offered to her, she had not afterward the strength to give it up; and God was forced to take her away from this world to keep her from a sin which she did not desire to commit, but which she had not the strength to resist. Oh, how difficult it is to stop, when once we have set out in such a road!
Anyone who has closely observed the walk of Christians, and who has cared for souls with a heart in any little measure zealous for the glory of the Lord, and desirous for the spiritual welfare of the dear children of God, will not have failed to perceive the fatal influence that the world exercises over them when it gains an entrance into their hearts. God only knows, and the one who has suffered from it, by what subtle means, and under what an amiable guise the world often invades the heart of the Christian. But the manifestation of Christ to the soul, and the power of His presence, are never ways by which the world insinuates itself into the heart. Those therefore, who are found, by grace, near Christ, are shielded from 'the influence of such feelings, and can judge them and everything which tends to make a way for the world within the heart, or for desires which are connected with the world.
Here we are in warfare with the enemy. He seeks to surprise us when we are not upon our guard; and in order to accomplish this, he knows even how to transform himself into an angel of light. If we are not near to Christ, and are not clothed with the whole armor of God, it is impossible to resist his devices. To resist the power of Satan is not the principal difficulty, for Christ has conquered for us this terrible enemy, but it is to discover the snares which he lays for us, and, above all to discover that it is himself who is at work.
In our combats with the enemy, it becomes a question of knowing the state of our own hearts. The single eye (that is to say, the heart filled with Christ), discovers the wile, and the soul has recourse to the Savior for deliverance: or even its affections being fixed upon Christ, the heart presents no prize for the efforts of the enemy. A heart that is simple and occupied with the Lord escapes many things which trouble the peace of those who are not near Him. Thanks be to God the troubled and tormented soul finds a resource and complete restoration in the grace of the One whom it has so foolishly forgotten; but it enjoys the fruits of grace through many sorrows and exercises of heart. Yet let us take courage. He knows how to deliver, as well as to have compassion. Now these are the two principles which regulate the ways of God with regard to us. On the one hand, God keeps the heart to cause it to discern His own purpose; and, on the other, Christ intercedes for us with- respect to all that may be called infirmity. There are real difficulties along the way, and there is weakness in us, and alas a will which does not like to be bridled, and which betrays itself in a thousand forms of thought and deed.
Our weaknesses, like our will, tend to hinder us from reaching the end of our journey; but there is a great difference in the way in which God acts with regard to our weaknesses, and with regard to our will, and the thoughts which flow from it.
"The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." God judges our thoughts and our intentions by His Word. Nothing escapes Him; He is faithful towards us—His word is in the heart like an eye from which nothing is concealed; all is naked and open to the eye of Him with whom we have to do. Do you hear that, foolish soul, that would desire to feed upon the illusions that you love? Nothing is hidden; not one of your thoughts or intentions is hidden from the eyes of Him with whom you have to do. Nor is that all. His word is simple, plain and clear: it speaks to the conscience, do you hear it? Do you know that when God speaks you have to do with Him who speaks, as well as with what He says? Will you resist Him who speaks and provoke Him to jealousy? You cannot escape Him: He has already hold over your conscience, and He will never give it up.
Will you kick against the pricks? But think rather of the end that God has in view. He might have left you to yourself; He might have left you to fall into things which, if His grace interfere not, may sender the whole of the wilderness journey sad and humiliating to you. He might have said to you what He said to His beloved servant, " Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." (Hos. 4:1717Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone. (Hosea 4:17).) Terrible punishment! Harder than the most severe outward chastening! But our God will not deprive us of the light of His countenance and the sweetness of His communion. For God does not chasten willingly: it is a strange work for Him as He says, (Isa. 28:2121For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. (Isaiah 28:21).) But sin is always sin in His eyes and He cannot allow it.
How then does God work in our poor hearts? He reaches them by His word, in order that our conscience may see everything as He sees it Himself. His eye is upon us, upon our hearts, and the eye of our conscience is enlightened as to what is passing in the heart by that word which reveals God to it.
(To be continued P. V.)
" Your letter is indeed a living tribute to the efficacy of our Savior's present grace as an Advocate with the Father. Sweet, indeed, to our taste is the first sense of that grace in our poor hearts, when we are brought into living touch with a Savior God. But with a deepened sweetness do we learn what He is to us and for us, even when the heart has, if only for a brief moment, been going along without Him. How beautifully it is told out in the " Song of Songs." In chap. 2:16, the Bride says, " lily beloved is mine, and I am His," the first utterance we may say of the soul, the sense of her possession in Him being prominently enjoyed. In chap. 6:3, her language is, " I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine," and here the place she occupies in His affections is the prominent feature, the sense of His possession in her, and this learned through failure upon her part. How very precious is this! Having loved His own (the same thought here, is it not? i. e., what we are to Him, more than what He is as enjoyed by us, although both are unspeakably blessed). But when I say He is mine, it brings in the thought that I am enjoying Him as my own. "I am His," strikes a higher note, as you say, " to think that I am a joy to Him!" But one step more, chap. vii. 10, "I am my beloved's and His desire is towards me." We said one step more, but it is a wonderful one, is it not? That is to say, the soul is absorbed in His side of things, and now, instead of " I am His," we read, " His desire is toward me." How precious that little word "is." I can never speak of His desire toward me in the past tense, I may to-morrow act like a Peter, and practically (if not with the lips) deny Him, but be that as it may, His desire is toward me, unalterably and eternally toward me, and not only eternally in the sense of its never ceasing, but eternally as never having a beginning.. For His love to me and His desire toward me are like His own blessed Person, infinite and date-less.
Do you know as I read your letter I fell to coveting the fresh sense of that grace of His just imparted to you.
You are just like a very thirsty child and He is holding His wondrous drafts of grace to your lips, saying to you the while " whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." While you and I respond to that well known voice in something like this strain, " Ah, Lord, it's but a sip from an ocean tide after all."
"Oh, Christ, Thou art the fountain, The deep, sweet well of love; The streams on earth I've tasted, More deep I'll drink above."
But while the heart-yearnings will never be fully met until we are actually spirit, soul and body at the fountain head, yet it is well to remember that there is no limit to our enjoyment of Him, nor to our joy in Him as we pass along. " In Thy presence is fullness of joy," is true, and to that we are speeding onward, but by the way we rejoice, (although it may be in heaviness through manifold temptations) " with joy unspeakable and full of glory," and again, " these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." And that is really in its way more wonderful even than the joy that shall be ours when we are at home with our Lord Jesus in the Father's house. No marvel then that joy in its fullness finds its never-ceasing expression. But now, passing through the valley of weeping, making it a well, passing through the valley of the shadow of death, fearing no evil, ah, for " Thou art with me." What a beautiful change in the language takes place in that verse (Psa. 23), up to this point it had been testimony as to what Jehovah was, speaking of Him to others. Now note the change-it is as if it had said, if it is a question of walking through the valley of the shadow of death there is nothing but Thyself can suffice me there,' and he it is no longer testimony to others, it is not, " He is with me," but "Thou art with me." How beautiful is this! If we testify of Him to others as those who have learned what it is " never to hunger, never to thirst," or ever we are aware of it we will be saying "Thou" instead of " He."
See something like this in Paul; his heart was, as he says, filled with "great heaviness and continual sorrow," as he thought of his brethren, the Jews, and he dwells upon their external relationship with God, until he mentions Christ's name, and then what happens? His great heaviness, his continual sorrows do not burden his joy nor interrupt his communion. Weak bodies, daily conflicts, sorrows and troubles do not, nor should they, affect our communion, (our wills do), and so if Paul mentions that blessed name, at once adoration seizes upon his heavy and sorrowful heart and he says " Christ who is over all, God blessed forever, Amen."
I do pray the Lord Jesus that you may be kept in the freshness His loving truth has imparted, and with increasing appetite feed upon what was His own food down here, even the Word of God. Remember that it is written, " By the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer," and again, " Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." There is truly a great difference between "reading the Bible," and living " by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," "the word of Thy lips." These last expressions imply communion with the author, listening fol. what comes fresh from His mouth,-His lips, for us, and there is our preservative. Our joy isolated from its source will not keep us, and in this the Adversary may try your dear heart, for we are effervescent things at best, and your joy may fluctuate, but remember your joy is not in your joy, but the Lord, and does He ever change? Ah no, a thousand times no.
" My love is oft times low,
My joy still ebbs and flows."
but " Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever." So that you and I never look within ourselves to see how we are getting along. To learn that we must look at the Glorified one at God's right band. There are no springs of freshness in ourselves, "all my springs are in Thee."