Old Lutherans is pleased to announce the beginning of a series of posts that, taken as a whole, will feature the entirety of Nils Jakob Laache’s great devotional work, The Book of Family Prayer. Laache was the bishop at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway (the church featured as the Old Lutherans site favicon) from 1884-1892. For those interested, a short biography of Laache can be read here.
The BFP was first published in Norway in 1883, and the first—and, in our opinion, best—English translation appeared in 1902, the work of Peer O. Strømme. First editions are hard to come by, but well worth the money.
BFP postings for each upcoming week will drop here at Old Lutherans every Saturday night. We are gradually compiling the entirety of the work at a dedicated page here on the site. The hoped-for culmination of the free online posting of this wonderful devotional work will be a new, high quality hardback edition of the Strømme translation published by the Old Lutherans Book Concern. More details TBA.
Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord (Easter Sunday)
174. Easter Day. I.
The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous.
Gospel Lesson, Mark 16, 1-7. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came into the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering in the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment: and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
“Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” anxiously inquired the women; but “when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away; for it was very great.” The stone which imprisons us in death and the grave is sin. It is so large and heavy that no man and no angel could have removed it. It would without any question have held us for ever in the cave of death, separated from God, shut out from all life and light. But Jesus has taken away sin, and burst open the grave; then the angel rolls the stone away, that the victory may become known. Go to the grave of Jesus; and behold, the stone is rolled away! He who died for the sins of the world, and who said, “It is finished,” he is risen, and the truth of his announcement has been established. If he had not in truth fully paid for our sins and fulfilled all things for us, the death to which he delivered himself would have held him bound. Now we know of a certainty that he is risen; and hence it is clear that the cup of death has been drained to the dregs, and that the whole burden of sin has been taken away. The stone is rolled away. Should sin still rest heavy on your conscience, and death still have terrors for you, then bear in mind that you are baptized into him who was dead and is alive, and that hence you are dead with him and risen again with him. Sin has no more any right to cause you death. In Christ death has already been suffered; it is finished. — Neither shall death be able to make your heart a grave filled with death’s ugly brood, a habitation for the evil powers of darkness. You are united with the living Christ; you are one with him, over whom death has no authority whatever. Christ is risen; therefore the stone rolled away. Christ is risen; and thereby sin is vanquished, and death destroyed. To me there is nothing, and can be nothing, more grand than the declaration of Paul (2 Tim. 1,10), that “Jesus Christ hath abolished death.” Death, this terrible reality; death abolished, done away with! Hallelujah! O, that we might make our shout of victory heard in all the earth! Verily, death is abolished, death for us and death in us. We are saved from the greatest of all terrors; for we are members of his body, who died and rose again, and are one with him in his death and in his resurrection. To be sure, our faith still is weak; but it is founded on the word of God, and is therefore stronger than all the gates of hell.
The grave of Jesus is the door to all graves in which the bodies of the faithful are laid to rest. The seal is broken, and the stone rolled away; he is the resurrection and the life. “He that believeth in me. though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and be lieveth in me shall never die.” (John 11, 25. 26). My reader, believest thou this? There is no doubt whatever of its truth; himself, who is the truth, has spoken it, and you may trust in it with absolute safety. Blessed are you, if you believe! Yes, blessed is everyone who in truth believes, even though his faith be weak and he be obliged to fight continually against unbelief.
How shall I thank thee, Lord Jesus, for thy victory over death and the devil, and for life, everlasting life, which thou hast given me! Grant me grace to live for thee while life endures, to confess thy name by walking in godliness, and to bring forth much fruit for thy kingdom. And let me then forever lie at the foot of thy throne with praise and thanksgiving. Thou knowest that it is my innermost heart which says: Blessed be thy glorious name evermore! How blest shall I be to praise thee with a new tongue in thy kingdom for ever and ever! Amen.
Christ the Lord is risen today,
Sons of men and angels say;
Raise your joys and triumphs high,
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply.
Lives again our glorious king;
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Dying once, he all doth save;
Where thy victory, O grave?
175. Easter Day. II.
Lord Jesus, our living Savior; quicken us, and sanctify us with thee. Amen.
Epistle Lesson, 1 Corinthians 5, 7. 8. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The use of leaven was, under penalty of death, prohibited among the children of Israel during the Easter festival. They ate the passover every year; and with the faith of our heart we eat the true passover all the time. Christ was sacrificed for us, and they that believe in him live in communion with him alway, and celebrate Easter without ceasing. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6, 63). Reference is here had to the union of the heart with Jesus. In this union only is there life. But do you hear what the apostle says in regard to the leaven? Do you remember that the leaven is prohibited, and that it is death itself? “The old leaven” is the nature and life of the natural man. War must be made on all the lusts of the flesh, even as the Israelites were to have no leaven in the house at the time of Easter. It means death, if you again conclude peace with any of your carnal lusts. “The leaven of malice and wickedness” means an evil and deceitful mind. Is it possible, do you think, that hate and anger, the spirit of Esau and Saul, can be united with Jesus, who is all love? Or how should malice, deceit, and craftiness be connected in any way with our holy and blameless Lamb of the passover? No, sincerity and truth shall be our bread. You, the Lord’s believers, are a new lump, unleavened and pure; and this is what you should be. The passover is sacrificed; and thereby you are become a new lump, says the apostle. How happy we would be, did we but understand the word of God and believe the truth! As you are a new lump you can and shall purge out the old leaven. Your whole life shall be a life in sincerity and truth. It shall be lived in the power of Christ’s resurrection and in the fellowship of his suffering. Your whole life shall be on a high plane; you shall not wallow in the mire of sin, but climb the heights, bathe in the sunshine of truth and holiness, and breathe the pure and heavenly spirit of Jesus. In like manner as a leaven leavens the whole lump, so shall the new life, the life of Christ’s resurrection, be manifest in all that you do. It is a life of the heart, and must be seen in every act down to the least important, even as the heart-beat sends the blood coursing through the body out into the tips of the fingers.
God help us to be true believers, and to lead a life of true holiness. Amen.
The strife is o’er, the battle done!
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun,
The powers of death have done their worst,
But Christ their legions hath dispersed;
Let shouts of holy joy outburst,
176. Easter Monday. I.
Come, Lord Jesus, and speak to our hearts. Amen.
Gospel Lesson, Luke 24, 13-35. And behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus. which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden, that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these, that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And now the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea. and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. Then he said unto them. O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them. Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
You never walk alone, dear Christian, but at all times in the grandest company. You have, no doubt, made the acquaintance of many most excellent men; and while travelling together you have conversed piously, as Christians should. When you have done this, he who is greater than all has been with you. Where two or three believers speak together of the Lord, he is always near; and the hearts, of a certainty, receive a blessing. But you have also often walked alone with him, in the bright morning of the new day and at night in darkness and gloom. In the scripture he has spoken your heart, and you have taken courage to speak to him. He has resolved your doubts, and changed your lamentation into a song of joy. At times you have forgotten him, but still he has walked with you, and has never for one moment forgotten you. He often disappeared from your view; but still he was near; and he always revealed himself anew to you, either in the congregation of the brethren when you were hearing the word or partaking of the sacrament, or in the secrecy of your chamber when you read the word and bent the knee in prayer. — If you have a wife, or a husband, who loves the Lord, or if you live with other friends in God, do not let Satan hinder you from speaking with one another concerning those things which came to pass in Jerusalem at the time of Easter. Let him who is the fulfillment of the scriptures, and who in these same sacred writings reveals himself to us, obtain a hearing among you. In other words, seek light and counsel in the Bible in regard to every concern of your soul; and he shall surely speak to you, and guide you into all truth. You shall see more and more clearly that Christ is that Sun of righteousness whose light, according to the eternal and loving purpose of God, was to flood the world after the multitude of beams more or less bright which had pierced the darkness during the times of the Old Testament. You shall see that this Sun must rise on the world in this way; that in him righteousness and mercy kiss each other, and that hence he ought to suffer and die. As God’s eternal nature and will are, so is his eternal decree; as it was decreed, so it is written; and as it is written, so it ought to be, and so it has come to pass. And your heart shall, on occasion at least, burn within you. — If you walk alone, dear reader, remember that you are not alone, if you have the scriptures and believe them. Open your eyes, and see. Verily, the living Savior is with you. Do you not see him? Do you not believe that he is near, and that he sees and hears you? Walk with him; speak to him; pray to him, saying: “Abide with me, Lord. Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent!” He tarried with the two disciples in Emmaus; and in the evening he walked with them, though not in visible form, when they returned to Jerusalem. He will do likewise with us. Through the world’s darkness we go, in company with the Invisible One, to the brethren in Jerusalem; — there we shall see him as he is.
We thank thee, precious Savior, for this mercy; and we pray thee: Expound to us the scriptures, that our hearts may burn within us. Amen.
Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me!
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me!
177. Easter Monday. II.
O God, give us honest hearts. Amen.
Acts 10, 34-41. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published through out all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: forGodwaswithhim. And we are witnesses of all things which he did, both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
Jesus went about in Galilee and all the land doing good, and healing all that were oppressed. Not one sought his assistance in vain. He received all that came, of all sorts and conditions, and never once refused aid to one who needed it. Let all note this: There is not one single instance in which Jesus failed to relieve misery when it came to him. Grace and mercy shine forth in his every act. After his death and resurrection he is no longer in Galilee, or in the whole land of the Jews, only; but he is in all places where human hearts, of whatever race, long for him. For he loves all; he has redeemed all by his death on the cross, and he has healing and salvation for one and all. The preaching of peace through Jesus Christ unto the children of Israel is to be continued; but the glad tidings shall be proclaimed to all gentiles also; and himself is with his witnesses alway unto the end of the world. The apostles eat and drink with him after his resurrection. In invisible form he is in their midst everywhere, and reveals himself whenever it pleases him to do so. After the ascension and the outpouring of the Spirit they see him no more; but do you think that he is not with them?
In their preaching he manifests his power in glorious fashion, gives them victory everywhere, tears down the ramparts of Satan, and makes manifest through his disciples the sweet savor of his knowledge in everyplace. — Go out confidently, then, with the words of the Savior, ye his witnesses! You shall never, never go alone. Live all the time with him in faith; and preach his death and resurrection as something in which you have your life, as something which you have yourselves experienced. His peace shall obtain victory in your heart; and he shall manifest his victorious strength in his word, which you preach. Shall not he, who even in his lowly estate on earth healed all that were oppressed of the devil, send out his power from his throne of glory, and force the devil to retreat before the truth and life in the gospel of peace? Or, peradventure, he no longer desires to save man? “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13, 8). God help us, that we may no longer be faithless, but believing!
O praise the Lord, all ye nations; praise him all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us; and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Hallelujah! Amen.
Let every kindred, every tribe
On this terrestrial ball
To him all majesty ascribe
And crown him Lord of all.
O that with yonder sacred throng
We at his feet may fall;
Join in the everlasting song,
And crown him Lord of all!
178. Tuesday after Easter Day.
Lord, increase our faith. Amen.
Luke 24, 36-48. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them. Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Be hold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honey-comb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.
Jesus showed the disciples his hands and feet with the print of the nails by which he had been suspended to the cross, that they might make sure of its being he and none other. When he comes again we shall know him by these same prints. The Lord really has his wounds still, but in transfigured form. He is the same on the throne as on the cross, God and man in one person, the crucified and risen Savior. After death he might have resumed his body without its scars, had he wished it; but it was his will to show them to the Father and the angels, as well as to his accuser; and, as for us, we have reason to hold them dear; for they speak our cause before God. He that died for us, the same lives for us with the atoning and saving grace of his death.
In the meantime, our eye can not see him; for this is precisely the condition which God has fixed in regard to our salvation, that we must believe without having seen. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” But how, then, shall we find him, and be assured that we are with him, and that he is with us, and that it is he himself? For on this our life depends, and here we must not build on dreams, nor on human wisdom; here, if anywhere, it is necessary that we have sure foundation under our feet. O that the Spirit might declare this truth to your heart! Pay attention, then, to that which you read in this gospel text. He sends his apostles, who were eye witnesses of his death and resurrection, out into the world to gather people to him; and he promises to be with them in this work. But they could no more than we point to the print of the nails and exhibit his scars to the eye: they could and should only preach the gospel and baptize. Herein his scars are plainly enough to be seen by the eye of faith. Where repentance and forgiveness are preached he is himself present and creates faith, as surely as he was with the ten disciples and brought conviction to them and caused them to believe. Let us not, as did the Pharisees, seek a sign from heaven; but let us hear the word and study the scriptures. Are not these all the signs that we need? They are precisely the right signs, certain, clear, and infallible. For the Lord himself is in them. Through them Jesus is in truth come to us with his death and resurrection, with peace and pardon. What more do you desire? By these means the Holy Spirit creates faith in your heart, if you do not stubbornly resist him. What more do you need? If you refuse to believe, that will be your condemnation. Whosoever believeth hath life in his name.
Precious Savior, thou art at the right hand of God and dost make intercession for us; and thou art here and dost reveal thyself to our heart. We thank thee for thy holy word and thy worthy sacraments; we will ask no other sign, and will seek thee in no other place. Nevertheless, thou knowest how hard a fight we still have against the unbelief in our heart. We pray thee, increase our faith, open the scriptures to us, give us a simple and childlike spirit, keep us by thy side, and give us grace to confess thee, and never to be offended by reason of thy cross. Amen.
He closed the yawning gates of hell;
The bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
Let hymns of praise his triumphs tell;
Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee,
From death’s dread sting thy servants free,
That we may live, and sing to thee,
179. Wednesday after Easter Day.
O God, let our hope of resurrection be grounded in the resurrection of Christ. Amen.
John 20, 1-10. The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he, stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
The stone is rolled away, and the sepulchre is open; the Lord is not there; the linen clothes remain, and the napkin is wrapped together in a place by itself. Everything contradicts the assumption that enemies have despoiled the grave; nor is it possible that his friends have removed his body. — The grave is a tenement of death no more; nothing remains in it save the trappings of death. This is the grave of Jesus; but his grave is my grave. For whose sin did he die? It must have been for ours; for himself had none. It is, then, our death which he dies; but then it also is our grave in which he is buried. Does anyone doubt that the eyes of Mary and Peter and John told them the truth; that the sepulchre was empty? That is a fact about which there can be no question, whether or no. But who can be supposed to have opened the grave and removed the body? The disciples could not have done it; for a watch had been set, and the stone had been sealed. Besides, such a thing would never have occurred to them; for they had no idea that he would, in fact, rise again from the dead. No; this is what has transpired, and to us it means eternal life: He is risen; the grave is rent asunder; for the wages of sin has been paid, and death is swallowed up in life. The scripture speaks true; and Jesus was in the right when he said that he would rise again on the third day. My grave still looks, to be sure, as though it were the tenement of death. The casket and the shroud and the napkin are there, and my body also, for a time; but my Jesus, who lay in the grave and arose again, has said: “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11, 25). The truth of this is evidenced to me by his open and empty sepulchre. My heart lives in Jesus; I may say that I feel that the life which he gave, and which throbs in my innermost heart, is eternal and cannot die. Nevertheless, that which is more sure and certain, a thousand times more certain than all things else, is his promise: “Because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14, 19). Because he is risen, we shall rise from the dead also.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life, O God; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Give us grace to believe; give us the light of the Spirit, that we may have a true and living faith. Amen.
Jesus lives! thy terrors now
Can no longer, death, appall me;
Jesus lives! By this I know,
From the grave he will recall me.
Brighter scenes will then commence:
This shall be my confidence.
Jesus lives! henceforth is death
But the gate of life immortal;
This shall calm my trembling breath,
When I pass the gloomy portal.
Faith shall cry, as fails each sense,
“Lord, thou art my confidence.”
180. Thursday after Easter Day.
Living Savior, reveal thyself to our heart. Amen.
John 20, 11-18. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white, sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father and to my God, and to your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
The Lord had rescued Mary Magdalene out of the most wretched condition, into which she, by her sins, had plunged herself. He had saved her; had driven seven devils out of her. Now she was a new person, and she loved him with a living love. To her was given also the great honor and mercy of being the first to see him after his resurrection. Still, she had not as yet reached the perfection of saintliness. She clings too fondly to the earthly aspect of the Savior, though not, to be sure, in the same manner as the apostles. It is not probable that her mind was especially bent on seeing the Lord as a king, in order that she m1ght reign with him; but her love still savoured somewhat of the senses, though we must by no means think of it as being in any way a carnal affection; and it had its roots in sight and sense, rather than in faith. “Tell me where thou hast laid him,” she says, “and I will take him away.” And Jesus says to her: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” She was to see his holiness and greatness and divine majesty in a new light, and learn to say “We know Christ no more after the flesh.” Her love was in need of being purified; the Spirit of God must unite it with a holy reverence for the exalted Son of God. And yet, how gently does he not correct her! He speaks her name, “Mary;” and in the tone there is nothing but kindness. Then he adds only, “touch me not;” and her heart quakes with awe, and does penance.
It were to be wished that all Christians had a mind as zealous and pure as that of Mary Magdalene. The kind of carnality which Paul especially rebuked in the Corinthians, namely, envy, contentions, and heresies, is not the only one among us. There are various kinds of sensuality more secret and more dangerous. We are acquainted with it, and we know how it gnaws at the heart unless we fight against it with all our strength; but we also know and testify that the Spirit of God gives victory to the upright. All the old leaven must be purged out, and by the grace of God it shall be done; for Christ is dead and risen again for us, we are baptized into his death, we eat and drink his body and blood, and our life in him is spiritual and heavenly. Make no terms, brethren, with any sort of carnality in you; but have a pure bridal spirit toward our heavenly bridegroom. Love him of your whole soul with a holy devotion, proclaim his death and resurrection everywhere, and love one another tenderly of a pure heart! Then shall you have great peace.
Lord, chasten us, and cleanse us, and draw our mind to thee in heaven. Amen.
Now let the heavens be joyful,
Let earth her song begin,
Let all the world keep triumph,
And all that is therein:
In grateful exultation,
Their notes let all things blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen,
Our joy that hath no end.
181. Friday after Easter Day.
Lord, show us the excellence of our heritage, and strengthen our hope. Amen.
Psalm 16. Michtam of David. Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight. Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel; my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. Ihave set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
This psalm was fulfilled in Christ when he rose from the dead. But the head, which is raised up, will not let the members remain in the grave. As many as are united with Jesus through a living faith can sing this psalm as applying to themselves; and they shall thereby stir their soul to rejoice in the Lord. What are the riches and honors of the world worth as compared with the bliss of living in God? The human heart multiplies its sorrows when it hastens after other gods; but whosoever can say that “the Lord is the portion of his inheritance and of his cup,” has received “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” Together with all the saints he shall have fulness of the purest joy in the presence of the Lord for evermore. — As surely as Jesus lives, all his believers shall live with him; as surely as he has entered heaven, we shall be gathered to him in the pleasant mansions at the right hand of God. Let us remember this, and praise the Lord, who gave us so goodly a heritage, and caused our lines to fall in pleasant places. His Spirit shall remind us of these things when we walk in darkness; at night, in the deepest darkness, he shall speak to us concerning them in the innermost chamber of the heart. Be assured that the Lord will maintain your lot, dear Christian. It is of his mercy that you can say: “The Lord is my portion; I have set the Lord always before me!” How shall you be moved, when he is at your right hand? Or how shall death be able to hold you fast, now that you are a member of the body of Christ? Be obedient to the Spirit of God; remember your hope! Train yourself to set the Lord always before you! Do not let unbelief, or a slavish spirit of fear, or the cares of this world, choke the joy which the Holy Ghost pours out in your innermost heart by showing you the path of life and reminding you of your goodly heritage.
Preserve me, O God; for in thee do I put my trust. Let me no more grieve thy Holy Spirit, whereby thou hast sealed me unto the day of redemption. Help me to be “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer.” Let me not lose my goodly heritage, but reach it, in heaven. Amen.
O Lord of heaven and earth and sea,
To thee all praise and glory be;
How shall we show our love to thee,
Who givest all?
Thou didst not spare thine only Son,
But gav’st him for a world undone.
And freely with that blessed one
Thou givest all.
182. Saturday after Easter Day.
Give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. Amen.
Psalm 118, 14-24. The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord; this gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee; for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.
This psalm was sung at the time when the foundation of the temple was laid in the days of Ezra, an account of which is given in his book, Ezra 3, 10-13. Israel had been in exile; but the Lord had again received them into favor, and had made them the cornerstone of the world’s development. But it is through Christ that Israel is what it is. He is the stone which was rejected, and which then was made the chief stone of the corner. The Jews, the builders of God’s kingdom, despised him; but it was by the death which they caused him that he became the substructure of his church, which is the habitation of God among us and the tabernacle of life on earth. As the people of Israel exulted when they had been delivered out of Egypt, while their enemies sank like lead into the deep waters; as they shouted aloud for joy in the gate of the Lord at Jerusalem when they had returned from Babylon; thus the church of Christ sings of victory and life and salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, by which death and hell have gone down into an eternal grave, so that we never more shall see them. To be sure, the voice of weeping still is mingled with the voice of gladness, as in the days of Ezra: but the rejoicing shall prevail: for “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2, 9). — “Open to me the gates of righteousness.” The doors were opened to the court of the temple, and the people streamed in with their joyful songs of praise. To us the gates of righteousness are opened; the entrance to heaven itself through the merit of Jesus; and we go in, and stand before his throne. This we now do in faith; but later on we shall see that which we now believe. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. Let us rejoice and be glad in him!
Can any others sing, as do the faithful: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord”? “Not die, but live.” These words are a present to you from the Lord, faithful Christian. “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” This is the lot which the Lord has given you. The sickle of death mows down every thing on earth; the throne and the cottage, the scholar and the clown, the virtuous and the vicious; but the church of Christ breasts the storm without being shaken, and lifts its golden spire toward heaven.
And in this church is life, and the voice of rejoicing and salvation. When the eternal gates of death open to receive the unbelievers, the righteous shall enter their perfect and everlasting home of joy.
Lord, thou hast chastened me sore; but thou hast not given me over unto death. I will praise thee; for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord; O Lord, send now prosperity. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee; thou art my God, I will exalt thee. Give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever. Amen.
Oh, bless the Lord, my soul!
His grace to thee proclaim!
And all that is within me join
To bless his holy name.
Oh, bless the Lord, my soul!
His mercies bear in mind!
Forget not all his benefits!
The Lord to thee is kind.