"From this day will I bless you."-Hag. ii. 19.
"O Lord, there is none like Thee, neither is there any God beside Thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And what one nation in the earth is like Thy people Israel? . . . For Thy people Israel didst Thou make Thine own people for ever; and Thou, Lord, becamest their God. Therefore now, Lord, let the thing that Thou hast spoken. . . be established for ever, and do as Thou hast said. Let it even be established, that Thy name may be magnified for ever. . . . For Thou blessest, O Lord, and it shall be blessed for ever." (1 Chron. xvii. 20-27).
Such were some of the exclamations of David, as he sat before the Lord, after receiving God's gracious promises by the hand of the Prophet Nathan. Such may be our joyous expressions, as we appropriate by faith the promise, "From this day will I bless you." For "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" The only question for us to consider is, Hath He said it?-said it to us?
"God changes not: His principles of action are the same now as then. Self-seeking defeats itself; but the path of obedience leads to blessing."
That He did say it, in the times of the Prophet Haggai, is unquestionable. Let us ask ourselves to whom, and under what circumstances, was the promise first given? Was it to the godly Daniel, when he cheerfully accepted the lion's den, rather than change his hour and place of prayer? or to the Hebrew children, who braved a tyrant's wrath, and the flames of the fiery furnace? Was it to some holy man, as he crowned a life-long service by an act of pre-eminent devotion? No, no; far otherwise. Not to one, but to many, was the promise given; not as the reward of long-continued and faithful service, but to those who but a few weeks before had been reproved for their sin and indifference, their selfishness and their sloth. Barely two months before, God had called them to consider their ways, and the sorrowful end of them: now He calls their attention to His way, and to the fulness of blessing which He was about to bestow.
Whence this great difference? and what are we to learn from it? They had been caring for themselves. They dwelt in ceiled houses-the Lord's house lay waste. They sowed much, but brought in little; ate, but were still hungry; drank, but were not satisfied. They clothed themselves, but none were warm; and earned wages, but to put it into a bag with holes. They looked for much, but it came to little. Why?
Saith the Lord of Hosts. Because of Mine House that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon the labour of the hands."
So it had been. But now the people, with their leaders, obeyed the voice of God, and began to build the house of the Lord. And at once they received the promise of blessing. "Consider now, from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid"-"before a stone was laid upon a stone"-"from this day will I bless you." Oh! how ready He is to bless!
God changes not: His principles of action are the same now as then. Self-seeking defeats itself; but the path of obedience leads to blessing. God commanded Noah and his sons to replenish the earth; but they said, "Let us build us a city and a tower . . . lest we be scattered abroad." And God had to confound their language ere they would disperse. "Go ye into all the world," said the Lord Jesus; but He had to send persecution, ere the disciples dispersed themselves abroad, and went everywhere preaching the Word. Much of the bitter sectarian feeling of bygone days, much of the inadequate result of the teaching and preaching in our own times, is to be traced to the same cause. Some pray to be filled with the Spirit, and are not filled; preach the Gospel, and few are converted; try to build up and edify believers, and much effort is followed by little result. Why? Because of those in the highways and hedges at home who are uncared for; because of the millions abroad who are unsought. God cannot, will not, does not, bless those who are living in disobedience. But only set out in the path of obedience, and at once, before one stone is laid upon another, God is eager, as it were, to pour out His blessing. "From this day will I bless you."
In pleading for China's Millions, we need but little argument. "Preach the Gospel to every creature" is the command-broad, simple, unmistakable. Here are not individuals merely, but whole tribes, and races, destitute of the Gospel; and of the vast Chinese population, each morn, as its arises, sheds its light on 36,000 souls who never heard of Jesus, who, ere the morrow dawns, will die as they have lived. My Christian reader, what have you done for them? What are you doing for them? What do you intend to do for them? Can God say to you, "From this day will I bless you"?
From China's Millions, 1875.