The year just buried will be one long remembered by quite a number of our readers, as the one in which they first gained a knowledge of God's word and the gracious plan therein revealed. To some it has been full of trial, as the great Refiner and Purifier has had them in the furnace to separate the dross from the gold, and to cause them to reflect his image (Mal. 3:3). Happy are they who, being tried by the fire, have not been found wanting, but have had their hearts more firmly established in the truth, and who have let go of the traditions of men and taken hold more firmly than ever of God's gracious favor in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Looking forward, we can but expect the same work to continue until every part of our faith-building is tried, and the wood, hay and stubble all consumed; for "the day that cometh [is now present] shall try every man's work of what sort it is." (Mal. 4:1; 1 Cor. 3:13-15.) If in the past your building has stood the test and not been destroyed, rejoice; but still with trembling, remembering that the trial is not all over yet. "Be not high-minded, but fear." "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." If there is in your building anywhere that which will not stand the test of fire, it must go—replace it quickly by that which will abide.
If there is anything lacking in your consecration—if in anything you have a will not surrendered to and harmonized with God's will—take heed to it, for he will discover it. If, as one of his jewels, you are being polished to radiate his light, take heed that in you there shall be no self-will, which as a grit might cause a flaw and mar your beauty and acceptableness with him when making up the number of his jewels.
It is not probable, that trials, besetments and difficulties in the "narrow way" will be less in the year begun than in the one ended. The furnace gets hotter rather. Yet, let us remember that the greater our difficulties the greater the supply of "grace to help in every time of need," for which it is our privilege to call at "the throne of the heavenly grace." Call to mind the words: "My grace is sufficient for thee," and, "Count it all joy when ye fall into temptations," knowing that if exercised thereby they will work out for us an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
The past year has made us acquainted with a larger number of sacrificers (Priests—1 Pet. 2:9—the Levites did not offer sacrifices) than we had before known. Men and women who not only hazard but spend, of their consecrated time, money, talent and reputation, in spreading the "glad tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people." Through these consecrated agencies the truth is reaching other sheep of the flock, who were famishing and ready to perish by the way for want of its sustaining power. And these methods and exertions are being abundantly blessed, not alone in feeding and refreshing the hungry, but also in the growth and development of those so engaged. Every exertion in the Lord's service, and done unto the Lord, is sure to bring a compensating reward and blessing upon the heart of the laborer.
The year commenced offers fresh opportunities for sacrificing service. None should feel discouraged at opposition, and because few will believe our report—our Gospel. It is the few who have "an ear to hear" that we should expect to reach. If you at any time feel discouraged, call to mind the Master's experience. If the majority heard his words, you might expect them to hear yours; but if as a mass they rejected his words, they will reject yours also. If they have called the Master Beelzebub, what more should we expect? It is sufficient that the disciple be as his Lord. (Matt. 10:25; John 13:16.) Then, with thanks for the past and present, and earnest prayer and confidence for the future, let us go forth with the whole armor of God girded on yet more securely, with the girdle of truth and trust; and grasping yet more firmly our shield of faith in his protecting care, and with the sword of the Spirit—his own Word—in hand, let us fight a good fight until we finish the work given us, that we may be of those accounted worthy to enter into the joys of their Lord.
"New mercies, new blessings, new light on thy
New courage, new hope, and new strength for
New notes of thanksgiving, new chords of
New songs in the morning, new songs in the
New wine in thy chalice, new altars to raise;
New fruit for thy Master, new garments of praise;
New gifts for His treasures, new smiles from His
New streams from the fountain of infinite grace.
New stars for thy crown, and new tokens of love;
New gleams of the glory that waits thee above;
New light of His countenance, radiant and dear!
All this be thy joy in the happy New Year!"