Charles Henry Mackintosh (October 1820 – November 2, 1896) was a nineteenth-century Christian preacher, dispensationalist, writer of Bible commentaries, magazine editor and member of the Plymouth Brethren. In 1843, Mackintosh wrote his first tract entitled Peace with God. When he was 24, he opened a private school where he developed a special method of teaching classical languages. Mackintosh went around preaching the gospel to the poor during school holidays. He wrote to John Nelson Darby on August 31, 1853 that the Lord had “called me into larger service than ever,” and he soon concluded that he must give himself entirely to preaching, writing, and public speaking.
Gideon, An Unlikely Hero Part 14
From last lesson: There is a vast difference between following in the wake of some devoted man of God, and walking with God ourselves, being propped up and led on by the faith and energy of another, and leaning upon God in the power of individual faith for ourselves.
This is a serious consideration for all of us. There is always great danger of our being mere imitators of other people’s faith; of copying their example without their spiritual power; of adopting their peculiar line of things without their personal communion. All this must be carefully guarded against. We specially warn the young Christian reader against it. Let us be simple, and humble, and real. We may be very small, our sphere very narrow, our path very retired; but it does not matter in the least, provided we are precisely what grace has made us, and occupying the sphere in which our blessed Master has set us, and treading the path which He has opened before us. It is by no means absolutely necessary that we should be great, or prominent, or showy, or noisy in the world; but it is absolutely necessary that we should be real and humble, obedient and dependent. Thus our God can use us, without fear of our vaunting ourselves; and then, too, we are safe, peaceful, and happy. There is nothing more delightful to the true Christian, the genuine servant of Christ, than to find himself in that quiet, humble, shady path where self is lost sight of, and the precious light of God’s countenance enjoyed, where the thoughts of men are of small account, and the sweet approval of Christ is everything to the soul.
Flesh cannot be trusted. It will turn the very service of Christ into an occasion of self-exaltation. It will use the very name of Him who made Himself nothing in order to make itself something. It will build up its own reputation by seeming to further the cause of Him who made Himself of none. Such is flesh! Such are we in ourselves! Silly, self-exalting creatures, ever ready to vaunt ourselves, while professing to be nothing in ourselves, and to deserve nothing but the flames of an everlasting hell.
Need we marvel at the testing and proving of Gideon’s companions? All must be tested and proved. The service of Christ is a very solemn and a very holy thing; and all who take part therein must be self-judged, self-distrusting, and self-emptied; and not only so, but they must lean, with unshaken confidence, upon the living God. These are the grand qualities that go to make up the character of the true servant of Christ, and they are strikingly illustrated on the page of inspiration which now lies open before us.
Let us proceed with the narrative:
“The people that are with thee are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands . . . Now, therefore, go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.”
Here the first grand test is applied to Gideon’s host, a test designed to bring out the measure of the heart’s simple confidence in Jehovah. A coward heart will not do for the day of battle; a doubting spirit will not stand in conflict. The same principle is set forth in Deuteronomy 20:8: “And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and faint-hearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.”
Faint-heartedness is terribly contagious. It spreads rapidly. It withers the arm that should bear the shield, and paralyses the hand that should wield the sword. The only cure for this malady is simple confidence in God, a firm grasp of His faithfulness, a child-like trust in His word, true personal acquaintance with Himself. We must know God for ourselves, in such a way that His word is everything to us, and that we can walk alone with Him, and stand alone with Him in the darkest hour.
Reader, is it so with you? Do you have this blessed confidence in God, this solid hold of His word? Do you, deep down in your heart, such an experiential knowledge of God and His Christ as shall sustain you even though you don’t have the support or sympathy of another believer under the sun? Are you prepared to walk alone in the world?
These are weighty questions, and we feel the need of pressing them upon the Church of God at the present moment. There is a wide diffusion of the precious truth of God, and numbers are getting hold of it. Like the blast of Gideon’s trumpet, so the clear testimony which has widely gone forth of late years has attracted many; and while we quite feel that there is real ground for thankfulness in this, we also feel that there is ground for very serious reflection indeed. Truth is a most precious thing, if it be truthfully found and truthfully held.
To Be Continued