In a quaint but powerful way, MacDuff presents various aspects of the person and work of Jesus, as various 'clefts in the rock' in which the believer can hide himself for protection, comfort, and strength in his pilgrimage to his heavenly home.
1. The Deity of Christ
The Deity of Christ (continued)
2. The Humanity of Christ
3. Christ the Surety-substitute
4. Christ the Propitiation
5. Christ the Manifestation of the Father
6. The Immutability of Christ
7. The Sympathy of Jesus
8. The Tenderness of Jesus
9. Christ the Peace Giver
10. Christ a Savior to the Uttermost
11. Christ Risen
12. Christ Ascended
13. Christ the Intercessor
14. Christ the King
15. Christ the Judge
16. Christ Reigning over His Church Forever
"O my dove, which is in the Clefts of the Rock."
–Solomon's Song 2:14
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee!
Let the water and the blood,
From Your riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill Your law's demands:
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone:
You must save, and You alone!
Nothing in my hand I bring;
Simply to Your cross I cling;
Naked, come to You for dress;
Helpless, look to You for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly–
Wash me, Savior, or I die!
While I draw this fleeting breath–
When mine eyelids close in death–
When I soar to worlds unknown–
See You on Your judgment throne–
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee! –Toplady
The name of this Volume will best interpret the design of its pages. They purpose, however inadequately, to set forth the leading grounds of safety and security, comfort and peace, which are to be found in the adorable character and completed work of the Divine Redeemer--"Clefts," to the shelter of which we can repair, alike "in all time of our tribulation and in all time of our wealth,"--in the prospect of "the hour of death and of the Day of judgment." To every believer, the words of Balaam's parable in a nobler sense may be applied, "Strong is your dwelling-place, and you put your nest in a rock," or those of the great Prophet, as rendered in the Septuagint translation, "His place of defense shall be in a lofty cavern (or cleft) of the strong Rock." It is the complex Person of "IMMANUEL, God with us"--the might and majesty of Omnipotence in conjunction with the tenderness of humanity--"Our God, yet our Brother--our Brother, yet our God," which makes Him the sure and unassailable Stronghold He is. The 'Clefts,' where His people are invited to flee, are in a Rock--but, that Rock is "THE ROCK OF AGES!" Contemplating His Deity, they can utter the Psalmist's challenge, "Who is a ROCK like OUR GOD?"--yet they can add, "A MAN shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."
It was the consciousness of being sheltered in these divine clefts, that enabled the great Apostle to say, in his own name, and in the name of all in every age who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them--"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Tribulation--Distress--Persecution--Famine, and the other adverse forces included in his enumeration, are so many waves dashing against THE ROCK--trying to 'separate,'--gathering their united strength to sweep from the secure shelter. But in vain. They are beaten back in succession with Faith's challenge--the reproof, not of bold haughty presumption, but of lowly believing confidence and heavenly trust--"In the name of a Mightier, we bid defiance to your might!" 'Who shall separate us?' "I stand upon a Rock," says Chrysostom, "let the sea rage, the Rock cannot be disturbed." "My flesh and my heart fails," says an older saint, "but God is the Rock of my heart and my portion forever."
"It has pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell." As on the head of Christ, under the emblem of a King, there are represented "many crowns"--so, under the metaphor of a ROCK, there are represented many clefts. One Rock, but diversified grounds of confidence and trust; each one uttering a silent response and invitation to the quest of the weary soul--"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
The emblem of a Rock, as thus applied to the Divine Redeemer, is at once sublime, beautiful, and appropriate--suggestive as it is of strength, durability, shelter, safety. It speaks of nature's noblest monumental columns--concurrent with creation--as fresh as at first sculptured by the great Craftsman--older, grander, and more lasting than obelisk or pyramid, or most colossal work of human power. Over these rocks, have the winds of heaven continually swept. Age after age has the sun discharged upon them his quiver of golden arrows--but resisting all changes--defying all elements--outliving all political convulsions--no wrinkle can be traced on their majestic brow--now in sunny robes of roseate light--now gleaming in the moonbeams with silver mantle--now swathed in white garments of cloud--now curtained in raging tempest--now their echoes awoke with the trumpet of peace--now with the clarion of battle--but every hoary peak remaining immutably the same. Such, is "The Rock of our Salvation!"
Each Reader will doubtless have his own associations with the figure; derived from some memorable scene in nature. The Writer may be forgiven a personal reference, if he venture to allude to the spot where his own thoughts invariably revert when the imagery of "The Rock of Ages" is before him. It is in one of those magnificent valleys among the Alps of Piedmont, visited in early youth, sacred to the heroic sufferings and triumphs of the Vaudois. There, a mountain, clothed at the base with varied fruit and forest trees, is crowned with a wonderful rampart of natural rock. Castelluzzo is pointed out to this day, by the descendants of the martyred Waldenses, as the place into which, during successive persecutions, when the adjacent valleys were desolated by fire and sword, their fathers often fled with their wives and little ones for safety. All the deeper was the impression made by this singular stronghold, from having been first seen, in descending the Italian side of the wild pass of La Croix, when the whole valley beneath was shrouded in fog. It towered in solitary grandeur above the sea of mist, and seemed, from its height, like an island suspended in mid-air. It has, or rather had, several remarkable peculiarities--as if the God of nature purposely upreared it to be a rampart for His oppressed people. Though of lofty elevation, it was rendered so accessible, that even mothers and their infants, with the aid of stronger hands, could avail themselves of its shelter. It had a cleft or opening on one side, by which alone it could be entered. It contained a spacious cavern, in which, fuel from the adjoining forest was readily stored, and at times corn and wild fruits were garnered from the neighboring productive slopes--while, in the center of the cave was a never-failing spring of water, which, in the hour of peril, completed the necessary supplies of the rocky citadel. The Divine promise was thus more than once literally fulfilled in the case of many noble sufferers for the truth, "He shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him, his waters shall be sure." Once within it, the weakest felt secure. A handful of men, stationed at the entrance, by rolling down masses of stone (easily disintegrated from the sides and top of the cavern), could defy the assault of disciplined soldiers.
The loftiness of the Rock--so often, seen wreathed in glorious cloud--the cleft--the one cleft--the accessibility--the spaciousness of the cavern--the secure shelter--the "fountain opened"--might well suffice to suggest mental pictures of a Greater and sublimer reality--"Lead me to the rock that is higher than I!"
We shall end these prefatory words with an appropriate anecdote--may its concluding utterances be our own in a similar hour. It is the well-authenticated story of a Highland mother, who, at the close of spring, was suddenly overtaken, in a wild glen among the mountains, by what was long recalled by her fellow-villagers as "the Great May storm." After attempting in vain, for some time, with her infant in her arms, to buffet the whirling eddies, she laid the child down among heather and ferns, in the deep cleft of a rock; with the brave resolve, if possible, to make her own way home through the driving sleet, and obtain help for her little one. She was found by the anxious neighbors, next morning, stretched cold and stiff on a snowy shroud. But the cries of the babe directed them to the rock-crevice, where it lay, all unconscious of its danger; and from which it was rescued in safety. Many long years afterwards, that child returned from distant lands--a disabled soldier, covered with honorable wounds. The first Sabbath of his homecoming, on repairing to a city church (where he had the opportunity of worshiping God "after the manner" and in the cherished language of his forefathers), he listened to an aged clergyman unfolding, in Celtic accents, the story of redeeming love. Strange to say, that clergyman happened to be from the same Highland glen where he himself had spent his youth. Stranger still, he was illustrating the Divine tale with the anecdote, to him so familiar, of the widow and her saved child! A few days afterwards, that Pastor was summoned to visit the deathbed of the old soldier. "I am the son of that widow," were the words which greeted the former, as he stood by the couch of the dying man. "Lay my bones beside hers in the churchyard among the hills. The prayers she used to offer for me have been answered. I have found deliverance in old age where I found it in my childhood--in the cleft of the Rock; but it is--THE ROCK OF AGES!"
May He, who of old attested with a voice from Heaven, "This is my Beloved Son," add His own blessing to this feeble attempt to direct the inquirer's eye to these glorious "Clefts"--to unfold and illustrate the grandest of all revealed truths--"the mystery of godliness--God manifest in the flesh." May the perusal of what follows, enable both reader and writer to subscribe with greater confidence to the Prophet's exhortation– "Trust in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is THE ROCK OF AGES!"