The Refiner! by William Nicholson, 1862
“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness. Malachi 3:2-3
Thoughts by Nicholson continued from previous posts.
(Perhaps not a popular concept in our generation – however, it is true – God will refine (make pure) His people).
8. Refiners of silver sit with their eyes steadily fixed on the furnace, that they may watch the process. The process is never complete and perfect, until the Refiner sees his own image in the melted mass.
Just so, Christ sits by the furnace as the great Refiner. All is under his wise and compassionate management. “When you pass through the fire, I will be with you.” He sits there to temper the heat according to the infirmities and weakness of his children. He sits there to comfort them, and to carry on the process — until he discerns in their souls, in their tempers, and in their practice — the reflection of his own image. He will maintain and carry on this refining process, until his people shall enter Heaven, when they shall be “perfect and entire, lacking nothing.” The Church triumphant will bear his image and reflect his glory. They “shall be like Him,” “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing!”
A few ladies in Dublin were reading the above passage; when one of the ladies gave as her opinion, that the fuller’s soap, and the refiner of silver, were only the same image, intended to convey the same view of the sanctifying influences of the grace of Christ.
No, said another, they are not just the same image; there is something remarkable in the expression in the third verse: “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” They all said, that possibly it might be so. This lady was going into the town, and she promised to see a silversmith — and report back to them what he said on the subject. She went, without telling him the object of her errand, and begged to know the process of refining silver; which he fully described to her.
“Do you sit, sir,” said she, “while you are refining?” “Oh! yes, madam, I must sit, with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, since if the silver remains too long, it is sure to be injured.” She at once saw the beauty and the comfort too of the expression: “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”
Christ sees it needful to put his children into the furnace, but he is seated by the side of it. His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying; and his wisdom and his love, are both engaged to do all in the best manner for them.
The lady was returning to tell her friends what she had heard; just as she turned from the shop door the silversmith called her back, and said that he had forgotten to mention one thing; and that was that he only knew that the process of purifying was complete, by seeing his own image in the silver!
When Christ sees his image in his people, his work of purifying is accomplished.
9. A Refiner in refining gold and silver wastes his fuel.
Christ sometimes in the refining of his Church, wastes the wicked who are his fuel, and by whose instrumentality he frequently tries them. The fire of God’s wrath seizes upon them, as in the case of Pharaoh, while they are persecuting his people.
10. Real gold receives no injury from fire, though it may decrease as to bulk, when put into the furnace.
But it is only the separation of the dross that lessens the size. Pure gold is so fixed, that an ounce of it set in the furnace for two months, did not lose a single grain.
And sincere Christians will abide the day of his coming, when he shall sit as a Refiner, in a day of distress and tribulation. And though the Church thereby shall be made less in bulk and quantity, the formal and drossy part exceeding in number the precious metal — yet in quality it will shine forth more gloriously, and be more acceptable to God.