« EdellinenJatka »
love indeed : many a painful leaf has been turned over since that period; but still thou art advancing in knowledge, (not in creature-holiness); learning, though but slowly; instructed by the same blessed Teacher, in the same school, from which thou wilt never be excluded ; for it is a fixed, irrevocable decree of its Founder, never to exclude one of its scholars. It has been established now some thousands of years, and such a circumstance was never known as for one of them to be turned out. And yet so far from their being good, attentive scholars, they are the most ignorant, ungrateful, worthless set of beings ever beheld. The compassion, forbearance, and long-suffering of their divine Master is beyond all description. Were he not more than human, every scholar would be excluded, from the youngest to the oldest. And yet he has wonderful power over them. Though they are such an unruly, disorderly set, he can subdue them in a moment. They think, for the most part, that he is a rigid Master, and teaching them some hard, out-of-theway, unnecessary lessons; they are, in consequence, cross, fretful, and rebellious : but no sooner does He enter smilingly, and speak to them one soft, gentle word, than their enmity is slain, their rebellion subdued, and a smile of love and admiration takes possession of every countenance. As soon as they arrive at the end of the volume in which he is instructing them, he takes them, one by one, home to his blessed abode; to be: for ever with him, and to come no more out for ever. With many the leaves are nearly run out; the last page will soon be turned over, upon which is written, “ Grace, grace unto it.” Blessed are they that read therein ! ; .
We come to another soul that says he has no trouble, and therefore fears his is not the mark of God's elect; to such our poor services are in a measure burdensome. Some that are in affliction are comforted, while he is left barren and destitute; and is led to believe that, if he be indeed a child of God, some sore calamities are surely in reserve for him, in the anticipation of which he is greatly discouraged. And is not this trouble, reader ? Certainly it is. You may have comparative easy circumstances ; you may have health of body, peace of mind, and be surrounded by domestic comforts; God may have blessed you in basket and in store ; your children may be as olive-plants around your table : and all the free gifts of your loving God and Father. The Lord help you to receive them as such, to bless him for them, and to make a good use of them. It is as much a temptation of the devil to make you believe you are not a child of God because you have not the same outward troubles as most have, as it is for others to envy your enjoyments. But how say you that you have no trouble? Have you not an unbelieving, ungrateful, and treacherous heart? Do you feel that you have anything to boast about; or that there is something in you better than in your poorer neighbour? Do you envy the rich man in the temple, or does the cry of the poor publican better suit your case? Do you want to come in by any other way than by the little wicket-gate, even by Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life ? And say, are there not moments when he is precious to you; when you can say with Moses, “ Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season ?" Are there not moments when you could surrender every earthly comfort, and say, “He is all my salvation and all my desire ;" when you long to be with him, to be like him, and to see him as he is ? Ah! poor soul! yours are the footsteps of the flock. Pray the Lord to keep your conscience tender; to open your hearts to a sense of the wants of his family (for the poor ye have always with you), and that your heart may not be set upon riches. And the Lord enable you to rebuke the tempter when he approaches with his crafty insinuations, assuring you that you are not in the right path, because it is not a troublous one. There is frequently an afflictive heart where there are no afflictive circumstances.
“ Though I walk in the midst of trouble." Then David was walking--still going forward, though in the midst of trouble ? Reader, here is encouragement for you ; trouble and difficulty do not retard your progress, nor stop you in your career ; you are still heaven-bound and home-bound; still pressing towards the mark of the prize of your high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Every trouble passed through makes the number one the less. The trial of yesterday you have not to pass through again to-day. The dear relatives just committed to the silent tomb-the husband, the wife-the child, or the parent-cannot die again; no, their sufferings (if they slept in Jesus) are at an end ; and you may consider them as a piece of the Lord's workmanship completed-finished-taken home into the heavenly garner. “Walking.;" still in the way, agreeably to one of old, “No storm hath hurled us out of our place."..“ The righteous shall hold on his way." Beloved, this is a free, unconditional promise. It admits of no falling away, no final apostasy, no coming short of the blessed promises at last. No, no!. once in Christ in Christ to all eternity; and a sweet sense of being in Christ will be sure to bring forth fruit, to the praise and glory of God's grace, wherein we have been made accepted in the beloved. Those who know nothing experimentally of adoption blessedness, entertain different opinions; they tell us that such soul-comforting doctrines will give the reins to man's carnal lusts and affections, allowing him to carry into practice the evil desires of the old man of sin : but, beloved, you that fear the Lord, with whom is his “secret,” you have not so learned Christ; you cannot bear to walk contrary to so good a God; the more you know of him, and the clearer your knowledge of personal interest in him, the larger your desires to walk more closely with him ; to deny self, take up your cross, and follow him. .“ In the midst of trouble." Surrounded by it; trouble on every hand ; before, behind, on either side. The heavens like brass ; no breaking away of the clouds; no appearance of deliverance; no prospect of relief. This was David's experience; these his circumstances; yet was he an object of divine love; yea, we hear him called," a man after God's own heart." Where, then, can we have a stronger proof that trouble and affliction are no evidences of the Lord's displeasure towards him? " For they verily, for a few days chastened us after their own
pleasure ; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." " Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."
“ Thou wilt revive me.” The psalmist had been brought very low ; had been the subject of many gloomy fears ; had combated with unbelief, and encountered the shafts of the great adversary: now relief is at hand; hope again takes possession of his breast; and in the sure prospect of deliverance he exclaims, “ Thou wilt revive me ;' not, thou hast-thou dost—but, thou wilt. We delight to contemplate this sweet subject—the triumphs of faith ; singing of deliverance-shouting victory, before it comes, or even previous to there being any actual appearance of it. The Lord never gives the grace of faith without bestowing the fruits of faith. The one is the sure earnest and pledge of the other.
And now how shall we speak of the Lord's revivals ? we lay a stress upon the expression, because we hear much of revivals, which commence with the creature, which emanate from flesh and blood, and which leave its poor deluded votaries just where it found them, dead in trespasses and sins: it is not these revivals of which we speak; but those of which the blessed Spirit is the author, whereby he calls forth into new life and operation the graces of his own implantation; causing the soul to look away from self-out of the creature-above dark appearances, both providentially and spiritually, and enabling it to rest firmly and immovably upon the immutable promises of a faithful, unchangeable God. At such reviving times as these, barrenness, darkness, deadness, flee away ; and the dear child of God is refreshed as a giant with new wine.
Beloved, this languishing and reviving-walking in the midst of trouble, and then beholding the sweet delivering hand of the Lord out of trouble, is the portion—the common lot, more or less, of the Lord's family while traversing this waste howling wilderness; this is not their rest, here they have no continuing city. But, blessed be God, a happy and a more abiding reviving time awaits them. Soon their poor frail, worn-out bodies will languish, droop, and die, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it ; but what a glorious revival shall it be when they shall awake up in his likeness, to see him as he is, and eternally to be satisfied with him. No more trouble or pain then, no dark dispensations of Providence, no mysterious path, no more painful bereavements; no conflicts with sin, no buffetings of the great adversary; no, no, no! but a fulness, an eternity of bliss in the presence of God and the Lamb. Happy-thrice happy day! when shall the night of time be past, the clouds break away, and thy glorious' morning dawn? We long to hail its approach, and to exclaim with the church of old, • Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him !"
FOR AS THE HEAVEN IS HIGH ABOVE THE EARTH, SO
The various fears to which the Lord's regenerated family are liable while their conflicts with enemies from within and without continue, are vastly different to the fears of carnal and unconverted men. The former arise from the keen appetite created within them, and from their mixture with evil while in the present world, and is accompanied with at least some glimpses of hope, some gleams of love, and some anxiety for God's glory ; but the fears of the latter when conscience is let loose upon them, arise from a sense of God's power and justice without any mixture of regard to God or his glory. Such are the dread and horror felt by the apostate spirits mentioned in Matt. viii. 29, &c.
The fear here mentioned, is that filial fear of God's elect people which springs from their relationship to God as their covenant God and Father; “I will put my fear into their hearts.” And how sweet, believer, is it to have this fear implanted there ; the conscience made tender, the judgment unsealed, and the mind discerning. This made the church cry out, “I sleep, but my heart waketh ; it is the voice of my beloved," &c. (Song v. 2); and from hence arises a tender regard towards God's honour, a tender regard towards his ordinances, his house, his table, his Sabbath, his people, and to tell out the praises of him “who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.” It is true to the letter that there are innumerable dry and dark seasons, when the poor tried soul is in darkness, and appears to have no light; but this fear is and will be continually renewed and felt, and the gracious promise is that we shall “ fear him as long as the sun and moon endureth, and the faithful witness in heaven ;" and the Lord will assuredly fulfil all his designs.
The saving and distinguishing mercy of the Lord is only known and felt by that soul in which this fear exists ; and the proclamation here runs, “ For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.” And oh ! who is sufficient to measure this ocean of mercy ? language fails, comparison fails, the tongue of angels and men united are not able to express it, “so great is his mercy,” But this we can say, that when the elect Head of the mystic body graciously shows himself through the lattice, and puts in his hand by the hole of the door ; then the poor sin-convicted, self-despairing sinner is privileged to enjoy a sweet foretaste of this mercy, and is assured that a whole eternity is reserved in which he will be participating but then will not be able fully to express the mercy of the Lord, which “is from everlasting to everlasting upon all them that fear him." ,
H. R. Leicester, Nov. 26, 1840.
A FEW THOUGHTS ON FAITH.
Who teacheth like him ? This was the admiring interrogatory of one who was in God's stead to instruct Job, and unto this great truth the Beloved and Believing in Christ can put their seal. We have now to do, in pursuing our subject, with the trial of Faith, and Elihu's exclamation well suits our theme. But take another testimony, “Thus saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, I am the Lord thy God, which teacheth thee to profit, and leadeth thee by the way thou shouldst go," and a very rough rugged way it may be, poor believer, and one very hard for flesh and blood to walk in, nevertheless it is the way of God's choice, and the object and end is thy teaching and profit. If thou hast faith it must be tried, 1st. to prove that it is genuine (Job, xxiii. 10.) 2ndly, for God's glory (1 Pet. i. 7.) 3rdly, that it may grow and increase (2 Thess. i. 3, 4.) and 4thly, for thine own good (James, i. 3.) The worth of a thing is only known by trial, and however ingenious, excellent, or beautiful it may appear, it is a trial after all which stamps it as worthy, or the reverse. Now our God is a Di. vine Alchimist, who tests all his works by an unerring process, and his doing is in accordance with his being. Wonderful in council, excellent in working, hence the faith he gives, being of the operation of. God, must be like God, and so when tested, shall be “found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. The record given us in the word of God concerning the trial of the saints' faith is very remarkable, differing only in degree, and not in nature; the trial of each being suited to the measure of grace bestowed, so that “he that gathered much, had nothing over, and he that gathered little, had no lack.” And in this way the Lord keeps his children humble and dependent, reserving the honour of great trial, for great faith ; but apportioning the trial of each, to the strength of the grace imparted, so that man shall have nothing to glory of in his presence. In the Lord's promise to Abraham of a son, we have a notable instance of the trial of faith : 'the first communication respecting this was given to him on his entrance into the land of Canaan (Gen. xii. ".) “The Lord appeared unto Abraham and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land.” Time rolls on, and no son appears ; but a second and more distinct assurance is given by the Lord (Gen. xiii. 15, 16, 17); years pass by, and no promised seed is given ; a third time the Lord reiterates his promise (Gen. xv. 1), “Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” And here, beloved in the Lord,' we would have you observe Abraham's discouragement concerning the promise, and his somewhat peculant inquiry, “Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus ?"or, as the original may be read, I walk solitary, and the possessor of my house will be Eliezer that Damascene, “Behold, to me thou hast given no seed : and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.” Then follows a distinct pro