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· mise that his seed should be numerous as the stars. Thus till the time of accomplishment, Abraham was supported by the promise, and so received strength divine under this long trial of faith. Our God does nothing in a hurry, and best things are always lengest coming. Remember this, poor exercised believer, and do not take delays as denials. “ Thy peace shall yet be as a river,” and thy apprehension of the righteousness of God in Christ as the waves of the sea. The Lord only waits to be gracious, that is, waits for the expiration of the time eternally purposed and decreed, waits for the set time to fayour Zion, and meanwhile is teaching thee many a precious lesson, strengthening thy faith by exercising it upon the promise, and adding to thy faith patience. The heart of thy God burns with love to thee ; even now he is rejoicing over thee with joy : thou art fair and beautiful in his eyes, though vile and hateful in thine own, and ere long thou wilt be able to testify, “My beloved is mine ; and I am his."
But now we come to the dark side of the picture ; Abraham grows weary of waiting upon the promise, listens to the suggestion of Sarah, and falls in with her human policy and carnal device.
Beloved in the Lord, bear in mind under your trials, that self-deliverance is self-destruction, and that you may hinder but cannot help. David said, when his faith was in lively exercise, “Let bim deliver me out of all tribulation,” and many a painful lesson the saints have to learn, before they are brought to this. See what a long train of evil proceeded from this faithless step of Abraham, the domestic strife and contention, and the destruction of many a peaceful hour which resulted therefrom ; hence we learn that the best kind of doing is believing, and that a childlike waiting upon the promise in faith, is accomplishment in the bud. But let us not pass this without noticing the grace, mercy, and sovereignty of our glorious God, who overrules even the mistakes and errors of his children for their good, and his own glory. Thus we behold in Abraham's act a typical representation of the Church of the living God, the two principles nature and grace, the conflict thence existing, and the blessed triumph of the promised seed (Gal. iv.) Beloved, in looking back on past days, art thou often saying, O that I had not taken this or that false step; O that I had not made this or that mistake ; would that I had avoided this or that evil ! I know, poor saint, the Devil often comes and whispers thus ; having first tempted, then he accuses, and would condemn ; and sometimes succeeds as far as thy experience goes ; but though thou rememberest with bitter anguish all the occasion thou hast given to the enemy, yet thy God has forgotten it long since : nay, thou wast eternally justified, viewed in Christ, “ thou wast holy and without blame before him in love, and as love covereth all sins, so, when he spread his skirt over thee, there was an everlasting oblivion of all thy sins, past, present, and to come. Thy mistakes were all foreknown, and permissively regulated by unerring wisdom, and the enemy's chain was lengthened by divine sovereignty. “Out of him came the corner, out of him the battle bow, out of him, every oppressor together (Zach. x. 4.) I chose out their way, said our antitypical Job. Thy way, poor believer was necessary to the end, and
infinite wisdom marked it all out. No contingency arose that Omniscience did not foresee, and no evil that infinite love and power did not provide for. Our dear Lord said to his enemies, “Thou couldst have no power at all except it were given thee from above,” and in faith thou mayst say the same. This was all to strip thee of pride, to lay thee in the dust, to teach thee to ascribe all to sovereign grace, and to see, feel, and say, “Not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name be the praise, and honour, and glory.” So now we have got a step higher here, not only that thy way, though evil, was foreknown ; but that it is overruled for thy good. Thus when God brought Eve to Adam, and pronounced her a helpmeet for him, Adam subsequently might have had many doubts as to the propriety of this appellation. A helpmeet, and yet the introducer of sin, woe, death, and destruction upon the whole human family! But it was even so. The mercies of the church began to bud in the fall, which shall blossom in eternity, and the elect received a better inheritance in Christ, than they had lost in Adam.
But an objector exclaims, This were to make God the author of evil. To such we would say— Your reasoning, and intellectual conclusions will not do here. The way was ordered by the Lord, the sin belonged to human nature ; and the child of God shall smart for his sin, though the Lord in tender mercy may satisfy and quiet his soul under the divine conviction that every step was traced out eternally in the chart of his secret decrees ; and so the believer realizes experimentally the Apostle's words, “We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth :” but the reverse of this, would be to ascribe Omnipotence to Satan, and weakness to God. Poor caviller, we wish and pray that when the Spirit casts his light npon the path thou hast come, and discovers all thy mistakes, thou mayst be led under divine unction (while confessing with shame thy sin) to see it was a right way to a city of habitation; that wisdom and mercy directed that way ; that the crosses thy mistakes produced, were necessary to meet thy corruptions, while the evil share thou hadst in it all, justifies God, and teaches thee to say, He has not dealt with me according to my sin, yet mayst thou be brought to say “all things work together for good, to them that love God; to them that are the called according to his purpose,” and to see that thou couldst not have missed one step of thy way, avoided one trial, escaped one tear, though they may all have proceeded from one mistake, one faithless act, one human device, one outburst of thy carnal will. And this experience will not tempt thee, as some would imagine, to throw the reins of thy will upon the neck of thy lusts, and so plunge into sin. We have but to wish thee the realizing of this, and then we shall see, as thou wilt find, that “the grace of God which bringeth salvation teaches that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,” thou art enabled “to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world,” to the praise and glory of thy covenant God.
But, beloved in the Lord ! thou must have a pathway of sorrow as thy Master had. Do not dwell on the cause of thy sorrows, but look for the overruling of them to thy good, and God's glory. The Lord has a measure of service to get out of all his family, either by doing, or suffering, and no matter from what source thy griefs spring, or how they may flow, yet are they needful and necessary to thy present good, and ultimately to God's glory. Now thy faith may be sorely tried herein, but when thou canst realize this, thy cross will be greatly lightened; though it 'may not be removed, the sorest place upon which it has so long laid rankling and fretting will be healed, and thou wilt be enabled, instead of lying groaning under thy cross, to take it up, and carry it after Jesus, and so unravel in 'thine experience Samson's riddle “Out of the eater came 'forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.” We learn another truth from this family history, that individual trials are also designed for the use of the church. Trials to the believer are of the same use that the snuffers were in the tabernacle ; 'to make the lights burn clearer, and so, by trials, the light of a child of God is made to shine before men. Thus the manna was not to be hoarded but used, so thy experience is for others as well as for thyself. Thy mistakes make thee lenient and forbearing; thy sins keep thee humble and patient ; thy joys make thee zealous and active ; and thy hopes make thee willing to live out thy little day to the glory of God, and the-good of his people, previous to an everlasting and ever blessed union with him, and them, in eternity. O beloved, this is enough to make thee in love with thy cross, and
“Joy to find in ev'ry station,
Something still to do or bear.” But perhaps some tried child of God may be ready to say, My cross only excites my corruptions, and lays me open to distinct outrages from Satan, therefore I would gladly rid myself of it, and often I am led to
“Wonder where the scene will end." Consider; and deal with this thought as the very worst symptom in thy disease. The enemy's wedge once admitted he will loosen thy confidence in covenant love, and level all thy happy experience of Divine faithfulness. A council of angels could not have provided a more suitable,. necessary, and God-glorifying cross, than the one thou hast, and in getting rid of that, a worse may be in store for thèe.
The evils it seems to produce will endear to thee that precious name and character of thy Lord, The Repairer of the breach. Thou will often be driven to embrace the Rock for want of a shelter, and thou wilt find thy cross gives thee many an errand to the throne of mercy, and many a kind look and tender embrace from the King, when wayworn and fainting, thou art compelled to fall at the feet of thy Lord, and cry out, “Save or I perish, Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death." And then wilt thou be able to take up thy cross, with this song “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for thy love is better than wine. “But another is ready to say, My cross has somethiug peculiar in it, and none were ever tried as I am. This evil thought may have entered some heart, or be passing through the mind of a reader. Not so, beloved the word testifies to the contrary : “No temptation hath taken you, but such as is common to man.” Your nature in no way
differs from all the family of God-their trials and your's are the same. Their temptations and your's similar—their sins and your's alike in principle, though not in degree. Old Testament saints-New Testament saints, and saints now, have had, and now have, the same trials and temptations meted out to them that you have, so that there is commonalty and union by the way, as well as in the end. But above all you have the sympathy of Jesus :
“He knows what sore temptations mean,
For he has felt the same.” “He was tempted in all points like as we are.” Now for a moment turn your thoughts within-Aye, that very point you wail under, groan and cry aloud for help against, he felt, and he can sympathize with: you in—the dart was hurled at him first, though by reason of the perfection of Deity, it could make no lodgement there, but as perfect man he suffered being tempted that he might be able to succour them that are tempted. A word here by way of caution ; this precious doetrine, the sympathy of Jesus, must be received (as other divine truths) by faith alone. Let reason meddle with this, and it is defiled-put forth the hand of carnal intellect to uphold, explain, or pry into this, and Uzzah-like thou shalt perish, unless the Arm of Omnipotence be stretched out for thy deliverance and recovery from such peril.
If our readers do not think our few thoughts are extended too widely, we may resume the subject on some future occasion. May the Lord own and bless all that is of him.
WHEN I was a youth my father took me to hear a sermon preached on some particular occasion at — Chapel. I found it was a very startling discourse ; the preacher took his text from Jer. viii. 20, « The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Sinai thundered loud in my conscience, and made me very uneasy ; every sermon I heard I could easily distinguish the line of discrimination drawn by the ministers of truth, as they separated the precious from the vilę. And I often trembled within myself, but kept my thoughts a secret. I recollect a dream about this time ; I thought I was in the chapel above mentioned with a large group of people, and it was very dark. The minister was standing close by me, and talking very earnestly to a woman, who seemed to disregard all he said and treat it as an idle tale : at last he took hold of her with one hand, while with the other he opened a side door from which issued flames of fire and dismal groanings. He bid her look for a moment, and shutting it, exclaimed with a loud voice, “No salvation out of Christ ! he that believeth not shall be damned !” But methought the woman was more
obstinate than before, and replied, “ I will not believe ;” the minister then, with tears in his eyes, again opened the door and thrust her in, saying, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and you are not saved !” and immediately closed it upon her. Then turning to me, he was about to address me, but I was so agitated with the fearful dream that I awoke. But awful dreams, Sinai's thunderings, or visions of hell, moved me not; I was like the woman in my dream, still more obstinate and rebellious, and should have remained so until, like her, hell's gates would have closed on me for ever, had not almighty, invincible, and free grace made me willing in the day of Jehovah's power. And until that set time is come when the power is put forth, the sinner will remain hardened notwithstanding the pit of hell is pictured to him in the most fearful colours. Good John Rees, of Crown Street, used to say, “ Place the flames of hell between the sinner and his sins, and he will rush through them to embrace his darling lusts ; but let the love of God in Christ be placed between them, and however loved bis sins were before, this will stop him for ever.” Well and truly does Hart sing,
“Law and terrors do but harden,
All the time they work alone;
Cornelius SLIM. Woburn, Bucks.
THOUGHTS ON PSALM CXIX. 107. I am afflicted very much, quicken me, O Lord, according to thy word. NONE but such as have tasted that the Lord is gracious, can indeed repeat this psalm from the heart. It is a good method of judging of our spiritual state, by inquiring whether our minds are in unison with the sentiments of the good men who have lived in former periods of the world. Thus each should ask himself, “ Can I say with the writer of this psalm, “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes. Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. Order my footsteps by thy word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste, yea sweeter than honey unto my mouth ; I will run the way of thy commandments when thou shalt enlarge my heart." Those, indeed, are the children of the Most High who are conscious of their perpetual need of the quickening power of God's word and Spirit ; this was the psalmist's case. “I am afflicted very much,” said he, “quicken me, O Lord, according to thy word.” See here the psalmist's circumstances, his prayer, and his plea.
I. The psalmist's circumstances. “I am afflicted—very much ”. afflicted. All God's people have been in trouble ; they know that the path of sorrow is alone the path to the kingdom. Most of them have