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is otherwise with thee ; God the Holy Ghost has disturbed thy nest (Job, xxix. 18), passed by thee, saw thee in thy blood (Ezek. xvi. 6), breathed into thee the breath of eternal life, made thee a fit subject for a Redeemer's blood and righteousness ; and thou shalt as surely live and reign with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, throughout a blissful eternity, as surely as that thou now art in existence, and God is true.
We know that thou wilt stagger at our declaration, and that our mention of these things will secure to us the appellation of “Antinomians” of the very worst description ; that we sanction all manner of sin ; an unholy life, walk, and conversation : but for these things we are prepared. Nevertheless, “ let God be true but every man a liar” (Rom. iii. 4); we abide by our testimony ; we have no other to bring before thee ; it is what God has taught us, is teaching us, and we believe will teach us all our journey through. And, because he has bid us go forth “preaching liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison-doors unto them that are bound,” therefore we come forthnever more than at the present period in opposition to our own inclination-preaching peace by the blood of his cross.
To Jesus we direct thee, afflicted, sin-burdened soul; he is the good Samaritan, the skilful physician, the tender nurse. One look, one smile of tenderness and compassion from him, thy lovely Lord, will silence the accuser, subdue thy lusts, control thy untoward affection, and melt thy rocky heart into sweetest humility, love, and adoration. Nothing short of this will do for thee ; none other than the balm of Gilead can cure the malady of sin, or speak pardon, peace, and enjoyment.
Oh! that the great, the good Physician, may condescend to pay thee another visit ; that he may say to thee as King Ahasuerus said to Esther, “What is thy petition, and what is thy desire ?" Ah ! if he does thus salute thee, poor soul ! though thou now may seem past feeling, careless, indifferent, stoical -- apparently “twice dead and plucked up by the roots”—afar off from peace-full of murmuring and repining ; if he does draw near to thee, we tell thee his very approach
--before he even speaks to thee—will cause thee to drop into sweetest nothingness before him ; and then, when he draws a little nearer to thee, takes thee by the hand, and asks thee how it fares with thee? thine heart will be too full to reply ; thou wilt have no sorrows to tell him, no complaints to make, no tale of woe to unfold ; but, conscious of his divinity, his majesty, his grace, his power, his love, thou wilt be crumbled into dust at his blessed feet-and in broken accents, with an overflowing heart, exclaim with Mary at the sepulchre, “ Rabboni” (dear Lord and Master, I had no idea that it was thou ; I was unconscious of thy sweet presence : now are my wishes gratified ; now is my fainting spirit revived ; my burdened heart relieved ; for thou art all my salvation and all my desire)! Oh that thou wouldst pay us, thy poor weary travellers, a few more such visits, precious Lord! then it seems all would be well. We are full of trouble, disorder, and dismay, when thou dost withdraw thyself ; but no sooner dost thou return, than all is right. Every crooked thing is made straight, and rough place plain, and the glory of the Lord is indeed revealed :
“More frequent let thy visits be,
Or let them longer last;
Make haste, dear Lord, make haste."
Opposition to the Lord's dealings is to the believer another source of real “ oppression.” There are times when he can fall into his hands, and, contented with his dispensations, say, “Here I am, Lord ; do with me as seemeth thee good.” But, for the most part, it is otherwise with him ;
“ His flesh dislikes the way,
Though faith approves it well.”
He has a burden, a cross to bear ; and these ill accord with his natural inclination. He likes the smooth path, not the rugged road ; and because God leads him in the latter, he becomes the subject of opposition. He disputes the way, murmurs on account of it ; yea, like a wild bull in a net, he strives to free himself from it. He would fain put an end to this, that, and the other affliction ; this and that disease would be speedily cured were it in his power, but the more he strives the more fruitless his efforts. He is still farther off from peace, and more and more "oppressed ;” until at length, wearied out, exhausted, his strength all gone, none shut up or left, he is obliged to come to the position of our text, “ O Lord, I am oppressed ; undertake for me.”
This was a merciful feeling to be brought to. The mouth of prayer had previously been closed ; now it is open. Greatly as Hezekiah was bowed down and oppressed under the weight of his affliction, the eye of faith, though dim and languishing, was now directed to his great, his gracious, his almighty Deliverer. Beloved, we are persuaded that this is a mercy of which the children of God are not sufficiently sensible. For the most part, a medium of access to a gracious God and Saviour, by the mouth of prayer and supplication, is experienced though pot enjoyed ; the believer sighs, groans, and pants for deliverance ; and is alternately the subject of hope and fear in the prospect of relief : as each additional burden is laid on, so is he enabled more fervently to pour out his heart unto the Lord, and show before him his trouble : the Lord hears and answers the prayers of his own inditing, and graciously bestows the needed blessing. Anon, the soul is exercised with new trials ; fresh troubles press down his spirit ; under which, instead of being enabled to cry for deliverance, to besiege heaven with prayer, he is exercised with hardness, indifference, and rebellion : under bodily affliction, and in the prospect of death, he exclaims with Hezekiah, “I am deprived”-mark the expression ; as if the Lord were robbing him of that which he was only a tenant at will—“I am deprived of the residue of my years.” Is he exercised with temporal calamity ? Beneath these rebellious feelings, he adopts the language of Jonah, “It is good for me to be angry, even unto death ;” or in other words, to speak what may be his more familiar language, “ You may kill me if you like--I care not.” Under these conflicting feelings there appears
to be no faith, no prayer, not a spark of grace, in exercise. The individual is astounded, and, contrasting himself with his former experience, becomes perfectly amazed. He is a wonder unto himself; believes he is free among the dead (in trespasses and sins); that God has given him over to a reprobate mind, and that he shall perish in despair. What an awful situation does he feel himself to be in ! "Oh that he had never been born!” “Oh that he had ever named the name of Jesus !” “Oh that he had ever been so foolish as to express his attachment to him and his cause !” “Oh that he had never entered upon the path which has now involved him in so much trouble !” Then a sigh and a groan, which God alone hears and understands, bursts from his troubled heart; it speaks the language of the text, “ O Lord, I am oppressed ; undertake for me.”
But there is another soul “ oppressed” because he is not led into this deep path, and concludes therefrom that he has “no part nor lot in the matter ;” this is a lie of the devil. Dear soul, have you not been brought to see an end of all perfection in the flesh; that the commandment is exceeding broad ; that you fall short of the requirements of God's most holy law; and that nothing but the blood and righteousness of a dear Redeemer can cleanse and justify your naked sinful soul ? If this be the case, be not distressed or discouraged about a deeper path; this is a depth of knowledge which you were never taught in nature's school, nor by any other teacher than God the Holy Ghost ; and this blessed knowledge shall end in glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life. It is a common snare into which some of the children of God fall, to mark out one path by another ; and in consequence of their variation, because they do not come up to such and such a standard, they become sorely “oppressed.” We have said in a previous paper, that it is generally those who are to minister unto others—who are appointed instrumentally to give a portion to each in due season, that are called to wade in the depths of temptation and suffering. A minister of the Spirit has to taste more or less of every variety of experience, in order that he may administer to others out of the abundance of his own heart. Hence it is that he is for a length of time led by a way that he knows not; into depths that he cannot understand ; in order that he may describe them to others, and be the means in the hands of God of bringing those forth into Gospel light and liberty who were previously held in captivity under a belief that they were not in the path to the kingdom, and that theirs were not the marks of God's elect.
“Undertake for me.” The previous language having implied a deep consciousness of helplessness and inability, we next come to Hezekiah's supplication ; which bespeaks a thorough confidence in the power of God to help. Poor, “oppressed,” desponding reader, if the Lord the Spirit has brought you into a similar position ; if he has enabled you to make the like confession, and to utter the same entreaty, all hail! The sigh, the groan, the “Lord help me,” “undertake for me,” “ make a way for me,” “ bring me through,” does honour to your Lord, and entitles you to a participation in the blessing included in the promise, “Them
that honour me I will honour” (1 Sam. ii. 30). Yes, low as you are now sunk, great as may be your afflictions, and 'heavily as you may be "oppressed,” the dear Lord will secure to himself honour, glory, and praise-might, majesty, and dominion, in and by your “oppression” and deliverance. Blessed be his holy name,
“ His honour is engaged to save,
The meanest of his sheep;
His hands securely keep.” He keeps them as the apple of his eye, amid all the storms and difficulties of life ; he leads them by a right way that they might go to a city of habitation ; he has saved them in himself from death, hell, and sin, with an everlasting salvation ; and by and by he will bring all the dear objects of his love home to glory, to behold his face in righteousness, and to come no more out for ever.
Do we address a poor, tempted, sin-burdened soul ; one that is writing bitter things against himself ; one who is saying with Hezekiah in the chapter whence our portion is taken, “I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living ;” one who thinks himself as vile as the devil, and firmly believes he shall share in his condemnation to all eternity ; who imagines that an impassable gulf will for ever roll between his lost and ruined soul and the dear glorified family of the Most High. We say, are we addressing such ? Beloved, these your dark, gloomy, desponding fears, can no more be realized than God can cease to be God. Why, vile and filthy as you feel yourself to be, there is eternal enmity sown between you and the devil, in the new principle of grace which God has implanted in your heart, and you and he will be eternally separated as sure as God is true. You will mingle with the saints in glory, and sing the loud hallelujahs of God and the Lamb, while he is chained down in darkness and despair to all eternity. We speak not at a peradventure, but at a certainty ; we have the whole word of God on our side ; we have the testimony of ten thousand times ten thousand witnesses ; and lastly, we have knowledge of it by our own feeble experience. We walk much in darkness and have no light; troubled on every hand, the enemy thrusts sore at us that we may fall; and oftentimes are our spirits so burdened and cast down by reason of the ruggedness of the way, that we exclaim with the psalmist, “ Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?” Again, under the buffetings of the adversary, the worryings of the devil, we say within ourselves, “My hope is perished from the Lord ;" but anon, his blessed Majesty lifts up upon us the light of his countenance ; we hear his lovely voice whispering, “It is well,” and then careless of the opinion of men or devils, we go forth testifying of his matchless love, grace, and power. Blessed be his name !
God helping us, we will expose the wiles and stratagems of Satan ; though he sorely tries us for it afterwards, and though at the very moment we write he whispers, “ You are only speaking against one of
your own brotherhood ; by and by you shall be recompensed for your pains, your end will be black despair, and then in hell I'll torment you tenfold. Mark the delusive arguments of this vile monster ; at another time he will suggest that there is no God, no devil, no heaven, no hell, no future state-but a blank, a finish is put to us at death.
“Undertake.” Is the reader's case so complicated and difficult that he cannot comprehend it? Do his fears arise that it will terminate badly—that, after all, he shall be put to confusion, and the enemy triumph over him ? The blessed Spirit enable such a soul to adopt the language of the text, “O Lord, I am oppressed ; undertake for me." However dark and mysterious his case may be, it is not too hard for the Lord. “It is nothing with him to help, whether with many or with those that have no power.” One precious passage in the word of God gives him full liberty to carry his case unto the Lord-see Deut. i. 17, “The cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it."
Dear reader, we must again bid thee farewell, deeply conscious of the injustice we have done the subject we took as a text; while writing, our thoughts have been led in a very different course to that which presented itself when the subject was first laid upon our minds. Whether any hint has been dropped that shall be comforting to any of the tried members of the household of faith, the Lord only knows. We leave the few scattered thoughts in the hands of the blessed Spirit, beseeching him to do as he will with what may be his own, and the rest to pardon and forgive, not suffering it to rest as a stumbling-block in the hearts of his children. If what we have written should tend in any degree to make any of his family look within—to pour over self, we lament it, and our poor services have fallen short of their desired end; we therefore beg that his blessed Majesty would be pleased to lead his poor captive, “oppressed” souls--for they are his though captives and though “oppressed”-out of self, away from the creature, from poring over their sin, guilt, and misery, to look to Jesus as their hiding-place, their strong tower, and their defence. Oh that they may be led to cry unto HIM, “Lord, undertake for me—FOR ME. Remember my case; take an interest in my welfare ; support my mind ; comfort my heart ; bear up my soul ; and bring me through to the praise and glory of thy great and holy name.”
“ His love in times past forbids me to think
He'll leave me at last in trouble to sink;