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extreme, which, as soon as it manifests itself in habitual language, seems to stifle hope, and to stamp “reprobation" on such enemies to God and to themselves. To this day we feel our minds drawn out in anxious solicitude respecting an individual whom we commonly saw in an attendance on the means, some twelve years ago. He had once been a professor, united with a church ; but, left to himself, having been overcome of Satan and his own heart, had fallen into the habitual sin of drunkenness. On one occasion, while in a tavern or ale-house, one of his dissolute companions was heard profaning the name, and speaking disparagingly of the character, of the Lord Jesus Christ; instantly he was aroused, and, starting upon his feet, said, “ Though in this place, I will not bear that name spoken against ;" at the same time (strange as it may appear, more especially as he was a man remarkably small of stature) placing himself in an attitude of defence. We leave it to the reader to form his own conclusion, but we are free to acknowledge that we always had hope, at times amounting almost to a confidence, that God would bring that poor man out of the awful snare into which he had fallen, and make it manifest that he was one of His. How rejoiced should we be to hear that this was the case ; but whether the individual is alive or dead we know not. This, however, we know, that, as in the text before us, there are persons of the Lord's family, now, as in days of old, that are “grievously vexed with a devil.” In them he appears in a variety of ways, leading them into various kinds of evil, and tumbling them into all sorts of sin while under his power ; they being apparently given up of God to work “all uncleanness with greediness.” It is an awful state, we know, nor would we for one moment make light of it, or of the sin into which they have fallen. God forbid. But, knowing that we are in the body, and particles of the same lump, hewn out of the same quarry, composed of the same despicable materials, we have not a stone to cast. “So did not we because of the fear (?) (no, not altogether the fear, but the restraining hand) of the Lord.” Therefore we cannot but sympathize with, deeply feel for, and pray God (if it be his blessed will) to rescue such poor devil-kunted souls ; that if they have in times past appeared to belong to his fold, and have since fallen into iniquity, the Lord would hasten the happy time of manifestly bringing them back into the fold ; that, if they never did show any marks of adopting grace, he would be pleased, if they are in the covenant of grace according to eternal election, speedily to bring them forth out of Satan's power, graciously manifesting why it is that Satan thus seems to select, to pounce upon these, as the more definite objects of his prey.
Ah ! why is it? In very many cases is it not because the devil, knowing or fearing that his time is short; knowing what a merciful and faithful High Priest we have to do with, and, ever on the look out, thinking that here and there he sees some good thing towards the Lord God; discovering a restlessness, hearing a sigh, watching a tear, and beholding at times
“ The upward glancing of an eye,
(for such souls are the very last to betray these inward feelings to their fellow-mortals, more especially those with whom they are most familiar), he (Satan) is made more on the alert, he becomes more vigilant and active ; and how he worries, torments, and annoys is only known to the Lord's family, and, in its full extent, to comparatively very few of them. As we have said before, were many of the children of God to tell out to professors, and even to many real possessors, one half of what they have been called to encounter with Satan and their own hearts, they would be thought of, as was Paul, to be “beside themselves,” and very proper subjects for St. Luke's, or some other lunatic asylum. But these are the secrets of the family, deposited more particularly in the hearts of the Lord's own messengers, to be opened up as circumstances may require. It is by much of this inexplicable path, and greatly in this trying experience, such are led prior to the Lord's bringing them forth to reveal the craft and wiles of the devil, and comfort the tempesttossed and harrassed of his family. Such experience is to them, however trying to pass through, of incalculable worth afterwards ; without it, they know not how to comprehend, much less to explain, the knotty parts of those souls' experience whose path hath been, or is, in the “deep waters.” Such experience is to them like a vocabulary, or book of reference; when a poor soul comes in contact with them, and begins to tell of his dark exercises and manifold fears, there is an instantaneous response ; and with a warmth of heart and an overflowing soul to the Lord for his great goodness in vouchsafing delivering mercies, his mind will be sweetly led back into past experience ; he will tell of the different spots in which he has been, the narrow escape there, the timely interference here, and the Lord's gracious appearance in a third place, till the poor tempted soul is warmed, comforted ; hope springs up; the souls of each are knit together in a bond which exists to all eternity ; and the poor tempted soul, frequently, with a bursting heart will exclaim, “Well, if he has delivered you, my brother, who knows but he may deliver me?" Ah! that sweet expression, for it is sweet to a poor famishing soul — “who knows but he will have mercy ? who knows but he will still regard such a vile loathsome creature as I feel myself to be ? who knows but he will, even at this the eleventh hour, stretch out his hand to my rescue ? Thou hast power, Lord God of Israel, exercise it ; thine arm is not shortened that thou canst not save, nor is thine ear heavy that thou canst not hear. Lord hearken, Lord save, or I perish. I believe in thy power from my inmost soul; it is only thy willingness that I stumble at. Oh! show unto me that thou art as willing as thou art able ; aud then such a guilty wretch will testify of thy great power, thy infinite compassion, thy boundless love ; yes —
* Then will I tell to sinners round,
And say, Behold the way to God.'” Beloved, think not because we do not dwell upon these points, as we once did, that therefore we have forgotten them, or that we cease to feel for those precious souls that are now in Satan's sieve; oh no, no ! While we dwell, or attempt to dwell, upon the merits, and power, and grace, of our great and gracious Deliverer, we hope never to forget the rock whence we were hewn, nor the hole of the pit whence we were digged. It is Jesus, Jesus, the dear Immanuel, the God with us indeed, that hath brought us up out of the horrible pit, and miry clay, set our feet upon a rock, and established our goings; yes, and praises to him, he hath put a new song into our mouth, even praise to his holy name.
Cheer up, ye disconsolate ones, your present darkness shall shortly subside. Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star, shall, ere long, arise and shine upon you. Dark as is the night, the morning will soon break. Many, many of you have seen the worst of it. Your sustaining God in the fire shall soon be your comforting God after the fire ; and when he does bring you forth—and he surely will-you will bless him and praise him for the very exercises through which you are now passing. We speak at a point, and why? Because we have traversed the path, every step of it; and would not now have been without a single exercise, no, not for worlds. And why? Because Jesus hath made himself so precious thereby. Beloved, we never should have been here till the 23rd of September, 1842, to testify of the love, the grace, the faithfulness of Jesus, but for sweet love, rich mercy, bound. less compassion. We never should have outlived Satan's temptations, had there not been a stronger than Satan engaged on our behalf. How is it that you, and why are we, passed by, preserved, kept even as the members of Jehovah Jesus? Why? Because he will keep us, of his own free, unmerited love and by his power. All glory to his name. We want eternity to dawn, and these “vile bodies” to be laid in the grave, ere we can praise him as we would. Those are sweet lines of the poet, beloved ; let us sing them in sweet anticipation of ere long beholding Him whom our souls love in glory everlasting, as some now do with whom we have ofttimes sung them on earth :
“Forgive the song that falls so low
An angel's song can do no more.” We must, however, return to the text from which we have been so unintentionally wandering. We meet with a sweet word on its very threshold, a little word of three letters, but a great word in its relative import-but-but; then though the Saviour seemed to take no notice of the woman, there were reasonable grounds for presupposing that he would ? Ah! beloved, this is a blessed fact, just suited to you and us as poor needy sinners, constantly wanting fresh mercies at the hand of a compassionate, tender-hearted Jesus. “But he answered her not a word.” It is as if the Holy Ghost had said that, notwithstanding this dear woman had come to Jesus conscious of her wants, and with a full knowledge of his ability to help, he answered her not a word; as much as to say, it was so strange, so unlike him, that having given a sense of need, he did not, according to his promise, supply that need. Oh! it is a blessed point to be brought to. It is, as it were, meeting the Lord upon his own ground; a poor sinner importuning a mighty Saviour,
whose dignity, as a Redeemer, rested upon the exercise of a full, a free, a timely salvation. It is faith coming for the fulfilment of the promise ; the banker's draft presented for payment; and the hand of faith outstretched for the proceeds. Think of this but, poor tempted soul, who hast too heavy a heart to read much; too confused à mind to enter into the spirit and meaning of what little you do read ; and too much harrassed with Satan and unbelief to take comfort to yourself till the Lord, by his own immediate power, applies that comfort ; bear in your thoughts, we repeat, this one little word, but ; this word demon. strative of faith's expectation.
“ He.”—The faith of the dear pleader addressed itself to a specific object, even Jesus, and from that object she looked for a definite reply.
“ Answered."--This sets forth the custom of the Lord to reply, as we have previously hinted at.
“ Her.”—The distinctive way in which the Holy Ghost has recorded it, seems to imply a something very blessed in reserve. The picture is not yet complete ; the curtain not fully drawn ; the tale as yet but partially told. “ Her-her;" it seems to imply that the Lord's attention was not diverted from his other disciples—that he kept up his conversation with them and that thereby the poor woman was kept in the greater suspense, and her faith put to the severest test. The Lord's silence was very peculiar : he seems not to have acted with even common courtesy, in order to make way for the more special display of his mercy. Bear in mind, dear reader, the longer the Lord keeps you pleading, and the more importunate your wrestling, the more decisive his replies when they are given. It is earnest questions and decisive answers-peculiar trials and special deliverances-dark nights and bright mornings-cloudy days and clear sunshine, that bring the Lord's dear family to decision-holy familiarity-and a blessed establishment. It is by these painful yet profitable reverses, under the wise conduct of the Holy Ghost, that the people of God are brought, without a waver or a doubt, to exclaim, “He is mine, and I am his.” “This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.”
“ Not a word.”-A total silence-mute—apparently indifferent : perhaps, most probably, not even a look; nothing to encourage; nought to say—“ Still cry on ”-except what? That which proves the power and Godhead of the Holy Ghost-his inward, irresistible pleadings. Jesus was silent, but the Spirit was operating upon the poor woman's heart still to cry on. What encouragement for you, dear praying souls.
" And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away, for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” See the watchful, jealous care of Jesus over his flock. When the disciples were for upbraiding, and would have her cast off, Jesus interposed; implying, that he must keep the management in his own hands—that his testing her was quite sufficient, without their interference. Oh, how often does the harsh sayings, the rash conclusions, the overbearing conduct of a fellow-mortal towards one of the Lord's jewels, bring the Lord, as it were, to a point. It is as if he would say, “ Here is one about to interfere-I must stop him ; I must give the lie to what he says : my promise is at stake ; I
said, “No weapon formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue rising in judgment against thee, thou (mark that thou) shalt condemn.'” Frequently the Lord permits the adversary apparently so far to gain his ends, as to put language into the mouths of some by whom he is permitted to work- enemies to God, enemies to his children ; loud in their acclamations against the poor soul that already seems pressed down above measure ; like unto Mordecai and the Jews of old, the finishing stroke seems about to be struck; power is apparently given over into the enemy's hand ; the Lord has departed, and destruction is inevitable in the poor soul's own apprehension. But Satan (with his nearly six thousand years' experience) is sure to overreach his mark ; his vassals go too far; and God, in his wisdom and compassion, confounds his enemies-proves that they have a lie in their right hand. In a moment, and in some unexpected, least-thought-of way, he blasts their foul intentions, and by the same judicial act to them, but parental act towards his injured child, shows to the latter his good-will and fatherly kindness.
“ Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.” What a meek, simple, yet importunate plea! “Lord, help me”-a poor helpless one. May it be your petition, dear reader, whose case is too trying and complicated to put into words. Here was our sister, brim-full of trouble ; only able, in the midst of her afflictions, after, most likely, trying every remedy, using every means in her power, to obtain the relief she sought-to groan out these three plain yet expressive words, “ Lord, help me.” “Me.” It was her trial, though it was her daughter that was afflicted. And it is your trial, though it may be that it is your husband or wife, your son or daughter, your near kinsman, that is the more immediate source of your conflict. Ah ! plead on, “ Lord, help me.” If you have no other words, use these again and again : this is not the vain repetition of which the Lord spake (Matt. vi. 7), which Satan would have you believe. Paul besought the Lord thrice that his thorn in the flesh might be removed; and a greater than Paul, even the Lord Jesus himself, went and prayed more earnestly, “ using the same words,” (Matt. xxvi. 44).
Though no other words were used, this one expression, “ Lord, help me,'' was regarded in the light of a question ; (what encouragement for
+ For this idea we are indebted to Arthur Triggs. We will not knowingly commit a theft, without acknowledging it. The practice of copying other men's writings, or giving their sayings as one's own, we abominate. Yet this is the custom of the day. The orderly discourses, and beautifully arranged sermons, are gleanings from other men; hence dryness in their delivery, and barrenness in their reception. The judgment may be informed, but the heart is unaffected, because the Holy Ghost, the dear testifier of Jesus, and remembrancer of his church, is out of the question. How men, therefore, can be so brazen-faced as to stand before a people, preaching what they have gathered from books, instead of what they have received from the Holy Ghost in a way of genuine heart-felt experience, we are at a loss to determine. We would sooner, a thousand times, follow the example of an old minister that used to preach over in Church Street, Blackfriars-Mr. Upton : “ My friends," said he, one day in the middle of his discourse, “ I am shut up;" and down he sat. And very properly to ; for how dare a man to think that the Holy Ghost will set his signet to a robbery? Some of the young parsons and the deeply studious will rebuke the poor ignorant Editor for this, but their rebukes are of no moment. “ Our witness is in heaven, and our record on high,” If their clothes wore more at the knees than at the elbows, we should begin to expect more savoury sermons.-- ED.