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it; and that, too, by the exercise of what is commonly termed wisdom; and we live to prove, by bitter experience, the truth of the passage, “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."
Our impatience, too, is a source whence so much of our trouble arises. We acknowledge our ignorance, and wait upon the Lord for counsel ; but then we do not tarry for his answer, hut run away with half-messages. The consequence is trouble and anxiety ; fear and apprehension as to the reality of our deliverance. Having hurried on the birth, as in natural, so in divine things, acute pains follow. Far better linger with Moses' slowness of speech (Ex. iv. 10), and Jeremiah's childishness (Jer. i. 5), than run with Peter's self-confidence (Mark, xiv. 29–31). “Better is the end of a thing, than the beginning thereof." Better enter upon an undertaking with doubt, timidity, and fear, than with a fleshly confidence. The former furnishes many an errand to the throne, and leads to the importunate cry, “If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence ;” the latter engenders a vain confidence, and a dangerous self-sufficiency; the one leads to God, the other from God. The one produces a watchfulness of spirit, a carefulness of walk ; the other an incautiousness, if not a presumption, of which Satan and our own deceitful hearts are sure to take the advantage.
We find to our cost, to our shame and confusion of face, that we have travelled by a wrong road, that we had selected a path for ease, but found one of disquietude and sorrow. How much anguish and bitterness of spirit is the result! With what distress of soul has it driven us again to our closets, and to the Lord, to acknowledge our folly, to beg forgiveness, and to ask his guidance for the future. Well, and this He kindly vouchsafes ; and the nearer we are kept to him, the more importunate our wrestlings, the more conspicuous will be his guidance of our steps.
Be not discouraged, therefore, poor soul, if your present steps are attended with darkness and manifold fears ; if it keeps you near the throne, it works well, and the hand of your God is in it; and, hereafter, the retrospect of your present steps will afford inconceivable gratitude and joy. Generally the hand of the Lord is more clearly seen after, than at the time. He is often working wonders, when we are ready to conclude he is regardless of us. Some of you that are now in the very depths of temptation-in soul desertion and apparently given over to the tempter's power (as Job appeared to be), shall prove this, ere long, to the joy and rejoicing of your hearts. You shall be brought forth again, as surely as there is a God in heaven ; the tempter shall be foiled, as surely as the Prince of Peace rose a mighty conqueror over death, hell, and sin ; you who now suffer under a darkness that may be felt-you, upon whom (as upon Abraham of old) there is a “horror of great darkness” (mark the expression, a “horror of darkness"); who, in yourself, have apparently given up all hope, and think now that he has too long delayed his coming, ever again to appear ; for you! for you! shall our glorious Captain appear ; yes, and again shall your harps be taken from the willows ; again shall you sing the songs of Zion ; the night, the painful night of darkness and soul-desertion, shall have passed away ; the morn of hope, of joy, and unspeakable consolation, shall burst upon you, and you shall sing upon the heights of Zion.
Hasten that glorious morn, O most mighty Lord ! rebuke the adversary ; scatter the fears of thy chosen ; thou, who didst, out of a Mary Magdalen, cast seven devils, who didst say to the devil in the man among the tombs, “Come out of him,” rebuke the devourer—bid him be gone ; and say to the tempted souls, whom thou hast loved with an everlasting love, “Fear not-it is I-be not afraid.” Lord, carest thou not, that thy little ones perish ? Look upon them, Lord. Remember them in their low estate, because thy mercy endureth for ever. Consider their condition ; see how low they are sunk; how fearful- how despairing-how ready to give up all for lost. Oh, speak but one word-one soft, gentle word ; they will know thy voice, thy lovely voice, in a moment. It will silence every fear, scatter every doubt and bring them, that are now through the power of temptation and the prevalence of unbelief, ready to curse thy name, to bow at thy dear feet, as Thomas did, and with sweet brokenness and sorrow, exclaim, “My Lord and my God!" One word, Lord, one word, we crave, for thy tempted ones.
The Lord's is not merely a sure and a safe guidance, but the promise is, that it shall be a continual guidance. Ah! beloved, He that guided you into life, and thus far through life, shall assuredly guide you all the way, and “afterwards receive you to glory." You are certain that he has guided you hitherto ; that even by the skilfulness of his hand, he has conducted you : but your fears are, that in some fatal day, or in some painful dispensation, he will withdraw himself—forsake you ; if not for a continuance, yet for a season. Never, beloved, while this fear is implanted in your heart. It is, assuredly, one of the surest safeguards ; and God, in mercy, still keep it alive in your bosom, and cause it to bring you to his footstool. It is “ the haughty spirit” that shall be “laid low ; ” “the proud spirit humbled ;' it is “pride that goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” And, depend on it, you are much safer with these fears—this holy caution -- in exercise, which leads you continually to cry to Jesus for counsel and protection, than if you were possessed of a bold, fleshly confidence, in the strength of which you were presumptucusly walking.
Dear reader, farewell! We leave the few scattered thoughts with you, and with the Lord ; praying him, if it be his will, to seal them home, with divine power, upon some poor troubled breast. Oh, that his blessed Majesty may shine in afresh upon some of his exercised ones ; drawing their minds away from weak, ignorant, sinful self, to the sweet contemplation, to faith's dear appropriation, of an all-suitable, all-sufficient, all-lovely Jesus. Here, and here alone, is solid comfort ; the creature nothing, and Christ Jesus All in all !
THE PORTRAIT-J. W. GOWRING. As "iron sharpeneth iron ; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." And this is a likeness of our friend and brother Gowring, whose circumstances we have occasionally brought before our readers. Surely his is an encouraging case to the poor, tried child of God; a sweet confirmation of the promise, “ I will not lay upon thee more than thou art able to bear.” In the case of Mr. Gowring, the Lord is honouring the faith of his own implantation. When his affliction was getting to its climax ; his eyesight so completely removed that he was unable to read; and the doors of Providence seemingly closing against him on every hand, his mind, he told us, was stayed upon this one text, “And he commanded the ravens to feed him there." What has been done, and what is still doing, gives abundant testimony, that “ though the Lord gives the bread of adversity and the water of affliction,” yet still occupying his seat in the heart—retaining his hold of the affections, and causing the soul to repose its whole trust and confidence in himself, he can and does ward off every intruder-keep the great adversary at a becoming distance, and sustain the otherwise sinking soul in the arms of covenant love and sweet filial enjoyment.
WATCHMAN! WHAT OF THE NIGHT ?-ISAIAH, xxi. 11. Watchman ! what of the night?
Three quarters past eleven ; dark and gloomy; the Lord God of Sabaoth insulted by a numerous host, which have arisen professedly to espouse his cause—to vindicate his truth and set forth the glory and honour of his name; they are, however, “ zealously affected, but not well."
Watchman ! what of the night ?
As the sun went down, a glimmering light was seen ; it brightened ; many were led away by it; to their number others were added, until now the hour of midnight has well nigh arrived, they may be called legion, for they are many. Watchman! what of the night ?
A false charity arose, which has scattered itself far and wide ; it sets itself, not against error, but in opposition to truth; it is accoutred, not against the enemies of truth, but against those who dare to be singular in their vindication of truth, in its original and discriminating form.
Watchman! what of the night?
In the exercise of this miscalled and misguided charity, which had now attained such a fearful influence, the senate of the land passed a law, giving equal privilege and freedom to her who, in previous ages, had exercised her lamentable authority in the most rigid, cruel, and hellish persecutions, instigated and led on by the prince of the power of the air. From that fatal moment she has played her part with satanic artifice. Seated in the human heart since the fall of man-having from that hour resided there ; pretending to occupy her position by right of