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very sorry to hear of her death. She was much esteemed by all the people here, and much sympathy has been expressed for you all in this great trouble.” Another late beloved parishioner in Ireland says: “It seems to me like a dream that we are no more to see her amongst us here below, when she was so full of life and vigour, and seemed so strong and well, when last among us."
My dear wife expressed her belief that the visit to which I have referred would be her last to Ireland. My dear friend, Dr. DALTON, of Tramore, writes : “We thought your dear wife ripening for glory very perceptibly when here last. There was an increased tone of spirituality in her conversation, and a more heavenly spirit about her, that struck us much."
Since my loved one's removal, two letters, under her own hand, have been kindly forwarded me. In both these she expresses the very deepest concern for my health ; and for any sign of improvement her heart seemed to overflow with gratitude to the God of all our mercies. Both her anxiety on my account, and her thankfulness for Divine interposition, exceeded anything I had ever before witnessed. In writing to a beloved sister, under date November 15, after going into details about the affliction wherewith the Lord had seen fit to visit me, she says: ....“I desire to be thankful that he can move at all. The Lord has been very good to us. He knew what was before us. Hard and unbelieving as my heart is, yet I must praise Him." Alluding to the journey we then had in prospect, she writes : “I will write to you on Tuesday, if we go, to tell you of the journey. I can only look to the Lord for strength and wisdom. The Lord alone can help us.”
Writing from Southsea to a beloved friend, under date Nov. 21 (only the day before she was seized with her last illness) after dwelling much upon the self-same theme of my health, and the opinion which Dr. Cousins had expressed of her own delicacy, she says: “I have had a most fearful attack of my breathing; I never had such an one before; the slightest movement causing me to pant fearfully, and to walk upstairs is something to be dreaded. It is very painful, but how merciful that it did not attack me whilst Papa was so ill. How good is our God! For the sake of my husband and children, I should like, if it pleased God, to live a little longer. But His time is best. May our uncertain health lead us to devote our hearts afresh to Him, and by His grace may we say, “We count all things but loss,”' &c. These were her closing words.
“ Her languishing head is at rest,
Its thinking and aching are o'er;
Is heaved by affliction no more;
Of trouble and torturing pain ;
(For conclusion, see page 49.]
TEMPTATION. " And Jesus was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan ; and was
with the wild beasts ; and the angeis ministered unto Him.”—Mark i. 13. BEAR with us, beloved, if we explain why we have headed our paper with that experimental word, “ Temptation.”. Thrice have we commenced themes for our meditation, and some hidden power seems to have dashed them away from us, and upset all attempts at order, such attempts having been accompanied by such a wretched coldness of heart and estrangement from God as we have not often felt. We have tried to speak, too, in the name of the Lord, but the same ice-bound feelings have prevailed, reminding us of the experience of a dear brother in Christ, who, after preaching upon one occasion, took our arm, exclaiming, "It seemed as if Satan was under the reading-desk all the time, tempting us with all manner of evil suggestions." We know that there is much of the Lord's dealings we do well to keep to ourselves; yet, do what we will, they will ooze out sometimes, and now in this frame of mind, with the month nearly run out, this passage has arrested the attention, “And Jesus was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan ; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him."
It is certain, then, that our Lord hath trodden the pathway of temptation before us : "For we have not an High-priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin :" so that,
“He knows what sore temptations mean,
For He has felt the same." Yea, if we have temptation bondage, how much more had He! As Hart says
“The powers of hell united pressed,
And squeez'd His heart and bruised His breast;
When sweat and blood forced through His skin.” Then, again, it is cərtain that every member of His blood-bought family has trodden the same pathway too. Abundant proof might be given of this; as, for instance, Joseph, who, when sorely tempted, exclaimed, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?” David: "My strength is dried up like a potsherd.” Poor Job: “He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and He hath set darkness in my path. Jonah : “Then I said, I am cast out of Thy sight.” Hezekiah : “O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me." Jeremiah : “ Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, or speak any more in His name."
Paul : “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?”—all which expresions show us clearly enough
Brethren, those who come to bliss
Come through sore temptations ;
Pray for faith and patience."
Then, again, it is certain we are not pursuing any untrodden pathway. We are apt to think that we are, that our lot is peculiar, our experience singular, and that other men are not tried and worried as we are. This is a mistake, for the Scriptures declare that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able ; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Now, putting these things together, we must see that-
“Satan the weakest saint will tempt,
Nor is the strongest free.” Now we are told to “count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations ;' then it is certain that they have their purpose, and that there is a needsbe for them. If all things are to "work together for the good of them that love God," and "are the called according to His purpose," temptations are among the all things.
There is danger in the continuance of comfort, lest we should fold our arms, and make it a couch of repose. “Lest I should be exalted above measure,” said the apostle Paul, through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.” We cannot go to sleep in the arms of carnal security when we have thorns in the side; it is then we must be stirring to see the Good Physician.
It is precious to be melted in love and gratitude and meekness before the Lord, but there is a needs-be for the thorn and temptation. We love to be in the banqueting-house, but it is a question whether faith is not more strengthened on the battle-field. Sweet seasons! oh, how pleasant they are! but it is “ the afterward” of sorrowful seasons, that brings forth the “peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby.” When all goes on smoothly with us, we say, “ God has made my hill so strong." Poor foolish children! our hills are but sandbanks, that the first tide of adversity washes away, and we very soon find that it is on the Rock only we are safe. No, beloved, there is a deep necessity for every temptation, and a continuance of comfort might allure us into a dangerous self-repose. “I once knew a young man,” said a dear old saint, “who continued in his comforts for three or four years, and who seemed to have nothing else but joy and happiness ; and at that time I had seldom anything
else but temptations, bondage, persecution, hunger, cold, and nakedness; and I have often envied his happiness, longed to be indulged like him, and cursed my hard fate and evil days. But he turned out an awful apostate ; and, when he had filled his measure, came to his end in the midst of his days." And then if there is a needsbe for temptation, it must work its effect. And so it does; it
I. Prostrates pride, which is mixed with all we do and say. If we do anything in connection with Christ's cause, and He honours it, oh, the almost impossibility of keeping down pride; as that deeply-experimental writer, dear Hart, again sings,
The heart uplifts with God's own gift,
And makes e'en grace a snare.” We need, indeed, much to humble and crumble us. It requires a strong hand to uproot pride from that obnoxious creature—the great I; for verily “self” works as insidiously as “Satan,” and is at the bottom of very much mischief.
II. It drives to the throne.—We pray formally and coldly to our God in our prosperity, but we "cry mightily” to Him in our adversity. The Lord never said, I will punish the men that are brought on their knees, but He did say, "I will punish the men that are settled on their lees." We may be kept from outward sin, but where is the child of God that is not often found putting up that petition, " Who can understand his errors ? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins, let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright; and I shall be Innocent from the great transgression.” Then again,
III. It brings us to the test.-And verily we need this; for is there not such a thing as an adherence to the doctrines of grace, a severe criticism directed against the least awry utterance, and yet the carnality of the life of such gives evidence that the doctrines are only in the head, the heart is unchanged, therefore are the precepts of the Bible smothered. How necessary then to try the spirits. We recollect visiting a dying man, who to our inquiries answered, “Oh, yes, sir, we are all sinners,” and yet we fear if he felt what it was to be one. “Oh, yes, sir, the promises of God are all good," and yet he could not point to one that had been made precious to his soul. It is not for us to judge our fellow-man, but we came away strongly impressed that the poor fellow was in the arms of Satan, rather than in the arms of Christ, and that the tempter was lulling him into the sleep of death with the narcotic of self-complacency,
No, dear reader, we must try the spirits, and anything that leads to the testing work must be well. An anchor that will not bear a good strain upon it is not worth having; a religion that will not stand the fire is not worth a straw. Gold never loses anything but dross by putting it in the fire. We read of seed sown on the rock, which had no root, and in the time of temptation fell away. Is our religion of this character ? No, blessed be God, we can say, in the midst of all, we are clinging to Jesus ; and we do believe that He will never forsake the work of His own hands.
IV. It brings us to nought.-Away go all preconceived notions of creature excellence, and we learn the lesson, that if saved at all, it must be from first to last of grace. Ah, and such seasons! We also learn the secret of the Lord's • strength made perfect in weakness ;" for it is when we come out of the temptation that we feel as Job did, when he uttered those memorable words, “ How hast Thou helped him that is without power ? how savest Thou the arm that hath no strength ? how hast Thou counselled him that hath no wisdom ? and hast Thou
plentifully declared the thing as it is ?” (Job xxvi. 2, 3.) It must be blessed thus to be brought to nought, and to acknowledge that all help, power, strength, and wisdom is of the Lord.
“ Weaker than a bruised reed,
Help I every moment need." V. It brings us to feel the frailty of human nature, and how most assuredly the old Adam nature remains the same.
The twitch in our garden-we think that by under-trenching we have got rid of it; but, alas! it springs up again, and entwines everything within its reach.
The bed of fungus-we appear to have effectually trampled it under foot, but again iť bursts through, rearing many a poisonous head.
The volcano may have been some time silent, but it has within it all the elements of combustion, and when least expected throws up its lurid flame.
The other law in our members may have been put out of court, but it is an operative power, still waiting for the first opportunity to go to work, and so the old Adam nature will ever be the same. · It is the twitch that entwines our best things; the fungus that looks fair yet poisons everything; the volcano that casts up ashes and dirt; the law that will make it fighting work to the end, and gives us constant occasion to cry to the Strong for strength. Here, then, we have some of the advantages of those divers temptations to which the Scriptures refer. They prostrate pride, drive to the throne, put to the test, bring us to nought, and prove to us that the old Adam nature remains the same to the end. So that we may conclude that God hath set the day of spiritual prosperity and the day of spiritual adversity the one against the other, that our minds may be properly balanced. We would be always drinking of His cup of blessings, but the wormwood and the gall are a needful tonic to bring health to the soul. Satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour-mark that word may—not whom he will devour. Now, as he may not devour one of God's elect, they are safe in the Lord's keeping; temptations may annoy, but salvation is secure. So that Satan only
“Worries whom He can't destroy,
With a malicious joy." He may rob us of our comfort, but he can never rob us of our Christ. He may be mighty, but he is not almighty. He makes mistakes, too; as, for instance, in sending John to the isle of Patmos, which he would never have done had he known it would have resulted in that glorious revelation. Well, dear reader, do you know anything of these exercises of soul we have attempted to describe ? Have you been with us sorely tried ? Be it our consolation, at all events, to feel assured that our frames and feelings cannot alter the purpose of God.
A pearl is a pearl still, whether it be buried deep down in the ocean, with many a wave over it, or dazzling in the sunlight admired by all : a violet is a violet still, whether it be hidden under leaves upon the grassy bank, or sending forth its perfume in our sitting-room: wheat is wheat still, whether it be sifted in the sieve, or growing in golden glory in the field; and a child of God is a child of God still, whether he be in the valley of temptation grappling with Apollyon, or on the mount of joy in hallowed fellowship with Jesus.
It is a mercy also that in the midst of so much coldness of heart which we have to deplore, we are yet feeling satisfied that not a jot or tittle the Lord has promised will fail. The purposes of God, the immutability of His character, the finished work of Christ, and the leadings of the Holy Spirit are the same. Whatever fluctuation of feeling we are the subjects of, there is no change in our God. If we have to say, “The joy of our heart is coased," we shall never have to say, the love of Jesus has ceased. Nothing can separate us from that,
“Oh, to grace how great a debtor!” Then again, it is no slight mercy that in this day of isms and schisms, we are still kept clinging to the good old doctrines of the Bible. By them we still stand or fall. The thing we most have to deplore is the absence