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faith? He has. In the spirit of Christian sympathy, he can weep with them that weep; and mourn over the sins of others. How touching is the compassion of the Almighty as recorded in the tenth chapter of Judges: "The children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned,......and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel."* A different kind of grief was manifested by our Lord respecting the hypocritical Pharisees: "He looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts."+ The tender-hearted Paul was often pained by the insincerity of some, and the unbelief of others. He could weep over the falls of professors, and the obstinate rejection of Christ by the Jews: "Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many_tears," was his language to the Corinthians.
Bodily infirmity will depress the spirits. From bodily weakness our spirits may be weak; but this feeling of depression, as it arises, not from spiritual, but natural causes, forms no ground for our writing bitter things against ourselves. The Lord "knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."§ Jesus did not say, He that rejoiceth shall be saved, but, "He that believeth......shall be saved." If, then, we truly believe with the heart unto righteousness; if we love the Saviour with a supreme affection; if we desire and endeavour to do the will of God from the heart, we may possess our souls in peace, though, from much bodily sickness, we cannot realise the ecstatic triumphs and joys of faith. This spiritual elevation is delightful, but not indispensable to our safety. Some have a naturally sanguine temperament, and can rise above the lowering effects of disease. Others, from nervous affections, are soon cast down, and see every thing through a gloomy medium. But, in all these cases, God looks at the heart. He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.** He will, at all times, speak peace to his
Mark iii. 5.
2 Cor. ii. 4.
* Vers. 15, 16. § Psa. ciii. 14. || Mark xvi. 16. Isa. xlii. 3; Matt. xii. 20.
people; and enable them to glorify him in the fires, either by a song of thanksgiving, or by a calm and childlike resignation to His will."
Here, then, is solid ground on which to stand. Our salvation does not rest on feeling, but on faith; not on our works, but on sovereign grace. The tried believer longs to be dissolved, and to be with Christ. It has, however, been asked-Is it right to indulge anxious desires to depart and to be with Christ, when so many duties require our stay? If this desire arise from a mere wish to escape the troubles of life, it is not a Christian desire. The longing desire after heaven which the believer feels, must always be subservient to the Divine Will. Ready to depart, yet willing to stay, is the proper position of a child of God;-willing to stay and do the work, however arduous, assigned to him by Infinite Wisdom; and yet, ready to depart from dearest, tenderest friends, when the Lord calls him to his kingdom of glory.* O! what a blessed preparation of soul is this. How much should we seek after it. It is a compound of faith, love, spiritual-mindedness, hope, resignation, obedience, and joy.
"We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." This must be true, whether it arise from the "thorn in the flesh;" the malice of Satan, the enmity of the ungodly, or the remainders of sin in our heart. Here lies our comfort, that chastisement is the expression of our heavenly Father's love; that every affliction is administered by the hand of parental affection. What can be more soothing than to recognise a Father's hand in every infliction of his providence? There is no mixture of wrath in the cup prepared by a loving parent. It may be bitter, but it is medicinal. Its effects may be painful, but they are not penal. This assurance reconciles the mind, and enables the obedient child to say,-"The cup which my heavenly Father giveth me, shall I not drink it ?""Father,
* See Phil. i. 21-26.
not my will but thine be done." Such a spirit as this is most pleasing to God. It is the product of his own grace. The more we possess of it, the more we resemble the divine Jesus, who hath left us an example, that we should follow his steps.
Blessed Jesus! enable me to glorify thee by bearing thy cross along the consecrated path to glory. Give me a holy courage in thy cause; a fearless determination to confess thee before men; a cheerful resignation to thy will under every tribulation. Save me from lukewarmness. Keep me from embracing error, however adorned, or by whomsoever sanctioned. Enable me to discern the chaff from the wheat; to distinguish between the doctrines of men, and the truths of thine own word. Preserve me from a temporising spirit, from a wish to please men at the expense of principle. At all times, and in all places, may I boldly declare my trust in thee, my love to thee, and my zeal for thee. In seasons of national defection, may I be found faithful; and at last, when death shall shake his dart over me, enable me, in the fulness of faith, to exclaim, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
How happy the saint of the Lord,
Whose heart to the Saviour is given,
He feels the sad burden of sin,
And longs to depart and be free;
Oh! may I with longing desire,
Pursue the bright path to thy throne;
And leaving all idols behind,
Be sealed, by Thee, as thy own.
* 1 Pet. ii. 21.
Whom have I in heaven, but Thee?
And on earth, what, with thee, can compare ; Oh! when this frail body shall fail,
Let me rise all thy glories to share.
Thy word has pronounced the bliss ;
There, my servants enthroned shall be."
XXXVIII.—THE BELIEVER'S PORTION.
"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?”. Rom. viii. 32.
WHO can grasp the fulness of this revelation of mercy ? The Possessor of all things, if we are his children through the Son of his love, will freely give us all things! We cannot possess a greater gift than the Creator himself; and this gift shall be ours if we truly believe. St. Paul, whose heart glowed with
love, has assured us of this: "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."+ "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." To confirm this precious truth, the adorable Saviour has promised: "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my Son."§ "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."||
What a boundless prospect of glory lies before the humblest believer in Jesus!-However low he may appear in the eyes of the great ones of the earth, he is beheld as a KING'S SON by the inhabitants of heaven. It is truly a blessed sight to behold the
+ Gal. iii. 26.
* Rev. iii. 21.
Rom. viii. 17.
|| Rev. iii. 21.
poor, "rich in faith," and the rich, "poor in spirit." "The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all." For both, the same Saviour is provided, the same Spirit offered, the same volume written, the same promises are given, and for both the same heaven is prepared. All stand on the same level before God. The rich and the poor are liable to the same diseases, to the same diversified trials and temptations. They are alike hastening to the same dust of death, to the same bar of judgment, to the same eternity, to the same abodes of bliss or misery.-Shall, then, the foot of pride spurn away the lowly Lazarus? It may; but, ere long, when death shall lay the despiser and the despised in the grave, the one, though here the child of poverty, if a child of God, shall shine in robes of glory; while the other, though now surrounded by the glare of splendour, if an enemy of God, shall be enveloped in flames of fire. "To the poor the Gospel is preached," was one of the blessed marks of his Messiahship which Jesus gave to the messengers from John the Baptist.
A more pitiable sight cannot be seen, than a man sunk in poverty and disease, and, at the same time, sunk in the depths of sin. He has nothing but wretchedness here, and torment in the world to come. Oh! that the spirit of grace may lead every such child of woe to that friend of sinners, whose blood cleanseth from all sin, and whose love can rescue the vilest who flee unto him.
The pleasure-loving sinner, having all that heart can wish, and withholding himself from no joy ; casting off the fear of God, and breaking through every restraint, either of conscience or religion, is an object of deepest commiseration. He may, for a time, fare sumptuously, be flattered, and feared by sycophants and interested friends; but soon the pleasing dream will end. The rich and the poor, if rebels against God, though separated from each other while on earth, shall meet together in that place where + Matt. xi. 5.
豪 Prov. xxii. 2.