« EdellinenJatka »
If, then, the objects of sense are fleeting and transitory, it becomes us, as candidates for an eternal world, to seek for treasures corresponding with the unutterable grandeur of our destiny. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you. Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” It is awful to see a being, destined to outlive the wreck of the universe, toiling through trials, wading through a sea of difficulties, to obtain the transient pleasures of this vain world, and neglecting eternal things.
It is the whole tenor of the Word of God, that it is the duty of a christian to cherish contentment under the allotments of an indulgent Provi. dence. By contentment and resignation to the divine disposal, we recognize God as the supreme Governor of the universe, as directed by infinite wisdom in the distribution of his bounties among the children of men, as proceeding on the basis of eternal and immutable justice in all his providential arrangements, and as actuated by a principle of unbounded benevolence. Under the government of such a Being we have abundant reasons not only to be resigned but to be glad and rejoice, “ The Lord reigneth, let the earth be glad, let the multitude of the isles thereof rejoice.” However scanty may be the portion of earthly good measured out to us at present, and however perplexing and mysterious the external circumstances in which we may now be involved, we may rest assured that under the guidance of unerring wisdom, rectitude and benevolence, all such dispensations shall ultimately be found to have been not only consistent with justice, but conducive to our present and everlasting interests. Were such sentiments and affections to pervade the minds of all human beings, what a host of malignant passions would be chased away from the hearts and from the habitations of men! Restless cares, and boundless and insatiable desires, which constitute the source and essence of misery, would no longer agitate and torment the human soul; happiness and peace would diffuse their benign influence over the nations, and mankind would move forward in harmony to that happier world, where every wish shall be crowned, and every holy desire satisfied in God the exceeding great reward. Nothing can have a better tendency to originate and foster these holy emotions than to place an unwavering confidence in the Supreme Being. “ The Lord God is a sun and shield: he will give grace and glory. No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."
It is, as has been intimated, a painful fact, we are much more disposed to yield to the impression of untoward events than to the encouraging assurances of divine truth. But what should we say of the mariner, who instead of availing himself of the laws of navigation, should attempt to regulate the course of his vessel by the ever varying direction of the clouds, or the aspect of a stormy sky? And is not our conduct equally indefensible, if instead of trusting in the solemn engagements of our heavenly Father, we suffer our hope in his favour to fluctuate with the vicissitudes of a life which is full of changes. The events of Providence resemble the diversified appearance of the heavens, calm and storm, serenity and uproar, brightness and gloom, succeed each other; but above all these changes the eternal promise, like the great orb of day, retains its station, and shines still with undiminished splendour. The unchangeableness
of the divine promise, therefore, furnishes us with
ample reasons for placing an unwavering and uniform confidence in God. Trust in the Lord at all times : Cast thy burden on the Lord : Commit thy way unto the Lord : Call upon him in the day of trouble. Upon this basis believers in former ages raised their hopes of support and deliverance under the most discouraging circumstances. Far from being overwhelmed with their afflictions, they looked with firmness to those engagements which ensured their safety and their triumph. Let their admirable senti. ments on these occasions be recollected, “ The Lord is my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is my light, of whom shall I be afraid ? God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea : We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. If God be for us, who can be against us. 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?” Relying on the assurances of divine truth, those holy men ascended beyond the troubled region of their affliction, and looking down from the elevated position they had attained, they saw the vexations of life rolling away, and vanishing from beneath them. But this dependance on divine aid must be accompanied with fervent prayer, “In all things by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Whilst the Supreme Being has promised support and direction, he has appointed certain means in connexion with which he communicates his blessing. In all circumstances, whether prosperity or adversity, whether health or sickness, whether life or death, we are commanded to hold communion with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, and place before him, as the God of love, the Father of mercies, all our wants, however extensive, however diversified. He loves to answer prayer. The throne of grace has been established, that our own experience may prove that our blessed Lord is a hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest, a refuge from the storm, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Prayer has been ordained that we may experience the fulfilment of those gracious words which our Lord uttered when he said, “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you. If a man keep my commandments, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give ! unto you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither be afraid.” And 0 how consolatory, that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous—the Lamb in the midst of the throne; and he displays not only all the vastness of fraternal affection, but all the kindness of redeeming love. But when we approach the sacred footstool of divine majesty, there must be faith in the atoning sacrifice of Calvary, and the assurances of divine truth. There must be humility, because God is glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, continually doing wonders. There must be sincerity, for hypocrisy he abhors; and there must be fervour, united with a deep sense of our need. Are you in the midst of affliction and sorrow? do you fear in the prospect of bereaving and distressing dispensations ? Remember that your Father has at his disposal all events and circumstances. He rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm; and often, “ Behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face.” Commit yourselves, therefore, to his
fatherly care. Never yield to despondency. Recollect his boundless love, his unfathomable mercy. Call to mind the cheering assurances of his Word, “When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee, for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.” Whilst believers are in the furnace of affliction, God is represented as watching them like a refiner. He separates from them their in-dwelling corruptions, and renders them more meet for his eternal kingdom. Let not, therefore, anxiety and care disturb the serenity of your souls; dishonour not your Father and Almighty friend by your unbelieving fears. Hold daily constant communion with him. Tell him the promises he has made, the assurances he has given. Plead with all the power of prayer the all-sufficiency of him who has spoiled principalities and powers, who has drank the bitter cup, and is exalted to his right hand to intercede for man.
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears, and he will bring light out of darkness, and order out of confusion.
“ Through waves, and clouds, and storms,
He gently clears thy way;
Shall end in brightest day." “ In all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Is the path of life comparatively smooth ? Does your cup overflow with mercies? You are prone to grow inordinately attached to this world, and forget the momentous realities of eternity. Therefore, as an antidote against this immoderate attachment for earthly objects, fervently supplicate the divine throne for frequent and clear views of immortal glory. " It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” “In thy presence, says the Psalmist, there is fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Beyond the swelling flood there is joy unspeakable, joy resulting from the free possession of your Father's presence, and the delightful prospect of realizing throughout eternity the smiles of your exalted Saviour. What is earth, with all its pleasures, to this? It can bear no more comparison than the darkness of midnight to the splendour of the noon-day sun. A glimpse of this immortal glory will deaden your affections to the objects of this transitory world, you will perceive that this is not your home, that you are but pilgrims and sojourners on the earth. A glimpse of your eternal inheritance will make you exclaim, “The whole creation is too poor, too mean to make me blessed.” Faith will assert her power, and hope stand erect in dignity, and you will realize such transporting moments, that you will even desire to depart and be with Christ, for it is far better.
“ In all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Remember, that we are to blend thanksgiving with our supplications. Even when the storm is raging, and the tempest at its height, a voice is heard from the clouds and darkness that surround Jehovah's throne, saying, “It is I, be not afraid : As thy day is, so shall thy strength be: My grace is sufficient for thee: My strength is
perfected in weakness.” Besides, the afflictions of the righteous have a sanctifying tendency. They are sent on errands of mercy. We are made perfect through suffering. Patience, meekness, holy fortitude and love, with whatever excellencies, or combination of excellencies, constitute the christian character, admit only of being displayed and perfected in a state of vicissitude. Instead of sinking into despondency under the pressure of calamity, our hearts should overflow with gratitude that our Father who is in heaven overrules every circumstance, and prepares us for an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. The pangs we may feel may be heart-rending; the waters through which we may be called to pass may be deep; the storm may be loud; and yet all may be the visitations of mercy to purify our hearts, and teach us to look for a happier home, the abode of unmingled and eternal joy. And especially when we approach the Divine Majesty in circumstances of prosperity, to request him to protect us from being unduly attached to earth, and from being burdened with anxiety and care, we should never neglect the duty of thanksgiving. He is the giver of all our mercies. His paths constantly drop fatness. He crowneth the year with his goodness. Our sins have called aloud for vengeance, but his mercies have been new every morning, and repeated every evening. His bounty every season crowns. Nature, through all her ample round, proclaims in melodious accents his boundless goodness, and his Gospel unfolds his infinite love. It points to love incarnate enduring death in its most ignominious form that we might reign in heaven. And has not this love touched our hearts? has it not rescued us from the bondage of sin ? does it not daily surround us with its hallowed and inestimable blessings? Therefore, in all our petitions, may we always present our sincere adoration and praise to our bountiful benefactor. Let gratitude, like a powerful flame, burn on the altar of our hearts. Thus by placing entire dependance on the supreme Being, and holding constant communion with him, we shall be delivered from distracting care, the soul will rise above the world, and realize calmness and serenity like the heavens when undisturbed by the storm. “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” It was the possession of this peace which led David to exclaim, “ The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid ? For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion, in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me. He shall set me upon a rock.” The man who has this peace lives in an elevated and serene atmosphere, whence he can look down on the elements of discord beneath him, and smile at the tempestuous storm. He feels himself surrounded with Omnipotence, and therefore is secure. He knows that his Father governs all the affairs of the universe. The storm may rage, turmoil and confusion may reign amongst the inhabitants of the earth, nature herself may groan as if about to expire, but he who puts his trust in the Almighty may rejoice with exceeding joy.
“ His hand the good man fastens on the skies,
And bids earth roll, nor feels her idle whirl." Yea, he can utter those triumphant expressions of the apostle, “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord.” In the prospect of death his mind is calm and peaceful. He knows that it is the gate of heaven—the portal of the skies. It will terminate his sorrows, and introduce him to a land of perfect joy, where the wicked shall cease from troubling, and where the weary shall be at rest; when our peace shall flow as a river through the countless ages of eternity.
This peace passeth all understanding. This is a powerful expression, but it is literally true. It is no hyperbole. But is it not astonishing that the great God should thus enrich fallen man? He might justly have banished him to the regions of despair; but Oh! amazing condescension ! boundless love! that he should make his heart, naturally the resort of foul lusts and contending passions, the seat of holy joy and heavenly peace. If you would know the value of this peace, behold a man who is borne down by worldly sorrow, and who is a stranger to God. He has no refuge to which he can flee in the hour of distress. He looks upward, but there is no gleam of light. He is an enemy to God. He looks forward, and eternity presents nothing but gloom and terror to his mind. He looks around him, but there is no deliverance. On the other hand, behold the christian. He can say, The Lord is on my side, I will not fear what man can do to me. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in him will I trust. He feels that he is under the guidance and protection of his heavenly Father, therefore his fears are dispelled, and the tumult of his soul subsides.
The value of this peace further appears if we consider its extent. It comprehends all the joys which the christian realizes on earth, even the rapturous emotions which he experiences in the closet, when he fixes his eyes op his Father's love and his Father's care, when he loses himself in the contemplation of his Saviour's excellencies, and is constrained to say, “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison with thee.” Carnal men know nothing of this : it is a strange thing to them. Besides, this blessing is endeared to us in consequence of the medium through which it flows-— Jesus Christ. He came from the realms of light, he endured the pangs of death, that he might invest us with this invaluable boon. Herein is love beyond conception. Our peace was procured by his woe; our serenity of mind is obtained through that awful agitation of soul which he endured on the cross.
Awake our gratitude and praise! “Love so unfathomable, demands our souls, our lives, our all.”
Observe the hallowed influence of this peace—"it shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The expression rendered keep, is exceedingly expressive. It is a military term, and it refers to soldiers guarding and protecting a besieged citadel. So peace is like a sentinel who watches and observes the movement of the foe. The heart of man, by which we are to understand his affections, and the mind, which signifies the understanding, are supposed to be besieged and attacked by the temptations of the world, and in danger of being overcome. The peace of God is represented as a reinforcement, a guard to protect the soul. Whatever temptations we may have to encounter, to whatever dangers we may be exposed, the tendency of the peace of God is to preserve us. If we experience its sweetness and value, it will make us jealous of every thing which diminishes its power, and has a tendency to deprive us of its genial influence.