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27. Must we practise and persevere in the good instructions we receive?

Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves; for if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (1 Jas. 22 to 25.)

28. Will God punish those who refuse to hear his word, or who abuse their privileges?

They refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear; yea, they made their hearts as an adamant-stone, lest they should bear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts. (7 Zech. il, 12.)

29. Shall we be accountable to God in proportion to our superior privileges?

Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required. (12 Lk. 48.)

XII. AFFLICTION. PERSECUTION.

Causes of affliction and persecution-Benefits of, when sanctified-God's promises-Kindness of God-Compassion of Christ.

1. Are we born to trouble?

Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; yet man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward. (5 Job. 6, 7.)

2. Is affliction caused by sin?

Wherefore doth a living man complain; a man for the punishment of his sins? (3 Lam. 39.)

3. Should a sense of our sinfulness render us humble and resigned under affliction?

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. (7 Micah, 8, 9.)

4. Does Christ tell his disciples to expect persecution?

If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. (15 Jn. 20.)

5. Did St. Paul state the same truth?

All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (II. Tim. 3. 12.)

6. Is affliction instructive?

Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law. (94 P. 12.)

7. Did the Psalmist rejoice in sanctified affliction? Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes. (119 P. 67. 71.)

8. Are sorrow and sympathy truly beneficial?

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. (7 Ec. 2, 3.)

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9. Is spiritual joy often possessed by the pious amidst worldly disappointments?

Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (3 Hab. 17, 18.)

10. Is affliction calculated to improve the Christian's graces?

We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience, and experience hope. (5 Rom. 3, 4.)

11. How did St. Paul estimate present sorrows?

I reckon that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. We know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (8 Rom. 18, 28.)

12. Does God sanctify affliction to promote the eternal happiness of his people?

Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day; for our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (II. Cor. 4. 16, 17.)

13. Why did Moses" by faith" refuse to be called the "son of Pharaoh's daughter?"

Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. (11 Heb. 25, 26.)

14. Are we warned against either despising or sinking under affliction?

My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (12 Heb. 5, 6.)

15. Is the temporary pain of affliction productive of great subsequent benefit?

No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (12 Heb. 11.)

16. Does God invite us to cast our troubles upon him?

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. (55 P. 22.)

17. Do present sorrows promote future joy and improvement?

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy: he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again, with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. (126 P. 5, 6.)

18. Does God in his infinite mercy judge that afflictions are necessary for us?

The Lord will not cast off for ever; but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies; for he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. (3 Lam. 31, 32, 33.)

19. Are Christian mourners blessed?

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. (5 Mt. 4.)

20. What blessing has Christ pronounced on those who are persecuted for his sake?

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven. (5 Mt. 10, 11, 12.)

21. What did Moses say of God when he blessed the children of Israel before his death?

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (33 Deut. 27.)

22. Did the Psalmist rejoice in God as his refuge in trouble?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (46 P. 1.)

23. Are our comforts and our sorrows dependant on the sovereign will of God?

When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation or against a man only. (34 Job 29.)

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