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These brave men bore the battle up, in England's
bloody day! But hearts, as stout as steel in war, in famine melt
away ; For sore it wastes the flesh without, and gnaws the
heart within ; And very sunken
and loose the shrivelled skin! And
very sick the soul would be, but that these souls
have faith; That is a stay in agony,—that is a hope in death ! Oh ! but the land is weary, and it pineth sore for
bread; And the living do not murmur,—the voice comes from
the dead !
[We were requested last month to remind our readers that Scotland as well as Ireland was suffering under the present famine, and suffering with the patient submission of a land of schools and Bibles. It is chiefly to bring these sufferers of the household of faith before their view, that we have inserted the above touching lines. The greater number who are visited by this sore judgment in Ireland, and the smaller measure of help they can look for, in proportion, from their own Irish brethren, have naturally led us to dwell more on their wants. But we trust that none of our readers will forget, in their deep sympathies and daily prayers, the sufferers in the north, who are also pining away, stricken for want of the fruits of the earth. May the day of humiliation tend also to increased and abundant efforts of Christian love, both for the Scotch and Irish sufferers in this hour of distress and sorrow!]
TRIBULATION WORKETH PATIENCE.
“ Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experienco hope."
It is the Lord's will that a Christian should be continually growing and expanding, advancing from strength to strength, passing from one acquirement to another ; leaving first principles, and going on unto perfection. His life is a race; and feeble knees, fainting spirits, or weariness, must not be permitted for a moment. He must not look back-he must not ungird his loins or be hindered, or give “a withdrawing shoulder.” He must run with patience; and patience, which is tried and proved by tribulation, will produce experience.
Does this chain of discipline alarm us? Do we see in it only the grievous chastening, and think that links so heavy must depress us to the earth ? Mistaken idea! it is the only chain by which our souls can be drawn up to heaven. That precious experience from which we shrink, produces hope ; and hope enters within the veil! Joy unspeakable, and full of glory, is the result to the Christian, and God is thereby glorified in a manner that would be impossible without this high attainment. Hence the infinite, unwearied pains He takes to lead His people forward, and encourage them to per
He warns them against falling short of the mark set before them, and heaps promise upon promise, to attract them towards it. Alas, that it should so often be in vain !
If we ask believers, do they hope ? they will admit that they have hope ; but if we ask, are they patient in hope? stedfast in hope ? abounding in hope ? have they a full assurance of hope ? the answer is generally very different. And why is this ? because their hope has not been worked out by experience.
If, for instance, we have an experience of God's character and attributes, it cannot do otherwise than give us confidence in Him, increasing our hope ; and the ex. perience of our own weakness has the same effect, by throwing us more unreservedly on the salvation which is all of grace. The stability of hope depends on its foundation, and, in proportion as it is removed from off ourselves, and placed upon God, it will be firm. If this were generally the case, there would be more peace enjoyed by believers ; but the fact is, they too often make the Christian graces they find in themselves to be the foundation of hope, instead of seeing that God's love to us varies not with our fluctuating love and obedi
“I am the Lord, I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” But while we remember this, and thus cast our anchor, not on the quick-sand, but within the veil, we must not forget that the conscious experience of God's love, in other words, the confidence of hope, does vary in proportion to the simplicity of our obedience. “Hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts,” is the declaration of St. Paul. St. John again says, “We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren ; and hereby know we that we dwell in him, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” Paul exhorts to diligence in labors of love, that we may attain “full assurance of hope.” Isaiah vi. 10, 11.
It is thus that hope increases in strength and inten
sity from experience, according as the internal evidences of the Spirit are clear, and we persevere in that external service, by which our “calling and election" (or salvation by grace), is made sure to ourselves. If, then, believers are not careful to run their race; if they shrink from that experience that involves tribulation and patience, and are not bringing forth fruit to the glory of God, their hope may well be faint and fluctuating. It is only by suffering awhile that we can be perfect, stablished, strengthened, and settled (1 Peter v. 10).
Without an abounding hope, the Christian life, marked as it is by suffering and trials, would have nothing to balance the continued depression occasioned by its conflict with sin within and around. Hence that gloominess which often so disgraces the Christian profession, and dishonours God. He bids us rejoice evermore; but how can we, if our hope is clouded ? He bids us to glorify Him in our lives; but how can we, if we are in perpetual anxiety about our eternal safety? Our chariot-wheels run heavily ; there is no alacrity in our service, no cheerfulness in our praise. God is served mournfully ; His own people whom He has redeemed are in a doubting, hesitating state, afraid to think themselves safe. Surely this implies great deficiency in their knowledge of that grace wherein they stand, and a sad want of Christian experience. It is false humility to disclaim a change that has been wrought in us by the power of God, and which we cannot but feel and know. The blessed consciousness of this change, and the hope which it affords, should quicken us under every trial, and enable us to triumph over the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is a glorious hope which leaves earth with its attractions, troubles, and
delusions far behind; follows Jesus into the Heaven of heavens, fixes itself there as an anchor sure and stedfast and draws up the whole soul after it with its powers and affections; and there the saint dwells in spirit, till he is translated from a state of hope to one of fruition, and the fullest participation of those felicities on which he had feasted in anticipation. Having risen with Christ, not only from the grave of spiritual death,
but up to the place where He is gone, the believer sees earth to be no longer his home, but pants after the eternal abode ; and, by meditation, becomes so familiar with what the Holy Spirit has revealed of those things which eye hath not yet seen, that to depart hence, whether by death or the coming of the Lord, is the longing desire of his heart. “ Henceforth,” says St. Paul, “ there is laid up for me a crown.” He says, there is a crown-he has no doubt about it, for his tribulation had worked experience, and experience hope,-a hope which abounded through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Oh, then, ye people of God ! cry mightily for this grace of hope to the God of hope, and cease not till you have obtained it. It is offered to the least of saints, and those who are last may be first. David had it ; Job had it; John triumphed in it; and hear Peter's exhortation ; “ Be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Happy they who are looking for this revelation ! happy they who cạn realize glory as so near! Perhaps a few short months and those who love his appearing may receive the crown for which Paul is yet waiting, and the full assurance of hope be lost in the full fruition of enjoyment.