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time, experienced Christ to be precious to you. Alas! how much real happiness have you lost, by alienation of mind from him! And can you still be content to feed upon the husks of the world! Will you continue to waste life in chase of shadows and phantoms. " Life is short! It is,” says a living writer, “ a serious reflection that life is short! The weakness and folly of childhood, the vanity and vices of youth, the bustle and care of middle life, and the infirmities of old age, what do they leave us ? A short life indeed!” Will you then reject that Saviour, who is chosen of God and precious, and spend the few moments of your time which remain, in pursuing those trifles and forbidden vanities, which terminate in sorrow and vexation of spirit ? Incline your ear to the counsel of Heaven. Behold, seated on the throne of grace, the blessed Redeemer. “ Acquaint now thyself with him and be at peace, thereby shall good come unto thee.” Entrust, fearlessly entrust your soul, and all its immortal interests, in his mighty and merciful hands. Centre your affections in him, as the King of glory, and you will know by experience that he is precious.
2. In a time of affliction, Christ is often peculiarly precious to the believer.
It would be inconsistent with my present design to enter largely on this subject. It may be seen, as well as many other subjects which relate to the exercises of the divine life in the soul, very fully treated in Buck's excellent work on Religious Experience. Christians, it is sufficiently obvious, have no patent to exempt them from the diseases, losses, and disappointments common to human life. When the believer enters his Divine Master's service, he is not flattered with the promise of uninterrupted worldly ease, affluence, and honour, but forewarned to prepare for conflicts and sufferings. “And I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution." Yet even that affliction which infinite Wisdom has seen fit to mingle in our cup serves to wean us from the world, and to enhance in our estimation the value of our spiritual privileges. A heathen used to declare, that there are some useful lessons, which can be nowhere effectually learnt but in the school of adversity. The apostle, however, not only shows the great and good end to be answered by affliction, but also the process, if I may so speak, by which that end is attained. “We glory in tribulation also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience, and experience, hope ; and hope maketh not ashamed, be
cause the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us.” At first view it may appear strange and unaccountable, that the believer should take pleasure in infirmi. ties, necessities, and distresses for Christ's sake. But the reason must be considered. It is not that the feelings of the man are destroyed by the experience of the Christian. It is because, in these trials, sin is rendered more hateful, holiness more lovely, and Christ more precious.
When pain, poverty, crosses, disappointments, insults, and persecutions, lead the soul to the throne of grace, and endear the sweet promises of the Gospel, they become truly salutary and advantageous. Thus all things work together for good to them that love God, and are the called according to his purpose. Is the saint worn with disease, or driven into the straits of necessity, he contemplates with a more lively interest the humiliations and sufferings of his Lord. “Shall 1," says he, “ complain of poverty, while I see Jesus, who was eternally rich, for my sake voluntarily becoming poor? Though he had not where to lay his head, yet no murmur escaped from his lips." Can I, who deserve the heaviest miseries, complain of these light afflictions, while I see Jesus a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief? What temptations in the wilderness, what mock
eries and buffetings in the hall of judgment, what exquisite pangs and agonies in the garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross of Calvary," he endured for me! Lord, however afflicted in body, let my soul be in health and prosper ; whatever poverty I may feel in temporal things, may I be rich in faith, and an heir of the heavenly kingdom, and I ask no more.
Is the Christian exercised with family troubles and bereavements? How often do those rending strokes, which rob him of created comforts, make him cleave with firmer purpose of heart to the Lord. He may shed a tear of love over a departed relative or friend, but he sorrows not as those who have no hope. He can say, “ When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." My children die, but Jesus ever liveth. The most tender ties of nature shall be dissolved, but nothing can break the bonds of that love which unites my soul to the blessed Redeemer. 66 Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; this is all my salvation, and all my desire.”
Has the Christian to undergo many trials in the world, from the clamours of prejudice, the taunts of scorn, or the secret plots and open assaults of malice ? He is not surprised nor dis
couraged. Such treatment from this quarter verifies in his experience the words of his Divine Master. - In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace.” The three courageous Israelites, who nobly refused to worship the king of Babylon's idol, were never more highly favoured than when they had “ one like unto the Son of God” with them in the furnace. And thus Christians often find in the fiery trial the sensible and cheering presence of their Lord. When we are most exposed to the frowns of men, the smiles of our heavenly Father's countenance are most enjoyed. Infinite wisdom has so kindly ordered it, that there should generally be a measure of inward peace and joy, to balance the weight of outward trouble and affliction, that we may experience on account of religion. Many have been able to say, “ As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation aboundeth by Christ.” When Paul and Silas were shut up in the dreary dungeon at Philippi, they were favoured with so much rapturous joy, that they burst forth into songs of praise to God at midnight, and the prisoners heard them. Doubtless, it was one of the happiest nights of their life. They found, that no bolts and prison-guards could deprive them of the Divine presence; no chain that galls the body could shackle the soul.