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sometimes fall thick and fast upon them, and they are in heaviness through manifold temptations. The Lord himself, who knoweth the way of the righteous, has ordained these things, and ordained them all to work for good to them that love him.
I have chosen thee,” he says, “in the furnace of affliction.” These are the very tests by which it pleases God to demonstrate the reality of his grace in the hearts of his children. These are the very things which show that a man has not only the form of godliness, but also the power of it. They also serve to purify and strengthen the believer's faith. Their operation on that faith is precisely similar to the action of fire upon a precious metal. They not only test its truth, but refine it, and eliminate its dross. “When he hath tried me,” says Job, “I shall come forth as gold;" and all this trial of faith shall be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
There are some trials which come more directly than others from the hand of God; such as sickness, bereavements, unexpected accidents and losses. How do “the meek” receive these ? They understand that affliction cometh not forth of the dust. They open not their mouth in murmurings, because they recognise it as the Lord's doing. They hear their Heavenly Father's rod, and know that it is He who has appointed it. They seek unto God, and to him commit their cause. They feel that God is only dealing with them as with sons; and though the chastening for the present is not joyous but grievous, they set themselves to learn the lesson which he would teach them, to search if there be any wicked way in them, and to walk more diligently in the way everlasting.
There are other trials which come immediately from the hand of man. Many are the wrongs and injuries which men will inflict upon each other, and most of all, upon the servants of God. Even without having recourse to violence, and the grosser forms of persecution, there are innumerable ways in which the malicious, or envious, or
, revengeful passions will display themselves, and in which men are skilful in tormenting those who incur their odium or ill-will. The tongue itself is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Untameable by man, many a mighty fire it has kindled, by slander, contumely, and insult,-being itself set on fire of Hell, as the apostle James alleges.
Now, those who resent and retaliate their wrongs, may win the applause of men, but they who forgive them obtain the blessing of God. He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding ; and he that ruleth his spirit better than he that
taketh a city.
“ The meek" have learned to bear all these things, and not to resist evil. They may be sometimes troubled on all sides, but they are not greatly moved. Even when they do well and suffer for it, they can take it, patiently. They remember that hereunto they have been called. They esteem it an honour to be conformed to the image of God's Son, who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not. And this example they are able to follow, because, like Christ, they can commit themselves to Him who judgeth righteously. They take not the law into their own hands; but are content to leave it to Him to whom vengeance belongeth, to maintain their right and their cause. They know that He who sitteth on the throne judging right, forgetteth not the cry of the humble; but will, in his own good time, arise to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth.
Other trials, again, arise to the child of God from the sin still struggling within his own heart. The desire of worldly possessions, honour, and fame; the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are seductions which beset the children of light as well as the children of this world. The arch-Tempter, who assailed with such allurements, though vainly, the King of saints himself, loses no opportunity of
endeavouring to draw off the affections of his people from things eternal in the heavens, and to entangle them in things temporal, and among the dust. But “the meek" apply themselves to learn, with St. Paul, this lesson also,--in whatsoever state they are, therewith to be content. Like Lazarus, they are patiently waiting for their good things. They can sit loose to earthly acquisitions, having in heaven both a better and a more enduring substance. They are not anxious about the honour and praise of men, seeking the honour which cometh from God only,--that which they shall possess in the new Jerusalem, of which all earthly honours are but shadows; and such as they are, the kings of the earth shall bring into it their glory.
And thus the meek are blessed, “ for they shall inherit the earth.” Saith not the Holy Ghost the same also by the mouth of David ? It is written in the Psalms, that when others shall be sought for and not found, yet “the meek shall inherit the earth ; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” They shall inherit the new heavens and the new earth, wherein shall dwell righteousness. “The meek,”--the very characters whom men would deem least likely to arrive at wealth and honour, these are nevertheless the
heirs of the world. They would indeed faint, unless they believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. But the secret of their success is this,--that they are waiting on the Lord Jehovah, in whom is everlasting strength. The Lord it is who fights for them, while they hold their peace. It is written again, that “those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth." For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people; and he will beautify the meek with salvation.
Brethren, what do you know of this meekness in bearing trials of your faith from God, the wrongs of men, and temptations from the world ? Labour to possess it, for this is the way to inherit the earth in the end.