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his redemption draweth nigh.-In times of national degeneracy, when, in the expressive language of Micah, "the best of them is a brier; the most up-, right is sharper than a thorn hedge:" when the caution is given; "Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom ;" and when "a man's enemies are the men of his own house;" in such a time of iniquity and trial, the believer can say with unshaken confidence: "I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be light unto me."*
but though Jesus ever The beams
Truly this is the triumph of faith! The believer's sky is not always free from clouds, unseen, the sun is still in the heavens. lives, the Sun of righteousness never sets. of grace on earth, and the beams of glory in heaven, shine with undiminished lustre. Faith can pierce through the darkening vapour, and rejoice even in a cloudy day. "There is not a case of discouragement for which the word of God does not provide a remedy. There is no darkness which Christ cannot remove; no guilt which he cannot take away; no corruption which he cannot subdue." O! what a Saviour is Jesus Christ. Well might Peter say :-" Unto you therefore which believe, he is precious."+ How precious is the blood, the righteousness, the intercession of Christ. What a mercy, that there is a fountain opened, not sealed; that we have an Advocate with the Father, not an accuser. For these blessings we should offer unceasing praise. Our Christian experience must have long since taught us, that this world is not our rest; that here joys and sorrows are mysteriously blended together; but that in Christ is peace, and in heaven is unsullied bliss.
True happiness is inseparable from the love of God in Christ. How can earthly things, however Chap. vii. 4-8.
+ 1 Pet. ii. 7.
splendid or profuse, which "perish in the using, satisfy the desires of an immortal mind? Wealthy persons are not, by consequence, happy, simply because they have wealth. A glare is thrown around them, which dazzles the eyes of common beholders; but the eye of faith can discover vanity and vexation of spirit beneath the gaudy equipage, the lordly mansion, and the show of state.
Oh! that the peace of God which passeth all understanding, may now and ever be the portion of me and mine. There is something extremely delightful in enjoying the blessings of Providence, not only as pleasant in themselves, but as the gifts of covenant love. This gives a double relish to all the innocent enjoyments of life. But Jesus hath said, "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." 99* When tried by this touchstone, O what worldly alloy will be found in our hearts, in the midst of much religious profession. Lord! make me sincere; make me wholly thine. Whatever I love, may it be in subordination to my love to thee; and never suffer me for one moment to set up an idol in my heart. Reign in me as the Sovereign of my soul. Sway all my powers, till mortality be swallowed up of life.
That man is truly blessed who can say with David, "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance." With the Lord as our portion, we shall have abundant cause to sing, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." Our gracious Saviour, of whose resurrection this Psalm is strikingly prophetic, will show us the path of life, and finally, through his sovereign grace, lead us into his presence, where is fulness of joy, and place us at his right hand, where are pleasures for evermore. Should the doubting Christian ask-And can all this blessedness be realised? Can such a sinner as I be admitted to this glory? Is it not rather a pleasing dream? Jesus himself answers *Luke xiv. 33. + Psa. xvi. 5.
Psa. xvi. 6.
the question, to all who truly love him:
Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."*
Thus all is "substantial and sincere." If Christ be our portion; if we persevere unto the end, he will receive us to himself, as His portion, in the day when he maketh up his jewels.
Oh! that I may have grace to lean only on the hope of his heavenly mercy. Jesus can cause the swelling Jordan to open its waters before me, that I may have a safe passage into the celestial Canaan. At that eventful hour, Faith can make a cheerful heart, and Hope a smiling face, while Love sheds its sunshine of delight over the soul. Newton beautifully observes, that "Faith is nothing else than the soul's venture. It ventures to Christ, it ventures for Christ; and it ventures in Christ." Whilst possessing this simplicity of faith, I may boldly venture, like Peter, on the boisterous lake, and feel its liquid pavement to be as a rock beneath my feet.
To the true believer, afflictions are blessings in disguise. If the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings, shall we shrink from the Cross? It has been well remarked, that "God had one Son without sin; but, that he has none without suffering." "The school of the Cross is the school of light, and there must all the children of God be taught, to fit them for the perfect state of glory. An ignorant person, that sees the mariner heaving such a weight of ballast aboard his ship, would suppose he intended to sink her at sea; just so, whatever the world may think, the troubles and trials of the saints shall never sink them, but keep them from being overset by every squall, that they may arrive with safety at the haven of rest, having their anchor fixed within the veil." "+
Every trial is intended for my good. My foolish heart would be too much attached to earth if the spade were not inserted to loosen the fibres, and disengage the root, that when transplanted, I may bear a richer fruit in the Paradise above. My heavenly Father, whose love and wisdom are infinite, knows exactly what I want, and how much suffering is needed to promote the spirituality of my mind. Shall I then repine at his dispensations of love? To say practically from the heart, " Thy will be done," is not the result of nature, but of grace. How blessed, how peaceful is the believer, who can thus drink into the spirit of his Redeemer! A murmuring spirit increases every evil. It doubles the affliction. It adds a sting to sorrow. If our hearts be in heaven, the trials of earth will be light and momentary, for love can sweeten every care, and lighten every cross. A Saviour's love disarms affliction of its sting.
Oh! that we may learn wisdom by every dispensation of Providence; and yield more fruit by every application of the pruning knife. The divine husbandman prunes every branch in Christ, that it may bring forth more fruit. Whatever makes us more like unto God in his communicable perfections, whatever brings us into a nearer communion with him, through faith in his beloved Son, must increase our holiness and augment our happiness. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of grace and glory. "It should be joy to us, that the eternal Son should come to seek and save us; that he has made a full atonement for our sins; that he has conquered sin and death; that he lives as our Intercessor and Advocate with the Father; and that he will come again to perfect and glorify his persevering believers. Those, therefore, live below the use and end of the Christian Revelation, who are not filled with spiritual joy. Believers should rejoice in their happy relation to God the Father, as his adopted children; in their happy relation to the Son of the Father as being members of his mystical body and
co-heirs with himself; in the pardon of their sins; in the sanctification of their natures; in the prospect of grace and glory that will be revealed at the return of their Lord and Head from heaven. Were they confirmed in their holy faith, how would they rejoice. The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost."
O, thou God of my salvation, enable me to glorify thee by an unshaken faith in thy promises; and an undeviating walk in the way of thy commandments. Under every trial, may no murmur escape my lips, no hard thought of thee be indulged in my heart. As love is inscribed on all thy dispensations, so may love be visible in all my actions. Give me
daily to experience the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; unto whom thou wilt impute no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.*
XXXVII. THE BELIEVER'S PATH TO GLORY.
"We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."-Acts xiv. 22.
WHEN I consider how short-sighted we are, and that all which lies before us is "a dark unknown," it is our happiness, as well as our safety, to be guided by ONE who cannot err, who sees the end from the beginning, who knows what is best for us, and who has promised, if we love him, to make all things work together for our good. Yet, alas! how unwilling we are to acquiesce in his will. How much we want the completion of our own wishes, as if every disappointment was necessarily a discomfort.
With what tender forbearance does our heavenly Father treat his wayward children. If he crosses their inclinations, it is for their good, that he may *Psa. xxxii. 1, 2. + Rom. viii. 28.