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Saviour has many times granted me relief from this burden. When the sensible relief is withdrawn, then to some extent the burden is felt again. Eventually such relief will come that will never be exceeded by any burden again. At times I have a burden of fears, cares, anxieties, and can then feelingly, with Jeremiah, say, “ The Comforter which should relieve
soul is far off from me. Yes, He the Comforter is the great and effectual soul-Reliever. It is not anything which can relieve my
soul. The world cannot, nor self, nor any creature; none but the Holy Ghost the Comforter. When His comforts are felt in my soul, what "pure delight” is then enjoyed! As one said, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts delight my soul.” Here are the living soul's delights—“Thy comforts." There is something particular and special in the complaints of the child of God, and there is also something particular in his comforts. The sweet comforts of the Comforter felt in the soul prevent, during the time they are enjoyed, bitter complainings. They humble the soul, and lead to thankfulness and praise. All my complainings will, I hope, soon be over; may they be followed with "everlasting consolation through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Sept. 26.—What a precious doctrine is that of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! When my soul feels lively in the things of God, through the gracious power of the Holy Spirit, what proofs are these of the truth of Christ's resurrection from the dead. The angels said, “He is risen ; why seek ye the living among the dead ?” Yes, He is alive ; "alive for evermore : death hath no more dominion over Him.” He is alive to the best interests of my soul, both for time and eternity; alive to guide me with His omniscient eye, to hold me with His powerful hand, to defend me with His mighty power, to clothe me with His righteousness, to cleanse me with His blood, to supply all needful grace for this time-state, and afterward receive me to glory.” Because He lives, I hope to live also. Oh to know more of Him! How excellent is the knowledge of Christ! What is every other kind of knowledge compared to this? “This is life eternal, to know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” I have felt to-day a little of the blessed Spirit's help in prayer. What a marked difference there is in "praying in the Holy Ghost," and praying without His felt assistance. While praying for the Holy Ghost, what a want of power and liberty I have often felt; but, when praying in the Holy Ghost, what enlargement of heart is experienced! How the mouth is opened! What liberty is felt at a throne of grace! How the precious blood of Christ is pleaded ! How the precious promises are applied! What a solemn entering into the holiest by the blood of Jesus!
How the Scriptures are opened ! What love to the brethren felt! What sin confessed ! How self is loathed! What communion carried on and enjoyed with the Father and His dear Son Jesus Christ! Oh for more heartfelt experience of these vital realities! These are the rich blessings which will make me
" dead to sin" and the world, and “ alive to God.
Oct. 6.-"Faint, yet pursuing." Yes, I trust I am pursuing the right course from Egypt to Canaan. I feel I cannot pursue what I once did. How eagerly sin, the world, and its pleasures were pursued! Thank God for stopping me from pursuing those things. Ah! He has done it, glory to His dear name.
What a great work is conversion! Who but the Almighty Spirit of God could effect it? My soul has often felt faint; so much so, as that I have hardly been able to detect any signs of life. Yet
there is still a pursuing in seeking the Lord, and in crying to Him. I am often pursued by enemies, such as evil thoughts and feelings, besides Satan's temptations. So I find, if the Lord enable me to pursue what is good and right in His sight, sin, Satan, and the world will pursue me. Well
, it is better these should pursue me than I pursue them. I want my soul to be following “hard after God." There is so much in God the Saviour for the following soul. “ Follow thou me,” said Jesus to Peter. But no, carnal reason says, Follow me; the world says, Follow me; sin says, Follow me; Satan says, Follow me; the Pope says, Follow me. When in a unregenerate state there was no response in my soul to these words of Jesus; but, since the Holy Spirit hath quickened my soul, there has been felt a sweet influence, inclining my mind and will to follow Him. I am sure of this, that God the Holy Ghost alone can prevent a sinner following the course of this evil world, and beget in his heart a living and sincere desire to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nov. 15.-How awful it must be to be deceived! Am I deceived ? Sin is deceitful. My own heart is deceitful. Satan is wily. Who but the Holy Spirit of truth can preserve me from being deceived ? Oh the many fears I often have as to how it will be with me in the end! What effect have they on my mind ? Why, they lead me to ask the Lord to make known to me my standing-if it be in Christ; if my religion is of Him; if I am born again. How possible to have much light in the head without having a grain of grace in the heart! What a great thing it is to feel certain of being the Lord's chosen, redeemed, and quickened child ! What extremities my soul is sometimes driven to on these heads! Ah, there is such a place as “wits' end.” Can the Lord do anything for a soul in such a place? My heart says, “Yes.” At such a place the Lord's works are seen and felt to be marvellous; and that the Spirit-taught soul knoweth right well.
Jan. 12, 1869.—Children often talk of their Christmas presents. On Christmas Day I had two sent me from “a far country," where I hope a King, a particular friend of mine, lives and reigns. They were not intended for the purse, cupboard, or the body; but for the lifting up and encouragement of my sinking and desponding soul. With them came the certainty that the Lord intended to save my soul. Oh, how this broke
heart! and humbled me down at the blessed feet of Jesus. How wonderful it is that the great God and Saviour should condescend to bestow such mercy upon a worm, “a bruised reed!” Here is free grace indeed. When under the softening and illuminating influence of this visit from the Lord, I wondered to myself what was going to take place, whether or not the Lord was about taking me to Himself. But no; His purpose was to put me in the furnace of affliction, and there try the grace He bestowed. The very next day I was so ill as to render it needful to consult a medical man. The means he tried not succeeding, another was consulted. The Lord was pleased to bless the means he prescribed to the subduing of the malady. Now the Lord knew what was going to occur.
What I beg Him to give me, is a heart to bless His adorable name for so graciously blessing my soul beforehand, and also while in the furnace. Oh this furnace-work! How the flesh shrinks from it! Yet what needs-be there is for it! How close my soul seemed brought into contact with eternal realities! What cries to the Lord! What questionings! What searchings of the heart! What heart-speaking to the dear Saviour ! Tetbury.
DESERT PLACES. "And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves into a desert place, and rest awhile; for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure 80 much as to eat." -MARK vi. 31. How graciously does the Lord provide for the different states and circumstances of His children! While it is His sovereign will and pleasure that there should be no idle servants in His house, as He gives to each their appointed work in the proper season, yet it is also needful, yea, necessary, that they should have suitable times for rest, while He Himself chooses such times and places for that rest, as may not be altogether pleasing to their own ideas; thus in the present instance, the place selected for the disciples to rest awhile in was a “desert place.” They had been sent out by two and two to preach, and had power given them to work miracles, casting out devils, and healing the sick ; neither was it pleasant work to the flesh they were engaged in, for they were commanded to “take nothing for their journey save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse;" to be shod with sandals, and not put on two coats. There was nothing very tempting in this expedition to the carnal mind. But they had fulfilled their mission, and returned to tell Jesus all things, “ both what they had done and what they had taught.”
What a lesson ! to bring all one's concerns, spiritual and temporal, to Jesus. Then it was that they were invited to “come into a desert place, and rest awhile;” but the invitation was very distinctive : “Come ye yourselves apart;" but mark, He does not say, "go ye yourselves." He does not send them alone. No: He accompanies them into this quiet resting-place; and, when there, provides sustenance for both body and soul. But, leaving these favoured disciples, whose delight it was to do their Master's will, it may be profitable to contemplate the desert places wherein God's people are frequently called upon to rest awhile as they journey onwards and homewards, for their souls are sometimes brought down by labour, though not always of an active kind.
First, there is the desert-place of the hidings of God's countenance ; and surely this is one of the hardest things to bear to those who enjoy most of His smiles whose favour is life; those who, with tender conscience and loving heart, delight, like the beloved disciple John, to be constantly near their Lord, to lean upon His bosom. Some Christians can be satisfied with a smaller degree of close fellowship with Jesus than others, though as nearly allied in union. This is no theory, for we constantly see it in every-day life, and the reason appears to be they allow the cares and anxieties of life to swallow up so much of their thoughts and attention. They tell you they have no time for better things; it is true some are necessarily more absorbed with worldly matters than others, but should the world occupy all our time? Cannot our religion be carried into it? Or are there no leisure moments when we can be alone with God? The Psalmist, who was a man full of active employment, could yet find time from the cares of state to serve the King of kings, and mourned His absence in such plaintive strains as these—“Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me?" "I will say unto God my Rock, Why hast Thou forgotten me?” (Psalm xlii.) “Lord, why castest Thou off my soul? why hidest Thou Thy face from me ?” (Psalm lxxxviii. 14.) “Wilt Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee?” (Psalm lxxxv. 6.) "O God, be not far from me; O my God,
make haste for my help" (Psalm lxxi. 12.) Though to our spiritual senses the Lord appears sometimes to have withdrawn Hinself, yet it is really not so, according to the encouraging declaration of our blessed Saviour, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” There are seasons when the child of God cries out, “My Beloved had withdrawn Himself and was gone: I sought Him, but I could not find Him; I called Him, but He gave me no answer.” In such seasons, to our apprehension it may be said of us, “And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron" (Deut. xxviii. 23.) Our prayer seems so to return to us again; but it is our
iniquities which have separated between us and our God, and our sins have hid His face from us that He will not hear." "Because of the wickedness of thy doings whereby thou hast forsaken me.” This brings the chastening rod. We cannot charge God with changeableness : no, He is of one mind, and none can turn Him; so that the change must undoubtedly be in ourselves, though the teaching may be according to His sovereign will and pleasure.
But secondly, there is the desert place of temptation, and, terrible as it is, how comforting to know that our great Forerunner was also brought into this desert place, that in all things He should be made like unto His brethren, sin excepted, “ Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil,” but, as the Holy Jesus would not have gone willingly into temptations, since in all His acts He was led of the Spirit, is it too much to say, O tried and tempted believer, that all thy path is marked out; yea, even thy seasons of temptation? Thou needest to be shown what is in thine heart, what pride lurks there, what lusting of the flesh against the Spirit, what carnality, what unbelief! All these things have to be brought to thy view by temptation, but to specify th various forms of it would be more than human pen could accomplish; neither is it necessary, since every tempted child of God knows too well the particular forms Satan appears to him in, whether as a roaring lion, or an angel of light, whether through the world, our own peculiar temperament and disposition, or our religious observances.
Our Lord was tempted in three ways: first, through hunger; secondly, to doubt His own Divinity, yet prove it by attempting self-destruction; and, thirdly, through ambition; yet He overcame, that “He might be able to succour them that are tempted.” But in whatever form we are tried, the apostle Paul writes for our encouragement, “ There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” We sometimes think our own temptations very uncommon; but the word of God tells us that others have travelled the same dreary road before us, and, whilst we are “ in heaviness through manifold temptations,” let us take courage from the thought that when we are tried, even as with fire, we shall come forth as gold purified, to the honour and praise of the great Refiner.
Thirdly, there is the desert place of sickness; and truly this is a place where we must “rest awhile" from active service of whatever kind we are accustomed to be engaged in. When the body is racked with pain, or worn down by weakness, we are apt to wince at the rod, or quarrel with the dispensation, until the affliction is sanctified by discovering the needs-be for it. Those who, with the writer, have been kept at home for weeks together, and heard every Sabbath the church-bells around calling worshippers to assemble in God's earthly courts, will agree that it requires no small amount of patience and submission to acquiesce in the Lord's dealings, especially when the house of God is so loved and esteemed that we can say with David, “A day in Thy courts is better than a thousand.” For by this we are taught that our dependence is to be placed on the Lord of hosts, Himself, and not upon any of His instrumentalities. And here we may observe that in the desert place of sickness, we are often accompanied by Jesus; and a blessed Companion He is, turning the desert into a garden, and causing it to rejoice and blossom as the rose.
Fourthly, there is the desert place of bereavement, and here we are to turn aside from our usual routine to more solemn engagements ; here we are to contemplate death in all its reality ; here we are to have our very hearts torn asunder by parting from near and dear ones. Oh, this is a desert place indeed to have those with whom we have taken sweet counsel together separated from us for the remainder of our natural life; their loved voices hushed, their loved faces removed from our sight, for ever shall we say ? Nay; if dead in Christ we shall meet again, and, when grace prevails over nature, we shall be comforted by the prospect that the next meeting will be for ever. Still this is a desert place, in which we are drawn "apart,” and have great need of divine sympathy and consolation. In this path also our Saviour trod; therefore He can sympathise in all our sorrows, for He wept from the same cause.
Fifthly, and lastly, there is the desert-place of losses, crosses, and trials of various kinds, which are too numerous to particularize, but, as each heart knows its own bitterness, so will each individual Christian be best able to fill up her
Persecutions for Christ's sake, being forsaken by false friends, whom we vainly took for real ones, a famine of the word of life, which most have to experience at one time or other, together with the body of sin and death ever present to contend against, make up a sumtotal well-nigh sufficient to overwhelm us; yet let us bear in mind these desert places
are resting-places, where we are led apart to commune with our own hearts and God, for vain is the help of man under such circumstances. “Go not into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity, for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” Yes, go to this near Neighbour, this good Samaritan, who alone is able to pour the oil of consolation into thy wounds, and refresh and strengthen thee with the wine of His love. He can and will make all grace abound towards thee, and, though not outwardly, yet the solitary place of thine heart shall be glad and rejoice while He is with thee; for He has promised that His " grace shall be sufficient for thee,” His "strength shall be made perfect in thy
” weakness." Then there is the resting-place alone for which we sigh, but call not death the desert place leading to it. Oh, no, it is only the last shadow thrown across the valley of life, the chamber where mortality unrobes itself, to be clothed upon with endless light while entering into the mansions prepared, to be “for ever with the Lord.” Manchester.
A LITTLE ONE.
When Christ was born, all Jerusalem was in an uproar; so when Christ is born in the soul, corruption arms itself against grace; there is a combat betwixt flesh and Spirit; but Christ subdues the flesh by little and little.