« PreviousContinue »
" is red, and full of mixture; out of which he poureth; "and the dregs whereof, all. the wicked of the earth “shall wring out and drink ?”n Know that the Lord shall rain down upon thee “snares, fire, and brimstone; " and that an horrible tempest shall be the portion of
thy cup.” Why do you encourage yourself in your transgressions, and employ the most frivolous apologies to silence the remonstrances of conscience? Why make every possible effort to dismiss from your mind all thoughts of hell, to which your vices are fast precipitating you, and flatter yourself with vain hopes of heaven? The more arrogantly you boast that you
shall ascend into heaven, the more terribly will God reply: “ Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides “of the pit : thy pomp is brought down to the grave, " and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under
thee, and the worms cover thee.”p Why do you presume on God's hearing your prayers, when perhaps you may be disposed and have leisure to address your supplications to his throne from the bed of affliction ? Instructed by the example of Christ, I can now with certainty foretel what answer you are then to receive. I say not the words, but the thunderbolts, of an angry God, will be as follows: “ Because I have called, and ' ye refused, --- I also will laugh at your calamity; “... Then shall they call upon me, but I will not "answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not “find me.”! And so forsaken by God, harassed by the Devil, tortured by conscience, thou shalt be overtaken by the darkness of despair ; then by the darkness of
Ps. lxxv. 8.
p Is. xiv. 15, 11. VOL. II.
o Ps. xi. 6.
Prov. i. 24-28.
death, and, in fine, by the extreme and everlasting darkness of hell. O that these considerations, which, by no fallacious reasoning, are inferred from the horrors undergone by the suffering Redeemer, may make a strong impression on the minds of those that are living in carnal security, lest the season of grace and the day of their visitation and salvation expire, whilst their attention is engrossed by other concerns !
XLII. But to those who are in Christ, his agonies supply abundant matter of consolation. Ist, He underwent the pains of hell in their room, that they might not have to undergo them. He entered “ the palace “ of the strong man armed," namely, the Devil: but being “ stronger than he, he took from him all his ar. “ mour wherein he trusted, and divided his spoils.” O the incredible compassion of our Lord ! O the bowels of his love! He plunged himself into a deep abyss of infernal pains, that through the blood of the everlasting covenant, we, “ the prisoners, might be sent “ forth out of the pit wherein is no water,”—not the smallest refreshing drop. We have now no cause to tremble at the assaults of the Devil; for whilst he bruised Christ's heel, Christ bruised his head.
XLIII. 2dly, He has obtained for them the heavenly glory. He shed a bloody sweat for us, that in the colo sweat of death we might have access with boldness unto God. He drank the dregs of Divine wrath out of the cup of suffering, that an overflowing cup of Divine grace might be administered to us ;u and that we migh be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of his house and drink of the river of his pleasures." He began to fear and tremble, that we might stand undismayed before the tribunal of God. He fell on his face for our sins, that we might lift up our heads. He offered up his supplications, so to speak, to an inexorable Deity, that we might always be heard in those prayers which we present in his name. He was forsaken by God, that we might never be forsaken. In fine, because he descended into hell, the principal gate of heaven stands wide open to us; and the lower his descent, the higher, in consequence, is the glory which he has merited for
r Luke xi. 21,
22. t Gen. iii. 15. * Ps. xxxvi. 8.
s Zech. ix. 11. u Ps. xxiü. 5.
XLIV. 3dly, He has secured comfort for his people eren amidst the sorrows of a wounded spirit. It cannot be denied that the godly themselves have sometimes their hour of darkness, in which they are harassed by the Devil, tormented with fears of hell, and apt to complain that they are forsaken by God. Yet even then they may derive consolation from the agonies of Christ ; for, 1. Nothing befals them which has not befallen their Lord before; to whose image it is fit they should be conformed in sufferings, that they may be conformed to him also in glory. What can be more unbecoming than to refuse to drink of the cup of which the Saviour hath drunk before us ? 2. By the sorrows of Christ, the sting of the curse is entirely taken away from their sorrows. God does not expose them to such distresses, as an angry Judge, but as a kind and judicious Father, for the exercise of their faith, patience, hope, and charity; “ that their holy desires may be “ believer that he may be deserted, but deserts him “ that he may not be deserted; and he appears to for
strengthened, their devout affections tried, and their “ labour of love exercised."* “ He doth not desert the
* Bernardus in Cant. Ser. 75. * Rom. viii. 33, 34.
* Luke xxi. 28. y i John v. 14.
* Is. xlix. 15.
sake, because he is unwilling to forsake him.” 3. They have to do with an enemy, over whom Christ hath already triumphed. Nor can the conflict fail to be glorious, and one from which they shall come forth “ more than conquerors.”a Light shall arise after darkness. This violent tempest shall be succeeded by a calm serenity, delightful in proportion to the severity with which the thunders and the storm may have raged. 4. The very bitterness, in fine, of that condi. tion, will impart a double sweetness to the succeeding joys, as well of grace as of glory. “Security is pleasant " to all, but particularly to him who has been in fear.
Light is joyful to all, but more than commonly joy. “ ful to one who escapes from the power of darkness. “ To have passed from death to life, gives a double re“ lish to the blessing of life."*
XLV. Learn, in the last place, in what manner you ought to conduct yourself, when visited with such sor
1. Beware of an immoderate fondness for places of retirement, favourable to a sorrow, which gradually becomes a kind of mischievous pleasure to the unhappy mind. After
have poured forth your complaints in secret into the bosom of God, return at intervals to the society of your acquaintances and friends. 2. Be unwcaried in prayer.d Some forms of prayer suited to your condition, are contained in the seventy-seventh, cighty-eighth, hundred and second, and several other Psalms. A form of the same sort, peculiarly adapted to the troubled soul, and uncommonly pathetic, you
Bernardus in Cant. Ser. 68. a Rom. viii. 37.
1 Mic. vii. 8. c Is. liv. 11.
d Ps. lxi. 2.
will also find in a valuable little book composed by Thomas Goodwin, entitled, The child of light walking in darkness.* 3. Lay aside all murmuring; and renouncing the reasoning of the flesh, and the inclination of your own will, commit yourself entirely to God, and always subject your own wishes to his sovereign, most wise, and most excellent will: Having protested that, while you desire that, if it be possible, the cup may pass from you, you do not refuse, if necessary, to drink | it up to the bottom, if it be conducive to the glory of
God, and to your own ultimate advantage. 4. In fine, wait in patience and faith, till he who at last heard the
prayers of Christ, and delivered him from fear, f 29 both affording him strength to sustain his sorrows, and making him victorious over all adversities, shall also manifest his sympathy for you
your distresses, and refresh you with the fulness of his consolations. He who now seems to stand at a distance from you, will doubtless return. Sooner or later he will return; and—to adopt very nearly the expressions of Augustine—“ interrupting you possibly in the midst of your prayers, will impart himself speedily to the longing " soul; and being covered with the dew of celestial sweetness, and anointed with fragrant ointments, " will refresh the weary, satisfy the hungry, and enrich " the indigent soul, and, by his liberal communications, " restore it to health and vigour.”+
* Part ii. Instruct. 9.
+ De scala Paradisi, cap. iv. e Mic. vii. 9.
f Heb. v. 7. & Mic. vii. 7. Is. viii. 17.
29 See NOTE XXIX.