Page images
PDF
EPUB

verse the sentence of neglect and contempt, nor arrest the arm of oppression and cruelty, nor seal the lips of the calumniator, nor recompense the losses of the unfortunate, nor bring back the departed from the tomb, nor heal the maladies of the body or mind. It is no comfort to counsel these children of sorrow that, since it is their lot to suffer, it must be their allotment to endure. Endurance does not relieve one pang, and only abandons the hope of relief. You may

counsel them to forget their trials; but memory cannot bid sorrow be gone, so long as the heart bleeds. You

may counsel them to drown their sorrows in the cares of the world, and by a resort to its gay companions and fashionable amusements. But miserable, miserable comforters are they all.

The afflicted must look higher than the world. They must look away beyond the everlasting hills whence cometh their help. The children of sorrow feel their helplessness ; nor is there any such relief as that which is found at the throne of heavenly grace.

Let them bear their sorrows to the closet, to the family altar, and to the sanctuary. If you have hitherto lived a prayerless life, let your afflictions urge you to pray, and instruct you to come to the throne to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need. If you are a man of prayer,

let your afflictions urge you to retire from the world, and to be much alone with God. You will learn there to know more of him, to love him more, and trust him more. Your murmuring heart will learn to be still there ; you will lay your hand upon your mouth, and say, Behold, I am vile! what shall I answer thee?"

The world little know the satisfaction which the children of sorrow enjoy, when in the exercise of a filial spirit, and by a living faith in the great Mediator, they hold intercourse with God, and come near, even to his seat, and fill their mouth with arguments. They repair then to the Being who can remove or sanctify their sorrows. He said to the father of the faithful, “I am the Almighty God : fear not;

I am thy shield, and thine exceeding great reward.” He is the God of creation, of providence, and of grace. He can avert the sorrows they feel. He can lift the needy from the dunghill, and set him among princes. He can extort from their enemies the tribute of affection and homage. He can cover them with his feathers, and under his wings they shall trust. He can hide them in the

66

secret of his presence from the pride of man.

He can keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. He can rebuke the devourer for their sakes, and give them a name and a place better than that of sons or of daughters. He can bid the destroyer put up his sword into its scabbard. In every instance he will remove the afflictions of the suppliant where it is best for him that they should be removed. And where he does not see fit to remove them, he will make them the means of a more progressive holiness and spiritual comfort. His grace shall be sufficient for these children of sorrow, teaching them by this salutary discipline to live above the world and walk with God. Afflictions are to the soul what storms and frost are to the earth. For a while they deform the face of nature; they tell us of its solitude and barrenness and desertion; and it feels like winter as we pass over its fields; but they prepare the soil for the verdure and promise of the harvest.

This near intercourse with God is also the direct way to remove from his people the cause of their afflictions. As we have already seen, they are like the refiner's crucible. Mourners who never pray, instead of being made better by their sorrows, are made worse. Like Pharaoh, they harden their hearts, and become insolent and rebellious. In the day of their adversity, they sin faster and stronger than ever. But it is not so with those who, in the time of their tribulation, enter into their chambers and shut the doors about them. They find not only a better mind under their afflictions, but present comfort and support. These God alone is able to impart, and will impart to those who seek his face. It is a sweet thought, that there is one gracious Being who has access to the mind, even when the body is enervated by the debility, or racked by the torture of disease. Sorrow has a heart of exquisite tenderness—a heart whose thousand chords yield harmony or loose discord, as they are touched by human hands or Divine.

“ No wounds like those a wounded spirit feels ;

No cure for such till God, who makes them, heals." He alone can support and cheer the soul when blasted by the storm and stung by the arrows of adversity. His still small voice reaches the sufferer's ear in the dungeon, and soothes his fears in the burning fiery furnace.

- The

a

9

name of the Lord is a strong tower, into which the righteous runneth, and is safe.” When the fountains of the great deep are broken up, and the windows of heaven are opened, they are safely embosomed in the ark. There stands the promise: “ Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." The afflicted have trusted in God, and in so doing have never been .confounded. When Herod beheaded John the Baptist, the disciples took up the body and buried it, and “ went and told Jesus.” When the women at the sepulchre trembled, a voice came to them, saying, “ Be not affrighted; ye seek Jesus, who was crucified.” When the exiled disciple fell down as one dead before the overwhelming glory of his Divine Lord, the Saviour said to him, “ Fear not; I am the first and the last : I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore; and have the keys of hell and of death.” The sorrows of the bereaved are not spread before Jesus in vain. No being in the universe has a deeper sympathy with them: “In all their afflictions he is afflicted; the angel of his presence saved them ; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them.” When he was on the earth, the poor, the sorrowing, and the miserable everywhere sent forth the cry, “ Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David !" He had compassion” on the multitude; he “ had compassion” on the man possessed with devils; he “ had compassion” on the widow of Nain. He invites all “ who labour and are heavy-laden ” to come to him and find rest. There is no cloud so dark but the light of his countenance can turn the shadow of death into the morning, and no mourning so sad but he can give songs in the night. He does more than pity; he turns their mourning into joy. This is his character, this is his office; and though now exalted at the right hand of God, it is that he may

“ comfort all that mourn.” It is the mission of sorrow therefore to take the believer by the hand, and lead him to the throne of heavenly grace. There the afflicted find consolation; there “a portion shall be given unto six, yea, unto seven. Behold, he prayeth, is the precursor of the Divine presence. There are tokens of the Divine favour which come only by prayer. Cheering, most cheering, are those beams of the Sun of righteousness which thus fall upon the gloom and solitude of adversity. These sharp distresses would be overwhelming but for free access to the Hearer of prayer. We can

[ocr errors]

bear them, if God is with us. But if we have no faith nor hope in God—if all our resources are within ourselves, and all our refuge in this perishing world, and we have no access to the Father of mercies and God of all comfortthis is to have no hope, and to be without God in the world. Every prayerless man is thus ungodly, thus hopeless-ungodly and hopeless even in prosperity, much more in adversity. His path lies through a world of sorrow; he is an orphan, and has no comforter. If those sorrows do but make you a man of prayer, you will make them welcome. We say then again, in the words of the apostle, “ Is any among you afflicted ? let him pray.” Whatever be his conflicts or his trials, let him pray. Let him ask for anything, for everything he needs. « Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. Ask, and it shall be given you. I am God," all-sufficient. Go to him daily, and live on his fulness. The greater your trials, the more ready is he to hear; the greater your wants, the more ready is he to give. You cannot ask too much, you cannot hope too much from God. You cannot measure his munificence; it is a boundless ocean, supplying the greatest wants as easily as the least. The greater the blessing, the more is he gratified with the giving. Go with the spirit of prayer, and you shall meet with no chilling repulse. Though a woman forget her sucking child, he will not, in the time of their tribulation, forget his mourners.

“ I seem forsaken and alone,

I hear the tempest roar,
And every door is shut but one,

And that is mercy's door.''

a

REDEMPTION. If the goodness of God is so admirably seen in the works of nature and the favours of providence, with what a noble superiority does it even triumph in the mystery of redemption! Redemption is the brightest mirror in which to contemplate this most lovely attribute of the Deity. Other gifts are only as mites from the Divine treasury; but redemption opens, I had almost said exhausts, all the glories of his glorious grace. Herein God commendeth his love ; not only manifests, but renders it perfectly marvellous ; manifests it in so stupendous a manner, that it is beyond thought, and above all blessing and praise.—HERVEY.

[graphic]

HARDLY A BETTER AMONG THEM. Ay, they are all alike; there's hardly a better among them. If it does not come out, depend on it, it's there."

Then followed a long catalogue of names of professedly Christian men who had dishonoured their profession. The catalogue ended, the speaker said, “Now I want to know who would have anything to do with a set of fellows like them ?"

The man who poured out this tirade was John Higgins, a mechanic employed in a large machine-shop in the north of England. If anybody had called John an infidel, it is very likely he would have been much displeased; but DECEMBES, 1868.

« PreviousContinue »