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path: but he has taken out all curse from the path, and turned all these trials into mercies. The very grave is perfumed by him: the path that we walk in is marked by his love, and the steps that we take are consecrated by his example. Though you know what trials are, and what sufferings are ; yet it is sweet for you to look on the print of his footsteps, and lean upon him all the way.
lift us up
But observe, secondly, that the PATH OR .WALK OF FAITH IS IN ITSELF A MOST HAPPY WALK.
Faith looketh to Jesus; and as it look upon Jesus, it walks in a pleasant path, rests upon him for wisdom: He is our wisdom. My dear hearers, ours is oftentimes a dark and mysterious way: it is always a straight way, though it is sometimes a rough and painful way: and you who are running smoothly in a summer path, if you meet with an experienced saint who is tasting the bitter things of life, he will not say to you, “I envy you.” But how great and how inestimable is the mercy of having a guide to our feet in such a way; one who can cheer us when we sink, comfort us when we faint,
when we despond, restore us when we are going out of the way, bind
that which is broken, enter into all our trials, sympathize in all our sorrows, and having the wisdom that knoweth how to deliver the timid out of all their temptations.
It is not only wisdom which we look to, but it is the wisdom of tender sympathy: and this path is, therefore, a most happy, peaceful, blessed path. I open my heart to my friend; I tell him my sorrows: he listens to me- -mourns as I mourn, weeps
weep : I bless God for it; it is very sweet to have such a friend. Again I tell him my sorrows: he is still enabled to sympathize with me; he weeps as I weep, he mourns as I mourn : it is very sweet, and I bless God for it. I tell him again of my sorrows, and I find him occupied; he has his own cares, bis own sorrows, and troubles, and vexations; they are quite enough for him; he is scarcely able to go on in his own path : how then can I expect him to take my place, and stand where I stand ? It is beyond man. But supposing he is willing to do this, what can he do? He can mourn with me, and sympathize with me, but can he deliver me? But it is not so with our heavenly Friend to whom we look ; who says, “ When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they
shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” His head is above the waters; therefore it is, that not one of his members shall sink beneath them. He is not only one who can sympathize, but one who can deliver, who knows how to deliver, and when to deliver; one who, by means as contemptible as blowing of ram's horns, can bring down our greatest troubles, and place our feet firm in our path.
But still further : supposing I had a friend who could sympathize and could deliver—who could not only weep and mourn with me, but find a way of escape for me. Sometimes God does, in his mercy, work by tender sympathizing friends a real deliverance; but when I look at him, I reason thus : This dear friend, this beloved friend, this self-denying friend, must die; the hand I take must soon be cold in death; he will soon pass away, and I shall see him no more. But when I look at Jesus, I look at one who never dies—one who has enough of tenderness and šympathy, and one who has enough of life for time and for eternity. O, my dear hearers, you who, when trouble comes, endeavour to avoid it by change of scene, going to the sea-side, trying this friend and that friend ; poor wretched creatures, I must call you, for resting your souls upon such broken reeds, which one moment may annihilate and reduce to nothing.
Thus we have the advantage over the poor lovers of the world here. They have nothing to show that will stand by them in their trying moments, but we have that which will stand by us in the most trying moments, and be found most substantial when every thing else is found weakness : and just as faith looks off circumstances, and rests upon a living Saviour, in that degree it triumphs above itself, and is made strong in the midst of feebleness.
Faith looks to Christ for a complete, perfect, and glorious righteousness ; standing before God, not with the ebb and flow of my prayers, not with my strength, but with the ebb and flow of nothing, because, blessed be God, all that believe “ are justified” (not “shall be”) “from all things.”
Now this is pre-eminently a way of pleasantness, and a path of
peace. At the first sight it is so, and in all the after stages of our eventful journey. Behold a man standing before God self-condemned; he has been chased out of the region of vain excuses ; he has had his self-sufficiency taken from him; his self-power has had a fall; his self-wisdom has deserted him; he finds himself wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind: he has no defence to make, and he pretends to require none. But what does he now say? All who are saved and justified will say, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” And he says it, not because he must say it, but because the Holy Ghost teaches him to say it; and he confesses himself a sinner, not because he ought to confess it, but from an inward conviction of it. He is in this state hoping, and praying, and believing that by and bye he may enter into rest; but God takes him off himself, and draws him to Christ. O that it were my mercy, if so it pleased my heavenly Father, to see more of what I think forms the very glory of our Gospel-a direct view of Christ the Son of God; not looking at Christ through the medium of my graces, but through the medium of his own work.
Now suppose this case. Here is a man poor in his own eyes, but in the midst of all his poverty hoping that, by and bye, he shall present something : but the Holy Spirit lays him in the dust ; and he feels himself utterly poor; and in that moment Christ is revealed to him as a gracious and complete Saviour. He does not begin to reason, Did he die for me? He does not go into the depth of the covenant, wondering whether his name is written in the Lamb's book of life. God the Spirit teaches him better, shows him Christ the Saviour of sinners, the Saviour of the vile, who came into the world to save sinners, the vilest and the
As that truth is brought to his heart by the power of the Holy Ghost, then it is, that believing, he enters into rest; then he says, “ He loved me, and gave himself for me.” My brethren, thousands have thought so who were deceived in their thoughts. But when this poor soul, brought down to the dust, laid low, is brought by the power of the Eternal Spirit to look at once to Christ, to look off himself, to look off his convictions, his prayers, and his attainments, and to look at once to the great finished work of the Son of God, through that medium God the Spirit brings pleasantness and peace into his soul, and he walks
This is, indeed, a path of pleasantness and peace through a region of doubt and hesitation, of anxiety and endless disappointment-labouring in the fire, ploughing the rock, and counting the sand—leading from that desolate region towards a peace that passeth all understanding, in the contemplation of the finished work of Jesus. O, if some poor burdened sinners who hear me to-day, who have been waiting and hoping, expecting and doubting, have been led to look off from themselves to Christ, and to stay their hearts on what he has done; they shall go out of the chapel in pleasantness, praising and thanking God. If you think this ought to make a man careless about evidences, I would rather preach a thousand sermons on evidences, than be negligent of them : look at them in their right place, and this proves itself to be of God, because it leads the soul to God.
But, my dear hearers, as this is the way of pleasantness and peace in the commencing stages of our journey, so it is all through the journey. I confess to you that I know nothing that can give the soul five minutes, or five seconds, of real peace, but as I look in the finished work of Jesus. Such is the holiness of God's law, such is the sanctity of God's precepts, such is the purity of the divine Being, such is the immaculate holiness of his character, that if I could look at him off the cross one moment, I should begin to sink. Therefore the first thing in the second stage must be that basis which was our all in the first stage. To rest my soul on what Christ has done and suffered, upon what he has finished and accomplished, upon his great atoning blood, upon his glorious righteousness, upon his infinite merit, upon his perfect intercession in the presence of Jehovah—this forms the ground-work of our happiness, the foundation of all our hope. And this I will dare to say, that no man can walk in pleasantness and peace, but as he looketh upon Christ, and loseth sight of the immaculate purity and perfection of the holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.
Faith also looks to Christ for sanctification. This is a pleasant path and a happy way. I need hardly say, what I would wish to say
coffin were before me, that without holiness no man can see God. I preach it living, and I would preach it dying ; I would desire to lay it on your hearts—I would desire to have it laid on my own heart, that it may pervade all my sermons, go through all my engagements, and be made manifest, not only by my lips, but in my spirit, my temper, and my conduct, before God and before man. But while this remains an important truth never to be lost sight of, yet we would not forget how all the true blessedness and happiness of our lives is bound up in looking to Christ for sanctification. This is the head, the life-spring, the great source of all. The stream runs low enough—too low, alas ! in you and me. Is there any thing of which we can say, “The good I would, I do?” Is there any thing of which we can say, “ The evil I would not, that I do not ?" Are we not constrained at the close of every day to take the place which the apostle himself took—“ less than the least?” The
we know of ourselves, whatever others may think of us, are we not constrained to say, “Look not upon me, but look upon the face of thine Anointed ?” Do I deny the indwelling of God the Holy Ghost in our hearts? I glory in it: I believe his indwelling is the true source and the maintenance of his work in our spirits, moment by moment. If there be that in us which tends to evil continually, blessed be his name, there is that which tends to holiness; for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” But when I look at the little stream, and see how thick and dense, and how complicated the difficulties through which it has to pass, sometimes hardly marking with a tinge of green the banks along which it flows; how blessed is the thought that fulness is in Christ, all fulness of grace and strength—the residue of the Spirit, the great treasury; that we might receive out of his fulness, and in his strength be strong! This is a way of pleasantness and a path of peace.
Look at our individual circumstances. Do not imagine me excluded from some of your trials. I believe it is one of Satan's devices that you should think I am free from all worldly trials. Who told you so ? Be assured of this, there is not one of God's saints whom he would bless but he will try him; and there is not a single grace which belongs to him which God will not try : and you will join with me when I say, it is a dense crowd through which we have to pass, and the more you and I are bent on going fairly through it, not making excuses, not throwing blame or corruption, not giving the opiate to our consciences: the more we are bent in the strength of God to go through the crowd, and turn neither to the right nor to the left—to mortify sin, to fight with the world, to oppose Satan—the more you and I shall find that this is the only path of pleasantness and peace ; that we have all sanctification in Christ; that he has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge ; and that he has them for us, to