Page images

in their hearts, it will certainly prevent their deriving support and consolation from Christ in any of their troubles, afflictions and sorrows. Christ has told them, that in the world they shall have tribulation. The men of the world and the things of the world very often subject them to great and peculiar troubles and trials, so that they become weary of it. But they may become weary of it, and remain attached to it, which will effectually prevent their loving Christ, trusting in his promises, and rejoicing in his wise and holy government. There are thousands of poor wretched creatures who are weary of the world, that are so attached to it, that they choose to bear all the evils they suffer, rather than to cast all their cares and burdens upon Christ. It is an expression of the tenderness and compassion of Christ towards his suffering friends, to forbid them to lean upon the world, which has so often disappointed them and pierced their hearts with sorrow, and invite them to come to him weak, weary, and heavy laden, that they may receive the permanent rest which he has promised to give them.

2. If those who are weary of the world may find comfort in Christ, then the more they become weary of the world, the better they are prepared to enjoy his promised peace and comfort. As soon as any begin to love God, and become cordially united with Christ, they begin to be weary of the world, and alienated in their affections from it. As soon as they begin to find pleasure in God, in Christ, and in divine objects, they begin to feel a distaste to the world and to all its objects, which had once absorbed their supreme attention and love. Having found the pearl of great price, and the treasure hid in the field, they renounce those worldly objects which had captivated and disappointed them, and set their affections on things above, and not on the things on the earth. These appear vanities of vanities and a vexation of spirit. They are weary to bear them, because they find them to be obstructions to a holy, devout and heavenly life. And if the best things which the world affords are burdensome to christians, how much more burdensome must the labors, the troubles, the dark distressing scenes of life be to them! These are the winds, and storms, and tempests, which drive them to Christ, the covert from the tempest, and where they can enjoy that peace which the world cannot give, nor take away. To this refuge all good men have always fled in days of darkness and distress, and found peace, safety and rest. When the sorrows of death compassed David, and the pains of hell gat hold of him, then called he upon the name of the Lord, who heard and helped him; and this led him to say with gratitude, "Return unto thy

rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee." Paul says in the name of christians, "We glory in tribulations; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost." All the troubles, trials and sufferings of christians are suited to prepare them to enjoy more peace and rest in Christ, than they could otherwise enjoy. When a man finds a covert in a great storm, he finds more pleasure, than in a fine fair day. So christians enjoy more real satisfaction and happiness in adversity, than in prosperity; because adversity leads them to the enjoyment of Christ, but prosperity to the enjoyment of the world.

3. If christians, who are weary of the world, may always find rest and comfort in Christ, then they may enjoy more happiness than sinners do, even in this life. Sinners often possess a larger portion of temporal prosperity than saints possess. They often think they are happier, and make others think they are happier, than saints. But there is good reason to believe that their boasting is vain, and deceives both themselves and others. For their happiness is neither so pure, so permanent, nor so satisfactory, as that of saints. The experiment and comparison have often been made, by those who are the most competent to judge. Sinners have often become saints, and been able to compare their happiness as sinners with their happiness as saints, and to deterinine whether they enjoyed more happiness after they became saints, than they ever did before. David acknowledges he was born a sinner, and for a time undoubtedly enjoyed the happiness of a sinner; but afterwards he became a saint, and enjoyed the happiness of a saint. He could appeal to God the searcher of his heart, and say," Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." This is preferring the enjoyment of God before the enjoyment of the world. And he declares before God, that he should be happier in the enjoyment of him than sinners are in the enjoyment of the world. "There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased." Solomon gives a stronger experimental testimony that good men derive a far more solid happiness from the enjoyment of God, than can be derived from the wealth of the world. After he had reached the zenith of earthly power, affluence, and grandeur, he found himself deceived and disappointed, and constrained by painful experience to declare, "Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excel

leth darkness. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding: for the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand, riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Such is the pure, permanent, and satisfactory happiness of good men in this life; which as far excelleth the highest happiness of the men of the world, as light excelleth darkness. Though they enjoy less prosperity and suffer more adversity than sinners, yet in this troublesome world they enjoy that peace of God, which passeth all understanding, and which affords joy in sorrow, and rest in weariness.

4. If saints, when weary of the world, find comfort in Christ, then we may readily believe that those who have lived in the darkest times, met with the greatest troubles, and experienced the severest trials, have often arrived to the greatest degrees of holiness and happiness in the present life. If we may rely upon the truth of sacred history, we must believe that some who have had the largest share in the troubles and trials of this present evil world, arrived at the highest attainments in pure holiness and happiness. By passing through the most dark and trying scenes, they became more purified, more holy and more happy, than they could have been with less adversity and more prosperity. Did not Abraham become more holy and happy by his peculiar trials? Did not Moses become more holy and happy by suffering affliction with the people of God? Did not Job become more holy and happy by all his complicated trials and bereavements? Did not Paul, and the apostles, and primitive christians, become holier and happier by partaking of the sufferings of Christ and rejoicing in tribulation? These and many other good men have often risen to the highest attainments in piety, peace, and pure felicity, by patiently and submissively suffering the severest trials and afflictions. And the same causes are still suited to produce the same effects in the hearts and lives of those who live by faith and not by sight. All the storms and tempests and fiery trials they meet with in the course of life, serve to purify them, and prepare them to enjoy peculiar rest in Christ, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

5. Since all real saints, who are weary of the world, may always find rest in Christ, they have no reason to murmur and complain under any of the troubles and afflictions in which they are involved. This has always been a discontented, murmuring, complaining world. Mankind have never been satis



fied with what God has given them, with what he has denied them, with what he has taken away from them, and much less with what he has inflicted upon them. The rich have complained that he has given them no more. The poor have complained, that he has given them so little. The prosperous have complained, that he has often interrupted their prosperity and disappointed their fond hopes and expectations. And the afflicted have complained, that he has laid more upon them than they are able to bear. All classes of men in all the conditions of life, are extremely apt to murmur and complain of the evils, troubles and trials, under which they are suffering. But why should a living man complain? He suffers no more than he deserves. God does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. It is only if need be, that he withholds or takes away any favor from any person. It is only if need be, that he inflicts a lighter or heavier evil upon any of the godly or ungodly. Who then has any reason to complain under his present burdens and trials, however weighty or severe? We are all born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. We are all in a state of trial, and all sufferings are trials. We have no reason to think it strange concerning the fiery trials that are designed to try us. And we have still less reason to complain of the trials we experience; for we may all find rest in Christ, if we will only lean upon him and trust in him. God is highly displeased with the complaints of his people. He was highly displeased with Israel, who murmured that he did not give them water, that he did not give them bread, and that he inflicted so many deserved evils upon them, while passing through the wilderness. Nor was he less offended with Job, the pattern of patience, and with Moses, the pattern of meekness, for their hard thoughts and unreasonable complaints of his conduct towards them.

6. Since all true believers may always find rest in Christ, when they are weary of the world, they have no more reason to be anxious about future, than to be impatient under present troubles and trials. It is very unwise and sinful to indulge a painful anxiety about future, uncertain, imaginary evils and afflictions. David did this, when he said, "I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul." Thousands suffer much more from anticipated evils which they never meet with, than from the calamities which actually fall upon them. This is altogether unreasonable and criminal; for it is distrusting the care and kindness of God, destroying present happiness, and increasing present misery. How many render themselves extremely unhappy by indulging anxiety about futurity? While they are in health, they anticipate sickness; while they are rich, they anticipate poverty; and while they are in prosperity, they anticipate

disappointment and adversity. But why should they be anxious about any such anticipated evils, which may never come upon them, and from which, if they do, they may find benefit. God has assured them, that he will never leave nor forsake them; that as their day is, so shall their strength be; and that all things shall work together for their good. Christ foresaw that his disciples would be liable to fall into the sin and folly of anxiety about futurity, and strictly charged them to guard against it. "Take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." And the apostle exhorts and comforts christians in similar language. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

7. Since saints may find rest in Christ when they are weary of the world, we may easily account for their being sometimes stronger and sometimes weaker, than other men in adversity. It is very evident that they are sometimes weaker than other men in times of trouble and affliction. They sometimes sink under trials that other men can support. When Jacob was too ready to believe that Joseph was dead, and despaired of the life of Benjamin, he sunk under his adversity. "Then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave." In this instance Jacob appeared weaker than other men; but on another occasion he appeared stronger. When his brother Esau came out with an armed company, to destroy him and his family, he boldly met him by faith and prayer, and prevailed. Job appeared stronger than other men, when at first he rose above his complicated losses and bereavements, and said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." But afterwards he fell into impatience and despondency, and appeared weaker than other men. David was entirely unmanned and overwhelmed in sorrow at the death of Absalom, which discovered his peculiar weakness. But he had courage and magnanimity to meet and conquer the giant Goliath, which displayed a faith and zeal and strength of mind superior to all other men. These eminent saints were sometimes weaker and sometimes stronger than other men, because they sometimes forgot God; and sometimes trusted in the Lord

« PreviousContinue »