« PreviousContinue »
Once more, behold the Christian in sorrow, afflicted in body, or mind, or both. He looks unto the Lord, and to his unspeakable comfort remembers the parting words of his gracious Saviour,“ In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world and in me ye shall have peace.”
Is he touched in his body, weighed down under a lingering and painful disease, day after day cut off from the endearing intercourse of friends, or only forced to feel how unavailing are all their sympathetic efforts to relieve him night after night deprived of refreshing sleep, the secret sting of pain again and again rousing exhausted nature from the rest she craves ? Ah! dearly beloved Brethren, none but they who have personally felt it, can form any adequate conception of what it is thus permanently to suffer. Most awful (when considered in the light of eternity) are the inventions usually resorted to, under such circumstances, to wile away the worldling's time, and make him forget, if possible, his pain and danger :--change of scene, change of company, false hopes of recovery disingenuously held out, the morbid stimulating interest arising from the perusal of some high wrought work of fiction, or from the slander of the neighbourhood ingeniously retailed :-and truly deplorable is the too frequent success of such inventions. A deceitful peace is purchased at a frightful price: to beguile the body into temporary ease, the eternal interests of both body and soul are studiously kept out of sight; and the hand of mistaken kindness is stretched out to blindfold the immortal spirit, at the most momentous crisis of its existence. O! ye parents and friends, and physicians, who are adopting this short-sighted mode of treatment; consider the ETERNITY which must be spent by the sufferers, and invite them, (at any apparent risk of encreasing their complaints), I beseech you by the mercies of God to invite them to seek peace only in the light of the countenance of the Lord Jesus, to derive an antidote to their sufferings only from the joyful sound of the everlasting gospel of the grace of God. There it is, that the Christian sufferer finds peace, not by turning away his contemplations from eternity, but by anticipating its brightest joys, by believing that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed, by reading in the light of the Lord's countenance that although sorrow may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning. There it is, that on every returning day and night of bitter restlessness, the christian reflects, and experiences a reality of relief in the reflection, that yet once a little while, and he shall be where no pain enters, but where everlasting
joy shall be upon his head, where the Lamb shall lead him to fountains of living waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from his eyes. .
Is he touched in his tenderest affections ? Has the dearest tie that bound him to the earth been broken? Is the fair flower on whose beauties he loved to dwell, blighted and withered from his sight? Has the brother, or sister, or friend, the companion of his early joys, been snatched away? Has the dear child of his love, or the still dearer partner of his bosom been consigned to an early tomb? He looketh to the Lord. See the tender heart-touching sight that is presented to his view: his sympa- • thetic Saviour dissolved in tears over his departed friend! O! there is consolation which none but the true believer can comprehend, which none but the afflicted believer can fully experience, in that simple record, Jesus wept ! seeing we have an high-priest who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. And thus does the servant of Christ who is acquainted with the joyful sound of the gospel; in his duties, and in his enjoyments, and in his temptations, and in his sufferings realize the very blessing which the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to call down upon the children of Israel. “ The Lord bless thee and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift
up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace.'
It is further written in this portion of scripture concerning the people of God, that in his náme they shall rejoice all the day, and in his righteousness they shall be exalted. St. Paul speaks of two distinct grounds of Christian rejoicing, 1. In the Lord. 2. In the testimony of conscience. The former is the subject of the passage now before us. Although real Christians, walking in the light of the Lord's countenance, do decidedly make progress in heavenly dispositions and irreproachable conduct; and although there is (as we have seen) a présent peace and joy and great reward therein: yet can they by no means rejoice in those fruits of righteousness as tending in the smallest degree to make atonement for their sins, to procure them a favourable acceptance with God, or give them the least security for continuing stedfast and successful in his service. In this view they must for ever renounce themselves, their best righteousnesses and strongest resolutions, as completely as their sins. Their rejoicing therefore for these blessings must be in another. We, saith the Apostle to the Philippians, are the circumcision, the true Israelites, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice, not in that spiritual service, but in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. In
the Lord Jesus we find atonement and acceptance and security. In him we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins, and this is his name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness. But the point which seems particularly to occupy the psalmist’s mind, is the upholding strength of the Lord by which his people are exalted, and made to triumph over all their enemies, and which is secured to them in all their conAlicts, by the righteous character of the Lord. God is faithful by whom they were called unto the fellowship of his Son. Having in his great mercy promised to be their strength and their fortress, and the holder up of their heads; he will in his righteous faithfulness perform the same, and do unto them even as he hath said. No weapon that is formed against them shall prosper, and every tongue that riseth up in
, judgment against them they shall condemn: the Lord their God will hold their right hand saying unto them, “ Fear thou not for I am with thee: be not dismayed for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
This is a fruitful topic of the church's praise; for this the children of Zion rejoice in their king. In the continued experience of the fulfilment of this promise, and the assured confi