صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

The fountain is still open; thy blood is still as efficacious; the robe of thy righteousness still as perfect, and large enough and broad enough to cover even poor guilty me; nor are thy many sweet and precious promises blotted out from thy book. They stand as firmly written there as ever; and wilt thou not get to thyself glory, Lord, by saving such as me? Will it not prove the depth of thy love, the freeness of thy grace, and the power of thine arm, oh thou who art mighty to save?"

Reader, be assured that as thou art now going forth weeping, bearing the precious seed of prayer and supplication; so surely shalt thou ere long come again with rejoicing, bringing with thee the sheaves of joy and peace in believing.


Another soul is going forth weeping, because he has lost the sweet enjoyment which flowed into his heart from a sense of pardoned sin, and a knowledge of his personal interest in every new covenant blessing. Such a soul knows by experience the sweet exercises we have been attempting to describe; and has probably been enabled to say with the church in the Canticles, without a waver or a doubt, "This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem." But now the Beloved has withdrawn himself, and vain is the inquiry of the watchmen and those who go about the streets, "Have ye seen my Beloved ?" Our poor nature is such, that it cannot long endure even the comfortable presence of our God, unless that presence is seasoned with affliction spiritual pride will soon rear its cursed head; self-complacency be indulged; à disposition to be impatient with the weaklings of Christ's fold, and to charge home the withdrawal of God's presence from some of the elder brethren, to some act or other of their own. All these things are offensive in the sight of the Lord, and soon furnish him with abundant reason to hide his lovely face, and give his servants afresh to see who is their righteousness and strength. The withdrawal, it may be, is gradual; and the believer, walking in the light with which the Lord has indulged him, does not at first perceive his loss, until by degrees a corrupt nature, an alluring world, and a tempting devil, conspire to rob him of his peace, and involve him in perplexity and doubt. Then their haughtiness, their pride, and selfsufficiency, are brought to their recollection; under the accumulated weight the spirit sinks; and Satan, taking advantage of the opportunity, levels his fiery darts-suggesting that former experience was a delusion; that many had had light and judgment in the head, whose hearts were unaffected; many had had enjoyment who had merely walked in the light of a fire of their own kindling. To others in this state of darkness and bereavement, he suggests that they have been guilty of the sin against the Holy Ghost; or, that having once fallen away, it is impossible that they can be again renewed unto repentance. Such souls, however, are going forth in groans and cries for deliverance, and shall surely come again with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them." Yea, and they shall prove, by rich experience, the truth of the apostle's words, that the "trial of their faith being much more precious than of gold which perisheth, though it be tried with fire,



shall be found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." The furnace, however much it may try, will but refine and purify, and prove the reality of the work of God upon the souls of his people: "If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons."

Did time and space permit, we might accompany the soul in its upand-down-hill, rough and rugged path towards the heavenly Canaan, commenting upon its various exercises, both of a pleasant and a painful nature. We might discover the believer at one time walking under the smiles of his Lord; beholding him, it is true, but as "through a glass darkly," yet nevertheless enjoying the comfortable assurance that ere long he should see him "face to face." At another time we view him under a cloud, struggling with unbelief, and contending against the world, the flesh, and the devil. At one time we hear him exclaiming, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day ; at another time we hear bursting from his heart the agonizing expression, "I shall one day fall by the hand of the enemy.' But in every conflict we see fulfilled the Saviour's petition, as expressed in the days of his flesh, "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not."

[ocr errors]

We hasten to touch upon other causes on account of which many of the Lord's dear family "Go forth weeping, bearing precious seed," more particularly at such seasons as the present, when the opening year brings them in contact with a distant period. These causes are numerous, but may be classed under two general heads-namely, personal or relative affliction, and trials in providence.

[ocr errors]


A weakly or disordered tabernacle causes many a child of God to enter upon the New Year 1841, with weeping; and as he contemplates the change the all-important change-to which probably this year will introduce him, and having perhaps been classed among those whom the apostle describes as Through fear of death are all their life-time subject to bondage," his language is with the psalmist "Spare me, that I may recover strength before I go hence, and be no more." Hezekiah was evidently in this frame of spirit, when the prophet of the Lord waited upon him, and forewarned him of his dissolution. read that Hezekiah "turned his face to the wall," and "wept sore; and the Holy Ghost has been graciously pleased to preserve upon record the expression which his servant, under these sharp exercises, made use of. He foresaw that some of his family in every age, would be in similar circumstances; that they would not, under certain, or rather under uncertain frames of mind, be enabled fearlessly to enter Jordan. But, beloved, if this be your case-if some of our readers are the subjects of bondage, timidity, and fear, in the contemplation of a dying hour, we want, if the Lord will, to be the means of bringing their poor distressed minds to look away from themselves and all their dark and gloomy feelings, unto Him who has "overcome death" and " vanquished the powers of hell," and who has said, "Because I live, ye shall live also." "Be not dismayed, if it should be your lot to be early upon the list whom the Lord your God shall call home; be it yours to esteem

it a privilege rather than an evil. Endeavour to think of your dear Lord, and of the love of his heart-that, seeing you would be the subject of fears and apprehensions as you contemplated the dark valley, he was determined to be your forerunner, and to meet the grim monter in his most hideous form. "O, death, where is thy sting? O, grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Blessed be his dear name, he has taken away the sting of death; and when his people are brought by his own hand into dying circumstances, he removes the fear of death likewise. Beloved, be not covetous; expect not dying strength in a living hour. In the meantime, take a review of the way by which the Lord has led you; see how "well ordered" and how "sure" has been the path by which he has conducted you. Think of the wormwood and the gall, and recollect how graciously he, by his own almighty hand, snatched you out of Egyptian darkness, and led you forth into Gospel light and liberty. Behold the way-the winding way-by which he has led you through the wilderness to the present hour; and then, if by the retrospect he should have gladdened your heart, and warmed and animated your soul, say, do you think his blessed Majesty will not finish the work he has begun; that he will leave it incomplete, or that he will fail to fulfil his promise, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee?" Be assured, that if you have entered the year upon which it may be said to you, "Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live," it shall be well; at evening tide it shall be light. The enemy may "thrust sore at thee," but his efforts will be in vain; your life is hid-hid with Christ in God. He will to the end of life, and in the hour of death, stand by you and strengthen you; "underneath shall be the everlasting arms;" and by and by, when He who is your life shall appear, then also shall you appear with him in glory." Beloved, you shall on that glorious harvest-day "come again with rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you," to a blessed purpose indeed!

There is another soul, probably, suffering, "going forth weeping," because of relative affliction. Perhaps a beloved wife is ill-one whom the Lord had, in love and mercy, chosen. Such were led to choose each other in the fear of the Lord, were united in the fear of the Lord, have walked in the fear of the Lord, and unitedly been led to observe the gracious dealings of his hand. The wife has been the helpmate of the husband; and when his fears have arisen, and his mind has been dark and gloomy, then has she comforted him-reminded him of the way by which the Lord has led them-how graciously he had interposed for them in many times of trouble; and then, like Manoah's wife, exclaimed, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have showed us all these things." But now affliction has fallen to their lot, and the husband, always ready to despond, fears he is about to be bereaved-trembles lest upon his entry to another year, he should be left like "a sparrow alone." Of a social habit-a cheerful disposition, he has been accustomed to regard his wife not only as a desirable companion, but, in the hand of the Lord, he has


deemed her a check and preservative to him. Looking around him, beholding the numberless evils into which his fellow-men fall, and feeling at times the seeds of those evils working in his own breast; in the contemplation of being left to himself, he trembles lest, after all, his religion should prove a fiction, and he turn out a vile hypocrite, or an apostate. We might enlarge here, but seeing on the one hand, that comparatively few are called to endure the depths of suffering which in these respects some undergo; and that, on the other, we are continually exposed to a charge the remotest from our thoughts-that of wishing to nurture the fears of our readers—we forbear. "The heart knoweth its own bitterness," and, blessed be God, a "stranger intermeddleth not with its joys;" that is, the soul is not robbed or spoiled of them. But we may say, for the comfort of such souls, that the Lord's eye is upon them. Go, betake yourselves to Jesus-the loving, tenderhearted Jesus; you may fearlessly tell him all, without any reserve. It is unnecessary to keep anything back, for he will never betray your confidence. You may trust him with every bosom fear, with every anxious thought, and each gloomy apprehension. Oh! beg his blessed Majesty to sanctify every fear: go, tell him that you have been too much ensnared with creature affection; confess that you have spent less time alone with him; that his word has not been so closely perused, nor his house so much frequented. Tell him that you have been too much taken up with the gift, to the neglect of the Giver; and entreat him graciously to look upon you-to "remember you in your low estate, because his mercy endureth for ever." Remind him that he is the Physician both of body and soul; and that he is such a wonderworking God, that he is able to make your fears have the same beneficial result upon you as the reality. Tell him that, if it is his will, he can bring back your heart unto himself, and yet spare to you dear object of your earthly affections. And ask him to enable you to hold every gift with a loose hand, ever ready to resign it at his bidding. Oh! the power, the grace, the love of Jesus, is an inexhaustible theme. If He is pleased to speak but one soft word, and lift upon you the light of his blessed countenance, He takes away all your fears, cares, and anxieties, in a moment. You sweetly and sensibly lean upon him. You have not a wish nor a desire in opposition to him. Your language is, "Here I am, Lord; do with me as seemeth thee good." You feel yourself to be in blessed keeping; and you can say, from your inmost soul, "Dear Lord, thou mayest take my wife, my children, my home, my all-only give me thyself." The sweetness that flows into the heart at such seasons as these, no tongue can tell, nor can any heart conceive, but such as have been under its influence. Reader, do you know anything about it experimentally? What, then, shall we say to such as are under the painful apprehensions we have been hinting at? Simply this-look to Jesus; cast yourself at the feet of Jesus; seek to e much in company with the beloved Physician; remind him of his ability— tell him of his willingness, and rehearse in his hearing his many sweet and precious promises, which are all " yea and amen in him. Once more. There are some of the Lord's family "going forth

[ocr errors]


weeping" under dark providences. Their hopes and expectations in various particulars are cut off. They had marked out a path for the divine procedure; and, because the Almighty in his wisdom and love has taken a different course, they become the subjects of disappointment and vexation. Self-pity begins to work, and hard thoughts of God take possession of their breast; Satan, ever on the alert, takes advantage of his opportunity, and sets in like a flood, suggesting to the soul that he has been following the dictates of his own carnal heart; that his has only been the religion of circumstances; and that now the Almighty was about to try it with fiery trials, it would surely give way, leaving its poor hapless victim to perish in despair. "Better, far better," says Satan, "if you had never made any profession at all; for you know that the Scriptures declare that the last state of such men is worse than the first. God has been suffering you to go on in your own way; he has given you many checks of conscience, but you have paid no regard to them; and now he is about to enter into judgment with you. You see how dark and gloomy all round you appears; not one bright prospect presents itself to your view. This is but the beginning of troubles; worse trials than these await you, and such they are as you can never stand under. Your wife, your children, your property, are about to be taken from you; and you will be left an awful spectacle to God, to angels, and to men. You have been a bold presumptuous wretch; you have professed the name of Christ; you have dared presume to speak or to write in his name; you have ascribed to Providence what has been the effect of mere chance, or common-place circumstances and now God is about to make manifest the awful delusion of which you have been the subject. Here, take the knife, the halter, or the draught, and know the worst of it; there is no hope for you; your state never can be better; your life will only be a prolongation of trouble and uncertainty. Eternity may not be what you suppose. There may be no hell after all; heaven may be a fiction; an eternal duration is contrary to all sense and reason—it is a mere fancy floating in the brain."

We feel for thee, poor soul, whoever thou art, that may be thus harrassed. Expecting that three-fourths of our readers would condemn us for bringing these things forth, we have, in the fleshly pride of our hearts, strove to keep them back, and endeavoured so to write as to please the majority, and to procure to ourselves a fair name. But such bondage and misery have seized our minds during the last eight-and-forty hours, and so fruitless have been our efforts to conclude this article without the introduction of these dark exercises; that at length, in agony of spirit, have we taken up our pen and recorded them. And now, poor tempted, sin-burdened soul, whoever thou art, or in whatever part of the earth thou mayst dwell, thou hast it, and thou seest that there is at least one other that is exercised like thee.

We doubt not that by the record of these latter remarks we shall give offence. We shall be told that we want to bolster up our readers in their doubts, fears, and unbelief-God knows to the contrary. Does a surgeon attempt to heal a wound before he probes it; or a physi

« السابقةمتابعة »