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dread, it should excite him to rejoice. Yet, alas! how many christians are all their lifetime subject to bondage through the fear of it! They can look back, and bear a happy testimony to that goodness and mercy which have always followed them; but when they look forward, behold it is all a gloom. “ If, after all,” say they, “ we should be left to sink in the swellings of Jordan! How drcadful then to find that God has withdrawn his influence, and to be left to struggle with pain and with death without his support! O how awful to see the King of Terrors in dread array; to witness the world receding, eternity opening, and the summons sent to appear before the Most High God, to give an account of every action done in the body, whether good or bad!” Thus christians sometimes increase their own misery, and, through unbelief, experience those sorrows in life which scarcely ever are they suffered to feel in the hour of death. We have now just cursorily run through the trials of a christians. They may not be felt alike by all. Some may be more exposed to one, and some to another; but they all have something to struggle with while here. It is necessary, however, to answer an objection, which, on a review of this part of the christian experience, may be started. “Where is the advantage of be. ing a christian," it may be said, “ if there be so much distress in his experience ?» We answer, Were this distress to last always, the question might be well asked. But this is not the case.* “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy com
* See next chapter.
eth in the morning. He that goeth forth weep. ing, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Ps. xxx. 5. cxxxvi. 6. His experience, it is true, is distressing, but it is all a token for good, it is all for a wise end. He weeps for the present, that he may rejoice in future. He is cast down, but it is that he may be lified up. But, after all, supposing that his sorrow was perpeiual here on earth, still it is better to mourn here, than for ever hereafter; to weep in time, than in eternity ; to feel a hell in this world, than in that which is to come. “ Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit and trembleth at my word. He shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more cleath, neither sorrow, nor crying—they shall see his face and reign for ever and ever.” Matt. v. 4. Is. lxvi. 2. Rev. xxi. 4..
But I cannot dismiss this chapter without giving encouragement to those whose experience is so distressing. Remember that, if God had determined to have left you to yourself, to have abandoned you to wretchedness, he would not have penetrated your heart, convinced you of your depravity, wrought concern in your breast, and filled you with such anxious desire to glorify him. That deep humiliation, that strong conviction, that pungent distress you feel on account of your sin, is not the work of nature nor the production of Satan; but of God, who wounds that he may heal; who kills, that he may make alive. · But you are looking forward, perhaps, to discouragements yet to come. Your soul is cast down within you, because there are still powerful enemies to be encountered, and various troubles to be borne. Christian, recollect the advice of thy best friend : “ Take no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matt. vi. 34. Consider, too, that you have a wise guide ; one who has travelled the way before you, who knows all its difficulties, and is well acquainted with all its dangers. He can cause you to know the way wherein you should walk. Follow his footsteps, and you cannot go wrong. Act in character as one of his; for “ when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice." John x. 4.
You have also a strong guard. In a dangerous road a guide is necessary, but is not always suffi. cient. But you, christian, have both a guide and a protector. What enemy but he can conquer ? what mountain but he can make a plain? what swelling food but he can in a moment dry up ? He.can make all things subservient to the accomplishment of his purposes and the safety of his people: and what has he not said ? “ 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." Is. xliii. 2.
*You shall also not only be protected, but supplied. You may be faint by the way, your strength may be nearly exhausted, your hopes may be low, your faith shaken ; but “ my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glo. ry by Christ Jesus.” He hath appointed places of refreshment by the way. His sabbath, his table, his word, his mercy seat, are all for your accommodation. Here, christian traveller, you shall be supported, your spiritual strength renewed : you shall yet say, “ The Lord is my Shepherd; Í shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, for his name's sake.”
Consider farther, too, for your encouragement, those who have gone before : you are not travelling an unknown road, through which none have passed. Consider their example, their supports, their patience, their perseverance, their final triumph, and remember, their God is your's. The same hand that conducted them is leading you. Remember, too, O weary pilgrim, that you are not a solitary traveller; you are not going alone. Look round you, and behold others in the same road. Throw off reserve, open your heart, and by the communication of your own experience you will in turn know the experience of others; by which you will see that they are conflicting with the same enemies, meeting the same diffi. culties, and enduring the same trials as yourself.
Consider, finally, the end you have in view. You are not walking in a path strewed with flowers, which leads to shame; but a path which, al. though set with thorns, yet leads to glory. You may look forward with pleasure: every passing moment decreases the sum of your trials. The vehicle of time is carrying you rapidly away from all the storms and tempests of life. Think how soon you will be home, and, at home, never to
return. What, then, are a few trials by the way, when compared to the happiness of the end? Think how much the crown of glory will outweigh the crown of thorns. O how pleasant to reflect on the bright scenes of eternal felicity! “ When the earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we shall have a building of God; an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 6. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory."
“ There shall we bathe our weary souls
In seas of heavenly rest,
Across our peaceful breast."
· W HILE some christians are travelling in the dark valley, filled with fear, and ready to despond under a sense of their unworthiness, there are others who are on the mount, whose hopes are bright, and whose prospects are delightful and unbounded. They can take a retrospective view of the divine conduct, and with a joyful confi. dence declare that he hath done all things well. They can look round them, and with faith discern a wise hand directing every event, and overruling all for their good. They can look before them, and with joy anticipate the inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Such is the happy experience of many