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2. Finally, let me address a few words to those who have the testimony of their conscience that they possess the blessed principle which has been the subject of my discourse.
My christian friends, is this the case with you? Can you say, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee—thou knowest that I love the brethren." You have then a good foundation for hope ;—for hope did I say? I will add to this expression, and say, for assurance. You need not desire dreams, nor visions, nor sudden and mysterious impressions upon your mind, in which thousands have been deceived, and thousands more may be so. You possess what is 'infinitely more valuable and important—a principle which never did, never can, never will deceive. You have the love of God shed abroad in your souls; and this should fill you with the confidential and assured hope, that the Author of this grace will make you partakers of his glory, and crown you with eternal salvation. By a display of infinite benevolence the Father of Mercies has slain the enmity of your minds, enlightened your understandings, renewed your dispositions, and implanted his love in your hearts. And is it not your desire and aim to please and enjoy him? Yes, your language is, "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee." Well, your heaven is sure—just as sure as the sincerity of your love. You can be happy in the presence of God because you love him. And you may be assured that God will never exclude one soul from his presence who is matured for it. O happy souls, "rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice." Rejoice in hope of the glory of God; for in a little time, a few revolving years at the most, you will be in the enjoyment of his immediate presence :—you will be with that Saviour whom not having seen you love," partaking of all the glories and felicities of the heavenly world. Blessed, for ever blessed be God, for our prospects and our hopes !—My brethren, let our consciences testify, let the world see, let our fellow-christians see, that these prospects and hopes influence us "to serve God and our generation according to his will," and animate us in " pressing toward the mark for the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Amen and Amen.
THE PATIENCE OF JOB.
James v. 11.
YE HAVE HEARD OF THE PATIENCE OF JOB, AND HAVE SEEN THE END OF THE LORD, THAT THE LORD IS VERY PITIFUL AND OF TENDER MERCY.
In the context, the apostle is exhorting the Christians of the twelve tribes scattered abroad, to whom he wrote this epistle, to be patient under the trials, afflictions, and grievances which they were suffering. In the course of his argument he makes a declaration which, at first sight, seems to be paradoxical. "Behold, we count them happy which endure.* Many may be convinced that it is better to bear afflictions patiently, than to sink under them, but few can conceive how they can become a ground of congratulation. In order to exemplify this sentiment, St. James adduces an instance in the case of Job. The afflictions of this patriarch were of a nature and character peculiarly severe; but they were the means of producing much subsequent happiness to himself, as well as of affording consolation and edification to the church of God, to the end of time.—The subject will lead us to consider,
I. The afflictions of Job.
II. His patience under them.
III. The design of God in permitting them.
It appears from the history of this patriarch, that he was distinguished in his day and in the place where he lived, by his piety and his wealth. But it will be necessary that we should refer to his history, as it is recorded in the first chapter of the book which bears his name. , In the commencement of that chapter we read, that " there was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there was born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred sheasses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the East." In that age of the world, riches were estimated, not so much by money, as by cattle. It appears therefore that Job was a very rich man, so that, in this point of view, he was considered the greatest of all the men of the East. But, under the influence of religion, he was enabled to resist the sinful allurements of wealth and greatness. His piety and zeal were of an eminent character. His religion was such, that men in general observed its effects in his conduct and conversation; and God himself bore testimony to its
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reality and excellence. But Satan, the accuser of the brethren, suggested that Job did not fear God for nought; that by his religion he only consulted his own interest; and that if his worldly enjoyments were removed, he would "no longer retain his integrity, but curse God to his face." In order to prove this charge to be as false as it was malicious, permission was granted by God that this holy man should be tried by the immediate loss of all that he possessed. Let us look at the particulars of this severe trial, as they are recorded in the latter part of the first chapter of his book.
"There was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating, and drinking wine, in their eldest brother's house."
It is evident by the history that Job himself was not present on this occasion; but perhaps he might be congratulating himself on the harmony and mutual affection of his children. But if so, his pleasing reflections were suddenly and wonderfully dissipated; and this day became to him a day of trouble, darkness, and distress. Sorrowful events are sometimes near at hand when we are little apprehensive of their approach. Deceitful calms not unfrequently precede terrible storms. "Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward;" he ought not, therefore, to presume on long and uninterrupted prosperity. In his present state of existence, it becomes him to expect and to be prepared "to suffer affliction." We see calamities now descending upon Job like the sudden tempest; like repeated peals of thunder,