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truly be said, and it must be said for the encouragement of all who are walking in the same way, These all died in faith; not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Brethren! it is the utmost wish of my heart, and my most earnest prayer, that you may be found in this number. It is of no manner of importance what a blind and wretched world shall say or think of you: but-may it be truly said of you when you are departed, Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that was peace!
HOPE A SUPPORT IN TROUBLE.
PSALM XLIII. 5.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou dis quieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
A CHRISTIAN has been justly compared to an
exotic,-a plant, which flourishes in its own climate: but which, when brought into one unfriendly to its nature, is alive indeed, but sickly. There is something paradoxical, an apparent contradiction, in the Christian's character: he is sorrowful, yet always rejoicing!
The book of Psalms is the language of experience. You, who are true servants of God, will find the language of your hearts, at one time or other, such as you find David to have uttered throughout this book. Judge me, O God, says the Psalmist; and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off: why go mourning, because of the oppression of the enemy?
Oh, send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me: let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the Altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy; yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God, my God. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?- hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. He concluded the former Psalm in the same words: here he repeats them, and again expostulates with himself.
From these words we may make these inferences.
1. That THE BEST OF MEN, AND MEN OF THE DEEPEST EXPERIENCE, MAY, AT TIMES, SUFFER GREAT DEPRESSION.
2. That IT IS THE DUTY OF GOOD MEN TO RESIST SUCH DESPONDENCY.
3. That ALL MEN, WHO ARE TAUGHT OF GOD, ARE TAUGHT THAT THERE IS BUT ONE EFFECTUAL RESOURCE IN ALL CASES OF DEPRESSION.
I. There are times when THE BEST OF MEN SUFFER DEPRESSION.
Let it be remembered, that the best of men are yet in the body. They cannot but feel. They see but in part. They are oppressed and tempted. Elijah, the champion, could say, under depression, O Lord, take away my life. David, though
a hero, yet cries out, I said all men are liars! I shall one day perish: and, here, Why go I mourn→ ing because of the enemy?
Sometimes the depression does not arise so much from outward opposition, wearing down the spirit; as that the man feels an evil heart of unbelief, and Satan working on that heart stirring up all its corruptions, and filling it with biasphemous thoughts. I never knew a Christian, who did not complain of the vain and wicked imaginations which were continually passing through his heart!
Now, if it please God to leave this man destitute of those consolations, which alone can uphold the spirit in such troubles; though the man find coldness, desolation, and vanity of heart, yet he cannot be beguiled by the resources of the world. It is in vain to say to such a man, "Go to the theatre: Go to the card table:" he is no longer a child: he cannot be pleased with such toys. If he enjoy not better comforts and consolations; if he cannot mount on the wings of faith, and love, and hope; he cannot but be dejected and sorrowful.
There are, perhaps, no earthly comforts of which a man so satisfactorily partakes, as of those in his own house and family: and, yet, a man who has the highest relish for such enjoyments is sometimes found eating his bread in the bitterness of his soul: the sword is within. It is VOL II.
with him as with David: his own son is his enemy: or as it was with Job; the wife of his bosom becomes his tempter and reproacher.
A man's friends, like Job's, will sometimes come about him, and tax him with hypocrisy, because he is under depression. No wonder this wears away the spirits.
At other times, where there are none of these causes of dejection, a bodily disease cleaveth to him, a thorn in the flesh: that when he would arise and comfort himself, he is so bowed down that he cannot.
Sometimes he is deprived of ordinances, which were his support, and as bread to his soul: and he cries out, with David, My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
Whatever be the occasion of depression, the heart knoweth its own bitterness. Every man best knows what pains and harasses him. The most elevated piety does not raise a man above the common ills of life. When people talk of an abstractedness of mind above pain and care, they talk of something more than humanity. Where God provides a medium for our sorrows, he means that the man should feel those sorrows.
Let us remember then, that, in this present state, this dispensation under which we live, we have reason to call on our souls, in seasons