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God, they reason with him that is wiser than they, they will be in heaviness indeed, in sorrow of heart, in anguish not to be expressed. Nay, even when God shines again upon the soul, and takes away all doubt of his past mercy, still he that is weak in faith may be tempted and troubled on account of what is to come; especially when inward sin revives^ and thrusts sore at him that he may falL Then may he again cry out, ■■,:
'I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun .. , .
lest I should make shipwreck of the faith, and my Inst state be worse than the first: f- •»•"■■ < . ■
"Lest all my bread of life should fail,
4. Sure it is, that this " affliction," for the present, " is not joyous but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it bringeth forth peaceable fruit unto them that are exercised thereby." Blessed therefore are they that thus mourn, if they " tarry the Lord's leisure," and suffer not themselves to be turned out of the way, by the miserable comforters of the world; if they resolutely reject all the comforts of sin, of folly, and vanity; all the idle diversions and amusements of the world; all the pleasures which "perish in the using," and which only tend to benumb and stupify the soul, that it may neither be sensible of itself nor God. Blessed are they who " follow on to know the Lord," and steadily refuse all other comfort. They shall be comforted by the consolations of his Spirit; by a fresh manifestation of his love; by such a witness of his accepting them in the Beloved, as shall never more be taken away from them. This "full assurance of faith" swallows up all doubt, as well as all tormenting fear; God now giving them a sure hope of an enduring substance, and "strong consolation through grace." Without disputing whether it be possible for any of those to "fall away, who were once enlightened and made partakers of the Holy Ghost," it suffices them to say, by the power now resting upon them, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ?—I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come; nor height nor depth, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. viii. 35—39.)
5. This whole process, both of mourning for an absent God, Vol. I. No. 6. S
anil recovering the joy of his countenance, seems to he shadowed out in what our Lord spoke to his Apostles, the night before his passion: "Do yc inquire of that 1 said, A little while, and ye shall not sec me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, 1 say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament;" namely, when ye do not see me; "but the world shall rejoice;" shall triumph over you, as though your hope were now come to an end. "And ye shall be sorrowful," through doubt, through fear, through temptation, through vehement desire; "but your sorrow shall be turned into joy," by the return of Him whom your soul loveth. "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow because her hour is come. But as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembercth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And yc now have sorrow ;" ye mourn and cannot be comforted; "but 1 will see you again; and your heart shall rejoice, [with calm, inward joy,] and your joy no man taketh from you." (John xvi. 19—22.)
6. But although this mourning is at an end, is lost in holy joy by the return of the Comforter, yet is there another, and a blessed mourning it'is, which abides in the children of God. They still mourn for the sins and miseries of mankind: they "weep with them that weep." They weep for them that weep not for themselves, for the sinners against their own souls. They mourn for the weakness and unfaithfulness of those that are, in some measure, saved from their sins. "Who is weak, and they are not weak? Who is offended and they burn not?" They are grieved for the dishonour continually done to the Majesty of heaven and earth. At all times they have an awful sense of this, which brings a deep seriousness upon their spirits; a seriousness which is not a little increased, since the eyes of their understanding were opened, by their continually seeing the vast ocean of eternity, without a bottom or ashore, which has already swallowed up millions of millions of men, and is gaping to devour them that yet remain. They sec here the house of God eternal in the heavens; there, hell and destruction without a covering; and thence feel the importance of every moment, which just appears, and is gone for ever!
7. But all this wisdom of God is foolishness with the world. The whole affair of mourning and poverty of spirit is with them stupidity and clulncss. Nay, it is well if they puss so favourable a judgment upon it; if they do not vote it to be mere moping and melancholy, if not downright lunacy and distraction. And it is no wonder at all, that this judgment should be passed by those who know not God. Suppose, as two persons were walking together, one should suddenly stop, and with the strongest signs of fear and amazement, cry out, "On what a precipice do we stand! See, we are on the point of being dashed in pieces! Another step, and we shall fall into that huge abyss! Stop! I will not go on for all the world!"—when the other, who seemed to himself at least equally sharp-sighted, looked forward and saw nothing of all this; what would he think of his companion, but that he was beside himself; that his head was out of order; that much religion (if he was not guilty of much learning) had certainly made him mad.
8. But let not the children of God, "the mourners in Sion," be moved by any of these things. Ye, whose eyes are enlightened, be not troubled by those who walk on still in darkness. Ye do not walk on in a vain shadow: God and eternity are real things. Heaven and hell are in very deed open before you j and ye are on the edge of the great gulf. It has already swallowed up more than words can express, nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues; and still yawns to devour, whether they see it or no, the giddy, miserable children of men. O cry aloud! Spare not! Lift up your voice to Him who grasps both time and eternity, both for yourselves and your brethren, that ye may be counted worthy to escape the destruction that cometh as a whirlwind! That ye may be brought safe through all the waves and storms, into the haven where you would be! Weep for yourselves, till he wipes away the tears from your eyes. And even then, weep for the miseries that come upon the earth, till the Lord of all shall put a period to misery and sin, shall wipe away the tears from all faces, and "the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover (lie sea."
UPON OUR LORD'S SERMON ON THE
"lilessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." Matt. v. 5—7.
1. When "the winter is past," when " the time of singing come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land; " when He that comforts the mourners is now returned, "that he may abide with them for ever;" when, at the brightness of his presence, the clouds disperse, the dark clouds of doubt and uncertainty, the storms of tear flee away, the waves of sorrow subside, and their spirit again rejoiceth in God their Saviour j then is it that this word is eminently fulfilled; then those whom he hath comforted can bear witness, "lilessed," or happy, " are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
2. But who arc the meek? Not those who grieve at nothing', because they know nothing; who arc not discomposed at the evils that occur, because they discern not evil from good. Not those who are sheltered from the shocks of life by a stupid insensibility; who have, cither by nature or art, the virtue of stocks and stones, and resent nothing, because they feel nothing. Bruta philosophers are wholly unconcerned in this matter. Apathy is as far from meekness as from humanity. So that one would not easily conceive how any Christians of the purer ages, especially any of the Fathers of the Church, could confound these, and mistake one of the foulest errors of Heathenism for a branch of true Christianity.
3. Nor does Christian Meekness imply, the being without zeal for God, any more than it does ignorance or insensibility. No; it keeps clear of every extreme, whether in excess or defect. It does not destroy but balance the affections, which the God of nature never designed should be rooted out by grace, but only brought and kept under due regulations. It poises the mind aright. It holds an even scale, with regard to anger, and sorrow, and fear; preserving the mean in every circumstance of life, and not declining either to the right hand or the left.
4. Meekness therefore seems properly to relate to ourselves: but it may be referred either to God or our neighbour. When this due composure of mind has reference to God, it is usually termed Resignation; a calm acquiescence in whatsoever is his will concerning us, even though it may not be pleasing to nature; saying continually, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good." When we consider it more strictly with regard to ourselves, we style it Patience or Contentedncss. When it is exerted toward other men, then it is Mildness to the good, and Gentleness to the evil.
5. They who are truly meek, can clearly discern what is evil; and they can also suffer it. They are sensible of every thing of this kind, but still meekness holds the reins. They are exceeding "zealous for the Lord of Hosts;" but their zeal is always guided by knowledge, and tempered, in every thought, and word, and work, with the love of man as well as the love of God. They do not desire to extinguish any of the passions which God has for wise ends implanted in their nature; but they have the mastery of all: they hold them all in subjection, and employ them only in subservience to those ends. And thus even the harsher and more unpleasing passions are applicable to the noblest purposes; even hatred, and anger, and fear, when engaged against sin, and regulated by faith and love, are as walls and bulwarks to the soul, so that the wicked one cannot approach to hurt it.
6. It is evident, this divine temper is not only to abide but to increase in us day by day. Occasions of exercising, and thereby increasing it, will never be wanting while we remain upon earth. "We have need of patience, that after we have •lone [and suffered] the will of God, wr may receive the pro