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secution the fire made soft as air (Dan. iii. 25 and 27). When in the floods of sorrow, made to ride safely upon the tops of the foaming surge (Isa. xliii. 2). When in the lions' den, their mouths shut (Dan. vi. 22). When in slippery places, we are held up and our feet are kept from falling (Ps. xciv. 18). When in the wind and storm of temptation, Jesus says peace, be still, and there is a great calm (Mark, iv. 39); or when thrust into the inner prison of doubt and gloom, the Lord shall send some messenger to deliver us, and set us in a large and wealthy place (Ps. Ixvi. 12). Why is all this to the favoured, precious sons of Zion (Lam. iv. 2)? Because they are dear to him as his life ; they lie in his bosom (1s. xl. 11), and are graven on his breast, yea, indelibly written with the finger of God on his heart (Ex. xxviii. 29, 30). They are held in his arms of everlasting love and mercy (Deut. xxxiii. 27). They are his peculiar treasure (Ps. cxxxv. 4), the jewels of his crown (Mal. iii. 17; Isa. lxii. 3), the choice of his eternal love (Eph. i. 4), the purchase of his blood (1 Pet. i. 18, 19), the conquest of his grace (Ps. cx. 3). They are his delight, his Hephzibah, his Beulah (Isa. lxii. 4); he dwells in them and they in him (1 John, iv. 10); he walks in them and with them (2 Cor. vi. 16); he delights to do them good (Jer. ix. 24); for he hath prepared for them a city (Heb. xi. 16), wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. iii. 13). He came down from heaven to redeem them (John, iii. 13), he has gone back to prepare a place for them (John, xiv. 2), that they may dwell with him for ever in the presence of his glory, and behold him in his own ineffable glory, in all the immensity of his greatness, and the refulgence of his brightness (Jude, 24). This is why he favours them so on earth ; why he follows them with his goodness with such untiring zeal (Lam. iii. 22, 23). He loved them, because he would love them (Deut. vii. 7, 8), and nothing can ever dissuade him from his love, or turn aside his purpose : for he is of one mind and who can turn him (Job, xxiii. 13)? And the Lord God of Israel saith “He hateth putting away” (Mal. ii. 16). He prevents them and pursues them all their journey through, in the midst of all their weaknesses, hardness of heart, coldness and unbelief, with the same unequalled love and unparalleled grace (Ps. lii. 1). His language is "I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. xxxi. 33). I have redeemed thee, thou art mine (Isa. xliii. 1), and no one shall pluck them out of my
hand (John, x. 28). Oh how great is his goodness! we oft rebel, and in heart, if not in life, turn our backs upon him; yet he earnestly remembers us still. Oh his bowels are troubled for us (Jer. xxxi. 20), and instead of a sword, behold there is peace ; instead of wrath, behold there is love (Luke, xxiv. 36). The bow is seen in the cloud (Gen. ix. 16); the token of his promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. xiii. 5). The colours of the bow setting forth the harmony of the attributes of God in the preservation of his people ; of whom he hath said, “ Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation" (Isa. xlv. 17); "for the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that
hath mercy on thee" (Isa. liv. 10). Surely the Lord is good to Israel (Ps. lxxiii. 1). Let us then show forth his praise, who daily does us good, and has promised to withhold no good (Ps. lxxxiv. 11). How great is his goodness when favoured with the Spirit's unction and power, and the presence of the beloved of our souls, in hearing or reading the word of God; in ordinances, visiting the sick, or friendly conversation, when Jesus and his love is the theme, when light flows into the mind, faith invigorates the soul, love cheers and animates the heart; when we discover a loveliness in Jesus untold and unexpressed, beams of grace shining with transcendent lustre, caught up, sometimes into the third heavens, ravished with delights, we gaze on the matchless glories of his face, and speechless listen to the melting accents of his voice (Luke, xix. 48). The sinner's lips are touched with a live coal from the heavenly altar, the voice of praise is heard (Isa. vi. 7), and Jesus follows with the endearing response, “ Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honey-comb; honey and milk are under thy tongue (Songs iv. 11). Perhaps a moment before, the soul was enveloped in midnight gloom, a horror of great darkness fills him with desponding and grief (Gen. xv. 12); his spirit is overwhelmed within him (Ps. cxlii. 3), and his life is smitten down to the ground (Ps. cxliii. 3); and he is saying in the bitterness of his soul, “ The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me” (Isa. xlix. 14). But the set time to favour him comes (Ps. cii. 13); now is the peculiar time of love, the Lord himself appears, applies some sweet promise to the mind, as a balsamic leaf from himself the Tree of Life (Rev. xxii. 2); shines about him and in him, and discovers the fulness and freeness of his grace; breaks in upon his soul, melts, with one touch of the finger of love, the fetters that enchained him to earth (Acts, xii. 7); dissipates with his beams the mists of ignorance, and chases away the cloudy forebodings of unbelief (Mal. vi. 2); lifts up the weak hands, and confirms the feeble knees (Isa. xxxv. 3); causes to flow into his heart the life-giving and lifepreserving streams, which proceed through Jesus and by Jesus, from beneath the throne of God and the Lamb (Rev. xxii. 1). The consolation of Israel (Luke, ii. 25) becomes the joy of his soul (Ps. xliii. 4), and under a sense of the unutterable goodness of the Lord, he exclaims, “. My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour' (Luke, i. 46); return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling' (Ps. cxvi. 7, 8). How great then is his goodness. Behold it, too, in the marvellous and compassionate leadings of his providence through all the intricacies and difficulties of this thorny, rugged wilderness (Deut. xxxii. 10). How oft, if left to our own foolish hearts, should we have to ascend far and wide from the pathway to glory. Satan and the world lying in wait, lurking in the secret places, or openly assaulting us; trying their utmost to destroy us, or at least to hurt us (Ps. X. 8, 9); while the worst of foes within yield to, and assist them in their satanic attempts to separate us from God, and ruin our souls. But our God is our shield and defence (Ps. lix. 16), and becomes our salyation (Isa. xii. 2) from all our foes, in lifting up the standard of the cross, and gives the tempted soul to see, that he will fight our battles (2 Cor. xxxii. 8); every one is found a liar, and he treads upon their high places (Deut. xxxiii. 29), and exultingly exclaims, “Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. xv. 57). Like the Israelites of old, we are favoured with the presence and protection of our covenant God; Pharaoh pursues, but to be destroyed (Ex. xv. 10). At every turn, even while rebellion is boiling within their hearts, then is the Lord present with his aid (Neh. ix. 31). His right arm brought salvation (Isa. lix. 11). Bread descends from above (Ex. xvi. 4), and bitter waters are made sweet (Ex. xv. 25). Even so, Satan pursues but to his destruction (Rom. xvi. 20).
The loving-kindness of the Lord meets us at every turn of providence; ingratitude still blackening, and distrust still deadening our souls. We hunger, and Jesus the Bread of Life is sent, and we are fed and comforted (Ps. cxxxii. 15). It may be we have bitter tears of affliction and sorrow for our drink, but the cross of Jesus, cast in by the hand of faith, sweetens them all, and we can rejoice in tribulation also (Rom. v. 3). How many snares seen and unseen, we are saved and delivered from he who preserves us only knows; that “our times are in his hands” (Ps. xxxi. 15), is the great consolation of his children. “Nothing shall hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain ” (Isa. Ixv. 25), and “not one hair of your head shall perish,” and “he that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps" (Ps. cxxiv. 4), are, when applied by the Holy Ghost, sufficient for the child of God under the most trying circumstances, and in conflict dire with his most formidable enemies. Because the Lord is our Keeper (Ps. cxxi. 5), is the only reason that will account for the strongest believer in the Lord persevering unto the end. How this sets forth the goodness of the Lord, that he should, for his own praise and glory, take notice of such frail sinful mortals (Isa. xliii. 21); and so honour them as to make them one with himself, and clothe them with the same glory that Christ and the Father had before the foundation of the world (John, xvii. 5—22). Mortals to be clothed with immortality—corruption to put on incorruption (1 Cor. xv. 54); worms to be raised to a throne in glory (Rev. iii. 21), and live before unveiled Deity (John, ii. 2); love so immense, could only proceed from the infinite and glorious I AM.
“O for this love, let rocks and hills
Their lasting silence break,
Their Saviour's praises speak." Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God (1 John, iii. 1). This is love indeed, that passeth knowledge, worthy of a God (Eph. iii. 19). No marvel, then, since we are so precious and honourable (Isa. xliii
. 4), that the faintest moan and groan—the deepest sigh--the feeblest desire, are all equally known and noticed (Heb. iv. 12, 13). He pities as a Father (Ps. cüi. 13); he loves as himself; his bowels melt with tenderness, his heart o'erflows with love; that secret desire—that holy panting —that fond look-that fervent prayer—that deep and agonizing groan, are equally dear to him (Ps. xlvii. 11); and all have reached his ear (Isa. lix. 1), and are recorded in his book of remembrance (Mal. iii. 16). Then cheer up, thou sorrowing brother or sister in Jesus, deliverance is on the wing, tarry it will not, it cannot beyond the time (Heb. x. 37). Wait patiently on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord. Praying that the Lord may condescend in mercy to make use of these observations of a poor dying worm, to the building up and comforting of some poor tried soul, and a Triune Jehovah shall have all the praise ; I am your fellow-sinner and well-wisher,
PASSING THOUGHTS.-No. V. MISTAKEN STRENGTH.— I often commence the day with the thought, “ Well, I shall manage matters tolerably well to-day ; I have no need' of such very earnest supplication this morning.” These thoughts are the sure forerunners of a dissatisfaction in and with every engagement, inasmuch as they throw me off my watch-tower, and make me a very ready prey to the enemy's attacks. So that it really is with me, according to the old proverb, “Sing before breakfast, and cry before night.”
“ HOLPEN WITH A LITTLE HELP.”—Waking with a barren frame-disturbed perhaps with agitating dreams—and my naturally depressed spirit anticipating with timidity and reluctance the engagements of the day, I am driven by necessity to seek more earnestly my seemingly absent Lord. A cautiousness of spirit is communicated, a watchfulness of walk afforded, and a deep conviction of personal weakness makes me more anxious that the power of Jesus should be made manifest, and his wisdom vouchsafed, as an antidote to my folly.
The Public MEANS OF GRACE.-During the engagements of the week I constantly anticipate, with longing desire, the sacred services of the Sabbath; but it very generally happens, that no sooner has it dawned, my heart has welcomed its arrival, and I am again permitted to tread his earthly courts, than a spirit of listlessness and indifference creeps o'er my frame, which deprives me of all my expected enjoyment. I account for it in this way, tbat I am so prone to look to the house of God, to the services, and to the minister, rather than to the Lord; I seek rest in the means, instead of in the God of the means.
FRIENDS.—“Why did he receive me so coldly?” did you inquire ? Why? Because the Lord will cut you off from all creature resources, that thereby he may bring you to rest more entirely upon himself. If a friend threatens to usurp His place in your affections, in very faithfulness will he tarnish that friendship; and then, when He has taught you to use friendship aright, He will restore your friend, and unite your hearts by a closer bond.
DIFFERENCES.—“Go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gifts.” Did you ever think over this expression of our Lord, reader? Did you ever reduce it to practice ? If not—if you have aught against your brother-it may account for that barrenness of soul of which you speak, and the want of access at the throne of which you complain.
RECONCILIATION.-What a load of oppression is removed, what sweet brokenness of spirit is communicated, and what a sympathy on account of the weakpesses of our offending brother bestowed, when the Lord drops a little of his love into the beart; enables us to step over the threshold of injury which has stood, like an impenetrable barrier, between us and our offending brother; and again to hold out and receive the right hand of fellowship. Have you ever tried the experiment, reader ?
To a Friend. MY DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER,
In that family which should be separate and distinct from the world, by the power of those blessed things which are discovered in the word by the light that is divine and the teaching that is supernatural. But, alas ! alas ! wbo can draw a line in these days between the church and the world ? It seems as though nothing but persecuting lions, wolves, and dogs, can keep the sheep from herding with the goats, and so amalgamating with them in principle and practice, that it is not possible to discern the one from the other. We do not want in these days a No-Popery cry~ that is a trap of the devil, to which he is urging many good men, to keep out of the sight of the church the characteristic pestilence of the daya profession of godliness with a denial of its power. The persecution of Papists would not be half so dangerous an evil to the church as is that soul-pining, flesh-strengthening disease of a profession of Gospel religion, while scarce one is to be found capable of defining experimentally its power. "From the uttermost parts of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously” (Isa. xxiv. 16).
I thank you most sincerely for the Christian kindness of your letter of the 14th instant, manifested in your anxiety to promote my comfort and happiness; that I do not agree with you on the subject, does not make less in my estimation the kindness testified. My trials are not from a source which would be removed or rendered less prolific by taking such a step as that. My very natural disposition, which to you and others makes such a step appear the one wanting to cheer my tribulated path on earth, is just that which, in all probability, would increase in a ten-fold degree the difficulty with which I have to contend. If I could live to God as I desire, I should find in God all I need to be happy; and mine would not be a solitary home. Whatever diverts my mind from the real state of thingswhatever attempts to heal my wounds—that of bringing me to a nearness to God, at which I have never yet arrived, except only for short intervals, now and then I find invariably to increase my misery. If ever I get to the desired spot, it will be, I believe, in bearing the cross which the Lord lays upon me, and which cross has its cross, in being so counter to my natural dispositions and feelings. I do believe, that if I had not such a cross to bear, and to bear daily, I should live altogether without God in the world. I do know exactly the position in which I am placed, and I do know there is no real happiness for me but in my God; but I do not know how to attain to the real enjoyment of that happiness. But the Lord knows how to bring me to it, and I am cast upon him to do.it, provided it be his will, not otherwise. Such a being as is our God is not to be asked to do anything contrary to his will. Though, alas! the old carnal nature in me is running counter to him in everything I am doing, excepting just those short intervals when the influences of the Holy Spirit are experienced in their divine, soul-satisfying bowings-down of the inner man with sweet submission to his blessed self-discovered in something of his beauty, and glory, and majesty, by his own light to the soul. I brought a sad, weighty, ponderous body of sin and death back to my retirement yesterday evening, when the public engagements of the sacred day, and the attempts at fulfilling the duties of the sacred calling, were over. But it cannot be