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views are frequently attended with the most barren deliveries ; the sweetest personal participation in a subject, with the coldest and most indifferent announcement of it; the most blessed inward witnessing of being employed as a Gospel messenger, with the keenest apprehensions that we are a mere sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. These, these are some of the complicated exercises of which the Lord's messengers are the subjects ; and frequently have they to go for days and weeks pent up with these uncertain feelings, with a mere transient deliverance during the time of their occupation with the family. And herein these dark, unaccountable spots-are some of their most useful lessons learnt, and from this apparently lost time and experience, the family instrumentally obtain their richest supplies.
To talk of an individual always being upon the mount of enjoyment, never having to combat with any doubts and fears, is visionary ; there is no such thing in the family of God; and much that passes current for faith, even in the real child of God, we verily believe to be nothing more than a fleshly confidence. As the mind is easily depressed by natural or bodily causes ; so, from the same causes, does it frequently attain to a mistaken assurance, which gives way when tested by temptation or trial.
There are, however, a few observations which, before we close, we would have the reader gather from the subject we have been considering.
1. In Jacob we behold the sovereignty of God in the choice of, and continued forbearance with, one of the most unbelieving of those whose history is recorded. Hear his language, after the numberless and very signal deliverances he had experienced ; "All these things are against me” (Gen. xlii. 36).
2. We discover the evil of sin-the bitterness of spirit and the bondage it communicates. .
3. We see the entire inability of the creature to act faith, when placed in discouraging circumstances ; and are compelled to acknowledge the absolute necessity for Him who first implanted it, to cherish it in every time of need.
4. We would have thee, reader, learn, by Jacob's history, not to judge by dark dispensations of the Lord's good-will towards thee, nor estimate his love by the measure of thy enjoyment. Some of his sweetest visits, and the most conclusive proofs of his love, are hid behind such dark visitations as seem to falsify every hope, and threaten to annihilate every particle of confidence.
5. When thou art most sensible of thy weakness, and most apprehensive of danger, be it thy concern to express it before the Lord. Looking at thy malady, merely deliberating on thy danger, will do thee no good ; but the eye and the cry to Jesus will relieve thee, and will surely prove the dawning of deliverance. The sweetest relief the soul can possibly enjoy, is by telling out its cares to him who has said, “ Cast thy burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain thee ;” and to give the desire and the ability thus to act, is one of the high offices
which the Holy Ghost sustains. He must be acknowledged as the first and great moving cause in every sigh and cry which ascend to Jesus.
6. Be it thy aim, also, to acknowledge this self-same Spirit as the dear Remembrancer of his people. In dark seasons may he indulge thee with a cry to him, that he would be pleased to bring to thy recollection the words which in former seasons he has spoken to thee; that thou, like Jacob, may rest upon his faithfulness and unchangeability, however discouraging an aspect present things may wear; “And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good.” “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.”
7. Observe, in Jacob, the two-fold operation of the Lord, and see its frequent assimilation to thine own experience. In the words before us, under the blessed Spirit's power as the Remembrancer, he is reminding the Lord of his promise this was a great privilege ; but a higher favour was it, when the Lord (in the thirty-first chapter and thirteenth verse) reminded him, saying, “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me." Learn, too, from this, the acceptance of the desire of faith where there is not the confidence of faith. We often misjudge here, and conceive that only those prayers have met a reception with the Holy One which have much assurance in them. Jacob's prayer at Bethel had an if in it, and yet that prayer entered into the ear and heart of the Lord God of Sabaoth. Frequently there is far more prayer in the sobs, the groans, and the tears, mingled as they are with unbelief and slavish fear, than with our profusion of words.
Lastly. Learn from Jacob's history, that it is the lot of many a pilgrim through this desert land to a better country, to travel by many an obscure and winding path. Jacob did not travel smoothly long together, and yet he journeyed safely. After his first Bethel manifestation-his reception by Laban-his vast increase--his overpowering the angel--his meeting with Esau-his return to his father's house in peace-- and the several conspicuous visitations of God to him, he at times questions all, and in fresh seasons of difficulty is as unable to rest upon the promise, and as much stands in need of fresh communications, as ever. See the conclusion of his history; and with his humiliating yet memorable confession to Pharaoh we close (fortyseventh chapter, eighth and ninth verses) ; “And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob (reflecting upon the unbelief which had marked his career) said unto Pharaob, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years ; few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their pilgrimage.”
Reader, the Lord has many a fearful, unbelieving Jacob still; and (thanks to his great name) has an ear as ready to hearken, and a hand as ready to aid, as ever.
THOU HAST KNOWN MY SOUL IN ADVERSITY).. . in Psalm XXXI. 7. , .
And that these are the words of our dear Lord Jesus Christ in their highest and most dignified reference, I doubt not; since he is the Man that hath seen affliction," and his righteous soul knew adversity, not in the simplest, but in the most solemnly awful manner; to confirm which we hear him crying out, under a solemn and accumulated pres." sure that would have sunk the church to hell, “ My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." “ And, being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, if it were possible the cup might pass from him." This was indeed adversity--this was indeed what Hart designates it, a “ tragic scene;" and what the dear Sufferer himself calls it, "exceeding sorrow" and I do, from my very soul, believe that the greatest power of adversity was felt by our dear Lord in Gethsemane, when so pressed, so over whelmed, and borne down by sorrow of soul that he " sweat, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground." To attempt to define the power, nature, and extent of these adversities, would only manifest my folly ; suffice it to say, that he did suffer, bear, and groan under the greatest accumulation of adversities that ever was borne,or endured yet by one nay, the whole adversities of the election of grace were borne by him; for, savs the apostle, “ We have not an High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was, in ALL POINTS, tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Blessed < all points”-how confirmatory of the fact that his righteous soul knew the veriest adversity!'
. But who knew the righteous soul of this dear Sufferer in adversity ? Who witnessed (not participated) these adversities? Holy angels, the powers of darkness, Jehovah-all these, no doubt, witnessed the deep adversities of Jesus in the garden; and though he is to the unconverted sinner as “a root out of a dry ground," without form or comeliness, still every repenting sinner must know the blessed Sufferer in adversity, for "they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn :". those that are ever destined to see him on the throne, shall first see him in the garden and on the cross. Happy, happy, eternally happy soul that ever has had fellowship with Jesus in adversity, for so surely shalt thou be with him also in glory; for “ Christ loved the church and gave himself (HIMSELF, astounding) for it.”. “And having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." Thus, then, the soul of the dear Redeemer was known in adversity ; and as this Scripture, in its highest import, refers unto him, so, secondarily, it is the experience of the church, every individual member of which is, through sin, the subject of adversity, for this is the awfully prolific source of it all : but for sin, no adversity would happen ; and though adversity branches out in various ways, yet it all springs from the same root-adversities within and without, personal and relative, temporal and spirit
ual. But our text declares that there are adversities of soul, which of all are the most momentous; and I venture to assert that, let a man's adversities be what they may outwardly, they are all as nothing when compared to soul-felt adversities; this is the rod that swallows up all the others, and the all-absorbing care, compared with which all others are trivial. “What must I do to be saved ?" is the language of a soul in adversity. Hence, then, these are the adversities of the quickened, living, convinced sinner, as is manifested in the declaration, “ God, be merciful to me a sinner;" so of the law-cursed, law-condemned sinner, who has been led to feel, though but a little, its killing power, and direful consequences. The adversities of such a soul are described in the seventh chapter of Romans, and felt, more or less, by every one of God's family, who little think then that this day of adversity is necessary to be felt before the day of Gospel prosperity. ' As sure as this is felt and known, so sure is it followed by others, that, like Job's mes. sengers, tread upon the heels of each other, and consist of the fear of hell and being lost for ever. The poor soul moping about in lonely places, unfit for the world, unfit for heaven; in a word, lost, in a greater or less degree, in fears and feelings; and as there is a dreadful enemy to contend with, so he will suit his attacks to the situation, and fill the soul with adversities. Then the poor soul has little else but adversities from morning till night and from night till morning ; adversities from sin, Satan, the world, the law, fear, and soul-sorrow. But, as the day of prosperity is to stand against the day of adversity, so, in the Lord's own time, a little hope in the Lord's mercy springs up be. hind the hills of darkness, and soon the day dawns to such, which is a sure pledge of the rising of the Sun, who, at the appointed time, arises in their souls with healing beneath his wings; and then all adversity seems to be past and gone, and sunk like lead in the mighty waters of redeeming love and sovereign mercy. But do their adversities end here? Why most of God's dear children, brought into liberty, I suppose, think so; but, poor things! they are soon undeceived, for fresh adversities spring up in the shape of fierce temptations, fiery darts, and awful visitations of the enemy, who is ready to carry them away as with a flood ; the workings, lustings, and carnal enmity of that depraved, vile, filthy nature, which they possess, and which makes them groan, being burdened ; together with the absence of their best Beloved, and the withholdings of those gracious visitations that make their souls like a well-watered garden, producing such fruit as their Beloved can eat; and all these blended with the fear of death and the consequences thereof.
These are adversities indeed soul adversities; and there are multitudes more that I might adduce, for this is a scene of adversities, a time of " Jacob's trouble," under which the poor creature is ready to cry, “ No one knows me ! no one careth for my soul !"? Well, poor soul, I do assure thee, that the world does not know thee, as says John, “ The world knoweth us not;" neither do mere professors know thee, they are not in the secret ; " for the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them (the rod of) his cove
nant," as whom he loveth he chasteneth ; and God's own children might not, in certain situations, and as to the extent and peculiar nature of some of thy adversities, know thee ; and, indeed, thou art such a mysterious being that thou canst not read or know thyself. Yet there are some that do know thy soul in adversity—the great enemy of souls does ; for he tells thee that thou never canst be delivered, and that thou wilt one day utterly “ fall by the hand of the enemy;" and that the beginning of thy religion was not right, and therefore it must end wrong. Well, and according to that Scripture in Heb. i. 13, we may infer that angels know thee, for they are sent to minister to those who are heirs of salvation. But, poor soul, I have to tell thee the thing I had first in view, and that is, the LORD knows thy soul in adversitiest Jehovah knows thee in his Trinity of Persons-God the Father, as the object of his love and the subject of his claim-God the Son, as the purchase of his blood- and God the Holy Ghost, as the work of his regenerating grace. Thus, then, Jehovah knows thy soul in adversities: but more particularly I wish to lead thy mind, instrumentally, to consider that Jehovah not only knows thy soul, but thy adversity ; not only in his sovereignty and omniscience, but personally, feelingly, and experimentally in the Person of thy Saviour, who took thy nature, on purpose, and became very man, flesh of thy flesh, as well as being "God over all," in order to know thy adversities and thy soul in them as Paul says, Can be touched with a feeling.”; Now this could not have been as God alone, neither could it be of any service to thee as Man alone, but as God and Man in one glorious Person, he suits thee well, he has felt thy adversities and knows them and thee in them. Herein, d say, is the blessedness of the subject ; this is the pith and marrow of the text.", Cheer up, then, poor soul, though thy enemies may be mighty and thy adversities many though thou mayst seem to be poor and singular, standing like a sparrow alone upon the housetop, and like a poor, moping, solitary owl of the desert, Jesus knows thee and thy adversities. He knew thee in eternity-he knows thee in timeray, he not only knows thee in prosperity, but in adversity, and he will surely know thee when time shall be no more ; for thou art engraven upon the breastplate of his heart. What can I say to thee? : Why that Jesus not only knows thy soul in adversity, but loves to hear from thee; for he says to thee, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Depend upon it, my dear, tried friend, whoever thou art that needs this, thou shalt have it ; for "heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of all that he has promised shall fall to the ground; “but the word of our God shall stand for ever.", Farewell, then, ye poor souls in adversity, may the Lord the Spirit enable thee to gather a crumb of consolation from these few remarks ; then thou wilt join with thy unknown friend in desiring to give Jehovah all the glory and honour, now and for ever. " Amen and amen, X
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