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life? Then the Lord comes to us with his afflicting hand, and chastens us, not for his own pleasure, but for our profit. He loosens the hold which the world has upon us, by breaking off some of the roots which bind us to it.
Does not the gardener take his pruning-knife, and cut the tree in order to make it more productive? And should we wonder that God deals so with us ? Shall we be surprised if he cuts us sharply, and makes our very hearts bleed, and bows us down into the dust? It is in mercy that he does it. It is because he loves us. Would it be kinder to leave us alone? to let us walk on unchecked along the broad road which leadeth to destruction ? If I mistake not, there are many on earth, and many more in heaven, who are ready to exclaim, “ It is good for me that 1 have been afflicted : before I was afflicted I went astray.”
Wonder not then, my dear brethren, if your heavenly Father should visit you with his chastening rod, in the next twelve months that are coming. Sure I am that he will not afflict us unless we need it. But, if affliction does come, let us receive it as from the Lord; and let us earnestly pray that it may be blest and sanctified to us.
“ If we bear fruit, wellbut if not”-oh then he will give us over, and we shall perish everlastingly. Remember, when once a man is cut down by the stroke of death, his lot is fixed for ever.
“ In the place where the tree falleth, there it shall lie.”
Awake then, I beseech you. There is no time for doubting. Now is the accepted time. Begin the new year by leading a new life. Examine yourself well, and see how your soul stands with God. Are you accepted? Are you saved? There should be no uncertainty in this matter.
Heaven or hell is wrapped up in the question. Everlasting happiness or misery hinges upon it. A mistake about your soul is a mistake for eternity. Sit down this day, and think. Enter into your closet, and bring the subject before God. And
And may he enable you henceforth to give him your whole and undivided heart !
And now, beloved, I commend you to God. My prayer for you all is, that this year may be a year of blessing to you. May each day bring you nearer to God, and nearer to heaven. May each day find you“ growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ !"
THE GREAT HEALER.
John 5. 6.
“ Wilt thou be made whole ?”
Our blessed Lord, during those few years that he was upon earth, very often went into the town of Jerusalem. On one occasion, as he was passing through the streets of the city, his eye rested on a crowd of people. The fact was, there was a certain pool of water there, which was noted for curing different kinds
of disease. And
those who were lying around it were sick persons, who had all come there in the hope of being healed.
There was something remarkable about this pool ; for, it appears, that it had no power of healing except at certain seasons, when an angel went down, and troubled the water; “whosoever then first, after the troubling of the water, stepped in, was made whole of whatever disease he had."
We are told, that around this spot “ there lay a multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water."
But our Lord's pitying eye rested especially on one man. Perhaps he was the most wretched of them all. Perhaps his anxious countenance bespoke his earnest desire to be healed. He had been long afflicted. For