Page images

the holy Spirit enables the poor sinner to believe this, then he gives him joy and peace in believing-being justified by faith, he has peace with God through Jesus Christ. The cross soon comes after this-not to destroy, but to try this faith-not to take away, but to confirm this peace-it is sent to give proof of the soundness of faith, and to manifest the sweetness of divine love: for it comes from the God of peace, and all the fruits which he intends to produce by it are peaceable, such as should increase the happy sense of peace in the minds of his children. And for this purpose the holy Spirit abides with them. He has revealed the Father's love in scripture, and he is a faithful witness of it to their hearts. He sheds it abroad, and satisfies them of it. Yea, he gives them sensible experience and enjoyment of it under the cross. This produces a quiet submission to his will and an humble dependence upon his power; which are manifested by waiting upon God in all ways and means for the grace promised to his afflicted children. The cross acquires great grace, and

The cross

therefore calls forth much prayer. Suffering times are praying times. brings sinners upon their knees—Manasseh in affliction cntreated the Lord-so did Paul-Behold, he prayeth. It keeps believers upon their knees, as the prophet witnesses: "Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them." The Lord himself declares the same: "I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me early." Accordingly they did seek him : Come," say they, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn and he will heal us; he hath smitten and he will bind us up." O blessed fruit of affliction! when sanctified by the Spirit it teaches the children of God to pray fervently, and to continue instant in prayer : it discovers the weakness of the flesh, and the rebellion of the will; and shows the necessity of drawing near to God for strength and patience. It keeps the mind in a praying frame, expecting by the grace of the



Spirit, communion with the Father and the Son. The cross makes this communion necessary. It cannot be endured without a belief of the Father's love in Jesus, and therefore the Spirit of prayer keeps this belief in exercise, and enables the soul to plead the promise of strength, to endure patiently, and to bring forth much fruit. The promise cannot fail. They who trust in it cannot be disappointed, but shall find grace to help in time of need. As prayer is thus necessary, so the holy Spirit generally makes it sweet under the cross. Is Is any afflicted among you? Let him pray. Prayer is the appointed means of his comfort. If affliction send him to God, God will meet him, and make him joyful in his house of prayer. How encouraging are these words: "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." In every case of distress, draw nigh in faith to God: he is a very present help. Seek his face, and you will find him near unto you for the Lord is nigh unto all, that call upon him; nigh to hear, to answer, and to comfort. Thus his promise runs ;


"Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shali answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, here I am." What is your burden? I am present to give strength to bear it. What is your grief? Here are my comforts. Do your tribulations abound? Here are my consolations abounding also. Here I am. Ask what you will, believing, and it shall be done unto you. O what times of refreshing are these! The Holy Ghost sensibly comforts the afflicted. When they draw nigh to God, he is present to make their hearts joyful. He dispels their darkness with the light of his countenance, and turns their mourning into joy. And thus they have not only communion with God in prayer, but also such communications of his heavenly love, that they can often say-It is good for us that we have been in trouble.

In times of trouble, the woRD also is generally sweet. All people in distress look out for some comfort: and the holy Spirit directs believers to the scriptures: "Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we, through

patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope." The afflicted feel their want of patience and comfort, which puts them upon careful hearing and reading of the good word of God. They want to know what it says of their case: and when they meet a suitable promise, then they have a ground of hope. Their present trials require them to seek for something more than the truth of the promise. This being credited, they therefore expect the promised blessing. When the famine was in Canaan, Jacob and his family could not have been kept alive by believing that there was corn in Egypt: they must either fetch it or die. Trouble calls for the experience of the promised blessings, and when they are received. at such a time they are sweet indeed. They feel as ease does after pain. When the holy Spirit applies the comfort, the promise, by which he applies it, is precious. It is like a reviving cordial to a fainting heart. O how sweet are thy words unto my taste; yea, sweeter than honey unto my mouth. Honey is sweet, but the word is sweeter. When,

« EelmineJätka »