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And I will bring tlie third part through the fire, and will
refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried : they shall call on my name, and I will hear them : I will say it is my people; and they shall say,
the Lord is my God.... Zech. xiii. 9.
O, GIVE me comforts or I die, saith the soul! for surely was I a child of God, I should not be thus tried, afflicted, and distressed. Nay, saith the Saviour, “ ye know not what ye ask.”
Dost thou forget the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children? “My son despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.”....Heb. xii. 5. Did I bid thee believe on me? Believe also my words: “it is through much tribulation thou must enter my kingdom.".... Acts xiv. 22. This profitable lesson, though grievous to the flesh, must be learned. Like Peter, we pray to be excused being washed by our Lord. But we consider not his love, nor our own advantage. “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me," saith Jesus. “If ye are without chastisement, then are ye bastards and not sons.” “I will bring thee through the fire; I will refine thee; I will try thee.” Why? Because thou art not reprobate silver, nor counterfeit metal; therefore I will take pains with thee. “I will purge away thy dross and thy sin, and purify thee in the furnace." Verily, thy graces shall shine brighter, thy faith grow stronger, thy love burn more fervent, and thy obedience be more cheerful.. Therefore “I chasten whom I love," saith the Lord.
Nothing can reconcile souls to afflictive allotments, but looking on them as covenant-dispensations. The loving Father's promise is the beloved childrens' portion. “I will never turn away from them to do them good.”....Jer. xxxii. 40. Such is the covenant-love of our covenant God. Here faith fixes its hold, and waits the promised blesșing. Though saints desire to be passive, yet they cannot be silent; “ for they shall call on my name," even the name above all other names, Jesus the precious Saviour. Saith the Lord, “ I will not only hear, but answer.". “ It is 1,” saith Jesiis to the terrified disciples, “ be not afraid.” “ It is my dear people that call,” saith the Lord As the affectionate mother knows the voice of her own dear child, she listens, she runs to its relief. So the Lord speaks with affection and love, MY PEOPLE.”
So souls reply in faith, with Thomas, MY LORD, MY GOD, O, happy to live, not so much on comforts as
" the God of all comfort.”....2 Cor. j. 3.
Blest is the man thy hands chastise, But God will ne'er forsake his saints, And to his duty draw ;
Nor his own promise break; Thy scourges make thy children wise, He pardons his inheritance When they forget thy law.
For their Redeemer's sake.
And Hazael.said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing ?....2 Kings viii. 13.
O, THE treachery of the human heart! both scripture and experience prove this melancholy truth, that it is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Who can fathom the depths of its deceits? who can understand the misery of iniquity which lies concealed in the nature of sinful man? Alas! presumptuous confidence that our nature is not so totally corrupt and abominable, too, too oft deceives and betrays even the children of God. This wretch Hazael, who had premeditated rebellion and murder in his heart, yet starts at the prediction of these crimes which as yet had no real existence. Doubtless he thought Elisha judged very hard of him; he could almost stare the prophet out of countenance; and, as though he charged him with degrading the dignity of his human nature, he demands whether he looked on him no better than an unclean beast, a fierce devouring DOG, that he should commit such abominable wickedness? His very nature even shuddered at the very thoughts. But the history assures us "lust had conceived, and it brought forth sin;" which ended in the murder of his royal master! Hazael fully verified all the prophet's prediction.
Boast not of thyself, O christian; say not, I am a converted man, a believer in Jesus, not an unclean wretch like this Hazael; therefore I shall not fall into that and the other sin. Be not high-minded, but fear. Thou standest not by thine own strength, but by faith. This grace ever leads out of self to its object, Christ. Flatter not thyself, that thy corrupt nature is in any-wise better than another; know there is no difference. Deceive not thyself with conceits of perfection in the flesh, or with the deluded dream, that the root of sin is entirely destroyed in thy nature. Ever remember, " that in the flesh dwells no good thing;" that it is and ever will be prone to evil continually. Happy for thee that thou art new-born, new-created in the spirit of thy mind. It is thy privilege to live under the influence of grace
and love. But still thy fallen nature is ever the same, the old man is still alive; there is the tinder of corruption, which may take fire from the devil's sparks of temptation. What thou art least suspecting, yea when thou art most confident of standing, thou mayest be in the greatest danger of falling. What thou fearest not to-day, tomorrow may overcome thee. Think 'not more highly of thyself than thou oughtest to think. Be sober; watch unto prayer.
« God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.".... 1 Pet. v. 5. Sin hath a thousand treach'rous arts, She pleads for all the joy she brings,
To practise on the mind; [hearts, And gives a fair pretence; With fatt'ring looks she tempts our
But cheats the soul of heav'nly things, But leaves a sting behind.
And chains it down to sense. VOL. I.
Let us run with patience the race set before us....Heb. xii. 1,
A LIVELY faith begets a cheerful heart. A joyful hope makes a resigned soul. An humble mind produceth a patient spirit. So we run with pleasure our short race, “ looking unto Jesus.” But alas! shame to us, there is a sin which easily besets us and which draws a
train of burdens and distresses along with it. Why are poor disciples' minds harrassed by frequent murmurings and impatience? Why their tempers soured with evil passions, and they utter hasty, angry, unbecoming speeches? Verily, UNBELIEF is the cause of all this. Their minds are clouded; they do not see Jesus; they do not consider Jesus as seeing them; they do not look to Jesus for patience: hence satan gets an advantage over them: pride begets impatience of spirit. Then, with fretful Jonah they cry out, “I do well to be angry."
Well, soul, and how do you find your mind after doing thus well? what is the frame of your soul after thus gratifying the will of the flesh, your proud self-will? what hast thou gained hereby but dejection of spirit and sorrow of heart? what hast thou lost? Even the coniforting view of Jesus, and the sweet sense of peace: thus the feet are entangled in a snare; and, instead of running with patience, we sit down in sorrow. Tossed by stormy winds, in a tempestuous ocean, the poor bark seems driven back many degrees from the haven of rest and peace. So we suffer loss of patience by looking from Jesus to other objects. While our beloved is viewed, patience possesses the heart, the feet run with delight the way of God's commandments, and we look forward with cheerful hope. Patience sweetens afflictions and improves exercises and trials. It keeps the heart from envy, the hand from revenge, the tongue from evilspeaking, and overcomes enemies without weapons; for it draws all its strength from Christ's love, the sweetness of his presence, and hope of his glory. A martyr tormented by infidels, was asked by way of reproach, what miracle his Christ had done? He replied, you now behold one: he enables me to bear your reproaches, and suffer your tortures with patience. I am not moved. Is not this a miracle worthy your notice? Whatever befals our souls is the wise allotment of our loving Father! We are exhorted to run with patience,” that we may not lie down in sorrow. The sun of consolation shall shine bright on our souls, while “we press forward towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.".... Phil. iii. 14,
O let my thoughts be humble still, The patient soul, the lowly mind
Enjoys a sweet reward ;
And trust a faithful Lord.
He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in
himself.... 1 John v. 10.
Many of the weak lambs of Jesus, are sadly perplexed in their minds about the nature of faith. From the corruption of their hearts, the workings of the enemy, unscriptural notions they have been taught, and opposings of unbelief to the weakness of their faith, they are often ready to question, nay, sometimes to conclude they have not “ the faith of God's elect.” Here is a certain rule to determine by: this, if clearly understood in the light of the Spirit, will satisfy and comfort weak hearts. Mind, the apostle doth not say, he that believeth hath no sin, no doubts; knows his sins are forgiven, and has full assurance of his own salvation. No: “but he hath the witness in himself.” What is this but an inward testimony of what is outwardly revealed in the word? As the Spirit bears witness in the word to Jesus the incarnate Son of God, the only true and all-sufficient Saviour of guilty, perishing sinners, so he, who thus believeth on the Son of God, hath this divine, satisfying, experimental testimony brought into his mind and conscience by the Holy Ghost. He hath an evidence in himself which neither men nor devils can destroy. Though he finds and feels himself a lost creature, a helpless sinner; so weak that he can do nothing to save himself; so vile that his nature is at enmity against Jesus and his salvation; yet he believes the Son of God came to seek and to save such....that there is all salvation in him and in no other for such. Thus believing, he hath the witness or testimony of the love of the ever blessed trinity in the salvation of sinners in his heart. The love of the Father in the gift of his Son; the love of Jesus in coming to save, and the love of the Spirit in testifying to this in the word, and by the faith of it in his heart.
Happy would it be for poor sinners, if instead of poring over themselves, they looked more steadily to the work of Jesus; considered more constantly the fulness of his redemption, the freeness of his salvation, and regarded the outward witness to the truth in the word. Faith in this would bring comfort to the heart; so would their doubts and fears vanish; the fruits of faith more evidently appear; and their minds, in God's own time, would be fully satisfied about their own interest in Jesus, and the knowledge of forgiveness of their sins by the witness of the Holy Spirit through faith: for faith in the Son of God, above all other things hath the preeminence. If the soul is filled with peace and joy, it is in believing; if with assurance of pardon of sins, it is through faith in Jesus; if sealed with the Spirit, it is in believing. “ And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."..... John ya 40
I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve
through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ....2 Cor. xi. 3.
By a godly fear in the heart, the Lord keeps his people from totally departing from him. But there is ever danger from satan, from men, yea and from brethren too, of our minds being corrupted and beguiled, so as to suffer the loss of that singleness of aye and simplicity of heart towards our dear Saviour, by which the soul is only kept happy. If the Lord's prophet had been more jealous over himself, and more simple to his master's voice, the fair speech of his brother had not betrayed him to disobedience and death, by the mouth of the lion....See 1 Kings xiii. 24.
Could satan so beguile Eve as to make her an instrument of death to herself, to the dear partner of her life, and to all their posterity ? O disciples, “take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother, for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders.”....Jer. ix. 4. But how comes all this? Alas! because “they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth,"....verse 3. Satan's subtilty hath robbed them of Christ's simplicity. The abiding, comforting presence, the sweet fellowship of Jesus are obscured to their mind. Jesus is not simply and constantly lived upon. The living actings of faith, the constant outgoings of the soul, the continual looking to, and daily hanging upon Jesus for salvation from hour to hour, is not enjoyed in the heart. Corrupted minds grow clouded. Hence they lose sight of our beloved friend; sweet simplicity departs, and other objects too oft become the subjects of converse and meditation. This is an infectious disorder; it rages among the children of God; it is easily catched; simple faith in Jesus is bewildered by perplexing notions ; love to Jesus grows cold by keeping at a distance from bim; and once humble, simple hearts get into doubting-castle. Satan cries, “ There, there, so would I have it.” Though Jesus will never forsake them, yet he suffers their own folly to correct them. By their smarting he teaches them to be wiser. Chaste virgins are jealous over their eyes, their tongues, and hearts, lest they give encouragement to unlawful love. We are equally to be on our guard against the corrupt principles of proud self-righteous Pharisees, as against the licentious principles of Antinomians. Both draw from the simplicity that is in Christ. The light of the body is the eye; “ if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”....Matt. vi. 22.
Satan appears almost divine,
Like innocence and love ;
When he assumes the dove.
Fly from the false deceiver's tongue,
Ye sons of Adam, fly;
Nor should the children try.