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is now proceeding; and no man can be an idle spectator of its progress without sin. The requirements of the Saviour are too plain to be mistaken, and too solemn to be trifled with. His eye is upon us; and his judgment is at the door. God grant that you may be found faithful unto death; and that when that great crisis shall arrive, you may be able to look back with holy satisfaction, with heavenly joy, on much done for Christ and your generation; not as the ground of your confidence; not as your title to eternal life: No, the righteousness of Him who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, being the only foundation of a sinner's hope; but as means by which a Divine Saviour has enabled us to glorify the riches of his grace; as the fruits of his blessed Spirit; as evidences of vital union to his body; and as pledges of admission to the joys and glories of his presence!


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The intermingling of a few advices, particularly directed to the case of ordinary Christians under affliction, with our usual treatises and reviews, cannot, we are persuaded, be unwel. come. We therefore take our pen for the purpose of direct address to sufferers, of whatever kind.

It is only in the Word of God that we learn to consider affliction as a blessing The utmost which the most refined philosophy can effect is to remove from our sorrows that which is imaginary, to divert the attention from the cause of distress, or to produce a sullen and stoical resignation, more like despair than hope. The religion of the Gospel grapples with the evil itself, overcomes it, and transforms it into a blessing. It is by no means included in the promises made to true Christians that they shall be exempt from suffering. On the contrary, chastisement forms a necessary part of that paternal discipline, by which our heavenly Father fits his children for their eternal rest in glory. The Psalmist asserts the blessedness of the man who is chastened by the Lord, with this qualification as necessary to constitute it a blessing, that he is also instructed in divine truth. Psalm xciv. 12. By this we understand that the influence of chastisement is not physical; that mere suffering has no inherent efficacy; but that the afflictions of this life are, in the hand of God, instrumental in impressing divine truth upon the heart, awakening the attention of the believer to the consideration of his own character and situation, the promises of the Gospel, and the rewards of heaven. The child of God is assured that all things work together for his good; in this is plainly in. cluded the pledge, that chastisements and afflictions shall eventually prove a blessing; and this is verified by the experience of the whole Church.

The subject can scarcely ever be inappropriate. We are all familiar with suffering, in our own persons or the persons of those whom we love: we are either now enduring, or shall at some future time endure severe afflictions. Among our readers, it is natural to suppose that some are at this very moment labouring under burdens of grief. Some, it may be, are experiencing the infirmities and pains of a diseased body, others are mourning over the loss of friends and relatives, and others still are living in the dread of trials yet to come. There are few of us therefore to whom the inquiry may not be interesting, How is affliction a blessing?

The question may be thus answered. The chastisements which God inflicts upon his children are profitable to them, as they tend under the Divine blessing to promote piety in the heart. Or more particularly, chastisement is useful, because it convinces the believer of his helplessness and misery when left to himself, and of his entire dependence on God; because it leads him to renew his repentance, puts his faith to the test, and strengthens his Christian graces; because it contributes to the exercise of filial submission, and fixes the mind upon the heavenly inheritance. Let


for divine assistance, meditate upon these truths.

1. Chastisement is useful, because it tends to convince the believer of his misery, and shows him that without Christ he cannot be happy. And in order to bring this subject more directly before the mind, let us for a moment consider our readers as suffering under the pangs of some great affliction. You will at once agree with us in the position, that if you had more faith, you would have less trouble of mind; or rather that if you had faith sufficient, you would be altogether clear from the deep impressions which lie upon you. Because we very well know from our own experience, that there are cases in which the most severe bodily pains, or mental distresses, have, so to speak, been neutralized by considerations of a spiritual kind. This is exemplified in the history of the whole Christian Church, and of every individual believer, and most remarkably in the sufferings and deaths of the Martyrs. There is then a certain point of elevation in divine trust, confidence in God, reliance on the providence, grace, and promise of God; that is, a certain degree of faith, which would entirely free you from these trials of mind. We take it for granted that you heartily concur in this, and that you feel, at this very moment of suffering, that no gift of God would so effectually bless you, as this gift of Faith. Your trials and afflictions, therefore, produce in your soul a deep feeling of want. You are now sensible that you need more of the presence of Christ;

your piety is not in sufficient exercise to make you happy under your chastisements. In the moments when forebodings and fears become most oppressive, you are most strongly impressed with the truth, that you still lack a great deal; and your desires are quickened for that measure of faith which shall enable you, with filial confidence, to leave all in the hands of God.

If these are your feelings, you are now ready to acknowledge, that chastiement has already produced in you one part of its intended effect. You are brought to feel that you are totally dependent on God for your comfort; that nothing but high measures of piety can render you independent of these clouds of trial, and that the attainments which you have made are insufficient to this end. You are brought to desire of God that grace which shall be sufficient for you, and to say with the disciples: “Lord increase our faith !” This is one great end of chastisement, to humble man from his self-suficiency, and make him feel, in the most profound manner, that in God he lives, and moves, and has his being. Afflicted brethren, you never felt in your hours of ease (we venture to affirm) so fully dependent upon God's will, as you do at this present time. Perhaps, if entire prosperity had continued, you would never have felt this persuasion; thus a most important point is gained in your spiritual progress. It is so in ihis respect, it prepares you for receiving the blessing. It is not God's method, in the ordinary economy of His grace, to give favours of a spiritual kind, until the soul feels its need of them. He “will be inquired of for these things,” even when he purposes to vouchsafe them. It is in answer to earnest longings, pantings, hungering, and thirstings of the spirit, that the Lord manifests himself in the most remarkable manner. You have been brought by chastisement to the very point, where you ought to desire to be brought; and where perhaps nothing but this affliction would have brought you, the total renunciation of your own strength, and the casting of yourself upon the strength of God. Now you begin more deeply to feel your need of Christ. Now you are convinced that something more is necessary than that vague and intermitted trust which you commonly indulge; that Christ must be embraced by your faith, and not visited merely by occasional devotions; in a word, that you must constantly be “looking to Jesus.”

If these things are so; if you are persuaded that nothing except strong faith can heal your wounded spirit; if you are conscious that you still lack such faith;if you earnestly and constantly desire it; the question becomes exceeding interesting to you: “Can I attain it?” And if this could be at once answered in the affirmative, to your full satisfaction, it would go far towards an entire banishment from your soul of these poignant distresses. Now in proportion as your as your soul is engaged in seeking this inestimable blessing, in just that proportion will your acts of faith be increased. As Christ becomes more and more present to your mind, you will, with more and more confidence, lean upon him with son-like assurance. And, therefore, without endeavouring to resolve the question, when, how, or in what precise manner, God will give you the grace which you need, it is sufficient for our present purpose to know, that one great end of your affliction is anwered, when you are led to commence and persevere in a faithful and earnest application to Christ, as the great Physician.

Long have you wandered, it may be, long slighted this benevolent Redeemer. Like Israel in prosperity, you have forgotten your Deliverer, and have grown restive and rebellious in the rich pastures of his goodness. While the skies were clear, and all around you was smiling, you were remiss in duty, irregular in devotion, lukewarm in affection. Your mountain seemed to stand strong, and in the delights of present enjoyment you could say, “Tomorrow shall be as to-day, and much more abundant.” Jesus Christ, the Master to whom you had so solemnly, so unreservedly given yourself, has been cast into the shade by the worldly things on which you have doted. Ah! how little do Christians ponder on the truth, that by their lives of carelessness they are rendering afflictions necessary! While they are at ease in Zion, forsaking their first love, and declining from the path of strict piety, the cloud is gathering darker and darker over their heads; that cloud of judgment and of mercy which is to drive them up from their unlawful resting places, and alarm them into a renewal of their pilgrimage. Afflicted Brethren! Ye thought not, while ye were at ease, that these trials were in reserve for you, though often forewarned by the preachers of the Gospel, and the experience of


brethren. The trial has now come; you have now to retrace your steps; you now feel that none but Christ can bring you back to happiness; and you are humbly asking for the blessings of his hand. Thus it is that chastisement convinces the believer of his misery, and shows him that afar from the Saviour he can never be at peace.

2. Chastisement is useful, as it leads the believer to see and feel his exceeding sinfulness. It is one of the strongest proofs that our sanctification is imperfect, and our self-love inordinate, that we are wrought upon so much more readily by stripes than by favours. Though the Lord's goodness ought to lead us to repentance, yet we generally observe that the heart grows hard under the smiles of Providence, and thus loudly calls for the necessary strokes of God's correcting hand. It is a favourable indication of reigning grace, when any soul, in the sunshine of great worldly prosperity, is considerate, humble, and constant in walking with God. In too many cases, it is far otherwise. And when sudden affliction breaks in a storm upon the head of one who has been relapsing into carnal security, the surprise and consternation are great and almost insupportable. After the first tumult of the soul, it is natural to look around for some solace or support; and in the case of a true Christian, the resort will at once be to the consolation of religion. Like the little child which strays from its watchful and tender parent, during the hours of play, but hastens back at the approach of alarm, so the believer, overtaken by calamity, awakes from his dream, and endeavours to retrace his steps to the neglected mercy-seat. But ah! in how many case does he here learn his lamentable distance from God; and how mournfully is he made to cry, “O that I knew where I might find Him!” He who is habitually

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