« AnteriorContinuar »
hearing these things, the bereaved father "held his peace. (Lev. x. 3.) It is a bitter medicine, but the soul which is convinced of God's justice and goodness, lays down every thought of rebellion and discontent.
When, in the time of the Judges, the children of Israel gave themselves up in a shameless manner to the worship of idols, they fell under the wrath of God, and were eighteen years oppressed by the Ammonites and Philistines. Still, when they came to themselves, and cried to the Lord, they joined to their repentance lowly submission, and said, “We have sinned; do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee." Judges x.
This is the temper which sanctified affliction always begets, so that the prostrate soul dares no longer to impose terms on Jehovah, but yields itself to his sovereign discretion. There is peace in such a surrender, a peace which is altogether independent of any expected mitigation of the stroke.
Wave after wave often goes over the child of God, before he is brought to this state of self-renunciation. Murmuring may for a time prevail, yet the Great Physician, who applies the painful remedy, cannot be baffled, and triumphs to his own glory and the unspeakable benefit of the believer's soul. The Scriptures afford us striking examples of this yielding up of every thing into the hands of God; particularly in the case of David, whose history and experience are given in detail. One of the sharpest inflictions which fell upon this pious man, was the rebellion of his unnatural son, Absalom; and one of the most affecting scenes in the course of this transaction, is the flight of the aged king with the ark: "All the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over." Now, what was the language of David under these circumstances? The King said unto Zadok: 'Carry back the ark of God into the city; if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and show me both it and his habitation; and if he thus say, 'I have no delight in thee,' behold here am I, let him do unto me as seemeth good unto Him." 2 Samuel xv. 26. Now, we have here exemplified the very frame of soul which each of us should endeavour to maintain under chastisement. For we are not to speak thus, "I can bear this because it cannot be avoided, or, because I hope it is the last of my sufferings." No, my brethren, we are not thus to limit the Holy One of Israel; but let each of us with filial homage say, "Lord, I am in thy hands, in the
best hands, I deserve thy stripes, I yield myself to thy dispensations, thy will be done!" Happy is he who, like David, can look back upon chastisements and say, "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it." Psal. xxxix.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time," yet, if his rod should long abide upon you, if you are ready, like Job, to cry, from repeated and continued strokes, "He hath set me up for his mark. He breaketh me with breach upon breach. He hath fenced up my way so that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths," yet even then, "remember the patience of Job, and the end of the Lord," and say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
Some may be disposed to think, in the time when all God's waves and billows go over them, that they could acquiesce and be comforted, if they perceived any way of escape, if they could reasonably expect deliverance: and this is the whole of what is sometimes called Christian resignation. Yet, the comfort in this case is merely worldly. The grace of God can do more than this; it can make you willing still to endure, and in enduring still to praise.
Say not, "I could be content if I were sure of deliverance." God has not promised absolutely to remove the chastisement. Perhaps it is his holy will not to deliver. Perhaps it is this very thing in your afflictions which is to ensure you the blessing from the Lord. The apostle Paul earnestly desired, and thrice besought the Lord to deliver him from that trial which he calls the thorn in his flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him. Yet, as far as we are informed, it was continued to the end of his life. But mark the glorious indemnification: "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Upon this declaration, the apostle calmly, nay, joyfully goes forward under his burden, singing as he pursues his pilgrimage: "Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me, therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake, for when I am weak, then am I strong." The sweet support under every possible calamity is, that God can turn it into a blessing, and, that if we have faith he will do so. With respect, therefore, to the use of afflictions, “all things are possible to him that believeth."
6. Finally. Chastisement is useful, because it leads the believer to look for complete happiness in Heaven only. And at this stage of our reflections, let us rejoice, dear brethren, that the consolation offered is liable to no exception or abatement; it is adapted to every case; perfect and entire. If the comfort which you need depended upon the hope of deliverance in this world, there would be many cases which we should be forced to leave as hopeless: for there are many in which no expectation of exemption in this life can be indulged. But let the worst, most lingering, and most aggravated instance of suffering be presented, and the hope of heaven is still sufficient to mitigate its ills. You may have been reduced to hopeless poverty; you may have suffered from the treachery and ingratitude of supposed friends, from cruel mockings and persevering calumny; you may labour under incurable disease, or follow to the grave beloved objects of your affections, who can never be replaced in this world. Still, there is a country, and you are rapidly approaching it, "where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." It is well if you have learned to look beyond all secondary, earthly, imperfect comforts, to God, the source of good, and to that world where all tears are wiped away. It is well if the trial of your faith has enabled you to say "I know in whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day."
This is a benefit of affliction, which is striking and great in proportion to the failure of earthly consolation. For it may be doubted, whether any man fully yields himself up to the view and prelibation of heaven, until he is disentangled and rent away from all hope of blessedness on this side the grave. It is natural to seek resting-places by the way; and trials, losses, sufferings, bereavements, are thrice blessed when they engrave upon our hearts that we have here no continuing city, but must seek one above. So long as we can flatter ourselves with any refuge in this world, we are prone to lean on an arm of flesh, and to look upwards only for the supply of what is deficient here. But let all expectation of worldly peace and satisfaction be cut off, and the released soul, which is truly sanctified, and full of faith, rises, like a bird from the snare, and rejoices to say "My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him. Then shall I be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness!" Think not, however, to enjoy this fruit of chastisement, while you cast
longing and lingering looks on that country whence you Nothing but the hope of a glorious resurrection upheld the apostle Paul, when troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down, and (as to the outward man) perishing. Hear the method of his escape out of sorrow, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding, and eternal weight of glory."
He is the happy man who dwells most on the thoughts of heaven. Like Enoch he walks with God. Like Job he can say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth," &c. Like David he glories, "Thou wilt show me thy salvation." Like Paul he triumphs, "for I am now ready to be offered," &c.
This happiness we sometimes witness; but where have we found it? In the house of prosperity, where death has never invaded the family circle; where all have more than heart could wish; where health, and opulence, and honour unite to expel all care? No! but in the hovel of the poor, where one affliction hath followed another, till earthly hope is almost extinct. In the darkened chamber of mourning, whence all that was most loved and cherished has taken its last flight. In the bed of lingering, incurable disease, and in the very gasp of death! Here religion hath set up her trophies; here, is happiness, here, where things hoped for are substantiated to the believing soul, where things unseen are evidenced to faith by divine influence.
In every case of suffering it is the prime wisdom of the Christian to fix his eyes upon the heavenly crown. In every other hope you may be disappointed, in this you cannot. Try, as you may, all other fountains for your solace, there is a time coming when you must be driven to this. Become familiar with the meditation of heavenly glory! Daily contemplate that joyful deliverance from evil, that indissoluble and ecstatic union with the Lord Jesus Christ! Then, when death lays upon you his cold hand, you can say "I am prepared for this hour. I have longed for this deliverance to meet my Lord in his temple. I have lived in communion with the blessed Lord of heaven." "Lo, this is my God, I have waited for him, and he will save me, this is the Lord, I have waited for him; I will rejoice and be glad in his salvation."
VOL. IV. No. III.—2 Y
ART. III.-REVUE ENCYCLOPEDIQUE. Paris. HISTOIRE DE LA PHILOSOPHIE. PAR M. V. COUSIN. Paris.
"THE world by wisdom knew not God." The history of Philosophy, whether ancient or modern, not only confirms this testimony, but demonstrates that wisdom is emphatic in the sentence that makes the declaration. It is not simply, that man, without direct revelation from God, is ignorant of his glories; this ignorance is most conspicuous in philosophy, the boasted wisdom of the human race. From the oldest philosophers of Egypt or India, to the wildest disciple of Kant, or Fichte, the reputed sage has, with few exceptions, entertained more incorrect notions of God, than the peasant whose superstition he has scorned. The latter may not have held the divine unity, he may have cherished many ridiculous aberrations of fancy, but he has seldom stripped superior beings of the first essential attributes of intelligent existence. If he has formed gods in his own image, he has not reduced them lower than himself, by denying their individual consciousness and free volition. Philosophy is the sole parent of such folly.
With these thoughts we rise from the perusal of the publications the titles of which we have placed at the head of this article. We have coupled them together, as containing many sentiments in common with each other, not on account of any connexion in authorship or professed object in writing.
The Revue Encyclopédique is a monthly publication at Paris. Each number contains from one hundred and fifty to two hundred pages, sometimes more. It is professedly a general review of all that deserves notice in the passing history of the human mind. Notices of American, English, German, Italian, and French publications, together with those of other countries, find a place in its columns. Many of the articles are very brief; others of the ordinary length for Quarterly Reviews. The number of contributors is very considerable, as appears from the signatures appended to almost every article. Some few of them appear to entertain a degree of respect for the Christian religion, but the general spirit of the publication is what we should term decidedly infidel. The following extracts from the number for last December, will convey a clear idea of the spirit that pervades many of the most elaborate and extended articles. It is from a review of