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--Haste, my beloved, towards the things which eye hath not seen (1 Cor. ii. 9); and, ere the eternal day break, and the present shadows flee away, run with patience the race set before you, looking unto Jesus (Heb. xii. 1, 2). How will my cup overflow to meet you among those who daily come hither out of great tribulation; and, having washed their robes in the blood of the lamb, serve kim day and night in his temple !”. Rev. vii. 14, 15.
Embrace every method which God hath recommended for maintaining communion with him, and obtaining relief from him :-the various ordinances of his House; the encouragements of his Word; the society of his Children; and especially; Prayer. Often speak to him who seeth in secret, and is nigh unto all that call upon him, though, with the Woman of Canaan, you can only say, Lord help me: Matt. vi. 18. Ps. cxlv. 18. Matt. xv. 25. Not only a high commendation, but a miracle followed her request. She urged it
. under the greatest discouragements, but both a command and a promise: Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me: Ps. 1. 15.
And, while you search the Scriptures, and attend the Church, you will at once be instructed and encouraged by marking, in both, those footsteps which we lately considered. They are indeed, not so explicit in the latter; but attention to.
; the scriptural account of the Christian character,
will greatly assist you in distinguishing real Christians from those, who, equally forward and corrupt, have at all times assumed their name and mixed in their society to their grief and scandal*. Leaving these unhappy exceptions to their proper Judge, follow the unerring Rule which he has put into your hand, and those who walk by it; particularly such as are your companions in affliction. You will see them passing before you with not only the same wounds in their hearts, but almost the same words in their lips. Study their course: mark their progress: observe how they hold his arm, plead at his throne, repose in his bosom, and magnify his truth, who walks with them in a furnace, which, like that of the three children, burns nothing but their bondst.
But who is sufficient for these things ?--A fourth direction will serve for a reply. To improve the opportunity you discern, and to keep pace with those you approve, SEEK DIVINE ASSISTANCE; or, as St. Paul has expressed it, Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus: 2 Tim. ü. 1.
If on the one hand, Religion has vast proposals to make; on the other, to be truly religious is a mighty Aim, and can be accomplished only through him that loved us: Rom. viii. 37. Opposing omnipotence to difficulty, was their secret, who so gloriously overcame a world that was not worthy of them: read their history in the with
* Phil, ii. 18, 19.
† Dan. iii. 25,
chapter of the Hebrews, and see what an implicit reliance, called Faith,-a seeing Him who is invisible, will perform. That invaluable record seems to say, Our fathers trusted in thee : they trusted, and thou didst deliver them: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded: Ps. xxii. 4, 5.
We are, indeed, called to aim and to act, and have the greatest promises annexed to the endeavour: but are as frequently reminded that we are not sufficient of ourselves, to think anything as of ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God: 2 Cor. ii. 5. Christ encourages no one to advance on the ground of his own strength, any more than on that of his own desert: he is as jealous of the power of his arm, as of the merit of his blood. He admitted infirmity and misery to be presented as a complaint, but never as an objection.
I have observed it not uncommon for this to be a season of peculiar temptation. A spiritual enemy stands ready to defeat every spiritual opportunity: but our help is near; and our example, in such conflicts, excellent. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice: and he said unto me, My GRACE is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. May you be enabled to add, with the Apostle, Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me : 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9.
Again, that you may seek cheerfully this assistance, REGARD YOUR ENCOURAGEMENTS.
To recover our alienated minds, and gain our confidence, God meets us in a way suited to our necessities and to our fears. Resist, as the vilest temptation, any doubt of that Good-will to Man which was sung at the Redeemer's birth. What hath God not done in order to commend his love? By every expression of tender concern, he, in the person of a Man of Sorrows, invites the guilty, the weary, the trembling, and the tempted, to come unto him; assuring them that he will neither break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoaking flax: Matt. xii. 20. If God is love (1 John iv. 16), “ Christ is God,
, stooping to the senses, and speaking to the heart of man:” ever saying, “ Look to my Cross, take my Yoke, and lean upon my Arm, and ye shall find rest.” He sought the House of Mourning to comfort the sisters of Lazarus : he met a widow following her only child, and when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not : Luke vii. 13. May he meet you at this time, my Dear Friend, with consolations which none but himself can afford ! and then, at the very grave, shall that saying be brought to pass, Death is swallowed up in victory: 1 Cor. xv. 54. Let such fear as despise our heavenly Friend, our Prospects, Provisions, Companions, and sense of Duty. God with us, and all things in God, is light in darkness, life in death. The words, which revived him, who stiles himself your brother and
companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ (Rev. i. 9) remain to cheer a solitude darker, if possible, than his: Fear not: I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen: and have the keys of hell and of death: Rev. i. 17, 18.
To conclude: the late event solemnly repeats its author's charge, BE YE ALSO READY : Matt. xxiv. 44.
Your friend is gone : your following is certain : it may be sudden: it may be next. But, should it take place this night, and find you provided with nothing better for the change than the miserable subterfuges of the profane, or the scarcely less miserable supports of the formal, what an alarm (if you are not left to the most affecting delusion or stupidity) will it occasion! What an awful transition, to pass from the SAVIOUR to the JUDGE! without love to him; without even an acquaintance with him : unwilling, unreconciled,
unrenewed !--and to him, who has so often invited · you, warned you, and, at times, affected your
conscience with the truths which we have been considering ! What a subject for eternal reflec. tion. You would not come to him that you might have life: John v. 40.
God forbid, however, that this should be your case! I only suppose it, lest it should : and it is too common to render the supposition improper: