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was Jesus. But He says, " And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” And you may say the same; feeling, by faith, that Jesus is with you. He is a real Friend; a never-failing Friend.
Is your soul vexed by the scoffs of the ungodly, who ridicule, or persecute you, because you love Christ? Then, look unto Jesus, and consider Him who “endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." He is the Good Shepherd, and will not suffer the wolf to devour his tender lambs.
Are you mourning for the death of those you love? Read the eleventh chapter of St. John's Gospel, and see how the Saviour feels for those that are bereaved. When Mary and Martha mourned for their brother Lazarus, “ Jesus wept.”
Are you tempted ? Jesus also was tempted, “yet without sin.” He knows all your infirmities, both of body and soul; and “is able to succour them that are tempted.”
Only come to Him with earnest, believing prayer. The way to the throne of
is day. Come to Him when you are at your very worst. Man's extremity is God's opportunity. When temptation presses you sore, yet fight on, in the strength of Christ; and sin shall not get the victory over you. When the remembrance of past sins sinks you very low, cry to Jesus; and He will stretch forth his arm to deliver your soul from the nethermost hell. Even when you are dying, He can, and will, give comfort to the contrite and
open night and and humble. You may say, “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil : for Thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Come, then, to Jesus ! not only when it is well with you, but when you are at the very worst. Come boldly! and you shall obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need.
Behold us, O blessed Jesus ! drawing nigh unto thee, and lifting up the voice of our humble supplications, trusting in thy Name alone. Bow down thine ear, while we plead all that thou didst suffer, in our nature, to bring us unto God. Though thou wast rich, yet thou didst become poor, that we, through thy poverty, might be made rich. Thou didst know hunger and thirst, toil and weariness and painfulness: thou wast a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; deserted by friends, and enduring the contradiction of sinners against thyself, even unto death. Thou didst bear the temptations of Satan, and the hidings of thy Father's face. What sorrow of ours can be compared to thine ? Ours are light afflictions, and but for a moment: and they are shared by Thee.
Yet, О our pitying Saviour ! to our frail nature every chastening is, for the present, grievous. Thou knowest our frame : thou rememberest that we are but dust. Suffer us not to be swallowed up of over-much sorrow, nor to faint in the day of
adversity. Stand by us, and help us. Give to us the consolations of thy Spirit, and the comfort of thy love. Be present with us in the furnace of affliction; and say to our sinking hearts, “ Lo, I am with you! Bestow upon us more abundantly the spirit of grace and of supplication: that in all our troubles we may make our request known unto thee; and feel evermore, that the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, is able to keep our hearts and minds, calmly rejoicing, and safely established in thee, Christ Jesus our Lord.
VISIT TO THE AFFLICTED.
HEBREWS xii. 5-13. And ye have forgotten 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 :
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons : for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not ?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence : shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live ?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous : nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. This beautiful passage of Scripture teaches us how to bear afflictions patiently, and even to bless God for them. When I sit near any one who is deeply afflicted, I have need to pray for grace, that I may speak to him wisely, and comfortably. You are now suffering sorrow : let us ask, What is the voice of God, in this visitation ?
Observe, then, that the words of the Apostle are addressed to the children of God; so that the first thing you should inquire into, is, Whether you are of that number?
Many sick and suffering people say—“ I hope I am a child of God: if suffering makes a child of God, sure enough I am one. I hope God is not punishing me as an enemy: I know I am a sinner; but I hope he will make allowance for me, on account of my sufferings. Surely he must pity me at last, if he lays such heavy sufferings upon me
And as my trials are so great in this life, I hope I shall be better off in another world. Still, it is impossible not to complain sometimes, and to think that God deals rather hardly with me."
Now, these are the thoughts that come into the mind of some persons, when they are afflicted. Is it
your way of thinking, my friend ? If so, there must be something wrong. I should be unwilling to cause you sorrow upon sorrow; but I entreat you
to let me speak faithfully on this question, “ What is it to be a child of God ?”
1. The true child of God never thinks of paying off the debt of sin with his sufferings. He feels that his sins deserve infinite and eternal punishment: he does not suppose that his own sufferings can do away the dreadful guilt of his sins. He knows that even the sufferings of hell cannot pay off the sinner's debt, though he goes on suffering for ever and ever. Neither does sorrow for sin do any good, unless it leads us to Christ for pardon, and to implore the gift of a new heart.
2. The true child of God is further instructed in this blessed truth, that the curse denounced against all his sins has already been borne by Jesus the Son of God, who died upon the cross.
3. Therefore, he receives Christ by faith. He is united to Christ by faith. He has pardon, peace, and the gift of a new heart, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. His own sufferings have nothing to do with gaining that pardon: the price of his redemption is already paid down, by the most precious blood-shedding and death of Jesus Christ. If we attempt to add any thing to Christ's sacrifice, we destroy it. Christ must save, and Christ alone.
Why, then, you ask, are afflictions sent to the children of God, when their Father loves them so tenderly?
1. They are sent to bring our past sins to our remembrance; and, to make us watchful against