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the agonies of the Cross; the new-creating energy of the Spirit-take up a Chapter that illustrates any of these, and pray or sing over it.
"So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter." Ecclesiastes iv. 1.
It has often been found an excellent remedy for sorrow, to begin praying for others; the Heathen, or our unconverted neighbours or relatives; prisoners and captives; the oppressed, the destitute, the outcast. Behold their tears; they have no comforter!
But the happy turn, thus given to our own sorrows, will not issue in a durable peace and joy, unless we follow up the practical application, as described in Isaiah lviii, 7-11.
"Mine eyes fail with looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me!"
Isaiah xxxviii. 14.
A Friend, to undertake our cause, when the mind wanders, and Satan harasses; such a Friend, too, as Jesus, our Advocate with the Father!-The believer, in his fainting, dying moments, should rest in this thought, LOOKING UNTO JESUS! bu
Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." Isaiah 1. 10.
The believer's faith often shines, to others around him, most brightly in the dark; though he himself may not have all the comfort of it. But, if he is content thus to glorify God, he shall have joy in the end.
"It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations iii. 25.
This is the meek language of a holy man, cut off from all other good.
My grace is sufficient for thee." 2 Cor. xii. 9.
We never know the need of a promise, till sorely pressed with temptations; nor its preciousness, till we earnestly plead with the Lord in prayer. At such a time, Jesus seems to come forth to us in his best his words are few; but suitable, and abiding. St. Paul, after this, no more beseeches that the "thorn in the flesh" may be taken from him. Nay, he was enabled, by this grace, even to glory in his infirmities.
"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down,
It is a poor condition of a believer, when affliction hinders him from prayer: it ought to quicken him to spread all his sorrows before the Lord.
"Trials make the promise sweet:
Lay me low, and keep me there!"
"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
James i. 4.
If the wisdom of God had seen any method better suited for perfecting our graces, He loves his children so well, that he would not have appointed tribulation as the way of doing this: for he does not willingly afflict or grieve his own beloved-ones. But since He has, in all ages, appointed this method, it is our duty to give time and patience, for his plan to be completely worked out. Perhaps, if we murmur at his way of sanctifying us, he may begin the purifying process all over again, and make the furnace seven times hotter. We ought not so much as to breathe the question, "How long?"
Blessed Saviour! shed abroad thy Spirit in our hearts; and enable us to say, in all things, Not my will, but Thine, be done! Thy way is best: thy time is best.
PERSONS, ENJOYING A GOOD HOPE, THROUGH GRACE, IN THE PROSPECT OF DFATH.
"I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord."
Genesis xlix. 18.
Through all the days of Esau's wrath, and Laban's harsh treatment; through all the bitter distresses
my own family; through all my prayers, vows, wrestlings, haltings; this is what I have aimed at, Peace in a dying hour. And now, O my God and Saviour! I feel it; and I declare it, to the glory of Thy grace.
"The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deut. xxxiii. 27.
Those arms, that bore up Abel when he received the murderous blow, and bore up his spirit heavenward; those arms, on which Jacob stayed himself, as he blessed the Patriarchs; the arm, that lighted down on Pharaoh, Sennacherib, and Belshazzar; the arms that fought for David, fettered the lions for Daniel, and held Nero fast for a season; the arms that have vanquished Satan, and all his legions-these are the arms, in which the believer quietly rests. There, my Almighty Saviour, let me lie, as a lamb in the Shepherd's bosom !
"He hath made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire." 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
The care taken, in drawing up a person's last Will and Testament, is as nothing, compared with Lord the ordering and establishing of that everlasting Covenant, which David, in his last words, here celebrates.
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For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth": and though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." Job xix. 25-27.
The Book of Job abounds with painfully-affecting descriptions of man's mortality. These we should often meditate on, when in health: they will serve to tame the earthly, sensual, and devilish affections of the natural heart. But when the dying believer actually begins to languish, generally speaking, it is better not to dwell on gloomy images. Rather, expatiate on the Health of the soul, as it lives and flourishes in Christ, and is complete in Him; and on the Hopes of the soul, as it looks out of its prison, to contemplate the bright "Latter Day," when Jesus the Redeemer shall change our body of humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.