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to all the affections; such as will appear in the whole behaviour. li may likewise lire an intuence over the body; particularly in those that are cither of a buturally weak constitution, un Weakened by some accidental disorder, especially of the vervous kind. In many cases, we find the corruptible body presses down the soul;” in this, the soul rather presses down the body, and wealiens it more and more. Nay, I will not say that deep and lasting sorrow of heart may not sometimes
reaken a strong constitution, and lay the foundation of such bodily disorders as are not easily removed: And yet all this may consist with a measure of that faith which still worketh by lore.
4. This may well be termed a “fiery trial:” and though it is not the same wiib out the Apostle speaks of in the fourth chapter, vet many ofibe expressions there used concerning outWind sufferings, may be accommodated to this inwand affliction. They cannot, indeel, with any propriety, be applied to them that are in darkness: tbesedo not, cannot, rejoice; neither is it true, that “the Spirit or glory and of God restethi mpon tiem. But he frequently did on those that are in hearibens; so that, thougla sorrowful, yet are they always rejoicing.
II. I. But to proceed to the Third point, What are the Causes of such sorrow or heaviness in it true believer ? The Apostle tells us clearly : “le are in hicaviness,” says he, "thronylı manifold temptations;” Tux12004,-manifoldi, pot only many in number, but of many kinds. They may be varied and diversified a thousand wars, by the change or addition of numberless circumstances. And this very diversity and variety make it more dificult 10 guard against them. Among thies", we may rank all bodily disorders; particularly acute discasca, and violent pain of every kind, whether aflecting the whole body, or the smallest part of it. It is true, sowe who have enjoyed uninicrrapicu bealili, and have felt none of these, may make light of them, and wonder that sickness, or pain of body, should bring heaviness upon the mind. Ind perhaps one in a thousand is of so peculiar a cousiitution, is not to feel pain like other mil. Su atit pleased God to show his almighty power, by producing sunsell these prodigies of nature, who have seemme voi in legand pain at all, hh of the severet hind; if that contempo pua was not oning partly to the force of education, pulli lui preferuatural cust', -to the power citirer vi good or evil spirits, who raised those mea
above the state of mere nature. But, abstracting from these particular cases, it is, in general, a just observation, that
" Pain is perfect misery, and extreme
Quite overturns all patience.” And even where this is prevented by the grace of God, where men do “possess their souls in patience, it may, nevertheless, occasion much inward heaviness; the soul sympathizing with the body.
2. All diseases of long continuance, though less painful, are apt to produce the same effect. When. God appoints over us consumption, or the chilling and burning ague, if it be not specdily removed, it will not only “consume the eyes,” but
cause sorrow of heart.” This is eminently the case with regard to all those which are termed nervous disorders. And faith does not overturn the course of nature: natural causes still produce natural effects. Faith no more hinders the sinking of the spirits (as it is called) in an hysteric illuess, than the rising of the pulse in a fever.
3. Again : When “ calamity cometh as a whirlwind, and poverty as an armed man;” is this a little temptation? Is it strange if it occasion sorrow and heaviness? Although this also may appcar but a small thing to those that stand at a distance, or who look, and “ pass by on the other side;" yet it is otherwise to them who feel it. “Having food and raiment,” [indeed the latter word, OxETE 294.4TX, implies lodging, as well as apparel,] we may, if the love of God is in our hearts, “ be therewith content.” But what shall they do, who have none of these? Who, as it were, “ embrace the rocks for a shelter ? ” Who have only the earth to lie upon, and only the sky to cover them ? Who have not a dry, or warm, much less a clean abode for themselves and their little ones ; po, nor clothing to keep themselves, or those they love next themselves, from piuching cold, either by day or night? I laugh at the stupid Heathen, crying out,
Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se,
Quam quod ridiculos homines facit ! Has poverty nothing worse in it than this, that it makes men liable to be laughed at? It is a sign this idle poet talked by rote of the things which he knew not. Is not want of food something worse than this ? God pronounced it as a curse upon man, that he should earn it “by the sweat of his brow.” But how many are there in this Christian country, that toil,
and labour, and streat, and have it not at last, but struggle with weariness and hunger together? Is it not worse, for one, after a hard day's labour, to come back to a poor, cold, dirty, uncomfortable lodging, and to find there not even the food which is needful to repair his wasted strength ? You that live at ease in the earth, that want nothing but eyes to sec, cars to hear, and hearts to understand how well God hath dealt with you,-is it not worse to seek bread day by day, and find none? Perhaps to find the comfort also of five or six children, crying for what he has not to give! Were it not that he is restrained by an unseen hand, would lie not soon curse God and die? O want of bread! Want of bread! Who can tell whai this means, unless he hath felt it himself ? I am astonished it occasions no more than heaviness even in them that believe!
4. Perhaps, next to this, we may place the death of those who were near and dear unto us; of a tender parent, and one not much declined into the vale of years; of a beloved child, just rising into life, and clasping about our heart; of a friend that was as our own soul,-next the grace of God, the last, best gift of Heaven. And a thousand circumstances may enhance the distress. Perhaps the child, the friend, died in our enbrace! Perhaps, was snatched away when we looked not for it! Flourishing, cut down like a flower! In all these cases, we not only may, but ought to be affected : it is the design of God that we should. He would not have us stocks and stones. He would have our affections regulated, not extinguished. Therefore, --- Nature unreprov'd may drop a tear.” There may be sorrow without sin.
5. A still deeper sorrow we may feel for those who are dcad while they live; on account of the unkindness, ingratitude, apostasy, of those who were united to us in the closest ties. Who can express what a lover of souls may feel for a friend, a brother, dead to God? For an husband, a wife, a parent, a child, rushing into sin, as an horse into the battle; and, in spite of all arguments and persuasions, hasting to work out his own damnation ? And this anguish oi spirit may be heightened to an inconceivable degrec, by the consideration, that he who is now posting to destruction once r'an well in the way of life. Whatever he was in time past, serves now to no other purpose, than to make our reflections on what he is more piercing and aflictive.
6. In all these circumstances, we may be assured, our great Aniversary will nint be wanti: to improve his opportunity. He, who is always “walking about, seeking whom he may devour,' will then, especially, use all his power, all his skill, if haply he may gain any advantage over the soul that is already cast down. He will not be sparing of his fiery darts, such as are most likely to find an entrance, and to fix most deeply in the heart, by their suitableness to the temptation that assaults it. He will labour to inject vnbelieving, or blasphemous, or repining thoughts. He will suggest, that God does not regard, does not govern the carth; or, at least, that he does not govern it aright, not by the rules of justice and mercy. He will endeavour to stir up the heart against God, to renew our natural enmity against him. And if we attempt to fight him with his own weapons, if we begin to reason with him, more and more heaviness will undoubtedly ensue, if not utter darkness.
7. It has been frequently supposed, that there is another cause, if not of darkness, at least, of heaviness; namely, God's withdrawing himself from the soul, because it is his sovereign Will. Certainly he will do this, if we grieve his Holy Spirit, either by outward or inward sin; either by doing evil, or neglecting to do good ; by giving way either to pride or anger, to spiritual sloth, to foolish desire, or inordinate affection. But that he ever withdraws himself because he will, merely because it is his good pleasure, I absolutely deny. There is no text in all the Bible, which gives any colour for such a supposition. Nay, it is a supposition contrary, not only to many particular texts, but to the whole tenor of Scripture. It is repugnant to the very nature of God: it is utterly beneath his majesty and wisdom, (as an eminent writer strongly expresses it,) “ to play at bo-peep with his creatures.” It is inconsistent both with his justice and mercy, and with the sound experience of all his children.
8. One more cause of heaviness is mentioned by inany of those who are termed Mystic authors. And the notion has crept in, I know not how, even among plain people, who have no acquaintance with them. I cannot better explain this, than in the words of a late writer, who relates this as her own experience." I continued so happy in my Beloved, that, although I should have been forced to live a vagabond in a desert, I should have found no difficulty in it. This state had not lasted long, when, in effect, I found myself led into a desert. I found inyself in a forlorn condition, altogether poor, wretched, and miserable. The proper source of this grief is, the knowledge of ourselves; by which we find, that there is an extreme ulikienens betireen God and ns. We see ourselves most opposite to lim; and thai on inmost soul is entirely corrupted, depravert, and full of all kind of evil and malignity, of the world and the flesti, iud all sorts of abominations.”-From hence it bas been inferred, that the knowledge of ourselves, without which we should perisli everlastingly, must, eren after we have attained justifying faithi, occasion the deepest heaviness.
9. But upon this I would observe, (1.) in the preceding paragrapii, this writer says, “ Hearing I had not a true faith iu Christ, loitered myself up to God, and immediately felt his love." It may be so; and yet it does not appear that this was justification. It is niste probable, it was no more than what are listally formed, the “ drawings of the Father.” And if so, the heaviness and darkness which followed, was no other than conviction of sin, risich, in tbe nature of things, must precede that faith whereby we are justified. (2.) Suppose she was justified almost the same moment she was convinced of wauting faiili, there has then no time for that gradually-jacreasing self-huowledge which uses to precede justification: In this case, therefore, it came after, and was probably the rore severe, the less it was expected. (3.) It is allowed, there will be a far deeper, a far clearer and fuller kuowledge of our inbred sin, of our total corruption by nature, after justification, than ever there was before it. But this need not occasion darkess of soul: I will not say, that it must bring us into heaviness. Were it so), the Apostle would not have used that expression, if nooit be; for there would be an absolute, indispeusable need of it, for all that would know themsclres ; that is, in cflect, for all that would know the perfect love of God, and be therely “made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in liglit.” But this is by no means the case. On the coutrary, God may increase the knowledge of ourselves to any degree, and increase in the same proportion, the knowledge of himself and the experience of bis love. And in this case there irould be no desert, no misery, vo forlorn condition ; ” but love, and peace', and joy, gradually springing up into everlasting lite.
IV. ). For what Ends then, (which was the fourth thing to be considered,) does God permit leaviness to befall so many of his children? The Apostle gives us a plain and direct answer to this important question: “ That the trial of their faithi, which is much more precious than gold that perisheth,