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saints while here below. “ Through much tribulation they must enter the kingdom of God.” Many of them must drink deeply of the cup of adversity, and be greatly tossed about as they cross the tempestuous ocean of time. It is the perfection of angels that they never could know the force of mental disquiet, or the pangs of a soul in distress; and it is the happiness of departed believers to obtain “joy for mourning," a crown for crosses, and to drink, and forget their sorrows for ever. But as long as they are here," afflictions" and tribulations “abide them." They must be engaged in continual warfare, but let them not faint; they are soldiers of the cross of Christ, and must use the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, with which they shall quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, and stand against all the inward or outward opposition they meet with by the way.
The soul that prospers is enabled to bear affliction with submission to the Divine will, and is sure to be benefited by his affliction. He considers that all affliction to the people of God, flows from his fatherly care and love: for “ whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourges every son whom he receiveth.” He believes, therefore, that all shall be for his good, that his grace shall be kept in exercise, and that trials are antidotes against sin. “ Lord," said David, “ before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have kept thy word.” Afflictions tend to humble the soul; and they all work for the saints,
a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” This is their ultimate tendency, and should therefore always reconcile us to them by the way.
Let us not despise the discipline of our heavenly Father, of which all his people are partakers. The Redeemer had to suffer in the furnace of his Father's wrath. “ It pleased the Lord to bruise him. He was smitten of God and afflicted.” All the heirs of glory are brought up in the school of the cross. It should be viewed as a royal privilege, an inestimable blessing, to be under the care of a heavenly parent, and to be guided through all the afflictions and dangers of the present world, and afterwards to be received to endless glory and happiness. Let all christians banish all their unbelieving fears, and commit themselves to the protection of God, while the winds and tempests blow upon them. There is one who is 6
as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Till wisdom fails to contrive, and power to execute, the children of God should believe, and hope, and trust in the name of the Lord; for “his name is a strong tower," an impregnable defence, “ from the power of the enemy.” We should use the means, but not rest in them. Omnipotence is not tied to a certain way of operation. Rather than not fulfil his word, and perform bis promise, Jehovah would stop the course of nature. “ If ye believe not, surely ye shall not be established.” The Lord will bring Israel to the rock, and even there from that rock, quench their thirst. “ Can solid flint,” our unbelief might say, “ be converted into a cooling stream ?” But behold the aged and rough sides divide asunder, and springs gush out, to supply the need of an ungrateful people. He that divided the sea, made in the wilderness a way for Israel, to bring them into the promised land. All
this the prosperous soul is enabled more or less to see, and to rejoice in. His safety and his triumph are certain, and through the continued assistance and grace of God, and in the use of appointed means, he shall endure to the end.
Difficulties may arise. The wind of extraordinary trouble, by God's permission, may blow full in the believer's face, and he may not be able, by any means, to avoid it. It may blow away his health or his wealth, his nearest and dearest friends, his wife, or parents, or children, all affectionately and tenderly beloved, and lay them low in the dust. But all this is needful when it comes, and may be for the best. The gracious design of all may be, to draw holy souls near to God, in whom all their hopes should centre, and on whom it behoves them to bestow all their love.
When we are in the midst of trouble, unbelief is a sad bar to our comfort. It seems to suggest that either God has promised what he does not intend to perform, or what he is not able to accomplish. How dishonourable to the name of our heavenly Father, whose words are faithfulness and truth. The Lord can send the dew of heaven on our sorrows, and render them a fruitful soil. Affliction is the nursery of graces : “ Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost." Our foolish hearts are apt to quarrel with God when he lays affliction upon our loins, forgetting the sinful cause; and that it is a fatherly correction. Our courage fails, and our eye is not towards him that
can do all things. Once, to manifest his power, and to fix his people's faith and hope in himself alone, he divided the Red sea, and raised the waters in crystal walls to bound their steps in an untrodden path, which his providence made for them; while he destroyed with an utter destruction their angry pur
Seeing then that our God can make crooked thing's straight, and rough places plain, why may be not cause our heaviest trials to promote the prosperity of our souls? David is not the only one who could say, “ It is good for me that I have been afflicted." Thousands, and, amongst them, the writer can bear testimony to the truth of this sentiment of the pious psalmist. Take courage, then, my soul! Yet a little while, and sin shall be no more. Temptations and sorrows shall come to an everlasting period, and God in Christ, with all his infinite fulness, shall be thine everlasting all in all.
Hinderances to Soul Prosperity.
The best of men possess, in some degree, an evil heart of unbelief, and have reason, often, to exclaim with the royal psalmist,“ My soul cleaveth to the dust, quicken thou me according to thy word.” No good man is safe but as he is upheld and" kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." Left to ourselves, instead of conquering the most potent of our enemies, we cannot stand against the most feeble. There is therefore a constant need of divine protection, and of watchfulness and prayer.
Backsliding in heart is the withdrawing and turning aside of the heart and affections from God, and things that are pure and holy. Actual backsliding, is actually to turn from the path of duty. This our hearts are ever prone to, and, in whatever degree it takes place, our souls suffer a declension in their prosperity ; darkness and doubts invade the mind, and we are filled with distress.
There is a voluntary backsliding, which takes place when any persons professing to know the truth, wilfully turn from it, and live in the practice