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XXII.-THE BLESSING OF PEACE.

“ Then said Jesus to them again: Peace be unto you."

John xx. 21.

“Fools make a mock at sin." Possessed, it may be, of wealth and power, they glory in their shame, despise the godly, and dare even the vengeance of God. The loud laugh, the shafts of ridicule, the finger of scorn, are contemptuously directed against the humble Christian. The battery of infidelity is opened against his principles and hopes. He is held up as weak in intellect, superstitious in his fears, and unfit to be the associate of a man of spirit. But it will not be always so.

The time will come when the arrows of the Almighty shall drink up

their spirits; and when, awakened to a sense of their danger and of the blessedness of the believer, they shall exclaim_"We fools accounted his life madness, and his end to be without honour: how is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints! Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined unto us, and the sun of righteousness rose not upon us.

We wearied ourselves in the way of wickedness and destruction : yea, we have gone through deserts, where there lay no way: but as for the way of the Lord, we have not known it. What hath pride profited us? or what good hath riches with our vaunting brought us ?

All those things are passed away like a shadow, and as a post that hasteth by; and as a ship that passeth over the waves of the water, which when it is gone by, the trace thereof cannot be found, neither the pathway of the keel in the waves; or as when a bird hath flown through the air, there is no token of her way to be found, but the light air being beaten with the stroke of her wings, and parted with the violent noise and

motion of them, is passed through, and therein afterwards no sign where she went is to be found; or like as when an arrow is shot at a mark, it parteth the air which immediately cometh together again, so that a man cannot know where it went through. ...... The hope of the ungodly is like dust that is blown away with the wind; like a thin froth that is driven away with the storm; like as the smoke which is dispersed here and there with a tempest, and passeth away as the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day. But the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the Most High. Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord's hand : for with his right hand shall he cover them, and with his arm shall he protect them."

"*

0! that every thoughtless sinner might thus be led to reflect on his own state, and on the blessedness of the despised Christian. In the midst of gaiety and dissipation, the sinner feels a thorn rankling in his bosom. The word of God hath declared it, and it cannot be reversed : “ There is no peace unto the wicked.” “They are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest." Satan is a hard master, his wages are present and future misery. The sensualist is a slave to his lusts. He is bound with fetters. Hurried on by his passions, he plunges from one sin into another, till, satiated with worn-out indulgences, enfeebled in body and mind, seared in his conscience, and hardened in heart, he dies, the wretched victim of his love of sin.

“What scenes of horror and of dread,

Await a sinner's dying bed !
Death's terrors all appear in sight,
Presages of eternal night.
His sins in dreadful order rise,
And fill his soul with sad surprise,

* Wisd. v. 4-16.

Mount Sinai's thunder stuns his ears,
And not one ray of hope appears.
Tormenting pangs distract his breast,
Where'er he turns he finds no rest,
Death strikes the blow-he groans, he cries,
And in despair and horror dies !

“Not so the heir of heavenly bliss,

His soul is filled with conscious peace,
A steady faith subdues his fear,
He sees the heavenly Canaan near.
His mind is tranquil and serene,
No terrors in his looks are seen ;
His Saviour's smiles dispel the gloom,
And smooth his passage to the tomb.”

Happy believer! who lives in the sunshine of heavenly love; who dies beneath the smiles of the Prince of Peace! To him, what is earth with all its vanities ? Thorns and thistles may spring up around him, but they hurt him not. The cares and afflictions of life are sanctified to him, while he looks. not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. Under every trial, the peace of God rules in his heart, and fortifies him against the attacks of Satan. Being justified by faith, he has peace with God. Through the power of the Spirit he follows peace with all men ; and when called from this world of strife, he enters into peace, into that peaceful region, where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest.

Peace is a precious gift. It is the fruit of the Spirit, the legacy of Christ to his people, the portion of God's children, the promised blessing to his Church. “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children."*

St. Paul styles the Almighty, the God of Peace. Under this endearing title the richest mercies are conveyed. “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”+ " The very God of peace

+ Rom. xvi. 20.

Isa. Jiv. 13.

+

sanctify you wholly."* “ The God of peace make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ.”+_ No wonder, then, that the Apostle should close his Epistles with this holy desire : “ The God of peace be with you."

Our blessed Lord, in his gracious discourse with his disciples, spoke words of peace and love: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” “'These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

How true, and yet how supporting to every real believer—“ In the world ye shall have tribulation”in me ye shall have peace.” Tribulation springs from many sources; the malice of wicked men, the assaults of wicked spirits, the corruption of our wicked hearts. Where is the Christian who has not to mourn over the sin that dwelleth in him? Who is not tempted by Satan? Who does not experience the hatred of the world? The more faithful we are to Christ, the more devoted we are to his cause, the more we exhibit his holy image by the holiness of our lives, and the more we shall suffer from the united attacks of men and devils. But oh! precious promise—" In me ye shall have peace.” Abiding in Christ by faith, enjoying the indwelling of his Spirit, and resting in our heavenly Father's love, we shall rise superior to every tribulation, like the Alpine traveller who ascends till he leaves the storm beneath his feet.

After his resurrection, Jesus was the same peacebestowing Saviour. When little expected, the doors being shut for fear of the Jews, Jesus appeared in the midst of his sorrowing disciples, and said unto them, “Peace be unto you." Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord. The loving Redeemer

+ Heb. xiii. 20, 21. * Rom. xv. 33. 2 Cor. xiii. 11. Phil. iv. 9.

1 Thess. v. 23.

said to them the second time, “ Peace be unto you." And, as if to show them the abundance of his grace, he appeared again, after eight days, and said, of Peace be unto you.

Can we be insensible to such love as this? Oh! that every heart may be softened by the Saviour's love What can exceed the touching history of the resurrection, as given us by St. John, when the question is put, “ Lovest thou me?" May all who read these searching words reply, with Peter's warmth and Peter's sincerity, “ Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee."

Blessed Jesus ! enable me by faith to cleave to thee in every trying hour. When the waves of affliction run high, and threaten to overwhelm my little vessel, may I, through grace, firmly confide in thy power and love. Suffer me not for a moment to doubt thy goodness. Thou, O blessed Saviour, canst be touched with the feeling of my infirmities. Thou, my compassionate High-Priest, wilt plead my cause on high. Pour the balm of consolation into my soul. Strengthen me with faith in thy promises, and do ! thou in mercy overrule all the vicissitudes of life for my spiritual good. Enable me at all times to look unto thee. Give me grace to perform the duties of to-day, and to leave with thee, in faith, the events of to-morrow. Preserve me, O Lord, from all unreasonable cares and anxieties, knowing that without thee not a sparrow falleth to the ground.

“ In me ye shall have peace.” Sweet declaration! 0! that my heart were filled with thy peace! Adorable Redeemer, take full possession of my soul, that I may be wholly, unreservedly, and for ever thine. Make me a habitation for thyself. I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but, 0! for thy mercy's sake, dwell in my heart by faith, then shall I experience the joys of thy salvation, and the unutterable blessings of peace and love ; then shall I walk before thee in newness of life, and be daily preparing for that new heaven and that new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

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