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ble word of his mouth. Here may thy faith be settled : Believe in him-he is doing thee good-he is promoting thy best interest. Cast not away this confidence and then the cross will be the means of bringing thee to the nearest and holiest communion, which thou canst have with thy Father on this side heaven.
In this amiable light look upon thy Father and thy friend. Never forget it, O my soul, but keep it in the faith of thy heart, especially when he chasteneth thee. Then expect from his love patience under his stroke, and after it the peaceable fruits of righteousness. These will grow abundantly upon the cross. They grow no where else so rich and ripe. Survey the promises, which he has made to his suffering children, and wait in faith for a joyful harvest. In due season thou shalt reap,
if thou faint not. And the cross is intended to keep thee from fainting; because thy Father sends it for the increase and for the strengthening of thy faith. Read and study what he says to thee upon this point, Learn and inwardly digest it. In time of trouble thou wilt find great comfort from depending upon the promise of the Father to give thee an happy issue. Meditate then upon the scriptures, in which he has declared his gracious purposes in afflicting his children, namely,
First, it is for the trial of faith. God gives it, and then tries it; that it may appear to be his grace, that men may see it, and honour him for it, and that it
may grow by use, which is as necessary to spiritual, as exercise is to bodily growth. Trial shews the truth, and brings forth the power of grace, and is thereby a matter of great joy as the apostle James testifies writing to the twelve tribes in their dispersion and affliction. “My “ brethren, count it ALL Joy, when ye fall into diver's
temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your 66 faith worketh patience; but let patience have its per“ fect work, that ye may be perfect, and entire, want“ ing nothing." God be thanked for this word of strong consolation. What a precious scripture is it! How full of encouragement to the believer to look with delight
. at temptations !_not temptations to sin, but trials, sent from God to keep from sin. When he falls into them by providence, and meets them in the way of duty, then he should judge of them, not from sense, which can feel nothing but sorrow in afflictions, but he should take account of them from the declared
of God in sending them, and he should wait in faith for the blessings which they are to produce.. God says, that they are matter of joy, of all Joy, of all true spiritual joy—they are not only such in his account, but he also makes them such to the believer. Accordingly
. we read in scripture of many who did rejoice in trials. The Hebrews did: For they took JOYFULLY the spoiling of their goods. Paul did: I am comforted, says he, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulations. Nay, he went farther-We GLORY in tribulations. He leaped for joy with the cross upon his back.. He boasted and triumphed under it. What the world accounted his worst, he made his very crown of rejoicing; For he knew and found, that the trial of faith worketh patience: Faith receives the cross from the Father's love, and learns to bear it after Jesus: By the grace of the Spirit the bearing of it, as it exercises, so it improves patience. The believer becomes more acquainted with it. Use, we say makes perfect. He learns where the strength to bear is-from whence his comforts are to flow and from whose hand the blessed issue is to be received. He waits therefore with sweet submission to his Father's will, that patience may have its perfect work, that by trials it may be exercised, by sharper trials it may be improved, and by daily trials.it may appear to be the genuine grace of the Spirit, perfect and entire, lacking nothing. This the believer aims at. He would have every thing that belongs to true patience, and growth in it; he would have it refined by every fiery trial, and made purer and brighter, that it may hold out, till it have done its perfect work. The apostle Peter gives the same encouragement to the same afflicted Hebrews: He exhorts them to faith. and pati
ence under their sufferings in these words Ye are “ kept by the power of God through faith unto salva“ tion, ready to be revealed in the last time; wherein
ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need “ be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; “ that the trial of your faith being much more precious “ than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with “ fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory “ at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” What treasures of love are laid open in this scripture! Read O my soul, and adore the exceeding riches of thy Father's grace. He knew how needful afflictions were, both for the flesh and for the spirit, and therefore he appointed thee thy portion, and he has in mercy informed thee of his design in them. He has revealed his will for the ground of thy faith, that what he sends them, thou mightest experience the blessings promised to his suffering children. The belief of his love in contriving and in proportioning them to the ability, given thee to bear them would administer matter of joy in sorrow, and by trusting to his faithfulness thou wouldst greatly rejoice; thy joy would so far exceed thy sorrow. The heaviness is but for a season-the joy for ever. The heaviness only during the trial of faith-the joy increased by that very trial
. The trial was only to prove the truth of faith, and to evidence the power of it-not to weaken, but to strengthen it-not to destroy, but to refine it. The refiner does not intend to lose one atom of his gold, but puts it into the fire to purge away the dross. So does God. When he hath tried me, says Job, I shall come forth as gold. He was tried in the fire, and his faith was found unto praise and honour and glory. Therefore he is set forth for an example of suffering affliction and of patience. Behold, we account them happy, not who suffer, but who endure suffering. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord abounds in compassion, and is of tender mercy. O my soul wait upon the same Lord, and he will bring all thy trials to
the same blessed end. He has the same pity and mercy to thee, as he had to Job.
Thou hast the same reason to believe it, as he had. Thy faith is tried in the fire, as he was, that it may come out of it like gold. The trial was appointed in perfect love, and is to produce the greatest blessings of love. Thy God has most gracious desigps towards thee in putting thee into the fire. It is to try thy faith; whether thou canst trust him there. It is to improve thy faith by the trial, that thou mayest trust him more. If thou hast trusting faith, it is to teach thee patient faith. It is a hard lesson to learn to trust against sense and carnal reason, and to say, This cross is good for me, I desire to submit, and to take it patiently at the hand of God. O) it is very hard to believe that there is nothing but love in every suffering, and it is harder to find it so, while suffering. And yet the Spirit of God declares there is nothing but love in it, and by believing thou wilt certainly find it. May every trial of thy faith establish it, and thereby bring forth,
Secondly, The blessed fruit of patience. The cross does good to faith : because by it God teaches his chil. dren to bear up, and to hold out, trusting to his promises and waiting in hope for his fulfilling them, and thus it exercises patience. Which is a grace of the Spirit, learned only in the school of Christ, and therefore the giver of it among his other high titles is called, the God of patience. He first enables his afflicted children to believe what he has said of his love in afflicting them, and then to wait for the experience of his love under their affliction. Thus waiting quietly, without giving way to sense, or unbelief is patience. Faith is tried, and stands the trial.
Tribulation comes, faith is exercised with it, but holds fast its confidence in the word of God, and thereby has full proof of the faithfulness of God. This worketh patience--a quiet submission to the divine will
—and an holy subjection to the divine rod. The flesh murmurs, self-will repines, self-indulgence rebels; but faith looks
for the promised strength and by it conquers them. It stops their mouths, with a Hush--Be still and know that he is God-He is my sovereign and my Father--this afflic. tion indeed is not for the present joyous, but rather grievous-nevertheless it comes from his love, love guides his hand, love will bring good out of itthat all within me may submit to his will, and bless his
But the cross is hard and painful! flesh and blood cannot bear it. True, but grace can. To endure is the proper work of patience. It endures by trusting. to the word of God, and by receiving from him the promised strength. What cannot such a grace endure ? When God says, “ Fear not, I will be with thee, when “ thou goest through the fire;” the believer is hereby forewarned of the fire, and when he is called to go through it, he expects the presence of his God, that if the bush burn, it may not be consumed. How comfortably does the apostle Peter speak of this to the suffering Hebrews ? « Beloved, think it not strange con5 cerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though
some strange thing had come unto you; but rejoice, “ inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, " that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad 6 also with exceeding joy." H
would have them to be accustomed to the cross, it being the only way to the crown.
There is nothing new or strange in it. All the crowned heads in heaven carried it, while they were upon earth; yea the king of saints went bearing it before them. There never was sorrow like unto his sorrow: and yet for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, and despised the shame. Také
up thy cross, O my soul, and follow him. Look unto Jesus. He will give thee strength. He has taken the curse and wrath out of thy suffering. Thou wilt see it the fruit of his love to thee, and it will be the means of engaging thy love to him. · What if it be a burning fiery furnace: Is it not almighty love, which calls thee to go into it? Not to hurt thee, but to try thee, to give