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suffering, finds many promised fruits. O my soul,
, consider this precious scripture, and with close attention. Study it.' Treasure it up in thy heart. It contains a rich cordial for the afilicted. Observe there is love in sending the cross, love to be manifested by it, and heavenly fruits of love to grow upon it. Why then is suffering so hard ? Why art thou so little profited by it? Is it not generally barren, because thou art not looking to the word of promise, and depending upon the holy Spirit to give thee the promised fruit? Ask thyself therefore, especially in the hour of sufferingAm I now expecting the communion of the Holy Ghost, that by his grace I may partake with the Son in his salvation, and with the Father in this love ? Is this my present experience? There is no bearing the cross without it. Art thou then, O my soul, trusting to him for this happy fellowship, and hoping that as thou art a branch in the vine, and the husbandman is now purging thee, thou mayest bring forth much fruit? And observe, what kind of fruit it is. All the effects of being in union with Christ, and of having communion with him are called fruits of righteousness. Christ is the vine. The branch must be one with him before it can live and grow-one with him in his life and death a partaker of his divine righteousness--and then the branch abiding in him by the influence of the Holy Spirit will be made fruitful in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance : For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth. He brings forth all the fruit, that is to the glory of God-And it is all peaceable fruit: for it is produced by him in consequence of covenant-love, by which the Father is revealed as the God of peace, and the Son as the great peace-maker, and when the Holy Spirit enables the poor sinner to believe this, then he gives him joy and peace in believing—being justified by faith he has peace with God through Jesus Christ. The cross soon comes after this not to destroy, but to try this faith-not to take
away, but to confirm this peace-it is sent to give proof of the soundness of faith, and to manifest the sweetness of divine love: for it comes from the God of peace, and all the fruits which he intends to produce by it are peaceable, such as should increase the happy sense of peace
in the minds of his children. And for this purpose the Holy Spirit abides with them. He has revealed the Father's love in scripture, and he is a faithful witness of it to their hearts. He sheds it abroad and satisfies them of it. Yea he gives them sensible experience and enjoyment of it under the cross. This produces a quiet submission to his will, and an humble dependence upon his power: Which are manifested by waiting upon God in all ways and means for the grace promised to his afflicted children. The cross requires great grace, and therefore calls forth much prayer. Suffering times are praying times. The cross brings sinners upon their knees-Manasseh in affliction entreated the Lord-So did Paul-Behold he prayeth. It keeps believers upon their knees, as the prophet witnesses" Lord, in trouble have they visited thee,
they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon
them.” The Lord himself declares the same66 I will
go and return to my place, till they acknow“ ledge their offence, and seek my face; in their afflic“ tion they will seek me early." Accordingly they did seek him—“Come, say they, and let us return unto the *** Lord: for he hath torn and he will heal us, he hath “ smitten, and he will bind us up." O blessed fruit of affliction! when sanctified by the Spirit it teaches the children of God to pray fervently, and to continue instant in prayer: It discovers the weakness of the flesh, and the rebellion of the will, and shews the necessity of drawing near to God for strength and patience. It keeps the mind in a praying frame, expecting by the grace of the Spirit communion with the Father and the Son. The cross makes this communion necessary. It cannot be endured without a belief of the Father's love in Jesus, and therefore the Spirit of prayer keeps
this belief in exercise, and enables the soul to plead the promise of strength to endure patiently, and to bring forth much fruit. The promise cannot fail. They who trust in it cannot be disappointed; but shall find grace to help in time of need. As prayer is thus necessary, so the Holy Spirit generally makes it sweet under the cross.
Is any afflicted among you? Let him pray. Prayer is the appointed means of his comfort. If afflictión send him to God, God will meet him, and make him joyful in his house of prayer. How encouraging are these words !" Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." In every case of distress, draw nigh in faith to God: He is a very present help. Scek his face, and you will find him near unto you: For the Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him, nigh to hear, to answer, and to comfort. Thus his promise runs“ Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer, thou “shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am."—What is your burden ? I am present to give strength to bear it. What is your grief? Here are my comforts-Do your tribulations abound? Here are my consolations abounding also. Here I am--Ask what you will believing, and it shall be done unto you. O what times of refreshing are these? The Holy Ghost sensibly comforts the afflicted. When they draw nigh to God, he is present to make their hearts joyful. He dispels their darkness with the light of his countenance, and turns their mourning into joy. And thus they have not only communion with God in prayer, but also such communications of his heavenly love, that they can often say, It is good for us that we have been in trouble.
In times of trouble the word also is generally sweet. All people in distress look out for some comfort: And the Holy Spirit directs believers to the scriptures. “ Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were writ66 ten for our learning, that we through patience and 66 comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” The afflicted feel their want of patience and comfort, which puts them upon careful hearing and reading of the good word of God. They want to know what it says of their case, and when they meet a suitable promise, then they have a ground of hope. Their present trials require them to seek for something more than the truth of the promise. This being credited, they therefore expect the promised blessing. When the famine was in Canaan, Jacob and his family could not have been kept alive by believing there was corn in Egypt: They must either fetch it or die. Trouble calls for the experience of the promised blessings, and when they are received at such a time they are sweet indeed. They feel, as ease doth after pain. When the Holy Spirit applies the comfort, the promise, by which he applies it, is precious. It is like a reviving cordial to a fainting heart. O how sweet are thy words unto my taste, yea sweeter than honey unto my mouth. Honey is sweet: But the word is sweeter. When through patience and comfort of the scriptures the afflicted believer enjoys the good of the promise, then he can say-Now I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me; Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort according to thy word unto thy servant.
Sweet is the comfort which the afflicted receive from God the Comforter under the cross : not only in suffering but also after it. AFTERWARD also “ it yieldeth “ the peaceable fruits of righteousness.” He, who carries the cross of Christ does not labour in vain, and spend his strength for nought: but he is bearing forth good seed. If he sow it in tears, yet he shall reap in joy. The Lord looks at the fruit, and intends to bring forth much of it by the cross: We are apt to look at the suffering, and forget the fruit. He has the end in view in the use of all means; and the Holy Spirit has revealed this clearly that we might depend upon him for receiving the proper fruit of affliction. The Lord says, he led his people through the great and terrible wilderness, wherein were flying fiery serpents and scorpions, and drought; that he might humble them, and
that he might prove them, to do them good AT THE
He intended to do them good. This was first in his heart. Then the way in which he would do it: he would lead them through many afflictions: by which they should find at the latter end, how good God was to them. The promise of this was their encouragement to bear the cross, till they reaped the fruit. In like manner the Lord says to the afflicted Jews_“I “ know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith “ the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give
you AN EXPECTED END”-such an end as you would wish, and having my promise, such as you may safely hope for-my thoughts indeed are not as your thoughts -you think I have cast you off, and that your present cross is to crush you—no, I mean to do you good by it-and so the end will prove-wait a little in faith, and all will come to an happy issue.
Are these scriptures the truth of God? Has the eternal Spirit promised in them, that although the bearing of the cross be very painful, yet it is very profitable? Will he afterwards cause them to bring forth much fruit, who have been exercised with it? Art thou then waiting, O my soul, under all thy troubles for the promised end? Dost thou expect it, and in patienee tarry the Lord's leisure. Canst thou look back, and see how merciful the dealings of thy God have beenhow gracious his rod-how loving his correction ? Canst thou look forward under every cross, persuaded, that God will do thee good at the latter end? That he will cause many peaceable fruits to grow upon this seemingly barren tree? Yea, that these light afflictions, which are but for a moment shall work for thee an eternal weight of glory, far more excellent than can be conceived ? O God the Holy Ghost, I do believe it: I would not doubt of the truth of the promise in thy word, nor of the truth of thy grace in my heart: Í therefore bescech thee, O thou Spirit Jehovah, to enable me to keep up communion with thee in all my trials, that I may bring forth those peaceable fruits of