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not to any
tasted before, so that it appears as if there were seasons of heavenly repose which were exclusively connected with seasons of difficulty and trial. “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna."
“ To him that overcometh, body else; to him that is toiling, to him that is struggling, that is getting on a little, that is conquering difficulty-to him “will I give to eat of the hidden manna," —of that manna which is concealed from other people, which is to be, as it were, his exclusive gift—I will give bim the hidden manna. So God gives to his believing children, in the midst of their trials and sufferings, the bidden manna of his grace-manna concealed from the world, and manna concealed from those Christians that have not that especial season of trial, and that especial need. Remember then, reader, that not only is there to be a season of rest and repose for you in the midst of all your difficulties, and of all your arduous enterprises, but you will then be able to experience peace and joy in believing, in a newer and sweeter sense than you ever had done before you had those trials and those struggles.
But, reader, beware, oh, beware of Slumbering in your Enjoyments! And this is a caution very specially needed, because the danger is concealed. The Christian sees so very little of any peril lying in his enjoyments, and in his indulgence in those enjoyments, that he is tempted to slumber when he thinks there is not danger. But what is meant by slumbering in the midst of enjoyment ? This, reader: forgetting to press forward from the things behind. What is meant by slumbering in the midst of enjoyment ? This, reader : to stay-not for the purpose of recruit
— ing your spiritual strength, but for enjoyment. Now the believer's business is not to enjoy spiritual things with the mere purpose of enjoying, for the mere gratification,
as it were, of spiritual appetite, but in order
that he may recruit his strength, and go on more vigorously. He is thus to taste of spiritual repose, like the prophet, not that he may continue to sleep under the juniper-tree, but that " in the strength of that meat” he may rise and go forward forty days and forty nights." But the believer is frequently tempted to stay in his enjoyments. He likes those seasons of refreshing from God's presence, and thinks he is doing quite rightly when he gives himself up to spiritual festivity. And this may be done so that the work of grace comes to a stand-still
, so that there is no advancement of the believer, so that he counts himself to “have attained, and to be already perfect;" and forgets there is still an advancement to be made, that he is “not yet perfect," but that being refreshed and strengthened, he should hasten on his way afresh, and “press forward” still more anxiously to lay hold of those things which are before” him.
Mark the evil result of this. The Roll is lost; the “ witness of the Spirit” is gone; the joyful assurance of faith is diminished, is weakened, has disappeared And the soul may continue in this state of spiritual slumber-slumber in the midst of joy and peace through believing in Christ, slumber while the snare is so much to be feared, because it is so cunningly concealed. But God, in mercy towards his children
, will not leave them in this state. We are quite certain of that. We are quite certain that if you are a child of God, He will not let you go on slumbering for ever in this manner. A voice will give a salutary warning in your ears, and you will awaken fron this spiritual sleep. And you will, perhaps, on awakening and noticing how the day is declining, and how you appear to have lost time you will hurriedly pursue your journey, ignorant for the present of your loss! But the witness of the Spirit has left you! When will you become acquainted with this fact? When some new trial comes; when you come to those who
bave met with lions in their
which have appalled them, and caused them to turn back from Zion. Then you will begin to tremble, to look into your own bosom to see if you have the witness there, the assurance of your own salvation, of being one of God's family; so that you may calmly and confidently meet that new danger. Then how deep the misery if you discover that the witness is gone, that the roll is not to be found !
And what then is to be done? Oh, the steps must be retraced—the steps must be retraced! And sad and weary and self-upbraiding the believer turns back down that hill up which he climbed, to look for that assurance which has left his mind, to search amidst the scenes of his past happiness for that testimony, which the Holy Ghost had given him, in agreement with his own conscience, to the fact that he was born of God. And will the roll be found again ? Will the witness of the Spirit return to the believer's breast ? Certainly it will; but there will be a long search first—with some longer than with others. With some that search will be so long, that death may come ere the believer has found again that witness of the Spirit. It is an easy thing to lose it, but it may require years of painful investigation to pass before it will be found; and so we may go on wearily exclaiming, “Oh, that I may find the witness of the Spirit again—that I may find the roll.”
The roll is regained, reader; but mark these facts in connexion with its recovery. Mark the misery of mind, for instance, that the loss has occasioned. Ground has been lost. The believer has to pass three times over the same ground. He has to return to look for his roll, and then to commence his journey anew; so that he is really losing ground, multiplying the difficulties, making the hill Difficulty longer and steeper to his weary limbs.
Observe also the doubtfulness of the search, Will
it be found? Where is it to be recovered? Will God be gracious again, or has He cast off His mercy for ever? Oh, the gloom, the pain, the agony of that doubt, that fear, that apprehension lest the witness of the Spirit should not be regained !
And then there is another fact: the shades of night gather over his head; he has allowed almost to pass by the opportunities of that day in which it was his business to work; and “the night is coming in which no man can work.” And now the dangers of which he has heard return to his mind, and apprehensions of coming peril
, heightened by the approach of the shades of night, cross his mind and deepen his gloom. And all this through slumber; all this through abusing God's vouchsafements of grace, all this by making use of spiritual joy not merely to be improved to the soul's strength, but to give it the means of feasting, as it were, in useless luxury—for that is useless luxury which is more than is needed for the soul's strength, which is more than is needed to assist the believer to work for God's glory. Whatever keeps back the pilgrim unnecessarily from “growing in grace," whatever retards his progress towards Zion, must be looked upon in itself as dangerous.
Beware, then, lest you stay where God merely meant you to rest awhile; lest you feel inclined again to take up your abode, forgetting that the Lord has said, “ Arise, and depart, for this is not your rest.”
We close this paper by two or three observations. First, by saying how important it is that we should sympathize with people who are in difficulties. We may make their difficulties greater by withholding our sympathy; we may make trouble seem more formidable by not sufficiently sympathizing with those who bear it. The believer has expected difficulties; but when they come they seem more formidable than he has counted on. Then, if we say to him, “ These are light troubles, it is a very easy matter to bear these," we deepen his distress, and bring him to the very
verge of despair. He begins to reason with himself and to say, “ If these are looked upon as little troubles, as little trials, how shall I be able to bear with those greater trials which appear to be before me? I shall never be able to overcome the greater difficulties which lie in my path.” And so we may in this manner increase the apprehensions of the young believer unnecessarily. We ought, therefore, to pathize very deeply and kindly with every believer in his trials and troubles. We should allow that “they are heavy.” “The heart knoweth its own bitterness." We should allow that the cross is painful, that it is burdensome; that it is a difficult thing to climb up the hill which lies in the believer's path. And while we thus sympathize with the believer, we shall be able to pour in the consolations of the Holy Spirit, to give those counsels that the pilgrim needs. But if we do not sympathize with him, but speak lightly of his troubles, we shall lead him to despair rather than encourage him to proceed.
We remark, further, for the consolation of those who feel that they have lost the consciousness of the Holy Spirit's witness, that it is a hopeful sign that the loss of your roll creates misery in your mind. If you were to look upon it as a matter of indifference, and to say, “I have lost the roll, but by-and-by I shall find it,” and so go on carelessly in the Christian course, it would be a sign that you were not God's child. We could scarcely believe one of God's chil. dren could act and speak in this manner, and manifest these feelings. But it is, on the contrary, a hopeful sign, if when you lose the assurance of faith, the loss creates a sense of misery and gloom in your mind. It shows you have prized those spiritual evidences of your interest in Jesus; and the fact that you are turning back in agony of spirit to search for them, is a proof that may minister to your minds some comfort in the midst of your sorrowful investigation.
And, reader, while we are climbing the hill Diffi