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no account of its imperfection. The vague language that is frequently used in the ministry may favour this perverse mode of proceeding. But vague, general, and indeterminate language can never give a true description of Christian character; and it naturally leads to much error, mistake, and mischief.
There are two classes of happy Christians; the one being composed of those who are happy through the mercy and grace of God in Christ Jesus; and the other, of those who are happy by their own arts and devices; by their speculations, fancies, and affections. The remainder of the Christian flock may be ranged in three divisions ; the first of them being composed of those few to whom I especially refer in this chapter; the second, of those who form the majority of true Christians : and these, I suppose, pass through every variety of Christian experience; but they have strength and self-command, and in their joy they are not elate, and in their sadness they are not depressed and dispirited. Like experienced travellers, they go through storm and sunshine with calm and collected minds. But there is a third division, in which we find very excellent and amiable Christians ; intermediate characters, approaching the first division in their sable thoughts and feelings, and yet able to maintain the dignity of the second division by silence and calmness. If you can get them freely to converse with you, you will find they are conscious of much darkness, doubt, and hesitation. They have so much of the light and power of the gospel as supports them, but yet they are far from being truly composed and happy. They tread their path with tender hearts and pensive spirits.
I only give you a slight sketch of an important subject. How little do we know of the history of souls ! How fanciful are our notions, if we suppose
that to be a true Christian and to be completely happy, is the same thing! Let not the distressed Christian, therefore, aggravate his distress by misconceptions of the characters of Christians. These are commonly described in very general expressions, which can give no distinct view of them. A garden is beautiful, adorned with flowers which are cheered by heaven's light, and fed with heaven's dew: but is every part of it equally enchanting? or is every flower a rose? or is every rose blushing and healthful? How many plants there are feeble? How many are torn or tarnished ?
All that I say to the distressed Christian is, Do not reason about yourself, or against yourself. You only feel what thousands have felt—what thousands are now feeling. Your affliction is of God-look to Him for consolation. Read His word—close not your heart and eye to His gracious promises—persevere in patience and hope. A calm and bright day will come, which will abundantly recompense you for all your present sufferings.
“O God, who didst teach the hearts of Thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of Thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end." Amen.
O Heavenly Father, all Thy ways are in wisdom, holiness, goodness, and truth. I fall down before Thy footstool with a trembling heart;—and what shall I say unto Thee, O Thou Preserver of men ? While many of Thy servants walk in the light of Thy word, I am in darkness; and while they rejoice in Thy salvation, I am in distress and bitterness of soul. Shall I ask, Why is it thus with me? Why am I disquieted? Why go I heavily all the day? I would not repine or murmur : for I well know, O Lord, that Thou dost not willingly afflict the children of men, and that Thou hast the best and wisest reasons for all Thy measures. is painful to travel on thus in the land of my pilgrimage. But such is Thy will: and Thy will be done: only give me, I beseech Thee, a meek spirit of submission to Thy righteous dealings with
Make me truly patient and resigned; and
suffer me not to speak, feel, and reason in a perverse
Leave me not, O Lord : but though Thou art unseen, unfelt, be ever with me, to support, guide, and keep me. Enable me to walk circumspectly, and to wait with a quiet spirit for the time when light shall scatter darkness, when comfort shall succeed to distress, and when I shall praise Thee with a joyful and thankful heart. Grant that I may daily live in Thy faith and fear -strong in the assurance that the
of the good and great Shepherd is upon me, and that, though distressed, I am not, and shall not be, forsaken. Help me to believe and to submit, and thus to improve this trying dispensation to the glory of Thy Hear and receive, O Lord, these
my petitions, and be gracious unto me, for the sake of Thy beloved Son Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Intercessor. Amen.
MEDITATION IN ILLNESS. a
“Why fear the path of grief to tread ?
Suffering is an excellent preacher, sent immediately from heaven, to speak aloud in the name of God to the heart, mind, and conscience, and has saved many a soul, when, humanly speaking, nothing else could.” “In affliction see the necessity of it, and be humble ; see the use of it, and improve it ; see the love there is in it, and be thankful.”—Adam's Private Thoughts.,
In the book of Job (chap. xxxiii, 19–22.) we have an affecting picture of illness.
“He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, “ And the multitude of his bones with strong pain : “So that his life abhorreth bread, “ And his soul dainty meat.
. This chapter may be viewed as parenthetical, (since it relates to a particular case,) and therefore be passed over in general.