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thirst for that which cannot satisfy an immortal soul? Is it not that man, blinded by his passions, fondly hopes to find felicity in a world, from whence it long since took its flight, when Adam ate of the forbidden tree?
“ Thorns and thistles shall the earth bring forth to thee,” is the language of Jehovah to his fallen creatures, when he cursed the ground for man's sake; and if the divine inspiration of the Bible rested upon
the truth of this one declaration, every age and every heart must feelingly witness to its holy origin.
Vain man would be happy at a distance from his God. He plucks the flower, and it withers in his hand. His fond expectations of earthly bliss, like wave succeeding wave, roll along in quick succession, without bringing him any nearer to the desired haven of rest and happiness.
This world is not a resting place to the wicked, nor the resting place of the righteous. “ There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” His desires are restless, his passions are restless, his spirit is restless. He wants what he has not, and does not truly enjoy what he has. He is of the earth, earthy. His aims, pursuits, and pleasures, all spring out of, and settle upon the world. Thus he
Thus he reaps those thorns and thistles which spring up in such abundant crops, wherever he erects his dwelling. Disappointed and chagrined that happiness is ever eluding his grasp, he grows peevish in his spirit, or a complainant against his kind, yet insulted Creator. No wonder that misery marks his steps, even though like those of Asher, they be “dipped in oil.” (Deut. xxxiii. 24.)
Worldly riches cannot give quietness, when God giveth trouble. 0! my soul, learn true wisdom from what thou seest around thee. Every situation is planted with thorns in this wilderness of sin.
Vain then is the expectation of man, to find a place of pure, uninterrupted rest below the skies. And yet—what crowds are daily in search of such a place of rest in the midst of a polluted and tempestuous world. Some think it lies in the region of wealth; others in that of pleasure; others in that of honour. Some fancy it is found in the busy throng; and some in the stillness of retirement. But all who seek it in the world, shall never find it.
Thou, blessed Jesus, art the true and only resting place for guilty sinners. Believing in thee, they enter into rest. Thy people, it is true, must bear thy cross, but they enjoy thy consolations also; they feel a peace and calm within, which all the panting candidates for worldly happiness can never obtain. They have peace with God, peace in their own consciences; and study, as much as lieth in them, to live peaceably with all men.
Thus they are enabled to bear with composure the varied trials of life; looking with assured hope to that rest which remaineth to the people of God, when this stormy world shall have passed away, and its votaries be doomed to that doleful place, where they have no rest day nor night, but where the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever!
O! divine Saviour! be thou my portion, the lot of mine inheritance. Then shall Î rejoice in the midst of sorrows, and be calm in the midst of storms.
0! speak peace to my troubled soul, and then all shall be still. Blessed Redeemer ! all who come to thee, find rest unto their souls; and I would Now come. Receive me in mercy. Cause me to know thee as my Saviour, and to rejoice daily in the joyful sound of mercy extended to the chief of sinners.
When a sinner is first brought to the knowledge of the truth, and experiences the joys of faith and
the sweets of pardoning love, he fancies that the bare mention of his own comforts will be sufficient to make all around him anxious to possess them too.
A little experience however shews him, that the hard heart of man is not so easily to be moved.
Instead of converting those about him, he raises up a host of foes even in the bosom of his own family, and amongst his kinsfolk and acquaintance. He becomes the object either of their pity or their scorn; and meets with cold neglect, or many sharp rebukes, where once he enjoyed a hearty welcome. His name is cast out as evil; his motives are maligned ; his actions deemed precise and singular; his conversation whining cant; yea, his whole life condemned as unbecoming a man of spirit, or even person
endued with common sense. The consistent believer in Jesus must therefore expect trials and opposition from an ungodly world. “ As he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now."
The blessed Saviour has given his people clear and repeated intimations to that effect.
6 Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil for the Son of man's sake; rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven.
The Christian's trials arise from various sources. They spring from HIS GENERAL CHARACTER.
If the believer be divested of all unnecessary singularity in dress or deportment; yet his attachment to the Redeemer, evidencing itself by a firm adherence to the precepts of the Gospel, and a rooted aversion to all sin; will, of itself, create dislike, and beget such a secret enmity in the hearts of the ungodly, as cannot fail of shewing its malignity by outward contempt or ridicule.
There was nothing of singularity in the character of the blessed Jesus; except his unspotted holiness, his unbounded benevolence, his perfect conformity to the divine law; his heavenly wisdom ; his deadness to the world; his boldness in reproving sin; his entire resignation to his Holy Father's will; his divine power in healing diseases, feeding the hungry, casting out devils, and stilling the raging elements: and yet, with all this display of majesty and glory, of tenderness and compassion, how hated, how despised, how persecuted, was the Saviour of mankind !
If they thus treated the master of the house, they will also despise them of his household. “If," said our Lord, “they hated me, they will also hate you."
Hast thou, O! my soul, reason to believe, that thou art born from above; that a divine change has passed upon thee? Where are the fruits of faith? Where is the opposition of the world? Examine well; for it is declared - woe be unto you, if all men speak well of you." Is the image of Jesus stamped upon thee? Art thou bold in confessing Christ before men? faithfulin discountenancing every thing that is contrary to his blessed word ? Dost thou acknowledge him to be the Lord thy righteousness, thy only atonement, advocate, and friend ?
Lord, grant that I may, through grace, be able to say: "thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee."
I need not court opposition-only let me live a life of faith in the Son of God; and opposition will be excited, as naturally as fire introduced into water occasions a contest between the two elements : for “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution."
The believer's trials frequently arise from HIS PECULIAR SITUATION.
This added to the former, namely, his general character as a true Christian, whereby he tacitly condemns the conduct of a wicked world, brings still greater odium upon him, and puts all his graces to the severest test.
A pious wife, child, or servant is often severely tried in the furnace, by being brought into immediate contact with an ungodly husband, parent, or master, The natural enmity of the heart, aided by natural authority, receives additional strength; and fails not to vent its utmost malice against the unoffending lambs of Christ's flock. Like the savage wolf of the forest, such characters seem to take delight in devouring the weak and defenceless; and satiating themselves with the miseries of others.
Many hearts are made to bleed by the unkindness of these adversaries to the truth, whose only charge against the objects of their cruelty is; that they dare not comply with their sinful commands in direct violation of the law of God.
But Jesus is the good Shepherd. He watches over his flock with tender care in the dark and cloudy day. In the midst of all their outward troubles, he gives them inward peace. Whilst trusting in his unchanging love, they experience a joy, of which the utmost rage of persecution cannot deprive them.
If such be the blessedness of the lambs of thy flock, O! thou gracious Saviour, give me a holy courage in thy cause, a holy confidence in thy mercy, a holy consolation from thy exceeding great
and precious promises. Let me never dread the sneer, nor the frowns of the ungodly. Preserve me from sinful compliances with the customs, and from sinful conformity to the spirit, of the world. Make me valiant for the truth; ever daring to be singular in