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cry of 'Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!'
The holiness of God-His hatred of sin-His former favours-His book of remembrance-His judgment-seat-His final sentence, are so impressed on the conscience of an awakened man, that there are moments in which he is led to cry out, 'My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments. I fell,' says the Apostle, 'at his feet as dead.'
But there is, besides this, the path of God's providential dispensations-dark and mysterious as they sometimes are; which have not only depressed, but even overwhelmed the best of men. Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed in his journey. How did Joshua weep at the success of the men of Ai, and lie upon the earth all night before God! Job knew not where to find him, whether he turned to the right-hand or to the left. David sunk in the deep waters till the billows went over him: and Elijah said, ' It is enough: take away my life.' Nor need a disciple to be sent a slave to Patmos, to sink in the deep waters of suffering he may sit at home, in outward peace and plenty, and yet have a thorn in his flesh: a messenger of Satan may be sent that shall cause him, like St. Paul, to be urgent at the throne of grace for deliverance.
But why do I talk of these men ? Who are these? Worms, that might well tremble and sink. Even HE, who stood before John, and before whose feet John fell as dead, was himself overwhelmed, and said, 'Why hast thou forsaken me?'
Christians! need I go to cases on record in the Old Testament, or in the New, in opening this subject? What! know YE not what it is to struggle with the powers of darkness? Know YE not, what it is to hear his voice 'in the cool of the day,' after the deed of sin or folly is done, calling after thee and saying, "Where art thou?" Have YE never walked through 'the valley of the shadow of death,' scarcely knowing 27*
your own voice from that of the tempter's? Did you never sink under an overwhelming trouble, saying, 'All these things are against me?" Have YE never sought the solitary place-for what? to confess your sin? to pray for deliverance? to praise for sparing mercy? Yes-but perhaps, at times, to despond-to pine-and to despair, if not to murmur. If you have not known this, the preacher has too often.
But, even in the path of duty and devotion, trials are often at the door. The disciples embarked at Christ's command, yet the storm arose. Had not John trod in the steps of his Master, he probably would not have been brought to suffer at Patmos. Let us not be afraid of suffering in such a path. Let us mark our encouragements—
'I fell at his feet as dead; but he laid his right-hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not.'
"I am here," as if the Apostle had said, "cut off from the church-silenced in my ministry-but can I forget that it is the Lord's Day? May I not here be in the Spirit? Did he not say, 'I will not leave you orphans? Is not his promise enough, though I see nothing? His presence can make a heaven of Patmos. And it is as if his Master had said-"Fear not,' John: 'for I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right-hand of my righteousness.' None shall silence the minister whom I send, nor prevent the communications which I please to afford. I am the ladder which Jacob saw: when I lay in the manger, I set the foot of it upon the earth; and the top of it reaches to heaven, for, I am the Almighty." Write to the Churches what I dictate; and thy writing shall instruct every Church of mine that shall exist in the world. I will open to thee my councils. I will unseal my providences. Thou shalt see the vials of my wrath, which I pour upon the ungodly; and thou shalt see
the New Jerusalem' itself' descending from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband,' and 'blessed is he that shall hear and read the words of the prophecy of this book.""
And what, let me ask, is the design of writing and preaching the word? Is it not, that, "through patience and comfort of the Scripture, we might have hope?" Does not the promise stand like a rock in the midst of storms? 'Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they who have not seen him, and yet have believed.' Believed what? Some tradition, or history of Christ, unfelt-unemployed? No! But, blessed are they, who, though they see him not, yet rejoice in the merit of his blood-in the power of his grace-in his allsufficiency to help and comfort them in all dangers and adversities. Blessed is that man, who, 'looking unto Jesus,' though but imperfectly, can say to Him, "Lord, I believe: help thou my unbelief.' Thou art enough for me, sick and in prison-solitary and sore vexed, fallen at thy feet as guilty and depraved: yet, lay thy hand upon me, and say unto me, 'Fear not.' Oh, help me but to rest on what thou hast said already in thy word."
Brethren! the cry of nature, in every one of us, is for relief under our various troubles; and yet how backward are we to learn the method of obtaining it! But all true and abiding relief must come to us as it did to the afflicted man in Acts iv, 10, 11, 12. In this way Christ' abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself:' and he himself hath said, 'If any man'-pray mark the words 'if any man love me, my Father will love him; and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.'
It is too true, that unbelief, setting in with a dark providence, may rob the Christian of the comforts of these truths-But-'the Lord changeth not.' He
had promised deliverance to Israel in their Egyptian bondage, though they had lost all hope of it. But the appointed time came; and, behold, he appears in a bush; flaming, but unconsumed-the emblem of his suffering church. 'I have surely seen,' said he, the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their task-masters: for I know their sorrows, and I am come down to deliver them.' Exod. iii, 7, 8.
It is the merciful dispensation of a depressed Christian, that, though he may forget his Saviour, that Saviour can never forget himself.
Two desponding disciples may travel to Emmaus, talking of one, who, they thought, would have redeemed Israel. And is it not so? Had he not just redeemed Israel, by laying down his life according to prophecy? O fools, and slow of heart that we are to believe all that God,' by his prophets, 'has spoken!' After he has done all for us, he is often found walking with us while we are crying, 'Where is he?"
When Saul, 'breathing out threatenings and slaughter,' went to Damascus, it is more than probable, that. not only the persecutor, but many of the persecuted saints, little expected that he, who so lately expired on the cross, would be so nigh at hand to vindicate his cause, and muzzle the pharisaic tiger bent on blood. And how much less did they expect, that he would then fulfil that prophecy, 'The wolf shall lie down with the lamb and cause a persecutor to become both a preacher and a martyr for his sake!
But Christ' is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever: the same Saviour in the burning bush, or on the bloody cross: the same at Emmaus-at Damascus-or in Patmos. However wrong in our frames, let us endeavour to be right and firm in our principles: and this is one, That unbelief is the liar and the robber,-but Christ abideth faithful, and never
did nor ever can deny himself.
He, that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.'
Art thou a CHRISTIAN ?-for he only, 'that overcometh, shall inherit all things.' Are you seeking by Christ to overcome the world in its lusts-in its vanities in its false religion? Do not tell me that you have religion so has the stupid idolater: so has the unbelieving Jew: so has the formalist so had they who crucified Christ: so had Paul, the persecutor, when he was stopped in his way to Damascus.-I verily believe that Satan hath no more sure and effectual way of binding the minds of men, than by a false and dead religion. Nor is it any proof that you are a Christian, because you are in trouble; for 'man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,' whether he be a Christian or not. But the question, "Are you a Christian?" implies, Have you faith-hopelove? Have you renounced yourself; both sinful and righteous self: and have you come as a perishing sinner, to the foot of the cross?-And are you running the race set before you, 'looking unto Jesus?" My prayer to God is, that you may rest in no Christianity short of this; and that he may give you no ease till you are convinced of its necessity, and possessed of its blessings that both he that soweth, and he that reapeth, may rejoice together.'
CARNAL-DECEIVED PROFESSOR-awake !-'Consider, all ye that forget God.' If one who had lain on the breast of Christ, and knew his relation to him, yet now fell at his feet overwhelmed with his glory, where must you fall, when he shall come with greater glory to judge the quick and the dead? Did you ever consider how soon you may be brought to frightful solitude to bereavements-sickness-Death? What is to support you there? How awful a sight have I seen, in attending the death-bed of a rich man, just beginning to discover his mistake! His wealth on the