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Holy Will, to grant that this Thy sick servant may be raised up once more among us.
Recruit his wasted strength, and refresh his wearied spirit among the green pastures and by the still waters of this Thy beautiful world. But if this shall not seem good unto Thee, restore by Thy grace his soul that is wounded by the consciousness of innumerable sins against Thee: and lead him henceforth in the paths of righteousness, for Thy Name's sake. Let not the wicked one approach to hurt him: Prepare Thou a table for him full of the spiritual plenteousness of Thy house in the presence of our common enemies that are leagued together to destroy us eternally. Guide him here by Thy counsel, and afterwards receive him to glory. May he come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon his head, where he shall obtain joy and gladness, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, and whence sorrow and sighing shall flee away. These and all other mercies which Thou seest to be needful to Thy sick servant, we humbly beseech Thee to grant, for Thine own precious merit's sake, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all praise, and honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
THE BELIEVER HAPPY, THANKFUL, AND HOPEFUL IN
PSALM xvi. 5–11.
A GOOD missionary bishop,* now gone home, very truthfully wrote, “Thankfulness is one of the fruits of faith; faith must have grown to a certain height before this fruit can shew itself upon its boughs; the man of faith, ever filled with the love of God, sees mercies and loving kindness at every step. All is full of God. He sees God in every circumstance of his life; he feels His presence. He has a loving consciousness of His abiding love. He takes joy, and he takes sorrow, as the visitations of Divine compassion, working differently for the same great end—the salvation of the soul, the redemption of the body at the last great day. As we are wanting in such habitual faith, we are wanting also in thankfulness.”
Now though we can easily understand that a man may be hopeful—in an earthly sense-in his sickness, because we see this is often really the case, we seldom meet perhaps with one who is both happyand thankful under its dark shadows. And yet the utterances of the Psalm I have read to you should be those equally in sorrow and in joy. Doubtless David used them as such. A man gives a good sign of possessing a cheerful and contented spirit, when in sorrow and adversity he can look up to God and say, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places: yea, I have a goodly
* Bishop Armstrong.
I heritage.” Should the believer smitten with bodily pain and sickness say otherwise ? Should he be disconsolate when he possesses a well-grounded hope in God ? Should he “ mourn in his prayer” and be “ vexed” that here below he cannot have everything to his mind, when there is such unclouded bliss laid up in store for him in the prepared mansions ? How much better, when sorrow and sickness come, to try to recognize in them messengers from the Better Land, to bring him more and more closely to his God! How much better for him to remember his portion in the Lord in every sharp pang that tortures him! Should he receive good at the hands of the Lord, and should he not also receive evil ? Is the Lord less the portion of his inheritance, and of his cup, are the lines fallen unto him in less pleasant places, has he a less goodly heritage, because it pleases God he should sometimes be in great misery and distress ? My dear friend, has the shadow of the cross fallen upon your soul that such sweet and
soothing memories have no power to hush disquiet? Should the servant have no thorn bruising his feet when his Master wore the crown of thorns ? Or are you ready to utter a cry similar to that of your Lord when He was suspended, in far more bitter agony than
you are suffering now, on the accursed tree? Do
you feel yourself forsaken, that “ God has forgotten" you, because every part of you may be transfixed with so much pain ? The Saviour cried upon the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” but in the heaven of heavens He is now being worshipped for ever and ever. himself went not up to joy but first He suffered pain; He entered not into glory before He was crucified. So truly our way to eternal joy is to suffer here with Christ; and our door to enter into eternal life is gladly to die with Christ; that we may rise again from death, and dwell with Him in everlasting life.” If you be penitent, and faithful, and loving, you shall have the inheritance notwithstanding this sick
Walk still by faith, and not by sight, and you shall be taught of God that “our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Remember, then, I beseech you, that, as you are weary and sick, so too was your Saviour. He wills you should suffer this sorrow.
The most eminent of His saints passed through the deep
waters of trouble to the inheritance above. And it is all the sweeter to them now. If you have set the Lord always before you at other times, if you have felt Him to be at your right hand then, is He not there now—in this dark hour ? Does he not promise “When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and in the deep water-floods they shall not overflow thee." Bless the Lord, and ask Him for counsel now. Commune now with your own heart in the still watches of the night. See how often you have been supported before. And can you suppose now that the Lord's arm is shortened that He cannot save ? Look up. You will be thankful for this affliction when you can perceive that it is producing in you the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Would you believe in God all through life, and distrust him at the brink of the dark river ? Oh, remember, that “as Jesus died and rose again, so likewise them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." True, our bodies must see corruption, though the body of the Saviour saw it not, but “this corruptible shall at last be made incorruption.” The time of the Christian's continual gladness of heart, and glory and rejoicing, is not now. He may pass through “the grave and gate of death” first. But
. his soul shall see no corruption : his "flesh also shall rest in hope," for "the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be