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We possess of its being genuine. Whereas | these inspire them with painful regret that that which is chiefly productive of dis- | they are doomed to return again to the quietude and fear justly deserves to be converse of the world which they know suspected.
will impair the freshness and delight of À constant aspiration after real peace these divine enjoyments. Tinctured by the and enjoyment in the service of God is spirit of heaven, and feeling the attractions indispensable to evince the sincerity of of the Divine throne, they would be almost our hopes. Animated confidence in the glad to lay down the burden of mortal blessed Redeemer ; the assumed partici frailties and shadows to assume them no pation of his pardoning grace; freedom more. “We that are in this tabernacle and happiness in communion with God; do groan, being burdened.” These coma dignified superiority to mortal distinction plaints of olevated and aspiring souls are ard vanities ; an intimate perception of the natural language of a finished piety, eternal things ; purity, light, and serenity of which though it would be welcomed in heaven mind-these compose the frame of genuine is for a while confined to the infelicities piety when it has relinquished its intro and varieties of earth. The regrets and ductory sorrows--this is the high and de distresses which are felt by this highest lightful elevation we are invited to ascend, order of the good are totally different from even during our sojourn on earth, pre- | the common complaints we have blamed in paratory to our final admission to im- | Christians of inferior rank. In the one mortal felicity in the mansions of heaven. case they evince the imperfection of piety,
Let the solicitudes and complaints we have in the other its refinement and elevation. mentioned be viewed in their proper light and Christians of the less happy class, instead esteemed according to their worth. They of cherishing their mournful sentiments should not be valued and retained as lasting and feelings, as they sometimes appear qualities of religion ; being only its inferior to do, should aim, by taking higher atingredients, while it remains in a very low tainments of faith and devotion, to remove and imperfect state. Their whole worth them from their minds ; then their er. consists in their being introductory to perience would bear a more natural corres. higher and joyous attainments ; they are pondence to their prospects of soon becontinually receding from the mind of coming most delighted and excellent in every vigorous and diligent Christian, and the future world. Not that we should will perfectly vanish when we go into eter do violence to the frames of our minds, nity. Penitence for sin, and serious regret and injure our spiritual interests, by too for our imperfections, must always be cher fervently coveting the holy joys which we ished as essential parts of a Christian are not prepared to receive: there is an temper; still remembering these mournful intelligent process in the operations of sentiments will cease to be felt when the religion, a natural orderof acquiringitsgraces guilt in which they originate is refined and delights, which folly alone would away. And let us employ our best efforts wish to subvert. Holiness precedes the in cultivating the affections and graces best joys of religion. So it is by aspiring which are unfading and permanent, the | after higher devotion, purity, benevolence, graces of spirit and character that will go and trust in the Redeemer, that the dise with us to paradise, and which in their tressing emotions are extinguished, and perfect beauty will adorn and delight us the joyous affections improved and matured. through immortality.
The maladies and pains of the heart are Spiritual distresses are sometimes felt! removed by attaining the spiritual health and expressed by the most devout spirits which a devout application of the remedies amidst their fervent and lofty aspirations provided in the Gospel is sure to infuse towards divine purity and rest. In sea into the constitution of our minds. This sons of elevated meditation and devotion happier state is mainly acquired by cher they are occasionally indulged with vivid ishing, in all its benignity and ardour, the glimpses of the felicity which awaits them perfect love that casteth out fear. in the presence of God; they experience Since religion in its perfect state will an ineffable sympathy with heaven, feel be composed of sentiments, affections, and the very element of celestial good per- / services purely felicitous, and of these alone, vading their minds, and almost touch / our progress towards it should be marked the eternal weight of glory they will soon by the succesive ralinquishment of the possess, Such prostits and feelings as 'vic w and feelings w here of an opposite
kind-since our present course is a progress, attract into vital combination with itself the towards heaven-since we are going to | elements of the fair and good scattered that far superior and transcendent region, around us in unbounded profusion, and where unmingled goodness and felicity will have new loveliness reflected upon it from be our portion-we should now conduct the presence of Him who sitteth on the ourselves as the expectants of so pure throne. How high we are destined to rise and blessed a state. Our sentiments and in the acquisitions of excellence through dispositions should be in harmony with ' interminable duration, what refined and our prospects, our temper correspond | elevated pleasures the divine society will with our anticipations. We expect, as the impart, what streams of delight will flow essence of our Christian hope, a perfection into our spirits from every quarter, what of holiness : this will be the health of our perceptions of moral beauty and splendour minds and the loveliness of our character will be attained, what emotions of rapture for ever, and we should most fervently our unceasing converse with the Redeemer pray for this beauty of the Lord our God will produce, we cannot at present underto be upon us. In order to reach the best | stand, but must leave to eternity to disexcellence and happiness our nature and close. i circumstances will permit us to acquire, The view we have taken of the pious we have only to obey the voice of Him graces is full of consolation, and opens a who has called us to glory and virtue. scope for most pleasurable anticipations
Let it not be imagined from this view to every Christian. It is a cause for deof the temporary devotion of the penitent vout felicitation and triumph, that the painand social virtues, that virtue of itself is ful emotions mingled with piety at its of a changeable nature : bearing the impress commencement, and which adhere to it of its sacred Parent, its essence is one during its progress to heaven, are of a fugitive and the same in all worlds ; it only changes nature-that they are gradually passing its aspects to correspond to the state and away from the minds of the good, and will society in which it moves'; hence it now soon cease to be felt at all; while the pure takés a variety of beneficent, compassionate, happiness and virtue they have shaded and submissive forms adapted to this world will remain for ever untouched. It is a of debasement, sorrow, and guilt, which matter of still higher felicitation and triwill be laid aside when we go to a region umph that the permanent graces of piety of perfection and bliss. Much that is beau are never stationary, can never assume their tiful and dignified in Christian virtue at ultimate form of glory and excellence, bepresent, all the temporary charms which cause they have a capacity to glow and invest it, will perish at our departure from expand to undefinable ardour, enlargement, this scene on which they have flourished and joy. We know not what gems of surand shed their lustre. This is not to be passing felicity we carry in a renewed heart, lamented; for all it loses by departing hence what a plenitude of happiness is deposited will be replaced in heaven by fresh acces in the graces of a renovated immortal spirit. sions of beauty, far more precious, lofty, When removed to the congenial element and and divine, to endure without change or society of heaven, we shall find them most decay througheternalages. When conducted rich and exuberant with seraphic delight, to that superior region, and incorporated fraught with inexhaustible sweetness. Much with the great community of the most select of the eternal felicity will consist in the beings in the universe, our virtue will as fruition of our own virtues. “He that sume an unfading celestial form; it will soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit then put on its glory and receive its reward, reap life everlasting.”,
... ; THE DEJECTED CHRISTIAN. ;
BY THE BEV. A. M. STALKER. o ver it * Are the consolations of God small with thee ?"JOB IV. 11. “The day on which a man avows himself the subject of a spiritual change, is a day on which he becomes an object of intense curiosity to myriads of minds. The platform of Christian profession on which he appears, is viewed by all who behold him walking its lengths and its breadths, as furnishing them with a warrant for indulging in thoughts respecting him with which they never for-merly associated his name, and for propounding questions in his hearing of a nature altogether new. It becomes him to be fully aware of the interest he has excited in those who, until the moment of his taking so decisive a step, only considered him as one of their numerous selves, and who, therefore, never paused to investigate the merits of a position so like their own. Unless he is alive to the inspection of which he is now the subject, he may, without any intention on his part, injure the cause he loves, wound the religion he desires to advance, and mantle in reproach the heavenly system he longs to see pouring its splendours all around. Countless are the points of view from which his. movements are witnessed by those who are not only destitute of sympathy with the change he has avowed, but who exult in every opportunity that is afforded of " the way of truth being evil spoken of.". They turn a piercing glance on his acquaintance with the proofs of the divinity of the scheme he has embraced ; they scrutinize with rigour the correspondence or difference between his profession and his practice; they magnify every iota of seeming failure into an object of fearful and even revolting dimensions. If they cannot brand him with profligacy, they will charge him with pretence; if they are unable to convict him of recklessness, they will identify him with " puritanism ;” if they do not find him mingling in the sphere of excessive levity and almost boundless mirth, they will be pleased when they can hold him up to scorn, and ridicule, and laughter, because of his heartless happiness and his sanctimonious gloom. Never, indeed, do they assume au air of more self-complacent triumph than when, with the view of felling his religion and himself with a single blow, they ask the question, ** Are the consolations of God small with thee ?” · The very circumstance, however, of there being occasion for such a query to be addressed to the Christian ought to EXCITE SURPRISE. It cannot be denied that many professors are apparently strangers to comfort and destitute of joy. Some such are to be found in nearly every community in Christendom, in almost every stage of seemingly Christian progress, and in all variety of external circumstances. But why should this be? What data does the believer possess to justify his appearing before the world as aught but a happy man? Are the joys to which he has by the truth been introduced, of so meagre a kind that it is only by an absolute effort he can keep his spirit from sinking in the depths of despondency ? Let us see
i. What is their source ? whence do they come! From no region below the skies. They are not " of the earth, earthy,” but have their blissful rise in the world where rolls in majestic fulness “the river whose streams make glad the city of God.” They proceed from no created source, but from a fountain whose far-reaching depths neither man nor angel can fathom. They come from Him whose own infioity and goodness render him “the blessed,” the happy “God.” “ With him is the fountain of life.” “ All my springs are in Thee," is a declaration the believer frequently makes, but it is one he often and strangely forgets. Did he keep its genuine and gladdening import perpetually in mind, instead of meeting him as one whose “soul is cast down within him,” we should find him indulging in a strain of the most joyous exultation ; we should see him, like David when he " encouraged himself in the Lord his God," laying hold by faith of the comfort which the unchangeableness, the omnipotence, the wisdom, the faithfulness, the love of the Deity inspire; dwelling with rapture on the assurances that "He is rich in mercy," and " delighteth in mercy;" that he has revealed himself as “the God of peace," !" the God of hope," " the God of consolation," “ the God of all comfort ;' in a word, as that God who, because “he can swear by none greater, swears by himself,” that the believer might have “strong consolation," "everlasting consolation.” Had the Christian been shut out from such supplies of happiness as these, we might prepare ourselves to see him often " hanging his harp on the willow8;" but since the well-spring of bliss indicated by the nature, the titles, the resources, the oath of the Deity, is that to which he is unreservedly welcome, in wondering tones the question may be asked, “ Are the consolations of God small with thee?"
2. What is the channel through which they come? It is not one whose bed is 80 shallow, or whose banks are 80 speedily overflowed, that no celestial tide will intrust it with its copiousness. Neither is it one so impregnated with noxious weeds that they must necessarily poison the supplies that “ proceed from the throne clear as crystal.” Neither is it one which all the might and all the malignity of hell ean speedily dry up, or alter in its course. Neither is it one against the lawfulness of which he who delights to depress and distress, when he cannot destroy, the Christian, can bring a single challenge. On the contrary, it is one which has been hallowed, opened up, made by Divinity itself; one which," from the throne of highest glory to the cross of deepest woe,"is heard resounding with the eulogiums of all holy intelligence, and reverberating in mighty volume with Jehovah's approbation. With it “ he is well pleased." It hosannahs his loftiest praises; for “ all the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus” to the Divine glory, and a sufferer who knew full well bow to appreciate the medium through which his comforts flowed, says, without one shade of exaggeration, “ As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, 80 our consolation also ABOUNDETH by Christ.” Say, then, Christian, say, “ Are the consolations of God small with thee?"
3. What is the sweep which these consolations take? It is not contracted. It is adequate to the wants, commensurate with the circumstances, comprehensive as the prospects, and ample as the being of the Christian. Were the joys of piety fitted to sustain the believer in only one given position, were they not able to irradiate every cloud through which he passed, were they short-lived, and expired around him at the moment he most required them, the question in the text, when put even to him, might excite no surprise ; but seeing they are various as his wants, diversified as his fears, numerous as his trials, multiplied as his sorrows-made for his every case, shaped for his every position, fitting themselves into every niche of his existence as a man, a citizen, a Christian, a pilgrim to the tomb and to the skies--all regulated and administered by Him who “ knoweth his frame" he himself must determine what answer shall be given when he is asked, “ Are the consolations of God small with theef ?
4. What is the amount of these consolations ? Who can tell? Where is the Christian to be found who is ready with au enlightened, experimental reply! Name the believer whose plumb-line is the longest, and who has for years been attempting to furnish the needed answer, and you hear him advancing, at your call, but with the exclamation on his lips, “Oh the depths !" Many cross the Channel, seat themselves in a Continental railway, roam amidst scenes of vast magnificence and entrancing beauty, elimb Alpine heights, and gaze in mute: admiration on their encircling glories, who have never visited some of the choicest spots, or with open eye come in contact with many of the sublimest landseapes, in their “own, their native land." The idea that “ these may be seen at any time” has veiled them from their view till now. At this moment
they are ignorant of them. Thus, in many instances, the very circumstance of the Christian having a Bible he may call his “ own," and over whose pages he may pore when he chooses, accounts for his meagre acquaintance with the “exceeding great and precious promises " which that Bible contains, and with
the unsearchable riches" of which that Bible is the mine. These he has not examined with half the eagerness which has distinguished him when noting his trials and inventorying his sorrows. But look at one who, though he had seasons of dejection, seems on one occasion to have resolutely addressed himself to the delightful task incumbent on every believer. Hear him when alone in his closet, hear him when shut up with “ the God of all comfort,” hear him when Speaking to Him whose " consolations" you aver are "small" with you, and what is his language? “ How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God; how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand." “Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward : they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul." Christian, you have a larger Bible than David had; ought your joys to be proportionately less ? How is it? * Are the consolations of God small with thee?”
Again, the fact that the question in the text is sometimes, with obvious propriety, put to the Christian, should on his part PROMPT INVESTIGATION. Seeing that the Divine consolations are, as we have proved, great in their source, "glorious in their channel, mighty in their sweep, and countless in their number, how can we account for a Christian professor being without joy, without com
fort? This is at once difficult and delicate work. Nevertheless, we remark,- 1. That the reason of such privation is not found in God. We cannot sympathize with a sentiment too prevalent among some believers, viz., that
Jehovah sometimes hides his countenance, withdraws his Spirit from his people, - as an arbitrary and capricious sovereign. This is surely to represent the great Supreme as “taking pleasure" in witnessing his people “walking in darkness," instead of “hoping in his mercy.” But it is affirmed, when he thus'acts, that it is to test their faith. This, however, is strangely to confound providential chastisements with spiritual privations. That the former are frequently employed by God to improve the graces of his children cannot be doubted; but that the latter are ever thug used, it would be difficult to prove. “The joy of the Lord is their strength," and its capricious withdrawment would unfit them for realizing aright the end which is contemplated by all Divine discipline. It would present Him who “ pitieth them that fear him, as a father pitieth his children," acting in a manner in which no enlightened, loving parent" acts towards his offspring, and furnish a flat contradiction to the assurance, “If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?" When he “holds back the face of his throne, and covereth himself with a cloud that our prayer cannot pass through," it is not because he delights to shade from our view the splendours of the one, or to mantle himself in the gloom of the other. “If a man love me,” says Christ, “ he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him ; demonstration sufficient, Christian, that the reason is not in God, if his “consolations" are "small with thee." 1.2. Neither is it found in the religion of which God is the Author. Look at the title by which in the New Testament that religion is known. The import of the word “Gospel,” you know, is “glad tidings." Yet this would be a palpable misnomer if the subject of that religion were necessarily a melancholy character. Its first disciples "received the word in much affliction," yet " with joy of the Holy Ghost;" "they were filled with all joy and peace in believing; "they went on their way rejoicing." “ Assuredly," as the late Dr. Wardlaw once