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The Believer walks humbly with God, bearing his Cross.
THE happy believer is now advanced a great way in his journey. He has been brought to the saving knowledge of Godhas received faith in his reconciled God in Jesus-has been taught by the Spirit to love his God-and has found the blessedness of holy communion with him in the way of obedience and duty, which makes him go on rejoicing; then it is become fit and proper that his faith and love should be tried. He must expect it. It is to the honour of God, to the good of others, and to
the establishing of those graces, that proof should be made of them, and that they should be put, like gold, into the furnace. This is only a refiner's fire. If the furnace be very hot, one seven times more than it was wont to be heated, the gold will lose nothing. Sterling grace is purer and brighter for every fiery trial. Its enemies, who blow the flame, have no intention to refine it, and sometimes the believer himself cannot see how the means will answer the end: but God over-rules every trial for his glory and the believer's good, and makes it more precious than that of gold, which perisheth. Troubles, opposition from within and from without, all the difficulties he can meet with, only serve to purge out his dross, and to render him more fit for his heavenly walk. Herein the grace of God is most marvellous. Such a power as brought light out of darkness, is continually directing and sanctifying the crosses of the believer, so that not one of them can stop him; nay, the greatest of them help him forward in his journey, and bring him not only more safely, but also more happily to
the end of it.
Adored for ever be the Fa
ther's love, which makes all things work together for his children's good!
When man was in Paradise, there was nothing in him but what was conformed to the image of God. His will was one with the will of God. In this state there was no cross. Harmony ruled in the innocent breast; and God looked on his favourite man with delight. They were perfectly agreed, and they walked together in holy and happy friendship. But when man fell, then sin brought in sorrow, in the ten thousand miseries which the body suffers, and in the entire corruption of the faculties of the soul, particularly the will, now at enmity with the will of God. Hence our crosses. Sin is their fruitful parent; and while we are in a body of sin and death, we cannot be exempt from suffering: for man is born to trouble as naturally as the sparks fly upwards; but the unregenerate man does not feel the cause of this. He has no spiritual senses. He is dead to God. He does not know why he suffers, and he is not sensible of what he
deserves to suffer; therefore he goes on merrily, laughing and singing under a load of guilt, enough to ruin a thousand worlds. But when the spirit of life enters into him, and he is made to see his state, to feel his guilt, and to fear his danger, then he begins to groan under the cross. Every day he discovers how totally he was fallen, and departed in heart from the living God. He now tastes the bitterness of sin, and finds the deadly fruits of it. Although there be a remedy provided to bring the wanderers home, and he is made acquainted with it, yet he is without strength to apply it. He cannot by believing take the comfort of it. When it is given him to believe, he still has sin and suffering to exercise his faith. Against his corruptions and temptations he must be continually fighting the good fight of faith. From this warfare he can have no discharge but by death. He must take to himself the whole armour of God, and be under arms night and day, or he will never be able to resist the assaults of evil spirits, or to overcome the opposition of evil men. This is the heritage