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ENCOURAGEMENT IN SADNESS.
ness, he had said, " I feel a hell in my own conscience. Oh, my heart is miserable! oh, miserable and woful! The burthen of my sin lieth so heavy upon me, I doubt it will break my heart!" When asked if he would pray, he replied, “I cannot." They requested him to permit them to pray for him ; but he replied, “ Take not the name of God in vain, by praying for a reprobate.” Thus dark was the night; but when its shades dispersed, as bright was the day.
Of another, who was a martyr, it is recorded, that through five successive years, such intolerable grief of mind oppressed him, that life had no comfort left. He only partook of food to keep himself a little longer out of hell; thinking that he must sink there as soon as life should close. Yet at length he found deliverance from his burthen, and lived a life of eminent piety, dead to the world, and ripening for heaven.
Brainerd, so distinguished for his sufferings, labours, and success as a missionary to the American Indians, often felt deep
depression. In some of these seasons of spiritual darkness he I wrote: “ My spiritual conflicts were unspeakably dreadful,
heavier than the mountains and overflowing floods! I seemed enclosed in hell itself; I was deprived of all sense of God, even of his being; and that was my misery. My soul was in such anguish I could not eat. I appeared to myself a creature fit for nothing, neither heaven nor earth. I thought I was the meanest, vilest, most helpless, ignorant creature living. And yet I knew what God had done for my soul; though sometimes I was assaulted with doubts, whether it was possible for such a wretch as I to be in a state of grace.”
Many others equally pious, have encountered equal spiritual distress. Even the holy Jesus, in a dark and dreadful hour, exclaimed, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" Think not, then, that because comfort has vanished, salvation is lost; or that the victory is doubtful, because the conflict is severe. Cleave to your Saviour, and the sun, that clouds have hidden, will shine forth again. Again the presence of God will cheer you, and the prospect of glory animate your soul.
& 17. Amidst all the discouragement and distress of your spiritual warfare, never forget that you have a faithful “ High - Priest, who is passed into the heavens;" but who knows " how to succour them that are tempted," as “ he was in all 318 ENCOURAGEMENT FROM JESUS'S PROMISES. points tempted like as" they are, “ yet without sin."i Jesus, felt the sting of affliction, the assaults of Satan, and the sorrows of spiritual desertion. In your darkest hour, you may approach him and say, Blessed Lord, behold me in a case that once was thine-harassed by those hellish foes that once harassed thee; but thou hast conquered, and wilt thou not give thy poor follower grace and strength to conquer too ?
Why distrust the gracious Saviour ? Are not his promises as rich as heavenly love can make them ? as firm as eternal truth can fix them ? as free as an undone world can want? Art thou his servant? he says, “ Where I am, there shall also my servant be."k Art thou one of his flock ? he declares, “ My sheep shall never perish, neither shall any one (neither man nor devil) pluck them out of my hand."" Or art thou laden with sin, and fu'l of fears ? he says, “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."m “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." It is said, that when bishop Butler lay on his death-bed, he said to his chaplain, “ Though I have endeavoured to avoid sin, and please God, to the utmost of my power, yet, from the consciousness of perpetual infirmities, I am still afraid to die." -“ My lord," said the chaplain, “ you have forgotten that Jesus Christ is a Saviour."-" True," was the answer; “but how shall I know that he is a Saviour for me?"_“It is written, Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." -" True," said the bishop; “ and I am surprised, that, though I have read that scripture a thousand times over, I never felt its virtue till this moment; and now I die happy."
In your Christian pilgrimage, in your spiritual warfare, forget not that you have a SAVIOUR ; and let that Saviour be all your comfort and support. Look to your Lord's sorrows for relief from your own. If he were present with you, would not his kind declarations repress your doubts, and subdue your unbelief? but if he were, he could not speak comfort in language stronger than that in which his sufferings and death should speak peace to every believing heart.
$ 18. Think of your heavenly Father's love. Jesus speaking of him, said to his disciples, even after they had fallen through unbelieving fears, “I ascend unto my Father and
ENCOURAGEMENT FROM GOD'S LOVE. 319 your Father, to my God and your God.” Precious declaration !
With such a Father as the blessed God, why should his penitent, though unworthy, child despond and fear ? Richer mercy you cannot need, than that which God displays. Promises more free you cannot desire. Though one sin allowed to reign would undo an immortal soul, yet had a soul which comes to God by Christ, sins as numerous as the drops of morning dew, the blood of Jesus would wash them all away. Cannot you trust in God to help you ? He bade the sun shine; has he not power to shine into your sad heart ? Does he want the inclination ? It cannot be, that he who gave Christ for you, can be unwilling with Christ to give whatever your wants require. - Jesus has died. Such has been his infinite pity, that through his appointment Jesus has died. 0, comprehend but this aright, and nothing more will be needed to banish thy fears, to raise thy hopes, to subdue thy unbelief, to tire and to fill thee with trust and delight in thy great, and good, and gracious God. Think of hiin as a Father. Does not a father pity his feeble child ? If the child lie sick and afflicted, unable to utter any thing but sobs and groans, will he pity that child the less ? God is a Father to those that seek him; a kinder Father than any earthly parent: he knows his children's sorrows; he sees their feebleness, and knows their frame is dust. He pities them, and hast thou been led to seek him, then be assured he pities thee.
$ 19. To animate you in pressing forward to the Christian crown, often think of those, who through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises. Turn to the first ages of Christianity. Christians then esteemed it an honour to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. They forced their passage to heaven, through all that is most dreadful; and sought admission there, at the expense of all that is most dear. Riches, health, ease, pleasure, and life, all were trifles in their esteem. Then tormentors were weary of inflicting pain, before martyrs were weary of bearing it. Their path was no smooth and flowery way: sorrows beset its entrance, and attended its course; and fames and tortures were at its end : and yet they trod it. These indeed seem like a different race of beings, like creatures of a different world. Ah, my friend! there lay the distinction between them and many that profess the same
THE EXAMPLE OF MARTYRS.
gospel now. They were creatures of a different world. The me lived on earth, to be ready for heaven. Hence they trod the min path to glory, however thorny, and rejoiced in hastening to ** an early crown. Polycarp, when condemned to martyrdom, if was so fearful lest. the prayers of his friends should prevent the execution of the sentence, that he begged them to forbear: “I fear," said he, “ lest your love should injure me.” Does one of all those martyred myriads now repent ? Did one when landing on the heavenly shore ever think, I have borbe too much for him who bore the cross for me? We need not go so far back to view the patience of the saints. Look behind you a hundred and fifty or two hundred years, and see ENGLISH confessors, of whom the world was not worthy, encountering persecution in their native isle, or savages and famine in the midst of American wilds. See dungeons filled with their captives, and deserts peopled with their exiles. See persecutors hunting out their little haunts; denying them the enjoyment of religious worship, even in solitary fields, or lonely woods. Behold soldiers entering their assemblies; disturbing their meetings; silencing their ministers; and dragging hearers, and preachers, to fines, confiscations, and prisons. O be not slothful! though not called to encounter their sorrows, imitate their lives ; cherish their fervent attachment to the absent Saviour ; and their fond eagerness for å better world. When the world tempts you, and Satan sus. gests, Your hope is vain; then think of them who once had all these trials, and many more; but who overcame through the blood of the Lamb.
$ 20. When tempted to despond, or shrink in the day of conflict, then hear your Lord saying, Will you go away; you for whom I died; to whom I have been a shepherd and friend : who have professed so much love to me; who have taken on your soul such solemn vows, and sealed them so often at the table of vour Lord ;-will you go away? You who never found me faithless-and never will ---Will you go away ?—will you ?--shall Satan triumph ?-have you considered the folly ?-have you weighed the sin ?--have you measured the ingratitude of hearkening to the tempter ?-—and will you go away? O do you not reply, Holy Jesus, where should I go? If I left thee, where should I find a Saviour? where go for pardon, peace, salvation, and eternal life? Keep
PROMISES TO THE FAITHFUL.
321 me, and I will not go away. Though the tempter's suggestion were true, that my hope is vain, yet if I perish, at thy feet will I die!
If tempted to give religion up, hear your Lord saying, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no one take thy crown." All the enemies thou hast been instructed to watch against, will try to rob thee of that prize ; but hold the beginning of thy confidence fast unto the end. Think of the worth of that crown of which they would rob thee. Think of the price which was paid, that that crown might adorn thy head, thou · child of dust!-a price no less precious than the blood of the Lamb. Think of the love that would bestow it on thee! think of the raptures of receiving, and of the heaven of enjoying, that thornless crown! Whatever thou mayst lose, or suffer, or fear, or dread, still hold this fast! Though it does
not yet beam around thy honoured head, yet follow Jesus, -- and it shortly will. Hear him speaking to thee : “Be thou
faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."p No meaner hand ihan mine shall give the glorious boon. Thy Lord's own hand will bestow the prize.- Fear not lest thou shouldst not attain the blessing, for I will give it thee.
Be faithful unto death. This is all, and come when death pro may, then this crown, not of merit but of grace, is thine.
This promise was given to those who had to pass through persecution. You are not called to such trials; be faithful then when encountering far lighter opposition; and remember that the spirit of martyrs should animate every Christian. If you are afraid of being singularly pious; if you fear a sneer, or a laugh, or the words fanatic, enthusiast, or methodist ; if you shrink from your duty for fear of offending a friend, or an employer, can you think that such faith and fortitude would stand a much severer trial ? Can you think that you should be faithful unto death, amidst taunts, and torments; if this be the case, are you faithful now? Does not Jesus say, Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed ? O watch against a cowardly spirit in religion!
It is true our difficulties are not like those of some who have preceded us. They are less formidable; and perhaps (0) Rev. iii. 11.
(p) Rev. ii. 10.