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ting us difficult tasks, as he did Abraham, when he required bim to sacrifice his son, and Jonah, when he commanded him to go and pronounce the doom of Nineveh. And sometimes by putting us to pain, sending bodily disease, or mental anguish, so that at times we choose strangling and death rather than life. In all our trials, troubles, hopes, and crosses, God is dealing with us, and dealing with us as with sons. Let this truth be impressed on our minds, and be ever uppermost in our memories. Bastards may be left unpunished, but legitimate children are always corrected.
Observe, then, tried and afflicted Christian, your heavenly Father loves you and notices you, therefore he corrects you. He sees you need it. That you would be ruined without it, and consequently out of pure love he sends it. Your Father intends to make you wise, holy, and useful. Solomon tells us, that the rod and reproof give wisdom, but the child left to himself bringeth his parents to shame. Our apostle assures us that God does not afflict us for his own pleasure, but for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. And we well know that it is the wise and holy believer that is the useful man. As therefore the rod prudently used makes wise and holy, and as the wise and holy are useful, if God intend to make us wise, holy, and useful, in dealing with us as sons, he will often use the rod. Your Father uses the family rod, not a new one, your brethren have all felt it before, and many are smarting under it now. As says Peter, “Beloved, think it not strange, concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." Again be assures them, “the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1 Pet. iv. 12, 13. v. 9. Few of God's children ever entered heaven, without carrying the marks of the rod with them; for the Lord will visit our iniquities with the rod, and our transgressions with stripes. Let us then accept the chastisement of our heavenly Father as a proof of his love, and seek above all things else its sanctification ; for if we accept of his chastisement, and improve it, it is a proof of sonship. Whenever we feel the rod, may we repair to our Father's throne, inquire the cause, and seek grace to overcome it; for when the child falls on his knees, with the tear glistening in his eye, and with tremulous voice begins to confess his faults, and ask for pardon, the rod soon drops from the Father's hand, and the kiss that testifies that all is forgiven is imprinted on the cheek. O for grace to believe, and realise under all our afflictions and trials, that God DEALETH WITH US AS WITH SONS!
“I SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN HELL."
A SHORT time ago, a man who now loves and adorns the gospel, was speaking to me of his former vicious life, and referring to an illness, which brought him down to the gates of death, he said with deep solemnity, “Ah, sir, if I had died then, I should be in hell now. What a solemn thought this! And yet many of us in looking back, can remember seasons, when most clearly there was but a step between us and the burning lake. We seemed to totter on its brink, and the slightest accident might have plunged us in. But God in his mercy prevented it, and thus delivered our souls from the lowest hell. An immortal soul in hell, must be the most fear. ful sight in existence. If only one soul was there, and we were informed of it, how much it would occupy our thoughts. But there are millions there. We were all but there. We must have been there, if it had not been for the Lord Jesus Christ. Ah, if we were in hell now, how dreadful it would be! In hell, no ray of cheering light is there! In hell, no drop of water is ever al.
I wed to cool the parched tongue there! In hell, there hope never comes, ease is never felt, mercy is never exercised, nor is deliver. ance ever enjoyed! And yet we were very near going to hell, at this moment we might have been in hell, how dreadful!
But suppose we were to die now, and die we must soon, where should we be five minutes after death? Have we a title to heaven? Every one knows, that it is folly to claim an estate, if we can show no title to it. And it will be the greatest folly to expect the inheri. tance of the saints in light, if we cannot show a title to it. Look to it, friends, look well to it, that you have now a title to heaven, for it will be the height of folly to expect to be ad. mitted to it at death if you have not. Nor is it less foolish to think of going to heaven, if we are not prepared for it. There must be a qualification, before there can be any enjoyment. Heaven is such a pure and holy place, that nothing can be admitted into it, that is at all polluted or defiled. Only the pure in heart can see God with pleasure. Without holiness no one can see God with joy. Death or dying, makes no one holy. It cannot fit or prepare any one for heaven. If we are prepared at all, it must be before death comes. No one can prepare us for heaven, but the Holy Spirit, because we must be new created, or begotten of God, or born again; which expressions represent a thorough change of nature. “Except a man
be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The work of Christ for us, gives us a title to heaven ; and the work of the Holy Spirit within us, makes us meet, or fit, to enter and enjoy heaven. No one can tell that he is interested in the work of Christ, but by the work of the Holy Spirit; or in other words, no one can tell that he has a right to go to heaven, but as he is made fit to go there.
What then should we, as immortal beings, as placed between heaven and hell, as surrounded by diseases, dangers, and death, do? We should make sure of heaven, and make sure at once. An accident may plunge us into hell at any moment, for we are all by nature prepared to go there ; but no accident can raise us to heaven, only an interest in the Lord Jesus, can carry us there. We should therefore seek the Holy Spirit, which is promised to every one that asks for him ; nor ever rest satisfied, until we have received him into our hearts, as the earnest of the inheritance, and are sealed by him unto the day of redemptiou. Brethren, a living faith in Christ alone, will apprehend and appropriate the title to everlasting life ; and the possession and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit alone, will make us meet to be partakers of the inheritance, which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, and which is reserved in heaven for all the children of God.