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“Now, for all this there is but one remedy: and, blessed be God, that remedy is a specific: it has stood the test of nearly two thousand years, and has never failed in a single instance. It is the repose of the Christian upon his Saviour: a consciousness of his perpetual presence and support. “Be of good cheer: it is I;-be not afraid.' The Christian lays the entire score to the charge of sin. Man had no fear, no trouble of any kind, when in a state of innocence: and when he shall be removed from his present sinful condition, he will be removed, also, from the sorrows and perplexities that are indigenous to it. In heaven the heart is happy, because it is holy. There can be no tears where God is present; no anxiety, to mar the pleasures that are at his right hand for evermore. The harmony of the skies has no discord--the song of the Lamb is all triumph. How can he be afraid who has for ever sat down by the side of the great Captain of his salvation, and whose banner, waving over him, is love?
“This is one support on which the Christian relies in his passage through the wilderness of the present world; and it gives steadiness to his foot, and exhilaration to his cup. He confides in his Saviour as to the result. If his course be painful, he knows it will be but short; and he, hence, girds up the loins of his faith, and refreshes himself by foretastes of the future.
“But the Christian is not left to anticipation alone. He has another support, and of ineffable value, that applies to the time being; and softens the roughness and mitigates the sting of every evil he is actually encountering. He not only knows that he shall dwell
with him whom his soul loveth'* hereafter, but that his beloved Saviour is personally with him as his companion in every trial, and will arm him with strength according to his day. Our blessd Lord has no where told us that a profession of the gospel, an assumption of his cross, will be a smooth and inviting course; but only that its sufferings will be amply compensated; and that the balance of enjoyment will be infinitely in its favour in the long run. The ways of wisdom are, indeed, ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;' but it is a pleasantness and a peace, not of the world, but in SPITE OF the world, and which the worldling “intermeddleth not with.'+- In the world (says our Lord) ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world :-and, lo! I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.-Be of good cheer: it is I ;-be not afraid.'
“There is no one point our blessed Lord seems to have been more solicitous to inculcate during his ministry on earth, than a cordial reliance on the presence and special protection of God, as an antidote against the troubles of life. It forms the leading subject of the first sermon his lips ever uttered, and it runs through the whole of his dying address. “Take no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof' 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.'S
* Sol, Songs i. 7.
Matt. vi. 34.
+ Prov. xiv. 10.
“ The first of these passages refers to the general providence of God, or that which, with infinite wisdom and goodness, controls the affairs of ordinary life: the second to his special providence, or the peculiar interpositions of his grace, on extraordinary emergencies. And both are the rich dowry of the Christian.
Why should he be troubled in thought about the fate of the morrow, who knows that God, who is his God, has taken thought for him beforehand; and has given commission to the morrow to provide for itself? Its sun will surely shine—its bread and water will surely be made good. And, even in the midst of all its evils, which no forethought can ward off, and which the highest day of prosperity will even find sufficient,he who has taught him to drop all anxiety upon the subject, will be with him to bear or to lighten the burden, still whispering in his ear–Be of good cheer: it is I;-be not afraid.'
“But it may be his lot to suffer extraordinarily; and to suffer too, from his very adherence to his duty; from his attachment to the faith that was once delivered to the saints.' He may be thrown into the furnace of persecution; the commandment may be urgent, and the flame exceeding hot;'* but the form of the Son of God shall still walk in the midst of the fire;t and its smell shall not pass on bim, neither shall it have power over his body. I ‘Be of good cheer: it is I;-be not afraid.'
He may be doomed to struggle with domestic afiliction: the storm may gather round him from every quarter: its waves may roar and be tumultuous; and his little bark be on the point of foundering amidst the swell.--Still lift up thine eyes, and behold !-Lo, Jesus * Dan. li. 22.
+ Id. 25.
is walking upon the sea :* hear the gracious accents of his voice–Be of good cheer :-it is I;-be not afraid.'
“But he is stretched upon the bed of sickness; every human hope vanisheth; heavy hang the shades of death on his eyelids. His disconsolate family press around bim, and pierce his heart; the strugglings of dissolution rend his limbs; and an awful eternity stretches before him. What can support him in this complicated struggle ? this overwhelming conflict of soul and body? Here, too, the means are ample; the crisis is abundantly provided for. The Saviour is still present more than ever; he enters with a fellow-feeling into his sufferings: for he, too, has tasted the bitterness of death; he has slept in the bed of the grave; he has trodden the same path, and even smoothed it by his footsteps, and is only gone before to prepare him a place.+ Lift up the quivering lid, and catch a glimpse of him :-hear the music of his voice, for it is still sounding-Be of good cheer :-it is I ;-be not afraid. I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold, I live for evermore, amen :-and have the keys of bell and of death."
AND THEY HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD GOD
WALKING IN THE GARDEN IN THE COOL OF THB EVENING.S
Gen, iii. 8. “ The voice of God is for ever speaking, but man is not for ever hearing it: and hears it, indeed, at all
* Matt. xiv. 25. † John xiv. 2. | Rev. i. 18. § This was written on the receipt of Dr. Drake's “Winter Evenings," and Evenings in Autumn.
times, far less than he should do. But there are seasons in which God will be heard, whether we may choose it or not. The most abandoned sinner that ever lived cannot for ever shut his ears against the voice of his Creator. He may drown the sound, perhaps, at times in the discordant din of the world ; in the noise and uproar and merriment of a feast; he may rise above its hallowed whisper in the giddy vortex of prosperity; or may stupify himself beyond its reach in the apoplexy of intoxication. Nay, he may, with foolhardihood, brave its loud address in the tempest and in the thunder-storm, and remain careless and unmoved amidst the wreck of nature around him. But the voice of God shall still find him out, and terrify him in the midst of all his evasions.
“It shall find him out when he least expects it, and when he is least prepared for it. IN THE COOL OF THE EVENING, when retired from the world, and wearied with its business or its pleasures; when reclined at ease in his own bowers, or seeking quiet or recreation in his shady walks--the voice of God will find him in the garden, and arrest him with the awful sound, *Where art thou ?' To fly is now in vain : his feet are fast locked as in a trap; and the trees of the garden form no shelter.
"Again strikes the awful sound Where art thou ?' the eye of God is upon him, and reads into his heart's
No disguise can now serve him. No shield, no protector is at hand. He feels himself naked indeed he feels, and sinks with shame and confusion.
“How miserable is the life of the wicked man! He dares not trust himself to the company of his own conscience. He may cast up the accounts of his mer