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would otherwise intrude upon their seasons of devotion, and retard the growth of grace. They will not be permitted to doubt the superintendence of Divine Providence, because God permits his children to be poor. Their estimation of heaven will increase as they find that they are to have but few enjoyments here. At death there will be but few ties to be sundered. Their interest is all above. Thus as their day is so is their strength. And the case I have now described is not rare. Thus many a child of poverty, while to others he may seem wretched, is passing on to heaven, shod with iron and brass, and strong to pursue his pilgrimage. He will bring to the employments of heaven a nobler mind, and to its enjoyments a more enlarged capacity than many, who may think his lot hard, and his life a burden.

There is often connected with poverty a scene of toil and endurance. The pilgrimage is rough and unpleasant. The spirits are jaded with the fatigue requisite to feed and clothe the dying body. The mind is in such instances often unfitted for its heavenly employment. It seems grievous, that a spirit born from above should be retarded in its homeward course by cares and pains too mean for its powers. But the promise must meet this case too. These toils render rest more sweet, and the hope of an endless rest invaluably rich and sweet. The Sabbath is a welcome day; and the return of evening brings with it a pleasure to which the idle and the voluptuous and independent have no claim. The toils of the body subdue and tame the unhallowed passions; and we have seen often the strongest confidence in God, and the warmest gratitude, where it would seem the prospect must be profoundly dark, and the enjoyments few and small. One who has seen the old pil. grim, covered with a coarse and homely garb, and rising from his scanty meal, to pour forth his praise into the ear of his Maker, will never have a doubt, but that even in his condition, the promise of the text is all fulfilled. He toils hard, and would sometimes faint in his course, were not his feet covered with iron and brass, and his strength equal to his days.

But there is another scene in which it would seem that the promise fails. Some who are on their way to a better land, are afflicted with disease. Weakness, instead of strength, would seem to be their characteristic feature. If any thing escapes them but sighs and complaints, it seems incongruous. Life is filled up with pain and tears. And still in this very case, the promise may be verified. One may be weak in body, and yet strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Patience must have its perfect


work. We rise as high in the scale of Christian character, when we cheerfully suffer the will of God, as when we laboriously do his

And if God bestow a submissive mind, and a spirit of patient endurance, he renders our strength equal to our day.

When the affliction is not personal, but falls upon our family and friends, we need, as much as in any



support of this promise, and may expect its fulfilment. Believers have often feared that they should not be willing to see their friends die ; and have looked forward to the parting scene with a fearful and horrid interest. In prospect, their own dissolution could not awaken a more agonizing sensation. Every fibre of the heart was tortured; and every earthly, and perhaps every heavenly comfort, lost its sweetness. But when the trying hour came, the promise was fulfilled, and the heart yielded its beloved object into the hands of Him who was still more beloved. The language was, “ The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord !” Parents have parted with an only child, without uttering a single complaint. I recollect a statement like this: A father was watching by the sick bed of an only son. It was seen that his soul was troubled, and that he often retired to pray, but peared to return to the dying bed in the same state of mental agony as when he retired. At length there was seen upon his face a placid smile, and on being asked the cause, he replied, “O that I had just so dear a son to give up to God every day!" Another, who had experienced one stroke after another, till it was feared he would

go into distraction, was at length heard to say, “ The Lord intends to have my whole heart and he shall.” But cases like these are not uncommon. God has only to smile upon his people, and they are too happy in him to mind any other friend. They see in him all that they desire, and are as happy as they could wish. The loss of earthly friends does but disengage the heart, and prepare it to engross all its energies in loving that friend which sticketh closer than a brother. Thus David mourned till his child was dead; he then wiped away his tears, and sat down to eat bread. To the best possible advantage have we seen the Christian through the tears that bedewed the corpse of a beloved friend. It was then that he needed the presence of his Master and his Lord, and then his promised presence was granted. He had no complaint to to utter. God had done all things well. He had bestowed immeasurable mercies. The affliction was lighter than had been deserved. God might take what he had given. If a murmur begav


to be uttered, this sentiment stilled it: “ It is of the Lord's mer. cies that we are not consumed."

And when the good man approaches the period of his own dissolution, he finds that he has trusted in a faithful God, who will permit nothing to fail of all the gracious things he has spoken. He had feared the hour that should close his probation, and had been through much of his life subject to bondage, through fear of death. But as the hour comes, the world which had allured him loses all its enchanting power, and heaven opens him an avenue to its glories, by which he becomes attracted in a new direction, and can without a sigh, let go his grasp of every thing below the

He had read, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee," and he now finds the promise true. His whole life had been like one stormy and dismal night, but the clouds break, and the darkness is dispersed, as he approaches the haven of rest. As flesh and heart fail him, God becomes the strength of his heart and his portion for ever. To live was Christ, but to die is gain. The fact is beyond controversy, that most of those who honor Christ in their life, enjoy his presence in death, find their strength equal their conflict in that last and dreadful hour.

But there sometimes comes a trial from men harder to bear than the pains inflicted by the immediate hand of God. And this is a case when the believer needs the fulfilment of the promises. He may not feel that he deserves to suffer at their hands. He may be conscious of wishing to promote their interest, while they injure him ; and may feel that he has deserved of them a kinder treatment. Perhaps he has been their benefactor, and has waked their envy by attempts to promote their best interest.

Here there is opportunity for the exercise of the best affections, meekness, patience, submission, and a spirit of forgiveness. These affections of the heart, as well as every other fruit of the Spirit, must be cuiltivated. And it cannot admit a doubt but that God places his people in those circumstances where the Christian character may be matured to the best advantage, in which circumstances should they not be prepared for their trials, they would but dishonor their Lord, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows. Hence the triumphant language of the apostles, in an hour of sore and distressing conflict, “ We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair ; persecuted but not forsaken ; cast down, but not destroyed ; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus



might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” It is evident that the apostles were happy in the midst of their trials. As their days were, so God made their strength. They were troubled, perplexed, and persecuted; but, they were not distressed, nor forsaken, nor in despair, nor destroyed. They bore in their body the dying of the Lord Jesus, were assimilated to him in his sufferings, his griefs, and his tears; but the life also of Jesus was made manifest in their life. They exhibited not only the wounds and scars by which he was afflicted in the house of his friends, but there shone in their conversation the meekness, the humility, the watchfulness, the heavenly-mindedness, and the prayerfulness of the Lord Jesus. Thus while in the strength of Christ, they were strong, in his image they were lovely.

And what was done for the afflicted apostles, God will do for all. his afflicted people. No weapon formed against them will prosper. In every temptation, he will provide a way of escape. He will be with them in six troubles, and in seven he will not forsake them. All things are theirs, "whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” The pledge, which God, in infinite compassion, has given to his redeemed family, that where he has begun a good work, he will carry it on until the day of Jesus Christ, implies a regular and constant supply of grace and strength, proportioned to the trials with which we meet, the conflicts in which we engage, and the sufferings we are called to endure. God has undertaken to bring his people to heaven, their growth in grace is a necessary preparation for that state, and that growth depends on a constant Divine influence. Hence he will never leave them, he will never forsake them. The light which has illumined their darkness will shine more and more unto the perfect day. They shall go from strength to strength, every one of them appearing in Zion before God.


1. How safe and happy are the Lord's people. They are not exempt from trials, but are permitted to know that their strength shall be proportioned to their burdens. They are to be tempted, but shall be kept from falling; are to be afflicted, but the fruit of the affliction will be to take away sin ; they are to bear a burden, and wear a yoke, but that yoke shall be easy, and that burden light; they are to be scourged, but the strokes will be fewer than their crimes, and lighter than their guilt. Hence they are the blessed of the Lord. They can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth them. They are dear to his heart, who governs the world, who notices the sparrow and the worm, and will not suffer a hair of their head to perish. They have not yet arrived at heaven, but they are sure to reach that world, and live for ever in the presence of their Lord. And all this blessedness belongs to the meanest disciple of the Lord Jesus. Not one who has ever possessed a heavenly temper, will find his conflict too severe, or come short of that rest that remains for the people of God. They will be able in their dying song to tantalize their last enemy, and say, “O death! where is thy sting? Oh, grave! where is thy victory ?"

2. Their present strength and courage do not decide how they shall appear in the hour of conflict, or what shall be their future condition. It is absurd that the believer should yield his hope because he does not find himself prepared for trials which have not yet come. He expects, in this case, a mercy never promised. God will prepare him when he tries him, will give him strength when he calls him to the onset. Our strength is not to be greater than our day, but equal. Should it be greater, we should become proud ; should it be less, we should be discouraged. The interpositions of Divine mercy, will exactly suit the exigencies of our case. Christians may fear that they will not be prepared, should they be called to this and that affliction, and still may do honor to the Lord in the very trial. They may tremble to contemplate that stroke which shall sunder them from some beloved friend, and may be all their life time in bondage, through fear of death, and still

may close the eyes of that friend, and their own eyes, with the most entire composure.

Tender and delicate females have, when supported by the Divine presence, braved the terrors of a crucifix, and stood undaunted, while the fires were kindling to consume them. I have seen the widowed mother quite happy, while she softly shut the eyelids of a dying son, on whom she had hoped to lean as the prop of her old age, and for whom she felt a peculiar attachment. I have seen the father employed in blessing the Lord, while the object of his earthly hopes, and the only support of his name, lay amid the throes of an agonized death. And it happens with almost all the Lord's people, that they quit the world calm and happy. He whom they serve in life will not forsake them in death.

If, then, we find our strength equal to our present conflicts, we have nothing to fear. Our courage will kindle as the battle

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