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airIam2worship
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« on: March 30, 2007, 08:31:32 AM »

SOLITUDE SWEETENED

by James Meikle, 1730-1799
 

"My meditation of Him shall be sweet." Psalm 104:34

MEDITATION
 

"My meditation of Him shall be sweet."
(Psalm 104:34)
 

The heavenly meditator has the happiest life in the world, and the most enriching commerce with the celestial Indies, from whence he returns laden with an unseen store of immortal joy, and spiritual consolation. As he continues to meditate on the great things of God, such amazing plenitudes are displayed before his eye, that he finds in the divine fullness, sufficient subjects for meditation through eternity itself. Meditation, like the spies sent from Israel in the wilderness, returns with a good account of the good land, presents some of the fruits of paradise, and produces refreshing grapes pulled from the true VINE. Here the weary soul retires to rest in the bosom of the promise, in the love of God, in spite of all surrounding troubles; and drinks at the river before the throne, which makes her forget her miseries, as waters that flow away. O the high estate of the sons of God in meditation! They walk in the fields of glory, associate with the angels of light, and hold communion with God himself! Thus having been in the mount with God, their soul is beautified; thus, their face shines, and their mind seems as if in heaven, nobly opposing the base practices of the men of the world.

O my soul! while mortals are combating for crowns below, meditate on your crown above; view the beauties of the better country; ruminate on the happiness of the inhabitants there; think on the fullness of the heavenly glory; talk of the love of God, and dwell on the adorable excellencies of the divine Redeemer. This work is its own reward, and assimilates the soul to "the bright and morning Star." Be ashamed henceforth to occupy yourself in meditating how to raise your fortune, how to make yourself famous, and how to plan your lot in the world; this last commit to God, and cast the rest away! But let him, whose favor is better than life, be the object of your love, and the subject of your meditations! Thus shall you begin heaven, anticipate bliss, and prepare for eternity and glory!


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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2007, 08:34:17 AM »

Christ the Rock in the weary land

 "He caused him to suck honey out of the rock, oil out of the flinty rock." (Deuteronomy 32:13)

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my Savior, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the strength of my salvation, my stronghold." (Psalm 18:2)

"And a MAN shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a shelter from the tempest, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." (Isaiah 32:2)

Let the travelers through the parched deserts of Arabia, tell how comforting the shadow of a cloud is—which diminishes the heat in a arid place. Let the desert wanderers tell what it is to hide their scorched shoulders from the burning sun in the shadow of a rock. How much greater reason have I to boast of my Rock! From his pierced side the fountain of life flows—which pours refreshment into my panting soul. Here I have not only shadow from the heat, but shelter from the storm.

What is firmer than a rock? Winds may rend the cedars of Lebanon, and tear them up by their roots: but here the tempests beat, and are baffled; the billows dash, and are broken; time hovers, and corrodes not the flinty mass. Nevertheless, rocks are not armor against every invasion from destruction and ruin. For see, the enraged thunders rend their towering tops, and angry earthquakes toss them from their seats, while the earth beneath opens fearfully, and hides the ponderous heaps. But my Rock shall stand fast forever, when the foundations of the earth are moved, and the pillars of heaven tremble! There shall I be safe, when the hail shall sweep away the refuges of lies; yes, when God shall rain on sinners—snares, fire, and brimstone, in the furious storm of wrath, I shall sing in safety, being an inhabitant of the Rock of ages, from which I never shall be moved!

No wonder, then, that the saint of God shouts for joy, being an inhabitant on high, and having for his place of defense the fortress of rocks. Sometimes, indeed, the blind world is ready to allege, that their rock has abandoned them, and that if God were their God, surely he would intervene for them—when they see martyrs going to execution; some to the gibbet, and others to be drowned in the sea; some to the rack, and others to the fire. But then their divine Comforter invisibly attends them, and he whose form is like the son of God walks with them amidst the fire, and fans away the flame. This is the Rock from which I am filled with honey, the Rock that pours out rivers of oil for me.

Do rocks defend me from blasts, from whatever quarter they blow? So does my Rock. Is the blast from hell? Well, he has the keys of hell and of death. Is it from sin? He is my righteousness. Is it from Satan? He has conquered principalities and powers. Is it from afflictions? He is my sympathizing and loving High Priest. Is it from losses? He is my exceeding great reward. Is it from crosses? He makes all things work together for good to his people. Is it from anguish? He is my joy. Is it from darkness? He is my Sun. Is it from doubts? He is my Counselor. Is it from deadness? He is my life. Is it from enemies? He is my shield. Is it from temptation? He is my deliverer. Is it from false friends? He will never leave me, nor forsake me. Is it from solitude or banishment? He is everywhere present. Is it from disease? He is my healer. Is it from death? He is the resurrection and the life.

O glorious refuge! O sure defense! O everlasting fortress! Here do I defy the worst that earth and hell can do. Henceforth will I live by faith, in the MAN who is my hiding place from the wind, my shelter from the tempest, my stream of water in a dry place, my shadow of a great rock in a weary land—until every blast has blown over, and not a threatening cloud appears in my sky—until my heaven is beautified with everlasting day, and every storm is swept from the air which I breathe!

"And a MAN shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a shelter from the tempest, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." (Isaiah 32:2)

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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2007, 08:49:45 AM »

If God gives Christ, what can he withhold?

Are believers in the valley of tears? Is their dwelling place Bochim and Baca? Well, God's mercy outstretches all their misery! Promises of grace dispel the mental gloom, and bear away the ponderous loads of grief! The soft handkerchief of love wipes off the furrowing tear! An inspired penman begins the glorious sentence with an unanswerable question. "If God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up to the death for us all, how shall he not also with him give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) Comfort, then; you sons of sorrow; comfort, my soul! There is more in this verse than can be comprehended! And there is more love in the heart of God, than any language, or idiom of speech, can convey to finite creatures!

If, for my sake, he has given his Son, what will he withhold in all the creation? Is his creation—the breath of his mouth—better to him than his eternal, co-eternal Son? Is the work of his hands dearer to him than his well-beloved bosom Son? And has he given him to the die for you—and then will he deny you any necessity? No! He who feeds the soul with heavenly manna—will support the body with daily bread! He who gives drink out of the wells of salvation—will not fail to afford a cup of cold water! He who has provided a robe of righteousness, to cover the shame of my sin—will also give wool in the cold season. He who furnishes my inner man with all the armor of God, will put a covering on my head in the day of battle and war. (At this time the Author had a view of entering into the navy, being time of war, as he did some time after.) He who, in the counsel of peace, from eternity, secured my peace, will also shine upon my path, and decree what shall come to pass. He who has written my name among the living in Jerusalem, will also preserve, (this my faith pleads and expects,) my character, that I shall not shame what I profess in the world. He who has destroyed spiritual death, will also for me unsting natural death, and spoil the grave of its victory!

Again, how can it be possible that God should give his Son, himself, his all—and yet deny me any good thing? Will not he who is to crown me with glory above—strengthen me with grace below? Will he not bless me with peace of mind—who is to be my peace forever? Triumph, O my faith! all things are Christ's, and Christ is God's! And God, Christ, and all things, are yours! Time is his, and in it I have my years numbered! The air is his, and in it I breathe! The world is his—and on it I dwell; its fullness is his—and I am fed! Grace is his—and in it I stand! Faith is his gift—and by it I overcome the world! Tribulations are from him—and in them I glory! Perfection is his—and towards it I press! Death is his—and by it I arrive at home! Heaven is his—and there is my mansion! Eternity is his, and there is my treasure and glory forevermore!

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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2007, 10:11:32 AM »

SUBMISSION

Will any, or will I, pretend to teach the Most High knowledge, seeing he is excellent in all his working, and perfect in all his ways? Then, since I cannot direct him, why am not I submissive to his disposal? Can I predict events, or foresee futurities? No! How then can I promise myself serenity from a cloudless sky? or fear storms from an obscured heaven? when, as to the first, the gathering meteors may suspend an unexpected shadow before the sun; or, as to the second, the gathered clouds may scatter, and let the welcome beams refresh the weary world. So, Lord, as from present appearances, future contingencies cannot be discerned—it is my duty, and shall be my study, to be WHOLLY, FULLY, and FOREVER, at your disposal, to whom all your works, all my purposes, and all my wanderings, are known from the beginning!

O! how the Christian should glory in God's choosing for him the lot of his inheritance, and be content with that condition which Heaven accounts best for him, though not the grandest or greatest; nor the richest or happiest; nor that state he most desires. I am not my own—for I am bought with a price, and dearly paid for too! Would it not be too daring for me to instruct God how to decorate the heavens, how to set the sun, station the moon, place the poles, plant the stars, and guide the wandering planets? Now, I am as much his by right, (yes, in the ties of love, more,) and as much at his disposal, as any of these his other creatures; and if I cannot complain of his conduct with these, why quarrel at his providences toward me?

Another thing which ought to encourage to submission, is, that God's way is not only equitable in itself, but profitable for his people, for the latter end of the righteous is peace; and the end of the Lord is always gracious to his afflicted ones—who chooses them in the furnace of affliction, brings light out of darkness, order out of confusion, real good out of seeming evil; and, finally, brings through fire and water to a place of eternal glory!

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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2007, 10:12:57 AM »

COMFORTABLE CONCLUSIONS

"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!"
(Romans 5:20)
 

Dear Savior, in your sufferings I not only see the infiniteness of sin, but also the infiniteness of your love; so that, though I have cause with myself to be angry on account of sin, I need not despair. If the desert of my sinful folly is death—the merit of your sufferings is life! If my sins mount up to heaven—your mercy is above the heavens! Though my sins reach to the very throne to accuse me—there is ONE upon the throne who will not condemn me! My sins, in their seven-fold abominations, can rise no higher than the throne, but the rainbow of redeeming love and grace is both around and above the throne, and that in its seven-fold beauties—power, wisdom, justice, goodness, holiness, mercy, and truth. And as all the different rays meet in one glorious beam of light, so all the attributes, all the perfections of God, are summed up in LOVE! God is graciously pleased to be called by his favorite name, "God is love!" By the mingling rays of this beauteous rainbow, all my blackness is removed, and I am clothed with his beauty!

When I look to myself and see my vileness and necessity--I am confounded with shame! But when I look to you, and see your fullness and all-sufficiency, I am confounded with wonder! Am I weak? He is my strength. Am I foolish? He is my wisdom! Am I wicked? He is my righteousness! Am I impure? He is my sanctification! Am I in bondage? He is my complete redemption! Am I in misery? From him tender mercy flows. Am I deceitful? He is wholly truth! In a word, am I enmity itself? Then he is love itself which passes understanding! Mine is but the enmity of a creature—but his love is the love of God!

Sin may raise the tempest of wrath, but can do no more. But Christ not only calms the raging tempest, but gives peace of conscience, flowing from intimations of peace with God, and makes me heir of all things! Where sin abounded—grace did much more abound! Where misery has surrounded me—mercy has crowned me! Sin is too strong for me—but your grace is too strong for sin!

Why, then, am I so vexed with fears, doubts, and unbelief? Because I am sinful? On that very account, Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin—that I, who knew no righteousness, might be made the righteousness of God in him. But I am a great sinner! Then, he is a Savior, and a great One! Where is boasting now soul? See—it is great mercy in God, great merit in Christ—which saves a great sinner! Since rich and free grace builds the temple of salvation, let it have all the glory!

But I fall often into the same sin! That is my failing, over which I ought to mourn, and by which I should be driven out of all boasting in my own holiness, high attainments, and religious duties; and cry, with tears of holy joy, "Grace, grace to him that has laid the foundation, carries on the whole work of redemption, and will, with shouting bring forth the topstone!"


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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2007, 10:59:01 AM »

RESIGNATION
 
Sovereign Lord, what I most desired you have denied, yet I praise you! On what account, I know not, yet I praise you. You have done it; that silences me. Your will makes it indisputable, and renders it my indispensable duty to your wise determinations. Hitherto I have had no complaint on the conduct of providence; nor shall I complain until all the mazes are explained. Do, then, all your counsel, though all my counsels should come to nothing. Can a person expect favors from God--who will not wait for God's way and time?

But what does it matter how the affairs of a present world go, if the interests of the next world are secured? The weather-vane is whirled about with every blast, but the iron spire is still at rest, because it cannot be displaced. So, what does it matter though the outward man decays--if the inner man grows? What does it matter though the temporal condition be perplexed--if the conscience is possessed of spiritual peace? I praise you that you interpose your providence, even in disappointing my dearest plans; and do not give me up to the blind desires of my own heart, and to wander at random in counsels of mine own. I can resolve the present case into nothing but your will; yet I rejoice more to resign your will, and to be submissive to your disposal, than to have my will in every point performed. This is the only way in my private capacity that I can glorify you.

If all things went as I would have them, I could not positively learn the care of God. But when providence, beyond all human probability, twists enterprises out of my hands, and well-resolved designs out of my heart--this clearly shows to me your condescending concern about my lot and life. Thus you take the wise in their own craftiness; for when all my schemes were so well laid, that human policy approved of, and wit itself commended; yet, when you did blow upon them, how did they like rainbows painted on the watery clouds, when thunders break, or boisterous winds attack--scatter into disappointments and pain!

Hence, in the school of providence I am taught some lessons.

1. Not to look to the appearance of things, but to the power of God, who brings light out of darkness, and calls the things that are not, as though they were.

2. That from probabilities, impossibilities may spring; while apparent impossibilities dissolve into easy escapes. As for the first, it was very probable that the Egyptians might overtake and put Israel to the sword, yet it became impossible for them to do it. And as for the second it seemed impossible that Israel could escape ruin, when enclosed with insurmountable hills, and swelling seas, and pursued by enraged foes; yet, in what an easy way did they walk to their deliverance!

3. I am taught to believe, and to give glory to the almighty power of God, when impossibilities throng thick before me.

4. To see my own finite wisdom to be but folly, that I can neither prevent nor foresee those events which I do not desire.

5. To hold all my mercies, all my privileges from God, and not from the certainty in which they seem to stand.

6. Not to think that things are lost, when so they seem to be. When I think I am most sure of some things, they are all on a sudden taken from me; so when lost, they can all of a sudden be restored.

7. And, lastly, to see the mutable and fickle state of temporal things, and therefore to hold a loose grip on the creature, however dear, however near--and to set my affections on things that are above.


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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2007, 01:22:17 PM »

Feeble Nature


 Oh! how do I groan in this body of clay—this clog of humanity! When I would serve God with gladness, feeble nature hinders me; my strength is exhausted, and I must be again refreshed with sleep. Grace had not only sin to fight against—but it has bodily infirmity to struggle with. And I have no way of getting comfort under my calamities of this kind, which are so many, but by beholding with the eye of faith, through the telescope of Scripture—the glories of the world above, when this mortal shall put on immortality, and death shall be swallowed up in life. There my weary eyes shall never seek to be refreshed with sleep, amidst the engaging glories of the higher house!

The mirth of this present evil world, like an enchantress, lulls men asleep to everlasting destruction; but the songs of the inner temple rouse to all eternity. With the strength of an angel shall I step along the hills of glory, and walk over the paradise of God. With greater ease shall I go on with the highest acts of adoration, than here give over the ordinary acts of devotion; for it shall be life to my soul, and vigor to all my powers, to be so employed! There he who pours the new wine into the saints, capacitates, strengthens, and supports the soul, to receive the eternal weight of glory. Meditation shall never tire my thoughts in tracing all the mazes of redeeming love! Everlasting hallelujahs shall dwell on my tongue; and how shall I improve in the song above, while I rest not day or night to sing, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive glory, and honor, blessings and power, dominion and praise, forever and ever!"

There the uninterrupted vision of him, to whom when I see him I shall be assimilated—shall strengthen my eyes, that they shall be able to receive the images of all the celestial glories. No weariness there, where the exercise of worship renders happy. No weakness, where Jehovah is my strength. No lack of subject, where the Lord God and the Lamb are my song! Oh! shall I be able to praise and worship God through eternity? To sing his being and attributes, his love and his mercy, his righteousness and his truth, even a whole God, and a full glory! This will be my consummate happiness, and continual enjoyment!

Well then, what though the hours of time steal from me unknown? I rejoice that I shall not lose one moment through weariness, while eternity rolls forever on. Oh! may I improve this to prepare for that; for if eternity is not secured before time is spent, I am undone in both.

Roll on, O day of love, to perfect strength in my weakness, and crown a poor expectant with eternal glory!



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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2007, 01:27:08 PM »

Worldly losses and misfortunes universal


"Mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." (Job 5:7)

Convene, you mournful throng, and vent your dreary moans; muster all your complaints, and recite the causes of your sorrow. Then hear royalty itself break silence first in the melancholy list, and tell in tears. Distress even attacks the throne, and sorrow and gloom penetrate within the palace walls. Sorrow has a lodging place in every brow, from the king to the beggar; and at one time or other, we may expect to see the lodging possessed by all the gloomy train. Hence see one sad, under the loss of his honor and reputation; another meeting with disappointment instead of advancement; another seldom out of mourning, so fast his relations die around him. Some have neither son nor grandson in the neighborhood; daughter nor grand-daughter in the house.

There the affectionate wife has lost the husband of her youth; and here the disconsolate mourner has interred his lovely spouse. Here so many needy pensioners are real mourners at the burial of their benefactors, who can be no more concerned for them; there a tender family are weeping at the grave of both parents. Here the letter from the distant Indies, brings the melancholy account of father, son, or brother's death, who was long expected home, but now shall return no more; there the list of the slain on the day of battle, fills many a sad heart with sorrow. Here a sudden misfortune snatches one away in the bloom of life; there another is slain by the bloody ruffian. Here the tender infant dies unseen in the silent night; and there the pretty boy perishes in the water. Here the devouring flame robs a man of his all, while some of the family are consumed in the burning; there the fierce tempest sends the merchant's treasure into the depths of the sea, and the crew go down together. Here the barren wife longs to embrace a son; and there another bitterly bewails that ever her wayward son was born.

Here one loses his good name innocently, and has no method to clear it until the day of judgment; and there peace is taken away from those who should live in daily harmony. Here some are oppressed with pinching poverty; there others with pining sickness. Some are banished their native country; others condemned to perpetual imprisonment. Some are deformed from their mother's womb; others lose their limbs by accidents. There sits the blind begging, while the lame is carried from door to door. Of some God has tied the tongue, that it cannot speak; of others stopped the ear, that it cannot hear. There some deprived of reason, neither rest themselves, nor allow those around them to rest—their case is melancholy above description.

In a word, what losses and crosses, sorrows and distresses, uncertainties and anxieties, do mankind labor under! The wisdom which is from above, will lead me to expect nothing but vanity and vexation here below. But, O! how happy is the soul that has all the treasure in heaven, all his happiness in God! May this be my case, and then I shall triumph in the midst of losses, distresses, disappointments, and pain!




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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2007, 09:44:33 AM »

PROVIDENCE

How manifold are the mercies of God, and how surprising the scene of adorable Providence! Here wheels revolve within a wheel, and all the glorious spokes are full of flaming eyes, signifying omniscience and wisdom. Seeming contradictions just conduce to bring about the longed-for blessing. Providence aloud proclaims a God; and to the observing eye, the  providential government of the world in general, and of men and their affairs of life in particular—is not less beautiful, is not less surprising, than the creation of the world. What mighty mountains are removed, what stupendous difficulties are dissolved by providence—that a plain and easy passage may be prepared for the approaching good!

O how is my soul delighted with the back-look into my life, and ravished with the sweet survey of the conduct of Providence! All mercies are benignant and comforting; but O how do some exceedingly surprise! when I behold the instrument or hand by which, the way and manner how, and the time when they came. Have I not seen it from a hand I expected nothing from, in a way and manner I never could have contrived, and at a time when least apparent? has not holy Providence written a blank on my wisdom and prudence, in baffling my enterprises, rendering my endeavors abortive, and bringing my counsel to nothing—that he alone might be exalted? And then, in a way out of my view, foreign to my expectation, and without my endeavors, granted the very same request I had sought?

Sometimes seeming contradictions vex the poor expectant, though only sent to exercise his faith in God, and patience for the performance of the promise. I have also seen disappointments multiplied. Disappointments not only bring about, but beautify the blessing. Sometimes providence has hindered me to embrace an offered favor, when I knew not how or why, that to my greater advantage it might be afterwards bestowed.

Your path, O Governor of men and angels! is in the mighty waters, and your footsteps are not known! For who can know the ways of him who is wonderful in working? Therefore I approve his conduct, admire his goodness—and where I cannot see his end, am silent, and adore!


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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2007, 09:46:51 AM »

TRUE GREATNESS

Many are reckoned great by the world, and are often envied by their inferiors, who are yet ignorant of what renders man truly great. A courtier, as Ahithophel, a prince, as Haman, and a king, as Belshazzar, may be vile and sordid people; for often in the highest stations the basest of men are set up. Coaches and chariots; horses and hounds; many servants, and a numerous retinue; a sumptuous table, and fine apparel; high titles, and honorary posts; great friends, and noble blood; rich connections, and immense wealth—do not constitute true greatness. It is not nobility, or popularity, or beauty, or talent—that will render one great. It is not strength of body, natural courage, liberal education, bright parts, or sparkling genius—that can make a truly great man. Hence this seeming contradiction, yet sterling truth, Great men are not always great.

Are there, then, great men any where to be found? Yes, though they attract not much notice or regard of men. The holy, humble, self-denied soul, is truly great. He who lives above the things of time, and has his meditation on God, and the things of the invisible world. He who is pleased with a little of the good things of this world—can forgive enemies—pass by affronts—forget injuries—repay hatred with love—rejoice in tribulation—triumph in faith—have rule over his own spirit—mourn for the sins of the times—weep over his lack holiness—tremble at God's threatenings—depend on the promises—bewail his omissions—repent daily for his sin—wrestle in prayer, and prevail with God, and, Enoch-like, have his conversation in heaven, and walk with God—this is he who is truly great in the eye of angels, in the eye of God!



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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2007, 09:49:14 AM »

DISAPPOINTMENTS
 
How uncertain are our best-founded expectations from created things! Nothing seemingly more sure; the time when, the place where, and the manner how—designs were to be put in execution, being set by the agreement and concurrence of everyone concerned! And yet, in the event, nothing more unsure! O irresistible Providence! How do you laugh at the folly of man, whose blind eye sees nothing to change the face of things, until by an unexpected resolution, and severe discipline, he is made to know his fallibility and blindness! O foolish heart of man, to be fond of this or that to excess! You see the beginning of a matter, but not the end; you behold the outer wheel of providence, but consider not that there is an inner wheel, even a wheel in the middle of a wheel, which produces scenes unobserved before, scenes which finite wisdom never could invent.

Perhaps the present disappointment, though great and unexpected, is a kind one, could I with patience wait and see the outcome. And, beyond dispute, it is a just one; "for shall not the righteous Judge of all the earth, do what is right?"

But is my disappointment in the most momentous things, or only in matters of inferior concern? Have I got a message from the court of Heaven, that there is no salvation for me there? no mercy at the throne? no peace to be expected from him that sits thereon? No, no! Then what ails me? Eternal felicity secured is a noble panacea, and a sufficient antidote against the heaviest disappointments and misfortunes of this deceitful world! A faithless flatterer, a falsifying friend, a violated promise, a mob of backbiters, sad disappointment, a worldly loss, a thwarted enterprise, a vain expectation, a disappointed hope—what do all these matter—in comparison of the everlasting interests of my immortal soul? But, if these afflictions make me miserable, shall I make myself more miserable still, by handling the coals which burn me, and reading over the register of my misfortunes, which will be forgotten in eternity? How, then, shall I anticipate the felicity of the world to come—but by forgetting my miseries in the triumph of faith?

Moreover, these many turnings, and stupendous meanders of my life, are all squared by the straight line of the decree of God, with whom nothing is crooked. The seeming gaps of my lot are but the fulfilment of heaven's design concerning me, and my repeated disappointments are only the accomplishment of the wise counsel of God.

Besides, who can tell what heaven has in reserve for me? It is good to wait on God, and expect good at his hand. "Ah!" says unbelief, "nothing good at present appears." Hush! you atheistical monster, will you limit Omnipotence, or allege, that infinite wisdom is confounded, and Almighty Power not able to perform what it desires? I shall yet see his kindness as large as my faith, and his mercy measure with my widest expectations. May I never get the desire of my heart, but only as it is consistent with God's blessing; nor the request of my lips but only as it is consistent with his good will.

This is, indeed, consolation to me, that no sinister views stare ghastly in my face, when so many struggling thoughts pass through my suffering heart. If my sin be a sin of ignorance, pardon me, and show me why you contend with me. But, perhaps my heart was too much set on my favorite desire, which, though lawful in itself, might by excess, become unlawful. So Aesop hugged his child to death, out of too much fondness. Then let me keep within the due bounds of esteem, everything below; and take a loose hold of all earthly things, that when they are twisted out of my hand, they may not torment my heart!
But why are you disquieted, my soul? Why uneasy still? Recall your past life, and lay it down before you, and mark, if you can, when you had any reason to complain of Heaven's dealings towards you. Have not things, which, at their first appearance, seemed adverse and painful—turned out at last for good? Say, when you review the whole, say, if you dare—if ever God dealt badly with you! No! Every providence will prove the contrary! Every mercy will affirm it! Yes, every change of life, every crook of your lot will seal it.

But, seeing this is your work, O God! the effect of your ever righteous and wise will, I ought not only to be silent—but rejoice in your sovereign dealings; and be glad in that you have done for me, and wonder that you should so concern yourself with me, so as to disappoint my ignorant designs, schemes, plans, and enterprises! Hence I bless you for all that befalls me. If I have had sinful plans, I plead for pardon through Christ's meritorious name.

Now, I rest, and am composed, and calmly wait on you, resigned to heaven's determination, in everything concerning me in time—until I arrive at that better country, at that perfect state, where there is neither disappointment nor pain!



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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2007, 11:58:23 AM »

EXPERIENCE


 How good is it to trust in God, and wait for kindness at his hand! When hope is gone, and all endeavors rendered useless, his watchful providence grants me my request, opens a door for me, and does all that I desire—which is truly good for my soul. O how I admire the kindness of his love, and the wise disposal of his providence! When disappointments thronged thick on me, I knew not what to think, or what to do; but through your grace, I waited for your counsel, and have not waited in vain. Your time, your way, your method, are the best. You clearly see through dark scenes, and know my frame, and best what suits it—than the deepest penetration of my heart ever can.

Now, when I have for many years, as it were, tried the dispensation of God's providence, what have I to say against it? Nothing! For, what at first appeared dark, intricate and perplexing—in a little while became clear and intelligible. Yes, sometimes that scene which seemed most gloomy on the outer wheel, when the inner wheel revolved, shone most glorious, even to my astonishment; so that, what has in the beginning extorted desponding thoughts from me, has in the end excited me to songs of praise!

In the part of my life which is already past, and in the scenes of providence which are already cleared up, I cheerfully confess, and sing—He has done all things well! This is confirmed to me by the experience of many years; so that I blush when I see some of the 'mysteries of Providence' in part unriddled—that I have had such low apprehensions of the love and goodness of God, measuring his wisdom by my shallow comprehension, his power by my cramped weakness, his love by my unbelief; his goodness by my evil eye, and his ways with me—by my ways with him! Yes, I have been vile enough, in every new scene of providence, to fall anew into the same sin, and subject myself anew into the same shame and blushing.

"Experience is the schoolmaster of fools," says the proverb. But what a fool must I be, who will not be instructed by all I have seen! Why should I have one hard thought of the painful circumstances with which I am at present entangled? Though in many things I have yet the dark side—and not the bright side of the cloud towards me; yet I should not have the least hard conclusion on the conduct of God's unerring Providence—but wait until it be accomplished, and cleared up to me.

But how shall I blush, (were it possible) and be confounded at my base thoughts of God and his providence—when 'the wandering labyrinth that composed my life' shall be unriddled in the noon-day brightness of glory—to my unspeakable joy, and everlasting admiration!

As I cannot recall these doubts that now distract my bosom, to convert them into acts of faith; nor these murmurings to hush them into silent resignation; I should study now to glorify God in the deepest valley of misery, and darkest night of adversity—by thinking highly and honorably of him who governs all things—both heaven and earth.

Finally, how sweet must that day be to my soul, when my experience shall confirm and confess the kind end of every providence; and providence shall sweetly explain and accomplish the promise; and all shall join in one voice forever. Not one good thing has failed of all that the Lord has spoken!



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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2007, 12:00:20 PM »

CONTENTMENT

What would you have, O my soul! to make you content? You have much in hand, and more in hope. You have the comforts of life, and the means of salvation; the word preached and the sacraments dispensed; an open vision, and an English Bible. You have the possession of the life that now is, and the promise of that which is to come. If you are not so blessed as some, you are not so miserable as others. If there are many in a higher and better state in the world than you, (and should you quarrel?) there are more in a lower and worse condition, (and should not you wonder that you are so blessed?)

If you get bread to eat, and clothing to put on; or anything which is a blessing—it is much, seeing you deserve the curse and wrath of God! It is mercy that you are an inhabitant of God's earth—you might have been a prisoner in the pit of devouring fire! You have cause of thankful exultation, that God's justice is not inexorably set against you. And it may content you in however bad condition you presently are—that God does not contend with you forever.

Are you not ashamed to wish for much—when you have forfeited all? Would you rather have your better part here on this vain earth—than the eternal portion hereafter? Would rather you have the nether-springs of earthly comforts—than the upper-springs of heavenly consolation? Would you rather have filthy lucre—than the most blessed God? Would you rather have earthly felicity—than heavenly glory? No, Lord! You, yourself, your love alone—shall content me forever! Anything you now give me, is too much for me—who deserve nothing! A crumb of mercy a rich banquet to me—who am a spiritual bankrupt. What does it matter, how I now fare—since I shall in a little while, be brought into the king's palace, there to abide forever in the midst of eternal pleasures?

Surely, then, his time can never be bitter—who has the hope of an happy eternity! Nor can crosses greatly vex that soul—who is crucified to the world, and the world to him! Nor has he any loss to fear—who has his treasures in eternity! Neither can worldly misfortunes impoverish him—who is an heir of the true eternal riches. Nor can the death of friends distress him—whose best friend lives forever!

I see, then, I only need one thing to make me happy. And that is, to know the precious things of my eternal treasure! Speak, and I am blessed forever; speak the heavenly word, "All things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."

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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2007, 07:14:59 AM »

DEATH

There is a lesson which concerns the whole world, which few of the world lay to heart; and that is—that all men are mortal.  The lives of most people, deny the inevitability of death—they live as though they will never die.

I myself confess I must meet with death—but conclude myself immortal for the present, and so don't concern myself with death for the time being—though multitudes drop down around me. Ah! when do I think on death, or suppose its approach near? Many foolish pleasing scenes of life, do I think upon, in my imagination—but how seldom do I think upon the final scene of my death! When do I represent myself to myself, laid on a sick-bed, on a death-bed, with broken groans, cold sweats, trembling joints, languid looks, a failing pulse, and all the signs of death, while friends bewail around me? Or, when do I run through the more solemn and important part of the scene—how, when I leave the world, matters may stand between my soul and God? How I shall appear before the majesty of heaven, and stand in the tremendous judgment? Strange! Is this the practice of one who knows, and sincerely believes—that he must die?

Some wise kings have had their sepulchers hewn out long before their death, that every time they saw them, they might, in the midst of all their pomp and glory, see where they must shortly lie. In this even heathens shame me, of whom some have, by their own orders, had admonishments of their own mortality made to them daily; while others have set the skulls of the deceased at their dinner tables, to moderate their mirth, and remind them of mortality.

When I look abroad in the world—scenes of sorrow are everywhere to be seen. Sometimes both parents taken away from a young family of helpless orphans. At other times, the rising children, the apparent support of their aged and infirm parents, are snatched away from the gray-headed mourners! Who shall quarrel with Omnipotence, whether he cut down the young plants from around the table—or breaks the aged tree from amidst the dependent sprigs?

Indeed, it is hard to persuade 'fond affection' into silence, or to attain to resignation under the loss of a beloved friend. For when my renewed part is prostrate at the throne of the all-wise Disposer, then my corruption is apt to rise in rebellion against the doings of the Most High. But where have I most interest—in my nearest beloved relations, or in God? Is one creature more connected with another creature, by any tie, than the Creator of both? What do I pray for—but that the will of God be done? And yet, if death comes near my family, I take back my word, and would have my will preferred to God's will!

All I am, and have—are God's to dispose of—how and when he pleases! He will never infringe his justice, or forget his compassion and love, even in my afflictions!

Would not I glorify God in my life, and in my death? and why not also in the death of my friends? He glorified himself in their life, therefore they existed; he glorifies himself in their death, therefore they die. Will I pull with God—or against him? Will I tell him that he cannot have my friends yet, for though they have served their generation, yet they have not served my fond affection? An excess of grief here bewrays my lack of love to God, to my relations, and to myself. For if I love God, I will be glad that his will be done with me and those I love—even to death. If I love my friends, I will be happy in their happiness; and if I love my own soul, I will bless God for taking away friends, when they are likely to come too much between myself and my Beloved; and are likely to take too much of my affection away from him who is altogether lovely, and the chief among ten thousand!

Death and life, earth and heaven, time and eternity, the footstool and the throne—are yours, O Sovereign God. Can I then bewail my godly friends, of whose felicity I have the sound hope—that they are brought from death to life, translated from earth to heaven, from time to eternity, and from the footstool to the throne? They are above the reach of sorrow; and, on that account, shall I be below the reach of comfort? Though carnal ties are dissolved in death, yet the spiritual relation never ceases. So it matters not where the spiritual family dwells; for even in heaven they are exalted members of our exalted Head, and I an earthly member of the same exalted Head. Thus, though far scattered, some in this world, some in the other world, yet all shall be convened together in "the general assembly and church of the first born"—free from sin, and free from sorrow!

Almost my anguish would convert to joy, did not streams of briny grief pollute the crystal current, and recall my ponderous loss. But what call I loss? Absence—not loss! They are found with God—dwell in and with God—so in what respects are they lost? Only as I cannot see them. What is my grief—to those who are so happy? And why should I grieve, when I know them to be so happy? If my friend far from home, in a foreign country, informed me that he was in all ways prosperous—I would be happy for him.

But when my godly friends die, I am sure, not only of their felicity—but of its perpetuity! Whatever my loss be, let me look to God for a supply of all. And since I have do not have them to fondly talk with, let my soliloquy be to God. And as my love cannot penetrate into the decaying sepulcher, to hug their putrefying clay; nor enter eternity to embrace their disembodied soul—let it return and empty itself on God alone.

Now I see the vanity of the world! Death when sent, pities not the life of the poor, nor spares not the rich—but is faithful to his charge, and cannot be put off. My godly friends are happy in leaving me, and going to God; I am happy in losing them, and returning to God. God has broken, as Hezekiah did the brazen serpent—the idol to whom I offered incense, only due to God, and called it a piece of clay. But now may the sweet hopes of a blessed immortality banish the sorrows of present dissolution, and mitigate my grief; the more so as I need not sorrow, like those who have no hope. A little while—and I myself will be no more! Soon my dust shall mingle with theirs, and wait that joyful trumpet—which shall summon every godly slumberer to immortality and bliss!


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« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2007, 07:56:53 AM »

Communion with God, what it is


Communion with God is an expression often in my mouth—but which sinks no further. I may know the word—but neither its blessed import, nor glorious extent. My prayers and practice jar; for while I beg it with my lips, I study not to attain it in my life. Ah! what a stranger am I to that which I would gladly have flattered myself that I am acquainted with! Alas what do I know of walking with God—of that joy which is found in believing? What do I know of the lasting and abiding impressions of his inexpressible love! What do I know of that transforming vision, and assimilating sight which is enjoyed below, whereby the soul is changed into God's image, from glory to glory! What do I know of dwelling in his presence all the day long! What of pouring out my soul in prayer to him! and wrestling with him for the blessing! How seldom is my meditation of him sweet!

Union with God is the basis of communion with him; for how can those walk or talk together who are not agreed? O then be joined to the Lord, and become one spirit! But, my soul, mistake not communion, for it lies not in a flaming profession, nor in the performance of Christian duties, as reading, hearing, praying, praising, though enjoyed in these; nor in the greatest abilities, and brightest talents; nor in lofty expressions in prayer; nor in the knowledge of divine things.

What is it then? It is just a dwelling in and with God, and God dwelling in and with the soul. It is God's love going out on the soul, and the soul in love going out on God. God dwells in the duty with supplies of grace, in the meditation as its subject, and in the heart as a portion and chief good. And the soul dwells in God as her ultimate end, dilates in his fullness, delights in his bliss. The soul that is blessed with such a communion, favored with such a fellowship, knows no other object for her love; no other subject for her thoughts; no other employment for her faculties; no higher degree of happiness for her attainment, than consummate communion; no other beloved for her affection; and no other end for her existence. Nor is this all. In communion with God, the soul shares of his fullness, communicates of his glory, drinks at his pleasures, satiates herself with his love, participates of his communicable perfections, enters into his joy, and partakes of the divine nature. O life of angels! O paradise of love, O transporting employ! O ecstacy of bliss! The soul is always with Gods now in prayer, then in praise; now in meditation, then in worship. She has not a complaint but she tells to God; not a grief but she makes known to him; not a sin but she mourns over, to him; not a request, not a desire—but she reveals to him. O that holy intimacy that is contracted between the soul and God! that freedom of converse, that wrestling with God in prayer, disputing about the blessing! Let me go—I will not let you go until you bless me! This is the life of heaven on earth, God come down to man—or man taken up to God.

Now, my soul, what do you think of all this? Ah! the carnal mind is enmity against God, and against communion with God. Then I must either be crucified to the world, or cursed with the world. Communion with God is not a 'Sunday's devotion'—a rapture in time of praise or prayer, and returning greedily to the world. Communion is another thing than I have hitherto taken it to be. It is constant and continual. I should endeavor to keep my soul always in an heavenly frame, even in earthly affairs—thus the angels, even in messages to our world, carry heaven with them. Although I must mind the necessary affairs of this life, yet I should carry God to the field with me, and to the closet, to the street, and to my table. I should work, and walk, fall asleep, and awake in his presence; and talk with him on my bed, when all around me keep silence; and when hurried away with vain rovings, my soul should still return to God, as her center, as her resting place.

O the pleasure that is in this life of communion with God! It is a young heaven, with which, in the highest degree of perfection, all the saints in glory are blessed. Then, Lord, begin this life of communion in my soul, to which I am too much a stranger! Destroy everything that would destroy it! And as I would desire to live with you hereafter, so let me endeavor to live with you here, and thus improve for eternity, and prepare for the world to come!


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