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to have their children wise and valiant, apt for
counsel or for arms, send them to severe govern-
ments, and tie them to study, to hard labour, and
afflictive contingencies. They rejoice when the
bold boy strikes a lion with his hunting- spear,
and shrinks not when the beast comes to affright
his early courage. And the man that designs his
son for noble employments, to honours and to
triumphs, to consular dignities and presidencies
of councils, loves to see him pale with study, or
panting with labour, hardened with sufferance or


eminent by dangers. And so God dresses us for
heaven. He loves to see us struggling with a dis-
ease, and resisting the devil, and contesting against
the weaknesses of "nature, and against hope to
believe in hope, resigning ourselves to God's will,
praying Him to choose for us, and dying in all
things but faith and its blessed consequences, ut
ad officium cum pcriculo simus prompii; and the
danger and the resistance shall endear the office.
For so I have known the boisterous north wind
pass through the yielding air, which opened its
bosom, and appeased its violence, by entertaining
it with easy compliance in all the regions of its
reception ! but when the same breath of heaven
hath been checked with the stiffness of a tower, or
the united strength of a wood, it grew mighty, and
dwelt there, and made the highest branches stoop,
and make a smooth path for it on the top of all its
glories. So is sickness, and so is the grace of God :
when sickness hath made the difficulty, then God's
grace hath made a triumph, and by doubling its
power hath created new proportions of a reward ;
and then shows its biggest glory when it hath the
greatest difficulty to master, the greatest weak-
nesses to support, the most busy temptations to
contest with ; for so God loves that his strength
should be seen in our weakness and our danger.




In the cross is life, in the cross is health, in the
cross protection from every enemy ; from the cross
are derived heavenly meekness, true fortitude, the
joys of the Spirit, the conquest of self, the per-
fection of holiness ! There is no redemption, no
foundation for the hope of the Divine life, but in
the cross. Take up thy cross, therefore, and fol-
low Jesus in the path that leads to everlasting
peace. He hath gone before, bearing that cross
upon which He died for thee, that thou mightest
follow, patiently bearing thy own cross, and upon
that die to thyself for Him ; and if we die with
Him, we shall also live with Him : "if we are
partakers of his sufferings, we shall be partakers
also of his glory '."

Though thou disposest all thy affairs according
to thy own fancy, and conductest them by the
dictates of thy own judgment, still thou wilt con-
tinually meet with some evil, which thou must
necessarily bear, either with or against thy will,
and therefore wilt continually find the cross;
thou wilt feel either pain of body, or distress and
anguish of spirit. Sometimes thou wilt experi-
ence the absence of grace ; sometimes thy neigh-
bour will put thy meekness and patience to the
test ; and what is more than this, thou wilt some-
times feel a burden in thyself, which no human
1 l Pet. v. l.


help can remove, no earthly comfort lighten ; but
bear it thou must, as long as it is the will of God
to continue it upon thee. It is the blessed will of
God, in permitting no ray of comfort to visit us in
the darkness of distress, that we should learn such
profound humility and submission, as to resign
our whole state, present and future, to his absolute

No heart can have so true a sense of the suffer-
ings of Christ, as that which has suffered in the
same kind. The cross is always ready, and waits
for thee in every place. Run where thou wilt,
thou canst not avoid it ; for wherever thou run-
nest, thou takest thyself with thee, and art always
sure of finding thyself. Turn which way thou
wilt, either to the things above or to the things
below, to that which is within, or that which is
without thee, thou wilt in all certainty find the
cross ; and if thou wouldest enjoy peace, and
obtain the unfading crown of glory, it is necessary
that in every place and in all events thou shouldest
bear it willingly, and in patience possess thy soul.

If thou bearest the cross willingly, it will soon
bear thee, and lead thee beyond the reach of
suffering, where God shall take away all suffering
from thy heart. But if thou bearest it with re-
luctance, it will be a burden inexpressively pain-
ful, which yet thou must still feel ; and by every
impatient effort to throw it from thee, thou wilt


only render thyself less and less able to sustain its
weight, till at length it crush thee.

Why hopest thou to avoid that from which no
human being has been exempt ? Who among the
saints hath accomplished his pilgrimage in this
world without adversity and distress ? Even our
blessed Lord passed not one hour of his most
holy life, without tasting " the bitter cup that was
given him to drink ; " and of Himself He saith,
that " it behoved him to suffer, and to rise from
the dead, and so to enter into his glory '." And
why dost thou seek any other path to glory but
that in which, bearing the cross, thou art called
to follow " the Captain of thy salvation ? " The
life of Christ was a continual cross, an unbroken
chain of sufferings ; and desirest thou a perpetuity
of repose and joy ?

This meek and patient submission under it, is
not the effect of any power which is inherent in
man, and which he can boast of as his own : but
is the pure fruit of the grace of Christ. No ; it
is not in man to love and bear the cross ; to resist
the appetites of the body, and bring them under
absolute subjection to the Spirit; to shun ho-
nours ; to receive affronts with meekness ; to
bear with calm resignation the loss of fortune,
health, and friends ; and to have no desire after
the riches, the honours, and pleasures of the

1 Luke xxiv. 26.


world. If thou dependest upon thy own will and
strength to do and to suffer all this, thou wilt find
thyself as unable to accomplish it, as to create
another world ; but if thou turnest to the divine
power within thee, and trustest only to that as
the doer and sufferer of all, the strength of Omni-
potence will be imparted to thee, and the world
and the flesh shall be put under thy feet : armed
with this holy confidence, and defended by the
cross of Christ, thou needest not fear the most
malignant efforts of thy great adversary the devil.

Dispose thyself, therefore, like a true and faith-
ful" servant, to bear with fortitude and resolution
the cross of thy blessed Lord, to which He was
nailed in testimony of his infinite love of thee.
Prepare thy spirit to suffer patiently the innu-
merable inconveniences and troubles of this mise-
rable life ; for these thou wilt find, though thou
runnest to the ends of the earth, or hidest thyself
in its deepest caverns : and it is patient suffering
alone that can either disarm their power, or heal
the wounds they have made. Drink freely and
affectionately of thy Lord's bitter cup, if thou
desirest to manifest thy friendship for Him, and
the part thou hast with Him.

To suffer, therefore, is thy portion ; and to suffer
patiently and willingly, is the great testimony of
thy love and allegiance to thy Lord.

If any way but bearing the cross and dying
to his own will, could have redeemed man from


that fallen life of self in flesh and blood, which
is his alienation from, and enmity to, God ; Christ
would have taught it in his word, and established
it by his example. But of all universally, that
desire to follow Him, He has required the bearing
of the cross; and without exception has said to
all, " If any man will come after me, let him deny
himself, take up his cross, and follow me l ."

When, therefore, we have read all books, and
examined all methods, to find out the path that
will lead us back to the blessed state from which
we have wandered, this conclusion only will re-
main, that "through much tribulation we must
enter into the kingdom of God V



The greatest blessing which man can receive,
is to have his private individual will subordinated
to the sentiment of his relation with God. And
yet his continual business in this world is to
strengthen this individual will, which opposes the
entrance of God into his heart. He seeks its
gratification in all things, and is ever guarding
against any thing which may cross it. He thus
blindly loves and feeds his disease, and resists all
the attempts of Divine love to cure it. This is
man's way, and it is a way which leads down to

1 Matt. xvi. 24. 2 Acts xiv. 22.


death. God's way is to cross man's way, that he
may be turned from it and live. He crosses him
in his good opinion of himself, in his confidence
in his own strength and in his own wisdom. He
crosses him in his favourite schemes of happiness.
He sends affliction after affliction. He pours
bitterness into his soul. He sends disease and
death into the circle of his friends. He gives him
up to the idolatry of the creature, and then tears
his idol from him, or makes it a curse to him.
He lays him on a bed of sickness, and tries him
with pain and restlessness, and brings him to the
boundary which separates time from eternity, and
makes him look backwards into past time and
forwards into the future eternity, and shows him
that he was made to dwell with God through
eternity, and yet that all his past days have been
spent in unfitting himself for this state ; and He
says to him, " How can thy heart endure or thy
hands be strong on the day that I plead with
thee l ? " turn unto Me, the only strength of the crea-
ture. This is the way of God towards man, of that
God whose name is Love : and this is the way that
He expresses his love. It is thus that He shakes
the bulwarks of independence which guard the
entrance of the soul against God. It is thus that
He convinces man of his guilt, and weakness, and
ignorance, and misery, and persuades him to open

^ Ezek. xxii. 14.


the door of his heart to God, and to take shelter
under his compassionate omnipotence. Blessed
are they who are persuaded ; blessed are they in
whose hearts God makes a place for Himself,
though it is by casting out all other joys.



"We know that the government of the world is
in the hand of God, and therefore we may rest
assured, that there is not a single link in the
apparently perplexed chain of human things
which does not connect with, and guide to, the
coming glory; we may rest assured, not only
that all the histories of the kingdoms of this world
are under the influence of an unfelt but irresisti-
ble control, preparing the way for that kingdom
which never can be moved, but also that personal
events as well as national, private as well as public,
are all under the same mandate, commissioned to
lead on to the same great consummation. This
truth gives a seriousness and a dignity to every
thing : it banishes littleness from life, because it
connects all with the glory of God and the eradi-
cation of evil ; and it seems to conduct us under
the shadow of everlasting and omnipotent love,
where we may rest in peace until all calamities be

When the eye of the spirit is thus opened to see
God is working in every thing, and by every thing,

T. ERSK1NE. 17

to bring on the reign of righteousness ; the heart
will feel itself invited to the blessed privilege of
entering into the purposes of God, of sympathizing
with the everlasting counsels of his grace, of re-
joicing in their assured success, and of being a
fellow-worker with Him in every action of life.
These actions may appear small and insignificant
in the world's judgment, but the believer knows
that it is not in vain that the Ruler of the universe
has called him to do all things to the glory of
God. These are animating thoughts for poor
wanderers in the wilderness, who have listened to
the Saviour's voice. For them the fall, with all its
sin, and misery, and darkness, will soon pass
away ; having served, under the control of Him
who bringeth good out of evil, to glorify the
Divine attributes, and to introduce a high, and
holy, and happy order of things ; higher, and
holier, and happier, than that which Adam lost,
because founded on a nearer relation with God,
and a fuller manifestation of his character. The
gate of Eden will once again be unbarred, and
the banished ones be brought back ; and, in the
mean time, though their path lie through the
desert, yet that path is the way of holiness, and in
it He will be with them, ichose presence can make
the wilderness to be glad, and the desert to " rejoice
and blossom like the rose V T. ERSKINE.

1 Isa. xxxv. 1.



"The peace of God, which passeth all under-
standing, shall keep your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus V

This peace keeps the heart in affliction. It is
a pledge of the special love of God to the soul ;
and as such it begets confidence in Him, so that
the soul can stay itself on his promises, and en-
courage itself in his faithfulness, and look to his
care and power for a happy issue out of all its
troubles. It both begets hope and strengthens
hope ; and he who is going full of hope to heaven
is not easily shaken or depressed. With a crown
of life before him, he feels that he can afford to
bear the light affliction of the way that leads to
it. Besides, it leaves us something to fall back
on, when other props, and refuges, and consola-
tions, are withdrawn. Let a worldly man lose
his earthly comforts, and he has lost his all ; but
let a man of God lose what he may, his main
support, his chief treasure is yet safe. Put this
peace into his heart, and then place him where
you will, on the bed of sickness, in the house of
mourning, by the grave of his best, and dearest,
and only friend ; strike him where you may, and
how you may, he can bear the blow. He grieves,
grieves perhaps more than other men ; for his
religion has enlarged his powers of suffering, it
i Phil. iv. 7.


has extended his view, it has deepened his feel-
ings and refined his heart ; but he is not moved ;
no practical, no abiding impression is made on
him. He may weep for an hour, but he will soon
take up the language of the destitute Paul, and
say, " I have all, and abound ; I am full. None
of these things move me ; nay, in all these things
I am more than conqueror, through him that
loved me 1 ." BRADLEY.


The comfort that most delights us, is generally
the first to perish; the mercies we lose the soonest
are those we love the best. This is not the mere
language of sentiment or poetry ; it is the testi-
mony of fact. When have we ever put the crea-
ture in God's place, giving it that room in our soul
which He ought to occupy, but God has either
removed it, or embittered it, or put an end to it ?
Many of our blessings have we lost by loving
them too well. We have slain them by setting
too great a value on them, and taking our rest in
them. There is not a single earthly good that
will bear man's hand when man firmly grasps it.
His touch withers and destroys every thing. And
oh, what a mercy for man that it is so ! It is in
this way that a forgotten God recalls our wander-
ing affections to Himself. lie lays waste the

1 Rom. viii. 37.

c 2


enthroned creature, that He may once again en-
throne Himself : He breaks the cistern, not that we
may be left parched and fainting in the wilderness of
life, but that we may go and satisfy our thirsting
souls once again from the everlasting spring : He
crushes the reed, but He substitutes for it a rock :
He puts far away from us "lover and friend,"
with all the unutterable sweetness of their affec-
tion, and the tenderness of their love ; but what
does He substitute ? Himself : the intense, un-
fathomable love of his own infinite mind, the
presence of Christ, and communion with Heaven.



It is written, that "through much tribulation
we must enter into the kingdom of God 1 ." God
has all things in his own hands. He can spare,
He can inflict : He often spares, (may He spare
us still !) but He often tries us : in one way or
another He tries every one. At some time or
other of the life of every one, there is pain, and
sorrow, and trouble. So it is; and the sooner,
perhaps, we can look upon it as a law of our
Christian condition, the better. One generation
comes, and then another. They issue forth and
succeed like leaves in spring, and in all this, law
is observable. They are tried, and then they

1 Acts xiv. 22.


triumph ; they are humbled, and then they are
exalted ; they overcome the world, and then they
sit down on Christ's throne. Hence St. Peter,
who at first was in such amazement and trouble
at his Lord's afflictions, bids us not look on
suffering as a strange thing, " as though some
strange thing happened unto us, but rejoice, inas-
much as we are partakers of Christ's sufferings ;
that when his glory shall be revealed, we may be
glad also with exceeding great joy V Again, St.
Paul says, "We glory in tribulations, knowing that
tribulation worketh patience V And again, " If
so be that we suffer with him, that we may be
also glorified together 3 ." And again, " If we suffer,
we shall also reign with him 4 ." And St. John,
"The world knoweth us not, because it knew
him not. We know that when he shall appear,
we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he
is." What is here said of persecution, will apply
of course to all trials, and much more to those
lesser trials, which are the utmost that Christians
have to endure now. Yet I suppose it is a long
time before any one of us recognizes and under-
stands, that his own state on earth is, in one shape
or other, a state of trial and sorrow ; and that if
he has intervals of external peace, this is all gain,
and much more than he has any right to expect.
Yet how different must the state of the Church

1 1 Pet. iv. 12, 13. 2 Rom. v. 3, 4.

3 Rom. viii. 17. * 2 Tiin. ii. 12.


appear to beings who contemplate it as a whole,
who have contemplated it for ages, as the angels !
We know what experience does for us in this
world. Men get to see and understand the course
of things, and by what rules it proceeds; and
they can foretell what will happen, and they are
not surprised at what does happen. They take
the history of things as a matter of course. They
are not startled that things happen in one way,
not in another ; it is the rule. Night comes after
day, summer after winter ; cold, frost, and snow,
in their season. Certain illnesses have their ap-
pointed times, or visit at certain ages. All things
go through a process ; they have a beginning and
an end. Grown men know this, but it is other-
wise with children. To them every thing that
happens is strange and surprising. They by
turns feel wonder, admiration, or fear, at any
thing that happens ; they do not know whether it
will happen again or not ; and they know nothing
of the regular operation of causes, or the con-
nexion of those eifects which result from one and
the same. And so, too, as regards the state of our
souls under the covenant of mercy : the heavenly
hosts who see what is going on upon earth well
understand, even from having seen it before, what
is the course of a soul travelling from hell to
heaven. They have seen, again and again, in
numberless instances, that suffering is the path to
peace ; that they that sow in tears shall reap in


joy ; and that what was true of Christ, is fulfilled
in a measure in his followers. Let us try to
accustom ourselves to this view of the subject.
The whole Church, all elect souls, each in its
turn, is called to this necessary work. Once it
was the turn of others, and now it is our turn.
Once it was the Apostles' turn. It was St. Paul's
turn once. He had all cares on him at once ;
covered from head to foot with cares, as Job with
sores ; and, as if all this was not enough, he had
a thorn in the flesh added, some personal discom-
fort ever with him. Yet he did his part well ; he
was as a strong and bold wrestler in his day, and at
the close of it he was able to say, " I have fought a
good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept
the faith '." And after him the excellent of the
earth, the white-robed army of martyrs, and the
cheerful company of confessors, each in his turn,
each in his day, likewise played the man. And
so, down to this very time, when faith has well-
nigh failed, first one and then another have been
called out to exhibit before the Great King. It
is as though all of us were allowed to stand round
his throne at once, and He called out one, first
this man, and then that, to take up the chaunt by
himself, each in his turn having to repeat the
melody which his brethren have before gone
through ; or as if it were some trial of strength
or agility, and while the ring of bystanders beheld
1 2 Tim. iv. 7.


and applauded, we in succession, one by one,'
were actors in the pageant. Such is our state ;
angels are looking on, Christ has gone before.
Christ has given us an example that we may
follow his steps. He went through far more than
we can be called to suffer ; our brethren have
gone through much more, and they seem to en-
courage us by their success, and to sympathize in
our essay now it is our turn ; and all ministering
spirits keep silence and look on. Oh ! let not
your foot slip, or your eye be false, or your ear
dull, or your attention flagging ! Be not dis-
pirited, be not afraid ; keep a good heart ; be bold,
draw not back ; you will be carried through.
Whatever troubles come on you, of mind, body,
or estate, from within or from without, from
chance or from intent, from friends or foes
whatever your troubles be, though you be lonely,
children of a Heavenly Father, be not afraid !
quit you like men in your day ! and when it
is over, Christ will receive you to Himself, and
your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man
taketh from you. Christ is already in that place
of peace which is all in all. He is on the right
hand of God. lie is hidden in the brightness of
the radiance which issues from the everlasting
throne. He is in the very abyss of peace, where
there is no voice of tumult or distress, but a deep
stillness stillness, that greatest of all goods
which we can fancy, that most perfect of joys,


the utter, profound, ineffable tranquillity of the
Divine Essence. He has entered into his rest.
Oh ! how great a good will it be, if, when this
troublesome life is over, we in our turn also enter
into that same rest! if the time shall one day
come, when we shall enter into his tabernacle
above, and hide ourselves under the shadow of his
wings ; if we shall be among the number of those
blessed dead, who die in the Lord, and rest from
their labours ! Here we are tossing on the sea,
and the wind is contrary. All through the day
we are tried and tempted in various ways : we
cannot think, speak, or act, but infirmity and sin
are at hand. But in the unseen world, where
Christ has entered, all is peace. There is the
eternal throne, and a rainbow round about it, like
unto an emerald ; and in the midst of the throne,
the Lamb that has been slain, and has redeemed
many people by his blood ; and round about the
throne, four-and-twenty seats for as many elders,
all clothed in white raiment, and crowns of gold
upon their heads ; and four living beings full of
eyes before and behind ; and seven angels stand-
ing before God, and doing his pleasure unto the
ends of the earth : and the seraphim above : and
withal a great multitude, which no man can num-
ber ; of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and
tongues, clothed with white robes, and palms in
their hands. They " are they which came out of
great tribulation, and have washed their robes,


and made them white in the blood of the Lamb '."
"They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any
more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor
any heat." " There is no more death, neither
sorrow, nor crying, neither any more pain; for
the former things have passed away V Nor any
more sin, nor any more guilt ; no more remorse,
no more punishment, no more penitence, no more
trial ; no infirmity to depress us, no affection to

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Online LibraryC. E KennawayConsolatio, or, Comfort for the afflicted → online text (page 2 of 17)