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been so visited and overwhelmed by strokes ? If
they had been slack, or lukewarm, or backward,
or self-willed, or entangled in worldly affections,
we could better reach the meaning of this mys-
terious trial ; but who more earnest and useful in
all good works ; who so advanced in holiness, so
nigh to the kingdom of heaven as they ? " And
yet all this shows how shallow and blind our
faith is ; for we know little even of those we know
best ; we readily overrate their character ; at all
events, it is far otherwise in the esteem of God
than in our judgment : our thoughts are not His
thoughts ; we set up a poor, dim, depressed stand-
ard of perfection ; and we should miserably de-
fraud even those we love most, if it were in our
power to mete out their trials by our measures :
we little know what God is doing, and " how can
we know the way ' ? " And we often think the sor-
rows of the saints are sent for their punishment,
when they are sent for their perfection. Either
way we are greatly ignorant. They may need far
more of purification than we think ; they may be
1 John xiv. 5.


suffering for an end higher than purification,
for some end which includes purification and un-
known mysteries besides. We forget that Christ
suffered, and why ; and how He learned obedience,
and what that obedience was. He was all-pure ;
suffering could find no more to cleanse, than sin
could find to fasten upon. The Prince of this world
" had nothing l " in Him, yet whose sorrow is like
unto His sorrow, " wherewith the Lord afflicted "
Him " in the day of His fierce anger 2 ?" and that,
(great as the mystery must ever be,) not only and
altogether as a vicarious suffering, but that in
the truth of our manhood, He might learn " obe-
dience by the things that He suffered." He was
made " perfect 3 " by sufferings, and that perfection,
whatsoever it be, has an ineffable depth of mean-
ing. It was not only a sacerdotal perfection, by
consecration to the priesthood of Melchisedec,
but something of which that was the formal
expression and manifestation ; a great spiritual
reality ; a perfection of holiness, knowledge, obedi-
ence, will, and sympathy ; this was the perfection,
in truth and spirit, of " the one mediator between
God and man, the man Christ Jesus 4 :" and of
this perfection, after the measures of a creature,
and the proportions of our mere manhood, are the
saints made to partake ; they are purified, that

1 John xiv. 30. 2 Lam. i. 12.

3 Hob. v. 8, 9. * 1 Tim. ii. 5.



they may be perfect : and therefore the sorrows of
the holiest minds are the highest approaches to
the mind of Christ, and are full of a meaning
which is dark to us only from its exceeding bright-
ness. Our weak faith, which can read the earlier
teaching of affliction, goes blind when it follows
the mystery of sorrow upward to the perfection of

And therefore, when we look at the sufferings
of pure and holy minds, let us rather stand in
awe as being called to behold, as it were, a shadow
of our Redeemer's sorrows. The holier they are
that suffer, the higher is the end for which they
are afflicted. It may be they are learning inscrut-
able things of the same order with those which
the Apostle saw in ecstasy. Even with bleeding
hearts and deep-drawn prayers for their consola-
tion, let us try to believe that God is endowing
them with surpassing tokens of love, and with
pledges of exceeding glory.

And for ourselves, let us be sure when we suffer,
that for chastisement and for purification we need
more a thousand-fold than all He lays upon us.
The heaviest and the sharpest of our sorrows is
only just enough to heal us. " He doth not mil-
inglij afflict l ." Let us remember, too, that sufferings
do not sanctify ; they are only seasons of sanctifi-
cation ; their end will be for good or ill, as we bear
1 Lam. iii. 33.


and as we use them : they are no more than times
of invitation to diligent toil, like the softness of the
earth after a keen and piercing shower : they hold
in check, for a time, our spiritual faults, and pre-
pare our hearts to receive and to retain deeper and
sharper impressions of the likeness of our Lord.
Let us count them precious, blessed seasons, though
dim and overcast ; seasons of promise and of spring-
ing freshness, tokens of His nearness and purpose
to cleanse us for His own. " Blessed are ye that
weep now \" He that is greatly tried, if he be
learning obedience, is not far from the kingdom
of God. Our heavenly Father is perfecting His
work in us, laying in the last touches with His
wise and gentle hand. He that perfected His own
Son through sufferings, has brought many sons to
glory by the same rough road, even by the "way
that is desert V He is bringing you home to
Himself. Do not shrink because the path is
broken and solitary, for the way is short, and the
end is blessed. MANNING.


Let us learn what is the true point of sight
from which to look at all the trials of life. We
hear people perpetually lamenting, uttering pas-
sionate expressions of grief at visitations which
1 Luke vi. 21. 2 Isa. xl. 3.

G 2


they say have come upon them unlooked-for, and
stunned them by their suddenness : one has lost
his possessions, another his health, another his
powers of sight or hearing, another " the desire
of his eyes," parents, children, husbands, wives,
friends ; each sorrowing for their own, and all
alike viewing their affliction from the narrow point
of their own isolated being ; they seem to be hos-
tile invasions of their peace, mutilations of the
integrity of their lot, untimely disruptions of their
fondest ties, and the like. Much as we speak of
violent deviations of nature from her laws, and of
the mysterious agency of devastating powers, so
we talk of the destruction of our fortune, the
breaking up of our happiness, the wreck of our
hopes. Now all this loose and faithless language
arises from our not recognizing the great law to
which all these are to be referred. It is no more
than this : that God is disposing of what has been
offered up to Him in sacrifice ; as, for instance,
when a father or mother bewails the taking away
of a child, have they not forgotten that he was not
their own ? Did they not offer him at the font ?
Did not God promise to receive their oblation ?
"What has He done more than taken them at their
word ? They prayed that He would make their
child to be His " own child by adoption ;" and He
has not only heard, but answered their prayers.
Have they not perpetually, since that day, asked


for him the kingdom of heaven, even as the
mother of Zebedee's children came and besought
that her two sons might sit, the one on His right
hand, and the other on His left, in His kingdom ?
Like them, they knew not what they asked ; they
were desiring a high blessing, awful in its height ;
for which, if granted, they may have to go sorrow-
ing because God has heard their prayer, and a
sword has pierced through their own soul also.
In an especial manner this seems true of the death
of infants ; they were offered up to Him, and He
took them to Himself. So that they be His, who
dare lament that He has chosen the place where
they shall stand and minister before Him ? Little,
it may be, the glad mother thought as she stood
beside the font, what she was then doing ; little
did she forecast what was to come, or read the
meaning of her own acts and prayers. And so
likewise, when any true servants of Christ are
taken away, what is it but a token of His favour-
able acceptance of their self-oblation ? They have
been His from baptism, and He has granted them
a long season of tarrying in this outer court of
His temple. But now, at length, the time is come ;
and when we see them "bow the head, and give
up the ghost," is it not our slowness of heart that
makes even our eyes also to be holden, so as not
to see who is standing nigh, conforming them to
His own great sacrifice ? While they were with


us they were not ours, but His : they were per-
mitted to abide with us, and to gladden our hearts
awhile : but they were living sacrifices, and ever
at the point of being caught up to heaven.

And so, lastly, in all that befalls ourselves, we
too are not our own, but His ; all that we call
ours is His ; and when He takes it from us
first one loved treasure, then another, till He
makes us poor, and naked, and solitary let us
not sorrow that we are stripped of all we love, but
rather rejoice for that God accepts us : let us not
think that we are left here, as it were, unseason-
ably alone, but remember that, by our bereave-
ments, we are in part translated to the world un-
seen. He is calling us away, and sending on our
treasures. The great law of sacrifice is embracing
us, and must have its perfect work. Like Him,
we must be made "perfect through suffering."
Let us pray Him, therefore, to shed abroad in us
the mind that was in Christ ; that our will being
crucified, we may offer up ourselves to be disposed
of as He sees best, whether for joy or sorrow,
blessing or chastisement; to be high or low, to
be slighted or esteemed, to be full or to suffer
much, to have many friends or to dwell in a lonely
home; to be passed by, or called to serve Him
and His kingdom in our own land, or among people
of a strange tongue ; to be, to go, to do, to suffer,
even as He wills, even as He ordains, even as


Christ endured, " who, through the eternal Spirit,
offered Himself without spot to God 1 ." Amen.



But why, when He used the word of healing,
did He accompany it with that sigh 2 ? "We may
ask the same question at the grave of Lazarus.
Why did He weep when He stood by the dead
man's grave, or sigh when He looked upon the
deaf man's barred ears ? Why did He weep when
He was going to make the dead man live, or sigh
when He was going to make the deaf man hear ?

The answer is not a difficult one. It was His
profound sense of the woes of man that so affected
Him. To us, the restoration of voice or of life to
the dumb or the dead is so great a thing, that it
overspreads our souls with the brightest sunshine.
If we have some dear friend visited with any
grievous defect, and God supplies it, we are over-
whelmed with joy ; or if one whom we love per-
haps as life itself might seem to be hanging over
the grave, and about to drop into it, and if then
God should rebuke the disease, and give us good
hope of restoration, our joy would be almost ex-
cessive. How different was Jesus ! He saw in
His own mind both voice and hearing already
restored to the poor deaf stammerer, yet He

1 Heb. ix. 14.

2 " And looking up to heaven, He sighed, and saith unto him,
Ephphatha." St. Mark vii. 34.


sighed ; He saw the flame of life already re-
kindled in the death-cold bosom of Lazarus, and
yet He wept. "Why then, again, did He sigh ?
and why did He weep ? My brethren, it was not
one poor stammerer that He came to give speech
to, nor one cold corpse that He came to revive.
" / am the Resurrection and the Life ',' ' were His
own great words as He stood over the grave at
Bethany. He looked over the countless dead
whom sin had slain, and what was the restoration
of life to one poor body, of all that host ? He
looked over the countless families whom death
had made desolate, and what was the consolation
of one little circle when so many myriads of
mourners remained ? Therefore He wept.

" O'erwhelming thoughts of pain and grief

Over His sinking spirit sweep :
What boots it gathering one lost leaf

Out of yon sere and wither'd heap,
Where souls and bodies, hopes and joys,
All that earth owns, or sin destroys,
Under the spurning hoof are cast,
Or tossing in th' autumnal blast 2 ? "

This was the reason of the tears and the sighs
of the Son of Man.

He looked all down the dreadful stream of
human Buffering. He saw, it was a mighty part,
perhaps the very mightiest part of His Passion,
He saw clearly before Him the congregated mi-
1 John xi. 25.
1 The Christian Year. 12/A Sunday after Trinity.


series of man ; He saw the strong bowed down by
weakness, the healthy wasting away by the slow
poison-juice of mortality ; He saw many a babe
diseased from the very womb, and instead of the
bright eye, and the active limb, and the quick ear
and bell-like voice of childhood, visited with the
dark orb, the crippled member ; deaf, or a stam-
merer. He saw the perfection of human beauty
consumed by some dreadful disease, like a moth
fretting a lovely garment. He saw the solitary
chamber, and He heard the stifled sobs of ten
thousand mourners, and the cry of agony which
the poor sufferer could not repress, and the rack-
ing pain which she could not which she could
scarcely, even with Thy mighty aid, Jesus, bear !
Such was the dreadful vision which the Son of
Man beheld ; a dark, wide, rolling stream of tears,
and sighs, and misery ; a river of the waters of the
blackness of death.

And there is solid comfort in this view of the
action of our blessed Saviour. What made Him
sigh then, makes Him sympathize now. The
heart of Jesus is not changed: He has carried
His human body ' to heaven, and there, with His
wounded hands and wounded feet, and pierced
heart flowing down with water and with blood,
He pities and He pleads for man. He is
our sacrificing and sympathizing Priest ; Him-

1 See IV. Article.


self the sacrifice, for He lies like a Lamb slain
upon the high altar of heaven ; Himself the
Priest, that in the- linen garments of our humanity
offers up, in prevailing intercession and perfect
sympathy, the prayers and the tears of His people,
and perfumes them with the fragrant incense of
His own merits.

Oh, what a consolation ! The sigh that arose
that day from the shores of Gennesareth to hea-
ven, it is the very panacea for sorrow. No heart
can be perfectly desolate while that sigh is audible.
We may lose every thing we love ; but if we think
of Him who loved what we loved, ten thousand
times better than we could ever love it; if we
think that He possesses what we have lost ; and
if we know, (and know we do,) that He looks
now, not up to heaven, but down to earth, and
sends upon our beating hearts the cool breath of
that most tranquillizing sigh ; if we know this
all to be true, all a perfect reality, Jesus to be
quite near us, as near us as our grief is near,
and unfailing in sympathy, and matchless in His
healing power ; then, suffer as we may, sigh as we
may, and be as desolate as we can be imagined
to be, yet are our sighs, and our tears, and our
desolation, all, but means for our more complete
cure ; very avenues of blessing ; channels cut out
in the hard rocks of our stony hearts, only that
the grace of His sympathy may more completely
fill and refresh them.


"We are told that previously to performing this
cure, our blessed Lord took this poor stammerer

There is a meaning in this for us all. It is in
loneliness, in our solitary chamber, or in some
season of more than ordinary calm and privacy,
that God often deals with the soul. The world
is noisy, and feverish, and agitating, and over-
powers us with its many voices, and with the
din and tumult of its stunning cares. We can
scarcely hear the soft whisper of the Son of Man
amid that tumultuous uproar ; we can scarcely dis-
tinguish His form amid the pressing crowds that
are about us. It is good to be alone with God
and His Christ ; so good, that when we are too mad
for company, He often Himself builds up some
high wall of separation, or puts us in some lonely
house of death, that we may be compelled to

If such has been His dealing with you : if you
have been taken away for a time by any calamity
from the busier hum and haunts of life, it is He
that has thus removed you. Has His object been
answered ? Have you felt His finger upon you ?
Has healing virtue gone out of His mouth to
bless you ? Have your ears been opened ? Has
the string of your stammering tongue been
loosed ? Can you now hear, and speak, and sing
of Christ ?


When you go into your silent chamber, ask
Him to bless you, as He did the poor deaf man.
When you go down by the sea-shore, and see the
" little ships " all drawing their lines of light along
its blue bosom, and the fishermen spreading their
nets, think of the sea of Tiberias, and the boats
of Peter and of the sons of Zebedee, and of Jesus,
and of the crowds that listened to Him, and of the
words He spake, and the wonders He performed.
Bring all your maladies to Him. Present the cases
of your sick friends, of your young, happy, joyous
children to Him. He stands there, we may almost
say, on purpose to bless you. He stands there,
that you may come and seek His blessing. Look
earnestly towards Him ; try to realize His pre-
sence; court solitude, that you may have His
society ; stand apart from the multitude, that He
may come and converse with you ; do not shrink
from a lonely chamber, for He has cleared it that
He may Himself come in ; and if you feel that
you hear but little of the deep harmonies that fill
creation, and if hearing but little, you only stam-
mer when you attempt to utter them, look up to
Him who stands over you with the same match-
less power, and the same ineffable love ; and He
(be assured), as He poured upon the deaf stam-
merer's tongue the music of speech, will fill your
souls to their utmost depths with the harmonies
of praise. C. E. KENNAWAY.


4. If chastisement is a token of God's love, why
should I faint under it, or so much as desire re-
lease from it, till it has done its work? I must
suffer and die ; with the help of God, I trill suffer
and die. T. ADAM.


The Christian prays for fuller manifestations of
Christ's power and glory, and love to him ; but
he is often not aware that this is, in truth, pray-
ing to be brought into the furnace; for in the
furnace only it is that Christ can walk with His
friends, and display in their preservation and de-
liverance His own Almighty power : yet, when
brought thither, it is one of the worst parts of the
trial, that the Christian often thinks himself, for a
time, at least, abandoned. Job thought so ; but,
while he looked on himself as an outcast, the In-
finite Spirit and the wicked spirit were holding a
dialogue on his case ! He was more an object of
notice and interest than the largest armies that
were ever assembled, and the mightiest revolutions
that ever shook the world, considered merely in
their temporal interests and consequences. Let
the Christian be deeply concerned, in all his trials,
to honour his Master before such observers.


94 NOEL.


God's way of answering the Christian's prayer
for an increase of patience, experience, hope, and
love, usually is to put him into the furnace of tri-
bulation. St. James therefore says, " Count it all
joy when ye fall into divers temptations V People
of the world " count it all joy " when they are in
ease and affluence, but a Christian is taught to
" count it all joy " when he is tried as gold in the
fire. R. CECIL.


"When the privations of life have diminished, the
objects of social happiness ; when death has dried
up the fountains which run freely with their clear
and salutary waters ; when pain and disease have
altered the character of existence, and changed the
scene of hilarity, and buoyancy, and activity, into
the scene of suffering, inactivity, patience, and ab-
straction from the previous intercourse of life :
then to go to the throne of grace, and to draw
closer the ties which no privation, nor suffering,
nor vicissitude, can dissolve ; this is to connect
"a time of need" with the best and brightest
manifestations of mercy and grace to the soul !
Many may be the hours of comparative repinings
and of wounded hopes, and of unhealthy wander-
ings of mind ; but these are sometimes exchanged
1 James i. 2.

NOEL. 95

for hours passed at the throne of grace, to which
no eye but that of God is witness ; hours when
Christ speaks, and pain and sorrow are forgotten ;
hours, when cut off from the din of life, and sepa-
rated from friends, and left alone with God, every
murmuring is yet hushed, and every privation is
repaid ! hours when the manifestation of the Re-
deemer's glory to the soul has shed a calm and a
blissful radiance around every prospect, and proved
the earnest of that better heritage which is " incor-
ruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
Believer in Christ ! mark well the grounds upon
which the efficacy of thy prayer depends; thy
very cry of guilt and sorrow is the result of the
Spirit whose habitation thou art. Thou art the
property of God, and under the sure protection of
Jesus thou wilt reach thy eternal home. Pray
then in faith. Consider thy great High Priest ;
think of the virtue of His blood, and of the preva-
lency of His intercession. Come boldly to His
throne of grace ; unfold all thy heart ; lay bare to
Him its guilt, defilement, weakness, and incon-
stancy. Implore mercy with incessant repetition
of anxiety. " In every time of need seek grace to
help 1 ." Jesus Christ knows all thy wants, and
" has received gifts," that " out of His fulness thou
shouldest receive grace for grace." He has opened
the way to God ; He has unbarred the gates of
i Heb. iv. 16.

96 NOEL.

acceptance ; He has overcome death, and hell,
and sin, and He bids thee " be of good cheer."
Come, then, with holy confidence into His sanc-
tuary ; attach the highest value to prayer ; deem
it to be thy best preservative from sin, and thy
best antidote to sorrow. Expect large and full
relief at the throne of grace. Retreat from the
accusations of conscience, from the stern voices of
the law, from the calumnies of men, from the
malice of Satan, from the fears and inconstancy of
thine own heart : retreat from all these enemies,
and take thy shelter within the sanctuary of the
Lord. Thou hast an heritage in the heart of
Christ ; thy name is written there, and " thou
shalt never be forgotten." His love cannot change,
nor can His knowledge of thy case be at any time
obscure. He knows all ; He feels all ; He will
succour all.

Never canst thou know His inexhaustible kind-
ness. No human conception can grasp the mighty
mystery of His covenant love. But depend, con-
fide, petition, pray : be ever a suppliant at the
throne of grace. Thou art as much the object of
His tender care as if thou wert His lone child in
the universe of nature ! Cast, then, thy burden
upon Him, and say, with a joy unspeakable, and
full of glory, " The Lord is my shepherd, I shall
not want '." G. T. NOEL.

1 Ps. xxiii. 1.



Here, in the grave of Christ, our souls, being
planted in the likeness of His death, shall be
planted in the likeness of His resurrection also ;
and it is the same with our bodies. His death is
the life of our souls, and of our bodies also, by His
quickening Spirit. This His body is that seed of
which He spake in the deep groanings of His
suffering soul, which, if it die, shall not abide
alone, but bring forth many seeds like unto itself ;
for our vile body, if we be buried with Him, shall
be fashioned like unto His glorious body. Here,
therefore, must we come, not only that we may
learn to live, but also that we may learn to die,
and to contemplate with comfort the death of our
friends ; for here may we be not only dead with
Him, but in Him also ; dead, in some sense, with
the faithful departed. It is here with Christ that
we learn to reflect on the death of our friends, and
on our own, with peace and consolation, and in
the depth of His grave to learn Christian hope.

Here the solemn calm of the great Sabbath hath
already begun. In the deep stillness which is
here exchanged for the anxieties and agonies, and
the feverish passions and excitement of the scene
that has passed, we seem to participate in the
awful calm of death ; and as in life we mingle and
blend our sympathies with the condition and state
of our friends, and borrow their feelings, so in this



calm we seem to partake of the stillness of those
souls which are released from the body in that
place, " where the wicked cease from troubling,
and the weary are at rest '." And if this calm is
so striking, contrasted with that which is past,
still greater is that feeling of stillness in death
when we contrast it with that which is to come,
the great morning of the resurrection ; deep is

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