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viour's cross : we too bear upon our brows the
imprinted cross, unseen of men, but seen of angels,
seen of Satan, " the seal of God upon our fore-
heads ' ;" but was it placed there an idle sign ?
Had it no meaning ? Was the sign of the cross
to be worn in the midst of luxury and ease ?
Were the sworn soldiers of the cross to live
softly ?

Our Lord, too, who bore the cross for us,
preached the cross : hear Him ! " He that taketh
not his cross, and followeth after me, is not
worthy of me." (Matt. x. b8.) " Then said he
to his disciples, If any man will come after me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,
and follow me." (Luke ix. 23.)

Would any know how to begin bearing the
cross ? Some crosses God, from our very child-
hood, has in His goodness provided for us, that in
them we may learn, what of ourselves we should

1 Rev. vii. 3.



have had no courage to begin. We speak of the
" crosses " of daily life, and forget that our very
language is a witness against us : how meekly we
ought to bear them, in the blessed steps of our
Holy Lord ; how, in " every cross and care," we
ought not to acquiesce simply, but to take them
cheerfully, not cheerfully only, but joyfully ; yea,
if they should even deserve the name of tribula-
tion, to "joy in tribulation 1 " also, as seeing in
them our Father's hand, our Saviour's cross. So
walking on earth, we may be in heaven : the ill
tempers of others, the slights and rudenesses of
the world, ill health, the daily accidents with
which God has mercifully strewed our paths, in-
stead of ruffling or disturbing our peace, may
cause the peace of God to be " shed abroad in
our hearts through the Holy Ghost which is
given to us 2 ." ANON.


Job xxxvii. 21. " And now men see not the
bright light which is in the clouds ; but the wind
passeth and cleanseth them."

So speaks Elihu, in the solemn and sublime
address which he makes to Job. " Now we see
through a glass darkly 3 ;" so writes the Apostle to
the early converts at Corinth, when telling them
of the character of their state and calling. The

1 Rom. v. 3. a Rom. v. 5. 3 1 Cor. xiii. 12.


" now " of Elihu is the present hour, the present
day, the present month or year ; the " now " of
the Apostle is the whole scope of the present
chequered life. Of both, the same great truth is
justly to be predicated. "We live in constant
twilight ; we cannot see by the clear broad light
of day the exact colour and character of God's
providences ; some small part is revealed, but a
far larger is hidden ; we see the clouds, but we
cannot understand them, we cannot interpret
them ; they have a meaning, but we cannot tell
exactly what it is ; it is an enigma, a riddle, a
mystery ; and it must continue to be so until time
draws up the veil of the future, and God, the
revealer of secrets, displays to His waiting, won-
dering, adoring servants, the glory and the beauty
of all this mysterious dispensation.

" The wind," says Elihu, " passeth and cleanseth
them." " Then," says the Apostle to the Corin-
thians, " then shall we see face to face '." The
clouds of Providence shall be dispersed at last :
the wind shall clear and cleanse the darkened sky ;
we shall see face to face : the day-dawn of another
world shall succeed to the long and laborious
gloom of this ; the shadows shall flee away ; and
as God Himself sees, so almost shall ice see in
open vision His unclouded glory.

It was to explain to the uneasy and anxious

1 1 Cor. xiii. 12.


mind of Job, or if not to explain, at least to illus-
trate the character of God's dealings, that Elihu
spoke these words. Let us ask and wait for the
aid of the Holy Spirit, while we endeavour to
ascertain their meaning.

First, and generally, they place before us a
moral truth under a natural appearance. They
bid us look at the clouds that hang heavily over
the landscape : how dark and gloomy they seem !
They are like a great curtain let down and drawn
before us ; they seem to shut out all light, to
exclude all hope, to veil and almost to extinguish
all beauty. We can scarcely believe but that all
that is behind them is as melancholy as they are
themselves ; it seems as if heaven (I mean the
natural heaven) were all cloud ; as if, pierce
deep as we might into its bosomed gloom, we
should still find nothing but cold, and darkness,
and mist. We may have seen the blue depths of
the vaulted heaven a thousand times before ; we
may have rejoiced in their azure glory ; we may
have felt the strange and mysterious charm of
their power upon our souls ; but it is all now as
if it had never been ; we only see the rolling world
of clouds that swim above us, and that fill our
minds as well as our sight, and seem to blot out
every trace of former sunlight, and almost to de-
stroy every possibility of future gladness.

It is in words like those before us that we are
thus taught a moral lesson by a natural type.


" Look at those clouds," (so the Holy Spirit
would seem to speak to us by Elihu ;) " look at
those clouds, so deep, so dark, so continuous, and
casting so thick a veil over the whole face of the
sky ! they are not what they appear ; they are
neither so deep nor so abiding as they seem. It is
true that they have hung there since the dawn, that
they may remain till the hour of evening, and that
perhaps for many days longer they shall continue
to hang there : but they shall not be perpetual, a
time shall come when they shall be scattered and re-
moved. It is also true that they may be unbroken,
and that their darkness may seem unrelieved by a
single ray of sunshine ; but it is not so : there is
light in their bosoms ; they carry an inward glory ;
they are the hiding-places of the sun's burning
rays ; there are rainbow glories moving and play-
ing like the fire among the cherubim of Ezekiel,
all through their wondrous depths. Go to some
tall mountain, on whose bright summit the sun-
shine lives ; up which the clouds cannot climb, it
is so high : look down upon those very clouds
that appear to you so impenetrably gloomy, and
they seem like one swelling sea of silver waves ;
it is glory, and brightness, and beauty, in one
continuous and wonderful extent and succession.
You see not now, as the text tells us, ' the light
that is in them ; ' but though you do not see it,
it is there. It is your weakness, your low and
abject condition, your earthly station, that makes


you see nothing but the gloom of a sad day in
that welkin which, within it and above, is all burn-
ing with beauty and glory."

Such is the natural truth ; such is the reality of
that picture which the clouds present to us, when
examined and considered. But what does this
tell us about ourselves ? This is our great con-
cern. What does it reveal to us of the world of
providence, or of the world of grace ?

It tells us that, as there are clouds in the natural
world, so will there be dark shadows on the heart
of man. They are necessary. God would not
bring them over His people if they were not so,
for " He doth not afflict willingly '." They are
indispensable for the carrying on of His great
scheme of grace. They are necessary for those
whom He is bringing to the knowledge of Him-
self on earth ; and they are equally indispensable
for those, whom having brought to this knowledge
of Himself on earth, He is bringing to the sight
and to the enjoyment of Himself in heaven. They
are necessary first to soften the heart; they are
equally necessary afterwards to sanctify the heart.
The reason and the necessity of these clouds is,
that if the world were all sunshine, unconverted
men would, humanly speaking, never leave it
for God; they would "dote and be mad upon
their idols V The further reason and necessity is,
that men, vitally renewed, might be too contented

1 Lam. iii. 33. J Jer. 1. 38.


with the tranquil flow of an easy life ; they would
make no great struggles for virtue ; they would
offer no strong prayers for holiness ; they would
dwell in the region of a torpid contentment ; they
would not press and soar to the upper region of
a glorious and seraphic existence. " It is througli
much tribulation that we must enter into the king-
dom of God '," because it is through much tribula-
tion, and through many clouds, that we must be
made fit to enter.

But where, you will ask, is the bright light ?
Behind these clouds it is that the light is dwelling.
It is the dark side of the moral and the spiritual
cloud which we now see ; but there is a bright,
and a beautiful, and a blessed light, on its upper
and its heavenly side. How happy were the chil-
dren of men, could they but believe this ! It is
so, whether they believe it or not ; their happiness,
their peace, their present and eternal interest, is
to believe it. Look at that sorrowful man going
on in darkness of soul, and in darkness of fortune,
his goods daily diminishing, or his health declin-
ing, or family sorrows shaking with successive
blows his agitated heart : it is cloud above, around,
within : all life seems dreary, all hope wears the
livery of despair. "Where is the light in his many
clouds ? Where is the bright light which the text
speaks of? It is in the intention of God ; it is in
the method which God is taking to lead him to
1 Acts xiv. 22.


Himself. Let this knowledge burst upon his soul,
and all at once is changed. The gloomy cloud
" turns forth its silver lining oil the night." He
sees God's handwriting ; and as clearly as if a
Daniel were there to interpret it, he can under-
stand all its meaning, and discover all its mercy.

But if it be thus with him whom God is bring-
ing to Himself, it is especially so with every faith-
ful child already brought. Their Father has
taught them to read His own handwriting ; they
have been in His school ; they have learned Hea-
ven's holy alphabet ; they can see now earthly
sorrow is the heavenly name for joy, and bodily
pain for spiritual improvement, and the present
wounding of the heart for its healing and eternal

When we see, therefore, a saintly soul bowed
down by affliction of heart, or tried by the long
and heavy trial of some tormenting disease, we
are able at once to solve the great riddle of suffer-
ing holiness ; we see the " light in the cloud,"
we gather the meaning of the mystery, we see
that God is taking (so to speak) the greatest pains
to make His child a holy son.

" Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth ' ;" the
heart of the sufferer owns the truth : it leaps
even in the midst of its pain, and joyfully con-
fesses it :

1 Heb. xii. 6.


" The eye that looks at things aright
Sees through the clouds the deep blue light ;
And from the bank, all mire and wet,
Plucks the fresh blooming violet."

He has, moreover, a deep inner thought which
ever consoles him. "Thou art my portion,
Lord '." This is his heart-music. In the midst
of sorrow he can say and sing it. " And if it be
so, why my very portion is my chastener ; it is
the indwelling Spirit that is correcting me ; it is
myself, my better, my heavenly self, that is lay-
ing on the smarting rod. Could I look behind,
could I see the bright and silver side of things,
I should confess, without the smallest hesitation,
that there was not a single pang with which my
heart was quivering that was not necessary for
my sanctification."

But those clouds shall not always remain on
the heart. "The wind passeth and cleanseth
them." The cloud is cleansed ; it is a beautiful
and expressive term; its dark parts are taken
away, its bright parts remain. All the saints have
found it so. Noah, Daniel, Job ; even in this life
the cloud passed away from each, and only the
bright light of ten thousand happy beams of joy,
and love, and grace, remained. So shall it be to
you, sons of God, and servants of Him on whom
in this life the sunbeams of happiness never fell !

1 Lam. iii. 24.


Even in this world (have you not already expe-
rienced it ?) heaviness has often endured only for
a night, joy has come in the morning. But
should no bright after-piece succeed to the dark-
ness that now oppresses you ; should no noon-day
sun burst through the rolling clouds of your pre-
sent sorrow ; should the heavy gloom continue
during all the circling hours of your life's long
day, yet still " at eventide it shall be light." The
sunset and the evening of this present world shall
be the type of the morning of the other ; you
shall lie down quietly in the faith of Christ, and
" wake up in His likeness, and be satisfied '."


8. Conquest of temptation, deliverance from the
power of evil habits, and a ready compliance with
the will of God, in answer to prayer, are much
better proofs of His favourable presence than joy-
ous feelings. The latter may be mistaken, but
the former are as sure marks of the Divine opera-
tion and blessing, as that a plentiful crop of corn
has had the benefit of rain and sunshine.



It is Thy title, Lord, and only Thine, that
Thou givest " songs in the night." (Job xxxv. 10.)
1 Ps. xvii. 15.


The night is a sad and dolorous season ; as the
light, contrarily, is the image of cheerfulness.
(Eccl. xi. 7.) Like as it is in bodily pains and
aches, that they are still worst towards night;
so it is in the cares and griefs of the mind ; then
they assault us most when they are helped on
by the advantage of an uncomfortable darkness.
Many men can give themselves songs in the day
of their prosperity, who can but howl in the night
of their affliction ; but for a Paul and Silas to sing
in their prison at midnight (Acts xvi. 25) ; for an
Asaph to " call to remembrance his song in the
night " (Ps. Ixxvii. 6) ; this comes only from that
Spirit of Thine, whose peculiar style is " the Com-
forter ;" and surely, as music sounds best in the
night, so those heavenly notes of praise which we
sing to Thee, our God, in the gloomy darkness of
our adversity, cannot but be most pleasing in
Thine ears. Thine Apostle bids us (which is our
ordinary wont) when we are merry to sing ; when
afflicted to pray ; but if, when we are afflicted, we
can sing ; as also, when we are merriest, we can
pray ; that song must needs be so much more
acceptable unto Thee, as it is a more powerful
effect of the joy of Thy Holy Ghost.

my God, I am conscious of my own in-
firmity : I know I am naturally subject to a dull
heaviness, under whatsoever affliction. Thou,
that art the God of all comfort, remedy this heart-
less disposition in me ; pull this lead out of my


bosom : make me not patient only, but cheerful,
under my trials : fill Thou my heart with joy, and
my mouth with songs, in the night of my tribula-

As there is a perfect union betwixt the glorious
saints in heaven, and a union (though imperfect)
betwixt the saints on earth, so there is a union
(partly perfect and partly imperfect) between the
saints in heaven and the saints below upon earth ;
perfect in respect of those glorified saints above,
imperfect in respect of the weak returns we are
able to make them again. Let no man think,
that because those blessed souls are out of sight,
far distant in another world, and we are here toil-
ing in a vale of tears, that we have therefore lost
all mutual regard to each other ; no, there is still,
and ever will be, a secret but unfailing corre-
spondence between heaven and earth. The pre-
sent happiness of those heavenly citizens cannot
have abated aught of their knowledge and charity,
but must needs have raised them to a higher pitch
of both. They, therefore, who are now glorious
comprehensors, cannot but in a generality retain
the notice of the sad condition of us poor travellers
here below, panting towards our rest together
with them, and in common wish for the happy
consummation of this our weary pilgrimage, in
the fruition of their glory. That they have any
perspective whereby they can see down into our


particular wants, is that which we find no ground
to believe. It is enough that they have an uni-
versal apprehension of the estate of Christ's war-
faring Church upon the face of the earth, (Rev.
vi. 10,) and, as fellow-members of the same mys-
tical body, long for a perfect glorification of the

As for us wretched pilgrims, who are yet left
here below to try with many difficulties, we cannot
forget that better half of us which is now tri-
umphant in glory. ye blessed saints above,
we honour your memories so far as we ought ;
we do with praise recount your virtues ; we mag-
nify your victories ; we bless God for your happy
exemption from the misery of this world, and for
your estate in that blessed immortality ; we imitate
your holy examples; we long and pray for a
happy consociation with you ; we dare not raise
temples, dedicate altars, direct prayers, to you ;
we dare not, finally, offer any thing to you which
you are unwilling to receive, nor put any thing
upon you which you would disclaim as prejudicial
to your Creator and Redeemer. It is abundant
comfort to us that some part of us is in the fruition
of that glory, whereto we (the other poor labouring
part) desire and strive to aspire ; that our heads
and shoulders are above water, whilst the other
limbs are yet wading through the stream.

If ever thou look for sound comfort on earth,


and salvation in heaven, unglue thyself from the
world, and the vanities of it ; put thyself upon thy
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ; leave not till
thou findest thyself firmly united to Him, so as
thou art become a limb of that body whereof He
is the Head, a spouse of that husband, a branch
of that stem, a stone laid upon that foundation.
Look not, therefore, for any blessing out of Him :
and in, and by, and from Him, look for all bless-
ings ; let Him be thy life, and wish not to live
longer than thou art quickened by Him ; find Him
thy wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemp-
tion ; thy riches, thy strength, thy glory. Apply
unto thyself all that thy Saviour is, or hath done.
Wouldst thou have the graces of God's Spirit ?
fetch them from His anointing. Wouldst thou
have power against spiritual enemies ? fetch it
from His sovereignty. Wouldst thou have re-
demption ? fetch it from His passion. Wouldst
thou have absolution ? fetch it from His perfect
innocence. Freedom from the curse ? fetch it
from His cross. Satisfaction ? fetch it from His
sacrifice. Cleansing from sin ? fetch it from His
blood. Mortification? fetch it from His grave.
Newness of life ? fetch it from His resurrection.
Right to heaven ? fetch it from His purchase.
Audience in all thy suits ? fetch it from His
intercession. Wouldst thou have salvation ?
fetch it from His session at the right hand of



Majesty. "Wouldst thou have all ? fetch it from
Him who is " one Lord, one God and Father of
all, who is above all, through all, and in all."
(Eph. iv. 5, 6.) And as thy faith shall thus in-
terest thee in Christ, thy Head ; so let thy charity
unite thee to His body the Church, both in earth
and heaven. Hold ever an inviolable communion
with that holy and blessed fraternity. Sever not
thyself from it either in judgment or affection.
Make account there is not one of God's saints
upon earth but hath a property in thee, and thou
mayest challenge the same in each of them, so
that thou canst not but be sensible of their pas-
sions ; and be freely communicative of all thy
graces, and all serviceable offices, by example,
admonition, exhortation, consolation, prayer, be-
neficence, for the good of that sacred community.
And when thou raisest up thine eyes to heaven,
think of that glorious society of blessed saints
who are gone before thee, and are now there
triumphing, and reigning in eternal and incom-
prehensible glory ; bless God for them, and wish
thyself with them ; tread in their holy steps,
and be ambitious of that crown of glory and
immortality which thou seest shining on their




When these things are taken care for, let the
sick man so order his affairs that he have but
very little conversation with the world, but wholly
(as he can) attend to religion, and antedate his
conversation in heaven, always having intercourse
with God, and still conversing with the holy Jesus ;
kissing His wounds, admiring His goodness, beg-
ging His mercy, feeding on Him with faith, and
drinking His blood : to which purpose it were very
tit (if all circumstances be answerable), that the
narrative of the passion of Christ be read or dis-
coursed to him at length, or in brief, according to
the style of the four Gospels : but, in all things,
let his care and society be as little secular as is

Now we suppose the man entering upon his
scene of sorrows and passive graces. It may be
he went yesterday to a wedding, merry and brisk,
and there he felt his sentence that he must return
home and die : then he must consider that all
those discourses he hath heard concerning patience
and resignation, and conformity to Christ's suffer-
ings, and the melancholy lectures of the cross,
must, all of them, now be reduced to practice, and
pass from an effective contemplation to such an
exercise as will really try whether we were true
disciples of the cross, or only believed the doctrines
K 2


of religion when we were at ease, and that they
never passed through the ear to the heart, and
dwelt not in our spirits. But every man should
consider God does nothing in vain; that He
would not, to no purpose, send us preachers, and
give us rules, and furnish us with discourse, and
lend us books, and provide sermons, and make
examples, and promise His Spirit, and describe
the blessedness of holy sufferings, and prepare us
with daily alarms, if He did not really propose to
order our affairs, so that we should need all this,
and use it all. There were no such thing as the
grace of patience, if we were not to feel a sick-
ness, or enter into a state of sufferings ; whither,
when we are entered, we are to practise by the
following rules.

At the first address and presence of sickness,
stand still and arrest thy spirit, that it may, with-
out amazement or affright, consider that this was
that thou lookedst for, and wert always certain
should happen; and that now thou art to enter
into the actions of a new religion, the agony of
a strange constitution : but at no hand suffer thy
spirits to be dispersed with fear or wildness of
thought, but stay their looseness and dispersion
by a serious consideration of the present and
future employment. For so doth the Libyan lion,
which, spying the tierce huntsman, first beats him-
self with the strokes of his tail, and curls up his


spirits, making them strong with union and recol-
lection, till, being struck with a Mauritanian spear,
he rushes forth into his defence and noblest con-
tention, and either escapes into the secrets of his
own dwelling, or else dies the bravest of the forest.
Every man, when shot with an arrow from God's
quiver, must then draw in the auxiliaries of reason,
and know, that then is the time to try his strength,
and to reduce the words of religion into action.
Let him set his heart firm upon this resolution :
"I must bear it inevitably; and I will, by God's
grace, do it nobly."

Bear, in thy sickness, all along the same
thoughts, propositions, and discourses, concern-
ing thy person, thy life and death, thy soul and
religion, which thou hadst in the best days of thy
health ; and when thou didst discourse wisely
concerning things spiritual. Consider, when you
were better able to judge and govern the accidents
of your life, you concluded it necessary to trust
in God, and possess your souls with patience.
Think of things as they think who stand by you,
and as you did when you stood by others ; that it
is a blessed thing to be patient ; that a quietness
of spirit hath a certain reward ; that still there is
infinite truth and reality in the promises of the
Gospel ; that still thou art in the care of God, in
the condition of a son, and working out thy salva-
tion with labour and pain, with fear and trem-


bling ; that now the sun is under a cloud, but it
still sends forth the same influence.

Do not choose the kind of thy sickness, or the
manner of thy death ; but let it be what God
please, so it be no greater than thy spirit or thy

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