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the Lord, let him do to me as seemeth good in his light.” But how can I bear the pressure of affliction without a sense of his favour!"
Let the afflicted christian consider well these di. vine declarations, and take the comfort of them.
If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not fons. We had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and gave
them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of fpirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us, after. their own pleafure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. By this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit, to take away his fin. For whom the Lord lovcth he correcteth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is. refined, and will try them as gold is tried : they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God."
But besides the outward troubles which we have just mentioned, there are troubles of a more internal and spiritual kind, in refpe&t to which, the favour of God is the best relief. Such, for in Itance, as arise from conscious guilt, and an ap
prehension of God's displeasure, because of fin. What can a guilty, condemned malefactor desire, so much as the Judge's favour? To one oppressed with the fear of God's anger, the only remedy is a discovery of his love.
Much inward trouble arises from a sense of the power and prevalence of the impurity and corruption of the heart. This makes the christian often cry out with the apostle Paul,“ wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death." A sense of the divine favour will lead us also to say with him, “ I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The furious assaults of temptation are likewise very trying to the children of God, and assurance of his favour the best shield of defence, whereby they are enabled to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one. The temptations of the grand adver sary of souls, who goes about as a roaring lion, feeking whom he may devour, occasion much trouble to the pious man. He often says within himself, When shall the happy moment arrive, that God shall bruise Satan under my feet? O when shall it once be? When the enemy comes in like a flood, may the Spirit of the Lord lift up a standard against him. When the messenger of Satan comes to buffet me, may Jesus manifeft his favour, and say
Mly grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is made perfect through weakness.” May he who was tempted in all points like as we are, and who knows how to succour them that are tempted, succour me, and surround me with his favour, like a shield. He knows how I am hurried and harassed, and sometimes even terrified by the roaring lion of the bottomless pit, may he strengthen me with strength in my soul, to fight the good fight of faith, and make me more than conqueror through his love.
The Favour of God is Life to dying Persons.
E come now in the last place, under this head,
to consider the words of our text with reference to dying persons. In that awful period to which we must all come, when we must pass through the valley of the shadow of death, meet the king of terrors, and be personally engaged in close conflict with that last enemy, we shall find, that an interest in the divine favour will be of the greatest importance. When, not only all created enjoyments must be given up, but life itself must be re
figned, and our heart and flesh fail us, it will be of the greatest consequence to know, upon sure and certain grounds, that God is the strength of our heart, and our portion for ever. The good man will then, more than at any former period, be lead to say, In his favour is kife.
The sweet experience of the divine favour will be above all things desirable, to satisfy the soul of its being in a state of safety. Perhaps the dying man hath been often doubting and disputing his interest in the Redeemer, and his title to the heavenly inheritance, while in health and vigour. If, under the power of a threatening distemper, and in the imniediate prospects of his dissolution, these hesitations still remain, the bed of languishing will be very uneasy to him. He will probably express the anxieties of his mind in some such language as the following:
“ Alas! what shall I do ? I believe myself to be a dying man, and my soul, I fear, is in a dangerous ftate. I am pailing into another world, and I know not where I shall land. I am going the way I shall never return; it is a great journey, and an awful one. O eternity, eternity, how solemn is the prospect ! How near am I now either to heaven or hell, to eternal salvation, or everlasting damnation! My past fins and follies crowd afresh into my re
membrance, and disquiet my conscience. I am doubtful of the truth of my repentance, because my heart is deceitful, the work is great, and attended with many difficulties. It is certain many do deceive themselves, and think they are something when they are nothing. I tremble, and am fore afraid, left I should be found one of that number.
Shall I say, with the dying Emperor of Rome, “O my poor wandering, trembling, self-flattering soul, whither art thou going! Thou must no longer hold converse with men, nor enjoy thy former delights any more; ah, whither art thou going!" Or thall my case be like that of him who said, 'I have lived anxiously, and I die doubtingly!' Alas! I am afraid to part with life, and leave this world, not knowing whether God be my friend or my enemy. O what would I give for a fatisfying testimony of my reconciliation with God! The assurance of his favour would be worth more to me than ten thousand worlds. Would he be graciously pleased to smile upon my soul, and lift up upon me the light of his countenance, I should not be afraid to die. Lord, thy favour is life to a dying man; grant me, O grant me some kind token of it; how else shall I pass this gloomy vale, and launch forth into the unknown abyss of eternity!