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for a while they should remain in the midst of them. Thereby a spirit of humility and thankfulness is formed within the bosoms of His people; and His wisdom, power, truth, and mercy, are magnified. They are prepared for heaven; and to Him an income of everlasting glory is secured. · The effect which these dangers have upon us is, that they occasion a frequent stumbling in the path of duty. “We cannot always stand upright.” * In many things we offend all;" for “it is not in
man that walketh to direct his steps aright. When we contemplate the narrow path of duty, our deviations from it and our trippings in it will appear to be neither few nor small. Where is the believer who is not conscious of many sins, both of omission and commission, by which his heart has been wounded ? What is the meaning of those sighs and groans, the strong crying and tears, which the Christian's closet so often witnesses? Is not their meaning clear? Because he “cannot always stand upright,” therefore he weeps, and prays for pardon and strength.
« The "flesh lusteth against the Spirit, so that he cannot “ do the things that he would.” He loves the “ law of God after the inner man, but finds ano" ther law in his members warring against the « law of his mind, so that when he would do “ good evil is present with him.” He is like a man who has a journey of importance to take, and which he is in haste to finish; but, through the slipperiness and roughness of the road, and his own infirmities, his feet continually slide and stumble, so that he cannot make the swift progress that he would. Hence his path is watered with his tears, his breath is spent in frequent complaints, he goes on with a heavy heart, and cries mightily to the strong for strength.
The conduct of our church in her appeal to Divine Omniscience respecting the dangers to which we are exposed, differs widely from that of our Lord's disciples on a similar occasion. They, when overtaken by a storm in crossing the lake of Gennezareth, being in imminent danger of perishing through the violence of the tempest, called on their Lord, who was asleep in the hindermost part of the ship, for that help which their perilous situation made necessary. So far they acted rightly. But the manner in which they implored aid, was not free from blame. For their minds were agitated by fear, and depressed by unbelief. Their expostulation, “Master, ca“ rest thou not that we perish,” implied a doubt of their Lord's friendship, if not an accusation of unconcern about them. On the contrary, we are taught to make our humble appeal to God, as acquainted most intimately with the perils of our situation, in the full confidence of faith. Our supplication is debased with no complaint against God. We are persuaded, that He permits us to be in those critical circumstances by which our patience is exercised for wise and gracious ends, that a discovery of our weakness will make way for a display of His Almighty power, and in the end be productive of benefit to us and of glory to His name. We therefore proceed to implore His interference on our behalf. Assured of His power to save, and remembering His gracious and faithful promises, we look to Him for “strength “ and protection.”
The Omniscience of God is a sweet subject of meditation to those who are at peace with Him. « He knows all the dangers by which I am surs rounded, and will glorify His own name by
my deliverance out of them. The hairs of my head are all numbered by Him, and not “ one of them can fall to the ground without “ His permission. He knoweth that, while I “ am here in the world, I am in the furnace of “ affliction and temptation ; and though He “ should permit it to be heated seven times hot“ter than it is wont to be heated, He will not o suffer a hair of my head to be singed, nor “ the smell of fire to pass upon me.
All that " the fire shall be able to effect will be pro“ ductive of benefit. It will destroy my bonds, “ so that I shall walk at liberty in the midst of “ the furnace. And, during the process, the “ Son of God will be with me to chear me by “ His presence.”—The present world resembles the den into which Daniel was cast. It is a dreary, inhospitable dungeon. “My soul is “ among lions.” For wherever I go, and at all times, I know that “ my adversary the devil, “ like a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom “ he may devour.” But even here, looking to the God of my salvation, I am as safe as though there was no lion near me. In that blessed morning, when the mouth of the den shall be opened for my deliverance, I shall praise Him with joyful lips, saying, “My God hath sent “ His angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, " that they have not hurt me.”—This world is a troubled ocean, over which my voyage lies. But the Almighty Jesus is in the ship in which I sail. And though sometimes He appears to be asleep, yet He “knoweth that I am set in “ the midst of so many and great dangers, that I “ cannot always stand upright.” Like them that
go down to the sea in ships, and do business in great waters, I see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep. For He com
mandeth and raiseth the stormy wind which lifteth up the waves thereof. I mount up to the heaven, and go down again to the depths, so that my soul is often melted because of trouble. I reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and am at my wit's end. All
All my wisdom is swallowed up* in perplexity. Then I cry unto the Lord in my trouble; and He shall bring me out of my distresses. He shall make the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof shall be still. Then shall I be glad, when I am quiet, and when He hath brought me unto the desired haven. Then shall I praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men. I shall exalt Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders who are before the throne for evermore.”
Reader, is the appeal which you make in our collect to Divine Omniscience, the result of a personal consciousness that the description of your case is true? And, while your soul is alive to its dangers, is this appeal productive of comfort ? Doth it encourage your faith in addressing to the throne of grace the prayer that follows?
The promises of “strength and protection,” which God hath made to His people in the
many and great dangers” by which they are surrounded, do not supercede the necessity of prayer and watchfulness. For He will be inquired of by us in order that He may save us. The kingdom of God “suffereth violence" from all its besiegers, “and the violent take it by force.” God has promised that “ sin shall not
* Marg, reading
“ have the dominion over us," and that He “ will “ bruise Satan under our feet shortly ;” but these promises can afford comfort to those only who are taught by “the grace of God which bring“ eth salvation to deny ungodliness and worldly « lusts,” who are fighting the good fight of “ faith, and who, “ as prisoners of hope, turn “ to the strong hold.” Let us labour then to be fervent and constant in prayer, that God would
grant to us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
That nothing short of Divine “ strength and protection” can support us in our dangers “ and
carry us through our temptations,” is a truth which needs not to be demonstrated to the genuine Christian : for he knows that his uprightness is daily endangered by the world, which continually endeavours to ensnare him both by its frowns and smiles; by the flesh, which constant ly solicits a gratification of its lusts; and by the devil, of whose devices he is not ignorant. He finds by mournful experience that the seed of every sin is latent in bis heart, and needs only to be watered by temptation in order to bring forth its baneful finit. He perceives temptations which are suited to his age, constitution, and circumstances in life, from the danger of which he is never free.
But the believer has an Almighty Friend, to whom he repairs with confidence in every time of need. Divine “ strength” is engaged on his behalf, and shall be “made perfect in his weak
« God will not suffer” those who trust in Him“ to be tempted above that they
are able; but will with the temptation also