Imatges de pÓgina

more. Let us comply with the apostolical exhortation, that we may receive the blessing.

But it is intimated that adversity, or being in circumstances of distress or difficulty, is that which usually brings down the high thoughts that we have of ourselves. Before affliction, the heart of man is haughty. God humbles His people by affliction of mind, body, or estate. When distress brings them low, then they are exhorted to cast all their care upon Him; under the assurance that He careth for them. They may well dismiss every cause of anxiety and distress, when they are assured that He who has all things under His control, interests Himself in their concerns; and will order all things in providence and in grace for them, while they commit their way to Him, and cast their burden upon Him. What a wonderful declaration is this; He careth for you.

We have not a High Priest, says another apostle, who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.76 But the Lord our God is said so deeply to sympathise with His people in their distresses, that we are told, that in all their afflictions He was afflicted.77 When He sends affliction to His people, He does it for their benefit, to do them good in their latter end; that they may humble themselves at His footstool, and He may bless them more abundantly than before. Let us then place our confidence in Him, and acknowledge Him in all our ways; and then we may rest assured that He will bring good out of every seeming evil, and will cause all things to work together for our good and for His own glory.

76 Hebrews iv. 15.

77 Isaiah lxiii. 9.

But as the great enemy of mankind is ever ready to take advantage of the circumstances in which we may be placed, in order to excite in us distrust towards God, and to lead us to think hardly of Him when we are afflicted, the apostle cautions Christians to be on their guard against his devices. Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. This is a statement calculated to excite alarm. We have a powerful adversary, who is seeking our destruction. He is ever on the alert for this purpose; going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.78 He is compared to a lion that roars after its prey, and terrifies it into submission, and then seizes upon

it without remorse, and devours it. So Satan acts towards mankind. It is needful therefore, in order that we may not be destroyed by him, that we should be sober and vigilant; that we should not sleep as do others, but watch and be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation ;19 or, as it is

78 Job i. 7.

79 1 Thessalonians v.

6, 8.

here said, Whom resist stedfast in the faith; that is, continuing in it grounded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel.80 This is the way in which our spiritual adversary is to be resisted. We are to rely upon the promises made in the word of God, and to seek for their fulfilment, and be assured that Divine aid will be vouchsafed in the time of need to those who wait upon

God. And therefore we are not to be moved by the afflictions which we may be called to endure, not to be wearied and faint in our minds81 on account of them; but to be satisfied that all things shall work together for good to them that love God.82 And, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in our brethren in the world, (for if ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons,) while we resist our adversary the devil, we are to be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, 81 believing that He doeth all things well; and that we shall find hereafter that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us ;82 and that our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 83 Let us not then be terrified at the power, or give way to the temptations of our adversary the devil; but let us resist him, stedfast in faith, assured of victory through the might of our Lord

80 Col.i. 23. 81 Heb. xii. 3,7,9. 82 Rom. viii. 28,18. 83 2 Cor. iv.17.

Jesus Christ; and not doubting that the prayer of the apostle in the text will be answered when we offer it up for ourselves; and that we shall have cause to rejoice in ascribing the praise here given to the Hearer of the prayers of His people. To this supplication let us now direct our attention ; observing,

First, To whom it is addressed.

Secondly, The state of the children of God in this world.

Thirdly, The object proposed by the dealings of God in His providence towards them.

Fourthly, The blessedness that awaits them ; and

Lastly, The gratitude and praise which it becomes them to manifest and ascribe to Him who has mercy upon them.

May the Spirit of God seal instruction upon our minds while we consider these topics, that we may be edified, admonished, and comforted, and His great name may be glorified in us and by us. We are to notice,

First, To whom the prayer in the text is addressed: The God of all grace.

This title describes the character of Him from whom is derived every blessing that we enjoy; in whom we live and move and have our being ; who giveth to all life and breath and all things 184 who giveth us

84 Acts xvii. 28, 25.

tures. 85

richly all things to enjoy.84 St.James says of Him, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His crea

And St. Paul observes respecting Him in this character, with regard to His believing people, God is able to make all grace abound toward you ; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.86 As the God of all grace, He is the God of salvation. By His grace we are saved. The apostle says, Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor,

that ye through His poverty might be rich.86 It was the grace of God that provided a Saviour for lost sinners. It was the grace of the Saviour which brought Him from heaven to earth to redeem us. It is the grace of the Spirit which quickens the dead in trespasses and sins to newness of life. And it is Divine grace which supplies all the wants, spiritual and temporal, of the children of God, while they are passing through this life; and when it comes to a close, when the work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope, shall have been completed, the head stone of the spiritual building shall be brought

84 1 Tim.y. 17. 85James i.17,18. 86 2 Cor. ix. 8; viii. 9. 87Zech.iv.7.

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