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My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction :
For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.
THE lot of man is checkered. The streams of human happiness and misery flow side by side. Now we glide on the placid surface of the one, and then are tossed on the threatening billows of the other. Sin has produced a sad change in our original destiny, and the frowns of God have blighted the creation which owed all its charms to his smile. Man was the sinner and he is the sufferer, and now there is no clime so favoured as to be a refuge from human woe. Mental disquietude, vicissitudes of fortune, the corrodings of conscience, the pains of disease, and the groans of death are the allotment of those who have fallen from their original holiness. Affliction is the expression of the divine displeasure against sin; yet we are to distinguish between the afflictions of the righteous and of the wicked. The one are punitive, the other disciplinary; the one are sent in wrath, the other in mercy; the one are forerunners of that hopeless ruin which awaits the lost, the other the severe, but merciful means of effecting that purification which is a preparation for heaven. The wicked suffer and are without hope; the righteous are assured that "their light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh
out for them a far more exceeding, even an eternal weight of glory."
The Christian, as he is not exempted from the sorrows of life, should so fortify himself as not to faint in the day of adversity. Even when tasting the bitterness of the cup which is placed to his lips, he may be filled with a joy with which the stranger cannot intermeddle. The curse of sin is removed from his soul, the anger of God is appeased, and therefore he may well endure with patience these seeming ills, which have been graciously commissioned to wean him from his earthly loves; assimilate him to his suffering Saviour; and prepare him for a keener relish of those enjoyments which are reserved for him in heaven.
How wonderful, my soul, are the dealings of thy covenant God, who makes all things work together for thy good! His love is displayed even in the chastisements which he inflicts; and not to receive these chastisements would be a proof that thou wast not a It is in this way he would purge away thy dross, and bring thee from the furnace, like pure gold tried in the fire. Does God punish the wicked? he only corrects thee as a father, the son in whom he delighteth. Is death an unmingled evil to the ungodly? it is to thee a happy deliverance. Faint not, then, nor be weary under his corrections; for if thou hast reason to bless him for other mercies, thou hast special reason to bless him for the afflictions, which make thee wiser, holier, more obedient, and more heavenly minded. Soon shall these sorrows have an end, and then shall succeed that glorious state where there shall be neither sorrow nor crying, and where all tears shall be wiped from thine eyes for ever.
THERE is a righteousness which justifies the soul in the sight of God. It consists in the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. This being received by faith, is reckoned to the sinner's account, and constitutes him a righteous person. Such a righteousness can be achieved by no human effort, in consequence of the wreck to which sin has reduced our moral faculties. Hence we become indebted for it to the interposition of Him "who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.”
There is a righteousness, too, which consists in personal holiness, and to which the law of God, as a rule
of life, still obliges us. As the first constitutes our title to heaven, so the latter constitutes our meetness for it; and hence sanctification becomes as necessary to salvation as justification.
The passages above quoted, while implying the first kind of righteousness, principally refer to the latter, and are designed to enforce and display the obligation and advantages of conforming our principles and conduct to the law of God.
It is important to understand that the religion of the Bible, so far from relaxing the obligations of morality, insists upon it in its highest sense, not as consisting in mere abstinence from sin, but in the positive performance of all duties. More is required than a moral exterior. A right state of the affections is equally essential; or in other words, there must be right principles, as well as right actions. It is not enough to possess faith in the gospel; we must be able to authenticate our faith by our works. God has indissolubly connected the two, and at our peril we attempt to disunite them. Our obedience must have respect to all God's commandments, and must adorn all the relations of life.
The advantages of such a righteousness are many and distinguishing. It is acceptable to God. Honour, happiness, and safety are found following in its train. It disarms the enmity of our fellow men, and is a preventive of many of the ills of life. It brings us into nearer and holier intercourse with God. It secures the approbation of conscience. Youth is dignified by its possession, and the hoary head, when found in its way, is a crown of glory.
Hast thou realized, my soul, the extent and spiritu
ality of the divine law, and is it thy constant aim to meet its requisitions? As without holiness no man shall see the Lord, dost thou bring every thought, and feeling, and action into subjection to Christ? Is it thy meat and drink to do the will of thy Heavenly Father? and is his law the man of thy counsel, and sweeter to thy taste than honey and the honey-comb? Lest there should be any hidden iniquity within thee, pray for the searching eye of God, that sin may be detected and excluded. Encourage the visits of the Holy Spirit: nay, prepare thyself as a holy temple, where he may constantly abide. Cultivate the graces he implants; follow after righteousness, and, leaving the things which are behind, press onward towards the things which are before, that thou mayest become perfect in holiness, and meet for the society of the blessed.