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made perfect through suffering.” Heb. ii. 10. “He went into deep waters, where the floods overflowed him." Psalm lxix. 1, 2. Look at our dear Lord in the garden, in the judgment hall, and on Calvary! there, as in the deluge, the windows of heaven were opened, and the cisterns of the deep broken up :-wrath from above and rage from beneath, were the waters that entered in unto his soul. Thus we find the head of the church in deep waters ; his members also must pass through the waters. This cup is also put into their hand, hence he saith, “ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.” Matt. xx. 23. We have repeated testimonies of this, see John xvi. 33. "in the world ye shall have tribulation.” See also Acts xiv. 22. you must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And John, in one of his visions of heaven, beheld the saints in robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, and was informed that they “ caine out of great tribulation," Rev. vii. 13, 14. Thus saints must go through the waters; it is the way to the kingdom.
Tribulation is either outward or inward. Outward tribulation ariseth from various causes—from sicknesses, persecution, poverty, &c. Our departed brother had to struggle with bodily affliction and pinching poverty; with these he was surrounded for many years. He has been deep in these waters, till the Lord was pleased in his providence to remove him to the parish of Leuton a year or two ago; there (principally through the benevolence of some ladies, who reside in the parish) the waters of affliction arising from poverty were considerably assuaged. I have heard him relate some of his painful and bitter trials, and the dealings of God with him in supplying him when in extremities by extraordinary methods. One story I will repeat. Himself and family were in great distress; they wanted a few shillings for a special purpose; wliat to do, and where to go they knew not, every spring was dry. In this state of anxiety they went to bed, and soon after they heard the down-stair window open; some unknown hand had left a one-pound note. Thus did the Lord at that time deliver him from distress, while he was melted down in thankfulness. Many similar instances of the Lord's dealings he was wont to relate.
One day when I was with him, and the conversation turned upon this subject, for he was particularly fond of it, by way of encouraging him to trust in the Lord, I related an anecdote of a very poor child of God, who being upon his death-bed was asked by a person who visited him, how many children he had ? he answered," "twelve." 66 Dear me!” said his friend, " what will become of them all ? why you have as many children as the patriarch Jacob.” “ Yes,” said the dying saint, “ and I have Jacob's God to provide for them too!" Our late brother had exactly twelve children, and he did rejoice in believing that he also had Jacob's God to provide for them.
Inward tribulation arises from temptation, and the working of the flesh. A man no sooner enters the divine life than he is beset with satan, the saint's adversary, and no circumstances in life can claim
exemption from his devices. If a man abounds in outward blessings, he tries to make him overbearing; if he be pinched with poverty, he is prompted then to murmur and rebel; if he do any thing praiseworthy, satan endeavours to puff him up in fleshly pride that he is better than others; if he do any thing wicked, the enemy tries to make him think light of it. The devices of satan are manifold; he secretes himself with us in the closet, and infuses his poison among our most holy exercises ; he knocks loudly at the gate of the senses; he tickles the fancy; he is above to lift us up, below to pull us down into despair-before to hinder us in our progress, behind to keep us back: in short, we are completely beset, and through this water all the saints of God have to wade.
Tribulation ariseth also from the flesh, the old man of the heart, which is said to be a deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Jer. xvii. 9. He is ever ready to receive the suggestions of the wicked one, and always willing to oppose the work of God in the soul: Paul describes it as “ the flesh lusting against the Spirit the law in the members warring against the law of the mind.” In the 7th of Románs, Paul speaks of the inward tribulation arising from in-dwelling sin ; such was his view of himself, (though he had been in the divine life upwards of twenty years) yet he uses this language when speaking of himself, verse 14. “ I am carnal, sold under sin.”
-Verse 18. 55 I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.”_Verses 23, 24, and 25. “ I see a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. With the flesh I serve the law of sin. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” Thus Paul speaks of the inward cross, the conflict and warfare of the flesh, beating like a raging sea against the soul.
We are not to suppose by these expressions that the life and conversation of the apostle was outwardly bad; no, the apostle with an enlightened understanding was taking a survey of the motions of indwelling sin ; and whoever is enabled by the Spirit to look into his heart will have the same cause to loathe himself, and to say, as an old divine did, “ Lord, save me from that evil man-myself.” Yes, sin is a living monster within ; it is a very hydra, it has many heads, and as soon as one is cut off two immediately arise, and nothing short of supernatural views of the glorious person of Christ can save the believer from despair. Thus it was with Paul, who upon a survey of indwelling sin cried out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” and then triumphs over it by faith, adding, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ."
The experience of our departed brother was in unison with this. In an address to his kind benefactresses, some days before his departure, he thus spake_" The head of the serpent has been bruised, it is a mercy; but it wants bruising in you. I am speaking of your evil nature, which infuses its subtle poison into all you do. You have a good heart, quite pure; but it is not in your own keeping, Jesus keeps it for you ;-a heavenly nature; but you have another of the earth, earthy." And then he added, “there is nothing too bad for my wicked heart to do now, if left to itself, and I had strength to act it."
Three or four days after, when the same friends were with him again, one of them observed to him, “ You seem to find satan trampled under your feet, before you drop the flesh.” He replied, “ in a wonderful manner I do; the Spirit has chased him through every hole and corner of my heart, and beaten him over and over again, and broken his head; but (said he) he is there still, the old nature; I have still an evil heart of unbelief, and let but the sun of prosperity shine, let health and strength return, and I should feel it again.”
For a child of God to be plagued with what he is in, and of, and from himself, is painful beyond expression, and causes him deeply to sigh and groan; yet is the sense of sin profitable to him, as by it, through the teaching of the Holy Ghost, he is humbled in the dust, constrained to abhor himself, and to renounce every idea of self-righteousness and confidence in the flesh, and to fly to Christ for shelter, depending wholly upon his finished salvation. Thus he goes out of himself for comfort, and having spiritual views of the Redeemer, self becomes mortified, and abounding grace is magnified. Thus outward and inward tribulations are waters, deep waters, through which saints have to pass.
2ndly. They have to pass through the rivers, or waters of death. This passage is altogether necessary; it must be ; there is no avoiding it. It is the way of all flesh, high, low, rich, poor, learned, ignorant, civilized, savage, righteous, wicked, &c. “It is appointed to men once to die," or to go through a change equivalent to it: this is the statute-law of heaven, and must be obeyed. “Your fathers, where are they?” They are all gone from hence, they have passed over Jordan, they are all departed into another world, an endless eternity. “ And the prophets, do they live for ever?" Zech. i. 5. No; their time is short, they do their appointed work in the Lord's vineyard, and then he calls them home to receive their hire. It is true, saints partake of spiritual life, which can never become extinct, for, saith Jesus, “ he that believeth in me shall never die;" but then they are not exempted from corporeal death, they are delivered from it as a penal evil ; it is not a curse, and it is in reality of advantage to them : they are thereby freed from a body of sin, an ensnaring world, a cruel adversary, and all the sorrows and heart-aches of the way, and enter into everlasting rest. There was no way for the Israelites to enter into the land of Canaan, but by passing over the river Jordan; so there is no way of entering heaven, but through the ford of death. These are the waters through which the Lord's people have to pass. We shall now consider
2. The promise made to them while passing through the waters “I will be with thee.” Here we must notice,
1st, the Promiser—" I will.” Who? The great God, the wise, God, the eternal God; the omnipotent, the infinite, the covenant God of Israel ; Jehovah, Elohim, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost; El Shaddai, the strong God Almighty is with thee. In the first verse the Eternal Three are referred to, “he that created and formed thee,”, even the Father; “ he that redeemed thee,” Immanuel; she that called thee by thy name, and said, thou art mine," even the Spirit of truth. This is he who is the promiser~"the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel thy Saviour,” verse 3. Thy God, thy Saviour saith, " I will be with thee.” Oh! that we did consider the unspeakable privilege of having God for our God. It is to have a special interest in him, so that God in his all-sufficiency and efficiency is ours, and we his, All his attributes and works are ours, for our good. “ I will be thy God;" that is, all my attributes shall be thine, for thy good, as they are mine for my glory Infinite wisdom shall contrive thy good, and infinite power shall effect it. Infinite love, mercy, truth, and faithfulness are thine. This is he, thy God, who makes the promise, “ fear not, for I am with thee.” Faith's view of this is mighty to strengthen his people while passing through the waters.
2ndly, consider the promise, “ I will be with thee.” This is his covenant; he hath said, " I will never, never leave thee, I will never, never, never forsake thee." Heb. xiii. 5. Nay, we are told, that “God willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath ;' and, further, ,' because he could swear by 'no greater, he sware by himself.” Heb. vi. 13, 17, 18. We may well be astonished at this wondrous language. How weak are our conceptions ! how far do we live below the privileges of our high calling! We are charged sometimes with preaching high doctrines, as if it were a crime to declare the plain sentiments of holy writ. O Lord ! suffer me not, either through reproach or fear, to desert the standard of thy truth! Let thy command be daily before mine eyes, “ be thou faithful unto death;" that when I stand on the brink of eternity, I may be able to say, in the same spirit as the apostle, “ I have kept the faith.”.
Yes; he has confirmed his promise by oath, that the heirs of promise might have strong consolation. His own words are beautiful in Isaiah liv. 9, 10. “ For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee; nor rebuke thee: for the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. Therefore (verse 17) no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn : this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.” Could his word fail-his covenant be broken-his oath be falsified-his love extinguished -his power destroyed-his will thwarted ;-in short, could he be deposedhis sceptre broken, and his glory tarnished; then, his church, his beloved church, might become the prey of never-dying worms and unquenchable fire!
He has said, “I will be with thee,” and believing saints have been supported by this promise in the deepest waters. See David, Ps. xxiji. 4. “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” So Paul, Heb. xiii. 5. “ be hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee; so that we may boldly say (with delight, openly, constantly, triumphantly) the Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me. So Luther, while bulls, anathemas, and the thunders of antichrist were upon him ; and the powers of the earth, electors, kings, and emperors; when craft and deceit were put in requisition, and gold moved a thousand blood-hounds to seek his life: in the midst of all we see him call a handful of his followers together, to enter with him into his closet—“come,” saith be, with a calm and undaunted spirit, “ come let us sing the 46th Psalm, and we will defy the devil to do his worst !” “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will we not fear, &c. The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge." All are not called to pass through such tempests and storms as these; but all have to pass through tribulation, and all need the presence of their covenant God. Let us, my dear friends, commit ourselves to him who has promised to be with us. None can comfort us in tribulation, preserve us from the powers of darkness, or from inward enemies, which are of the worst kind, but him who has promised to be with us.
Our late brother was fully sensible of this : in a conversation with me upon this subject, he said, “I am a great debtor to the grace of God-it is all of grace I am what I am: many a time I would have destroyed myself, but grace would not let me." To a friend who expressed her fears of the world, he said, “God is able to keep thee; he can turn lions into lambs: the lion of the tribe of Judah will guard thee.” And when she expressed her fear of the power of satan, he said with great earnestness, “ If satan was too hard for Jesus, why then he will be too hard for thee; if thy head was vanquished, why then thou wilt be vanquished- not else. He will plague thy enemies : you commit the way to him.” Yes, our Lord will indeed plague our enemies, and guard his saints: he will be with them.
We come now to consider
3. The exhortation founded on the promise, “ Fear not.” It appears that doubts and fears have been the companions of the children of God in all ages; hence so many of the promises of God commence with these words, “ fear not.” We hear the church of old saying, “the Lord hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me.” We hear David often expressing his fear: and if we look into the church of Christ now, how many of its members are subject to painful misgivings, anxious doubtings, and evil surmisings; well may they be said to be of “fearful heart.” Satan hath a great hand