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PARAPHRASE ON PSALM XLII.
AS when with sore fatigue opprest,
So I with eager haste would fly
All night and day o'ercome with fears,
My chief repast is bitter tears,
WMIe they who seek to take my blood,
Demand with scorn—" Now whcre's thy God?"
When back my tearful eyes I cast,
Then, O my soul, why thus cast down?
When gloomiest doubts and fears prevail,
By storms of tribulation tost,
My anchor gone, my compass lost,
Thy water-spouts with angry roar ■ , ,
Re-echo from the sounding shore.
Yet though ten thousand horrors rise,
Embolden'd I prefer my plea,
For lo, when chasten'd by thy rod,
But, O my soul, thy courage raise,
Dear Jesus, my Husband, my Saviour, my Friend,
Lord, keep me, preserve me, and save me from sin j
When floods of temptation incessantly roll,
Be thou ever present, my heart to controul;
Lest Satan's delusions, so crafty and keen,
My love from my Jesus, my Saviour, should wean.
Lord Jesus, my day'3-man, on thee I repose,
My sins that are struggling and striving to reign,
Hail, my soul, with holy pleasure,
When you'll celebrate with wonder
Meet with saints to sing and pray.
Hail it with increasing rapture,
Type of your eternal rest,
Rise upon the lofty summit,
View the cross, see Jesus on it,
In refulgent beauty shine.
Oh! the cross, what sweet attrac-
Stand, and gaze, on this transaction,
Here I see the cup of fury
Hewith boldness now comes forward,
On the death of Jesus think.
Here I see the debt-book cancell'd,
Hellish doors for ever bolted,
On redemption's glorious plan.
Here a channel freely opens,
Precious blood! in torrents rolling
Costly price—Oh! price immense!
« There are Three that bear record in heaven, the FATHER, the WORD, and the HOLY
GHOST: and these Three are One." Utihny.7.
* Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 1.
(For the Spiritual Magazine.)
"Fear not:—when thou passest through the waters I will be with thee."—Isa. xliii. 1, 2,
THE children of God are not to view affliction and death with horror. Our heavenly Father hath wise and gracious designs in afflicting us: "The Lord's voice (sai»h the prophet) crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name; hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it." Micah vi. 9. The rod is to be heard as well as felt: and the man of wisdom, or he who is spiritually wise, hears the Lord's voice and submits; and be the affliction ever so painful there is an inward tranquillity, while through the chambers of the heart the echo of that voice is heard, " Be still, and know that I am God!" So with respect to death. Faith's views of the person and victories of Christ over sin, death, and the grave, and his reign and dominion over all, makes the believer triumphant over the last enemy, and induces one uniform, fixed, and settled principle of joy and peace in believing, " abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost." Such persons are enabled to familiarize an holy acquaintance with death:—the subject itself is the reverse of being gloomy, to them it hath many charms.
1. In relation to the soul.
Christ stands ready to embrace it; the moment it quits the body, it is in the bosom of God and filled with glory—" absent from the body, present with the Lord." This thought is cheering.
2. In relation to the body.
There is nothing to create a moment's alarm, the body is committed to the dust in sure and certain hope of a resurrection to eternal life; Vol. Iv.-no. 41. O
when that which is sown in weakness shall be raised in power; when the corruptible shall put on incorruption, and the mortal immortality; when the sleeping dust of millions of saints will be gathered, and awake to everlasting life, and be fashioned in the twinkling of an eye like the glorious body of Christ; when that saying shall be brought to pass, " death is swallowed up in victory!" and heaven, earth, and hell hear that challenge, " O death where is thy sting? 0 grave where is thy victory?" while the loud hosanna bursts from the innumerable hosts, "thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
All this is present to the view of faith, for "faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." So that there are no terrors in death to a believer in Christ: to others he is the king of terrors, to him he hath the face of an angel.
"Death's terror is the mountain faith removes;
It is true that all the children of God cannot take this calm survey of affliction and death; all have not the assurance of faith. How many of the Lord's little ones are filled with alarms, and doubts, and fears, and are "all their lifetime subject to bondage, through fear of death." There may be many who are of "fearful heart" present; it is a pleasing thought that notwithstanding all their fears and doubts, "Christ came to deliver them." See Heb. ii. 14, 15.
One of the greatest enemies I have to contend with is this spirit of fear; 1 have to wrestle with him privately, he is ever ready to put chains upon my soul, and seeks every opportunity to do so: I have to oppose him publicly, seeing he hath so much influence over a large portion of my bearers, and generally over the church of God.
I could wish to see the " valiant men" who are about "the bed of Solomon, with their swords in their hands, because of fear in the night," (see Cant. iii. 7, 8.) using their weapons in detecting this monster, and pursuing him to his den. It is however a lamentable fact that too many ministers of the gospel encourage his sway, and this they do by erecting certain standards of experience, to attain which many of the Lord's family are induced to live upon their frames and feelings, and sensible enjoyments, yea, even upon their darknesses" and infirmities, rather than upon the immutability of " the counsel of peace," and the fulness there is in Christ.
Fiom what I have been enabled to gather in several conversations I have had with our late dear brother, relating to his former experience, I have reason to believe that he had been looking for other evidences of his interest in the love of God besides believing the gospel, and from a sense of his need casting himself entirely upon Christ. Latterly however he had been weaned in a great measure from this, and his life has been mOre a life of faith than heretofore; hence during his late illness I find such expressions as these :—
"All my prayers have been more resigned of late; 1 have enjoyed in this illness more than ever I did before; "his left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me." He has been kind, exceeding kind. Before I was peevish, discontented, rebellious; now he has shewn me grace reigns: I am to myself a new man."
On another occasion he thus addressed some kind friends who were constantly in the habit of visiting him : " rest in the Lord though you enjoy him not, yet you know in whom you have believed, and he loves you with an everlasting love; he saves with an everlasting salvation: he will come with vengeance. Satan is an old reasoner, you must take the shield of faith to him; and fret not thyself in any wise to do evil: I have tried that way, and 1 never gained any thing by it but shame and sorrow."
At another time when one of these friends said to him, "I have been thinking of the words, 'Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother; my soul is even as a weaned child.' Psalm exxxi. 2. He replied, "the Lord has a weaning time for all his children; they must be weaned from sensible comforts, and taught to live upon Christ the substantial bread: but this is painful to them ; they are often very fretful during the time. I thought I knew something of passing through the waters, but I groped in the dark as it were; I know now what it is to have him with me, as I never knew before."
Thus the Holy Ghost was pleased to bring him to live more by faith, and he felt the power and excellency of it, for such " endure as seeing him who is invisible." Heb. xi. 27.
Our text bears upon the point we have in hand; it is the word of God to his people—" Fear not; when thou passest through the waters I will be with thee." I shall make no observations upon the residue of these two verses, as the scope would be too much for our time. In the words read consider,
1. The waters through which God"s people have to pass.
2. The promise made to them :—" I will be with thee."
3. The Lord's exhortation to his people while passing through the waters :—" Fear not!"
1. The waters;—"when thou passest through the waters." In scripture-phraseology waters, deep waters, and floods, sometimes signify tribulation, deep distress, and fierce temptations. Often in the book of Psalms, and elsewhere, it is used in this sense. These are like the waters of the sea, always in motion, sometimes raging and threatening instant destruction. By waters we may also understand death, or the passage to the heavenly Canaan. This was beautifully typified by the waters of Jordan, through which the Israelites were conducted into the promised land by Joshua, who was a type of Christ: here the emblem is, passing over a river and crossing from shore to shore, wading in the midst of it in order to get to land. In these senses I shall consider the term, waters, in our text.
1st. Tribulation, temptation, &c. This was the cup put into the hand of Christ. (John xviii. 11.) "The captain of salvation was