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Christian is open to all the storms of life, to 'want and woe, and sickness and death as well as he ? It is because he has no one simple rule of life to go by, ņo trust, no
faith. He feels as if left to himself to make head against all the evil round him, as if all were left to his own thoughts and his own wisdom, as if God were not with him, and would take no care for him, and had given him no rule to guide him. So he is doubtful and careful and wavering and afraid, seeking for rest and finding none. Now the Christian has on every occasion a rule of life, plain at least if not easy, and this is his happiness. He knows too who gave it, knows in whom he has trusted, and trusts in him without a shade of fear. So though he is open to want and woe and sickness and death, yet he has no doubt what to do under them. His simple creed is, let the morrow take thought for the things of itself, this is my duty to-day. And so he acts boldly, without wavering, without change of plan, and without fear, and finds his reward in the absence of all the doubts and fears of the worldly, in the
from the of those who use every means, every power of body and of mind, to find and to grasp it. This is the great peace of them who love God's law, the perfect peace of them whose mind is stayed on Him. Let us remember that this arises from the Christian's undoubting belief in an overruling and ever watchful providence of God, a belief that the very hairs of his head are numbered, and that not a sparrow falls to the ground without his Heavenly Father,' a belief that the God, who watches over all,
eager search watches over him. Let us remember that the worldly man laughs at the notion of a particular providence as unphilosophical, that it is not dreamt of indeed in his philosophy, but is regarded as the idle tale of Priestcraft, or the fable of Superstition. And in this difference, this blessed and comforting difference of creed, or, if the worldly man pleases, of philosophy, let us remember that God manifests himself to his own, and gives them peace, not as the world giveth.
Need I add that he that lives in this light of God's presence, and that has this sense of God watching over him, is ever contented with his lot, a lot that comes not from the lap of blind chance, but from the kind judgment of a kind Father, seeing and knowing far better than we can what is best for us? Need I add, that here too we must see, if we think for a moment of the wretched discontent, the strivings, the anxiety of the worldly man to be anything but what he is, that God manifests Himself to His own, and not to the world?
Yet once more look at a striking instance where God so manifests Himself, and gives to His own peace which none but His own enjoy. How often surely has every man been heart stricken at finding that his unkind judgment was wrong, where a kind and Christian spirit would have led him right! How often, surely, have we all been heart stricken at our own wrong suspicions and surmises !
What betrayed the understanding here but the unchristian heart? What would have led it right but a Gospel Spirit ? Who
but the meek, in this sense, inherit the earth? Does not God here especially make good His promise, and manifest Himself to His own ? Who but the Christians are saved from the error of unjust judgment, from the self torment of unkind thoughts? The wisdom which one might learn from men of the world, or from books of the world, from the maxims, for example, "and moral reflections of the courtier, if it deserved to be called by so holy a name as wisdom, would be bought at a dear price. If, by listening to it, we learn to suspect and be on our guard against every one, if we learn to believe that every one has some selfish and mean plan in view, we learn at the same time to be thoroughly miserable. What joy can life have for one who has learned this lesson ? for one who must live alone, and in a world of his own? No! ignorance would be bliss, if this were wisdom, and God would manifest Himself to His own by keeping them without such wisdom as this. Better, oh! far better would it be, to have a child-like simpleness and a child-like love, to make the goodness we did not really find, still to kindle into joy and love at believing we had found it, by this heavenly alchemy to change the dross to gold, and in this belief to go on, tricked if you will, and laughed at, and scorned by the worldly wise, but happy, and godly, and loving God, and loving good, to the grave. But this is not wisdom, it is as false in fact, as it would be heartbreaking Bad as man is, he is yet man and not a fiend. Broken though God's image be, it is not all blotted out and gone.
1 See an excellent chapter on this point and on Rochefocauld, in D. Stewart on the Active and Moral Powers of Man.
Nay!' why talk we of this ? We are not under the law but under grace,
where to every one is offered the renewing Spirit of God, which shall form His image within us again. It is wisdom therefore and not follyto look for God and traces of Him everywhere, and to seek in every heart though frail, and feeble, and sinful still, for the proof that God's offers have not been made in vain. It is the surface only which the worldly wise can skim, it is the Christian wise man who alone can look into the depth of things. Leave then, to the worldly wise, his sad and saddening wisdom; leave him to find a base and evil ground for every noble, and kind, and generous deed ; let him believe that every man is base, and mean, and selfish, that man is not above but below the brutes that perish ; leave him to his shallow wisdom, and let him reap its fruits, its rightful fruits, in ignorance of truth, and ignorance of God, in a selfish lonely life, in a suspicious soured temper. Let the Christian in another spirit and in deeper and truer wisdom, seek for good everywhere, and he will find the good he seeks.
And in his joy at finding it, in 'the peace that comes of believing that we are surrounded by good, and in the just, and right, and true judgment of men and things which belong to him, let him confess that here God manifests Himself to him and not to the world.
1 See a remarkable passage in Wordsworth's Convention of Cintra on commonplace Statesmen's Knowledge of the World.
Finally, God will manifest Himself to His own in the decline of life, and in its close. It is á sad thing to see an old man that is a sinner, one that has all his life been quenching the Spirit of God, and doing despite to it, one that has been all his life shutting up his heart against the gentle inroads of grace, one that has all his life been hardening his heart and treasuring to himself woe and wrath, to see him stand in his honourable grey hairs, unhonoured and alone, a thing on which the gentle dew of heat ven now never lights, which the free and glad strivings of the Spirit now never visit and quicken.' It is a sad thing to see such an one waiting for his set time, not like the shock of corn in its ripeness, but like a withered and blasted tree tottering to its fall. ... It is a piteous thing too to see a worldly old man, come to that season when there is no pleasure more in his poor and only pleasures, when the feeble and palsied limbs can ply no more in their wonted tasks, their toil, their hurry, their business, when he is past all the uses of earth, and has not made himself fit for
And if this is sad to see, what is it to feel ? What shall be the thoughts of the sinful and the worldly old man, as day after day, yea! hour after hour, brings them nearer to the sad house appointed for all living? What shall soothe the wearied spirit, what strengthen it to bear the feebleness of body, the pangs of infirmity, the decay of nature, the struggle of death? What shall employ the long vacant hours ? What busy interest and cheer the vacant thoughts ? Fear must