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“ Why should I wait for the Lord any longer ?But he that believeth maketh not haste.' He will say, God is a sovereign-I have no claims upon him—a delay is no refusal-perhaps he has answered me already, and I have a substitute for the blessing implored : however this may be, of one thing I am certain; I must succeed at last:
He never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.” Hence springs the patience of hope.
This confidence composes the mind in the events of life ; and this is the thing principally intended. We live in a world of changes and uncertainties. Disorder and confusion seem everywhere to reign. Vice is often triumphant, and virtue oppressed. And, with regard to ourselves, our wisest schemes are frequently thwarted, our fairest hopes destroyed, our choicest comforts laid waste. Thus we are liable to be perpetually ruffled and dismayed: and there is only one principle that can sustain and solace the mindIt is holy confidence in God. Nothing occurs by chance: God governs the world. If we could see what God sees, we should do precisely what God does. His people are his care—nothing can essentially injure them-yea," all things are working together for their good.” These are reasons for repose.
Here the mind fixes, and feels peace. The
peace of a child who has only to mind his book'; the father will manage and provide. The peace of a traveller who has one with him to order all the journey, and to bear all the expense. It is a peace that flows from the absence of anxiety ; the believer casts all his care upon the Lord who careth for him ; he reclines his head on the soft bosom of Providence, and falls asleep. This peace peculiarly regards intricate dispensations :
for these are the most apt to perplex and discompose the mind.
But when the mind is stayed on God, the believer is satisfied and serene even in darkness. Though I know not whither I am going, I know with whom: my guide is infallible. I will not charge him foolishly, but confide in his skill : “ What he does I know not now, but I shall know hereafter." I see much wisdom in what is clear, but there is much more in what is obscure: it is the depth that makes it profound, and that renders it so difficult to fathom. This tranquillity is commonly preceded by many a struggle with self-will, and self-conceit.
We naturally wish to have things according to our mind, and make various attempts to govern our own affairs; but by degrees we are convinced that “the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” After repeated deceptions both on the side of our hopes and fears ; after many embarrassments into which our folly and rashness had plunged us, or to which they had exposed us, we begin to say in earnest, “ The Lord shall choose our inheritance for us. I have now done. * Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother; my soul is even as a weaned child.”
But thirdly, the peace that flows from this trust in God, is said to be perfect. It is not indeed absolutely so, as if it were incapable of addition : but it is so, first, comparatively. What is every other peace to this? What is the delusion of the Pharisee—the stupidity and carelessness of the sinner-the corn and wine of the worldling ?
What is everything else compared with this peace? What can be so desirable, so excellent ? It is a continual feast.
Secondly. In relation to this confidence. It is true this peace rises and falls, but it is only because this confidence varies. All the disquietudes which a Christian feels, spring from the weakness or the want of faith in God. It is not from outward things. These are often blamed, and these may be very trying; but it is not the water without the vessel that sinks it, but that which gets in. The primitive Christians could say, “ We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” It is very possible, therefore, to have this peace within, while in the world we have tribulation : and Christians are so accessible to fear, so preyed upon by anxiety, so depressed by afflictions of various kinds, because they do not sufficiently rely on God: “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” It is, therefore, true that in proportion as the mind is stayed on God, he keeps it in perfect peace.
Let us apply the passage thus explained to some practical purposes.
First. How safe and how happy are true believers! The people of the world are exceedingly mistaken respecting them. They imagine their life to be sad, heavy, and gloomy; whereas it is most free, and cheerful, and placid. While others are struggling in their own strength, and managing all their concerns themselves, fretful when they meet with untoward events, and always dissatis: fied even when they succeed, the Christian " casts his burden upon the Lord, and he sustains him." He leaves his affairs with God, and goes on assured that he will order them aright. His concern is only to please and glorify God in the circumstances in which he is placed ; events are the Lord's. He is " careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, he makes his requests known unto God; and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keeps his heart and mind through Christ Jesus. “ I hope in him for eternal life, and it would be shameful not to trust in him for every present supply: He who spared not his own Son, will withhold from me no good thing. It is comparatively a matter of little consequence what befalls me here; I am only a stranger and a pilgrim; my God ruleth over all ; and he has promised that he will never leave me nor forsake me. The Lord is my helper ; I will not fear.”
“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” Tell him his substance is destroyed. No, says he, my “inheritance is incorruptible, and undefiled, and fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for me.” Tell him such a friend or relation is dead. But, says he, “ The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” And you are decaying and dying yourself-yes, says he, I am sent for, and am going home. With regard to public calamities he feels, and in some respects he feels more than others. Divişe grace produces sensibility, and excites a public spirit. He knows the desert of sin, and the indications of approaching wrath make him shudder. “My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments.” But, strange as it may appear, there is a firmness and a composure of mind blended with all these feelings. He knows that “ The Lord reigneth : that he is doing all things, and doing all things well ; that whatever becomes of other empires, the gospel shall spread, the church is safe; and these are the most important interests: these render the world valuable. IIe can therefore join with Luther, who said, whenever he heard of any alarming intelligence, “Come, let us sing the forty-sixth psalm.” 6. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble ; therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the depth of the sea. God is in the midst of Zion; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”
Secondly. Let us seek after this blessed condition of the godly. Till the mind be stayed on God it has no resting-place. It is union with God that gives the mind solidity. How light is it detached from him ! it is blown about easier than the down of a thistle in the wind. Out of him, as the sanctuary of the soul, every storm annoys ; every trifle disquiets: and “man at his best estate is altogether vanity.” If anything could add force to these reflections, it would be the nature of the times in which we live. We behold a cloudy and dark day. The revolutions which have taken place and the general aspect of things at present are dreadful to those have no God. O let a sense of our danger endear to us the only refuge, and the vanity of this world induce us to seek after the real happiness of another! Let us abandon the practice of sin, and no longer “lay up for ourselves treasure upon earth,” which only serves to debase the soul, and fill it with perpetual alarms; and let us ask for God our “ Maker, who