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Joined: 2003/10/30
Posts: 1554

 Re: Why are you cast down, O my soul?

If you don't suffer for a thing, you don't value it.
If it cost you nothing, then it means little to you.
If you have really suffered, agonized, anguish for anything, for anyone, over any matter, than that thing has an infinitive preciousness to you, you are going to fight for that, you are going to watch over for that, with keen jealousy! That is something very precious!

Is not that just how the word travail works?
Yes, it's like that.

If it comes without travail, without any cost, well, it's taken too lightly, isn't it? Far too lightly.

-T.A.Sparks (Joy out of travail)

 2007/8/28 15:54Profile

Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991

 Re: Why are you cast down, O my soul?

Suffering and Glory
by T. Austin-Sparks

Reading: Hebrews 11:32-40, 2 Corinthians 11:23-33; Colossians 1:24; 2 Timothy 2:3

It is a remarkable combination which we find in those first people of God - the combination of suffering and joy. It is not easy for us to put ourselves into the atmosphere and conditions in Jerusalem in those first days, but there is no doubt about it that it was a perilous time. The crucifying of the Lord Jesus had by no means satiated the lust of His enemies. We know quite well from the story of Saul a little later that everyone who was of "THE WAY" was an object of that blood lust, and there was a mighty hostility raging in the hearts of those enemies of Christ. We know that His followers had to meet sometimes behind closed and barred doors. And yet we find that the word 'praise' abounded in their midst. "With gladness and singleness of heart, praising God" (Acts 2:46,47) is the phrase. Yes, even when they had been haled before the magistrates, threatened and made to understand very clearly what the consequences would be for them if they persisted in their course, they rejoiced, it says, "that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name" (Acts 5:41); a great mingling of joy with suffering.

The night in which the Lord was betrayed was a night of solemnity and heaviness, and there were deep shadows in that upper room; yet there was One Who could take the cup, knowing all that the cup meant, and give thanks, and, as a last thing before they went out, suggest that they should sing a hymn. So you pass through the New Testament and you come on such wonderful passages as those we have just read. Here is Paul recounting his sufferings, most of which we know nothing about so far as a detailed record is concerned - a long list of intense sufferings; but making it clear that he gloried, rejoiced, in his sufferings. And that eleventh chapter of Hebrews, too, does not conclude with a dirge, but in triumph; and you cannot fail to feel as you read through verse after verse that here is strength, here is triumph, here is ascendancy, there is nothing mournful here.

What does all this say to us? It is all gathered into the Table of the Lord. To His disciples He said, "Are ye able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" (Matt. 20:22,23); and that for them was the cup of passion, the cup of suffering. It was the filling up of that which was lacking in the sufferings of Christ, given to His Church (Col. 1:24); and suffering it was. They were drinking the cup even unto death.

But take up whichever you like of those men. If there was one man in all the circle who ought never to have sung or rejoiced again, never to have gone about the world with his head lifted up again, who ought to have had the most melancholy voice and look, always trying to let people know what a miserable mess he had made of things, it was Peter. But listen to Peter - "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:3). (The word 'blessed' there is the word which means 'praised.'). "Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His great mercy (Peter knew what he was taking about) begat us again (Unto the most awful despair? No!) unto a lively hope" (not "a living hope"; the word is much more emphatic than that. You can be living without being lively. There are quite a lot of people who are living, but are not a bit lively) - "unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." There is something of tremendous hopefulness, and optimism in that. And it was the same with the other Apostles.

Accepting The Fellowship Of His Sufferings

Now, what is the point again: Well, first of all, we must face the fact and we must seek help from God always to bear in mind that we are going to have a path of suffering if we are in the fellowship with the Lord Jesus. That is one side. Perhaps it is because we have not at the outset calculated with that that we have such a long-drawn-out period of joylessness and defeat. There has to come a point when we sit down and do some calculating and come to a definite conclusion on this matter - that, although very often we may not be able to see that our suffering is because of our relationship to Him (the sufferings are so manifold and diverse, and very often they look as though they have no relationship at all with our Christian life) at the same time, whether we can discern it or not; the fact remains that the pathway of the child of God, of the fellow of Jesus Christ, is the pathway of suffering. I say, postponement or delay in settling that matter keeps us all the time in that state of hoping and waiting for it to be different, and, because the difference does not come, getting downcast and feeling that all is wrong and that the Lord is against us and all that sort of thing, thus giving all the ground that the enemy wants for destroying our testimony. The very first thing to remember when we take this cup is that while we are taking it as the cup of salvation, while we are remembering the atonement which is in the Blood, and all the wonderful redemption which is ours because of that Blood, the cup does also speak to us of fellowship with His suffering. It is His cup, it is filling up that which is lacking - the remainder - of the afflictions of Christ for His Body's sake which is the Church. We are not able to see the values of that in ourselves - we are kept far too occupied with the cost, the suffering and the trial - but oh, some looking on are able to see a marvellous spiritual growth, a wonderful refinement of spirit, the beautifying of the life. Yes, there is something which is going up to His praise and glory as Christ is being formed through the fires of adversity and suffering. It is fellowship with Him in His sufferings, after all, if it is bringing about more Christlikeness. So our first thing is to reckon with this and get it settled.

What are you expecting, what are you waiting for, what are you concerned about, what are you pleading and praying for? If you are praying for full and final deliverance from adversity and suffering and difficulty and all that sort of thing, let me tell you your prayer will never be answered. Forms of suffering may change, but in some form or another we are going on to the end in a way of adversity. Satan is not going to become our friend while we are friends of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of Satan is not going to rally to our support while we belong to the kingdom which is opposed to his. Let us settle that. It will get us free, perhaps, from this entanglement.

Deliverance Without Deliverance

And the next thing is that there is deliverance while there is no deliverance. There is a passage of Scripture which probably has often puzzled you. It seems to be something that recoils upon itself and says that it is not true. "God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13). What do you make of that - 'escape by enduring it'? That is not getting away from it, that is getting on top of it. Paul pleaded about that thorn in his flesh, that it might be removed; thrice he sought the Lord concerning this thing, but the Lord said, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for My power is made perfect in weakness." And Paul's reaction was - "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me... for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Cor. 12:8-10). Paul was not delivered from that "messenger of Satan." That is the bald way of describing his trial. It may be taken to cover your particular trial - that difficult person with whom you have to live, or whatever else it may be. Let us come right to the point, and say, 'It is something that the devil wants to use for my undoing, for the ruination of my testimony, and the Lord has definitely and deliberately permitted that.' Paul was not delivered from that stake in the flesh, that messenger of Satan that constantly buffeted him; and yet he was delivered! "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses"; like that old warrior in the Old Testament, who said, "Give me this mountain" (Joshua 14:12); 'do not remove this mountain, do not get it out of the way; give it to me, give me a chance to master it, to bring it under, to gain ascendancy!'

Now, this is no easy, glib talk. It is the outcome of a good deal of personal exercise. God knows how we have cried and sought for deliverances which have not come. Forgive this personal word to back home what I have been saying. During this past week or two I have been praying very much about that thorn in the flesh, that messenger of Satan, and I did not see the Lord answering in any way at all. And during the same time I have been reading some books. I have been reading again the life of Wesley, and of Whitfield, and the story of the Scottish Covenanters; and then I found myself reading 2 Corinthians 11; and suddenly pieced the whole thing together. Oh, those terrible sufferings of John Wesley! Up and down the country, often laid prostrate with physical weakness and suffering; in every town persecuted, mocked, stoned, or dragged by the hair; what a time that man had! And his brother Charles shared it. The Scottish Covenanters - why, one is made to blush with shame in reading the awful sufferings, the martyrdoms, the tortures of those people; hunted, without food, without homes, having to live on the open hillside, in caves, anywhere. And here is Paul giving us his list. Oh, should we all the time be stipulating that our lot ought to be very much easier? And yet they triumphed. What a triumph was Wesley's! We sing, 'Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise.' Do you know that Wesley did not mean what we usually think he meant when he wrote those words? We think he meant, 'Oh, that I had a thousand tongues!' He and his brother had been into a town for some meetings. Only a few people came and they poured out their hearts to the Lord. Then they went out and saw a great mob in the street, coming from a sports event, and John Wesley said to his brother, 'Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise.' It is the same thing in effect. 'Oh, for thousands of tongues that are out there to sing my great Redeemer's praise!' Those were their sentiments. That is triumph!

The Lord's Table is a blending of joy with suffering, but I do not believe that the Lord is going to make any changes in our circumstances until we have got on top of them. Whatever change of situation and conditions may be in His will, actual deliverance will wait until we are delivered in this inward way from our spirit of stipulating that we cannot go on unless the Lord provides better conditions for us. Such a spirit is a denial of grace, that is a denial of His sufficiency. "My grace is sufficient for thee... Most gladly therefore..." No, the way out is up; the way of victory is over, not from. So before ever anything changes, we have somehow got to find the grace that will result in our being filled with joy. Sometimes, with Peter, we are "put to grief in manifold trials"; sometimes, with Paul, we are "smitten down"; but if we will give the grace of God a chance there is the old joy back again! Give it a chance! It is there, it is not quenched, it is not dead. The point is, what is the normal? Is the normal - misery, depression, melancholy? Or do these mark us only for the time being, sometimes? Is the normal - Joy, hopefulness, optimism? Some people, I am afraid, have the idea that they are going to give something away if they smile. It will not do. There must be about us, after all, something bubbling up which is not just ourselves. It is the Lord.

So we come to the Lord's Table. As we take the cup, we shall, on the one side, have that reckoning - 'I know what this means: the fellowship of His sufferings: to take my share of hardness with the apostles and the prophets; by the grace of God, I take the cup.' But there is also the other side - rejoicing to be counted worthy to suffer for His name and realizing that through His Blood there is the begetting again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

May we have grace to seek the Lord with this resolve, that by His grace we are not going to capitulate but to triumph, even in the time of trial and suffering, and find our deliverance in that way. "God... will make... the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it."



 2007/8/29 0:02Profile

Joined: 2007/1/31
Posts: 985


Nothing can comfort the soul without Christ.

amen may I not run to anything else as I have. Christ alone. Christ alone let me run to...


 2007/8/29 0:17Profile

Joined: 2007/1/31
Posts: 985


The Lord's Table is a blending of joy with suffering, but I do not believe that the Lord is going to make any changes in our circumstances until we have got on top of them. Whatever change of situation and conditions may be in His will, actual deliverance will wait until we are delivered in this inward way from our spirit of stipulating that we cannot go on unless the Lord provides better conditions for us. Such a spirit is a denial of grace, that is a denial of His sufficiency. "My grace is sufficient for thee... Most gladly therefore..." No, the way out is up; the way of victory is over, not from. So before ever anything changes, we have somehow got to find the grace that will result in our being filled with joy. Sometimes, with Peter, we are "put to grief in manifold trials"; sometimes, with Paul, we are "smitten down"; but if we will give the grace of God a chance there is the old joy back again!

May I not deny his grace, but ask for more. I have said take out, let it done. But let my joy return as I turn to His grace in this trail..


blessing charlene


 2007/8/29 0:20Profile

Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991

 Re: Why are you cast down, O my soul?


By John Angell James

"Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty!" (Job 5:17)

"Before I was afflicted I went astray—but now I keep Your word. It is good for me that I was afflicted—that I might learn Your statutes. I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous—and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me." (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75)

"And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord's discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives. Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn't we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Our subject is peculiarly appropriate to many. Few are the travelers to heaven who do not pass through the land of 'Bochim' (the place of weeping– Judges 2:5), and the valley of tears, in their way. Blessed are they, and more blessed will they be, who, being chastened by the hand of their heavenly Father—are thereby made partakers of his holiness. The afflictions and consolations of ministers are often made subservient to the good of their people. The apostle has beautifully expressed this, 2 Cor. 1:3-7. I would not be a sterile thorn in the garden of the Lord, but a fruitful vine, and bearing the more fruit for the 'pruning of his severe but infallible kindness'; and "I desire fruit that may abound to your account." May it be granted me to teach you by example as well as precept—not only the 'active virtues', but the 'passive graces' of our holy religion; and both by what I suffer and enjoy, may I be made more effectually the comforter as well as instructor of the sorrowing portion of God's chosen family.

I. The proof of a sanctified affliction begins to show itself while the trouble lasts. Though it be very true that it is "afterwards," when it is gone by, that it yields "the peaceable fruits of righteousness" in their maturity; yet as there can be no fruits where there have been no blossoms, so in this case the 'buds of spiritual improvement' must be seen during the season of affliction, or there will be no ripe fruits afterwards. A right frame of mind rarely comes on when the trial is over—if it does not commence while it lasts. The seeds of improvement, like some grain—must be sown while the showers are falling and the ground is wet, or they will not germinate and yield a crop. While the tear is yet in the eye, the earnest desire after sanctification must be in the heart. Let not the sufferers, therefore, put by the wish, and suspend the effort to get good, until the visitation of the Almighty has passed away. A child who is not brought to reflection, and to begin, at least, an appropriate disposition, while under chastisement—is rarely brought to it when the rod is laid aside, and he is restored to his fellows, in all the joyousness of boyish hilarity. The reason why trials are so generally unproductive of spiritual effect, is because the sufferer postpones his attempts to render them beneficial until days of prosperity return—and then he is too busy and too happy in the enjoyment of his altered circumstances, to call to remembrance the wormwood and the gall.

Hence, a striking proof of sanctified affliction is a deep concern, a studious effort, and much earnest prayer—that it might be blessed for the good of the soul. The only solicitude of a worldly man and of a 'worldly-minded professor of religion', is to get out of trouble as fast as he can, and in any way he can. But the concern of a consistent, spiritual, and growing Christian—is to get out of it only in God's time, by righteous means, and with holy fruits. When there is a real inward desire, and not the mere profession of such a wish, that the trial might be sanctified, and that it might not be removed until it is; when there is a willingness to remain in the furnace, however long the time and fierce the fire, until the dross is separated, and the gold refined; when there is a disposition to say, "Lord, smite me until the folly is beaten out of your wayward child. Do not stop until you have restored me to yourself, since the sorest word you could say to me, would be, 'Why should you be stricken any more?' and my chief blessing, not to have it said of me, 'Let him alone'"—this is sanctification. If the soul is in that state, it has received good, and is getting it still. Here is God's end in afflicting accomplished, which is—that we might be partakers of his holiness.

But just look at a more detailed description of the state of mind of those who are really benefiting by affliction.

They recognize the hand of God in it, whether it comes direct from him—or through the medium of second causes. "It is the Lord!" they exclaim. "It comes from God! Is there evil in the city, and the Lord has not done it? I am silent, and open not my mouth, because you, O God, have done it!" Yes, they do not wander about amidst the briars, torn and lacerated, seeking after second causes—but go and lie down at once on "the soft green" of the doctrine of providence.

Then, as they recognize the hand that smites, they are equally forward to acknowledge His DESIGN in their affliction. "This is for my good, I know, because I am told that all things work together for my good. I do not see how, but that is not my business—all I know is, it will be so, for God has said it. He intends to make me holier by this affliction. He is bent upon my improvement. He thinks me, shall I say, worth and worthy of being chastised? Yes, I receive it as a message from God to me, saying, 'See how important holiness is in my people, since I call you to suffer so much in order to promote it.'"

Nor does the Christian's recognition of God stop here, for it goes on to the PRINCIPLE from which the dispensation proceeds. "This, yes, even this is love!" says the believer, whose affliction is sanctified. "Even through the cloud I so clearly perceive the smile, not only of peace, but of affectionate, tender love, on the countenance of that Father who holds the rod—as to be constrained to run into those very arms which chastise me. I resolve all into love. I know that in faithfulness he has afflicted me. Love cannot act unlike itself. I could sooner believe a mother would torment her child, than that God would his."

Notwithstanding these views, still the sufferer has his SINS brought to remembrance. "I have endured my punishment; I will no longer act wickedly. Teach me what I cannot see; if I have done wrong, I won't do it again." Job 34:31, 32. This is his language; and in answer to his prayers, God shows him his sins, his defects, his rebellions, his backslidings, and he is deeply abased and humbled before God. Confession, purposes of amendment, plans of improvement follow. Oh! it is a blessed sign of good, when the sufferer is taken up with a sense of SIN; when not only the past life is reviewed with a more searching scrutiny, and a more rigid exaction, so that sins passed over on former occasions come out more distinctly and impressively to view—but when the chambers of imagery in the heart are laid open, and the soul grows in accurate and humbling acquaintance with itself. All this is quite compatible with our recognition of God's love. Yes, the more we are assured of God's love—the more clearly do we see our sins.

Connected with all this, and in some measure implied in it, is deep SUBMISSION to the will of God. A quiet bowing down, and lying still at the feet of God; a giving up of ourselves to his disposal, willing that he should determine for us; a patient endurance of lengthened visitation; a grateful recollection of what still remains, controlling a mournful calculation of what is lost; a quiet consciousness that God has exacted of us less than our iniquities deserve—in short, such a disposition under the rod, as seems to say, "Anything from your hand; anything with your smile; anything but your frown."

A readiness to dwell upon our mercies, especially our spiritual blessings—is a fine evidence of a holy state of mind. It is delightful to hear the sorrowful believer talking of his mercies, and thus setting one thing over against another.

Such is the proof of a sanctified affliction, which is furnished by the conduct of the sufferer while his trouble lasts. If, on the contrary, the mind is wholly absorbed with a sense of sorrow; thinking only how it may be removed, and caring nothing about improvement; if there is no remembrance of SIN, no desire after holiness; if God, as the source and sender of the affliction, is forgotten, and the mind dwells exclusively with peevishness and reproachfulness on second causes; if there is, though not words of complaint, murmuring, and rebellion, and thoughts and feelings that imply something like a sense of unmerited hardship in the painful visitation—there can, in such a case, be no benefit derived from the affliction. It is merely the bitterness of the medicine without its beneficial effect—the pain of the chastisement, without the compensatory result in the improvement of the conduct.

II. I now go on to set before you those proofs of a sanctified affliction which are furnished by the conduct, AFTER the trial is removed.

1. If, when the hand of God is withdrawn, and prosperity again returns, the views, feelings, and purposes remain which the soul entertained in the season of darkness; if, for instance, there is the same solicitude for spiritual improvement, and, even amidst the glow of health, the tranquility and repose of altered circumstances, and the freedom from apprehension for the future; if there is a still prayerful and anxious desire not to lose the benefit of trouble, but to be made more holy and heavenly—there is every reason to believe that the visitation of God has left a blessing behind. The passing away of severe trial leaves the soul so buoyant and joyous, so prepared for the feelings of earthly delight, and possessed of such a capacity for the most vivid enjoyment, that if amidst such circumstances, there is a sobriety of mind, a seriousness of spirit, a solemnity of manner, a prayerful concern after increased spirituality—there is a sanctified affliction! Yes, when such devout aspirations after conformity to God's will and image survive the night of sorrow, and still live, and grow, and thrive, under the sunshine of prosperity—the beneficent end of the chastisement has been indeed accomplished!

2. When one of the first businesses that are attended to after the return of prosperity, is to put in execution the vows that were made, the plans laid, and the purposes formed, in trial; when defects in duty are immediately attended to; when sinful practices are discontinued; when discovered corruptions are mortified; and when languishing graces are revived—then good is certainly gained by suffering!

It is indeed a blessed sight, and a proof of growth in grace, when the soul, liberated from the prison of its distress, goes straightway and most diligently—to the work of increased sanctification. Perhaps few professors are ever greatly afflicted, without some purposes of amendment being formed, as well as convictions of the need of it being felt. How many of them forget their views, abandon the plans of their improvement, and become as lukewarm, worldly, and as careless as ever—when the Lord is pleased to terminate their severe affliction. Some few, however, there are of the mind of David, who said, "I will go into your house with burnt offerings, I will pay you my vows, which my lips have uttered when I was in trouble," Psalm 66:13, 14. There is a proper custom prevailing in all sections of the Christian church, of publicly acknowledging in the house of God any special mercy received at his hand. It is to be feared that, with many, this is nothing more than mere form; and that by others, who are really sincere, and even ardent at the time, it is regarded, or at any rate acted upon, as if it were a kind of clearance of all other obligations to increased holiness imposed upon us, even by our own declarations and promises in the hour of affliction. If, however, this religious observance is faithfully employed, as a means to fasten upon the heart and conscience the obligations of the season of sickness, and to summon the soul to the business of renewed devotedness to God—it may be truly concluded that the affliction has done its own proper work.

3. When besetting sins are mortified by trial, it is a good sign—and it is a sign frequently exhibited in God's afflicted people. Almost all of us have 'favorite pet sins'--which there is not ordinarily that concern and labor for putting them away, which there should be. They are indulged, instead of being resisted. Thus they gain strength by such indulgence, and most sadly disfigure our character and disturb our spiritual peace!

Prosperity, like sunshine upon weeds, often causes them to grow rapidly! And then God in great faithfulness, love and mercy sends adversity, like frost, to kill them. Upon a bed of sickness, and in other severe trials--they are often remembered, understood, and seen in all their sinfulness. They are then lamented, confessed, and mortified.

Nothing can be a darker sign than for a professor's conscience to be so dull and drowsy during a time of trial, as to leave him unadmonished respecting these predominant sins. It has been sometimes a blessed fruit of tribulation, that these predominant sins have been weakened, if not eradicated. It is worth any amount of suffering to secure this result. Happy the Christian who comes out of the furnace, with his dross removed by the fire! No matter what he has lost--he has gained freedom from these inward enemies of his peace and purity.

4. Increasing deadness to the world, and growing spirituality of mind, are sure results of sanctified affliction. The love of the world is the great snare of the church in every age of time, but especially in the present unmolested circumstances of the Christian profession. Worldly-mindedness is now the prevailing sin of Christians! We see them on all hands too eager to make themselves happy on earth, and seeking their enjoyments, if not in the sinful amusements of the world, yet in its innocent and home-bred comforts. They look not at unseen and eternal things, but at seen and temporal things. Theirs is too much a life of 'sense', refined it is true from its gross sinfulness, but still a life of sense, rather than a life of faith. Hence there is "a needs be for manifold trials," if not to separate them and keep them separate from specific and gross sins—yet to lift up their affections to things above, and to lead them to seek their happiness from faith, hope, and love; from God, the fountain of life; from Christ, the Redeemer of their souls; and from heaven, the object of their expectations.

When the world has been crucified to us, and we have been crucified to the world; when we have been taught its vanity and emptiness as a satisfying portion for the soul; when we have lost much of our anxiety to obtain its possessions, and of our dread of losing them; when we have been taken off from the folly of hewing out broken cisterns that can hold no water, and led more to the fountain of living waters; when we have lost our dependence on our comforts and possessions for happiness, and feel and rejoice in a glorious independence upon 'created good' for bliss; when there is really and truly a conscious elevation of soul towards God and things divine—there, there is the evidence that we are improved by our trials.

5. In some people we discover a striking and beautiful mellowness of character, as the result of God's chastening hand. The roughness, harshness, arrogance and haughtiness of their conduct, which once rendered them annoying and offensive, are scraped off—and a sweet gentleness, humility, meekness, and softness of manner, and a tenderness of spirit have come in their place. There is now a gentleness in their speech, a mildness in their look, and a kindliness and cautiousness in their manner—which tell us how the haughty spirit has been broken, and the proud loftiness of their mind has been brought down. An unusual loveliness has been spread over their character, a holy amiableness has been infused into their temper, and a stubborn self-will has yielded to a kind consideration of the wishes and feelings of others, which convince all around them, how much the Spirit of God has done in them, and for them, by the afflictions they have endured; how the plough and the harrow have broken up the hard soil, and pulverized the rough clods of their stubborn nature, and prepared it for the growth of the precious seed of the kingdom.

6. A clearer view of the glory of Christ, and a deeper sense of his inestimable preciousness, are an evidence of growth of grace in affliction. The design of all God's dealings in his providential dispensations, in the scheme of redemption, and in the work of his Holy Spirit—is to bring us to Christ, to enlighten our minds in the knowledge of him, to lead us to a more simple dependence upon him, and to endear him more and more to our hearts! If, then, amidst the 'decays of health' we have learned to feel his value more, as the Physician of souls; if amidst the 'loss of property', the worth of his unsearchable riches has been more correctly estimated; if at the 'grave of earthly friends', we have been drawn closer to him the Friend of sinners; if amidst the gloom and desolation of earthly scenes, the glory of the cross has shone forth with a new and surpassing luster; if amidst privations and losses, otherwise trying and distressing, we are brought to adopt the language of the apostle, "I have all things, and abound. All things are mine; for I am Christ's!" In this case, also, the affliction has answered its end; for that trial cannot have been in vain, which has revealed to us the glory of the Savior, and made us more Christlike, both in our sentiments, feelings and life. Clearer views of the importance of gospel truths, and a richer unction from them resting upon the heart, acquired by sorrow—are a convincing proof of benefit from God's chastening hand.

7. Less dread of future trials, with a stronger trust in God for support under them—is another evidence of sanctified trial. There is about most of us, until it is removed by God's grace, a timidity, dread, and desponding feeling about afflictions, which make us afraid to encounter them. We turn away from them with dismay, as if there were no power which could support us under them, no wisdom to guide us through them, and no grace to comfort us in the midst of them. The very shadow of an approaching affliction makes our coward hearts to tremble, and causes us to cry out in unbelief, "How can I endure it?" We thus dishonor God by our guilty fears, and show a weakness of faith exceedingly dishonorable to us. To be cured of this weakness by affliction, and to rise out of it strong in faith, and firm in trust; to feel our fears subsiding, and our confidence in God established; to see new chastisements preparing for us, to be endured as soon as the present ones have ceased; to behold storm clouds returning after the rain, and gathering to beat upon us, when those which have lately spent their fury upon us retire—and yet to be able to say, "I will trust and not be afraid—for with the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength, and he will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon him, because he trusts in him"—is a genuine mark of improvement by afflictive dispensations. God's design in chastening us—is to bring us to confide in him. He demands our trust, and is honored by it, and it is really no small part of our sanctification. And he that goes forward from one cross to another, strengthened by the past to meet with greater courage the future; who can trust himself and all he has with greater calmness to the disposal of God, with less apprehension for the result, has not been visited in vain by the afflictive hand of God.

8. A more entire consecration of the soul to God's service in general, and to some special service in particular, is also a proof of sanctified affliction. How delightful a spectacle is it to God, to angels, and to men—to see a Christian rising from the bed of his own sickness, or returning from the grave of a near relative, in the spirit of the hundred and sixteenth Psalm—and while the eyes are yet moistened with tears, and the heart soft with sorrow, yielding up himself afresh to the claims, the service, and the glory of God; and instead of being paralyzed with grief, or taken up with enjoyment, setting himself apart by a new dedication to God. How beautiful is the language of the Psalmist in the review of his deliverance, "I love the Lord because He has heard my appeal for mercy. Because He has turned His ear to me, I will call out to Him as long as I live. The ropes of death were wrapped around me, and the horrors of the grave overcame me; I encountered trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: "Lord, save me!" The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate. The Lord guards the simple; I was helpless, and He saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For You, Lord, rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I believed, even when I said, "I am severely afflicted." How can I repay the Lord all the good He has done for me? I will take the cup of salvation and worship the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. Lord, I am indeed Your servant; I am Your servant! You have loosened my bonds. I will offer You a sacrifice of thanksgiving and will worship the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord, in the very presence of all His people, in the courts of the Lord's house. Hallelujah!"

This is the language of sanctified affliction. Then when the Christian is seen giving himself afresh to the service of God, in a more devoted attendance upon all the means of grace, private, domestic, and public; when his liberality is more diffusive, and his zeal more ardent; when he seems concerned, inventive, and laborious to show his gratitude and love by new acts of devotedness, and former measures of service will not content him—it is a convincing evidence that he has derived benefit from tribulation.

9. Increased sympathy for others in their affliction, is a proof that our own affliction has done us good. In some cases sorrow has hardened the heart, and made men selfish; it has drawn off all their attention from others, and concentrated it on themselves. This is a dark sign; nothing can be a stronger proof that trials have done us harm, instead of good—than when they have blunted our susceptibilities, hardened our hearts, and put all our tears in reserve for ourselves! Nor, on the contrary, can there be a more convincing evidence that they have benefited us, than an increase of sympathy, and a greater readiness to weep with those who weep. It is a delightful exhibition of a mind softened and sanctified by affliction, to see a person, on recovering from it, still holding in remembrance the wormwood and the gall—and instead of giving himself to selfish enjoyment, going forth with quickened sensibilities to support and comfort the distressed.

Such are the proofs, evidences and results of sanctified affliction.

May they be found in you, my dear friends; and in your pastor. Trials abound in this world—it is a valley of tears. Happy will it be for us, if we shall emerge from it at length into that blessed region, where God shall wipe away all tears from every eye. "I reckon," said the blessed Paul, "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us!" "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to his purpose." With such internal consolations as the gospel affords, and with such a peace as passes understanding—what external tribulation may we not endure, and endure not only with all patience, but with joyfulness?

It is beautifully said by Leighton, "All outward distress to a mind thus at peace, is but as the rattling hail upon the tiles, to him who sits within the house at a sumptuous feast." Do not dread affliction—or at least dread far more being left to grow worldly and sinful, for lack of affliction; or being allowed to endure the pain of affliction without reaping the benefit of it. The losses, the pains, the disappointments, of the present state—if blessed for our spiritual good—will all fit us for the state where there shall be no more sorrow nor crying! The drops of sanctified grief—are the seeds of immortal joy! There will soon be a last tear—but never a last joy! Fix your heart upon holiness as the preparative for heaven, and be little concerned at what expense of present ease and possessions it be obtained—so that it holiness obtained.

The first look at Jesus as he is, and the first moment spent in heaven—will make ample amends for the longest and the saddest life on earth! Abound in hope—a lively hope of that inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in Heaven for you! Be much in prayer for the presence and help of the Spirit of God as a Comforter. Without his aid the least trial will distress you—and with it the greatest cannot crush you! God is able to support and comfort—as well as save—to the uttermost! And none of us can tell what, in either case—the uttermost of God can do!


 2007/8/29 15:21Profile

Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991

 Re: Why are you cast down, O my soul?

Everything on this side hell is mercy

Oh! labor every day to be more humble and more
low and little in your own eyes. 'Who am I,' says
the humble soul—'but that God should cross me in
this mercy, and take away that mercy, and pass a
sentence of death upon every mercy? I am not
worthy of the least mercy, I deserve not a
crumb of mercy, I have forfeited every mercy.'

Only by pride comes contention. It is only pride that
puts men upon contending with God and men.

A humble soul will lie quiet at the foot of God, it
will be contented with bare necessities. A dinner
of green herbs relishes well with the humble man's
palate; whereas a stalled ox is but a coarse dish to
a proud man's stomach.

A humble heart thinks none less than himself, nor
none worse than himself.

A humble heart looks upon small mercies as great
mercies; and great afflictions as small afflictions;
and small afflictions as no afflictions; and therefore
sits mute and quiet under all. Do but keep humble,
and you will keep silent before the Lord.

Pride kicks, and flings, and frets; but a humble man
has still his hand upon his mouth. Everything on
this side hell is mercy—much mercy, rich mercy
to a humble soul; and therefore he remains mute
under the smarting rod.



 2007/8/30 14:37Profile

Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991

 Re: Why are you cast down, O my soul?


(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

"For God makes my heart soft, and the
Almighty troubles me." Job 23:16

The hour of affliction is the hour of softening . . .
the hardness of the heart yields,
the callousness of the spirit gives way,
the affections become tender,
conscience is more susceptible.

The hour of softening is the season . . .
of holy abstraction,
of meditation,
of prayer,
of withdrawment from the world and
from creature delights, while the soul
is more closely shut in with God.

The heart, now emptied, humbled, and softened
is prepared for the work of the Spirit; and what
an impression is then made! What discoveries of
God's love to the soul! What enlarged views . . .
of the personal glory of Christ,
of the infinite perfection of His work,
of the preciousness of the atoning sacrifice,
of the hatefulness of sin, and
of the beauty of holiness!


 2007/9/22 16:14Profile

Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991

 Re: Why are you cast down, O my soul?

Some heavy, painful, yet concealed cross?

(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

Christian reader, we suppose you to be no
stranger to grief; your heart has known what
sorrow is; you have borne, perhaps for years,
some heavy, painful, yet concealed cross.

Over it, in the solitude and silence of privacy,
you have wept, agonized, and prayed. And still
the cross, though mitigated, is not removed.

You may be asking, "Why, if Jesus is so
tender and sympathizing, does He place
upon me this cross?"

Because of His wisdom and love.

He sees you need that cross!

You have carried it, it may be, for years. Who
can tell where and what you would have been
at this moment, but for this very cross?

What evils in you it may have checked;
what corruptions in you it may have subdued;
what constitutional infirmities it may have weakened;
from what lengths it has kept you;
from what rocks and precipices it has guarded you;
and what good it has been silently and secretly,
yet effectually, working in you all the long years
of your life; who can tell but God Himself?

The removal of that cross might have
been the removal of your greatest mercy!

Hush, then, every murmur; be still, and know
that He is God; and that all these trials, these
sufferings, these untoward circumstances, are
now working together for your good and His glory.

And what would you know, may we not ask, of
Jesus; His tenderness, and love, and sympathizing
heart; but for the rough and thorny path along
which you have been thus led?

The glory and fullness, the preciousness and
sympathy of Christ are not learned in every
circumstance of life. The hour of prosperity,
when everything passes smoothly on:
providences smiling, the heart's surface
unruffled, the gladsome sunlight of creature
happiness gilding every prospect with its
brightness; this is not the hour, nor these
the circumstances, most favorable to an
experimental acquaintance with Christ.

It is in the dark hour of suffering,
the hour of trial and of adversity,
when the sea is rough,
and the sky is lowering,
and providences are mysterious,
and the heart is agitated,
and hope is disappointed,
its bud nipped, and its stem broken,
and creature comfort and support fail.

Oh, then it is the fullness, and preciousness,
and tenderness of Jesus are learned. Then
it is the heart loosens its hold on created
objects, and entwines itself more fondly
and more closely around the Incarnate
Son of God.


 2007/9/22 16:15Profile

Joined: 2007/1/31
Posts: 985


"It is in the dark hour of suffering,
the hour of trial and of adversity,
when the sea is rough,
and the sky is lowering,
and providences are mysterious,
and the heart is agitated,
and hope is disappointed,
its bud nipped, and its stem broken,
and creature comfort and support fail.

Oh, then it is the fullness, and preciousness,
and tenderness of Jesus are learned. Then
it is the heart loosens its hold on created
objects, and entwines itself more fondly
and more closely around the Incarnate
Son of God. "

Amen !!


 2007/9/23 2:22Profile

Joined: 2006/1/31
Posts: 4991


Where did God find you?

(MacDuff, "Words of Comfort to the Christian Pilgrim")

"He found him in a desert land, and in the waste
howling wilderness. He led him about, He instructed
him, He kept him as the apple of His eye." Deut. 32:10

Christian! see here an emblem of yourself.

Where did God find you? He found you in "a
desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness."

Yes, earth with all its loveliness and beauty is a
desert place, until the sinner has been found by God.
There is much, it is true, to attract the eye and to
gratify the sense; but fair and lovely though it be,
in a moral and spiritual view it is "a desert land."

The soul can find in it no sustenance, and no refuge
in this desert. In this "waste howling wilderness," he
is surrounded, on every side, by dangers; and exposed
to countless perils.

But, oh! it is a blessed thing to know, that God seeks
out, and finds the wanderer, in the desert; and, when
He has found him, "He leads him," not always by a direct
path, to the promised land, but by a circuitous route,
and in the right way, to "a city with eternal foundations,
a city designed and built by God."

Reader! has God permitted you to encounter the sharp
stroke of affliction? Has He taken from you the earthly
prop, upon which you were used to lean all too fondly?

Remember! God is leading you! These unexpected trials;
these heart rending bereavements; are just so many
turnings in your pilgrimage. No thorn has been scattered
on your path, but what is common to the one family of God.
The Shepherd is leading you, as all the flock are led, with
a skillful hand, and in the right way.

He "instructs us" in . . .
His love, and faithfulness, and goodness;
our own weakness, and His all sufficiency;
our impotence, and His omnipotence;
our corruption, and His grace;
our own frailty, and His steadfastness;
our unbelief, and His unwavering faithfulness to His word.

Mark the believer's security, "He keeps him as
the apple of His eye." Such is God's watchful
guardianship over His saints; such His unceasing

Yes! humble, unknown, obscure believer; dwelling
in a lowly cottage, in some sequestered glen, far
removed from the hum of human voice or occupation,
if only you can say of God, that He is your reconciled
Father, you are more to be envied than princes of the
earth, for you are in possession of a blessedness, such as . . .
no monarch can bestow,
no wealth can purchase,
no earthly power procure.

Be sure that God, even your God, does not, for
a solitary instant, forget or overlook you! Your most
trivial actions are not without interest in His sight.
Not a hair falls to the ground without your Father.
He orders all things, for the discipline of your soul,
to prepare you for the glories and the blessings of

God has found you!
God is leading you!
God is instructing you!

Oh, then, leave to Him to choose your path in life!

As you stand upon the cloudless summits of the
heavenly Zion, welcomed by angelic bands, greeted
with the loud hosannas of the redeemed, methinks
this will prove the theme of your song, "He found
me in a desert land, and in the waste howling
wilderness. He led me about, He instructed me,
He kept me as the apple of His eye." Deut. 32:10

"Is this the way, my Father?" "Yes, my child.
You must pass through the tangled, dreary wild,
If you would reach the City undefiled,
Your peaceful home above."

"But enemies are round!" "Yes, child, I know
That where you least expect you will find a foe,
But victor you shall prove o'er all below,
Only seek strength above."

"My Father, it is dark!" "Child, take my hand;
Cling close to Me; I'll lead you through the land;
Trust My all seeing care; so shall you stand
Midst glory bright above."

"My footsteps seem to slide!" "Child, only raise
Your eye to Me, then in these slippery ways
I will hold up your goings; you shall praise
Me for each step above."

"O Father, I am weary!" "Child, lean your head
Upon My breast; it was My love that spread
Your rugged path; hope on still, until I have said,
Rest; rest forever above."



 2007/9/23 4:03Profile

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