תמונות בעמוד

desire of your eyes, and your “exceeding great reward.” Ye have sought and found happiness in Him; ye “delight in the Lord,” and he hath given you your “hearts' desire.”

6. Once more: Though they were heavy, yet were they holy; they retained the same power over sin. They were still “ kept” from this, “ by the power of God ;” they were “obedient children, not fashioned according to their former desires ;'' but “ as He that had called them is holy," so were they “ holy in all manner of conversation.” Knowing they were “redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, as a Lamb without spot and without blemish," they had, through the faith and hope which they had in God, “ purified their souls by the Spirit.” So that, upon the whole, their heaviness well consisted with faith, with hope, with love of God and man, with the peace of God, with joy in the Holy Ghost, with inward and outward holiness. It did no way impair, much less destroy, any part of the work of God in their hearts. It did not at all interfere with that « sanctification of the Spirit,” which is the root of all true obedience; neither with the happiness, which must needs result from grace and peace reigning in the heart.

11. 1. Hence we may easily learn what kind of Heaviness they were in; the Second thing which I shall endeavour to show. The word in the original is, TuanDevTES,-made sorry, grieved; from hunn,-grief, or sorrow. This is the constant, literal meaning of the word : and, this being observed, there is no ambiguity in the expression, nor any difficulty in understanding it. The persons spoken of here, were grieved: the heaviness they were in was neither more nor less than sorrow, or grief; a passion which every child of man is well acquainted with.

2. It is probable our translators rendered it heaviness, (though a less common word,) to denote two things : First, the degree, and next, the continuance, of it. It does indeed seem, that it is not a slight or inconsiderable degree of grief which is here spoken of, but such as makes a strong impression upon, and sinks deep into, the soul. Neither does this appear to be a transient sorrow, such as passes away in an hour ; but rather such as, having taken fast hold of the heart, is not presently shaken off, but continues for some time, as a settled temper, rather than a passion, even in them that have a living faith in Christ, and the genuine love of God in their hearts.

3. Even in these, this heaviness may sometimes be so deep, as to overshadow the whole soul; to give a colour, as it were, Vol. I. No. 13.


to all the afections; such as will appear in the whole beliavimur. Timay likewise lire an influence over the body; particularly in those that are cither of a naturally weak constitution, or weakened by some accidental disorder, especially of the vervous kind. In many cases, we find the corruptible body presses down the soul;” in this, the soul rather presses down the body, and weakens it more and more. Nay, I will not say, that deep and lasting sorrow of heart may not sometimes weakeu a strong constitution, and lay the foundation of such bodily disorders as are not easily removed: And yet all this may consist with it measure of that laith which still worketh by lure.

4. This may well be formed a “fery trial:” and though it is not the same with that the Apostle speaks of in the fourth chapter, vet many of the expressions there used concerning outWanci suferings, may be accommodated to this inwand affliction. They cannot, indeed, with any propriety, be applied to theni that are in darkness: thiese do not, cannot, rejoice; neither is it true, that “the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon " them. But he frequently dech on those that are in heaviDiess; so that, though sorrowful, yet are they always rejuicius.

111. 1. But to proceed to the Third point, What are the Causes of such sorrow or beaviness in it true believer? The Apostle tells us clearly: “Te are in heaviness,” says he, "thronylı mavitull temptations ;” Toxi2005,-manifold, not only many in number, but of many kiuds. They may be varied and diversified a thousand ways, by the change or addition of numberless circumstantie's. And this very diversity and variety make it more difficult to guard against them. Among these, we may rank all bodily disorders; particularly acute diseases, and violent pain of every kind, whether aflecting the whole body, or the smollest part of it. It is true, some who have enjoyed uninierrapied healili, and have fut none of these, may male light of them, and wonder that sickness, or pain of body, should bring heaviness upon the mind. And perhaps one in it thousand is of sopenlier a constitution, idsi not to feel pain like other incii. So hati it pleinseel Gou to sliow his ilmighty power, by producing some of these prodigie's of nature, who have seemed Doi in regard pili at all, iberish of the severest kind; if tbat contemps of praia was not owing partly to the force of education, piiiti iu a preternatural ciruse',-to the power ciiner vi good vi cvil spirits, who raised those mea

above the state of mere nature. But, abstracting from these particular cases, it is, in general, a just observation, that

“ Pain is perfect misery, and extreme

Quite overturns all patience.” And even where this is prevented by the grace of God, where men do “possess their souls in patience, it may, nevertheless, occasion much inward heaviness; the soul sympathizing with the body.

2. All diseases of long continuance, though less painful, are apt to produce the same effect. When God appoints over us consumption, or the chilling and burning ague, if it be not speedily removed, it will not only “consume the eyes,” but “ cause sorrow of heart." This is eininently the case with regard to all those which are termed nervous disorders. And faith does not overturn the course of nature: natural causes still produce natural effects. Faith no more hinders the sinking of the spirits (as it is called) in an hystcric illuess, than the rising of the pulse in a fever.

3. Again : When “ calamity cometh as a whirlwind, and poverty as an armed man;” is this a little temptation? Is it strange if it occasion sorrow and heaviness? Although this also may appear but a small thing to those that stand at a distance, or who look, and “ pass by on the other side;" yet it is otherwise to them who feel it. “ Having food and raiment,” [indeed the latter word, OxET QOLATX, implies lodging, as well as apparel,] we may, if the love of God is in our hearts, “be therewith content.” But what shall they do, who have none of these? Who, as it were, “ embrace the rocks for a shelter ? ” Who have only the earth to lie upon, and only the sky to cover them? Who have not a dry, or warm, much less a clean abode for themselves and their little ones ; no, nor clothing to keep themselves, or those they love next themselves, from pinching cold, either by day or night? I laugh at the stupid Heathen, crying out,

Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se,

Quam quod ridiculos homines facit ! Has poverty nothing worse in it than this, that it makes men liable to be laughed at ? It is a sign this idle poet talked by rote of the things which he knew not. Is not want of food something worse than this ? God pronounced it as a curse upon man, that he should earn it “ by the sweat of his brow." But how many are there in this Christian country, that toil, and labour, and streat, and have it not at last, but struggle with weariness and hunger together? Is it not worse, for one, after a hard day's labour, to come back to a poor, cold, dirty, uncomfortable lodging, and to find there not even the food which is needful to repair his wasted strength ? You that live at ease in the earth, that want nothing but eyes to sce, ears to hear, and hearts to understand how well God hath dealt with you,-is it not worse to seek bread day by day, and find none? Perhaps to find the comfort also of five or six children, crying for what he has not to give! Were it not that he is restrained by an unseen hand, would he not soon “curse God and die?” Owant of bread! Want of bread! Who can tell what this means, unless he hath felt it himself? I am astonished it occasions no more than heaviness even in them that believe!

4. Perhaps, next to this, we may place the death of those who were near and dear unto us; of a tender parent, and one not much declined into the vale of years; of a beloved child, just rising into life, and clasping about our heart; of a friend that was as our own soul,-next the grace of God, the last, best gift of Heaven. And a thousand circumstances may enhance the distress. Perhaps the child, the friend, died in our embrace! Perhaps, was snatched away when we looked not for it! Flourishing, cut down like a flower! In all these cases, we not only may, but ought to be affected : it is the design of God that we should. He would not have us stocks and stones. He would have our affections regulated, not extinguished. Therefore, ---- Nature unreprov'd may drop a tear." There may be sorrow without sin.

5. A still deeper sorrow we may feel for those who are dead while they live; on account of the unkindness, ingratitude, apostasy, of those who were united to us in the closest ties. Who can express what a lover of souls may feel for a friend, a brother, dead to God? For an husband, a wife, a parent, a child, rushing into sin, as an horse into the battle; and, in spite of all arguments and persuasions, hasting to work out his own damnation ? And this anguish of spirit may be heightened to an inconceivable degrec, by the consideration, that he who is now posting to destruction once ran well in the way of life. Whatever he was in time past, serves now to no other purpose, than to make our reflections on what he is more piercing and allictive.

6. In all these circumstances, we may be assured, our great Adversary will not be wanti: to improve his opportunity. He, who is always “ walking about, seeking whom he may devour," will then, especially, use all his power, all his skill, if haply he may gain any advantage over the soul that is alrcady cast down. He will not be sparing of his fiery darts, such as are most likely to find an entrance, and to fix most deeply in the heart, by their suitableness to the temptation that assaults it. He will labour to inject unbelieving, or blasphemous, or repining thoughts. He will suggest, that God does not regard, does not govern the carth ; or, at least, that he does not govern it aright, not by the rules of justice and mercy. He will endeavour to stir up the heart against God, to renew our natural enmity against him. And if we attempt to fight him with his own weapons, if we begin to reason with him, more and more heaviness will undoubtedly ensue, if not utter darkness.

7. It has been frequently supposed, that there is another cause, if not of darkness, at least, of heaviness; namely, God's withdrawing himself from the soul, because it is his sovereign Will. Certainly he will do this, if we grieve bis Holy Spirit, either by outward or inward sin; either by doing evil, or neglecting to do good; by giving way either to pride or anger, to spiritual sloth, to foolish desire, or inordinate affection. But that he ever withdraws himself because he will, merely because it is his good pleasure, I absolutely deny. There is no text in all the Bible, which gives any colour for such a supposition. Nay, it is a supposition contrary, not only to many particular texts, but to the whole tenor of Scripture. It is repugnant to the very nature of God: it is utterly beneath his majesty and wisdom, (as an eminent writer strongly expresses it,) “ to play at bo-peep with his creatures.” It is inconsistent both with his justice and mercy, and with the sound experience of all his children.

8. One more cause of heaviness is mentioned by inany of those who are termed Mystic authors. And the notion has crept in, I know not how, even among plain people, who have no acquaintance with them. I cannot better explain this, than in the words of a late writer, who relates this as her own experience." I continued so happy in my Beloved, that, although I should have been forced to live a vagabond in a desert, I should have found no difficulty in it. This state had not lasted long, when, in effect, I found myself led into a desert. I found iyself in a forlorn condition, altogether poor, wretched, and miserable. The proper source of this grief is, the knowledge of ourselves; by which we find, that there is an extreme

« הקודםהמשך »