The sweetest seasons on this side heaven are, when the soul sinks into nothing before the face of God, and is absorbed in the sight of Christ and the love of the Spirit: when we feel the presence of Deity, and silently wait on him, at the feet of the cross, with weeping eyes, affections, and bleeding hearts.
What coming and what returning sinner need despair of acceptance? No man can be worse than St. Paul was before his conversion; and no man can be worse than St. Peter was after his conversion.
Where Scripture is to any silent concerning the lawfulness or unlawfulness of any action, consult the book of your own conscience, and follow its dictates. Observe also, what does or does not, tend to take off from your mind that exquisite sense of divine love which a believer would ever wish to cultivate and cherish.
A Believer’s affections are, too often, like a cascade, or waterfall, that flows downward; instead of being like a fountain, which rises and shoots upwards toward heaven.
If you thoroughly exhaust a vessel of the air it contains, the pressure of the air on the outside will break that vessel into (perhaps) millions of pieces; because there is not a sufficiency of air to resist and counteract the weight of the atmosphere from without. A person who is exercised by severe affliction, and who does not experience the divine comforts and supports in his soul, resembles the exhausted receiver above describes; and it is no wonder if he yields, and is broken to shivers, under the weight of God’s providential hand. But affliction to one who is sustained by the inward presence of the Holy Ghost, resembles the aerial pressure on the outer surface of an unexhausted vessel. There is that within which supports it, and which preserves it from being destroyed by the incumbent pressure from without.
Some persons are apt to walk in their sleep. They are said to be effectually cured of this dangerous habit by only once horse whipping them soundly until they awake. God’s people are apt to dose, and run themselves into danger; on which Providence takes the horsewhip of affliction, and brings them to themselves. Was he to spare the rod, his children would be spoiled.
The world is a sea of glass, affliction scatters our path with sand and ashes and gravel, in order to keep our feet from sliding.
In a long sunshine of outward prosperity, the dust of our inward corruptions is apt to fly about and lift itself up. Sanctified affliction, like seasonable rain, lays the dust, and softens the soul, and keeps us from carrying our heads too high.
The earth must be ploughed, and sown, and harrowed, and weeded, and endure many frosty nights and scorching days. In order to its being made and preserved fruitful. Gentle showers, soft days, and moderate sun-shine will not suffice always. So it is with the soul of a faithful Christian.
A person was lately observing of some fine ornamental china on his chimney-piece, that the “elegance of its figures, and the perpetuity of its colours were owing to its having been consolidated by passing through the fire.” Is not the same remark applicable to the afflicted people of God?