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Painful as this portion is to flesh and blood, none need to fear it, if only they attend to II. The Apostle's directions in relation to it

God graciously appoints to his people this portion, in order to promote their spiritual welfare, and progressively to transform them into the Divine image in righteousness and true holiness. Hence St. James exhorts his afflicted brethren to regard their trials as means to an end; and, 1. To welcome the means

[The proper tendency of trials is to work patience in our souls. At first indeed they operate to the production of impatience, or, rather I should say, to the eliciting of those evil dispositions which lurk in our hearts. Till we have had our pride in some measure subdued, we know not how to bear the unkindness which we meet with : we fret under it, and rage even as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: but when we discover our weakness, we are ashamed of it, and humble ourselves before God on account of it, and implore grace from him to support us, and thus gradually become instructed by the discipline, and are at last “ strengthened with all might by his Spirit unto all patience and long-suffering, with joyfulness, giving thanks unto the Father," who has wrought in us that very change of heart and life which has exposed us to the enmity of the ungodly world'.

Now when we see what good our God designs us by these trials, we should not only be reconciled to them, but be thankful for them, and “count them just occasions for exalted joy." For, what price can be too great for so valuable an acquisition as that of a meek, submissive, and patient spirit? We submit with readiness to many things which are displeasing to flesh and blood for the advancement of our bodily health : and shall we not thankfully take the prescriptions of our heavenly Physician for the health of our souls? What, if they be unpalatable to our taste? We should regard the affliction as good, when we know what benefits will ultimately result from its; assured, that “ the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in ush.” When therefore we see the clouds gathering around us, we should not be alarmed, but should say rather, like the countryman whose fields are burnt up with drought, Now God is about to refresh and fructify my barren heart, and his clouds shall drop fatness on my soul. What if your enemies

Col. i. 11, 12.

& Isai. xxvii. 9.

h Rom. viii. 18.



meditate nothing but evil ? Should that be of any concern to you, when you know who has engaged to overrule it all for goodi ? I say then with the prophet, “ Fear not” any me

or preparations, how formidable soever they may appeark; nor complain of any trials, however oppressive they may be at the time; but rejoice in them', and bless God who counts you

worthy to bear m, and accept them as an invaluable “gift at his hands“," and "take pleasure in them°," as knowing that they will assuredly issue in your welfare, and “ in the honour of


God P."] 2. To cultivate the end

[Does God design by means of trials to make you resemble him “ who was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so opened he not his mouth?” Seek to experience this benefit from them; and " let patience have its perfect work in you, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Complain not that your trials are heavy, or of long continuance: but be more anxious to have your dross consumed, than to have the intensity of the furnace diminished. It was “through sufferings that the Lord Jesus Christ himself was made perfectq;" and if "he learned obedience by the things which he suffered"," will not ye be content to learn it in the same way? We are ready to think that perfection consists in active virtue: but God is not a whit less honoured by passive virtue : and when patience has so far operated upon your soul as to make you " glory in tribulations” for the Lord's sakes, and you can say from your inmost soul, under all circumstances, “ Not my will, but thine be done,” you will have attained that measure of holiness which constitutes perfection; and you will ere long, as a shock of corn that is fully ripe, be treasured up in the garner of your heavenly Father. You have seen “ Jesus, after having endured the cross, and despised the shame, set down at the right hand of the throne of Godt:” be content then to “ suffer with him, that in due time you may be glorified togetherų.” Let this be the one object of your concern: and pray that “the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus through the blood of the everlasting covenant, would make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight through Christ Jesus X.”]

i Rom. viii. 28. k Isai. viii. 12, 13. m Acts v. 41.

n Phil. i. 29. P 1 Pet. iv. 11, 16. q Heb. ii. 10. s Rom. v. 3.

leb. xii. 2. u Rom. viii. 17. 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12.

1 Luke vi. 22, 23.
o 2 Cor. xii. 10.
r Heb. v. 8.

* Iob. xiii. 20.

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1. The timid Christian

[" Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man
that shall die, and of the son of man that shall be as grass, and
forgettest the Lord thy Maker ?” O! "fear not the oppres-
sor, as if he were able to destroy: for where is the fury of
the oppressor ?" Look at Pharaoh and all his host : what
could they do against the God of Israel?? Look at Herod,
when he would "stretch out his hand to vex the Church :" “ he
falls a prey even to worms,” which eat him up alive. Know
that the creature is no more than “ an axe or saw in your
Father's hands :” and that he can do nothing, but as your
Father sees fit to employ him for your goodb. In all that
he attempts, he is limited and controlled, and shall effect
nothing which shall not subserve your eternal interestsd. Be
strong then, and of good courage : and whatever cross may lie
in your way, take it up cheerfully, and bear it after your Lord
and Saviour: for be well assured, that your Saviour deserves it
richly at your hands ---]
2. The suffering Christian-

[Shall I pity you? No; rather let me congratulate you as being made conformable to your Lord and Saviour. Repeated are St. James's declarations, that sufferings for Christ's sake are subjects rather for joy than for grief.

“ We count them happy that endure?.” And again, “ Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for, when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." Receive then trials as “the portion which God has appointed you ";" and expect that, if


afflictions abound for Christ's sake, shall

your consolations also abound by Christi ;” and whatever you may lose for his sake, you shall even in this present life receive an hundred-fold more than you


have lost", and, in the world to come, “ an accumulated weight of happiness and glory” to all eternity'. And when you shall have arrived at the realms of glory, it will be no grief to you


you came out of great tribulation;" for then will " your Saviour lead you to the living fountains of bliss, and God himself will wipe away all tears from your eyes m."]

y Isai. li. 12, 13.
b Isai. x. 7, 11, 15.
e 1 Pet. iv. 12, 13.
h 1 Thess. ii. 3.
1 2 Cor. iv. 17.

2 Rom. ix. 17. a Acts xii. 1-3, 23.
c Rev. ii. 10. d 1 Pet. i. 7.
f Jam. v. 11. 8 Jam. i. 12.
i 2 Cor. i. 5.

28-30. m Rev. vii. 14-17.

k Mark x.



Jam. i. 5,6. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,

that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.

WISDOM is necessary for the due discharge of every office of life : but it is more particularly necessary for a Christian, on account of the many difficulties to which he is subjected by his Christian profession. For no sooner does he give himself up to the service of his God, than his friends and relatives exert themselves to draw him back again to the world. Every species of temptation they lay in his way, if by any means they may effect their purpose, and divert him from the path which he has chosen. They fail not to represent to him, the injury that will arise to his reputation and worldly interests, and the pain which his new course occasions to those whose happiness he is bound to consult. Not unfrequently too parental authority is interposed to arrest his progress, and to interdict the use of such means as he has found conducive to his spiritual welfare. Those books which would best inform his mind, that society which would most strengthen his heart, and those ordinances which would most edify his soul, are all prohibited; and no alternative is left him, but to relinquish his pursuit of heavenly things, or incur the contempt and hatred of his dearest friends. What now must be done? He wishes to keep a conscience void of offence : but how can it be effected ? If he is faithful to his God, he offends man: and, if he pleases man, he violates his duty to God. The principle which he adopts is in itself plain and simple; namely, that he must obey God, and not man. But how to apply this principle is a difficulty which frequently involves him in the greatest embarrassment. If he relax in nothing, he appears absurd in the extreme: if his compliances be carried too far, he

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endangers his peace of mind, and the welfare of his soul. Again, in the manner of executing what his conscience dictates, he is also at a loss. He may be too bold, or too timid ; too faithful, or too obsequious. The different dispositions of all with whom he has to do must be consulted, and his conduct be adapted to them in all the diversified situations in which he is called to act. But " who is sufficient for these things ?” Often does he wish for an experienced counsellor to advise him; and almost sit down in despair of ever attaining such a measure of wisdom as is necessary for him. It is to persons so circumstanced that St. James addresses the directions in our text. He supposes them to have “fallen into divers temptations,” and to be labouring so to

possess their souls in patience,” that “patience may have its perfect work, and that they may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." But how is all this to be effected ? Any mariner may steer a vessel in a calm : but how shall one so inexperienced regulate it in a storm; and so regulate it, that it shall in no respect be driven out of its course? To these anxious questions the Apostle gives an answer: wherein he


directs us,

I. How to seek wisdom
True wisdom is the gift of God-

[Even earthly wisdom must in reality be traced to God as its author. The persons who formed the tabernacle and all its vessels derived all their skill from Goda: and even those who move in a sphere which may be supposed to be suited to the meanest capacity, and spend their lives in the common pursuits of agriculture, can no farther approve themselves skilful in their work, than they are instructed by God himselfb. But spiritual wisdom is still farther out of the reach of unassisted reason, because it is conversant about things “ which no human eye has seen, or ear heard, or heart conceived, and which can only be revealed by the Spirit of God." It is emphatically "a wisdom which is from above ?," and which can “come only from the Father of lights, with whom is no

a Exod. xxxvi. 1, 2. c I Cor. ii. 9--12.

b Isai, xxviii. 23-29. d Jam. iji. 17.

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