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If you more particularly enquire, in what manner Christ becomes the believer's refuge, under all the afflictions of life, we may reply-By discovering to him the great purposes which they serve, and imparting the sanctified use of them; by the example which he set; by restraining or removing them, in his providence; by bestowing the graces suitable to a state of trial, and by affording his own gracious presence.
He fortifies the believer, then, against the calamities of life, by discovering to him the great purposes which they serve. Though in common language denominated evils, they are sent to believers in mercy. They are evidences of adoption: for "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth; and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."* They are the means of higher attainments in grace; for he chasteneth" for our profit, that we may be " partakers of his holiness." Affliction is intended to mortify our corruptions, and to exercise our graces; to loosen our hearts from the objects and the pursuits of the world, to make us walk more closely with God, and to ripen us for his everlasting kingdom and glory. Even death itself, the last adversary which the christian must encounter, Jesus has deprived of its sting; and has converted its arrival into an invaluable privilege to the faithful. It is their final deliverance from all the troubles of life it is the gate which opens on immortal glory. These assurances form a covert to our souls from the sharpness of the wind; and the experience of their truth is a sure defence against the overwhelming tempest. Listen to the testimony of the saints
*Heb. xii. 6.
+ Ibid. 10.
of old: Job's affliction was unequalled; yet under this refuge he could take comfort-" I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand, at "at the latter day, upon the earth; and though "after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God."* David's distresses were many and various; but beneath this shelter he" feared no evil;" and could rejoice in the recollection of his sorrows. Paul was doomed to buffetings, reproaches, and persecutions, to perils by land, and perils by sea: yet hear how effectual was the defence, with which his Lord provided him, against them all. We not only rejoice, says he," in the hope of the glory of God; but we glory “also in tribulation: knowing that tribulation "worketh patience; and patience, experience; "and experience, hope; and hope maketh_not "ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad "in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, which is given " unto us."§
Again, Christ, by his example in suffering, is a refuge to his people in the day of their adversity. There is not a distress which we feel, that did not fall, with severer weight, on him. The gall, with which our sins had mingled the cup of sorrow, he drank to the dregs; and its bitterness remains not for his friends. Should a sovereign, in the midst of his glory, be suddenly hurled from his throne, and involved in the extreme of wretchedness; should he bear the reverse with dignity, and meet his sufferings and dangers, with fortitude and calmness; his example would prove not only a pattern of patience to the faithful subjects, who still followed *Job xix. 25. † Psalm xxiii, 4. See Psalm cxix. 71. Rom. v. 3—5
his fortunes, but a powerful support to their hearts, under their own particular shares of the general affliction. Infinitely more is the example of our Saviour a consolation and a refuge to his people, amid the storms of life: for though he was " in the "form of God, and thought it not robbery to be "equal with God; he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, " and humbled himself, and became obedient unto "death, even the death of the cross."* Hence the exhortation of the apostle, "Consider him that en"dured such contradiction of sinners against him"self, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."t And, as the source of his own support, Paul elsewhere mentions his "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.”‡
Christ is also a refuge to his chosen, when as Lord of all, he, in his providence, removes or mitigates their trials. He is not an indifferent spectator of the storms with which they struggle. Having himself borne the fury of the tempest, he feels with, and pities them beneath its violence. They know his compassion; and to him they pour out their supplication. He listens to their cries and he does not answer them merely with that ineffectual sympathy, which frequently is all that the friendship of creatures can afford. All power is his. He checks the blast in its headlong course. He interposes his mighty arm between the sufferers and overwhelming calamity. Thus its career is either stopped at once; or so far moderated, that his people are able to endure it. He "will not "suffer them to be tempted, above that they are *Phil. ii. 6-8. Heb. xii. 3. Y
2 Cor. iv. 8-10.
"able: but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that they may be able to bear "it.”* Therefore sang the psalmist, in ancient time," God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble: therefore will we not "fear, though the earth be removed; and though "the mountains be carried into the midst of the "sea."t
Jesus protects his servants, too, by supplying them with the graces answerable to their trials. His is the spirit of grace; and all the gifts of the spirit are at his disposal. It is specially under the name of "the Comforter," that the spirit is promised by him. Those gifts, therefore, which are more immediately necessary to arm the souls of the righteous against trouble, may particularly be expected from him. He will bestow the "shield of faith," which is able to shelter him that bears it, not only from common calamity, but from the fiery darts of "the wicked." He will invest with "the breast"plate of righteousness." He will also endow with that fortitude, which enables us to brave peril, and to trample on adversity; or with that patience, which, while it feels, can calmly bear. These, as "coverts from the wind," ever near and ever ready, shall afford our souls a shelter, when the ruler of the storm sees it more for his glory, and his people's good, to permit it to blow, than to annihilate or restrain it and the effect of their exercise, when the storm is past, shall be "quietness and assurance for 8 ever.
Lastly, the gracious presence of Jesus is the allsufficient guard of those, who put their trust in him. † Eph. vi. 16, 17.
I Cor. 1. 13. † Psalm xlvi. 1, 2.
As the doves fly to their windows from the tempestuous blast, or the pursuing devourer, they betake themselves, in peril, to the shadow of his wings: and, when he says, "Fear not, for I am "with thee;"* what can dismay, or who shall be able to hurt his servant? When he adds, "I will "never leave thee, nor forsake thee," the christian can go forward undisturbed, though he should be able to discern no cessation to the winds and storms, but in the tranquillity of the tomb. "The Lord is "his keeper: the Lord is his shade upon his right hand: the Lord shall preserve him from all evil; "he will preserve his soul."‡
Such is the protection which our Lord affords, from the natural ills of life, to those who seek refuge in him and, blessed with that protection, believers pursue their way, not perhaps with the feelings of joy uniformly predominant, but always secure from distracting fear; assured that he, who is on their side, is mightier far than all who can be against them. "I have learned," said the muchtried Paul," in whatsoever state I am, there with to "be content. I know both how to be abased, and "I know how to abound. Every where, and in “all things, I am instructed both to be full and "to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. "I can do all things, through Christ which strength"eneth me."§ Though Christ's office as a Saviour, then, extended no farther, still it were for the advantage of us all to embrace him, as the soother of our afflictions, our deliverer from care, our example and victorious leader, through all the snares and dangers of this weary land: for he is our "refuge Isaiah xliii. 5. t Heb.xiii. 5. Psalm cxxii. 5-7. Phil. iv. 11-I_Ja