GRACE AND TRUTH by Octavius Winslow

"God, Comforting the Disconsolate"

"God, who comforts those that are cast down." -2 Cor. 5:6

What an untold blessing to one believer may be the dealings of God with another! As 'no man lives to himself,' so no Christian is tried and supported, wounded and healed, disciplined and taught, for himself alone. God designs by His personal dealings with us to expound some law of His government, and to convey some lesson of instruction to the mind, or to pour some stream of consolation into the heart of others. Thus the experience of one child of God may prove the channel of peculiar and immense blessing to many. God, in this arrangement, is but acting in accordance with a law of our nature of His own creating- the law of individual and reciprocal influence. No individual of the human family occupies in the world a position isolated and alone. He is a part of an integral system. He is a member of a complete and vast community. He is a link in a mighty and an interminable chain. He cannot think, nor speak, nor move, nor act, without affecting the interests and the well-being, it may be, of myriads. By that single movement, in the utterance of that one thought, in the enunciation of that great truth, He has sent a thrill of sensation along an endless line of existence. Who can tell where individual influence terminates? Who can place his finger upon the last link that vibrates in the chain of intelligent being? What if that influence never terminates? What if that chain never ceases to vibrate? Solemn thought!

In another and a remote period, in a distant and an undiscovered region, the sentiment, the habit, the feeling, once, perhaps thoughtlessly and carelessly, set in motion, has gone on working for good or for evil, owned and blessed, or rejected and cursed, of Heaven. Nothing can recall it; no remorse, nor tears, nor prayers, can summon it back; no voice can persuade, no authority command it to return. It is working its way through myriads of minds to the judgment-seat, and is rushing onward, onward, ONWARD through the countless ages of eternity!

Thought is immortal. Its propagation is endless. It never dies, and it never ceases to act. The forest oak, beneath whose waving boughs we sit today, and which perhaps sheltered and shaded the Druid in his senseless worship centuries ago, owes its form, its species, and its tint, to the acorn which dropped from its remote ancestor. And still the seed is falling, and the winds, bearing it away, are dropping it where it will take root and spring up, and mount heavenwards, and extend its branches; and generations yet unborn will come and worship, perhaps the living and the true God, under its green foliage. Such is the history of personal character and of individual influence. Borne along upon the stream of time, who can calculate the good, or compute the evil, or descry the end of a single life? My soul! aim to live in view of this solemn thought!

But especially is this true of the child of God. He belongs to a people within a people, to a church within a church, to a kingdom within a kingdom- designated as a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people." In this separate and hidden community, there is a Divine cement, an ethereal bond of union, which unites and holds each part to the whole, each member to the body in the closest cohesion and unity. The apostle more than recognizes- he emphatically asserts this truth, when, speaking of the church of God, he describes it as the "whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplies."

And again, when speaking of the sympathetic influence of the Church, he says, ''And when one member suffers, all the, members suffer with it." And so also of the consolation. When Paul penned the letter to the church at Corinth, now under consideration, he was with his companions in circumstances of deep trial. He was 'cast down,' and disconsolate. God sought to 'stay his rough wind in the day of his east wind' by sending to him an affectionate Christian minister and beloved brother. "Nevertheless," writes the apostle, in recording the fact, "God, who comforts those who are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus." He who wrote these words has long since been in glory; and yet the experience he then traced upon the page, has been, and is still, telling upon the instruction, the comfort, and the holiness of millions, and will go on telling until time shall be no more.

Remember, my reader, you must depart this world, but your influence will survive you. Your character and works, when dead, will be molding the living; and they, in their turn, will transmit the lineaments and the form of a mind whose thoughts never perish, to the remotest posterity. "He being dead yet speaks." What an expressive epitaph! A truer sentiment, and one more solemn, never breathed from the marble tablet. The dead never die! Their memory speaks! Their character speaks! Their works speak, and speak forever!

But WHO ARE THOSE WHOM GOD COMFORTS? They are the 'cast down,' or, in other words, the HUMBLE. Their deeper humiliation is the great end, as it regards themselves, which God has in view in all His dealings with His people. "You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to test you, to know what was in your heart." The first step which God takes in this work of humiliation is in conversion. The great casting down of a man is when he is brought by the Eternal Spirit to see his true state as a sinner before God. When the mind is convinced of sin, and contrition bows the spirit, and self-righteousness falls before the cross, and Jesus is received into the heart, and the man ascribes his salvation solely to the free and discriminating grace of God- then it is that the great humiliation, the true casting down of the soul, takes place.

What a spectacle of spiritual beauty is this! To witness an idolatrous Manasseh, a proud Nebuchadnezzar, a self-righteous Saul, a covetous Zaccheus, trampling their own glory in the dust, and 'praising and extolling and honoring the King of heaven,' taking their stand upon the finished work of Jesus, and ascribing their recovery to the sovereign mercy of that God whom they had hated; must add delight to the inhabitants of heaven, as it does glory to heaven itself. Such humble souls God lifts up. Passing by the lofty, whom He disdains, and the self-sufficient, upon whose boasting He pours His withering contempt, He will show to the world that to "to this man will he look, even to him who is of an humble and a contrite spirit, and who trembles at his word." "And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the Lord have spoken it and have done it." This, then, is the first step which God takes in the true humiliation of the soul. With a view to 'hide pride from man,' the Lord veils his eye to his own 'imaginary' greatness, and opens it to his real deformity. "The loftiness of man is bowed down, and the haughtiness of men is made low: and the Lord alone is exalted in that day."

But in the subsequent and more advanced stages of the Christian life, we find much into the experience of which the believer is brought, tending to cast down the people of God. Without minutely describing the many causes of soul-disquietude which exist, we may group together in one view those, the most fruitful, which conspire to this casting down of the spirit. We may mention, as among the most powerful, the clinging body of sin, to which his renewed spirit is enchained, from which it sighs to be delivered, but from which death only frees it; consequently, there is the daily battle with a heart of unbelief, incessantly departing from God. Then there are the labyrinths of the desert, the straitness of the narrow way, the 'fears within, and the fightings without,' the trials of faith, the chastisements of love, the offence of the cross, the intricacies of truth, the woundings of the world, the unkindnesses of the saints, and the varied trials and afflictions of the wilderness- all these create oftentimes great disquietude and despondency of soul.

And when to these are added the yet more painful and humbling remembrance of his sins since conversion, his stumblings and falls, his unkind requitals of God's love, the base returns which he has made, and the deep ingratitude which he has felt for all the divine goodness, and the consequent hidings of God's face, and the withdrawments of Christ's presence, he exclaims in the bitterness of his spirit, "My soul is cast down within me." Ah! there is no humiliation like that which a sight and sense of sin produces, the heart laid open and the soul laid low before God. The world's bitter scorn, the creature's cold neglect, are nothing in comparison. In the one case, the heart is only mortified; in the other, it is truly humbled. The one is a feeling that has to do with man only- the other is an emotion that has to do with God.

And when once the believer is solemnly conscious of acting beneath the eye of God, the gaze of other eyes affects him but slightly. Oh how little do some professors deport themselves as though they had to do only with God! How imperfectly do they look upon sin as God looks upon it! But did they live more as setting the Lord always before them, how superior would they rise to the poor opinion of their fellow-sinners! To them it would then appear a very little matter to be judged of man's judgment.

Thus the 'soul of the people is much discouraged because of the way.' Ah! how imperfectly we know the history of a single believer! What gloomy despondency of mind, what deep anguish of spirit, what hidden sorrow of heart, and what painful trials, too personal and too sacred to reveal to another eye, may form the path along which the lonely traveler is pensively treading his way to God- no one knowing, and no one suspecting it! And then in this hidden path how little real sympathy is gathered from the creature! "We have but few companions with us," remarks a beloved minister of Christ. Enlarge your heart as you will in love towards the family of God- take an extended view, pray for a large heart, pray for width, pray for breadth, pray for largeness, yet beware of letting down the truth; and with that truth before you, you will be forced to acknowledge, 'few there be that find it.'

If a sound creed, if clear views of doctrine, if a little alteration of conduct, if addicting ourselves to a denomination; if this is Christianity, then we must change the text, and confess many 'there are many that find it.' But if Christianity is walking with God, living on Christ, aiming to please Him, if it be those who 'know the plague of their own hearts,' and feel sin to be their burden; if this be the characteristic of the family of God, that the desire of their souls is to consecrate themselves to the God who loved them and gave His Son to die for them- then it still remains a solemn truth, 'Few there be that find it.'

Some who once walked with us, have dropped away; they walk with us no more. Some have never walked with us, though they walk with Christ; they have out-walked us, out-run us, out-talked us. Some rejoice so much, they seem but little affected by the inward plague, though they may yet have to endure it, and will, if they are the children of God; and some there are that think so much of their plague, they never rejoice. We can have but little communion with them. And some have dropped away, gone away, because they have entered upon their holy home. Some- oh! it is touching- some that walked once with us to the house of God, and 'with whom we took sweet counsel'- where are they? In the world! Awful, fearful thought! Oh! it is among the things that make us feel our path to be a trying path; and oftentimes our 'soul is much discouraged because of the way.'

But if there is much to cast down the child of God, there is more to lift him up. If in his path to glory there are many causes of soul despondency, of heart-sorrow, and mental disquietude, yet in that single truth- God comforts the disconsolate- He has an infinite counterbalance of consolation, joy, and hope. That GOD COMFORTS THOSE WHO ARE CAST DOWN, His own truth declares. It is in His heart to comfort them, and it is in His power to comfort them. He blends the desire, deep and yearning, with the ability, infinite and boundless. Not so with the fondest, tenderest creature. The sorrow is often too deep and too sacred for human sympathy to reach. But what is fathomless to man, is a shallow to God. I have said, that it is in the heart of God to comfort His people. Everything that He has done to promote their comfort proves it. He has commanded His ministers to 'speak comfortably to them.' He has sent forth His word to comfort them. He has laid up all comfort and consolation for them in the Son of His love. And in addition to all this, He has given them His own Spirit to lead them to the Divine sources of 'all consolation' which He has provided.

Who could comfort the disconsolate but God? Who could effectually undertake their case but Himself? He only knows their sorrow, and He only could meet it. There is not a moment that God is not bent upon the comfort of 'those who are cast down.' All His dealings with them tend to this- even those that appear adverse and contrary. Does He wound?- it is to heal. Does He cause deep sorrow?-it is to turn that sorrow into a deeper joy. Does He empty?- it is to fill. Does He cast down?- it is to lift up again. Such is the love that moves Him, such is the wisdom that guides Him, and such too is the end that is secured in the Lord's disciplinary conduct with His people.

Dear reader, so interesting is this thought, I know not how to relinquish it- that it is in God's loving heart to speak comfortably to your sorrowful heart. Let but the Holy Spirit enable you to receive this truth in simple faith; and your grief, be its cause and its degree what they may, is more than half assuaged. Not a word may yet be spoken by the 'God of all comfort,' not a cloud may be dispersed, nor a difficulty be removed; yet to be assured by the Divine Comforter that the heart of God yearns over you, and that consolation is sparkling up from its infinite depths, waiting only the command to pour its stream of joyousness into your sorrow-stricken bosom, and it is enough. Yes, I repeat it- for every reiteration of so precious a truth must still be but a faint expression of its magnitude- it is in the loving heart of God to lift up your disconsolate soul from the dust. Listen to His words- there is melody in them such as David's harp spoke not when its soft and mellow strains soothed the perturbed spirit of Saul- "I, even I, am he who comforts you." Mark with what earnestness He makes this declaration. How solicitous does He appear to impress this truth upon the heart- that to comfort His own tried saints, is His sole prerogative, and His infinite delight. "I, even I, am he who comforts you."

But as it regards THE COMFORT ITSELF with which God comforts the disconsolate, how much have we yet to learn touching both its nature and the channel through which in His sovereignty it may flow to us. How prone is the believer to attach an undue importance to the mere 'instrument' of comfort! To give place to the feeling that when comfort vanishes, all other good vanishes with it- thus, in fact, making the real standing of the soul to depend upon an ever-fluctuating emotion. But let it be remembered that the comfort of grace may be suspended, and yet the existence of grace may remain; that the glory of faith may be beclouded, and yet the principle of faith continue.

Contemplate, as affording an illustrious example of this, our adorable Lord upon the cross. Was there ever sorrow like His sorrow? Was there ever desertion like His desertion? Every spring of consolation was dried up. Every beam of light was beclouded. All sensible joy was withdrawn. His human soul was now passing through its strange, its total eclipse. And still His faith hung upon God. Hear Him exclaim, "My God! my God! My Strong One! my Strong One!" His soul was in the storm -and oh what a storm was that! But it was securely anchored upon His Father. There was in His case the absence of all consolation, the suspension of every stream of comfort; and yet in this, the darkest cloud that ever enshrouded the soul, and the deepest sorrow that ever broke the heart, He stayed His soul upon God.

And why should the believer, the follower of Christ, when sensible comfort is withdrawn, cast away his confidence which has great recompense of reward?' Of what use is the anchor but to keep the vessel in the tempest? What folly were it in the mariner to weigh his anchor or to slip his cable when the clouds gather blackness, and the waves swell high! Then it is he most needs them both. It is true he has cast his anchor into the deep, and the depth hides it from his view; but though he cannot discern it through the foaming waves, still he knows that it is firmly fastened, and will keep his storm-tossed vessel from stranding upon a lee shore.

And why should the believer, when 'trouble is near,' and sensible comfort is withdrawn, resign his heart a prey to unbelieving fears, and cherish in his bosom the dark suspicion of God? Were not this to part with the anchor of his hope at the very moment that he the most needed it? I may not be able to pierce the clouds and look within the veil with an eye beaming with an undimmed and assured joy, but I know that the Forerunner is there; that the Priest is upon His throne; that Jesus is alive, and is at the right hand of God- then all is safe. Faith demands, hope expects, and love desires no more. I would have you, then, my reader, not overlook the truth that the covenant of grace has made provision for everything in the life of a child of God, especially for the life of suffering.

It strews the richest blessings, and the most profusely, upon the chequered path- the path inlaid with stones of various colors, and yet each one needful and most precious. "O you afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with fair colors, and lay your foundations with sapphires." It is true that the covenant has anticipated as much the perilous season of prosperity, as the dark hour of adversity. But it always supposes the way to glory to be one of trial and of danger. A heavenly-minded man will learn to look upon the earthly distinction and wealth which the world, so lavish sometimes of its favors, may confer upon him, as a trial and a snare to one desirous of bearing the cross daily after his crucified Lord. And yet for this specific form of danger the covenant of grace amply provides. Be satisfied, my reader, with any station your God may assign you, believing that for every station in which He places His child, there is the grace peculiar to its exigencies, treasured up for him in the everlasting covenant.

We have now reached an interesting and important inquiry in the unfolding of our subject- HOW DOES GOD COMFORT THOSE WHO ARE CAST DOWN? His method is various. He adapts the comfort to the sorrow. He first writes the sentence of death upon all comfort outside of himself. If you have been accustomed to scrutinize narrowly God's way of dealing with you, you will often have marked this peculiar feature- that before He has unsealed the fountain, He has cut off the spring. In other words, He has suspended all human channels of comfort, preparatory to the fulfilment of His own exceeding great and precious promise, "I, even I, am he that comforts you." It was thus He dealt with His Church of old. ''Behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her." In that wilderness, as a 'woman of a sorrowful spirit,' she is brought: in that wilderness she is separated from her companions; yet in that dreary, lonely wilderness the God of all comfort speaks to her heart. And then follows the "song of the Lord in the strange land"- the music of the wilderness. "And she shall SING there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt."

This is one way by which God comforts the disconsolate. Overlook it not. It may be painful, humiliating, and trying to faith, but the issue, like all the conduct of our Heavenly Father, will be most blessed and holy. Is He now, in your case, writing the sentence of death upon all creature comfort? Does no eye pity you, no heart feel for you, no tongue address you, and is no hand outstretched to rescue you? Look now for God! for He is on the way, in the time of the creature's failure, Himself to comfort you.

By sealing a sense of pardon upon the conscience, God comforts the disconsolate. There is no comfort equal to this. As our deepest sorrow flows from a sense of sin, so our deepest joy springs from a sense of its forgiveness. What comfort can there be where this is lacking? what sorrow where this is felt? "When he gives quietness, who then can make trouble?" This was the comfort which God commanded the prophet to speak to His spiritual Jerusalem: "Say unto her, that her sins are forgiven." And this is the message which the Lord sends to His whole Church. This comfort have all His saints. Your sins, O believer, are forgiven. "I have blotted out your sins as a cloud, and your iniquities as a thick cloud," says God. You are not called upon to believe that God will pardon, but that He has pardoned you. Forgiveness is a past act; the sense of it written upon the conscience is a present one. "By one offering Jesus has perfected forever those who are sanctified," has forever put away their sins.

Faith in the blood of Jesus brings the soul into the possession of a present forgiveness. And when God the Holy Spirit thus imprints a sense of pardoned sin upon the troubled conscience, all other sorrows in comparison dwindle into insignificance. In all kinds of trouble, it is not the ingredients that God puts into the cup that so much afflict us, as the ingredients of our distempered passions mingled with them. The sting and the core of them all is sin: when that is not only pardoned, but in a measure healed, and the proud flesh eaten out, then a healthy soul will bear anything. After repentance, that trouble which before was a correction, becomes now a trial and exercise of grace. 'Strike, Lord,' says Luther; 'I can bear anything willingly because my sins are forgiven.' We should not be cast down so much about outward troubles, as about that sin, that both procures them and envenoms them. We see by experience, where conscience is once set at liberty, how cheerfully men will go under any burden: therefore labor to keep out sin, and then let come what will come.

Thus, beloved, God comforts His conscience-troubled people. He loves so to speak to their hearts. Is it any delight to Him to see you carrying your burden of conscious sin day after day, and week after week? Ah no! He has procured the means of your pardon at a great price- nothing less than the sacrifice of His beloved Son- and will not the same love which procured your forgiveness, speak it to your heart? Oh yes, the sun in the heavens pours not forth its light more freely, light itself speeds not more rapidly, the mountain stream rushes on not more gladsome and unfettered, than the pardon of sin flows from the heart of God to the humble and the contrite mourner. Is sin your trouble? Does conscious guilt cast you down? Look up, disconsolate soul! there is forgiveness with God. It is in His heart to pardon you. Repair to His feet, go to God's confessional, and over the head of the atoning sacrifice acknowledge your transgression, and He will forgive the iniquity of your sin.

And oh, what will be the joy of your heart, the music of your lips, the grateful surrender of yourself, when Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven you, go in peace!" "Who is a God like unto you, who pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retains not his anger forever, because he delights in mercy."

God sometimes comforts the cast down, by bringing them to rest in the fulness and stability of the covenant. David was a man of great grace, a man after God's own heart, and yet he was deeply tried. The greater the amount of precious ore which the refiner places in his furnace, the severer the test to which he subjects it. This may explain what perhaps to some minds is a mystery in the Divine conduct- why the most distinguished saints have ever been the most tried saints. But see how God comforted David in the deepest trial which could wring a believing parent's heart. He had arranged, as he thought, for the best welfare of his family. God steps in, and disarranges all. Incest, treason, murder, are crimes which find an entrance within his domestic circle. His children make themselves vile, and he could not restrain them. What a cloud was now resting upon his tabernacle! How bitter were the waters he was now drinking! But see how God comforted him. "Although my house do not be so with God, yet he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation and all my desire; although he makes it (his house) not to grow."

Believer, this covenant is equally yours. You have the same individual interest in it that David had. The 'sure mercies' of the true David are yours as they were his. In the midst of domestic trial- family changes- thwarted designs- blighted hopes, God has made with you, in the hands of Jesus, its Surety and Mediator, an 'everlasting covenant.' In it your whole history is recorded by Him who knows the end from the beginning. All the events of your life, all the steps of your journey, all your sorrows and comforts, all your needs and supplies, are ordained in that covenant which is 'ordered in all things and sure.' And while mutability is a constituent element of everything temporal- 'passing away' written upon life's loveliest landscape, and upon the heart's fondest treasure, this, and this alone, remains 'sure,' and never passes away. Let, then, the covenant be your comfort and your stay, your sheet-anchor in the storm, the rainbow in your cloud, upon which God invites you to fix your believing eye; yes, all your salvation and all your desire, though He makes not domestic comfort to grow.

But of all the consolations which flow into the soul of the disconsolate, not the least is that he has a covenant God to go to in PRAYER. What can surpass this? What could supply its place? Nothing! In no way does God more effectually comfort those that are cast down than by drawing them to Himself! For this He has instituted prayer, sprinkled the mercy-seat with the blood of His Son, and sends the sweet promise and grace of His Spirit to invite and draw the disconsolate to Himself. A Christian when he is beaten out of all other comforts, has a God to run unto. A wicked man beaten out of earthly comforts, is as a naked man in a storm, and an unarmed man in the field, or as a ship tossed in the sea without an anchor, which presently dashes upon rocks or falls upon quicksands. But a Christian when he is driven out of all comforts below, no, when God seems to be angry with him; he can appeal from God angry to God appeased. He can wrestle and strive with God by God's own strength, can make use of His own weapons, and plead with God by His own arguments. What a happy estate is this! Who would not be a Christian, if it were but for this, to have something to rely on when all things else fail?

Approach, then, disconsolate soul! and pour out your sorrow to God in prayer. Your God is upon the throne of grace, and "waits that he may be gracious unto you." Then, "you shall weep no more: he will be very gracious unto you at the voice of your cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer you." Why are you then cast down? Trust in God- grace will be above nature, God above the devil, the Spirit above the flesh. Be strong in the Lord; the battle is His, and the victory ours beforehand. If we fought in our own cause and strength, and with our own weapons, it would be as nothing. But as we fight in the power of God, so are we kept by that mighty power through faith unto salvation. It lies upon the faithfulness of Christ, to put us into that possession of glory which He has purchased for us: therefore, charge your soul to make use of the promises and rely upon God for perfecting the good work that he has begun in you. Corruptions are strong, but stronger is He who is in us, than the corruption that is in us. When we are weak in our sense, then are we strong in Him who perfects strength in our weakness, felt and acknowledged. Our corruptions are God's enemies as well as ours; and, therefore, in trusting to Him, and fighting, we may be sure He will take our part against them.

Permit, in closing, A WORD OF AFFECTIONATE CAUTION AND COUNSEL. Take heed that it is God, and not man, who comforts you- that your consolation is divine, and not human. It may be the duty of your minister and the privilege of your friend to speak a promise to the ear, and to spread out before you the riches of divine comfort in the word; but it is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit alone to apply the promise, and to give a heartfelt possession of those comforts. Jealous of His love to you, and of the glory that belongs to Himself, God will delegate the office and commit the power of lightening the burden of your oppressed spirit, of soothing the sorrow of your disconsolate heart, to no created hand. "I, even I, am he that comforts you." "As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you."

Beware, then, of a creature comfort, and of a false peace. Let no one comfort you but God Himself, and let nothing give you peace but the peace-speaking blood of Jesus. A wound may be covered, and yet not be healed; a promise may be spoken, and yet not be applied. To the God of all comfort, then, repair in your grief. To the precious blood of the Incarnate God go with your burden of sin. Oh, how welcome will you be, coming just as you are! How sacred will be your sorrow to His heart, how eloquent your pleadings to His ear, and how precious in His sight the simple childlike faith that severs you from all other dependences, and leads you to Him alone for comfort! Then will you exclaim- and not David's harp could discourse sweeter music- "My heart trusted in him, and I am helped. You have turned my mourning into dancing: you have taken off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise unto you, and not be silent. I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he has inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live."

In each season of casting down, ascend your watch-tower in the full expectation of an especial blessing. This would seem to be the order of God: "When men are cast down, then you shall say, There is lifting up." Expect great mercies through the medium of great trials; great comforts through great sorrows; deep sanctification from deep humiliation. All the trying dispensations of God in the histories of His people are preparatory to their greater grace. It was in this school the distinguished Apostle of the Gentiles was taught the greatest and holiest lesson of his life. Descending from the third heaven, all fragrant with its odors and glowing with its light, he was plunged into the deepest humiliation, in order that he might be instructed more thoroughly in that truth which he could not experimentally have learned even in Paradise itself- the sufficiency of Christ's grace to sustain the believer in the deepest trial.

Tried believer! Suffering saint! expect an especial blessing to your soul. If the Lord has led you in by the north gate, He will lead you out by the south gate. Dark though the cloud may be, and painful the path, have patience in your affliction, and God will give you a happy issue out of all your troubles. "Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end shall greatly increase." And, O blessed result, if sin is embittered, if holiness is sweetened, if some tyrant corruption is mortified, if communion with God is quickened, if Jesus is endeared, if your Father in heaven is glorified! "Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? hope in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."

"My Father, O my Father, hear
Your poor unworthy child!
It is in Jesus I draw nigh,
In Jesus reconciled.
Bow down Your ear, my Father, bow;
No one can comfort me, but Thou."
"My Father, O my Father, hear!
In Him I venture nigh,
Who on the cross my sorrows bare,
Who sighs whenever I sigh.
Bow down Your ear, my Father, bow;
No one can comfort me, but Thou."
"My Father, O my Father, hear!
Strait is my thorny road;
Yet if I weep, ah! let no tear
Repine against my God.
Bow down Your ear, my Father, bow;
No one can comfort me, but Thou."
"My Father, O my Father, hear
This fickle heart control;
And let no idol love be there
O sanctify the whole!
Bow down Your ear, my Father, bow;
No one can comfort me, but Thou."
"My Father, O my Father, hear!
Subdue this self in me;
Let nothing that's dear, however dear,
Be dear compared with Thee.
Bow down Your ear, my Father, bow;
No one can comfort me, but Thou."
"My Father, O my Father, hear!
Possess me with Your love;
May I but glorify You here,
Then live with You above.
Bow down Your ear, my Father, bow;
No one can comfort me, but Thou."
"My Father, O my Father, hear!
And shall Your bosom be
My dwelling, while I sojourn here,
My home eternally?
Bow down Your ear, my Father, bow;
No one can comfort me, but Thou."
"And shall I see Your face,
Low at Your footstool lie,
Forever rest in Your embrace,
In perfect purity?
Thine ear, my Father, You do bow;
Yes, You do comfort, none but Thou."