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nor how to escape the damnation of hell. We looked every where for consolation, but were always disappointed. We tried at first to stifle our fears, which gave us so much uneasiness; and to silence conscience, when we could not satisfy its demands. But it was not in our power: our misery and trouble increased. We afterwards endeavoured to soothe and quiet conscience, by fair promises of future amendment. In some instances we actually reformed: but not laying the axe to the root, and our hearts not being right with God, we found no consolation in these endeavours. We then redoubled our diligence; and attended on public worship, and private devotions : but we found no more lasting comfort in this, than in any other means of relief. As our last refuge, we called upon God: but instead of consolation, he answered us out of a whirlwind; “. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, that are written in the book of the law to do them.” This almost drove us to despair; and we were giving up all for lost, when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to us, and said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me; and him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." We were then enabled, relying upon the promise and grace of the Saviour, to cast ourselves at his feet and we met with a most merciful reception; and felt the burden removed from our conscience. So that, let · others think of Christ as they may, we mast always declare that there is consolation in him.
In the second place, I appeal to the active and laborious Christian. I refer to those, wlio, like their master, are intent upon their heavenly Father's busi
ness, and are abounding in the work of the Lord. Let such tell us, if there be any consolation in Christ. “Yes," say they,“ there is : His yoke is easy, and his burden is light; and in keeping his commandments, there is great reward. Indeed, when we first surveys ed our duty in all its extent, and considered how broad the commandment was, and how awfully severe the penalty, we were very much discouraged. When we thought too, of the natural disinclination of our hearts, and the difficulties which we should probably meet with, we were ready to faint in the prospect. But when Jesus applied his promises, and communicated his grace to our hesitating spirits, this enabled us to glory in infirmity, and made us ready to undertake any service, however hard and laborious. We believed that his grace was sufficient for us; and we were not deceived. We found, indeed, so much
, imperfection in our best performances, as rendered them infinitely unworthy of the favour of God; and never would they have been accepted, if we had not had such a merciful and faithful High-Priest, who kindly interceded for us, and recommended our persons and services to God. All our ability, therefore, to perform duty, and our hopes, of the acceptance of it, are derived from him : and we glory in him as the Lord our righteousness and strength.”
Thirdly, I appeal to the afflicted Christian. Let us take the most afilicted believer we can find; a Job, or a Lazarus; over whom all God's waves and billows are passing. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword, and ten thousand other.calamities, are conspiring against him ; and the powers of darkness are throwing their fiery darts, with all the fury of hell, to overwhelm him. In the midst of all, ask him, if there be any consolation in Christ; and if the supposed pleasures of religion will overbalance the real difficulties and dangers to which he is exposed. Inquire of him whether he repent of denying himself, and taking up his cross, and following Christ. He will tell you, with a pious indignation will he tell you, that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed. “ At first indeed,” says he, “ I trembled at the rising cloud; and when one trouble after another came upon me, I thought it must be an enemy that had done this.
When the fig-tree ceased to blossom, and the labour of the olive failed; when he made a breach in my family, and put lover
a and friend far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness ; when he racked me with pain, or wasted me with sickness, I roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart, and was ready to charge God foolishly. I began to think, that he was, indeed, an austere master, and that the way of the Lord was not equal. But my afflictions have proved the greatest of blessings. I have learnt more from them, and have enjoyed more in them, than during all my days of ease and prosperity. I had the example of Christ before me, his patience with me, and his everlasting arms underneath me. So that I could not sink, however great my distresses, or heavy my burden. I have always found, that a word or a smile from the Consolation of Israel, has removed all my afflictions; or, at least, inspired me with so much fortitude and joy, that I could easily bear them. If any complain, therefore, that the sayings of Christ are hard, and his commandments grievous; if any object, that the difficulties of his service are great, and the enjoyments and rewards of it are small; it must be those only who are strangers to real religion.”-In the experience of every real friend, and faithful follower of Jesus, this promise has been often fulfilled : “ I will not leave you comfortless.”
Fourthly. Ask the dying Christian if there be any consolation in Christ. Go to the death-bed of the righteous, when their heart and their flesh fail, and they are expecting every moment their dissolu. tion : ask them if there be any consolation in Christ: and, as well as their quivering lips, and shortening breath, will permit them, they will convince you, that even then their souls magnify the Lord, and their spirits rejoice in God their Saviour.--" I desire to depart, (you may hear one of them say,) and be with Christ. He has been the comfort of and his presence is now my support. He told me, that without him I could do nothing: and I find it true: but he also said, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world; and blessed be his name, I find this also true. If I.could not now look to Jesus, I should dread death as my enemy. If he were not with me, and his rod and staff did not comfort me, I could not walk through the valley with the composure which I at this moment experience. The thoughts of leaving so many friends and relations, whom I have long known and loved, would make the parting terrible indeed, if it were not for the hope of going to Jesus; whom, having not seen, I love; and in whom, though now I see him not, yet believing, I rejoice, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.
The consciousness of the remaining depravity of my heart, and the remembrance of the innumerable follies and sins of my life, would make me dread being summoned before the tribunal of God, if it were not, that Jesus has undertaken to be my surety and advocate. But now I have nothing to disturb me, or to make the king of terrors unwelcome. Thanks be to God, who gives me victory, through Jesus Christ
Fifthly. Ask the glorified saints if there be any consolation in Christ; I mean those blessed spirits whom he has redeemed by his blood, out of every kindred, and people, and nation, and tongue; and
, who are now serving him day and night in his temple.
If you were to interrupt the heavenly choir, and, like the elder son in the parable, when he drew near to his father's house, and heard music and dancing, were to ask them the meaning of their joy, they would tell you, that they are singing, “ Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” But I check myself. They would rather reply, “ You have Moses and the prophets, Christ and his apostles ; if you hear not them, neither would you be persuaded, though one rose from the dead, or answered you from heaven."
You have now heard many acknowledging, that there is great consolation in Christ. But if the same question should be put to you, what answer could many of you give? I fear that you must reply in a very different manner. “I know not,” you would say ; “ there may be consolation in Christ; but I can say nothing of it from experience. I never, at least,