I. THE STRANGE BEATITUDE. "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest." Wherein is the blessedness? We reply:
1. Because of what such chastening often reveals. If he were not really a child of God, he would not endure it; he would start aside and rebel. An infidel told a minister of Christ, who has been stricken with total blindness, that if God served him so, he would curse him to his face. Then this minister - well known to the writer - bore his testimony to the wonderful grace of God, how his soul had been kept in peace, and that he could and did rejoice in God, notwithstanding all his trouble. The text is like the last of the Beatitudes, "Blessed are ye when men shall persecute you," etc. (Matthew 5.). The endurance, and yet more the meek acquiescence in it, are a real revelation from God, that such a man is one of the Lord's very own. To know that is blessedness indeed.
2. Because of what it is followed by. The Lord teaches him out of his Law. We are all of us laggard scholars; some of us are too proud to learn. But God's chastenings have a wonderfully humbling and softening effect, and bring the soul into the blessed and indispensable condition for receiving the teachings of God.
3. Because of what it ministers. "Rest from the days of adversity." They cannot trouble him. A while ago some works were being carried on at Dover pier; the men had to go down deep in diving bells to reach their work. One evening one of the men was drawn up, the day's work being done, and went to his home. It suddenly occurred to him that he had left one of his tools on the stone which he had been working at. That night a furious storm raged, and the sea was lashed into a wild tumult. When at length on the following day the man went back to his work, he made up his mind that he should never again see the tool he had left the previous day. But lo! when he got down to the depths where he had been at work, there was his tool, just where he had left it the night before. The fury of the storm had not penetrated so far down; it only had power on the surface; in the depths beneath all had been quiet and still. So is it with the soul of him to whom God gives rest from the days of adversity. His soul is in the depths of God's love, where no power of adversity can reach. And this has been proved true a thousand times, and will be for us all if we be really the Lord's. And by and by the adversity itself shall depart; it continues only "until the pit be digged for the wicked." Then there shall be rest without as well as within. Now he can have only the inward rest, and blessed indeed is that; but then externally as well as internally he shall be at rest.
II. A STERN NECESSITY. The destruction of the wicked; for that is what the words just quoted mean. For until then God's people cannot be perfected, but then they shall. Many object to this stern doctrine. They say God is too merciful ever to let such doom fall upon any soul. But what about his own people? If they cannot enter into God's rest until what is here said is fulfilled, does not this make it altogether likely that it will be fulfilled; yea, that it must be? If mercy to the wicked be cruelty to the righteous, as it is, what is it likely that God will do? There can be but one answer.
III. A TERRIBLE ONLOOK. "The pit digged," etc.
1. These words assert the fact that such retribution will surely come. Scripture evermore affirms it. Conscience confirms the Scripture, and observed facts in the constant acting of God's providence - the awful retributions that we see do actually come on the wicked - attest the same awful truth.
2. They tell the nature of this retribution. "The pit." It brings up before the mind the dark horror which awaits sin.
3. Its gradual approach. The pit is not yet dug, but is being made ready. It becomes wider and deeper every day.
4. Those who are preparing it. God and the sinner himself. In an awful sense he is a "coworker with God."
5. Its loud appeal. "Stop the digging!" If man stops, God will; he will not go on if you will not. Turn to him, and he will deliver you out of the horrible pit (Psalm 40:1). - S.C.
When I said, My foot slippeth; Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up
I. SOME SLIPPERY PLACES, We are the more exposed to falling when we are brought into circumstances of —
1. Poverty and want. Christ was tempted when He hungered.
2. Of annoyance and vexation. Moses smote the rock in anger.
3. Of dejection and perplexity (Psalm 73:2, 3).
4. Of sore bereavement and trial (Job).
II. SOME THINGS CONCERNING THE TRAVELLER, RENDERING THESE THE MORE PERILOUS.
1. The absence of the staff, or negligence in its use. Learn the promises and use them.
2. The foot ill-shod.
3. Drowsiness. "Watch and pray, that," etc.
5. The lantern untrimmed or insecure, so that it goes out or burns dimly.
III. THE SURE MEANS FOR PRESERVATION. We have simply to cry to the Deliverer. The secret of a secure and blessed life is constant ejaculatory prayer. The moment danger is oven anticipated, to ask for timely assistance.
(R. A. Griffin.)
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