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night is a season of gloom, as it is a period of confinement, and danger, and fear, and anxiety. Paul's mariners, in the storm, cast four anchors, and wished for the day. David refers to travellers and sentinels, who watch for the morning, as the image of his waiting for the Lord. Some nights are less cheerless than others; but, at best, they have only the moon and stars-the sun is wanting. He alone can make the morning: and when he comes, the birds sing, the lambs play, and man partakes of the cheerfulness that spreads all around. "Truly the light is sweet; and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun." Creatures are pleasing; but none of them can supply the place of God. He is our sun, as well as our shield: and the language of the gracious heart is-"Oh! when wilt Thou come unto me? Thou alone canst put my fears to flight. Thou alone canst inspire me with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
But the morning comes not all at once, but gradually. What a difference is there between the first glimmerings of the dawn, and the splendour of noon! So the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
The second is derived from the rain-" He shall come unto us as the rain; as the latter and former rain unto the earth." God asks, "Can any of the vanities of the Gentiles send rain?" He claims the production as his own divine prerogative; and justly wonders that we do not notice it more than we do"Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain; both the former and the latter in his season." In Judea the rain was less frequent and more periodical, than with us. It peculiarly fell after autumn and spring; that is, just after seed time, and just before reaping: the former to soften the ground, and quicken the grain, and aid the springing thereof: the latter, to fill the corn in the ear, and hasten its maturity.
What would nature be without rain ? equally dependent on the grace of God. But, under the influences of his Word and Spirit, we revive and grow as the corn. These influences are always needful: but is it pressing the metaphor, to observe, that there are two seasons when they are peculiarly experienced? The one is connected with the beginning of the Divine life-this may be called the former rain. The other, with the close of it-this may be called the latter rain. The one is to enliven. The other, to confirm. To the "former," many can look back, and ask,
"Where is the blessedness I knew,
-Others are longing for the "latter." vation is nearer than when they believed. But they do not yet feel as they wish. They want more faith, more hope, more consolation-more of all the fulness of God. Let the last showers descend; and the appointed weeks of harvest come; and the produce be brought home, with "shoutings, Grace, grace, unto it!"
AUG. 21.-"Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold he whom thon lovest is sick."
John xi. 3.
THESE words furnish several sources of remark and instruction.
The first regards the love of Jesus. In his love to Lazarus, there was something peculiar, and something common. He loved him with a partial, and he loved him with a divine affection. To know Christ after the flesh, is a privilege which has long
since ceased; and to be loved by him under the advantage of his humanity, was a favour restricted to few. But there is, however, another sense in which, as he loved Lazarus, so he loves us and though we share not in the partial regard of the friend, we are the subjects of the divine regard of the Saviour. This love commenced from no excellency in us, like the love of creatures. It took knowledge of us, as sinners. It began before the foundation of the world. It led him to espouse our cause, and brought him under an engagement to suffer and die for us-His people remember this love more than wine.
The second regards the affliction of Lazarus-He 66 was sick." Sickness is one of the common calamities of life; and it is one of the most painful and trying. Yet Lazarus was exercised with it, though he was loved of Jesus. This explains the nature of his love, and shews us that it does not exempt its subjects from distress. It is not the foolish fondness of a father, who, when correction is necessary, spares the child, for his crying. He that thus "spareth the rod, hateth his son: but he that loveth him, chastens him betimes." Could we now see, as we shall hereafter, the principle, the design, the alleviations, the advantages of the afflictions of the righteous, we should perceive that they are not only compatible with Divine love; but the fruit, the proof of it. "Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth; and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?"
The third regards the mission of the sisters"Therefore the sisters sent unto Jesus." Their affliction led to this application. To induce us to send to him, is the design of our trials; for we are too forgetful of him in ease and prosperity-" In their affliction they will seek me early"-What can
we do without him, then? Therefore, says the Teacher, as well as the Chastiser; "Call upon me in the day of trouble." And what a solace! what a relief! what a source of support, sanctification, and deliverance, is prayer! John's disciples therefore, when their master was beheaded, not only took up the body and buried it; but "went and told Jesus." "I will say unto God," was the resolve of Job, "do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me." And, says David, "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I." Thus it has been with all who have heard the rod-They have all said, "A glorious high throne from the beginning has been the place of our sanctuary."
Therefore his sisters sent unto him. It is pleasing when, in our natural relations, we have spiritual friends who will carry our cases, and spread them before the Lord. Many in their sickness have connexions about them, who are kind and attentive; but they never speak a word to them of their souls; and never administer to them the cordials of the Gospel, though they often apply self-righteous opiates to stupify conscience. They send for the physician and the lawyer, but do not address the Saviour for them. But some, like Lazarus, have those who will bear them upon their minds, and call in the aid of the Hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof, in the time of trouble. And what an encouragement and comfort is this to those who are scarcely able to lift a thought to God for themselves; whose broken and distracted petitions seem unworthy of notice; and who know that the prayer of the righteous availeth much!
The fourth is, the message they conveyed to him"Saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." From hence we may learn two things. First. The Lord's love gives us encouragement in prayer, and
furnishes us with our most prevailing plea in dealing with him. They do not say, he whom we lovethough this was true. Nor he who loves thee-though this was true: but, he whom thou lovest. How wise, how expressive was this! As much as to say, "Hast not thou deigned to regard him already? Has not thy kindness for him raised our confidence in thee, and our expectation from thee? Will not others turn their eyes towards thee, and see whether thy friendship is like the friendship of the world, which leaves its dependents in the hour of necessity and distress?" "A true friend loveth at all times; but is born for adversity." We read of pleading with God; and filling our mouth with arguments: but our most suitable and successful ones must be derived from himself, and especially from his own goodness. "I plead nothing of my own-not even my love to thee:
'Yet I love Thee, and adore:
But my love to thee is weak and cold; and whatever it be, it is the effect of thy love to me. I was once a stranger, and an enemy, and should have remained so still, hadst not thou found a way into my heart. But thou hast redeemed me by thy blood. Thou hast called me by thy grace. Thou hast opened my blind eyes; and turned my feet into the path of peace.-And after all this love, wilt thou cast me off? Couldest thou not have destroyed me, without shewing me such things as these?"
Secondly. It is better for us, when we seek the Lord for temporal things, to refer our suit to his own good pleasure. I admire the manner in which these pious women addressed him. They do not prescribe they hardly petition-they particularize nothing. They do not say, Lord, come to his houseCome immediately-Remove his malady-What will