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We are too apt to forget our actual dependence on Providence, for the circumstances of every instant. The most trivial events may determine our state in the world. Turning up one street instead of another, may bring us into company with a person whom we should not otherwise have met; and this may lead to a train of other events, which may determine the happiness or misery of our lives.
Light may break in upon a man after he has taken a particular step ; but he will not condemn himself for the step taken in a less degree of light : he may hereafter see still better than he now does, and have reason to alter his opinion again. It is enough to satisfy us of our duty, if we are conscious, that, at the time we take a step, we have an adequate motive. If we are conscious of a wrong motive, or of a rash proceeding, for such step we must expect to suffer.
Trouble or difficulty befalling us after any particular step, is not, of itself, an argument that the step was wrong. A storm overtook the disciples in the ship; but this was no proof that they had done wrong to go on board. Esau met Jacob, and occasioned him great fear and anxiety, when he left Laban; but this did not prove him to have done wrong in the step which he had taken. Difficulties are no ground of presumption against us, when we did not run into them in following our own will: yet the Israelites were with difficulty convinced that they were in the path of duty, when they found themselves shut in by the Red Sea. Christians, and especially ministers, must expect troubles: it is in this way that God leads them: he conducts them" per ardua ad astra.” They would be in imminent danger if the multitude at all times cried Hosanna!
We must remember that we are short-sighted crcatures. We are like an unskilful chess-player, who
takes the next piece, while a skilful one looks further. He, who sees the end from the beginning, will often appoint us a most inexplicable way to walk in. Joseph was put into the pit and the dungeon: but this was the way which led to the throne.
We often want to know too much and too soon. We want the light of to-morrow, but it will not come till to-morrow. And then a slight turn, perhaps, will throw such light on our path, that we shall be astonished we saw not our way before. “I can wait,” says Lavater. This is a high attainment. We must labour, therefore, to be quiet in that path, from which we cannot recede without danger and evil.
There is not a nobler sight in the world, than an aged and experienced Christian, who, having been sifted in the sieve of temptation, stands forth as a confirmer of the assaulted-testifying, from his own trials, the reality of religion; and meeting, by his warnings and directions and consolations, the cases of all who may be tempted to doubt it.
The Christian expects his reward, not as due to merit; but as connected, in a constitution of grace, with those acts which grace enables him to perform. The pilgrim, who has been led to the gate of heaven, will not knock there as worthy of being admitted ; but the gate shall open to him, because he is brought thither. He, who sows, even with tears, the precious seed of faith, hope, and love, shall doubtless come again with joy, and bring his sheaves with him ; because it is in
; the very nature of that seed, to yield, under the kindly influence secured to it, a joyful harvest.