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these burdens of the flesh, of the mind, and of the heart, are laid upon us; and we need a helper to bear them.
IV. I have not yet named to you the burdens of CONSCIENCE, or those which may be called spiritual. These, from their very nature, weigh upon us more heavily than any others. The soul, manhood, reels under them. The burden of sin once felt, how insupportable it is, until we are relieved of it! What language can describe the misery, the fear, the shame, the convicted worthlessness of a man whose sins have been brought home to him by the Spirit of God; who is made conscious of the evil and bitterness of his heart towards the holiest and best of beings; who sees and confesses that he is "a wretch undone," and from the very mouth of hell lifts the cry of the perishing to Heaven for mercy! Conscience, long sleeping, is now awake, and what thunders of justice and retribution it rolls over the crushed and trembling spirit! Memory is now busy setting past sins in order before the eye, and clothing them with all their aggravating circumstances. All is dark. Every voice condemns. But chiefly
-"On the heart the burden lies,
And past offences pain the eyes."
So clear a view of its guilt has the mind, and so deserved is the punishment of sin felt to be, that the convicted soul is forced, amid its agonies and prayers, to confess
"Should sudden vengeance seize my breath,
I must pronounce thee just in death;
O how the soul of a sinner labors and grows weary under a sense of its sins, and how reviving to such a one is the blessed language of our great burden-bearer: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
What Christian has not felt the burden of spiritual desertion. Somehow he loses sight of the cross. The name of Jesus no longer breathes its wonted sweetness. Praise and prayer become formal and wearisome. The closet and the sanctuary are not the places they once were in his experience. Duty has lost its charm. The smiles of a forgiving God have ceased to gladden the heart. The flowers of Paradise no longer bloom in the pilgrim's path. The soul no more feeds on "the green pasture," and rests by " the still waters." Contrasting his present feelings with former joys, he is forced to sing :
"Where is the blessedness I knew
Where is the soul-refreshing view
What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
But they have left an aching void
These burdens of spiritual desertion are great and sore afflictions to the soul.
And then there are burdens of fear. With so much of sin in our hearts, so much of evil and temptation in the world, so much of darkness in Divine Providence, it is not surprising that hope sometimes fails us, and forebodings trouble the mind and burden the heart. We have too much reason to fear. Our hearts are so treacherous, so earthly, so easily enticed we have so many enemies who are lying in wait to catch us. Our past experience too warns us-we have fallen so often before temptation-we have failed so frequently in duty-we have found our resolutions so feeble and our principles so yielding in the day of trial. No wonder we feel the burden of a great anxiety and fear as we look forward. Life is so serious, so responsible a matter. The Future is so solemn, so tremendous a reality. Such interests are at stake! Such issues are to be made! Such experiences are to be felt! Such revelations are to be realized!-no wonder conscious of our weakness and danger, and the fearfulness of immortality and retribution, that we should tremble and draw back, and be ready to sink and despair.
I have thus dwelt at considerable length on this part of the text, as I conceive that to be the leading idea of it.
II. Let us briefly consider the encouragement we have to cast our burdens upon the Lord.
We may cast them on Him, and there is relief in being permitted to do this. We are kindly invited to go to Him with our burden whatever it be. He is not indifferent to our trials and sufferings. He will not turn away his ear when we pour out our troubles to him. He will listen kindly and patiently; he will give us his warmest sympathy, and afford us all the assistance which the case demands.
There is immense relief and benefit derived in pouring into the ear of sympathizing and confiding friendship the tale of our griefs, wants and trials, even where they can afford us no relief. It is one of the pregnant remarks of Lord Bacon, that "Sorrows, by being communicated, grow less and joys greater." We know this from experience. It lightens and relieves the heart to let out its grief and sadness-to talk over its troubles, and speak freely of its burdens to a friend. And did we but make God our bosom friend and confidant-were we in the habit of going to Him with all our burdens, and freely communicating to him all our thoughts, and feelings and trials-this itself would greatly lessen the burden. There is no grief, or trial, or sorrow, however
secret and sacred, that we may not speak of freely to God. He will deal tenderly and graciously with the afflicted soul that thus goes to him and confides in him. He will not "break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax."
Nor is this all. Not only will it naturally afford relief to communicate our sorrows to the Lord and secure his kindly consideration and warm and true sympathy; but actual assistance will be rendered to us. The promise is: "Cast thy burden upon the Lord and he shall sustain thee." The phraseology is worthy of note. He shall sustain thee. Not remove the burden, but help to bear it not lessen its weight or change its position, it may be, but strengthen the soul to endure it. God has never promised to. exempt his people from trial and suffering. He it is who appoints our burdens and lays them upon us. He has gracious ends to answer by so doing; and he will keep them there and even add to them and increase them, until he has accomplished what he desires. But then he will sustain us under the pressure. He will not leave us to bear our burden alone. The infliction shall not harm us. We shall not be swallowed up with over-much sorrow. He will not suffer us to be tempted beyond that we are able to bear. Our necessity shall be his opportunity. Storms shall beat upon us, but he will be our refuge. The fire shall be kindled upon us, but it shall not burn us. His waves and billows shall go over us, but they shall not engulf us. Sin and death, the world and Satan, weakness and infirmity, trial and affliction, shall greatly trouble us and cast us down, but they shall not destroy us. In our weakness God will signally manifest his strength. He will prove his love; he will illustrate his covenant faithfulness; he will exalt and honor his grace in our experience.
And what matters it how many burdens are laid upon us, or how heavy they press on the mind and heart, if we are only strengthened from above to bear them; made conscious that "the everlasting arms" are underneath us; feel the lively and grateful sympathies of our heavenly Father and Elder Brother imparted to the soul! Nay, is there not a pleasure, the highest satisfaction, in bearing burdens which we know a wise and faithful God has laid upon us-which we are assured are designed to work out the gracious ends of his wisdom and goodness, and which we are conscious, "grievous" as they are, are disciplining the heart, and weaning us from this world, and preparing us for usefulness, and yielding the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Are not many of the Christian's brightest discoveries of God, and sweetest views of truth, and most heavenly experiences, connected with his burdens? Burden-bearing is not all evil, though it cost us so many tears, and so much fear and sadness. There are times when the soul is enabled to rise above all the weaknesses of the flesh, and the trials of life, and the burdens of Providence, and rejoice in God and the hope of glory. The burden, then, is scarcely felt at all. The
pilgrim's song of fear and sadness is then exchanged for the victor's rejoicing and triumphant notes.
How many a burden-bearing soul has had the Divine promise verified to it: "Cast thy burden on the Lord and he shall sustain thee." Paul could thus testify. God did not remove his burden, but he made his grace sufficient for him. And millions of happy souls are in heaven to-day, who bore heavy burdens all the way there! But God's strength did not fail them. And none of us need to sink under our burdens, nor ever despond. We shall soon be home, if we are God's children. We have an almighty helper in bearing them. Take them up, and carry them to "the Lord," and he will rejoice to make good his promise to us.
BY REV. J. LEONARD CORNING,
LIFE'S TRUE EQUILIBRIUM.
"The Elder unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."-3 JOHN i. 2.
THIS is a salutation flowing out of the depths of Christian benevolence, yet limited and conditioned by a far-seeing discretion. An important principle in the divine economy is involved in it to which, without preliminary remark, we invite your attention. The principle may be stated in these words, That men's temporal prosperity should never be suffered to get in advance of their spiritual prosperity. This was just the measure of temporal prosperity that John desired for his absent friend Gaius, a measure equal to, but not exceeding, the growth of his soul in piety. The principle is not that temporal and spiritual prosperity should always be commensurate with each other; for in many, probably in most cases, a man's spiritual riches and health should far exceed his temporal. It is impossible that the graces of holiness should become too multiplied or too vigorous; but it is quite possible that earthly wealth or bodily health should cause a man to lose his equilibrium in the divine life. We design to include in the phrase "temporal prosperity," everything which distinctively pertains to man's present happiness. Bodily health is included in it by the writer of the text. Earthly friendships and pleasures come legiti
mately under this head. Worldly possessions make a great part of it-houses and lands, and everything which we call property.
This sort of prosperity should never get beyond that of the soul. Man's temporal well-being should never exceed his spiritual wellbeing. The amount of his earthly possessions of every kind should never surpass the number of his Christian graces. This is the principle which underlies the salutation in the text. Let us look at some of the reasons on which it is based and then endeavor to apply it to some of the various phases of human life.
We wish to direct your attention to the reasons of this principle under three points of view. 1. We desire you to consider holiness as an essential means of adjusting the state of the mind to the nature of worldly prosperity. In the 2d place we will ask you to consider holiness as an essential preparation for the proper use of worldly prosperity. In the 3d place, we would ask you to consider holiness as the only effectual antidote against the injurious influence of worldly prosperity upon the soul.
I. We affirm that no man's mind can be adjusted to the real nature of temporal prosperity whose piety is not at least commensurate with it. It is only necessary for me to allude to the nature of worldly prosperity in order that you should seize the point under consideration. Change and transitoriness are written indelibly upon every kind of earthly possession. An ancient monarch once while riding in stately triumph was asked by one of his courtiers, "What is wanting here?"" Continuance is wanting," was the significant reply." Crowns and sceptres," says, one "do not secure us from the inconstancy of changes; and we may better trust unto the wind, or to letters written upon water, than unto human felicity."
Dionysius leaving the throne of Sicily to be a schoolmaster in Corinth; Croesus, the King of Lydia, first escaping death at the stake, Napoleon exchanging the proud splendors of a royal court, and the more dazzling honors of marshal victories for the loneliness and misery of exile-these with a thousand others are but beacon-lights hung up along the mountain tops of human life to tell of an instability which is equally prevalent on the plains and in every humble valley.
There is nothing so precarious as the hold men have on the things which afford temporary satisfaction and delight. Health, social joys, and comforts-houses, lands, and earthly possessions of all kinds, are no sooner acquired than they begin to torment us with apprehensions of their speedy departure.
Now it is plain that no man can really enjoy temporal prosperity till the state of his mind is adjusted to correspond with this its uncertain nature. We do not need to refer to reason for evidence of this fact, for observation abundantly confirms it. Why is it that the loss of earthly comforts overwhelms most men with painful regrets and disappointments? And why is it that so many