By Rev. Asa Mahan
THE CONSOLATION OF THE SPIRIT, OR THE USES OF AFFLICTIVE PROVIDENCES.
THE FIGURE EXPLAINED.
This one principle universally obtains in respect to the refinement of metals, that the severity of the process requisite to their purification is proportionate to their preciousness. No metal can be brought to a state of purity but by a trial of fire. Those of the least value can be melted and purified by comparatively small degrees of heat. Those of the highest value can be refined but by being placed in the central fires of the glowing furnace when heated to the greatest intensity. Silver may be placed in the furnace, but the heat of the common crucible is all that is requisite for its highest purification. The meaning of the text, then, is obvious. God says to the sanctified believer, this class being especially here addressed: "I have refined thee, but not with silver." "The virtues which I have purposed to develop in you being of all others the most precious and valuable in My estimation, I have subjected you to the action of the central fires of the furnace of affliction. Because I loved you, and saw in you a capacity to become possessed of the brightest and the best graces that adorn My kingdom, I placed you, for this purpose, in those central fires; and because you there lost all your tin and dross, and became the thing I desired, I chose you, when you were in that furnace, as My own peculiar treasure, and you shall 'be Mine in that day when I make up My jewels.'" There are some virtues which bloom up to maturity in circumstances of almost continued prosperity, and freedom from the pressure of strong temptation. Others, of a nobler birth, are matured and consolidated under the weight of great trusts and responsibilities. But those which take on the brightest possible forms of beauty and perfection are those which are refined and purified amid the glowing and melting heat of the furnace of affliction.
It is an immutable principle of the Divine government that all forms of real excellence shall be the result of endurance which severely tests and taxes the human faculties. A mind, for instance, stands before you, "with Atlanteon shoulders, fit to bear the weight of mightiest monarchies." How did that mind attain to such preeminence of power? It early began to think, to think strongly, and by long habit to the endurance of the weight of great thoughts, it towered up to its present overshadowing greatness. Endurance which brings such visible rewards men subject themselves to from choice. They delight to continue in it, because their nature is adapted to it, on the one hand, and on account of the "great recompense of reward" resulting from it on the other. The opposite in all respects obtains in regard to afflictive providences. They are objects of fear, and not of desire. They always come unsought, and descend upon the mind suddenly, as crushing avalanches from the heights above us. And what is still more peculiar in respect to them, is the fact that they are in themselves grievous burdens, with no visible or apparent benefits attending or issuing from them. Yet no events appear to come so directly from God as these. They seem to drop down upon us immediately from His hand, crushing our fondly-cherished hopes, smiting our persons till all our sensibilities quiver with excruciating agony, smiting also those most dear to us, and causing our hearts to bleed for sufferings we cannot relieve, and then taking from us even "the desire of our eyes with a stroke." These providences also most frequently, perhaps, strike that department of our nature most susceptible to suffering. How often do we hear individuals exclaim, "Anything but this! Why did God smite me in this one spot?" Yet, judging from appearance, God thus smites for no good reasons. What apparent good, for example, is there in that terrible bereavement by which the orphan is left, homeless and penniless, to the charity of this cold world? But, reader, it is amid the central fires of just such furnaces as these that the divinest virtues known in the universe of God are refined and perfected; and those who are "made perfect through suffering" are the individuals who stand nearest the eternal throne in the kingdom of light.
This brings us to the subject of the present chapterviz., the Divine uses of afflictive providences, acting, as they do, as disciplinary fires for the purification and perfection of the saints of God.
Before we proceed to a direct consideration of this subject, there is one thought to which very special attention is invited. Afflictive providences are in themselves, as above seen, crushing evils coming upon us for no visible reasons, and apparently tending to no good results. To appearance they are death-strokes falling upon our sensitive natures. Whether they shall issue in life or death to us, depends wholly upon the moral state in which they are received and endured. If, while we are in the crucible or in the furnace, "patience has her perfect work," we then become "perfect and entire, wanting nothing." If, in the same circumstances, the mind loses its spiritual balance, becomes chafed and fretted, restless and despondent; above all, if it loses hope and faith in God, then it loses its reward, and Satan takes its crown. In the history of the prophet Ezekiel we have a conspicuous example of a trial of faith successfully endured. God, through the prophet, desired to foreshadow to the nation the calamities which were impending calamities so terrible, that even domestic bereavements, under their influence, would become matters of utter indifference; and God took this strange means to secure the resultto take suddenly from the prophet the wife of his youth, requiring him at the same time to move among the people as if no affliction had befallen him.
"Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Son of man, behold I take away from thee the desire of thy eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thy head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men. So I spoke to the people in the morning: and at evening my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded."
In every afflictive providence that befalls us, we are always distinctly addressed by duty in some specific formmore specific than in almost any other circumstances. Now it is when we do the specific thing then and there required of us, that we gain the virtues that ensure to us the crown of life. When racked with torturing pain, or smitten with domestic bereavement, we always hear in the depth of the soul the voice of God saying to us, "I have done this. Trust My will now, fully and distinctly; consent to suffer and endure, till I choose to remove the pain, or cease to bereave;" and we must "do as we are commanded." If loss of temporal good befalls, or temporal perplexities encircle us; if disappointments drop down upon us, or "hope deferred makes the heart sick"then God again speaks within, saying to us, "Let your spirit now lie down and be still. Let no sentiment of discontent have place in your heart." Here, also, we must "do as we are commanded." When revilings, and falsehoods, and persecutions for righteousness' sake, encircle and descend upon us, the same voice within calls us from strife to prayer, from cursing to blessing, and from wrath to love. When reviled, we must bless; when defamed, we must entreat; and when persecuted, we must endure it, doing and enduring as we are commanded: "Hold fast till I come, and I will give thee a crown of life." Such is the command of the great Captain of our salvation. Holding fast, as required, we ensure the crown of life. Failing in this, we miss that crown.
We will now suppose that a believer has thus endured. What will be the uses of such Divine providence's in his experience? This is the question to which a specific answer will now be attempted.
1. Afflictions render things unseen and eternal real to the mind. One of the most important of all these uses is the direct and immediate contact into which the mind is then brought with God, duty, redemption, and immortality. Continued prosperity, abounding wealth, and freedom from pain and afflictive bereavements too often induce, not only a forgetfulness of God and of things unseen and eternal, but a proud denial of our accountability and dependence. When, on the other hand, afflictive providences come upon us, thought is suddenly arrested and fixed upon these objects of infinite concern. Under no other circumstances do they come so near, and give the mind such impressive opportunities and motives to adjust itself fully and rightly in respect to them. Philip of Macedon desired never to forget, in the midst of his superabounding prosperity, the fact of his own mortality. Hence he appointed a herald, whose exclusive mission was to repeat in the hearing of his sovereign, every time the latter left his palace, the words: "Philip, thou art mortal." Now, afflictive providences are divine monitors, speaking to us with voices as from God out of Heaven, reminding us of God, duty, death, eternity, redemption, and retribution; and calling upon us to adjust the present, and future of our lives to these eternal verities. When mind has thus adjusted itself then these truths have a power over the thoughts, feelings, mental and moral activities, such as they could not otherwise acquire. As a consequence, they have corresponding power to refine, purify, and bless the soul, and fully prepare it to receive those "everlasting consolations" and immortal hopes with which God is ready to fill the utmost capacities of our inner being, whenever the heart is prepared to receive them. How many individuals have occasion to say with the psalmist, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted: for before I was afflicted I went astray. But now I have learned to keep Thy precepts." Thus it is that even in our afflictions "God dealeth with us a with sons," first teaching us the lesson of obedience, and then drawing us close, very close, to the bosom of His love.
2. They discipline the human into subjection to the Divine will. We are all aware, also, that the highest purity and blessedness of the soul depend mainly upon the right adjustment of the will of the creature relatively to the will of God. Now, afflictive providences bring the human into a more direct, immediate, and impressive contact with the Divine will, than any other. Here let the creature learn obedience, here "let patience have her perfect work," and he "becomes perfect and entire, wanting nothing." He that walks with God amid the consuming heat of the glowing furnace, and there fully consents to endure and to suffer all the will of God: he that finds amid these central fires deep content, as his spirit lies down in the center of God's will, and is stillattains to a disciplined consolidation in Christian virtue, which renders his acquiescence in the Divine will, in all other relations, absolute. The soul now is permanently at peace with God, and, as a consequence, is fully prepared to be kept as permanently by "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding." Christian brethren, have you never had such a hallowed form of experience as this? A dark and impenetrable cloud came over you and completely shut you in. You could not penetrate to the brightness which radiated from the upper surface of the cloud where all is turned towards the face of God. In the midst of the deep midnight around you, you dropped down into the center of the Divine will. Let me suffer now your heart exclaims, let me suffer here, and anywhere, till God is fully satisfied. In this stillness of deep acquiescence, the first thought that begins to make melody in the depths of the soul, perhaps, is this: a moving apprehension of the sweet will of God. The sweet will of God, you begin to repeat, the sweet will of God. Let all my allotments be as God wills. Then there comes gently over you a sense of infinite security in God. The darkness around you is "but the shadow of His wing," beneath which you feel yourself to be "almost sacred." God is "covering you with His feathers," while beneath His wing you are fixing your trust, and resting there with perfect "quietness and assurance forever." You know now, as you otherwise could not have known, that under the all-shadowing protection of your God, "no evil can befall you; neither can any plague come nigh your dwelling." Light begins to penetrate through the cloud above you, till the deep midnight around becomes itself "all light, and its essence love." The cloud above has become all luminous. Through it you seem to see the face of God smiling with love ineffable into the depths of your soul. You know now why God afflicted you; your perfection in virtue, and your consequent entrance into the hallowed precincts of that rest which "remains for the people of God." Such are the unvarying issues of afflicted providences when, under their pressure, we "do as we are commanded."
3. They strengthen and confirm Christian virtue. These providences, also, tend very peculiarly to strengthen and confirm the faith and hopeful trust of the soul in God. When our own power and resources visibly fail us, we naturally turn from self to power out of and above ourselves. When finite confidences fall from under us, we are almost irresistibly impelled to lean upon the infinite. Now, afflictive providences are those Divine jostlings of the soul by which it is continually reminded of the power above, where our strength and safety lie concealed. As a consequence, they pre-eminently tend to induce the fixed habit of trust and hope in God. Did days of darkness never come, fullness of bread might induce forgetfulness of the Giver, and of dependence upon Him. Conscious weakness and want, however, center and fix the faith and hope of the soul in the power and fullness of God, and the frequent exercise of those virtues confirm, settle, and strengthen the mind in the same, till faith and hope in God become continuously habitual in the inward experience. Now mark the result. Leaning upon the Infinite, the soul becomes "strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." Trusting in the Divine fullness, it receives of that fullness to the full measure of its conscious necessities. Hoping in God, hope deferred does not make the heart sick, and that "because the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." As hope and trust in Christ become the fixed habit of the soul, in all our necessities the angel of His presence strengthens us, as the angel of God strengthened Him in the hour of His extremity. Everywhere, and under all circumstances, "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
4. They impart assurance of hope. When the mind is put into the furnace of affliction, and learns obedience there, it attains, we remark, not only to a Divine purity and acceptance with God, but also, in the next place, to a more distinct assurance of its own gracious state, that it can hardly obtain in any other circumstances. Under no other circumstances, as we have seen is the will of the creature brought into such direct and distinct contact with the will of God. Nowhere else, as a consequence, can the mind be so distinctly conscious of absolute acquiescence in the Divine will, and subjection to it, as here: "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" The character of such hallowed mental exercises as these cannot be misapprehended. Hence it is that, in the exercise of the same the mind has an absolute consciousness of its own gracious state, and of its consequent acceptance with God. Now this absolute assurance of the genuineness of our faith necessarily issues in corresponding assurance of hope: "And when tribulation has worked patience [confirmation in Christian virtue]: and patience, experience [assurance of our own gracious state]; and experience, hope," God never fails to lift upon the soul "the light of His countenance." "Hope," we repeat, "maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." That state of meek, mild, and quiet submission which the patient endurance of suffering induces, fully prepares the mind to receive and appreciate God's manifested sympathy and love. The Holy Spirit now makes the soul distinctly conscious that "in all our afflictions God is afflicted, while the angel of His presence saves us," and we know, as we otherwise could not have known, how deeply God sympathizes with us and loves us. The light of God in which we now live and walk, sanctifies even the furnace through which we have been conducted, into this state of perpetual quietness and assurance, where "the days of our mourning are ended."
5. They impart blessed visions of the eternal future. There are also certain visions of the eternal future and of other kindred truths which nothing but the patient endurance of afflictive providences can prepare the mind to receive, and which the Holy Spirit never fails to impart when "patience has had her perfect work." Take the following as examples:
"These light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." "All things work together for good to them that love God." "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto fountains of living waters." "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord." It is only as the mind passes through great tribulation, and becomes refined and purified in the midst of the same, that it can fully apprehend and appreciate the truths contained in such revelations as these; revelations which, when received, impart a fullness of joy otherwise impossible to us. Whatever our condition may be, let the Holy Spirit but open upon the mind such visions of the soul's eternal future, and render them conscious realities to its apprehension, and "the days of its mourning are ended." It is thus in genuine Christian experience that our most enduring joys well out from our deepest sorrows, and our most abiding consolations descend to us in the midst of our greatest tribulations, while the brightest hopes that gladden our hearts are "born, like the rainbow, in tears."
6. They impart soul-satisfying visions of Christ. As your heart has been pressed down under the weight of some great sorrow, did the Holy Spirit never open upon your spiritual vision an apprehension of Christ as a world-sufferer, of Christ in Gethsemane, in the judgment-hall, or upon the cross? In the presence of such a revelation, suffering and sorrow lose all power to distract the mind. On the other hand, they become sanctified in the mind's apprehension, and to "fill out the measure of Christ's sufferings" seems a privilege; and when sorrow for Christ's sake becomes a hallowed thing in the mind's regard, how infinite does the joy of the soul in Christ become! Thus, as in our deepest humiliation we find ourselves furthest within the precincts of Heaven, so in our greatest sufferings and sorrows do we behold most distinctly the face of God. In the furnacestrange kind of life that!"we walk in the light of God."
7. They develop the divinest virtues in their divinest forms. We must not fail here to refer to the character of the divine virtues which are refined and perfected in the furnace of affliction. Nowhere else in the universe of God do we find such things of beauty as they. That meek submission, that subdued quietude of heart, that sweet and prompt turning of the soul to every indication of the Divine will, that tender sympathy with suffering in others, and readiness "to heal the broken-hearted," that deep and fixed trust in God, that serenity of hope, that crucifixion to the world, that mild purity of thought and life, and, above all, that fixed devotion to Christ; all these, blended in unison, render character a thing of beauty and perfection that even God loves to look at. Now, when the mind comes into this state it is then fully prepared to receive that fullness of joy for which God has been refining and perfecting it. In entering into this state the leading sentiment which pervades its whole inner being is what seems to be a feeling of infinite quietude and assurance. Then thoughts of ineffable consolation begin to drop down into the soul. Soon "visions of glory infinite come and go." At length the Sun of Righteousness rises upon the soul "with healing in His wings." In the everlasting light of that Sun, which continuously comes nearer and nearer to the soul, it moves onward, wondering with unutterable wonder that God should thus deign to shine upon a worm of the dust. God comes to dwell in the soul, and to walk in it, and make His abode there.
8. They teach the soul what sorrow and affliction mean. In such experiences the soul comes to learn, at length, what sorrow and affliction mean. They even become things of beauty to the mind. "We glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
9. They impart power for good to the Christian. Nor are the Divine uses of afflictive providences confined to the subject who suffers. They fit him, as he otherwise could not be, to comfort them who are in any trouble, by the "comfort wherewith he is comforted of God." And never has the religion of Christ such power over worldly minds as when it is seen turning earth-born sorrows into Heaven-born joys.
Do you ask me, reader, when it is that you may regard patience as having had its perfect work in your experience? We answer, when you are deeply conscious that your will is so perfectly identified with the will of God, that you have no wish to possess any more of earthly good than God has appointed you, nor to diminish one jot or tittle of the full amount of affliction which He has allotted you. For myself, I should regard it as greatly criminal in me to entertain for a moment the wish that one throb of pain, one disappointed hope, a single bereavement, a single external affliction, that God appointed me, should fail to become real in my future of life, or to accomplish its divine mission in my experience.
We now understand the light in which we should regard ourselves when causes of great sorrow fall upon us. First of all, we should carefully inquire whether these providences have come down from God out of Heaven, as judgments for wrongdoing, or as merely disciplinary trials of faith, and seek unto God accordingly. In neither case should we lose heart, or hope, or faith in God. We should conclude, at once, on the other hand, whatever the immediate cause or occasion of our sufferings may be, that God sees in us something which He desires to refine and perfect into a thing of beauty and perfection, for His own glory and ours, too; that He sees in us undeveloped capacities for goodcapacities which He desires to perfect for the reception of those great and eternally enduring joys which He has prepared for us. Why should we be afraid of causes of sorrow, when, if we hold fast our integrity and faith in God, they are only the birth-throes of everlasting consolations, and deep and ever-enduring joys otherwise impossible to us.
We also now understand how a truly sanctified mindone fully disciplined in "the furnace of affliction"comes at length to regard such providences. To such minds they are "clouds of glory, coming from God who is our home"clouds of glory, tinged all around their surfaces with light ineffable, and spreading over us the shadow of God's wing, beneath which, as we have said, we feel ourselves almost sacred. As light breaks through the cloud, and sweet and melting thoughts begin to gladden the heart, and heavenly consolations one after another drop down into the depths of the inner being; as the light of the Divine countenance is lifted up, and the sympathizing, loving smile of God becomes the feast of the soulit exclaims, "Lord, it is good to be here!" and if God should so will, it would build its tabernacle and make its abode in this consecrated spot.
Perhaps some of my readers may be inclined to think that in the present chapter the picture has been overdrawn; that what has been presented never has been, and never can be, realized in actual experience. To test the question, let us go back, for a few moments, some eighteen hundred years, and speak with Paul upon the subject. You see him yonder, as he sits resting for an hour. He sits there in his chain, by the side of the soldier who keeps him. Let us approach him. How pale, and wan, and weary he looks! and yet what a halo of deep and abiding joy beams from his countenance and encircles his brow! Permit me to address him in your behalf. "Paul, we have heard much of that wonderful life and experience of yours, and have come to converse personally with you upon the subject. Will you impart to us the information we desire?" "With all my heart. But where shall I begin?" "Tell us first about your sufferings." "Well, I think that God hath set forth us, the apostles, last, as it were "appointed unto death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and unto men. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place. We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. But among the many who, in common with our Divine Lord, have been made perfect through suffering, I have been in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in death oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes, save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things which are without, that which cometh upon me dailythe care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended and I burn not?" "But, Paul, what has been your state of mind in the midst of these sufferings?" "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things. I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
"But when you see that 'the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests,' and in common with your Divine Master, you 'have not where to lay your head;' when you see other men dwelling in princely mansions, clad in costly array, and faring sumptuously every day; do you not sometimes, to say the least, envy their better lot, and feel dissatisfied with your own?" "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel." "But when you go abroad with the distinct apprehension 'that bonds and afflictions abide you,' does not your sensitive nature sometimes shrink from the vision of the sufferings in prospect?" "None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
Please answer this question also: "How do you now regard suffering for Christ's sake?" "I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake; for 'when I am weak then am I strong.'" "How did you attain to this blessed state?" "By simple faith in God. 'We believe, and therefore speak."' "'I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.'"
Tell us this also, Paul. "May we thus attain?" "Most assuredly. 'He is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.'" "Paul, you appear very weak and exhausted; would to God we could come to you, and let you rest your weary head upon our bosom!" "I have just had a season of deep repose upon the bosom of Christ. As I sat here a few hours ago, He came to me in spirit, and said, 'You are weary, very weary. Lay your head upon My bosom, and rest there.' That season of deep intercommunion and fellowship 'with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ,' has left me in a strait betwixt two; and what I shall choose, I wot not, 'having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better; nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for my brethren. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with them all for their furtherance and joy of faith.' I am refreshed now, and must attend to the multitude of converts and inquirers whom you see yonder coming to me for instruction. Farewell."
This, reader, is the glorious gospel of the blessed God. This is what that gospel did for Paul, what it has done for me, and what it is able to do for you. "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."
Suffering and sorrow have no place in the kingdom of light. In Heaven there is no more pain, sorrow, sighing, sickness, or death; no disappointed hopes, nor any form of heart-sickness from hope deferred. The conception of suffering and sorrow, however, and the remembrance of the same, constitute one of the central elements of the blessedness and glory of that kingdom. All the saints there wear upon their heads and carry in their hands crowns and palms of victoryvictory through the blood of the Lamb, and in "great fights of affliction." Separate from that state the remembrance of afflictive providences, and from Christ the idea of a suffering God for human redemption, and you deprive Heaven itself of more than one-half of its light. The vision of glory which intensifies the rapture of the celestial hosts is that of Christ manifested through the emblem of a "Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth." We would request the reader to consider carefully the following passage, as an illustration of the truth before us:
"And I beheld, and lo! in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four-and-twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beast and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in Heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four-and-twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth forever and ever."
Hereafter, when days of darkness come, when pain afflicts, when bereavements melt and adversity chastens our hearts, when the floods purify and the furnace refines our spirits, and the weight of great sorrow presses us down upon the bosom of God, let the fixed language of our souls be, "Welcome, Cross of Christ! welcome everlasting life."