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let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering: for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." --Jas. i. 2—8.
Those whom James addresses as “My brethren" must be the good ; for it is no source of joy for an evil man to be tried. Hence we are confident that the teaching here is with regard to the trials of the good. Trial is one of the schools in which God is teaching his children, and which they will more or less frequent till Death, the Father's messenger, fetches them home. We learn here
I. TAE DISCIPLINE OF THIS SCHOOL SHOULD BE CHEERFULLY МЕТ. "Count it all joy,” &c. Why? First: Because trials test our faith. Trials are manifold - divers," physical, social, mental, spiritual, and all put our faith in God's goodness and justice to the test. These trials act upon true faith as the furnace on the metal; as the storm on the tree. Secondly: The working of faith develops patience. Patience is not obtuseness—an incapacity to perceive the evil ; nor insensibility-an incapability of feeling it; nor stoicism-an endurance from the feeling of necessity. It is a loyal submission-a hearty acquiescence. Patience always requires faith. It is “ enduring as seeing Him who is invisible.” He has the most patience whose faith is strongest. Thus tribulation worketh patience. Thirdly: Patience tends to cumpleteness of character. The words here mean "whole in every part," and the idea is that Christian perfection consists in the development of all the elements of Christian character. Character does not become perfect in a day; it is a gradual growth. Hence the need of patience.
II. THE ADVANTAGES OP THIS SCHOOL ARE OBTAINED BY PRAYER. First : Spiritual excellence in the chief subject of prayer. He only will benefit by the trials of life who uses a true spiritual judgment. Unless, as in all other things, a
man forms a true judgment of trials, he will never be advantaged by them. He will not reach nor apply their lessons. Second : The great God is the only object of prayer. He gives (1.) abundantly; (2) generously Third : Unwavering confidence is the power of prayer. (1.) A man without confidence is the victim of inner conflictdouble-minded, diluxos. He has two souls, running in different, and sometimes opposite, directions. So he is unstable in all his ways. How can he pray? Prayer requires earnestness ; earnestness requires concentration ; concentration requires strong faith. (2.) A man without confidence is the victim of external circumstances. As the winds to the waves, so are circumstances to a man without faith.
Christian Brotherhood. “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted; but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”—Jas. i. 9–11.
I. THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES, ARE DIFFERENT. As a fact, the good here are found in different social grades—"high" and “ low" degree. There is the prince and the pauper. This fact proves (1.) That circunstances are no test of character. There has been a common error, from Job's day to this, to the contrary, (2.) That Christians should be contented with their lot. Providence rever intended all to be of the same degree. The sphere of one would no more suit another, than the orbit of one planet would do for another. (3.) That there are opportunities for the exercise of brotherly benevolence. If all were in the same grade, where would be the openings for charity? There are some naked to be clothed ; some in prison to be visited, &c. II. THEIR CAUSE FOR JOY IS THE SAME.
What is the cause of joy amongst the true brotherhood ? First: Not in external
circumstances. The apostle here teaches that all that is external is evanescent. “ The sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass," &c. Second : But in spiritual triumph over circumstances. Grace makes the poor brother feel himself superior to circumstances. He is to rejoice when by contentment, and hope, and faith he is “ exalted” above his low degree. This poverty does not crush him. Grace renders the “rich” brother humble amid his circumstances. This cause of joy in both cases is in the graces of the soul, not in the grade of life. Bristol.
U. R. THOMAS.
Germs of Tbought.
SUBJECT : God's Secret and Shadow. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”—Psa. xci. 1.
Analysis of Homily the Seven Hundred and Forty-Sebenth.
tempted, the timid, and the fearful, as well as to the stalwart and courageous Christian. There is a place to which we can all fly, where we can all abide—a place that is under the immediate protection and guardianship of God Himself, and that is, “ the secret place of the most High.” But to be of service to us, our text must be understood ; under the sur face of the imagery here employed there lies a sublime and glorious truth. To evolve it, we invite you to noticeI. THE POSITION INDICATED. 1. The place.
" The secret place of the most High.” This means, we think, we are to enter into and to abide in the secret of God. We are told, “The secret of the Lord is with them that foar him.” What intel. ligible or practical meaning can we attach to this?
See, here is God's word. It has its secret. You know the difference between the cursory reading of a friend's letter and the
reading of it so as to enter into the very thoughts, and feelings, and ideas of that friend--between reading it to get merely the information that it contains, and reading it so as to catch the very spirit of your friend, and to be able to place yourself in the self-same position in reference to the subject of which it treats, as he was himself when he wrote it. To read the letter thus is to enter into the secret of your friend, to enter into his secret place. You have views, and sympathies, and feelings all in common with him. Apply this to the Word of God. There are some who read it through chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, who have a large amount of superficial biblical knowledge, but who know comparatively nothing of its grand, glorious, momentous secrets. There are others who so read it that they grasp the real meaning, the grand spiritual realities that underlie its utterances; they so read it that they catch the very spirit of its Divine Author, so that the views formed and the feelings kindled towards the subjects of which it treats, are the same as God's. They look at them from God's point of view. Such may be said to enter into the secret of God, or into “the secret place of the most High.”
See again : here is communion with God. It has its secret. You know the difference between talking to a friend and having communion with him. There are some into whose souls you can never enter. They may talk away glibly enough and long enough upon common-place matters. But here your sympathy and intercourse end; you have no consciousness of any outflowing of soul, or commingling of spirit. But there is another between whom and yourself intercourse will become so real and so mutual that he will give you back thought for thought, and feeling for feeling. That other soul seems to be a fac-simile of your own; the resemblance is so close and faithful, that you can read his thoughts, and feelings, and purposes by your own. By such intercourse you enter into the secret of your friend-into the secret place of his heart. Apply this to communion with God. There are some who say their prayers very regularly and very devoutly. So far as outward decorum and forms of speech are con
cerned, they are faultless. But communion with God there is none; they leave their closet as they enter it. They go through a cold form, or satisfy the sense of duty, but any outfiowing, or uplifting of soul to God, there is none. There are others whose communion with Heaven is a sublime reality. The very presence of the Heavenly Father is consciously enjoyed. As such an one comes forth from the chamber of communion, you can see in his very countenance and hear in his very words, that his soul has been flowing out towards God, and that God has been flowing into his soul. The words uttered
may have been but few, but there has been such a loving, confiding, filial opening of the heart before Heaven, that its glory has been beaming down with full power upon, and its joys streaming with full volume into, it. By such communion as this you are for the time under the direct power and influence of heaven, you are attracted into the inner circle of God's friendship, you have a foretaste of heaven's ecstatic rapture and joy.
“I stand upon the mount of God,
With sunlight in my soul;
I hear the thunders roll.
Beneath these glorious skies;
Nor storms nor clouds can rise.
My God, to find thee so;
And all thy love to know.”
See again. There is the love of God. It has its secret. You know the difference between possessing a friend's respect and enjoying a friend's love. There are some whom you respect and esteem, but who have no place in your warm .and ardent affection; and they may respect and esteem you, but you have no enjoyment of their love. When you meet you are polite, respectful, courteous to each other, but that is all.