Page images

signalized by some fresh manifestations of the Di. vine Presence and favour; till old things be entirely passed away; and types, and veils, and shadows, be swallowed up in perfect vision, and eternal enjoyment.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.



MARK vi. 50.

Be of good cheer: it is 1; be not afraid.

BLESSED Jesus, if thou art with us, what shall we fear? All we dread is thy removal. Only assure us of thy presence, and let the rains descend, and the waves beat vehemently, none of these things shall move us.

There is something in the situation of the disci. ples, on that dismal night, so correspondent with the experience of most Christians; and there is something so interesting and engaging in their certain, though Jong-delayed, deliverance, that a few moments spent in particular consideration of them, may, I hope, be seasonable and useful.

The multitude were so astonished at the miracu. lous manner in which Christ had lately fed five thousand of them, with five barley loaves and two small fishes, that they wished to take him by force, and make him a King. But he, whose kingdom is not of this world, shunned the crown that was offered him ; despising that worldly honour at which giddy mortals so much aspire.

“ And he straightway constrained his disciples. ta get into the ship, and to go to the other side, unta

Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.” We may easily imagine, how unwilling his disciples were to leave him, and might have expected to find them expressing their reluctance. But we hear no such language. Like the good centurion, he said to them, Go, and they went. He sent them from hiin; but it was only to make his presence more desirable and welcome. God's commands may sometimes seem grievous; and such a path may be marked out for us, as, in our apprehensions, threatens greatly to interrupt our communications with hiin. But if we have patience to wait, and see the design of his conduct, we shall find that, in reality, his commandments are merciful and gracious; and that he has taken the best means for the accomplishment of our wishes, and the comfort and salvation of our souls.

And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

How strangely did the blessed Jesus condescend to human infirmities ! He hungered and thirsted; he wept, and he prayed. That we sinful and necessitous creatures, who abound with wants and miseries, and who must have daily pardon as well as daily bread, should retire to pray, is no wonder : yea, that we should pray without ceasing, is not more than is necessary. You find, Christians, that you cannot live without prayer; or enjoy yourselves in a crowd. You cannot go on, from day to day, in a constant hurry of business and pleasure, without retiring to recollect yourselves, and commune with your God! That helpless, dependant, sinful creatures, should need to pray often and long, is not at all strange! But what, blessed Jesus, should induce

thee so often to attend to this duty ? Alas! in this, as well as in every other instance, we see that thy thoughts are not as ours. Intercession for others, which makes so sinall a part of our prayers, was the chief subject of thine. The weather-beaten disciples, we may be certain, were not forgotten. O ye

afflicted, tossed with tempests, and not comforted, distant and unregarded as you may apprehend yourselves to be, he is nigh them who are of a broken heart. While you are struggling with troubles, the most formidable and threatening, and all his waves and his billows are passing over you, remember that Jesus is in the mountain, praying for you.

“And when the evening was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone upon the land ; and he seeth them toiling in rowing, for the wind was contrary.”

Every thing seemed to conspire to heighten their misery, and aggravate their distress. The night was dark ; the winds were high, and contrary; the sea was, boisterous; and, what was worst of all, their Master was absent. Had he been with them, however the elements had raged, they might have thought themselves safe. But the Providence of God many times calls his servants, his most beloved disciples, to walk in darkness, where they can see no light; and cuts them off from all prospect and possibility of comfort from any hand but his own, to teach them to wait upon him, and to convince them, that from him alone come their help and salvation. He could easily prevent our sufferings; but he wisely permits them, that he may glorify his mercy in our deliverance, and confirm our faith by the removal of our distress,

But though the wind was against them, we find not that they returned. Their Master had ordered them to go to the other side ; and therefore, in spite of winds and weather, they press forward. Mark this, O my soul. He sent out his servants to sea, though he foresaw the storm ; and perhaps purposely too, that they might be tossed by the tempest. Why art thou, therefore, cast down; why art thou disquieted within me? Depend upon his grace, follow his directions, and the end will fully equal thy wishes.

“And about the fourth watch of the night, he cometh unto them walking on the sea.”

All that long and tempestuous night must the disciples wear out in terror and distress. In the evening there was no appearance of Jesus. But when they had been all night long tossed at the mercy of the waves, and quite spent with toil and fears, in the fourth watch, which was near to the morning, Jesus comes to them. This was done, that he might exercise their faith and patience; and that their devotion might be more animated, and deliverance more welcome, in consequence of the trying delay. We own, O Lord, that we are often unable to explain the reasons of thy conduct. What thou dost, we know not now: but we depend on thy promise, and we rejoice in the thought, that we shall know it hereafter. Like these poor disciples, some one of you, my Christian friends, may be now in the midst of a sea of trouble. The winds roar, the billows swell, the night is dark, and your Saviour's absence height tens your distress. But the time to favour you is not fully come. Perhaps it is yet but midnight with you; but if you hold out till the fourth watch, he

« PreviousContinue »