Preached On Tuesday Evening, November 27, 1849,
BY THE REV. C. G. FINNEY,
At The Borough Road Chapel, Southwark.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."-- Psalm cxxxix. 23, 24.
In speaking from this text I shall of course be obliged to assume many things as true without attempting to prove them. This indeed is almost always the case in preaching. It is taken for granted that certain things are agreed upon both by the speaker and the hearer, and unless this was assumed, we could scarcely preach at all. I shall therefore take it for granted that my audience believe in the existence, and attributes of God, and that they also admit that he exercises a providential government over all the affairs of the universe; and that directly or indirectly, he is concerned in everything that takes place; either positively in bringing it about, or that when it is about to occur he knows it, and permits it, in order that he may make some use of it. I shall take it for granted that you believe that no event occurs without God either positively causing it, or else permitting it to occur, with a design to make some use of it, and in some way to overrule it for his own glory and the good of man. I cannot of course enter into a discussion upon the Divine perfections, but must assume that my hearers admit that God's providence is in some sense universal, and that it extends to every individual. In speaking from these words I design to show:--
I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE SINCERE AND ACCEPTABLE OFFERING OF SUCH A PETITION AS THAT CONTAINED IN THE TEXT?
II. NOTICE SOME OF THE WAYS IN WHICH GOD ANSWERS REQUESTS OF THIS KIND.
"Search Me, O God," says the Psalmist, "and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
I. I INQUIRE WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE SINCERE AND ACCEPTABLE OFFERING OF SUCH A REQUEST, AS THIS, TO GOD? (1.) First it must imply the realization of the omniscience of God. When David penned this Psalm he was in a state of mind that deeply realized the omnipresence of God, and the searchings of his eye. He begins the Psalm by saying, "O Lord, thou hast searched me, and know me. Thou knowest my down-sitting and mine up-rising; and thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path, and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." I have read these verses to show that the Psalmist, at the time of offering this petition, was under a deep impression of the omnipresence, and omniscience of God, and the searching blaze of his eye throughout his whole being. And I suppose that this is always the state of mind of every individual when he asks God to search him. The very request implies the belief, that God understands his real heart, and is able to search him. (2.) Again: an acceptable offering of such a request as this, implies a sense of the moral purity, or holiness of God. Observe, he prays to be searched--that his whole being may be exposed, to see if there was any iniquity within him, and that he might be led in the way everlasting. It is plainly implied that he had such a sense of the purity of God, as to be convinced that God was infinitely opposed to all iniquity. (3.) It implies in the next place the necessity of being perfectly pure himself. An individual that offers such a petition as this, does not, and cannot, offer it without this conviction. (4.) Again: an acceptable offering of this petition must imply, a thorough wakefulness of mind to one's moral or spiritual state. It must be that he is in a very honest, searching, state of mind himself--thoroughly in earnest to know all about himself: he is wide awake to his own spiritual condition and heartily desires that all his errors may be rectified. (5.) Again: it implies an intense anxiety to be perfect as God would have him to be--conformed to the holy will of God. Observe, he prays that his heart may be searched to see if there was anything wicked within, and to be led in the way everlasting, which plainly implies that he was willing to be led to abandon all iniquity. An individual who makes such a request as this must have an intense longing of mind to be entirely delivered from the dominion of iniquity. (6.) Again: this request, to be acceptable, must also imply, I suppose, that the individual offering it, is not at the time conscious of living in sin--conscious of indulging in any known sin. Now the Psalmist would not have made such a request as this, if he had been at the time indulging in sin: he would surely not have asked God to search him to see if there was any wickedness in him, if he was at the same time conscious of indulging in known sin. Had this been the case he could not have made such a request as this without downright hypocrisy. (7.) But again: the acceptable offering of such a petition as this implies the assumption, on the part of the petitioner, that he needs to be deeply tried--penetrated with the light of truth to the deepest recesses of his soul. When an individual offers such a petition, he assumes that there may be such things about him as he has himself overlooked, and he asks for the scrutiny of God's eye to search it out, and to apply such tests as that he may see it. (8.) Again: the acceptable offering of such a petition, implies a willingness to be subjected to any process of searching that God may see to be needful. He does not point out any particular way in which he desires to be searched, and tried, but he leaves that to the Divine discretion--he only asks that it may be done, without attempting to dictate how it shall be done. When we ask to be searched, without any real design to be searched, there is an inclination to dictate the way in which it shall be done, but this is not an acceptable way of offering such a petition. The time and manner of the searching must be left entirely to the Divine discretion. Let the thing be done! Let God do as seemeth him good! This is the state of mind in which the prayer must be offered. (9.) Again: an acceptable offering of such a petition, implies of course, that the petitioner is really willing to have the petition answered, and will not resist any process through which God causes him to pass as the means by which he is answered. I pass now to consider secondly--
II. SOME OF THE WAYS IN WHICH GOD ANSWERS REQUESTS OF THIS KIND. And I observe, first: by his Spirit and by the application of his truth. By these means light often shines into the mind, so as to give individuals such a view of themselves as without this searching they never would have had. But, while it is true that God often searches in this way, and has done so in all ages, yet is by no means the only way in which he searches the human mind: nay, it is certain that he much more frequently searches individuals in other ways. Observe: God's object in searching is not to inform himself respecting us, but to discover us to ourselves, for he knows well all about the state of our minds, our spiritual latitude and longitude: what we are in our present state, and what sort of characters we should develope[sic.] under any, and all circumstances. Consequently, God, in bringing us out to our own view must apply such tests to us, as shall assist in this development so as to let us see ourselves as he himself sees us. In order to do this--make us understand ourselves, and those around understand us--God answers such petitions as these, by means of his Providence without, and by his Spirit within; and, observe, these never contradict one another. God is working without by his Providence, bringing us into various states and circumstances for the development of character, and then comes by his Spirit, and presents it to our minds when it is developed. But I said that I should notice some of the ways in which God answers these petitions, and I will do so. (1.) For example, he often suffers things to occur that really will show to us, and to those around us, what sort of tempers we have. For instance, people speak against us, and the way in which we bear their accusations show what our tempers are. Now when we pray to be searched, God often applies such tests as this: he allows us to be defamed, and spoken against, in order to try the state of our minds and show whether we posses the virtue of meekness, or whether we will say that we do well to be angry. Now, perhaps, some of you have had such a test as this applied to you this very day. Some one has said or written something of you of a disagreeable and injurious tendency; well, let me ask, what state of mind did it develope? Did it develope the meekness and gentleness of Christ, or did it make you angry? Perhaps you had been praying that you might be searched, and God caused your character to be developed that you, and that those around you, might see it; and what sort of a character was it, hearer? (2.) Again: God often arranges matters so that we are treated with neglect--perhaps, sinfully so--by those about us. Now God does not prevent this, but suffers it to be done. He could have interposed to prevent it, but did not: well, how does this effect us? It developed the state of mind that we were in. And what was the real state of mind that it brought out? Did it make us angry and manifest an unholy temper, or otherwise? Perhaps God allows us to be treated with manifest injustice, and when thus tried do we manifest the Spirit of Christ? Do we find working in us the temper that was manifested by Christ on such occasions? Remember, that it is written, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his." Now we should be exceedingly ignorant of ourselves if none of these tests were applied. When persons have nothing to try them, they are in great danger of deceiving themselves; but when persons are tried, then their real disposition, and the temper of their minds are developed. Let me ask, has somebody cheated you? has someone taken advantage of you--has injustice been done you--has someone refused you honest wages, or repudiated a just debt? Well, under these painful circumstances, what spirit did you manifest? Did you find the Spirit of Christ within you? Mark! these are Providences occurring to search you that you might understand yourselves, and that those around you might understand you. Perhaps you have been misunderstood, and misrepresented; well, how have you borne it? Perhaps you have been treated disrespectfully by those who are under particular obligations to you; well, how did you bear it? Did your indignation rise--did you manifest an un-Christ-like spirit? or did you find the Spirit of Christ was in you? You prayed to be searched, and in answer to your prayer, your children or domestics, or those related to you, and who are under particular obligations to you, treated you in a very improper manner--directly the reverse of what you had a right to expect from them--perhaps your domestic servants or those otherwise in your employ, have done that which is exceedingly wrong. Now admit that all this was very wrong and exceedingly provoking, what has been the effect upon yourself? What has it taught you? And what has it taught those who witnessed the developement? Has it brought out your state of mind? Doubtless, it has; and if it was not outwardly manifest, what were the feelings within? Some one, perhaps, has contradicted you! Can you bear contradiction? Do you bear it well? Were you patient under it? Did you act as Christ would have acted under the circumstances--or did you behave un-Christ-like? Perhaps, in your business this day, some of those whom you employ have not attended to their duty, or have destroyed your property and all this might have been exceedingly wrong, and highly provoking. But, let me ask, what spirit did you manifest to them who had done the wrong? Such a spirit as Christ would have manifested? What has been the result of such an occurrence? Observe, these things never occur by accident: God designs that every one of them should develope our characters--that they should try us and prove what there is in us, and bring it out on to the field of our own consciences, and reveal to us the springs of action within us. Now when these tests of your character and disposition have been applied, what has been the result? Did you find that you were nothing but the same old sinner yet? That instead of finding Christ within you, and his temper developing itself, you found the old man with his deceitful lusts? (3.) I remark again, on this part of our subject: How often when individuals pray to be searched, and tried, God gives them opportunities in their business to prove if they love their neighbours as themselves--or whether they will speculate with a view to make all they can out of their neighbours, and adopt any means to this end that will not subject them to any criminal charge, or ruin them in a business point of view. God tries them to see if they will really consult their brother's interests as well as their own--to see if they will share the profits where there is any money to be made; or whether they will be disposed to dip their hands as deeply in their neighbours pockets as they can without losing their character for honesty. Now God often tries men in this way. He will often give them opportunities to take some advantage in the way of trade. A man who is in want of a loan of money comes to an individual that professes to be a Christian, and who is quite able to lend it, but he pretends, that to acceed[sic.] to the request and oblige his friend, he shall have to make great sacrifices; when, at the same time, he really means that his friend shall have the money if he will but give an exorbitant interest for it, and good security. This is a searching for him. He finds a neighbour in trouble; how does he act? Does he come right out like a Christian man and help his neighbour, as Christ and the apostles would have done, had they been placed in similar circumstances? Now, whenever cases of this kind occur, they are golden opportunities for us to know ourselves, and are designed to search us to the bottom of our hearts. (4.) But again: oftentimes, God so arranges it, that individuals can take advantage of others, without danger to their own reputations. They are very cautious not to take advantage when there is danger; they have no design to ruin themselves. But, sometimes, there is little or no danger to their business characters by being dishonest, and now is the time of trial when an individual has no selfish reasons for being honest. A man may be naturally dishonest, but he will not take advantage when it is likely to hurt himself; but when this is not the case--when he can be honest or dishonest, without injury to his business character, then is the time for a man to try himself, and see whether it is the love of God or the fear of man that actuates him. Suppose that an individual has, in change at your store, paid too much, and it is never likely to be found out, or suppose you have found something in the street, and you can keep it or restore it as you please: now these are searchings from God; and how completely such circumstances show to men what their true character for honesty is. The honest man would no more take, and appropriate, the mistaken change, than he would cut his own throat; nor keep the articles found in the street any more than he would leap into the fire. Now suppose, that instead of finding the Spirit of Christ manifesting itself, he developed the opposite spirit, and has to resort to some selfish reasonings to quiet his conscience, and make himself appear an honest man. Well, it is written upon him, Mene, Mene, Tekel--weighed in the balances and found wanting. (5.) Again: God often allows men to accumulate property that they may have an opportunity to extend the cause of truth and righteousness in the earth; he tries them to see if they will do it or not. Professors of Christianity acknowledge themselves to be but stewards for God, that everything they possess is his; and, consequently, is at his disposal. Now is it a fact, that these men act in harmony with their professions? Well, God often tries them to see if they are acting the hypocrite or no. (6.) Again: God in his providence often causes us to suffer losses by bad debts, or by fire, or by some such means, just to see whether we will think and speak of these losses as being our losses--whether we regard these losses as God's or our own. As professors of religion, we profess that everything is God's, and that we are only stewards. Well, look at a professor who once had large property to manage, by some means he lost it all, and he goes about saying, that he has sustained such and such great losses, and proves by such conduct that he acted hypocritically in professing that he believed it to be God's property, and that he was only the steward of it. Suppose a clerk, whose master had sustained heavy losses, should go about and complain that he had sustained the losses, how absurd and untrue it would be. When we are in possession of property, we may profess that it belongs to God, and even deceive ourselves into the belief that we are sincere in our professions, but when a loss occurs, it often shows to us that we did not regard it as God's, but our own. (7.) Again: he will develope our temper to us, and enable us to see whether we are impatient, or otherwise; and he will show us whether we are ambitious--whether we desire to climb and scramble up some height, from which we can look down with scorn or contempt upon our fellows. (8.) Again: God oftimes gives us opportunities of self-display, to see whether we will display self; and, on the other hand, he often denies us such opportunities, to see if we will murmur and be envious of those who have. Many person will be found often speaking against display, when they have not the means to indulge in it; they will be very loud in their censures upon other professors who ride in their coaches, and furnish their houses in a superior style--but give these declaimers the means of doing the same, and see what they will do--see if they will not imitate, and perhaps act more extravagantly, than those whom they before condemned. A little while ago, they were very piously complaining of display, but now they have the means of doing the same thing, and they do it; so that it was not principle, that caused them to speak as they did, but simply because they could not indulge in those things themselves, they pretended to be greatly grieved with others for doing so. (9.) But again: sometimes God will deny individuals many things, to see if they will be satisfied with the providence of God. Do they bear poverty well, or are they envious at the rich? Are they in their poverty what Christ would have been in their circumstances? Thus riches and poverty, sickness and health, and a thousand other things, are sent to try men, and prove to themselves, and to those around them, what their real state is. (10.) God oftimes tries us to see if we are self-willed--to see if our wills are ready to submit to his will; or whether we shall make ourselves unhappy and wretched because God so wills respecting us. How often is it the case that individuals do not know whether they are self-willed; so long as the providence of God seems to pet them they are very pious, and can talk about submission with the greatest apparent sincerity; but let God just drive across their path: lay his hand upon them: blow their schemes to the winds of heaven: and see whether they will talk of submission then; see whether they are self-willed, or whether as little children they will instantly submit. Can they say with the Psalmist, "O Lord, thou knowest that I am not haughty; surely, I have behaved myself as a child weaned of its mother: my soul is even as a weaned child." Blessed man! when he was tried, he said, "Surely I have behaved as a child that is weaned of its mother." Probably, most of you have had opportunities of knowing by actual observation what this means--perhaps you have seen a self-willed child ready to wrestle with everybody, but what a great change comes over it, when its will is subdued. God often in his providence tries individuals, but who instead of being a weaned child have been as an unweaned child; instead of being able to say as the Psalmist did, are obliged to confess, "I have been as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke" restive, self-willed, domineering, and ready to make war upon God. Most of the persons, to whom I address myself to-night, have doubtless, passed through such scenes as these. Now, let me ask, how have they affected you? What was the state of mind that you discovered in yourselves? God was searching you, applying the tests that should infallibly show what was the working in your minds. (11.) But, let me say again: it is oftimes of the greatest importance for God to introduce measures to show if we are disappointed at any course that he adopts towards us. When the man is devoted to God, he is willing that everything which he possesses, and his own life also, should be devoted in any way that God should choose. If he is in a right state of mind, he will not be disappointed at any providence, believing that everything occurs by the will of God; and, this being the case, all must be right and conduce to their real good. Now when circumstances occur to disappoint us, if we will not allow ourselves to be disappointed, we may understand and conclude, that our will is such as it ought to be. (12.) Again: God often tries us to see if we idolise our friends; he visits them with affliction, or the loss of property, to try whether our affections and love are set as much upon God as upon our friends. You recollect the case of Eli, when he was informed of what had occurred to his family: he said, "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good." Now it is a great thing for individuals to have opportunities occur in the providence of God to try them. There is, no doubt, a meaning in all things that God is perpetually bestowing upon us: and the very things that we are apt to regard as evil things, when we are in a bad state of mind, are working for our good. But let a man be in a right state of mind, and he will not object to be thoroughly tried, for he knows that the grace of God will be given to assist him to bear the trial. He can say with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthened me." And how much good the trial does him. It is good for him to be searched and tried and stripped; if need be, of property, health, friends, and all else, no matter what, for these individuals have the satisfaction of feeling the grace of God spring up in their hearts, and it shines forth on all around them. My design is, as you perceive, to pass very rapidly over an outline, which I beg you to fill up by looking back from time to time at what is occurring around you. What has occurred to-day to try you? Say, how did if affect you? Keep an eye upon this to-morrow, and remember that God is searching you to try your temper and state of mind. Perhaps, you are a Christian mother and your child is unruly and unreasonable, how does this affect you? Do you know that God is suffering this to see whether you will be patient or not? (13.) But again: How often will God try us to see whether we are really willing to lose the good opinion of the world--to lose the respect and confidence of our friends, and to lose cast[sic.] in society for the truth's sake. Some man, perhaps, has been cast down from the heights of society, and has become poor, and loses friends and reputation; how now is he effected? Does this trial cause him to shine forth a holy man, caring but little how men regard him, if so be that the event is for his own spiritual good, and the honour of God? Indeed every thing that passes in society--new fashions--new style of dress--new colours--are constantly developing the state of our minds. Are our minds intent upon these things? Or to what extent do they affect us? It is often interesting to see how such things will effect Christian professors, and others also. The design of God in this dispensation is to make all classes of men understand themselves--whether they be professors of religion or not. Thus he says of the church in ancient days, "Forty years have I led thee in the wilderness to humble thee and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep his commandments or no." (14.) But again, let me say, that oftimes he will introduce dispensations that may severely test Christian professors, and prove whether they love God supremely. Now I have observed that there are many professors of religion who profess to love God supremely, who will stand by in silence while God's name is blasphemed by men who seek to bring dishonour upon his name and to subvert his kingdom; but these same professors, if any word is spoken against themselves, are in the greatest excitement. They can see contempt, and abuse, heaped upon God without exhibiting, or even feeling, much grief--or being able to sympathise with the Psalmist, when he said, "I beheld the transgressors and was grieved." "Rivers of waters run down mine eyes because they keep not thy law." Now do they think that the Psalmist expressed himself in a manner that was not true? No, surely! Wickedness took place before his eyes, and how did it affect him? Why he tells us, and tells God himself how it affected him, "I beheld the transgressors and was grieved." Now nothing is more common, than for God to suffer wickedness to occur before the eyes of professors, to see what state of mind it will develope. To see whether they are more devoted to their own characters than the honour of God. Now whenever these things occur the fact is revealed whether we love God or ourselves supremely.
But I must hasten to make a few remarks, and close. (1.) The first remark that I make is this--men do not always realise what is implied in the prayers which they offer to God. They offer requests to God without seeming to realise what is implied in the requests which they offer. For example, they pray to be searched, but they do not understand what is implied in such a request?[!] Do they know for what they are asking? People, in making requests, ought to understand for what they ask! And what may be necessary as a condition of receiving an answer. (2.) Again: men often receive answers to their prayers without recognizing the answers. They are praying, but looking in another direction--they have their own thoughts about the manner in which they expect God to answer. For example, how many persons have offered the prayer which is contained in our text; and they have an idea in their minds that the searching would take place when they were in their closets--not thinking that it was really impossible for God to do this. Now when persons pray with this idea, they do not recognize the answers to their prayers, because they come in a different direction to that in which they are looking. Perhaps some of you have received such answers to your prayers as have wholly confounded you. You have prayed to be searched, and instead of having the inward light that you expected, you find yourselves in such a state as if the spirit of Satan was developing itself within you. (3.) But let me say again, that person oftimes resist the answers to their prayers. It is no doubt true that God frequently answers petitions, in a certain sense, even when they are not offered in a right spirit, and perhaps the answers are intended expressly to show that they were not offered aright. For example, an individual prays to be searched, and God searches him to show that he is not able to be searched. Professors pray that they may be searched, and the minister comes forward with their portraits drawn full length and hold them out to their view. Now just look at them! They cannot bear it! What is the matter with them? They prayed but a few days before, that they might be searched, and now see the effect of the searching! I am just reminded of a fact that once occurred under my own notice. A Presbyterian church, in the centre of New York, had existed for many years without a revival of religion, till it was in danger of becoming extinct. I went there for the purpose of merely spending a night. The members of the church were holding a prayer meeting. I declined to take the lead of the meeting being a stranger, so one of the elders led the meeting: he began by reading a long Psalm, or hymn, and they sung it; and he then read a passage of scripture and did what he called pray--he doled out a long talk to God, in which he said a great many things about their state and condition, how long they had been so, and that they had met there every week for many years to pray, &c. Another hymn was sung, and another leader did the same as the first. They had about three such prayers, when one of the elders desired that I would make some remarks before the meeting closed. I complied with the request, and took their prayers as my text. I asked them plainly if it was understood that the meeting was called to mock God? They had met together once a week for many years, and had confessed their sins, but they had never forsaken them, and what was that but mockery? I took up each man's prayers separately, and pointed to him, while I remarked--if what that man said is true, he is a hypocrite! I then took another one's prayer, and said to him, now you are certainly a hypocrite too, if what you said in your prayer is true--that is self- evident. Well, they looked so angry, that I did not know but they would get up and leave the house, yet I did not spare them. I just threw their prayers back in their faces, and charged them with holding a prayer meeting to mock God. They turned and twisted about in their seats for some time, and were most uneasy, till at length one of the elders fell forward in tears, saying, "it's all true, it's all true." This was the commencement of a revival, which in a few weeks spread throughout the neighbourhood. These men had not understood that they did but mock God while they pretended to hold a prayer meeting--they asked to be searched, and God searched them in a way that they did not expect. As I said, persons will often pray to be searched without understanding what is included in the answer. Just take up their own confessions sometimes, and ask them if they mean what they say? and tell them if you are guilty of what you say you are, what wicked men you are, and you will certainly be lost unless you repent immediately. Just adopt this course, and you will soon see whether they are willing to be searched, whether they are in earnest. (4.) I remark again, that all the trials of saints are in answer to their prayers--are sent to try them. Sometimes this fact is not recognised, and sometimes when persons do recognise this, they are really afraid to be searched. I have known persons afraid to have spiritual blessings bestowed upon them, lest the trial attending the bestowal should be too severe. A woman said to me once, "I am afraid to ask the Lord to sanctify me, for if he does I am fully persuaded that he will take my husband from me." Well now, although it is not often the case that persons understand so distinctly the state of their minds in this respect, yet there is no doubt that persons oftimes really fear that God should introduce some sanctifying dispensation, lest he should deeply wound them in some tender part--perhaps deprive them of friends, of children, or perhaps even of their own characters. (5.) But I remark again, that these things which try the unregenerated part of mankind are often in answer to the prayers of the saints. The saints pray that God will convert the sinners, and God adopts the means that are needed to this end, and the means that are adopted perhaps were little anticipated, and are not always recognised as answers to prayer. It comes to pass oftimes that individuals need to lose their character, their friends, or their property--they are so hedged in, that God must adopt some stringent measures in order to bring them into a right state of mind and cause his truth to operate upon them. (6.) Again: saints who ask to be searched must be willing to suffer anything which God sees fit to lay upon them--they must make up their minds to submit to any dispensations of his providence. (7.) Again: saints should be prepared to receive answers to prayer in their own persons. Perhaps God lays them on a bed of sickness just when they had some very great object in view. Well it is intended for their good, therefore they ought not to repine nor murmur, but receive with thankfulness the good that is intended for them. (8.) Again I remark, that it is necessary that these trials should be awarded us, for it will not do that God should always feed his children on sweetmeats. We need severe discipline: it makes us good soldiers. A mere silken religion that passes through no trials has little efficiency in it. These providential trials take away the dross and tin, and make us strong in the Lord. How lovely is the character of the Christian who has patiently endured the trials through which he has had to pass. He becomes like a weaned child, and quiets himself under all the dispensations of providence: he receives everything as bestowed upon him from his father. I might add a great many other things, but I must close by saying--the more holy Christians become the more sincere, and earnest are they to have their whole character, and being, completely searched, developed, and cleansed: and the more needful they find it to lay their whole heart before him, and ask him that his providence may search it, and purify it on every side, until he is satisfied with his own work. Christians, are you in the habit of asking the Lord to satisfy himself; to do that which shall bring you into a condition that will please him? Do you not long for the pruning knife to be applied, and to be purged of all your selfishness and everything that is offensive to God, so that you may stand before him as a young child in meekness and love, while he looks upon you and says, this is my handiwork, and it is very good. Ask God to search you then, and do not be afraid to have it done. Look upon the trials of life as coming from your heavenly Father, in order that if you are really self-deceived you may know it, and if you are not, that you may grow up into the likeness of the Son of God. Amen.
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