A devout disposition is happiness. It is happiness, whether outward things go well or ill. A comfortable home, fond kindred, health, a successful calling, are sweet mercies when you accept them direct from God,—thus rendering dearer to yourself, at once the giver and the gifts. But these mercies may, one by one, withdraw. Lover and friend may be put far from you, and your acquaintance may vanish into secret; your house may dilapidate; your industrious efforts may be defeated; and your prosperous state may be exchanged for penury. But "although the fig-tree shall not. blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herds in the stalls; yet you will rejoice in the Lord, and will joy in the God of your salvation." With shattered constitution you may find yourself confined to your couch or your chamber, and in pain and depression you may miss that presence which would have been a "sunshine in this shady place." But lonely and languid you can say, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever." Public affairs may take a sombre turn, and in the growth of pauperism, or in the wider gulf that sunders the classes, there may be prognostics of uproar and anarchy; or in one of those fits of infatuation which occasionally seize society, you may stand aghast at educated men flinging away their human rights and their reason, and surrendering to a grim superstition which puts out their eyes and binds them in the fetters of Babylon;* or under the spurring hoof of some colossal despotism, you may hear human hearts crushing, as the sea-weed crackles under the school-boy's wanton heel, and in vain sympathy you may burst your own; or, as in volcanic reaction, pent-up indignation at last explodes, and thrones and altars are hurled through mid-heaven, whilst civilization ia overwhelmed beneath the fiery tide, like grass under lava, and as it spirts into the air, the gory geyser tells where the earth has opened her mouth, and swallowed alive a weltering multitude;—in moments like these, when the most hopeful philanthrophy is paralyzed, and "men's hearts fail them for fear," the believer can sing, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea:" and beyond all the crash and the turmoil, his purer ear can catch the cadence of heavenly harpers, and through all the smoke of burning mountains quenched in boiling seas, his penetrating eye can glimpse the tokens of a bright Epiphany: and from the reeling soil, he lifts up his head, knowing that redemption draweth nigh. Oh brethren! in those solemn conjunctures which prefigure final judgment; in those awful conflicts where man appears not so much the combatant as the arena; in those Armageddons where man cannot look to man, for the contending powers are Jehovah and Apollyon,—how blessed to have a friend in Omnipotence, and a citadel within the tabernacle of the Most High!
* 2 Kings xxv.1
Friday, September 3, 2010
A Devout Disposition is Happiness
James Hamilton, The Royal Preacher, pp. 341-344: