I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto you, O Lord, will I sing. Psalm 101:1
How shall we enumerate all the blessings which result from the chastening of love? We might tell how prayer is quickened, how pride is abased, how weanedness is attained, how charity is increased, how character is formed, how meditation and solitude are sweetened, how Christ is endeared, and how God is glorified. It will be recollected, that in the ark of the covenant there was “Aaron’s rod that budded.” Our glorious covenant of grace has, too, its rod—its budding, its blossoming rod—and precious is the nature and rich the variety of the fruit which it bears. But in that ancient ark there was also the “pot of manna.” “Mercy and judgment,” bitter and sweet, light and shade, are blended in the covenant dealings of God with His people. The rod and the pot of manna go together. If the one is bitter, the other is sweet. God will never send the rod unaccompanied with the manna. Jesus, exhibited in the word, and unfolded by the Spirit, in the sweet sympathy of His nature, in the tenderness of His heart, as the “Brother born for adversity,” is the manna—sustaining and strengthening the believer, passing under the covenant-rod of God. Thus, if afflictions be grievous, the fruit they bear is gracious.
In the history of the Jewish Church there is yet another type, beautifully illustrative of God’s dealings with the chastened Christian. I allude to the pillar, which guided the pilgrimage of the Church in the wilderness. By night it was a pillar of fire, and by day it was a pillar of cloud. The darkest night of weeping that can possibly enshroud the child of God has its bright light—its alleviation, its promise, its guiding. And in the most prosperous period in the Christian’s experience, it is ordered by unerring wisdom and infinite love that there should be some counter-dispensation of trial, to preserve the just balance of the soul. It has been well remarked, that “Things never go so well with God’s children, but they have still something to groan under; nor so ill, but they have still some comfort to be thankful for.”
I would have you, then, my reader, not overlook the truth, that the covenant of grace has made provision for everything in the life of a child of God, especially for the life of suffering. It strews the richest blessings and the most profusely upon the chequered path—the path inlaid with stones of various colors, and yet each one most needful and most precious. “Oh you afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold I will lay your stones with fair colors, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” It is true that the covenant has anticipated as much the perilous season of prosperity, as the dark hour of adversity; but it always supposes the way to glory to be one of trial and of danger.
A heavenly-minded man will learn to look upon the earthly distinction and wealth which the world, so lavish sometimes of its favors, may confer upon him, as a trial and a snare, to one desirous of bearing the cross daily after his crucified Lord; and yet for this specific form of danger the covenant of grace amply provides. Be satisfied, my reader, with any station your God may assign you; believing that for every station in which He places His child, there is the grace peculiar to its exigencies treasured up for him in the everlasting covenant.