Hebrews 12:9

My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, etc. Our subject is Divine discipline. Let us notice -

I. ITS CHARACTER. Three words are used to express it - "rebuke," "chastening," "scourging." The last two seem to be used synonymously here. Archbishop Trench points out that "'to rebuke" and "to chasten" are often found together, but they are very capable of being distinguished. "To rebuke" is so to rebuke that the person is brought to the acknowledgment of his fault - is convinced, as David was when rebuked by Nathan (2 Samuel 12:13)." The word translated to "chasten," "being in classical Greek to instruct, to educate, is in sacred Greek to instruct or educate by means of correction, through the severe discipline of love." The object of the discipline is to deliver the subjects of it from sin, to establish them in the faith, and to perfect them in holiness. The means of the discipline are afflictions, persecutions, and trials. And it may be administered by the enemies of the Church of Christ. The persecutions of man may be the discipline of God. "Persecution for religion is sometimes a correction and rebuke for the sins of professors of religion. Men persecute them because they are religious; God chastises them because they are not more so: men persecute them because they wilt not give up their profession; God chastises them because they have not lived up to their profession."

II. ITS AUTHOR. "The chastening of the Lord .... Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." Some of our trials are from his hand. He is the great Husbandman, and he prunes the vines that they may bring forth more fruit. The trials which are not sent by him are permitted by him (cf. Job 1:12; Job 2:6; 2 Corinthians 12:7). And he gives to all our trials their disciplinary character. He makes the bitter potion medicinal. By his blessing our sufferings become salutary, and our sorest afflictions our sagest instructors. The fact that the Lord is the Author of our discipline, that our trials either proceed from him or are permitted and regulated by him, supplies a guarantee that we shall not be tried beyond our strength. He is infinite in wisdom and in love. "He knoweth our frame;" and he will either restrict our trials so that they exceed not our strength, or increase our strength until it surpasses the severity of our trials. "He stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind." "I will correct thee in measure." "Though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies." "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

III. ITS SUBJECTS. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

1. They are filially related to him. "Every son" of his he subjects to reproof and chastisement. "God has one Son without sin, but none without suffering." If we are his sons, we may rest assured that he will not fail to secure to us the discipline that we need. Thus our sufferings may be an evidence of our sonship.

2. They are beloved by him. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." Because he loves us he corrects us. It has been well said, that "lawns which we would keep in the best condition are very frequently mown; the grass has scarcely any respite from the scythe. Out in the meadows there is no such repeated cutting; they are mown but once or twice in the year. Even thus the nearer we are to God, and the more regard he has for us, the more frequent will be our adversities. To be very dear to God involves no small degree of chastisement."

IV. ITS RECEPTION. "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord," etc.

1. It should not be deemed unimportant. "Regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord." "We may be said to despise the chastening of the Lord," says Dr. Wardlaw, "in the following eases:

(1) When it is not felt; when there is a want of natural sensibility to the particular stroke of the rod. This is but rare. Men in general are quite sufficiently alive to the value of temporal things. But the value is comparative. There are cherished and favorite possessions, and others less highly thought of, less fondly held. The Lord, it may be, deals gently. He spares the 'gourd.' He does not take what is most highly set by. And instead of humbly owning the kindness - being lowly and submissive, and seeking a blessing on the gentle stroke, that the heavier one may be withheld - the preservation and safety of the greater produces insensibility to the privation of the less; and the correction is thus disregarded, and proves inefficient.

(2) When it is not duly felt as from God.

(3) When, although God is seen in it and his hand is felt, it is not felt humbly and submissively; not bowed to, but resisted.

(4) When the design or end of correction is not laid to heart."

2. It should not be deemed intolerable. "Nor faint when thou art rebuked of him." We are not to sink under the reproofs and strokes of the Divine discipline, though they be severe. The fact that our trials are regulated by our Father's hand, that they are educational, that they are intended and adapted to promote our spiritual and eternal well-being, should keep us from sinking beneath their pressure.

"The tears we shed are not in vain;
Nor worthless is the heavy strife;
If, like the buried seed of grain,
They rise to renovated life.
It is through tears our spirits grow

Tis in the tempest souls expand,
If it but teaches us to go
To him who holds it in his hand.
Oh, welcome, then, the stormy blast!

Oh, welcome, then, the ocean's roar!
Ye only drive more sure and fast
Our trembling bark to heaven's bright shore."

(T. C. Upham.) W. J.

Subjection unto the Father of spirits.
I. THE DUTY IS SUBJECTION. "Shall we not be in subjection?" This is not opposed to insensibility. There is no patience, no resignation, in bearing what we do not feel. If you do not prize what you give up at the call of God, there can be no value in your obedience. But it is the repression of everything rebellious — in our carriage — in our speech — and in the temper of our minds.

II. Let us consider THE REASONS BY WHICH THIS DUTY IS ENFORCED. Here are four motives.

1. The first is derived from the relation in which God stands to us. He is our Father. But to what does this lead? The conclusion, says the apostle, is obvious. If He pre-eminently fills this relation, His claims to duty are proportionally great. You gave the fathers of your flesh reverence. And shall a man obtain more obedience than God?

2. This brings us to the second reason of submission. It is taken from the danger of resistance. "Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?" Clearly intimating that disobedience will end in death. There cannot be a more awful presage of future misery than to counteract the afflictive dispensations of Divine Providence, and " despise the chastening of the Almighty." It provokes the anger of God, and operates penally in one of these two ways. Either, first, it induces God to recall the rod, and give a man up to the way of his own heart, or, secondly, He turns the rod into a scorpion, and fulfils the threatening: "If ye will not be reformed by Me by these things, but will walk contrary unto Me, then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins."

3. The third motive is taken from the brevity of the discipline. They verily chastened us; but it was only " a few days." The child soon became a man, and the course of restriction and preparation resulted in a state of maturity. This is to be applied to our heavenly Father, and contains an encouraging intimation, that the whole season of trial, when opposed to our future being and blessedness, is but a short period.

4. The last motive is derived from the principle and design of affliction. Men are imperfect, and their actions are like themselves. Hence, when as their children they chastened us, it was frequently "for their pleasure." They would do it. It was to give ease to their passions; to vent their feelings. It was to show their authority, or maintain their consequence, regardless of our welfare. But this is not the case with God. "He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." He does it only "if needs be" — He does it "for our profit." What profit? A profit that infinitely weighs down every other advantage, and which, above all things, yea, and by " any means," you should be anxious to secure: spiritual profit; Divine profit — "that you might be partakers of His holiness." If God chastens us to make us holy, we learn —(1) The importance of holiness, and the value of it in the eye of a Being who cannot be mistaken.(2) We learn how defective we all are in this attainment; seeing God deems such trying means necessary, in order to promote it.(3) We learn that if anything can promise a happy deliverance from trouble, it is the sanctification of it: when the end is answered, the rod is laid by.(4) We learn that whatever our afflictions may do for us, they have not fulfilled the Divine purpose unless they have made us more holy.

(W. Jay.)

In nothing, perhaps, is it so hard to feel for ourselves and to help others to feel that God is good, as in life's great afflictions. We are so prone to look only at the present sorrow and forget the future joy. "Why is this so? Can it be that there is mercy in such seeming wrath?" God condescends to reason with us, from the analogy of parental affection, drawing both argument and illustration. We have often felt the beauty of the methods elsewhere used for presenting the same essential truth, as, for example, where God compares Himself to the refiner of silver, melting His people down in the crucible of affliction to "purge away their dross"; but in this comparison is couched the beauty of an unutterable tenderness. He addresses our parental instincts, and asks us whether we do not ourselves know that love and chastening are not contradictory or inconsistent. I need not say that this doctrine of love as the impulse and interpreter of affliction is peculiarly Biblical. When calamity befell a pagan he beheld in it a mark of Divine displeasure, and at once set himself at work to appease the wrath of Deity. Even the ancient people of God were very slow to accept the right view of God's chastisements.

I. The first element of contrast suggested by the text is this. OUR HUMAN PARENTS PUNISH PASSIONATELY, AND NOT ALWAYS DELIBERATELY. Without meaning to, without, perhaps, being conscious of it, they are sometimes simply giving vent to impatient, excited, or even angry feeling, in chastising their offspring. The impatient impulse, the caprice of the moment, rules us and puts into the correction the severity, it may be violence, of an indignation by no means wholly righteous. God is not susceptible of anything like passion as we understand it — either in its impulsiveness, impetuosity, malice, or malignity. Even God's anger is the unchanging hatred of evil — the anger of principle, not of passion — calm even in its fury, slow even in its haste, cool even in its heat. Our anger is like the agitation of a shallow lake, rippled with every breeze. All this is our assurance in affliction that God cannot deal harshly, severely, or unjustly with us. With the calmness of eternal patience, the steadfastness of eternal love, He afflicts us solely for our good.

II. Again, our earthly parents chastise us PUNITIVELY AND NOT CORRECTIVELY. They aim more to punish the offence than to correct the evil and reform the evildoer. Here is another way in which passion often inflicts chastisement. An earthly father is grieved and rightly angry because the son has offended against truth, virtue, honesty, integrity. This is a far nobler passion than the caprices of ill-temper, yet it is doubtful whether a parent can be sure of inflicting profitable correction under its influence. It hurries one into a method of punishment which hardens rather than softens which is ill-adapted to the peculiar temperament of the child, which may restrain from similar offences, if at all, only from fear of the rod, and not at all from love of the right. It should ever be borne in mind that the highest purpose of all punishment is not the vindication of a principle, but the reformation of an offender, or at least the salvation of others from similar sins. To contend for a principle is noble, but oh, how insignificant all else in comparison with the welfare of a soul! Oh, let us not forget that true love of the parent may help to kindle that true love of the right which is stronger than any fear of correction. The word here rendered "chasten," means educate. All God's chastening is meant to educate His children; His dealings are designed as a discipline. He must punish our offences; but the grand end He proposes to Himself is to secure our sanctification and salvation. God teaches us that with Him fatherly pity prompts His chastisements. In all God's afflictions He consults the exact temperament of His children. He knoweth our frame. It is one of the most palpable facts of history that the men who have wielded the mightiest moral influence have been prepared for it by the severest Divine discipline. No less means would have subdued that great will and made its stubbornness an element of steadfastness anti stability. A degree of heat that must melt down the harder metals is far more intense than that which melts the softest; yet when made into vessels, that which it took the hotter fire to fuse is far the stronger and more serviceable; while you can bend and twist the other, this is unaffected by hard usage. So does God use the chastening rod with tender consideration for our temperament and constitution, adapting His discipline to our need. If we desire the largest fitness for service, we must submit to His wise chastening.

III. Again, our earthly parents chastens us IMPERFECTLY, NOT INFALLIBLY; according to their own fallible judgment of right and wrong. This thought is suggested in the text by the phrase, "according to their own pleasure," literally according to what seemed good or right to them. Parental love is imperfect, and so is parental wisdom, so that with the best possible intentions grave mistakes may be committed in a child's discipline. Hero appears perhaps the principal emphasis of the text: They, according to what seemed good: He, according to what is good for us. God reminds us that He cannot err. The chastening He inflicts is for our profit — and let us grasp the full meaning — not only for our profit is it designed, but adapted. Not what seems best, but what is best. Oh, let us remember the perfect fatherhood and fatherliness of God! This is the profit for which He chastens us, as He Himself defines it, "that we might be partakers of the Divine holiness."

IV. Once more, our earthly parents chasten us TEMPORARILY, NOT PERMANENTLY, as the text says, "for a few days." This phrase means more than it seems to imply. It probably refers to the fact that much of our parental training looks to immediate results, not remote ones — it is with reference to a few days, or at most to our short earthly life. The effect is transient, not permanent. Now, God's chastening always looks to eternal results. That which is near at hand impresses us most vividly; we are therefore always emphasising present good and undervaluing the more precious things of the hereafter. How different must all this appear to God, whose omniscient eye sees the end from the beginning, and to whom the remotest future is as vivid as the present, the remotest result as real as the present process!

(A. T. Pierson, D. D.)

There is a very interesting argument involved in this saying of the apostle — the argument from what we are as men to what we ought to be as Christians. A dutiful child submits meekly to a father's correction; why, then, do we not submit meekly to the correction of God? The mere fact of submission to the human goes far towards showing that it is not through any actual inability that we refuse submission to the Divine Parent. The reasoning, in short, is a reasoning from what men are as members of society to what they ought to be as creatures of God; and they may be brought under condemnation if they fail to act towards God, displaying Himself under certain characters, as they act towards their fellow-men, who bear those same characters, though only subordinately. And this reasoning is of very wide application — so that what we may term our social conduct will furnish overwhelming evidence against us at the last, if we are not found among those who have loved and served God. If God demand faith in His Word, are we not capable of believing? Are we not accustomed to believe, yea, and to allow our belief to influence our practice, whenever there is a sufficiency of testimony? And will not this, our capacity of believing, demonstrated as it is by facts of daily occurrence, justify our condemnation, if we fail to put faith in the declarations of Scripture? In like manner, if God demand from us gratitude and love, does He demand what we are unable to give? On the contrary, we are so constituted that we naturally feel thankful to a benefactor; and any one of us who could receive kindness, and yet show himself void of all affection towards the giver, would make himself an object of scorn and abhorrence, as wanting the common sensibilities which characterise our nature. If, then, God manifestly bring Himself into the position of a benefactor, it is very evident that He has right to ask from us in return gratitude and love; that in asking them He only asks what we continually prove ourselves able to give, and that, consequently, if we refuse what is asked of us, there will be needed nothing beyond our conduct in the several intercourses of life to prove us without excuse, if finally condemned for not giving God our hearts. And once more — if God asks obedience to His laws and submission to His authority, He asks only what we are in the daily habit of rendering to earthly superiors. He may surely appeal to our conduct in reference to earthly magistrates, as proving us without excuse if we wilfully violate His laws. Thus our text involves a principle of very general application; and we perhaps little think what material of condemnation we heap up against ourselves by the conscientious discharge of every relative duty, whilst we remain virtually strangers to the power of religion. Now, I have thus engaged you with the general argument, rather than with the particular case presented by the text. Now, however, we will confine ourselves to that case, the case being that of parents and children, and the implied argument, that the reverence which we show to our earthly father will be a swift witness against us, if we fail in the reverence which is due to our heavenly Father. There is no more beautiful and graceful affection of our nature than that which subsists between parents and children. We must admire this affection, even as exhibited amongst inferior animals. There is no page in natural history more attractive than that which tells how tenderly the wild beasts of the forest will watch their young, or with what assiduousness the fowls of the air will tend their helpless brood. And in the human race the affection goes far beyond this; for if not more intense at the first, it is abiding and reciprocal. And this affection of a parent for a child is not merely a graceful and beautiful sentiment, shedding a charm over the privacies of domestic life; it is one of the chief mainsprings of human activity, and contributes perhaps more than anything else to the keeping together the elements of society. It is quite extraordinary, if you come to think, how this single affection or instinct will tie down a man to unwearied occupation, so that he will toil night and day to gain subsistence for his family. He might betake himself to another scene, where, having only himself to provide for, he might live in comparative ease; but his young ones have nestled round his heart; he cannot be tempted by any prospect of relief to desert those who lean on him as a father, and therefore, with a heroism which would draw on itself intense admiration if it were not so common, will he employ all his energies, and wear down all his strength, in obtaining a sufficiency for those beneath his roof. Thus is society virtually knit together by and through the parental affection; and you have only to suppose this affection extinguished, so that fathers and mothers cared nothing, or only for a short time, for those to whom they gave life, and you destroy the fine play of a healthful activity, and slacken the bonds which make fast communities. And whilst parents are thus abidingly and profitably actuated by affection for their children, children maintain an affection towards their parents scarcely less graceful and scarcely less advantageous. This is not so much an instinct as a principle; and, accordingly, while the Bible contains no precept as to loving children, it contains a most express precept as to honouring parents, so that there is given to the latter the character of a high duty, to whose performance we are urged by a distinct and full promise. And the point to which I have to bring you is, that this duty is very generally and very faithfully performed. It is comparatively but seldom that children show want of affection towards a father and a mother, when that father and that mother have done their part as parents; whether it be in the highest or the lowest families of the land, there is generally a frank yielding to its heads of that respect and that gratitude which they have a right to look for from their offspring. There is no disputing the first statement of the text; for it is the general rule — "We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence." But how now as to the inference which St. Paul draws from this statement? How as to our subjection to another and a higher Father, "the Father of spirits"? If it be the common rule, the exceptions not being such as to bring the rule into question, that children give reverence to their fathers, surely, if God be a Father, He too will be reverenced. Once establish the relationship, and the reverence and submission will follow almost of course. Children! listen ye to this; parents! listen ye to this — children, who are never wanting in dutiful affection towards your parents; parents, who are never unmindful of what you have a right to look for from your children — children, who will do all in your power to soothe the declining years of a father or a mother, who feel it a privilege to pay back by labours of love the tenderness lavished on you from infancy upwards, who attach a sacredness to the every word and the every wish of persons so beloved and revered; parents, who feel cat to the heart by the ingratitude of a child, who are conscious of being robbed of your incontrovertible rights, whenever a son or a daughter is deficient in attachment and respect — yes, children and parents, listen ye alike to this; ye are self-condemned, ye are swift witnesses against yourselves, if as members of the universal family ye fail to be what ye are as members of particular households; and oh! ye must be speechless at the judgment, if the simple "argument of our text should be worked out against you — if the Judge should say to you, "Ye had fathers of your flesh, and ye gave them reverence," and should follow this up by the thrilling and unanswerable question, "Why, then, were ye not in subjection to the Father of spirits, that ye might live?" I do not know whether you have been accustomed to follow for yourselves such trains of thought as the words of our text have thus led us to open; but we own that we regard the subject which has been under discussion as one of no common importance and interest, presenting, as it does, all that is amiable and admirable in domestic life as fraught with testimony to be delivered at the great day of assize. Is there the merchant amongst you of unimpeachable rectitude, who would sooner die than be guilty of a fraud? Why, that man's ledger is one of the books that shall be opened at the judgment; the hatred of everything base which it displays will be a witness against him if he have robbed God of His due. Is there the tradesman who would abhor the overreaching a customer, whom nothing could persuade to use the false weight and balance? Why, that man's shop will be referred to hereafter; it will prove him rigidly conscientious towards his fellow-men, and therefore self-condemned if he have defrauded his God. Or is there a patriot, who, with a fine love of liberty, would do and dare nobly to uphold the free institutions of his country? That man's generous ardour will be quoted hereafter; could he be indignant against all lesser tyranny, and yet be excusable in making no struggle against the tyranny of sin? Is there the son or the daughter amongst you who has shown reverence to parents? That man or that woman will have nothing to plead when God shall affirm Himself to be a Father, but a Father neglected by His children. Or are there servants amongst you who answer the apostle's description — "Obedient to their own masters, not answering again, not purloining, but showing all good fidelity"? Their unblemished characters will rise against them at the judgment; so true to their employers, what shall be said for them if false to their Maker? Ah, it may sound strangely, but, nevertheless, we may confidently assert that virtues, the want of which must exclude us from heaven, may themselves doom us to a lower place in hell.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

This chapter contains one of the clearest expositions in the Bible of the Divine philosophy of suffering. In this chapter we trace two great convictions which, when combined, form the apostle's explanation of suffering — the belief in a Father, and the belief in His purpose to make man divinely glad. He does not attempt to explain this by any assertion of laws and penalties; he says nothing about inherited sin or transmitted judgment; his one solution is this — the Father is educating His child.


II. GOD'S PURPOSE IN SUFFERING IS TO EDUCATE MAN THROUGH HOLINESS INTO JOY. For the attainment of this end two things are requisite —

1. The vision of a higher world. It is manifest that unless we are delivered from the thraldom of the present world, we cannot resist its temptations or escape its snares. Until we realise the world of God and the angels, we can reach no true holiness. And for this the discipline of sorrow fits us. It isolates us from the turmoil of the present, and opens the spirit's eye.

2. Divine power is the second requisite for the full attainment of this joy. Until we are strong, we cannot be "partakers of His holiness." We become strong by self-surrender, for self-surrender is self-control. We must glance at the practical lesson which is here suggested, "Shall we not be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?" The question arises, How can this be realised? In three ways —(1) By accepting the fact — by believing that all life is a discipline, that its sorrows and its joys are intended to train you into holiness, and therefore into blessedness.(2) By endorsing it with your choice. Choose what God has chosen for you. Heartily accept His will as your will. Ask neither for joy or sorrow, success or failure, life or death.(3) And then, lastly, by acting under that choice.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)


1. As coming from God.

2. As merited by our sins,

3. As the effect of fatherly wisdom and love.

4. With a desire that His gracious design may be fulfilled in us.

II. THE TENDENCY WHICH AFFLICTION HAS TO BENEFIT US. "That we may be partakers of His holiness." Now the way in which affliction tends to produce this great end is —

1. By giving us a just idea, giving us a practical impression, of the evil of sin.

2. Affliction tends to convince us of the insufficiency of the present world.

3. Submission to the will of God.

4. Sympathy.

5. Affliction weans us from the world, and fixes our thoughts on another state.Lessons:

1. Let the afflicted derive comfort.

2. Let those who have been afflicted seriously consider what has been the effect of their trials upon themselves. If no effect has been produced, what can they expect but "sorrow upon sorrow"?

(R. Hall, M. A.)

I have read of a mariner who got tossed by the storm, lost his reckoning, and was driven he knew not whither by the raging winds and darkness and danger. But when all was calm and clear he found he was actually nearer home than he could possibly have been under ordinary circumstances. Shall not I be glad, when my night of storm and trial is past, to find (which I think I shall) that I am nearer God and heaven than I should otherwise have been?

(Geo. Brazier.)

Absalom sends once or twice to Joab to come and speak with him; but when he saw that he could not come, he commands his corn-field to be set on fire. and so he fetched him with a witness; so children of God, when they stand off upon terms, and will not see His face, the fire of affliction will make them seek Him early and diligently. It is the custom of our gallants, when their horses be slow and dull, to spur them up. If iron grows rusty, we put it into the fire to purify it, and so doth God; in our backwardness to duties, He pricks us on, or, being in our filthiness, casts us into the hot embers of tribulation to purify us.

(John Barlow.)

There is a great want in those Christians that have not suffered.

(R. M. McCheyne.)

Bitter pills bring sweet health, and sharp winter kills worms and weeds, and mellows the earth for better bearing of fruits and flowers. The lily is sowed in its own tears, and God's vines bear the better for bleeding. The walnut-tree is most fruitful when most beaten; and camomile, the more you tread it the more you spread it. Aloes kill worms, and stained clothes are whitened by frosting.

(J. Trapp.)

Men are not animals plus a soul, but spirits with an animal nature.

(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)

John Newton said he would rather be able to pronounce these three sentences in his mother tongue from his heart than be master of all the languages of Europe: "What Thou wilt; when Thou wilt; how Thou wilt."

A lady, from injuries received in a railway accident, had to keep her bed in much pain and suffering for tong weary months. Upon the anniversary of the accident she gathered some of her most intimate friends into her room, and there, still a prisoner to her bed, she held a meeting of praise, counting up all the mercies of her year of sickness.

(Mrs. Reaney.)

A lady one day, in her husband's absence from home, lost two children by cholera; but she laid them out with a mother's tenderness, and spread a sheet over them, and waited at the door for her husband's return. "A person lent me some jewels," she said, when she met him, "and he now wishes to receive them again; what shall I do?" "Return them, by all means," said her husband. Then she led the way, and silently uncovered to him the forms of his dear children.

(C. Leach.)

Bushnell's Life.
When Dr. Bushnell was dying, his wife repeated to him, slightly transposing the words of the text, "The good and perfect and accepted will of God." He replied, "Yes, and accepted."

(Bushnell's Life.)

Passing through a narrow street in an old town, under the shadow of an equally old church, with its tall spire pointing heavenward, a woman hurries on her way to the station with a troubled heart and a load of care, none the less heavy that it is more worry than trouble. Two little mites of children, happy and merry-looking, are peering over their school-lessons. She catches the words of one as she passes, spoken with the ring of a child's loving pride, "Father teaches me"; and then comes the answer from the other child, "How nice to have a father to teach you!" with an emphasis on the name which showed that she knew something, small though she was, of what a father's love and teaching might and should mean. The woman's face brightened as she heard, and she turned with a grateful smile to the two little ones, pausing to look at them for a minute before she went hurrying on again. And as she went her face kept its brighter look, for she thought to herself, "Surely, many beside that little child can say, 'Father teaches me.'"

That we might be partakers of His holiness.

II. CONSIDER THEIR TENDENCY, WHEN THUS VIEWED AND RECEIVED, TO PROMOTE OUR SPIRITUAL INTEREST. "That we might be partakers of His holiness"; that is, of the holiness which He requires. Holiness consists in conformity to the will of God. Afflictions have a tendency to promote the great work.

1. They teach you the evil nature of sin, on account of which they are sent, and point you to the Saviour. Practical lessons are the best of all lessons.

2. The utter insufficiency of this world, as a portion for the soul. In days of prosperity you may not be thoroughly convinced of this.

3. Afflictions excite and increase some of the most amiable and pious dispositions of the human heart. Such as resignation and patience.

4. When viewed in their true light, and received with a proper spirit, they are most satisfactory proofs of the love of God.Remarks:

1. In the light of this subject we see the reason why so many instances of affliction fail to produce any good and lasting effect. The agency of God is not acknowledged in them.

2. This subject furnishes solemn reproof and warning to such as have experienced affliction, and yet have not repented.

3. This subject affords instruction and peculiar encouragement to Christians. Those who wear the white robes in heaven came out of great tribulation.

(John Matthews, D. D.)

The following is from a letter of John Frederic Obeilin, pastor of Waldbech, to a lady, who had suffered many bereavements: "I have before me two stones, which are in imitation of precious stones. They are both perfectly alike in colour; they are of the same water — clear, pure, and clean; yet there is a marked difference between them as to their lustre and brilliancy. One has a dazzling brightness, while the other is dull, so that the eye passes over it, and derives no pleasure from the sight. What can be the reason of such a difference? It is this. The one is cut but in a few facets; the other has ten times as many. These facets are produced by a very violent operation. Nevertheless, the operations being over, it is done for ever: the difference between the two stones always remains strongly marked. That which has suffered but little is entirely eclipsed by the other, which alone is held in estimation, and attracts attention.

Surely we deceive ourselves to think on earth continued joys would please. It is a way that crosses that which Nature goes. Nothing would be more tedious than to be glutted with perpetual jollities. Were the body tied to one dish always (though of the most exquisite flavour that it could make choice of), yet, after a small time, it would complain of loathing and satiety; and so would the soul, if it did ever epicure itself in joy. Discontents are sometimes the better part of our life. I know not well which is the more useful: joy I may choose for pleasure, but adversities, are the best for profit; and sometimes these do so far help me, as I should without them want much of the joy I have.

(O. Feltham.)

It is not so much by the symmetry of what we attain in this life that we are to be made happy, as by the enlivening hope of what we shall reach in the world to come. While a man is stringing a harp, he tries the strings, not for music, but for construction. When it is finished it shall be played for melodies. God is fashioning the human heart for future joy. He only sounds a string here and there to see how far His work has progressed.(H. W. Beecher.)

On one occasion a minister found it necessary to punish his little daughter. But Mary climbed into his lap, and throwing her arms around his neck, said, "Papa, I do love you." "Why do you love me?" the father asked. "Because you try to make me good, papa." It is in this spirit that God's people should accept the chastisements He sends, remembering that it is in love He rebukes and chastens; not for His pleasure, but for their profit, that they may be partakers of His holiness.

A diamond had slipped from its setting, and rolled away, none knew whither. Diligent search was made in every apartment where its owner might have been, but in vain. At length evening drew on, and, sitting in a careless mood, her eye caught the sparkle of a tiny ray, almost imperceptible, but bright as only a diamond's glance can be. Out of the darkness it gleamed, and one might stoop and take that which daylight had failed to reveal, though sought with tears. And thus it is in the Christian's experience. In the daylight of prosperity he seeks in vain for the precious presence of the Holy Spirit. Yet when the night of adversity draws nigh, suddenly there shines a light amidst the darkness of spiritual despondency which reveals to him "the unsearchable riches of Christ."

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