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Parted with him she has before; but now, of his poor clay-cold corpse-even of that she has to be bercared. She looks upon it for the last time, and her heart is heavy. For herself and her children. she thinks how they shall be provided for. That broad tree that once sheltered them from the sunbeam has been cut down. Now, she thinks there is a broad heaven above her head, and her Maker is her husband; the fatherless children are left with God for their father, and the widow is trusting in him. With tears in her eyes she still looks up, and she says, “ Lord, thou hast given and thou hast taken away, blessed be thy name.” Her husband is carried to the tomb; she doth not smile, but though she weeps, there is a calm composure on her brow, and she tells you she would not have it otherwise, even if she could, for Jehovah's will is right. There, again, is “the peace of God that passeth all understanding.” Picture another man. There is Martin Luther standing up in the midst of the Diet of Worms; there are the kings and the princes, and there are the bloodhounds of Rome with their tongues thirsting for his bloodthere is Martin rising in the morning as comfortable as possible, and he goes to the Diet, and delivers himself of the truth, solemnly declares that the things which he has spoken are the things which he believes, and God helping him, he will stand by them till the last. There is his life in his hands; they have him entirely in their power. The smell of John Huss's corpse has not yet passed away, and he recollects that princes, before this, have violated their words; but there he stands, calm and quiet; he fears no man, for he has nought to fear; "the peace of God which passeth all understanding," keeps his heart and mind through Jesus Christ.” There is another scene: there is John Bradford in Newgate. He is to be burned the next morning in Smithfield, and he swings himself on the bedpost in very glee, and delights, for to-morrow is his wedding day; and he says to another, “Fine shining we shall make to-morrow, when the flame is kindled.” And he smiles and laughs, and enjoys the very thought that he is about to wear the bloodred crown of martyrdom. Is Bradford mad! Ah, no; but he has got the peace of God that passeth all understanding. But perhaps the most beautiful, as well as the most common illustration of this sweet peace, is the dying bed of the believer. Oh, brethren, you have seen this sometimes—that calm, quiet serenity; you have said, Lord, let us die with him. It has been so good to be in that solitary chamber where all was quiet, and so still, all the world shut out, and heaven shut in, and the poor heart nearing its God, and far away from all its past burdens and griefs now nearing the portals of eternal bliss. And ye have said, “How is this? Is not death a black and grim thing? Are not the terrors of the grave things which make the strong man tremble?" Oh yes, they are; but, then, this one has the “ peace of God which passeth all understanding." However, if you want to know about this, you must be a child of God, and possess it yourselves; and when you have once felt it, when you can stand calm amid the bewildering cry, confident of victory, when you can sing in the midst of the storm, when you can smile when surrounded by adversity, and can trust your God, be your way ne'er so rough, ne'er so stormy; when you can always repose confidence in the wisdom and goodness of Jehovah, then it is you will have “the peace of God which passeth all understanding."
II. Thus we have discussed the first point, what is this peace? Now the second thing was, How IS THIS PEACE TO BE OBTAINED ? You will note that although this is a promise, it hath precepts preceding, and it is only by the practice of the precepts that we can get the promise. Turn now, to the fourth verse, and you will see the first rule and regulation for getting peace. Christian, would you enjoy “the peace of God which passeth all understanding?"
The first thing you have to do is to “rejoice evermore.” The man who never rejoices, but who is always sorrowing, and groaning, and crying, who forgets his God, who forgets the fulness of Jehovah, and is always murmuring concerning the trials of the road and the infirmities of the flesh, that man will lose the prospect of enjoying a peace that passeth all understanding. Cultivate, my friends, a cheerful disposition; endeavour, as much as lieth in you, always to bear a smile about with you; recollect that this is as much a command of God as that one which says, “ Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart.” “Rejoice evermore," is one of God's commands; and it is your duty, as well as your privilege, to try and practise it. Not to rejoice, remember, is a sin. To rejoice, is a duty, and such a duty that the richest fruits and the best rewards are appended to it. Rejoice always, and then the peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds. Many of us, by giving way to disastrous doubts, spoil our peace. It is as I once remember to have heard a woman say, when I was passing down a lane; a child stood crying at the door, and I heard her calling out, “Ah, you are crying for nothing; I will give you something to cry for.” Brethren, it is often so with God's children. They get crying for nothing. They have a miserable disposition, or a turn of mind always making miseries for themselves, and thus they have something to cry for. Their peace is disturbed, some sad trouble comes, God hides his face, and then they lose their peace. But keep on singing, even when the sun does not keep on shining; keep a song for all weathers; get a joy that will stand clouds and storms; and then, when you know how always to rejoice, you shall have this peace,
The next precept is, “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” If you would have peace of mind, be moderate. Merchant, you cannot push that speculation too far, and then have peace of mind. Young man, you cannot be so fast in trying to rise in the world, and yet have the peace of God which passeth all understanding. You must be moderate, and when you have got a moderation in your desires, then you shall have peace. Sir, you with the red cheek, you must be moderate in your anger. You must not be quite so fast in flying into a passion with your fellows, and not quite so long in getting cool again; because the angry man cannot have peace in his conscience. Be moderate in that; let your vengeance stay itself; for if you give way to wrath, if you are angry, “ be ye angry and sin not.” Be moderate in this; be moderate in all things which thou undertakest, Christian; moderate in your expectations. Blessed is he who expects little, for he shall have but little disappointment. Remember, never to set thy desires very high. He that has aspirations to the moon, will be disappointed if he only reaches half as high; whereas, if he had aspired lower, he would be agreeably disappointed when he found himself mounting higher than he first expected. Keep moderation, whatsoever you do, in all things, but in your desires after God; and so shall you obey the second precept, and get the glimpse of this promise, “The peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.”
The last precept that you have to obey is, “be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make known your requests unto God." You cannot have peace unless you turn your troubles up. You have no place in which to pour your troubles except the ear of God. If you tell them to your friends, you but put your troubles out a moment, and they will return again. If you tell them to God, you put your troubles into the grave; they will never rise again when you have committed them to him. If you roll your burden anywhere else it will roll back again, just like the stone of Sysiphus; but just roll your burden unto God, and you have rolled it into a great deep, out of which it will never by any possibility rise. Cast your troubles where you have cast your sins; you have cast your sins into the depth of the sea, there cast your troubles also. Never keep a trouble half an hour on your own mind before you tell it to God. As soon as the trouble comes, quick, the first thing, tell it to your Father. Remember, that the longer you take telling your trouble to God, the more your peace will be impaired. The longer the frost lasts, the more likely the ponds will be frozen. Your frost will last till you go to the sun; and when you go to Godthe sun, then your frost will soon become a thaw, and your troubles will melt away. But do not be long, because the longer you are in waiting, the longer will your trouble be in thawing afterwards. Wait a long while till your trouble gets frozen thick and firm, and it will take many a day of prayer to get your trouble thawed again. Away to the throne as quick as ever you can. Do as the child did, when he ran and told his mother as soon as his little trouble happened to him ; run and tell your Father the first moment you are in affliction. Do this in everything, in every little thing—"in everything by prayer and supplication make known your wants unto God.” Take your husband's head-ache, take your children's sicknesses, take all things, little family troubles as well as great commercial trials-take them all to God; pour them all out at once. And so by an obedient practice of this command in everything making known your wants unto God, you shall preserve that peace “ which shall keep your heart and mind through Jesus Christ."
These, then, are the precepts. May God the Holy Spirit enable us to obey them, and we shall then have the continual peace of God.
III. Now, the third thing was to show how THE PEACE, which I attempted to describe in the first place, KEEPS THE HEART. You will clearly see how this peace will keep the heart full. That man who has continued peace with God, will not have an empty heart. He feels that God has done so much for him that he must love his God. The eternal basis of his peace lays in divine election-the solid pillars of his peace, the incarnation of Christ, his righteousness, his death the climax of his peace, the heaven hereafter where his joy and his peace shall be consummated; ali these are subjects for grateful reflection, and will, when meditated upon, cause more love. Now, where much love is, there is a large heart and a full one. Keep, then, this peace with God, and thou wilt keep thy heart full to the brim. And, remember, that in proportion to the fulness of thine heart will be the fulness of thy life. Be empty-hearted and thy life will be a meagre, skeleton existence. Be fullhearted and thy life will be full, fleshy, gigantic, strong, a thing that will tell upon the world. Keep, then, thy peace with God firm within thee. Keep thou close to this, that Jesus Christ hath made peace between thee and God. And keep thy conscience still; then shall thy heart be full and thy soul strong to do thy Master's work. Keep thy peace with God. This will keep thy heart pure. Thou wilt say if temptation comes, “What dost thou offer me? Thou offerest me pleasure ; lo ! I have got it. Thou offerest me gold ; lo ! I have got it ; all things are mine, the gift of God; I have a city that hands have not made, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.' I will not barter this for your poor gold.” “I will give you honour," saith Satan. “I have honour enough,” says the peaceful heart; “God will honour me in the last great day of his account.” “I will give thee everything that thou canst desire," saith Satan. “I have everything that I can desire," says the Christian.
“ I nothing want on earth;
I am at peace with God.”
Avaunt, then, Satan! While I am at peace with God, I am a match for all thy temptations. Thou offerest me silver; I have gold. Thou bringest before me the riches of the earth; I have something more substantial than these. Avaunt, tempter of human kind! Avaunt, thou fiend! Your temptations and blandishments are lost on one who has peace with God. This peace, too, will keep the
heart undivided. He who has peace with God will set his whole heart on God. “Oh!” says he, “why should I go to seek anything else on earth, now that I have found my rest in God? As the bird by wandering, so should I be if I went elsewhere. I have found a fountain; why should I go and drink at the broken cistern that will hold no water? I lean on the arm of my beloved; why should I rest on the arm of another? I know that religion is a thing worth my following; why should I leave the pure snows of Lebanon to follow something else? I know and feel that religion is rich when it brings forth to me a hundredfold the fruits of peace; why should I go and sow elsewhere? I will be like the maiden Ruth, I will stop in the fields of Boaz. Here will I ever stay and never wander."
Again, this peace keeps the heart rich. My hearers will notice that I am passing over the heads of the morning's discourse, and showing how this peace fulfils the requisites that we thought necessary in the morning. Peace with God keeps the heart rich. The man who doubts and is distressed has got a poor heart; it is a heart that has nothing in it. But when a man has peace with God, his heart is rich. If I am at peace with God I am enabled to go where I can get riches. The throne is the place where God gives riches. If I am at peace with him, then I can have access with boldness. Meditation is a great and another field of enrichment. When my heart is at peace with God, then I can enjoy meditation; but if I have not peace with God, then I cannot meditate profitably; for “the birds come down on the sacrifice," and I cannot drive them away, except my soul is at peace with God. Hearing the word is another way of getting rich. If my mind is disturbed I cannot hear the word with profit. If I have to bring my family into the chapel ; if I have to bring my business, my ships, or my horses, I cannot hear. When I llave cows, and dogs, and horses in the pew, I cannot hear the Gospel preached. When I have got a whole week's business, and a ledger' on my heart, I cannot hear then ; but when I have peace, peace concerning all things, and rest in my Father's will, then I can hear with pleasure, and every word of the gospel is profitable to me; for my mouth is empty, and I can fill it with the heavenly treasures of his Word. So you see the peace of God is a soul-enriching thing. And because it keeps the heart rich, thus it is it keeps the heart and mind through Jesus Christ our Lord. I need hardly say that the peace of God fulfils the only other requisite which I did not mention, because it was unnecessary to do so. It keeps the heart always peaceable. Of course, peace makes it full of peace peace like a river, and righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Now, then, brother and sister, it is of the first importance that you keep your heart aright. You cannot keep your heart right but by one way. That one way is by getting, maintaining, and enjoying peace of God to your own conscience. I beseech you then, you that are professors of religion, do not let this night pass over your heads till you have a confident assurance that you are now the possessor of the peace of God. For let me tell you, if you go out to the world next Monday morning without first having peace with God in your own conscience, you will not be able to keep your heart during the week. If this night, ere you rest, you could say that with God as well as all the world you are at peace, you may go out tomorrow, and whatever your business, I am not afraid for you. You are more than a match for all the temptations to false doctrine, to false living, or to false speech that may meet you. For he that has peace with God is armed cap-a-pié; he is covered from head to foot in a panoply. The arrow may fly against it, but it cannot pierce it, for peace with God is a mail so strong that the broad sword of Satan itself may be broken in twain ere it can pierce the flesh. Oh! take care that you are at peace with God; for if you are not, you ride forth to to-morrow's fight unarmed, naked; and God help the man that is unarmed when he has to fight with hell and earth.
Oh, be not foolish, but “ put on the whole armour of God," and then be confident for you need not fear.
As for the rest of you, you cannot have peace with God, because “there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” How shall I address you. As I said this morning, I cannot exhort you to keep your hearts. My best advice to you is, to get rid of your hearts, and as soon as you can, to get new ones. Your prayer should be,“ Lord, take away my stony heart, and give me a heart of flesh.” But though I cannot address you from this text, I may address you from another. Though your heart is bad, there is another heart that is good; and the goodness of that heart is a ground of exhortation to you. You remember Christ said, “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden;" and then his argument would come to this, “for I am meck and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls." Your heart is proud, and high, and black, and lustful; but look at Christ's heart, it is meek and lowly. There is your encouragement. Do you feel to-night your sin? Christ is meek; if you come to him he will not spurn you. Do you feel your insignificance and worthlessness ? Christ is lowly; he will not despise you. If Christ's heart were like your heart, you would be damned to a certainty. But Christ's heart is not as your heart, nor his ways like your ways. I can see no hope for you when I look into your hearts, but I can see plenty of hope when I look into Christ's heart.
Oh, think of his blessed heart; and if you go home to night sad and sorrowful, under a sense of sin, when you go to your chamber, shut to your door-you need not be afraid-and talk to that heart so meek and lowly; and though your words be ungrammatical, and your sentences incoherent, he will hear and answer you from heaven, his dwelling place; and when he hears, he will forgive and accept, for his own name's sake.