Sermon VII. Joy out of Suffering. Feast of the Circumcision. Job 13:15. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."
THE world begins this day with glad greetings, and words of hope, and preparations of joy, and undefined looking and longing for future excitement and greater joy in store. Its Saviour begins it with Suffering and Humiliation, the first Shedding of His Redeeming Blood, foredating Its full Outpouring on Calvary, and His Humbling Himself to the Death of the Cross. Born under the law, to redeem us from the curse of the law, He not only fulfilled it as One Righteous, but in the seeming of a sinner. Aweful words they are to speak. Yet the Humiliation of the Circumcision is, in one way, greater than the Humiliation of the Cross, in that the Cross seemed laid upon Him by the malice and envy of sinful men, and even Pilate knew that "the Chief Priests for envy had delivered Him;" the Circumcision was laid upon Him directly by the Father. At the Cross, dumb nature bore witness to His Majesty in His Humility; "the very stones cried out." His timid, unjust judge, unknowing, even on the Cross, confessed His Kingly Title. He who, in the judgment-hall, had said to Him--"Art Thou a king then?" himself placed on His Cross, in three languages, His Name of King, acknowledging His Universal Sway, and confessed in action, what had been foretold in words, that He should "reign through Death." Earth and Heaven, sin and death, owned Him as their Lord, when Crucified, The sun shrank from beholding its Creator's Death; the rocks rent, as it were, in mourning for their Lord; the grave gave up its dead, in that, by His Death, death was conquered; even sin, at that hour, parted with a soul which all his whole life it had held captive; and He, Who had scarcely any longer the form of Man, put forth His power, as God, over the heart of His lost creature. At His Circumcision, (so truly had He taken the likeness of sinful flesh), He seemed to own Himself a sinner, "conceived in sin." Not lawless hands, but the Law of God, not the law as perverted by wicked men, "we have a law, and by our law He ought to die," but the Command of God Himself enjoined the Suffering and the Shame, that He might not die. "The uncircumcised man-child, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall lie cut off from his people; he hath broken My Covenant." No voice proclaimed then, that He was not what He seemed, a sinner of sinful race. His Eternal Birth of the Eternal Father was veiled; veiled that Birth, in time, of the Holy Ghost. His Virgin-Birth "without spot of sin, to make us free from all sin," was known only to Angels. Man knew not the token of his Deliverer, nor Satan of his Destroyer. Satan had not bruised our Redeemer's Heel, had he known that the Cross upon which he stretched Him, would have crushed his own head. And so the guardian of His Virgin-Mother's purity, and her shield against reproach, hid the Glory of His Spotless Birth; "Being, as was supposed, the Son of Joseph." And, as though the son of Joseph, lie was made subject to the law of all conceived and horn in sin; "For who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" The Holy One was to receive the mark of man's unholincss; the Atoner was to be atoned for; the Spotless Birth of the Creator to be cleansed by the offering of two poor, worthless creatures, "the pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons." He Who came to do away all sin, was all His Life long to bear "the reproach of Egypt)" the badge of shame, the antidote of sinful and debasing passion. Mute now were the praises of the Heavenly Choirs which, eight days past, were heard; heard in Heaven, but unheard on earth. The star was lighting the Wise Men on their way, but not as yet did it stand "over where The Young Child was." Now there was one deep interval of shame. One only remnant was there of all that glory, and that hidden: the Name of JESUS, "which was so named of the Angel before He was Conceived in the womb." And is it thus, O Lord, that Thou hast in the flesh to receive Thine Eternal Name of Saviour, as though Thou wert rather of the number of the, saved? Circumcision rather prophesied of Thee and Thy Resurrection, and the new beginning of our race in Thee, and our new birth and renewal, and the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh in Thee, and Thy Grace cleansing us from our birth-sin and the lusts of the flesh, and freeing us from the wages of sin, eternal death; and must Thou be rather as one so cleansed? Must Thy sorrows thus thicken around Thy Sacred Infancy? Are such the Festivals we are to hold, of all the thirty-three years of Thy Spotless All-Holy Life? eight clays past Thy Birth, as an Outcast from Thine Own, thrust aside, and in the wintry cold of a stable and a manger, and now suffering under the stern knife of the Law! A Homeless Stranger in this the land of our banishment, which we make too sadly our home, to open to us our Everlasting Home in Heaven! in the likeness of sinful flesh, thus also to suffer for us, that we, even in sinful flesh, might cease from sin!
Yes! such are the only Festivals of our Lord's Life on earth, all crowded within its first twelve days, (the symbol of the Presence of the Trinity in His Church collected from the four quarters of the world.) His Holy Birth, in cold and penury, homeless and houseless, owned, as their Master, by the rude cattle, disowned by ruder men, His sons, and thereupon the worship of the simple-hearted, and of the Heavenly Host: next, the shame as of a sinner, and thereon the worship of the three kings; as it is written, "Kings'1 shall see and arise, princes also shall worship. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts." And this is their whole lesson for us, as of our Blessed Lord's whole Life in the Flesh. The joy of the world ends in sorrow; sorrow with Christ and in Christ, yea, and for our sins, for Christ's sake, ends in joy. "Though He slay me," yea, "because "He slays me," "yet will I trust in Him."
We have many of us too sorely felt the one; how the world's joy ends in sorrow. Wherein has mostly issued the long peace even of the Church? Even the Holy Martyr St. Cyprian had to mourn; "Long repose corrupted the discipline which had come down to us from. Him; every one was applying himself to the increase of wealth, and, forgetting both the conduct of believers under the Apostles, and what ought to be their conduct in every age, with insatiable eagerness for gain, devoted themselves to the multiplying of possessions. The world was renounced in words only, not in deeds. Priests were wanting in religious devotedness, Ministers in entireness of faith. There was no mercy in works, no discipline in manners. Ties of marriage were formed with unbelievers; members of Christ were abandoned to the heathen." [De lapsis fin. Ep. xi. init.] Oaths, false swearing, sinful adorning of the person, in men and women, unabating quarrels, lasting breaches of charity, self-abandonment to envy and dissension, envenomed quarrels, carelessness as to single-mindedness or the faith, eagerness to exalt self, contemptuousness in high places, contempt of their sacred Calling by the very Bishops, abandoning their Sees and their people for lucre and worldly vocations; such fill up the Holy Martyr's picture of the fruits of ease, although resting only for a while from heathen fires and racks. And what was the remedy? "The Divine Judgment awakened our Faith from a declining, nay, almost a slumbering state." The Church was at once desolated and purified. The trying, severing, "torrent's blaze of persecution" bore, through the Mercy of God, her thousands to Heaven, as in a chariot of fire. [Christian Year, Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.] Alas! it was, to tens of thousands, the forerunner of the fires of hell, unless where the deserved sentence was turned aside through God's Gift of deep repentance. "Amid a wide carnage of the fallen, there remained but a remnant yet trembling; a small band, yet firmly standing." [Ep. xi. fin. comp. § 1. x. 2. xiv. 1. xxx. 5. 7. xxxi. 1. 7.]
And when things were so in Martyrs' times, shall we be slow to confess the sins of our forefathers and our own? Shall we not rather thank God, although with awe, that twice in the later history of the Church among us, His Own Arm was laid bare in chastening us, and He allowed us well-nigh, at last, to be trampled under foot of men in His Own Name. And now, after a dreary century, during which the Church here, as elsewhere, seemed sunk in a deep lethargy, shall we be startled by any pangs, or any threatened woe, the birth-pangs of a holier, more devoted state? Shall we choose our own chastisements, or think that we could bear better any than those we have? Shall we not rather, with holy David, commit ourselves into the Hands of God, to chasten, correct, wound, heal, sift, cleanse, as He wills, so that He give us Grace to bear, and "deliver us not over unto death?" "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."
And with the Church, so our own souls also. We must not, would not, choose our suffering, "Any pang but this," is too often the wounded spirit's cry; "any trouble but this." And its very cry may bear witness to itself, that its Merciful Physician knows well where its disease lies, how it is to be probed to the quick, how to be healthfully healed. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." The holy Patriarch says not, "though He slay all my children at one blow," "though He send His sore judgments of fire and sword, and take away my goods," "though He strip me naked, as I came from my mother's womb, and make me sit down in ashes," "though He smite me from head to foot with sores, and put my brethren far from me, and I become strange to my wife, and young children despise me:"--for all this, and more, had God already done. He saith, "though He slay me. "This great servant of God takes, unknowing, into his mouth, the very words wherewith Satan had slandered him. "Skin for skin," said the Accuser, "yea, all that a man hath, will he give in exchange for his life." [Job. ii. 4. See S. Gregory on the place, T. 1. p. 132, 3. Oxf. Tr.] As if he would say, "he bears what moves him less, for fear of what would touch him nearer; he hopes that suffering without may save him from sufferings within; he gives willingly that he hath, to save that he is: his patience is a subtle love of self; he bears not all this for love of Thee, or out of faith in Thee and hope in Thee, but out of love for self, and the hope to escape what may wound self most deeply. Let the iron enter into his soul, and he will deny Thee then." And Job, though he knew it not, was given over into the Accuser's hands. All he might destroy, except that inner life, whereby he held fast to God. "Behold he is in thine hand; but save his life." For how should Satan touch that life, which is God's very Presence in the soul? And Job, in those great words, refutes Satan's lie, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." He holds not back his very self. He gives up freely all which he is, his very I; like that devout Christian soul which, when sore pressed and oppressed by heaviness, yet held him fast by God, and said in an ecstasy of love and trust, "If God casts me into Hell, I will hold so fast by HIM, that He shall go there too; 1 will not let Him go, and Hell will be no Hell to me." Truly! for the love of God would make Hell Heaven, as its absence would make Heaven Hell. "Though He slay me! "Oh glorious faith of older Saints, and hope of the Resurrection, and love stronger than death, and blessed bareness of the soul, which, for God, would part with all hut God, knowing that in God it will find all; yea, which would give its very self, trusting Him Who took itself from itself, that it should find again, (as all the redeemed will find,) itself a better self in God! "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." Oh blessed passage of the soul through the valley of death! which dies, to live; which hopes, though in a way she is not; which is and is not; is slain and trusteth in Him Who slayeth her; "dieth,1 and behold she lives." For the soul lives, not in herself, hut "by the faith in the Son of God, Who loved her, and gave Himself for her." Not she lives, but "He liveth in her;" and so death to all but Him, yea, to and in her very self also, is His Enlarged Life to her, It is the very life of the Blessed, to be nothing in themselves, but vessels wherein God can pour in the Fulness, and Bliss, and Richness, and Transporting, Overpowering, Overwhelming Sweetness and Tenderness of His Love, and they, not of themselves, but through and with His Own Love, shall love Himself. It is the very Joy of their Lord, whereinto they shall enter, to Joy not with their own joy, but with His; to be themselves, only to be not themselves; to be, only to have within them the Being of God, Which is His Love.
Yet till we attain, by His Mercy, to Himself, and death itself is past, there is often need, amid the many, manifold forms of death, wherewith we are encompassed, for that holy steadfastness of the Patriarch's trust, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." The first trials by which God would win us back to Himself, yea, though they seem to part asunder soul and body, are often not the severest. Near as they touch us, they are, most often, without us. They may change the whole life at once; they may seem to reverse the prophet's words, and "behind" it may seem "as the garden of Eden, before, like a desolate wilderness; "the staggered, dizzied, soul may not dare to look backwards or forwards, to ought which belongs to this earth; they may leave the soul bared of all but itself; yea, scarcely leave itself to itself. For, mostly, those severe blows whereby God brings the soul to itself, are a rending from it part of itself, since they are a rending from it, what it loved, as, perhaps more than, itself; as even a Heathen calls a friend, "the half of his soul." [Hor. Carm. L. 1. Od. 3. See S. Aug. Conf. iv. 6. p. 52, Oxf. Tr.] Yet torn, bleeding, scarce alive, except for suffering, as the soul may thus be; bewildered, dead to all interest, or care, or pleasure in things around it; as if it were dead, yet are these the lightest trials of the returning soul. They reach not still its very inmost self. For to feel a Nearness of God, even in chastisement, is a deeper, stiller, aweful indeed, yet more thrilling joy, then the intensest, or the most even tide of joy, on which the soul rested, even as the gift of God, Even in the most penetrating of this life's chastisements, God replaces His gifts with the hope of Himself. Chastisement is blessed to the trusting sold, because, though an aweful form of His Presence, it is His Presence. "The Lord" saith the Psalmist, "hath chastened and corrected me:--but He hath not given me over unto death." His very Chastening is a token to the soul that it is not abandoned. And gladlier often to the bereaved soul is this one token, than all besides is heavy. What is the intensest blackness, if His Bow be in it and span it, and enfold and measure its height and breadth of darkness, by the unfoldings of His Light, the radiant, glorious, Pledge of His Loving-Kindness? To feel is to live. To know that one is chastened, is to know that one is not abandoned. Be any what he may, he feels that he is a son yet. The deeper the iron enters, the deeper he knows is the sore which God would lay open and heal; yet the deeper too the Mercy of God, Who gives not over what needeth so deep a cure. So true is that which even a Heathen saw from nature, "he draweth strength and courage from the very sword" which wounds him. Here too indeed, is there need of faith and hope. [Ab ipso Sumit opes animumque fervo. Hor.] For even these very Chastisements of God, when they do not soften, harden.. They, like every Gift of God, yea, the very Gospel of His Son and the tidings of Redemption, are a savour of "life unto life," or "of death unto death." "The sorrow of the world worketh death." "Sorrow which cometh from the love of the world only, hath its end in the world; sorrow, which cometh from the Love of God, or turneth unto the Love of God, hath its end in God. Sorrow of the world maketh rebellious against God; sorrow which subdues unto God, is from God. Times of God's sorest Judgments have been times of man's deepest rebellions, and have fostered them. The recklessness of the impenitent has grown, with the sternness of God's Calls to penitence. How should it not be? Contempt of God's Judgments is almost beyond the very sin of devils, who "believe and tremble," and is a near forerunner of the unpardonable sin, casting forth with a strong hand, the last remains of Grace from the soul. "In that day," says the Prophet, "did the Lord God of Hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth; and behold joy and gladness, slaying' oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we shall die. And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of Hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of Hosts." Yet since this is so, the more must the penitent think it an undeserved Mercy of God, that his own sorrows have not hardened him, the more deeply thank his God that, through the prayers of others perhaps, or of the Church, or out of the Abyss of God's forecoming Mercy, He, with the chastisement, gave the Grace to profit by it.
Yet these outward griefs are often but the "beginning of sorrows." Birth-pangs they often are, through which the soul is, by the Grace of God, born again from, its state of death to life in God. These are infantine trials fitted for the tenderness of new-born souls. Deeper pains are often reserved, until the soul, grown and strengthened through Grace, can endure a more searching, fiery, cleansing. Outward trials bear with them their own witness; conscience owns them; nature itself approves them; our sense of justice takes their side and calls them good; pious examples of Holy Scripture put words in our mouth and teach us how to use them; God pronounces so manifoldly, "Blessed are those whom He chasteneth." In these, too, the soul itself is not disordered in its inner self. Wounded as it may be to the very "dividing asunder of soul and spirit," yet it is whole in that whereby it judges of itself; it can behold its own wounds and the Hand of God, wounding to make whole, slaying to give life.
Deeper and more difficult far are those sorrows wherewith God afflicts the very soul herself, and in divers ways, "makes her to possess her former iniquities." ["Prayer for persons troubled in mind or in conscience," in "Visitation for the Sick," from Job xiii. 27.] A bitter thing indeed it is, to have to turn to God with a cold, decayed heart; "an evil thing and bitter" to have destroyed ourselves. Yet having so done, gracious and merciful is it, if Almighty God shew us somewhat of the depth of that bitterness, that we may never know its full bitterness in the depths of Hell. Merciful and very good are all the scourges of the All-Good and All-Merciful. The deeper, the more merciful; the more inward, the more cleansing. The more they enter into the very soul, the more they open it for the healing Presence of God. The more they slay its very self, the more do they convey to it the Virtue of Christ's Death. The less it lives, the more Christ liveth in it. Hence it has been seen that God mostly doth not send these trials at first upon the soul, but when it is somewhat strengthened by His Grace, to endure this healthful probing and opening for greater Grace. The beginnings of conversion mostly have sweetness, whereby God allures the soul from the deadening sweetness whereby it destroyed itself. "Gracious is God," saith a holy man, "who doth not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, nor alloweth the worm of conscience to infest us beyond measure. And especially in the beginnings of conversion, He sootheth our ulcers with the Oil of Mercy; that neither the amount of the disease, nor the difficulty of the cure, should become known to it, more than is beneficial; yea, rather a sort of ease smileth, as it were, upon it, which afterward disappeared, when it hath its senses exercised, and thereon, perhaps, strife is appointed to it." [S. Bern. de conv. c. 5.]
Manifold are these clouds whereby God hides, for the time, the Brightness of His Presence, and He seemeth, as it were, to threaten again to bring a destroying flood over our earthliness. Yet one character they have in common, that the soul can hardly believe itself in. a state of Grace. "If it be so," is the common cry of all, "why am I thus?'" Can God indeed dwell in a heart thus defiled? are this and this foulness, the tokens of His Presence? Can God and Satan indeed have power over the heart together? I feel too miserably the presence of one; dare I indeed hope the Blessed Presence of the Other, Unseen, Unfelt, Unknown? Where is faith, when Satan can, at will, pour in his doubts? Or love, when all seems so dry and cold, and hard thoughts come in unbidden, as though lords and owners of the heart, in their own domain? Where is life, when devotion seems so lifeless? Or holiness, when the soul is trampled upon by unholy thoughts, and its broken fences shut them not out? Where is any cleaving to God, when, at Holy Communion Itself, some chance thought or sight can part the soul with, if not from, its God? How is the heart broken which can thus rebel? how humble, which can thus judge others, see so acutely others' faults, rebel so proudly against any touch of shame, feel so sensitively to the quick any slight? Where, in all this dreary winter and this chill damp mist, are any tokens of the Presence of that Sun of the soul, which, where It is, encircleth and enlighteneth it from end to end, and there is "nothing hid from the Heat thereof."
Hard indeed is it for hope to live, when faith thus seems dead and love grown cold. Hard is it to trust in God, when the soul's very self seems slain; and hope seems forbidden by the very senses, and sight, and conscience, and self-knowledge. How can it be beloved by God, when it seems to itself so hateful? how endured by Him, when it cannot bear itself? Yet on that very ground is it beloved by God, because it hates itself. Deep hatred of what the sinful soul has been, empties it of that self-love which estranges it from its God, and He Who "satisfied the empty soul," in His time shall fill it with His Goodness. Self-hating displeasure at its sin, casts out its idols from His temple, that He again may more fully indwell it. It could not feel the full hatefulness of sin which it obeyed, nor the force of the weight which it resisted not, nor see the dreariness of the dungeon, which had no light in it, nor know the poison it breathed, when it knew not the freshness of gales from Heaven. And so, perhaps most frequently, God for a time casts back the converted soul, and plunges it, as it were, amidst the phantoms of its former foulness, and allows it to be assailed and tortured by them, that it may learn the more to hate what He hates, and so, through its very hatred, may gain the love of what He loves.
Faint not then, thou weary soul, but trust! If thou canst not hope, act as thou wouldest, if thou didst hope. If thou canst see nothing but Hell before thee, shut thine eyes and cast thyself blindly into the infinite Abyss of God's Mercy, and the Everlasting Arms will, though thou know it not, receive thee and upbear thee. Hide thee in the Cleft of the Rock riven for thee, thy Saviour's Wounded Side, until this tyranny be overpast. If buffeted by the waves, thou wouldest not let go a rope, which held thee to the Rock! So now, though "all His Waves and Storms seem to pass over thee," hold thee but the faster to Him Who, Unseen, holdeth thee. Without Him, thou couldest not even hate thy sin. Hatred, in thyself, of what is contrary to God, is love of God. If thou canst not love with the affections, love with the will, or will to love. If thou canst not love as thou wouldest, do what thou canst. If thy heart seems to have died within thee, cleave to God with the understanding. If God seem to thy mind, as it were, a phantom which to it has no reality, if thy prayers seem to be but words with no substance, sent idly into the air, not ascending unto thy God; if things unseen seem to thee a dream, things seen the only reality; if fervid words move thee not, thoughts of love kindle thee not, the Passion of Christ melt thee not, yet despond not; but "out of the deep cry unto God, and He will hear thy voice. "He has recovered out of deeper depths, for whence is the penitent recovered but out of "the depths of Hell? "Out of the belly of Hell," says the prophet Jonas, "cried I, and Thou heardest my voice. I said, I am cast out of the sight of Thine Eyes, yet will I look again towards Thy Holy Temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depths closed me round about; the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains: the earth with her bars was about me for ever; yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord, my God. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine Holy Temple."
"Though He slay me, I will trust in Him." Seemeth this a great thing, brethren? The great holy words will mean yet more, "Lo! if He slay me, I will trust in Him," not "although" only, but "because" He slayeth me. It is life to be touched by the Hand of God; to be slain is, through the Cross of Christ, the pledge of the Resurrection. Yes; then may our hearts be strung and nerved, when at His Pitiful Touch, "the sinew shrinks." It is the Redeemer's Hand, which upholds while It seems to cripple, strengthens, while He seemeth to put forth His Strength, against our weakness; by His Strength we have power with God, while we can only weep and make supplication unto Him. Not sensible comforts, nor delight in prayer, nor His Very Voice to the heart, nor Tokens of His Presence, nor the Overflowings of His Consolations, may be such a proof of His Love for the soul, as the unseen, unfelt, Strength by which He keeps the fainting soul in life, to trust in Him. Consolation is the stay of the weakness of the creature: desolation was, for our sake, the Choice of the Redeemer. When His Human Nature was all but perfected and consecrated by Suffering; when the last Act of Obedience to The Father's Will "even to the Death of the Cross" was all but completed; when His Perfect Obedience was effacing the sins of a whole world, then withheld He from His Sacred Humanity the consolation of His Divinity, and, forsaken by man, willed He, to seem to be forsaken by God also. In the entrance on His Ministry, that Voice was heard, "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased:" at its close, the Voice "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? "is followed only by That, "Father, into Thy Hands I commend My Spirit, "to give us some glimpse into the meaning of that great word, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."
"Into His Hands," Brethren, let us now, for this year, and for all the years of time, and for eternity, "commend our spirits." Whether for the Church or for ourselves, let us not take ourselves into our own hands, or choose our own lot. "My times are in Thy Hands."" He loveth the Church, which He died to purchase, His Own Body, and all the members of His Own Body, better than we can; He loveth us better and more wisely than we ourselves. He Who made us, loveth us better than we who unmade ourselves; He Who died for us, better than we who destroyed ourselves; He Who would sanctify us for a holy Temple unto Himself, better than we who defiled what He hallowed. Fear we not then any thing which threateneth; shrink we not back from any thing which falleth on us. Rather let us, though with trembling, hold up our hearts to Him, to make them His Own, in what way He willeth. "If He willeth that we should be comforted, let us too will it; if that we should have desolation, Lord, let us not draw back from it." [Paradise for the Christian soul, (Act of Resignation), P. i. p. 81.] Pray we Him, by virtue of His Holy Circumcision, in what way He seeth good, to circumcise our hearts, to cut, yea, burn, if He see needful, in this life, and spare for ever. Let us neither outrun Him, nor hold back; neither step on the waters without His Bidding, nor fear if we "behold them boisterous; neither be troubled, if for the time He withhold affliction, nor if, without or within, He giveth us of His Cup to drink. Give we Him our hearts, to prepare, in whatever way He will, to be made fit vessels for His Love, yea, for Himself. Circumcise, yea, cut them, Lord, round and round, until none of the vanities or love of this world cling unto them; break and bruise them in pieces, that they never come together again, as they once were; melt them, if Thou see good, in the furnace of affliction, or by the Spirit of burning, until Thou purely purge away their dross; press them, and oppress with anguish, if so only they can be emptied of all which is not Thou, or loved for Thee; give them faintness and weariness, if so only they may "faint for Thy" Heavenly "Courts," and long to rest in Thee Alone.
Only, O Lord, strengthen our hearts with that Bread which came down from Heaven, to give Life unto the world, even Thyself; give us Thy Grace, and so deal with us as Thou wiliest; "give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou willest;" if Thou slay us, give us trust in Thee; "O Lord, in Thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded:" let me not be confounded, for ever! [S. Aug. Con. x. 29, p. 204, Oxf. Tr.]