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St. Mark vi., part of 48th verse. “And He saw them toiling in rowing, for the wind was contrary unto them.”

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CHRIST, as our example, opens to us in one of the verses preceding the text the true secret of strength. In the miracle of the loaves He had just been exercising his power and his grace; He sends away the people, and (we read in the 46th verse), when He had sent them away, He departed into a mountain to pray. It must be so with the minister of God if he would prosper in his work; it must be so with the hearers of the word if they would grow in grace and hear with profit to their souls. Converse with Christian friends is edifying, the services of the sanctuary are not to be neglected, but without retirement for prayer you die ; yes, you first droop,--then wither,—then die.

Well may these observations introduce to us our subject; they tell us how alone we can

hope to draw improvement from it, by giving heed thereto in the spirit of prayer.

“ Lord, teach us to pray,” that with uplifted hearts we may look to Thee for the outpouring of Thy grace, saying, “Speak, Lord, for thy servants hear!”

The circumstances connected with the text may serve to remind us of

I. The Trials of the Christian in the Voyage of Life. Our blessed Lord had “constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before, unto Bethsaida, while He sent away the people.” “And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He alone on the land. And He saw them toiling in rowing, for the wind was contrary unto them.” Observe, brethren, they launched at the command of their Lord, it was His word that bade them depart to the other side; they were doubtless loath to leave Him, but He constrained them to take ship, and in obedience to Him, they set forth. Well might the remembrance of this be their unspeakable comfort in all their after difficulties. “It was Thy voice bade us go forth, the wind is contrary, our rowing is to no purpose, but what brought us hither? Thy command." Blessed ground of encouragement to their souls. Christian ! thou too hast heard the voice of thy Lord, saying, “Follow me:" thou hast taken up thy cross and followed Him. With much of weakness, but with holy resolve and fixed heart, thou art going forth bearing His reproach; let this thought cheer thee, it was at His bidding thou didst launch, in obedience to His word thou art pressing forward. We read of the saints of God (Psa. xxxiv. 5) “They looked unto Him and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed :" so shall it be with thee. “When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee,” is the promise of thy God, and it is sufficient for all thy need.

But we remark further, that Smooth as was the lake at their setting forth, before long the storm arose. “The sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew,” John vi. 18. And thus will it be in the voyage of life: there will be there must be-trials in the course of the true disciple of a crucified Lord; the world in which you are is at enmity with God, and will be at enmity with those who bear His image. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” With some all indeed is prosperous, but they are not sailing at the command of Christ; self-will guides the helm, pleasure is the stream down which they float, earthly happiness their aim, the current of the world, setting in with them helps them forward; but the breakers are near! how awful the shipwreck that awaits them! With the Christian it is different ;-Satan now stirs úp strife,--theworld throws in its bitterness, there are “fightings without and fears within," --but these are contrary winds that do not blow for ever; "in the world ye shall have tribulation,” saith our Lord, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world;" these very trials shall but bring them to'“ the haven where they would be."

But what was the conduct of the disciples under their difficulties ?. It was the command of Jesus that they should go to the other side ; they reached the middle of the lake, the wind is contrary, the waves threaten them, but they are still found" toiling in rowing." The sky may be black with clouds, the storm may inspire fear, but they turn not back, “He saw them toiling in rowing." Such, ever succeed, such, win the prize. Brethren! the eye of the Omniscient God regards with favour, He upholds with an arm of strength each such tried one.

Are we such, finding all adverse,-dark tempests around us,-our heart dark within us—no sensible comfort-fears assailing us,—our eyes tearful,-yet still are we toiling in rowing? “The Vision " and so also the issue of the trial is “ for an appointed time;" and in this way must we wait for it. Oh rest not on your oar, or the current will bear you back. “He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry,” your expectation and your earnest longing hasten Him on.

Brethren! could we see as God seeth, we should in this world of woe mark such toilers as these. In our crowded cities, in the abode of poverty, where want cometh as an armed man, and when all means of supply seem utterly cut off, those in whom there is no repining, but trust still in exercise, the word “He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" still believed. “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine.... Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation,” (Hab. iii. 17, 18. Or some widowed mother, like her of Nain, weeping over an only child, the heart well nigh broken with the weight of sorrow upon sorrow, yet“ toiling in rowing.” With eyes and heart

and heart looking up, “It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth Him good.”

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