If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? and if in the land of peace…
I. THE UNHAPPY DISPOSITION WHICH SHOWS ITSELF IN MANY PERSONS TO DISQUIET THEMSELVES UNDULY ON ACCOUNT OF COMPARATIVELY SMALL TRIALS. That man should, under any circumstances, seek to become his own tormentor is a singular anomaly, and strikingly proves how sin infatuates the human mind. The desire of happiness is a native and universal feeling in the breast. We do not assert that men are required to stifle all natural feeling, and to maintain a stoical apathy in reference to what we term "inferior trials." The inconveniences and lighter evils of life must be felt. One person is seen to brood over what is called "the badness of the times": another is in trouble, because his mercantile or household affairs are disarranged through the unfaithfulness of servants or dependants: a third is unhappy because the tongue of slander has gone forth against him: and a fourth is out of sorts because he had ardently aspired at something which he has failed to obtain. It is observable, moreover, that persons are often wont to complain in connection with those very points where they have the least possible ground for complaint. This man makes a trial of a bad speculation in trade, though his barns are filled with plenty, and his presses burst out with new wine; and that man makes a trial of certain domestic irregularities, while, in the main, he is thickly encompassed with domestic mercies.
II. THE BEARING WHICH THE DISPOSITION OR PROPENSITY OF WHICH WE HAVE SPOKEN, HAS UPON THE REAL AFFLICTIONS OF LIFE, AS WELL AS UPON THE SOUL'S SPIRITUAL CONFLICT.
1. In the natural course of things we may expect that man to be ill prepared for a season of sorrow, who is wont to fret and disquiet himself on common and frequently recurring occasions. The mind which is not inured to salutary discipline will, sooner or later, be found an enemy to its own peace.
2. But let us take higher ground, and view the subject in a spiritual light. In the case of the true believer, we cannot, for a moment, doubt that God designs every circumstance which befalls him, however minute, and every trial which comes upon him, however slight, to work for his good. Neither can we doubt that. this gracious design is answered or defeated, according to the disposition of mind in which either comforts or crosses are received.
3. All the crosses and inconveniences of life should have the effect of sending the Christian to a throne of grace. No circumstance which threatens to harass the mind is too trivial to be carried to God in prayer, with a view to the obtaining of that assistance which is promised for every time of need. It will seldom, however, be found that persons who yield to the habit of magnifying inferior evils, and discomposing their minds with comparatively trifling occurrences, will see fit to pray for a right spirit in connection with these things, and for grace suited to the occasion. The consequence of the omission can hardly fail to be experienced in the darker day of adversity, when large supplies of strength are needed, and when increased exertion is called for.
4. In spiritual as well as in providential dispensations, the lesser has its bearing upon the greater. A propensity to be discouraged or alarmed, if perchance an envenomed dart is, now and then, hurled from Satan's quiver, or if a cloud occasionally overcasts the soul's experience, is by no means a desirable preparative for that severer discipline of the life of grace, with which few of the Lord's people are entirely unacquainted.Lessons —
1. The language of Divine reproof should put every Christian upon serious and faithful self-examination.
2. It is well, in a certain way, to anticipate seasons of heavy affliction. Think how soon health may be interrupted, friends removed, schemes defeated, and hopes forever blasted! Such thoughts, if sanctified in answer to prayer, will have a happy effect upon the general character of your experience.
3. Seasons of intense suffering are often made occasions of signal interpositions in behalf of God's people. Your emergency shall prove your Heavenly Father's opportunity; your heaviest trials shall be made the marked occasions of your realising the greatness of His power, and the intensity of His love.
4. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which imparts to the gloomy foliage of this wilderness world every particle of the radiance with which it is tinged. To see in Christ Jesus, the foundation of our every hope, the source of our strength, the channel of our consolations, the vitality of every spiritual principle and movement in our souls, — this is truly to know Him as "the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
(W. Knight, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?