"The storm's black wing
Is never spread athwart celestial skies;
Its wailings blend not with the voice of spring,
As some too tender flowret fades and dies.

"With Hope our guide,
White-robed and innocent, to tread the way,
Why fear to plunge in Jordan's rolling tide,
And find the haven of eternal day?"

"For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."—Rom. 8:18.

Thus does a master-hand strike the balance between present sufferings and future glory. "I reckon" (I make the calculation, and the deliberate result is), that the trials of earth are not to be named in contrast or companion with the peerless joys of Heaven.

The great Apostle was one specially fitted to make such a calculation. He himself was abundantly acquainted in the school of suffering, and well able therefore to cast up the balance-sheet. Few pilgrims that ever trod the lower valley, were more honored than he; but few had greater weights to carry. He felt, however, that all these earthly weights added together and combined, were far outweighed by one other, and that was the "weight of glory."

His language here is remarkable. He institutes a comparison between present suffering and future bliss—two things which we may think cannot well be compared. May not the following have been a few points of antithesis which suggested themselves, as His mind made the sanctified reckoning?

All present sufferings have intervals of release. There are lulls in the storm. The fevered patient may have his snatches of repose, fitful and unrefreshing though they be. But in the glory that is to follow, there are no intervals, no lulls, no ebbings in the ever-advancing tide of happiness and joy.

In the sufferings of this life there are many alleviations. The bitterest cup is mingled with some sweet drops—the most aching soul is seldom without some supporting solaces. But the glory which follows knows no modifications. The golden vessels there are indeed always filling—always increasing, but they are always full. The "just made perfect," though ever aspiring after fresh draughts of the living fountain, will never be heard uttering the voice of complaint—"Oh, that it were with me as in months past!" The glory is a progressive glory—the joy a progressive joy—their change is a change for the better, never for the worse.

The sufferings of the present, in the case of the believer, much as they may cloud and darken his earthly and outward happiness, cannot affect the unassailable bliss of his inner life. But the heavenly glory will interpenetrate alike his outer and his inner being. He will be steeped in bliss! He will have around and on every side of him a glory which imagination has never ventured to conceive—while his glorified spirit will reflect, without speck or stain, the image of an all-glorious God!

"The sufferings of the present!" Go up to that bright and glorious multitude harping with their harps, and crowding the shores of the glassy sea. Hear their one, united testimony. It is, that but for their trials they would never have been there. Every page in their history bears the signet-mark of "much tribulation." It is endorsed with the words, "So He brought them to their desired haven!" "So!" It was by a way not of their own choosing. "So!" It was through winds, and waves, and buffeting elements—the ship tacking about—"neither sun nor stars for many days appeared, and no small tempest lay upon them." They love now to trace all the mystic windings in that untoward voyage; the "deep calling to deep"—the wave responding to wave. They love to think, "It was thus He brought me!" There was a time when I was prone to question His wisdom—to arraign His faithfulness; but now, I realize that could not have lacked one thorn, one bitter drop, one tear.

As the contrary winds which carry high the migratory birds are found in reality to assist their flight, so with the soul; when the winds are contrary—the storm beating fiercely—it only leads it to soar higher and higher—upwards and heavenwards—further from earth—nearer its God! Oh, if we only saw our trials, not through the misty haze of this world, but in the light of eternity; the reckoning would not be this, how little they have been, but how precious they have been! How all (yes, all) were needed to effect the desired end, all were composite parts of one way, and that way was love! It is with the believer as with the diamond; the more facets there are, the brighter it sparkles; so, the more the tools of sanctified affliction have been on him, the brighter and more gloriously will he shine in heaven!

Let me seek, then, to look beyond these portals of sadness, and repose on the glory that is to be revealed. Soon the curfew-bell of time will toll, telling that the fires of affliction and trial are extinguished forever, and that the weary and jaded citizens—the weary Church—may now retire to the rest which remains for the people of God! "Live in Christ," says Rutherford, "and you are in the suburbs of heaven. There is but a thin wall between you and the land of praises. You are within one hour's sailing of the shore of the new Canaan."

It is a mighty procession that is sweeping onwards to the Land of Promise. A sainted writer has beautifully compared it to the vast host of Israel entering the earthly Canaan. Some had crossed Jordan; their footsteps were treading the covenanted soil, the land of the patriarchs—others were passing through the river-channel, the waters standing up to make a way "for the ransomed to pass over;"—others were patiently occupying their allotted place in the rear, until those that preceded them had traversed the dry bed of the border river. But all were moving on; and those furthest behind knew that every tread of their footstep was bringing them nearer the moment when their desert trials and privations would be at an end, and their voices too would blend in the song of victory. And so it is with the Church of God on earth. Some are already in heaven—the glorified, safe on the Canaan side. Some are at this moment crossing the Jordan of death—the dark river separating the wilderness from the heavenly land. Some are still in the pilgrim rear, amid the smouldering fires and ashes of their encampment, casting a longing glance towards those who have already begun their everlasting ascription of praise. But the mighty mass moves on! The desert is retreating and the heavenly shores are nearing. Thousands on thousands of the ransomed Israel of God are already safe landed—"clean escaped," and their triumphant song should only inspire us with fresh ardor to follow their steps and share their crowns! The true Joshua-Jesus, the Heavenly Precursor, is even now standing on the celestial shore, and to every faint and toil-worn traveler proclaiming, "These sufferings are not to be compared with the glory about to be revealed!"

How the thought of that blessed Heaven of eternal respite and rest, should reconcile me to any trial the Lord may see meet to lay upon me here! It was the prospect of future glory which led this heavenly reckoner to make so little of his earthly trials. He called that a "light affliction," which he had borne for thirty years!

Let me often school myself in the devout arithmetic of the tried Apostle—putting all my trials into one scale, and all the blessings, from grace to glory, which my God bestows, into the other, and then dare I murmur?

Lord! it is my prayer that my trial (my peculiar trial), be what it may, may be sanctified. It is a "muffled drum" in the march of life; but it is beating "Home, brothers! home!" Let every promise of Scripture seem as if a bright angel hung out from the skies a guiding signal, saying, "The darkness will soon be past, and the true light will shine!" "Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry," and then, the reckonings of earthly trial will give way to the reckonings of unending bliss. The voice of the Beloved will thus be heard calling on His weeping Bride to dry every tear and prepare for a tearless home—"Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth. The time of the singing of birds has come, and the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away!"—(Song of Sol. 2:12.)

"Wherever my path
On earth shall lead, I'll keep a nesting bough
For Hope, the song-bird, and with cheerful step
Hold on my pilgrimage, remembering where
Flowers have no autumn-languor, Eden's gate
No flaming sword, to guard the tree of life."