God deals with His children as the eagle deals with her young. He sees that His children are too often determined to nestle. They build earthly nests for themselves; surround themselves with various comforts and luxuries, and then settle down to enjoy them.
Instead of setting their affections on things above, they set them on things beneath; instead of seeking to become rich toward God they are selfishly content to be rich from God.
As wealth enlarges, worldly ambition enlarges also; and I do not observe that grace always grows in the same ratio with a growing income.
The new circumstances and conditions bring new ideas of living, new expenditures, and new luxuries.
The old residence (for example) must be supplanted with a mansion whose splendor shall reflect the splendid financial successes of its owner. And in the decoration of it, what brain-racking and consultation and absorption of time and thought and treasure! When the ambitious design has been carried out, and pride has added the top-stone to its temple, then the flatteries and congratulations of summer friends begin to ascend like intoxicating incense into the nostrils of the lord of the manor.
This will do now, says Brother Plutus to himself complacently ; "I will take comfort. Business thrives. My wife and daughters are gaining the entree of all perfumed precincts of society." So he nestles. They all nestle in a most lnxurious state of spiritual slumber. Their piety has been rocked to sleep in that sumptuous nest.
The devotions and the religious duties, which belonged to their humbler and better days, are now as completely tabooed as is a yellow-fever patient at the gates of the Quarantine hospital.
Well, now, if God strikes in upon that nest with crushing disasters or bereavements, do you wonder?
If bankruptcy bring that splendid establishment to the hammer, or if calamity sweep away those idols; if Death mount those sumptuous stairways and writes paleness on some cheek of roses, do you wonder?
God saw that His children were beginning to nestle and to become too worldly for their soul's health.
So He stirred up that nest of self-indulgence, and in the very way that they would feel most keenly. Not in revenge does He do it; not in cruelty, but in love to their souls, and in tender jealousy for the honor of their Christian name and character.
When any member of Christ's flock surrounds himself--or herself--with worldly idols, and surrenders the heart to them, and worships them, and robs Christ for them, then he or she may expect that neglected Saviour to break up that idol-worship--even if sharp chastisements be employed to accomplish it.
Ah! have we not often seen such awakened and smitten souls start up from their spiritual slumbers and try once more a flight heavenward? Have we not seen them--with wings that had been weakened by long disuse--endeavor to soar again?
As an eagle taketh her young upon her wings and beareth them, so the patient love of God has borne up His backslidden and penitent children.
He has taken them on the strong pinions of His imparted grace. He has kindled by His Holy Spirit fresh desires after Him, and awakened their torpid affections.
They have gone back to their Bibles and to their knees.
To the cross have they gone--in confession and in tears, and have sought the forgiveness of Him who has been wounded in the house of His friends.
They have laid hold again of long neglected duties, and honestly confessed, "it is good for me that I have been afflicted; for before I was chastised I went astray." God is dealing with them as with sons; and what wayward and disobedient son is there that He chastiseth not?
He restoreth my soul! is the joyful cry of the pardoned and reconverted backslider, as he rises once more into the sweet and full communion with his forgiving Lord.
His song now is : "And as on eagle's wings I soar. I see the face of Christ once more, And heaven comes down my soul to meet...And glory crowns the mercy-seat,"