Let me give a word of consolation. If you have been persecuted, and still hold fast by God’s word—if you have been afflicted, and still persevere in the knowledge of our Lord and Master, you have every reason to believe yourself a Christian. If under your trials and troubles you remain just what you were when at ease, you may then hope, and not only so, but steadfastly believe and be assured that you are a child of God. Some of you, however, are very much like Christians, when you hear sermons full of promises; when I preach to you about bruised reeds, or address you with the invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour;” but when I give you a smoky sermon—one which you cannot endure—if you then can say, guilty, weak, and helpless I may be, but still I fall into his arms; sinful I know I am, and I have grave cause for doubt, but still:
“There, there, unshaken will I rest, Till this vile body dies;”
I know, poor, weak, and helpless though I am, that I have a rich Almighty Friend; if you can stand a little smoke, then you may believe yourself to be a child of God. But there are some fantastic people we know of, who are shocked with a very puff of smoke, they cannot endure it, they go out at once, just like rats out of the hold of a ship when they begin to smoke it; but if you can live in the smoke and say, “I feel it, and still can endure it,”—if you can stand a smoky sermon, and endure a smoky trial, and hold fast to God under a smoky persecution, then you have reason to believe that you are certainly a child of God.
For meditation: In the parable of the sower, the true believer is the one who hears the word and accepts it; those making a false profession are found out in time either as a result of troubles or of worldly success (Mark 4:16-20). Job passed both tests (Job 1).