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The Furnace of Affliction

by Inglis Fleming (1859-1955)

"Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer." Prov. 25:4.

Such may be our prayer when "in the furnace of affliction." It is ofttimes here that one is chosen for special and honorable use. "I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." Isa. 48:10.

The silver is placed in the crucible. The heat is applied and increased. Subjected to it, the metal becomes melted. Then the scum, the dross, rises to the surface and is removed. Thus the purifying process is continued and the silver is cleansed from inferiorities, more and more. It has been said that formerly, when the refiner could see his own image reflected clearly in the molten silver, then he knew that the work was completed. Then he removed the crucible from the heat, but the silver was purified seven times, it may have been, before he was content.

It was for him, for his pleasure, that the silver was to be.

"For the Finer." A vessel for Him. For us, who by His grace believe, our Lord is the Finer. In His hands we may leave ourselves, assured that the furnace of affliction will remove only dross, the dross of worldliness, or earthliness, or selfishness, from us, so that we may come forth for Himself.

Yes! "For the Finer." "A vessel for" Him. Not simply an ingot of silver, purified. He has a vessel in view, a vessel "fit for the Master's use," a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name in increased sweetness and power for the conversion of sinners and for the comfort of His own, which are in the world and are loved by Him to the end. What honor is this! To be for His own delight and interests here! He is for us there in heaven in present, active intercession, as Advocate and High Priest. He would have us here in this world, "for Him" in power ministered to us by His pierced hands, abiding "for Him," many days, it may be.

Thus we are disciplined, day by day. We are silver. We are redeemed. We are His, bought with the price, His precious blood. He will soon have us with Him. But now He needs us for service, and so it is that we are placed in the crucible that the dross may be taken away.

"Oh! to be but emptier, lowlier,
Mean, unnoticed, and unknown,
But to God a vessel holier,
Filled with Christ, and Christ alone.

Naught of earth to cloud the glory,
Naught of self the light to dim,
Telling forth the wondrous story,
Emptied to be filled with Him."

First published as Songs for the Night Seasons by Inglis Fleming. New York: Loizeaux Bros., [n.d.]. Republished as Songs for Sorrow and Suffering by Bible Truth Publishers, 59 Industrial Road, Addison, IL 60101.

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