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his future prospects in life are best promoted by this process. And why should our Heavenly Father be supposed to have lost sight of the 'sure mercies of David' to his children, because absence and discipline are made use of by him, to forward his gracious designs of greater tenderness towards them? But when we call in question the evidences of divine love, we forget where we are, and the reasons for which we are here. And hence it is not among the smallest testimonies of those very mercies of David, that the Lord makes use of the ministry of affliction to proclaim, that 'this is not our rest, because it is polluted.' Had Jesus intended this world for the enjoyment of his people, in a state of worldly prosperity, very different would have been their accommodations. But they are 'strangers and pilgrims upon earth,' and are going home to their Father's house. And what does ever make home more desirable to the traveller, than the ill reception he frequently meets with on the road?
'Sir! look at the subject again, and see whether it doth not challenge your highest admiration and praise, when you discover that the afflictions of the Lord's people are among his tenderest mercies; in that they are so admirably contrived, that not a single trouble shall ultimately do them harm; but on the contrary, shall as positively work for their good? Set down this as an everlasting maxim; and compare with it either your own experience or your observation of others. Let us suppose now, for example's sake, that in the great mass of characters in the Lord's tried family, some are labouring under heavy afflictions of body, and some under anguish of mind; some impoverished in worldly circumstances; some smarting under the lash of false tongues ; some groaning under the pains of sickness in their own persons ; some bitterly bewailing the effects of it in others: yet, be the trial what it may, (and wisely ordered it is, exactly suited to every one's necessities,) look only forward to its final issue, and you will find, that not a single individual of the Lord's household is injured by it. Each affliction becomes to them a messenger of sanctification and wisdom, and acts medicinally on the mind, as much as physic on the body. And can those things be properly called evils which minister good? Will any man blame the physician of approved judgment, when inducing a state of convalescence, because the medicine he administers is found somewhat nauseous to the taste, and operates roughly?
'But it is not enough to say that afflictions do no harm; they must also do good. The promise else would be lost—' all things work together for good to them that love God.' So that, unless in every single instance good is wrought to the lovers of God, the truth of Scripture would become questionable. But of the perpetual occurrences which are going on through life, in attestation to this precious assurance, a volume would only give the mere outlines. And who is competent to describe them? Generally speaking, all afflictions which tend to bring the soul to God, keep up a life of communion with the Redeemer; make us sensible of the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit; spiritualize our affections; wean our hearts from a world, from which we must soon part; and promote a more intimate acquaintance with that in which we are shortly for ever to dwell; whatever things induce these blessed principles, are undeserving the name of afflictions: they are among the sweetest mercies of David. And when God removes every earthly comfort, in order to make room for heavenly; empties the soul of all creature-comforts, that he may fill it from all the fulness of Creator-mercies; can there remain a question, but that the believer is a gainer by the exchange? Nay, I am fully persuaded, that if grace were in full exercise, we should embrace our afflictions, as affording the choicest proofs of divine love. And how refreshing would it be to a bystander near the bed of some suffering saint, to hear him say, Praise my God with me, for the pains I now endure 1 for the dearest friend which I have upon earth, if his affection for me and his wisdom were equal to those of my heavenly Father, would inflict every pain and trial which I now feel from His gracious appointment.'—
THE, DEAD CHILD.
Mi friend was going on in his discourse when a shriek from a window in the street, accompanied with a loud voice of distress, interrupted him. We heard the lamentable cry,' My child is dead!' We hastened to the door to seek the cause of this sorrow. Upon inquiry, we found that it was the only child of an affectionate mother, which had that moment breathed its last in her arms. Alas! thought I, Rachel's case is not singular: the same voice which was heard in Ramah, is heard throughout the world. The sorrowful mother refuseth to be comforted, because the child is not
'See here, my brother,' (cried my companion, taking me by the arm, and leading me, as he said it, involuntarily down the street,) 'see here an exemplification of our subject. Let us only suppose, that this afflicted mother is a gracious woman; and her history, I will venture to assert, shall sooner or later prove the truth of all that I have been saying. In the first paroxysm of grief, she is perhaps insensible of it: for nature is nature, and is allowed to express, if without murmuring, her sorrows. But suppose that you or I were permitted to call in upon her at some future period; how different should we find her sentiments. A plain proof this, that it is the state of the mind, and not the affliction itself, which constitutes the difference. And when the appointment comes, as it must come to every gracious soul, in a covenant-way; the united wisdom of men and angels could not have ordered any event equally suitable, so as to have answered the purpose of God in his merciful dispensations towards her. However painful, it could not be spared. Let us consider it for a few moments, as it concerns herself, and as it refers to the child.