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of their sorrow, when they feel most like pilgrims and strangers on the earth, and are most oppressed by the solitude of tne wilderness. The saddest hours are often cheered by the most hallowed themes. Hallowed moments of celestial visitation are they when faith, with more than ordinary vividness, realizes the unseen world and hope, full of immortality, sheds its fragrance over the soul and makes it long for heaven.
It is true that seasons of affliction are not always thus favoured. They are sometimes seasons of darkness and sore temptation, as Christian biography teaches us. "Alas!" said Lady .Russell, when her noble husband was sent to the block by the licentious and inexorable Charles, "I want liberty to approach nearer my heavenly Friend. But my understanding is clouded, my faith weak, sense strong, and Satan busy in filling my thoughts with false notions, difficulties, and doubts respecting a future state and the efficacy of prayer. My thoughts fly everywhere but to God." This is a most unhappy state of mind; but it is by no means of so frequent occurrence as those bright views which discover the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.
If we ever get to heaven, we shall see that it was not our own wisdom or fidelity that brought us there. Every step we have taken would have been a false one, but for God. He moved first, and we did but follow as fast and as far as he drew us and led the way. Of all the events and circumstances which were either in themselves auspicious to our salvation or overruled to our spiritual welfare, our trials will never be forgotten. Thousands upon thousands have been made meet for heaven by their trials. The fetters of gold which bound them to earth have been thus sundered, and - even the ties of nature have been held by a looser hand. They would "not live always," but desired rather to depart and be with Christ. This world does not compensate for the sorrow and pain and conflict and sin of living in it beyond the bounds of our appointed time. True Christians have more and better friends in heaven than they have on earth, and who wait to give them a joyful greeting. It is no marvel that they sometimes "struggle and pant to be free," and long to "put on their royal attire," and "wonder and worship" with those who, like themselves, are "washed, and justified, and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
How many, think you, are now in heaven who bless God even for the bitterest cup? How many can say, "I dallied with sin and trifled with the tempter; I cropped flowers on the brink of the precipice, but found a gravestone there which told me of one I loved. I had gone astray, but my grief agitated me, my depression humbled me, my sins alarmed me. My idol was slain, and my heart bled. I thought of death and eternity, and was separated from them only by the breath of my nostrils. God smote me, but he "made all my bed in my sickness." I was afraid to die, but when I came to the conflict, I found the foe vanquished. Death was swallowed up in victory. It is all reality now, all heaven, all joy, all praise to God my Eedeemer, God allsufficient, God all in all."
Sanctified afflictions will not be forgotten in heaven. "Thou shalt remember all the way thy God led thee in the wilderness." To suffer God's will is as truly honourable to him and profitable to our own spiritual interests, as to do his will. They are equally acts of obedience. When sufferings are endured with a Christian spirit and wisely employed, not only is the work of God thereby manifested in the sufferers, but their own future blessedness is thereby promoted.. If they were not always happy in their trials, they will be happy in their triumphs, happy in their eternal home. When the exiled apostle was in Patmos, one of the elders before the throne said to him, "What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?" The apostle was unable to answer the question, and replied, "Sir, thou knowest." "These are they," said the angelic messenger, "which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes? and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." The most afflicted and desolate will then prove the love and faithfulness of the severest chastisements. "There remaineth a rest for the people of God," a perfect and everlasting rest. If by marvellous grace in Christ Jesus you ever enter it, you will look back with grateful admiration at the tender care and covenant faithfulness of Him who loved you. And as you look back and call to mind how often you grieved his Spirit and forfeited his love, and how, but for these desolating afflictions, you never would have entered the heavenly city, you may well say with Richard Baxter, "When he broke thy heart, as well as when he bound it up, thy blessed Redeemer was saving thee." With adoring surprise you may exclaim with him, "0 blessed way, and thrice blessed end! Is my mourning and my heavy walking come to this? Are all my afflictions come to this? Blessed gales, that have blown me into such a harbour! Oh, what a God there is in heaven I"
Such is the mission of sorrow. Its lessons cannot be learned from the teachings of human wisdom. It may be you have been thrown upon a bed of sickness, and even painful and lingering agony. The bloom of health fades on your cheek, and wasting debility premonishes you of the grave. God grant that celestial visions may throng around your pillow, and that underneath that aching head you may find the everlasting arms. It may be "a wife of youth" has sunk to the grave, and the heart that watched her lingering decay, amid its alternate hopes and fears, sinks under the blow. And can you not lean on an almighty arm, and make your refuge in the shadow of his wings? Perhaps you have seen a favourite child sinking under a disease that was appointed to do its fatal work. You have turned from the scene with sighing. Your fears have been realized. The flower is cut down, and withers in the grave. Mourning parent, strive to look upward. It may cost you tears; but God would teach you that his favour, without earthly comforts, is worth more to you than all earthly comforts without his favour. He sent this rushing calamity on purpose to throw a temporary cloud over the sun of time, and open to you the brighter scenes of a sinless world. He would cement rather than sunder the bond that unites you to the departed. That bright spirit has left you, and your fondest, proudest wishes—dust_ is upon them! These sorrows have their mission.
"Your God, to call you homeward,
Of such is the kingdom of heaven. Your jewel shines in your Redeemer's crown. Would you pluck that little star from his brow? If you could, would you call back the beloved one?
0 ye who weep and ye who have wept, ye who are far from God and ye who are brought nigh, come and learn from him the sweet supports of his truth and grace in the hour of trial, and the precious lessons which his Spirit inculcates in the school of affliction. Sorrow is the sad heritage of sin. Let it soften your heart and render it more susceptible to the influences of heavenly grace. Bow under these strokes of the rod, and then lift your eyes to the hills whence cometh your help. Mourning friends, though "you walk in the midst of trouble, God will revive you. Though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies." These exhausting days and wearisome nights will soon be over. The aching head, the throbbing heart will ere long be at rest. God's voice to you is, " For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee; in a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Eedeemcr."
"The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
A SAILOR'S EXPERIENCE OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE.
In the spring of the year 1679, an English merchantvessel, called the "Thomas and Ann," sailed from a French port for the island of Newfoundland. A fair wind carried her to within a hundred miles of her destination, when she met with a good deal of loose ice floating about; but as this offered very little resistance to the ship's progress, she stood on till she approached the banks. Here the ice became more abundant, and was in large compact masses. The weather, however, was clear, and as a steady breeze was blowing from the north-northwest, the vessel stood to the westward, hoping to sight the land before night. As they proceeded they found that they were beset with thousands of floating islands of ice. In this dangerous position of the ship, the wind died away until at sunset it was nearly a calm, and the sea tossed the ship and ice about in alarming proximity. The wind seemed as if it had wafted the ship into the midst of danger and there left her, for the calm so clipped her wings that she was as helpless as a log upon the heaving sea. About ten o'clock at night, a fog began to envelop them, which increased to such a degree that they could not see the ship's length ahead. At the same time the wind freshened to a brisk gale, driving the ship rapidly through the water, at the hazard of being dashed against the ice, which could no longer be seen through the fog. All that could be done was to shorten sail, and to keep a good look out; and, indeed, the danger was so imminent that a sense of it made every man do his utmost to save the ship upon which his life depended. What follows shall be told in the words of the original narrator, one of the few survivors, all the rest having perished. The narrative will be found in the writings of the devout Flavel, who quotes the incident to prove the reality of a superintending providence.
"In this state of painful anxiety, we made our dubious way. For about an hour all was still, for the expectation of a fatal collision kept every tongue silent, but suddenly a loud, startling cry of''ice on the weather-bow' was heard from the look-out forward. 'Back the mainyard!' roared the captain, as he sprang aft to let fly the lee braces; but it was too late; a shock that threw the men flat on the deck struck the ship on the bow just as she fell to the sea, and the mountain of ice ground along her side fore and aft.
"So soon as we had recovered our feet, the carpenter and some others hurried below to ascertain what damage we had received. In a few minutes the men from below rushed upon deck, with the sentence of death written upon their pale faces, and distractedly crying that the water was gaining fast upon us. It is impossible to describe the consternation caused by this announcement; and as we felt the ship settling down under our feet, despair seized many a heart; but the voice of the captain acted like a charm upon the twenty men, who were all more or less at their wit's end: 'We are sinking, lads,' he said, 'and if we wish to see our wives and little ones again, we must work with a will; danger is the time to show what stuff a man's made of: out with the yawl, my brave men, and clear the long boat, and hoist her out in a brace of strokes. Courage, men! remember we are Englishmen!' The night was dark, and the rough sea covered with masses of ice, and it naturally