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- person, who has thought at all upon the disc.
subject, must have been convinced, that, XIII. circumstanced as we are, “ it is good for “ us to be afflicted.” Naturally, man is inclined to pride and wrath, to intemperance and impurity, to selfishness and worldly mindedness ; desirous to acquire more, and unwilling to part with any thing. Before he can enter into the kingdom of heaven, he must become humble and meek, temperate and pure, disinterested and charitable, resigned, and prepared to part with all. The great instrument employed by heaven to bring about this change in him, is the cross. Affliction will make him humble and meek, by shewing him how poor and weak a creature he is, and how little reason he has to be proud, or to be angry; it will render him temperate and pure, by withdrawing the fuel which has nourished and inflamed bafe lusts; it will cause him to become disinterested and charitable, as teaching him, by his own sufferings, to fympathize with his suffering brethren, and to grant that relief, which he
M3 : perceives
DISC. perceives himself to want; he will die to
the world, which is already dead to him,
Such is the procefs which, at different times, and in different manners, must take place in us. The maladies to be healed are inveterate, and not without much difficulty eradicated. The process therefore must be long, and it must be painful ; but there is good reason for it; the corruption of our nature makes it necessary, and is the real cause of the pain we endure in the operation. The surgeon applies not the knife where the flesh is found; but when it is otherwise, the application must be made, and made in proportion to the depth of the wound, and the danger of a mortification. In such case, is it cruelty in him, when he cuts to the quick? No; it is affection, it is skill ; it is the manner in which he would treat his only son, Does the father hate his child,
whom he chastises ? No; it is the best DISC.
scourgeth every son whom he receiveth b."
In this light, then, are we to view the troubles of life; not only those of the more notorious and heavier kind, as poverty and persecution, fickness, pain, and the loss of persons who are dearest to us; but those also which are of less moment, and pass in secret, unobserved by the world; the little rubs and vexations arising from the ingratitude and froward dispositions of others, the conflict of passions in our own minds, or that languor, that tædium vitæ, as it is called, which destroys the relish of our enjoyments, and even of life itself. All these, which constitute the daily cross mentioned in the text, are designed to cure the surfeit of prosperity; to intimate, that earth is not the seat of
• How finely is this touched by the hand of our great
“ Confideration, like an angel, came,
DISC. unmingled and permanent happiness, that VII!. here we have no abiding city, but expect,
and should seek after, one to come.
Nothing happens without the providence of God. Known unto him are all his works from the beginning. He created all, he governs all, and to every thing he has given to be what it is. He numbers the hairs of our heads, the leaves of the wood, the grains of fand upon the shore, and the drops that compose the mighty ocean ; each atom, at the creation, was measured and weighed by his eternal wisdom. Acquainted with the state and temper of every person, and having the whole chain of events before him, he has prepared a series of them, to detach us, by degrees, from the world and from ourselves ; to train us, by a holy and falutary discipline, for better things; to hew and to polish us, as precious stones, that shall have place in his celestial temple. And he has allotted to every man his cross, his own cross, that cross which is proper for him, and best calculated to effect in him so great
and beneficent a purpose. Let him first disc. consider what it is, and then “ take it up, , “ and bear it.” To point out in few words, the manner in which this may best be done, shall employ the remainder of our time.
When our Lord was led forth to be crucified, the Jews, we are told, laid hold on “ one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the
country; and on him they laid the cross, “ that he might bear it after Jesus.” This stranger seems designed to appear, upon this occasion, as the representative of us all, exhibiting in his person, thus loaded with the cross, or a part of it, the very
same inftruction conveyed by our Lord himself in the words of the text; “ let him take up his “ cross, and follow me:" we are to follow him, to tread in his steps, and, conformed to his example in suffering, conform ourselves to it likewise in the manner of bearing those sufferings.
The very confideration, that we are following him, will direct us to do it as be