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Answer. That you were blessed with so desirable a child claims your gratitude. How many parents have been afflicted with children destitute of reason and common sense! How many children, through a perverse temper, have been the vexation and torment of those who gave them birth! Besides, the circumstances mentioned, though engaging, are in themselves of small importance. Yet to you they will prove serious evils, if instrumental of depressing or imbittering your spirit. At this serious moment, greater things claim your attention. You ought to be engaged in inquiring for the design of your afflictions, in mortifying the sins which have procured them, and in subjecting your heart to the Divine will. Plea 12.
“ I am not only afflicted, but deserted. In the time of my trouble, the Lord has hidden his face from me.”
Answer. You may want sensible comfort, and still have his gracious supports. The light of God's countenance may be withdrawn, yet the everlasting arms may be underneath you. Nor is it an unusual thing for God to hide his face at such a time. This has been the experience, not only of his dearest saints, but of his beloved Son, who, at a period when most of all he wanted his Father's presence, was constrained to exclaim, in agony of soul, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Inquire, likewise, may not your want of submission provoke God to hide his face? This is but too probable. The comforting Spirit cannot rest in that bosom which is the seat of unsubdued and tumultuous passions. Would you enjoy his cheering smiles ? Meekly receive and drink the cup which your heavenly Father has mingled. Accept the punishment of your iniquity. Say from the heart, and with unaffected submission, “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
IV. I am now, in the last place, to point out the remedy of immoderate sorrow. Much, indeed, has been said already to dissuade from this evil. Yet it
may be of additional advantage to suggest the following rules.
Rule 1. If you would not excessively lament the loss of created comforts, guard against loving them inordinately, while in your possession. The apostle unites temperance and patience in the precept, 1 Pet. i. 1. The affection of Jacob for Joseph was doubtless excessive. The consequence was, that when the favourite was supposed to be dead, the fond father refused to be comforted, and resolved to go down to the grave to his son, mourning. Behold, Christians, the consequence of inordinate affection; and as you would avoid the sad effect, beware of the cause.
Rule 2. Faithfully perform your duties to your relatives, while you have them. The consciousness of this will do much to allay your sorrows, when they are yours no longer. But conscious guilt adds a sting to affliction. How terrible to look on a deceased friend, to whom, while living, we have been unfaithful, perhaps unkind! As you would part comfortably with friends at death, and meet them comfortably at judge ment, be faithful in the discharge of all relative duties.
Rule 3. Pour out your sorrows into the bosom of God. What a privilege is prayer to the Christian at all times, but especially in seasons of distress! It is a relief to deposite our sorrows in the boşom of a wife or a friend. How much more to leave our complaints with a compassionate and faithful God! Go then, Christian, in the cloudy and dark day; retire from all creatures, and pour out your heart to your heavenly Father. Confess your sins ; justify God in his severest chastisements; entreat the support of his everlasting arms; implore his smiles to cheer your drooping spirit
. 'Thus you may hope to find the best relief, the sweetest consolation. Rule 4. In your affliction, eye,
more, and secondary causes less.
" I was dumb,” says David, “I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it.” In your affliction, and in all its circumstances, consider the hand of God. 1. As a sovereign hand. He has a perfect
right to dispose of you, and of all your comforts : and this without explaining the reasons of his conduct. Job xxxiii. 13. 2. As a Father's hand, correcting in love and faithfulness. Prov. iii. 12. If the affliction draws your heart to God, and divorces it from the world, surely it is a kind affliction. If it issues in your love - 10 God, doubt not it proceeds from God's love to you. 3. As a righteous hand. Surely God has done you no wrong. Must you not confess, that all you suffer is the fruit of sin ? 4. As a tender, merciful hand, inflicting less than your iniquities deserve. He has cast you into the furnace of affliction; and might he not justly have cast you into the pit of despair? It is of the Lord's mercies that you are not consumed. Why should a living man complain ?
Rule 5. Compare your afflictions with those of others. Say not, there is no sorrow like your sorrow.
You have lost one child; but Aaron lost two, and Job all; and lost them by an immediate, instantaneous stroke of God. The children of some pious parents have died victims to public justice. Others have lived to sin so grievously that their broken-hearted parents were ready to wish they had died from the womb! A third class have experienced such protracted and intolerable sufferings on a sick-bed, that even a fond mother has wished and prayed for the closing moment. O think of these things, and acknowledge that your lot has been comparatively merciful.
Rule 6. Avoid whatever tends to renew your grief, and excite your impatience. Do not increase your sorrow by the sight of melancholy objects, or by conversing about them. Thus you will avoid some of the principal means by which the adversary excites the corruptions of the heart. Where there is so much of the inflammable, you cannot too solicitously shun the ap. proach of every spark.
i Rule 7. Remember that you will soon, very soon, follow the friend you have lost. " I shall go to him," says David, in reference to his deceased child. When we forget our mortality, the loss of our earthly comforts
seems insupportable. When we feel that “time is short,” we learn to “ weep as though we wept not.' When we look into our own graves, we can look with composure into the graves of our friends.
And now, may the Father of mercies, the God who comforteth the mourners, write these truths in your hearts, to your present consolation, and your everlasting joy.
THE CONFLICT AND TRIUMPH OF A CHRISTIAN.
THE REV. 8. W. CUNNINGHAM, A. M.
“Beyond this vale of tears,
There is a life above;
And all that life is love."
REVELATION iii. 12.-Him that overcometh will I make a
pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out; and I will write
hin the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is in New*Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name.
It is often our duty, in order to obtain a more familiar acquaintance with the habits and dispositions of the true servant of God, to follow him through the various stages of his earthly pilgrimage. But these are not the only circumstances in which we are allowed to contemplate his course. It is our privilege, and a privilege of the highest value, in those moments especially when the heart is in danger of fainting under the trials of life, to follow the servant of the Redeemer from earth to heaven; to enter with him, as far as the light of Scripture will enable us, behind the veil, and survey the regions of his rest and glory. Such is
wish on the present occasion. And, in order to approach this lofty contemplation in a suitable frame of mind, let us earnestly supplicate the presence and aid of that Spirit who alone “can take of Christ, and show them" 10 the soul.
It is my intention to consider,-1. The qualifications for heaven insisted upon in the text: and,
II. The promises to those possessed of this qualification.
I. We are to consider the qualification insisted upon in the text. It is stated in that single expression, “ Him that overcometh.”
In the first place, the term evidently implies a struggle and conflict. It cannot, even in the lowest sense of the word, be affirmed of an individual, that he
overcomes," who does not “ harness himself for the battle,” or enter into the fight. Every part of Scripture accordingly, calls the servant of God to a contest, full of danger, with inward corruption and outward trial. He is to “ endure hardness, as the good soldier of Jesus Christ.” He is to remember that he fights, not merely “ with flesh and blood,” but “with principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places." And, in order to meet the exigencies of such a struggle, he is to "put on the whole armour of God.” A considerable portion of a whole epistle is employed in describing the Christian hero thus arming for the battle, and going forth under the banner of the cross, to the contest with his spiritual enemies. And great must be his misconception of the corruptions of his own heart, of the demands of Scripture, and of the number and malignity of his spiritual enemies, who does not discover the severity of this contest, and his need of this armour You who inherit the promises of the text, must beware of casting yourselves into the lap of sloth and indulgence. You have much to accomplish, and but a little interval in which to accomplish it. The trump of the gospel has sounded to arms, and you are to quit the camp, to go forth, and give battle to the enemy.
66 Wo to them that are at ease in Zion.” 2. But again, the term "overcometh” implies daily advancement and success, The Christian is a man