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This reconciled Eli to the severest doom that ever was denounced. " It is the Lord;" and though grievous to human nature, much more grievous parental affection, yet it is unquestionably the best; therefore I humbly acquiesce, I kiss the awful decree, and say from my very soul, “ Let him do what seemeth him good.” 1 Sam. ïïi. 18.
This calmed the sorrows of Job under all his unparalleled distresses: the Lord gave my affluence and prosperity; the Lord has taken all away; rapacious hands and warring elements were only his instruments, therefore, I submit, I adore, I bless his holy name.
This consolation fortified the man Christ Jesus, at the approach of his inconceivably bitter agonies : “The cup which, not my implacable enemies, but my Father by their administration has given me, shall I not drink it ?" It is your Father, dear sir, your heavenly Father, who loves you with an everlasting love, that has mingled some gall with your portion in life. Sensible of the beneficent hand from which the visitation comes, may you always bow your head in patient submission; and acknowledge with the excellent, but afflicted monarch Hezekiah, “ Good is the word of the Lord concerning me." 2 Kings xx. 19. All afflictions are designed for blessings.
To do us good at the latter end, however they may cross our desires, or disquiet our minds at present. "Happy," says the Spirit of inspiration, and not wretched, " is the man whom God correcteth.” Job v. 7. And for this reason, because his merciful chastenings though “not joyous but grievous, yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby.” Heb. xii. 11. God's ways are not as our ways.
The children whom we love, we are apt to treat with all the soft blandishments and fond caresses of profuse indulgence; and too, too often humour them to their hurt, if not to their ruin. But the Father of spirits is wise in his love, and out of kindness severe. Therefore it is said, “ Whom he loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Heb. xii. 6. Would you not, dear sir, be a child of that everlasting Father, whose favour is better than life? Affliction is one sign of your adoption to this inestimable relation. Would you not be an “heir of the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away?" Affliction is your path to this blissful patrimony." Through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Acts xiv. 22. Would you not be made like your ever blessed and amiable Redeemer? He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and every disciple must expect to be as his Master.
Perhaps you may think your affliction peculiarly calamitous ; and that if it had been of some other kind, you could more cheerfully submit, more easily bear it ; but you are in the hands of an all-wise Physician, who joins to the bowels of infinite love the discernment of infinite wisdom. He cannot mistake your case. He sees into the remotest events; and though he varies his remedies, always prescribes with exact propriety to every one's particular state. Assure yourself, there. fore, the visitation which he appoints is the most proper recipe in the dispensatory of heaven : any other would have been less fit to convey saving health to your immortal part, and less subservient to your enjoyment of the temporal blessings which may, perhaps, be yet in store for you.
Should you inquire what benefits accrue from afflictions ?-Many and precious. They tend to wean us from the world. When our paths are strewed with roses, when nothing but music and odours float around, how apt are we to be enamoured with our present condition, and forget the crown of glory, forget Jesus and everlasting ages ? But affliction, with a faithful, though harsh voice, rouses us from the sweet delusion. Affliction warns our hearts to arise and depart from these inferior delights, because here is not our rest. True and lasting joys are not here to be found. The sweeping tempest and the beating surge teach the mariner to prize the haven, where undisturbed repose waits his arrival. In like manner, disappointments, vexations, anxieties, crosses, teach us to long for those happy mansions, where all tears will be wiped away from the eyes, Rev. xxi. 4; all anguish banished from the mind; and nothing, nothing subsist but the fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore.
Afflictions tend to bring us to Christ. Christ has unspeakable and everlasting blessings to bestow—such as the world can neither give nor take away; such as are sufficient to pour that oil of gladness into our souls, which will swim above the waves of an earthly tribulation. But are we not, dear sir, are we not most unhappily indolent and inattentive to these blessings, in the gay hours of an uninterrupted prosperity? It is very observable, that scarce any made application to our divine Redeemer in the days of his abode with us but the children of affliction. The same spirit of supineness still possesses mankind. We undervalue, we disregard the Lord Jesus, and the unspeakable privileges of his gospel, while all proceeds smoothly, and nothing occurs to discompose the tenor of our tranquillity. But when misfortunes harass our circumstances, or sorrows oppress our minds, then we are willing, we are glad, we are earnest, to find rest in Christ.
In Christ Jesus there is pardon of sins. Sin is a burthen incomparably sorer than any other distress. Sin would sink us into the depths of eternal ruin, and transfix us with the agonies of endless despair. But Christ has, at the price of his very life, purchased pardon for all that fly to him. He has borne the guilt of their sins in his own body on the tree. 1 Pet. ii. 24. Have they deserved condemnation ?-He has sustained it in their stead. Are they obnoxious to the wrath of God ?-He has endured it, as their substitute ; he has made satisfaction, complete satisfaction for all their iniquities, Rom. iii. 25, 26; so that justice itself, the most rigorous justice, can demand no more. Oh, that distresses may prompt us to prize this mercy! may incite us to desire ardently this blessedness! Then it will be good for us to have been afflicted, Ps, cxix. 71. Christ has obtained for us the gift of the Holy Spirit, Gal. iii. 2, to sanctify our hearts and renew our natures, An unrenewed carnal mind is ten thousand times more to be lamented, more to be dreaded, than any external calamities. And nothing can cure us of this most deadly disease but the sanctification of the Spirit. This divine Spirit alone is able to put the fear of God in our souls, and awaken the love of God in our hearts, Jer. xxxii. 40. His influences suggest such awful and amiable thoughts to our minds as will be productive of these Christian graces. This sacred principle subdues our corruptions, and conforms us to our blessed Redeemer's image. How is this best gift of heaven disesteemed by the darlings of the world, who have nothing to vex them! But how precious is it, how desirable to the heirs of sorrow! They breathe after it, as the thirsty hart panteth for the water-brooks. They cannot be satisfied without its enlightening, purifying, cheering communications. This is all their request, and all their relief, that the spirit of Christ may dwell in their hearts, Rom. viii. 9; may enable them to pos. sess their souls in patience, Luke xxi. 19; and derive never-ending good from momentary evils. Before I close these lines, permit me to recommend one expedient, which yet is not mine, but the advice of an inspired apostle, “If any be afflicted, let him pray." Dear sir, fly to God in all your adversity, pour out your complaints before him in humble supplication, and show him your trouble. Ps. cxlii. 2. When I am in heaviness, says a holy sufferer, I will think upon God, Ps. 1xi. 2, his omnipotent power, his unbounded goodness, whose ear is ever, ever open to receive the cry of the afflicted. When the psalmist was distressed on every side, without were fightings, within were fears, the throne of grace was his place of refuge; “ I give myself to prayer,” Ps. cix. 3, was his declaration. This method we read Hannah took, and you cannot but remember the happy issue. 1 Sam. i. 10. Let me entreat you to imitate these excellent examples ; frequently bend your knees, and more frequently lift up your heart
to the Father of mercies and God of all consolation; not doubting but that through the merits of his dear Son, through the intercession of your compassionate High-priest, he will hear your petitions, will comfort you under all your tribulations, and make them all work together for your infinite and eternal good.
In the mean time, I shall not cease to pray that the God of all power and grace may vouchsafe to bless these considerations, and render them as balm to your aching heart, and as food to the divine life in your mind.
Your very sincere well-wisher, &c.
REV. H. DAVIDSON TO REV. T. DAVIDSON, ON
THE DEATH OF REV. G. WILSON.
To the shame of our selfishness be it spoken, how loath are we to make an exchange of a friend on earth for one in heaven! A great man and a peer is fallen in our Israel. When we are mourning, we must not murmur. It becomes rather to adore God for making him so great, without which we should not have had the occasion to mourn ; and that he continued him so long capable of performing so many acceptable and honourable services to the church of God.
As our world loses by the death of eminent saints, the other gains by it. They fall in our world, to rise more illustrious there. Could we trace them exulting before the throne of God and of the Lamb, triumphing in our blessed Redeemer, in immortal youth and vigour, freed from all disorder of body and mind for ever ; could we discover how bright they shine, how ardently they love, how humbly they adore ; and could we hear the melody of their songs ;-it would soon make us weary of this sinning, vain world, and adopt these words in an