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diation of Jesus Christ. The sick are cut SERM.

XX. off from the duties of active life, and it is m therefore more highly incumbent on them to dedicate a great portion of their time to religious meditations and religious employments ; I do not say that they are to use them to such a degree as to bring themselves into any farther danger, by terrifying themselves into a state of melancholy or despair, but that in general, particularly in long illnesses, the above employment of their time will be a source of the greatest comfort and satisfaction. And here let me caution those, whom illness prevents for any considerable time from engaging in the duties of active life, not too greatly to lament and repine at it: God knows what is best for us; in whatever state it pleases him to place us, that is our trial; it is according to our behaviour in that state that we shall be rewarded or punished by him; from those to whom he gives health and



SERM. strength he expects one kind of exertion;

from those whom he visits with disease,
and confines to the chamber of sickness,
he requires another. Each may have their
separate merits, and the sick may deserye
as much of God as the well. Let not then
the sick complain that they are cut off
from the means of doing good; they have
no reason ; their example may be produc-
tive of the greatest good; their patience,
their piety, their reliance on the divine.
goodness, may be more highly beneficial
to those around them, than the greatest
earthly kindnesses which they could confer.
I have already recommended patience un-
der what we are actually suffering ; but it
may be necessary, likewise, to caution you
against encouraging too great apprehen-
sions of what you imagine that you may
suiler. This is necessary, because there
are persons who think they could support
their present pains with tolerable fortitude,


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but who at times sink under the idea of SERM.

XX. the greater sufferings, which they suspect still to await them. Surely this is disquieting themselves in vain; all their melancholy terrors cannot avert the decrees of the Almighty; and in the mean time the despondency to which they give way is in itself criminal, as it implies a distrust of God, and it likewise greatly aggravates their actual afflictions, and deprives them of what little comfort they might experience. “ Sufficient for the day is the evil “ thereof." Let them bear, as well as they can, what God at present inflicts, and let them trust to his goodness to support them under the sorrows which may remain. If they have that faith, and use that supplication which they ought, they may be sure that he will do so. Besides, we in general bear afflictions much better than we expect; they are not always so terrible as they appear to be at a distance. As to the


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SERM. pang of death itself, the separation of the XX.

soul from the body, we have no reason to think it exceeds in poignancy what the generality have more than once undergone in the course of their lives. There are many persons who, when they approach to the brink of the grave, are assailed by such terrors, as to be unable to make any exertions, either temporal or spiritual. But this is very wrong, and what we ought to strive against with all our power. Our state may possibly not be so bad as what the weakness of mind which frequently accompanies weakness of body represents it. If we have only to charge ourselves with common failings, we may reasonably hope that this is the case; but at any rate, to suffer ourselves to be so frightened as to be unable to attend to any of the offices of religion, is absurd, as it cannot make our case better, and will probably make it much worse. It is indeed a fearful thing


for the guilty to fall into the hands of the SERM.

XX. living God; but while there is life there is generally hope; and proper behaviour, with sincere resolutions of reforming, if we recover, may induce God to try us a little time longer, or to accept our repentance, if we die ; whereas doing nothing at all must in every light be hurtful to us. As it is appointed to all men once to die, those who have reached any advanced period of life cannot, even with the appearance of reason, complain when they are called on to partake of the common lot : but the reluctance of the young to quit the world seems at first sight more allowable, and there are others besides themselves who hastily term their sentence hard. But it should be remembered, that as God gave, so he has a right at any time to take away; that we exist a moment, is owing to his goodness, and therefore there can be no ground for murmurs when he decrees that VOL. I.



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