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be observed is, that we cannot reckon on troubles having this wholesome effect; the sorrow, indeed, is sure to come; but there is a sorrow which worketh death, as well as a sorrow which leadeth to repentance. I believe that many persons deceive themselves in this; I believe that many encourage themselves in their thoughtlessness while they are in prosperity, by counting upon the wholesome effects of a change of fortune; that they may as well enjoy themselves while their good things last; because when they fail, the very loss of them will in itself be their medicine, and will be sure to turn their hearts to God. But this is far from being generally true. Undoubtedly, if a man has lived in the faith and fear of God habitually, and has only been surprised a little out of his usual watchfulness by some great increase of worldly enjoyment, then the loss of this enjoyment is apt to make him fall back upon his old habits; the oil is ready for his lamp, and when God's warning awakens him out of his short slumber, he has only to arise, and to trim it. But how different is their case who have laid in no supply of oil, but fondly imagine that they can get it at once, merely because they may be reminded of their want of it! What I have said on a former

occasion with regard to sickness, is equally true of distress of any other kind; it is a very good time for perfecting a lesson learnt before, but a very bad time for learning it from the beginning. And what says experience? Out of the multitudes who are in distress of one kind or another, how many are made true Christians by it? out of all those who have known sickness, even of a serious kind, how many has it turned to God? The truth is, that there are no circumstances in which the human heart is absolutely forced to take refuge in God, from a want of all other supports. What the support may be, differs according to the temper and circumstances of the individual; in some it may be an extreme sanguineness of nature, which never gives up the hope of a change for the better in our worldly concerns; in others it may be intense pride, which retires the more into itself, the more heavy is the outward pressure; and which would feel ashamed to apply for aid to any one, even to God himself, because it shrinks from a confession of weakness. In others again, it may be mere hardness and doggedness of nature; in others, the insensibility produced by habit, and the long distaste for heavenly things, which putting them wholly out of our minds, has long

taught us to rest in the kindness of friends, or in the best comfort that we can draw out of the examples of other men's sufferings. But let it be what it will, it keeps from us the desire of turning to God, unless the experience of our happier years has taught us what God is, and how blessed is his service. Therefore, if we would wish the case of the Psalmist to be altogether our own, we must begin now that we are in its first stage. We are in prosperity, and full of confidence; it were something of a step gained, if we would learn to thank God for it; if while we felt too proud of it, we had at least so much good in us, as to say and to feel, "Thou, Lord, of thy goodness hast made my hill so strong." I fear that even the very fault of the Psalmist is a pitch above our virtue; that which required chastening in him, is more than we can ascend to. And then can we wonder that our feelings are not like his feelings; that his love to God is a thing which too many of us are unable so much as to conceive? Yet God knoweth them that are his; he sees those amongst us who are disposed to take these things to heart, and whose spirits are ready to answer to the call of his Spirit. In mercy he has hidden this knowledge from us, that we should neither

judge our neighbour, nor despair of him, nor yet think that our care and help is not wanted where God may seem to have taken the man to himself. So the word is thrown out, to bring forth fruit we know not where; but we are sure that it will not be utterly lost. May each one for himself resolve that it shall not be lost in him! Last year we had the warnings; and I fully believe, that although to many they were utterly wasted, yet in some they quickened that which was dull, and roused that which was slumbering. Now, again, the voice of joy and health is in our dwellings; may the voice of gratitude and of faith be heard there also! Let us not think that we shall never be moved, for that were folly; but let us think that it is God who has made our hill so strong, and that though that hill will surely be overthrown, for it is but of the earth and earthly, yet that there remains for God's true children, a hill, whose foundations are eternal, whose builder and maker is God.




Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a weddinggarment?

In the description of the last judgment, given in the twenty-fifth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, there occurs a passage, whose lesson is nearly the same with that of the text. The wicked are represented as saying to Christ, "Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?" For the lesson of both these passages seems to be, that men stand greatly in need of self-knowledge; that, from one cause or another, they think themselves better than they are not feeling, on the one hand, their want of the wedding-garment of true righteousness; nor being aware, on the other, of the presence of much actual evil which is

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