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own case, and in the language of the text itself, the truth before us? Look at David uttering his last words of joyful faith and gratitude, and leaving his last advice to his beloved son Solomon. Look at Jacob dying in the arms of Joseph, and acknow. ledging, that
God had led him all his life long." Look at Job doubly blessed in his later years. Look at the prodigal returned by the means of the lessons of affliction to his father's house, with the best robe upon him, and a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet.” Look at Peter recording in his epistles the benefit of former troubles ; and Paul; and the beloved disciple himself.
And how many cases now occur continually, when on looking back on former scenes of trial and bitter sorrow, we can see the goodness of the Lord therein.
Especially where the first awakening of the soul to the concerns of eternity, as laid down in God's statutes, has been the blessed result of affliction, the penitent most emphatically says, “Trials and disap
pointments have been good for me ; good decisively, "prominently, confessedly; because I was thus led “ to take up my Bible, to read those neglected pages, “to learn the nature of repentance and read the “invitations to mercy there given ; to learn to pray,
to learn to forsake the sins which had involved me “ in such calamities; to learn the mercy and tender
ness of Jesus Christ, and to prepare for death by humble faith in his merits. Yes, let it be inscribed
on my tomb as my own fecble and unworthy, but “sincere testimony, 'It is good for me that I have “been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.”
5. For, after all, what comparison is there between “ these light afflictions which are but for a moment," and that "far more exceeding and eternal weightof glory,” which they are the means of working out for those who learn in this manner God's statutes ?
What comparison is there between this “chastening for a few days for our profit," inflicted by God upon his children, and the blessings of acceptance, adoption, grace, eternal life? Take the balance, and place, with the apostle, in the opposing scales present sorrows, and never-ending joys; afflictions in time, bliss in eternity; and then say,
“ We reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.”
6. Lastly, add to these considerations, that nothing is permitted to fall upon us, beyond that which infinite wisdom and mercy see to be indispensably necessary to our ultimate salvation.
It is not merely that spiritual benefit on the whole is brought out somehow or other by affliction; but the calamities are measured, prepared, limited, controled by a love and tenderness which “knoweth our frame and remembereth that we are dust ;” and by a knowledge and judgment which mark the time and manner of the operation; even as the parent weighs the measure of the chastisement for his child, or the physician the medicines for his patient, or the refiner the heat and duration of the furnace.
This then is God's method. He gives us the Bible, and he sends every son whom he receiveth," to affliction as an interpreter. Christianity alters the whole character of human calamities; brings in new designs; places them in another light, and makes them subservient to ends never before contemplated.
Then what must be the beneficial tendency of that religion, the records of which are so pure and elevated, that it is for the highest good of man that he should learn at any expense their holy lessons; and which, on the other hand, turns all the most painful events of life into sources of ultimate instruction and salvation. What can Deism, or Heathenism, or Mohammedanism say to the troubles, which, as all men are compelled to allow, constitute so large a division of human history? They have nothing worth learning in their pretended sacred books ; and their books never profess to reveal an Almighty Physician who can turn the sorrows of the soul into its most wholesome medicines. In Christianity every thing combines to illustrate its salutary bearings upon the interests of such a creature as man. The actual reluctance of the human heart to spiritual religion corresponds with what the Bible declares on the fact of the fall and corruption of our nature; the mysteries of redemption by the Son and Spirit of God are precisely adapted to his wants, and the afflictions of human life are controled to the ends of this redemption on man's heart by infinite wisdom. Penitents in all
ages, and in multitudes which no man can number, acknowledge, each for himself, with humble gratitude, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.”
How diligently should all who bear the Christian name love, study, honor the Bible. God attaches illumination, sanctification, consolation to his own word. He that inspired the book, brings the scholar to learn it in the school of affliction. But unless men love and honor the Bible enough to study its contents, they never can be comforted by it. If indeed they could see the print of Christ's feet, or the wood of his cross, there is nothing they would not do to visit such memorials. Superstition has wearied herself in these tasks. But here in the Bible we have the very form and impress of the mind of Christ, the history of his incarnation and sacrifice, the divine words which he uttered, the exact doctrine which he delivered ; and yet men are negligent and listless. They seldom read the Bible ; and never with that reverence and honor which become the words of the Most High.
The Jew and the Mohammedan and the Hindoo put us to shame. They learn all the words of their sacred books ; they preserve them with the most zea. lous care; they read them and commit them to me. mory with eager delight; they place splendid copies of them in the most precious caskets.
But we think nothing of the Bible: we often travel about without the Bible as our companion. We let days pass without reading any portion of its contents.
Let us then awake from torpor, especially those of us who are in sorrow_let us not lose the benefit of our afflictions. Let us see the danger of prosperity, and the happiness of learning God's statutes even by means of trouble. Detect, I pray you, the false glare of the world, and the treacherous designs of Satan. It is the reproach of our nature that prosperity produces ingratitude; that the more God bestows, the sooner we forget him; that the great, the rich, the powerful, the learned, the philosophical, are too often as a body unmindful of the Benefactor from whom all their blessings flow. Men prefer any good, any pleasure, any distraction, to religion and God's statutes- -the natural man prefers Pharaoh on a throne, to Joseph in a prison; Korah and Abiram to NIoses ; Sennecharib to Hezekiah ; Nebu. chadnezzar to Daniel ; Dives to Lazarus ; Demas to Paul; Barabbas to Christ.
But we entreat you to come to a better mind. We entreat you to use the calamities and depressions of heart you meet with (for God sends afflictions after you, as the storm after Jonah) to the ends for which they are designed. Take up your Bible, as St. Austin did. Read the Psalms, and learn God's statutes; read the gospels, and learn to believe in the Son of God; read the epistles, and learn the way of pardon more fully; read all the Bible, and learn the fall, redemption, sanctification, the rule of life,
prayer, thanksgiving; the preparations for death and judgment; the path to life and immortality. Receive Christ now in his word with joyfulness like Zaccheus, sit now at his feet like Mary; and in the hour of death you shall acknowledge, “I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou of very faithfulness hast caused me to be troubled.”