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His faithful servants for ever after. Shall we then call that a curse or a blessing, which shews us, when nothing else will, the vanity of all things here? which calls our thoughts from time to eternity, and makes us fear God, whom till then we had forgotten? Shall we not rather, however grievous our sickness may be, endeavour to bear it with humble resignation to the will of God, and with trust in His mercy, fervently praying him that in whatever way it may end, whether for life or death, it may be a benefit to our souls?
Perhaps we are mourning for the loss of friends: we may have parted from some one who was dear to us, and followed one whom our souls loved to his grave. This is one of our trials which is hardest to be borne, though it is that one which of all others we must have known would surely fall upon us.
Yet even in the multitude of the sorrows which such an affliction must bring upon our hearts, the comforts of God may and ought to refresh our souls. We are Christians : we believe that, through Christ, who is the resurrection and the life, the souls of the faithful shall never die, and that the dead who die in the Lord are blessed for evermore: therefore though we are not forbidden both to feel and to mourn for our loss, we must not suffer ourselves to give way to sorrow as if we had no hope, since that would only serve to prevent us from doing our duty here on earth, We must comfort ourselves by remembering that the souls of the righteous are with God, removed at once from all the troubles and trials of this world to that blessed place where there is no more sin, nor sorrow, nor sickness, nor pain, nor death : and above all things we must pray for the grace of God, that we may lead the rest of our own lives in such a manner that we may hope, for the sake of Christ, to join them again in glory hereafter.
It is upon this, indeed, that it must entirely depend whether or not we shall enjoy comfort in our seasons of trial. If we serve God as we ought to do, and pass our lives in righteousness, endeavouring to perform the things which He has commanded, and to leave undone whatever He has forbidden, we may then, when afflictions press upon us, look up with humble trust and confidence to Him, as to a merciful Father who pities us and corrects us for our good: being well assured that these light afflictions which are but for a moment will work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, if we submit to them and bear them as we ought. But if we live in the neglect of God, provoking and offending Him with our sins, we can have no comfort when affliction weighs us down, because we shall feel how fully we have deserved it, and we shall know that however miserable our condition in this world may be, it will be, without repentance, ten thousand times more so in the next.
Prepare then, my Christian brethren, for the day of sorrow, whilst God yet suffers you to be happy: choose that good part which never shall be taken from you. Give yourselves up to the service of your Maker and Redeemer, that the Holy Spirit of God may fill your breasts with joy and peace: then whatever afflictions your Heavenly Father may be pleased to lay upon you, whatever trials you may have to bear, in the multitude of sorrows which you may have in your hearts, His comforts will refresh your souls. Amen.
Psalm lxvi. 16.
If I incline to wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not
The great God of Heaven is our Father: a tender and loving Father, who, though He dwells in majesty and glory, condescends to look down upon all the sinful inhabitants of earth with mercy and pity. To Him all our weaknesses, all our wants are known: without His providence our bodies must perish, and without His help and grace our souls must perish also. How full, then, of comfort to all who feel their own infirmities and helplessness, how full of comfort is the belief that this good and holy God, who is the Author and Giver of all good things, who alone has it in His power to bestow