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ficence and the splendour of conquest are odious as well as perishable.'
Again, from the consistency of the Saviour's character, learn, that the character of every chris. tian must be a consistent, a · uniform one. The heavenly spirit which pervades him discovers itself in all his visible actions. The true-bred pupil of Jesus Christ is the same in prosperity and adversity, in ignominy and in honour, in weal or wo, in the circle of admirers and friends and under the calum. nies of enemies, in public and in his closet, in the full flow of his health and spirits and in the cold embraces of death.
To conclude—have you caught, my hearers, any glimpses of Jesus? If you believe in him as he was, if you love what you know of him, and imitate what you love, and study to know more and more of his character, you will see that he was in the Father, and the Father in him ; for the more like God, the perfection of all excellence, you become, the more will you feel all that is godlike in his Son.
Yet this wondrous image of excellence was mutilated by men, and Jesus died by the hands of those whom he would have saved. My hearers, it was to bring us to that state of light and privilege which we now enjoy-nay more, it was to effect our - recovery and pardon, and exalt us yet higher in the scale of being that this divine character was hum. bled even unto the ignominy of crucifixion. Let it not be our accusation, that we have been insensible to this wonderful scene of majesty and infamy, of compassion and cruelty. Enough, enough, that we have ever wavered. Thee will we follow, blessed Jesus ; and though all should be offended in thee, yet will we never be offended.
PSALM cxix. 71.
IT IS GOOD FOR ME, THAT I HAVE BEEN AFFLICTED.
This acknowledgment is from the pen of David the monarch of Israel, whose life was chequered with all the varieties of prosperous and adverse fortune; and happy should we pronounce any man, whose sufferings, though less various and severe, have enabled him to repeat with equal sincerity, 66 it is good for me, that I have been afflicted.”
Little did I imagine, my christian friends—when I last stood in this desk of sacred instruction, listening to the solemn counsels of those, who were convened to sanction our mutual relation, and joyfully accepting the proffered fellowship and tender congratulations of my elder brethren-little did I imagine, that the cold hand of disease would so soon chill the ardour of my expectations, and cripple the vigour with which I hoped to enter on the duties, in which I should need so much aid from Heaven and so much indulgence from you. But our times are in God's hand. The course of Providence cannot be hastened by our precipitancy; nor the decrees of Heaven explored by our curiosity, or accommodated to our wishes. But the religion we profess, my friends, forbids us to suffer disappointment to damp the liveliness of our confidence in our Father who is in Heaven, or to awaken even a sentiment, mueh less to call forth an expression, of fretfulness, impatience, or distrust; and though it is not in the power of human nature to look at the beginning and the end of affliction with equal pleasure, and to feel the approach and the departure of pain with equal gratitude, still we can at least believe, and believing' we shall confess, that the hand of God is guided in both by equal goodness : we can at least avoid despising the chastening, or fainting under the rebuke.
But this is not the place to talk of ourselves, or of our sufferings. Permit me only to observe, that I have been induced to defer to some future day the appropriate discourses, which are usually expected from a pastor newly inducted, that I may direct your present attention to a subject, which you will easily perceive my late confinement has suggested to my thoughts. And if, by seizing the moments when my own reflections are most copious and warm, and my own recollections most vivid, I should be able, by the blessing of God, to impress on the mind of a single hearer the benefits of pain or sickness, or teach him to endure with fortitude and advantage the chastisements of Heaven, I shall bless the present occasion, and say with additional pleasure, it is good for you also, that I have been afflicted. .
The discipline of Providence is as various, as are the characters and circumstances of men. Every thing which occurs to us in this life is probationary. Calamities, though they may wear the guise of punishments, are never administered solely for the sake of punishment, but of correction; and what we call indiscriminately fortunate events, and thoughtlessly imagine to be blessings, are never dispensed merely as the recompense, but rather as the trials of our obedience.
Of all the various forms, which affliction assumes, the most common is that of sickness. The shafts of disease shoot across our path in such a variety of courses, that the atmosphere of human life is darkened by their number, and the escape of an indi. vidual becomes almost miraculous. Is there one in this assembly, who has reached even half the term of human life, and who has never yet trembled at the approaches of disease, who has never groaned under the anguish of pain, who has never sunk helpless under the secret and imperceptible operation of an enfeebling disorder ; one on whose cheek the bloom of health bas never faded, whose limbs the vigour of youth has at no time deserted, the energy of whose mind debility has at no time relaxed, or confinement wasted or disabled ? If there be such an one, who of you will venture to say, I envy that man. Let us grant, indeed, that of all the temporal gifts of God, health is the most pure, valuable and desira. ble; the blessing most worthy of the petitions of the good, and least exposed to abuse by the corrupt. Still it is no paradox to assert, that the loss of blessings may itself prove a blessing, that the maladies of the body may prove medicines of the mind. Though that complacency, which is described as the attendant of a healthful and vigorous constitution, may be the maximum of corporeal enjoyment, yet we may venture to assert, without a play upon words, that such uniform freedom from the infirmi. ties of humanity may gradually generate a selfish complacency and confidence in health, which are nearly allied to ignorance of our own frailty, and insensibility to the pains and sorrows of others. The man, who has never yet bowed to the power of disease, nor felt the restless and unmitigated irri. tations of pain, has not entered an important school of religious discipline, nor exercised himself in the amput field of passive virtues. Could he but know
for the Prvous but grievo Fruits of righteqherefore
his moral wants, he would even lament the absence of those personal trials, which are adapted to call forth the highest excellencies of the christian character. What then! Do we say, that he, whom God has blessed with the temperate luxury of uninterrupted health, has not reason for perpetual gratitude ? By no means. We say only, that in the assemblage of graces, which compose the character of the christian, there are some which affliction may improve and sickness invigorate. We say only, that adversity must be mingled with prosperity, to form the most perfect character, not only in the view of God, but in the estimation of society. We say only, that for the present indeed, though no chastisement appeareth joyous but grievous, nevertheless it yieldeth afterwards the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them, who have been exercised thereby. Therefore, my brethren, lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees, if such there be among us, and let us see if we cannot discover some roses on the cheek of disease, some intelligence in the languid eye of decaying health, and hear a voice of instruction even from the still chamber of the sick.
1. In the first place, then, the secret and sudden attacks, especially of those acute diseases, whose ap. proaches human foresight cannot discern, and whose immediate causes human wisdom cannot assign, call the attention directly and forcibly to God. Wherever we can discover second causes, to them we confine our reasonings with a kind of atheistical short-sightedness. This calamity we attribute to our own imprudence; and that to the negligence of others. In
mdomo and that in nomination of how" one instance we flatter ourselves, that our affliction comes forth from the dust; in another, that our trouble springs out of the ground. Here, we think, precaution would have secured us; and there retreat would have effectually removed us from danger. But when we are called to look in vain for the