« FöregåendeFortsätt »
merited retribution ; how can he refrain from repenting and abjuring, from hating and detesting, the sins, which are now about to plunge him into interminable misery? If his soul be once awakened to meditate seriously upon these things, how can he refrain from condemning his own sinfulness ; from confessing his unworthiness; and from seeing, and feeling, that there is no power in himself whereby he can be saved ?
4. If Affliction hath profited the sufferer thus far, if it has aroused him from carelessness and thoughtlessness to a solemn meditation
upon his spiritual state; if it has clothed him with humility, and led him to conviction and repentance of sin; it will probably be further “ good for him to have been afflicted,” as Afiction may strengthen him in the knowledge of Him, in whom alone he can hope to receive peace and salvation. Driven from its strong holds of pride, of vanity, of self-sufficiency; convinced of its own impotence ; persuaded that it is lost for ever without a superior Being, “ mighty to save;" the
soul looks around for succour, and finds it in that gracious Redeemer, who “ came into the world to save sinners.” Naturally prone to trust in our own righteousness, we are hereby taught to put our trust in the righteousness of the Son of God. Health and spirits naturally animate us to look to ourselves for aid: it is the property of Affliction to “ cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ d.”
5. Affliction is farther profitable, as it teaches us Resignation.“ We glory in tribulations also,” saith St. Paul,“ knowing that tribulation worketh patience ;" and St. James to the same effect encourages the disciples of Christ; My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations ; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience f.” It is true, that in this view the effect of affliction is different, according to the materials, on
which it has to work.' In him, whose mind is worldly ; who estimates all that befals him by the influence, which it has upon his temporal state; who perceives that Affliction impedes his ordinary business, and interferes with his ordinary pleasures ; and who feels, that it not only causes the deprivation of his positive enjoyments, but that it is also the occasion of positive pain ; in such a person the effect of Affliction is to irritate and inflame the natural violence of his temper: it is to render him unquiet, discontented, and impatient. Not so with him, whose " affection is set on the things above." Accustomed to look upon this world, only as a passage to another, and of course to consider the things, which now surround him, as incomparably trifling when weighed against those to which he is hastening; habituated to regard the universe and all its concerns as in the hands of God, who disposes them for the benefit of his faithful followers, and who will finally make “ all things work together for good to them who love God;" and especially instructed to consider Affliction in the light of a merci
ful dispensation of Providence, whereby - he is willing to draw men nearer unto him; fixing his eye at the same time upon his beloved Redeemer, “ the Captain of his salvation,” who was himself made “perfect by sufferings 5 ;” and convinced by the word of truth, that however “ grievous chastening may appear for the present, nevertheless it afterwards yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby h.”—he, who thus reflects upon himself and the things about him, labours to subdue the weakness and irritability of the natural man, and to submit with holy resignation to the “ correction of the Father of Spirits.” “ It is the Lord;" he exclaims with the venerable Eli; “ let himn do what seemeth him good i.” “ Shall we receive good at the hand of God,” he demands with the patient Job, “ and shalł we not receive evil k?" " For this cause," he exultingly replies with the holy Paul, “ we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For
• Heb. ii. 10. "Heb. xii. 11. ' 1 Sam. iii. 18. * Job ii. 10.
our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!."
6. Affliction is moreover good for us, because it improves our Charity. In the vigour of health and strength, amid the glow of brisk animal spirits, in the full tide of pleasure and prosperity, we are apt to be inattentive to the voice and pleadings of distress. In the pride of fancied virtue and integrity, we are apt to think unfavourably of the excellencies, and to be severe in estimating the failings, of others.
With a jealous attachment to our own dignity and independence, and a nice sensibility to an injury or an affront, we are apt to be quick in conceiving resentment, and slow in laying it aside. But Affliction corrects and mitigates the judgment; it softens and enlarges the heart. Do we feel ourselves sinking under “ a sore burden too heavy for us to bear;" and can we refuse our sympathy to those who are our partners and fellows in distress? Do we with a contrite sense of our own unworthiness implore
12 Cor. iv. 16, 17,