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best and firmest stay under all his various misfortunes. This holy confidence is, indeed, the most striking and prominent feature in his character. It discovers itself in every page of his writings. It sometimes throws a ray of cheerfulness even over his gloomiest moments, and unexpectedly turns his heaviness into joy. “ In the Lord put " I my trust,” says he, “ how say ye then os to my soul, that she should flee as a bird “ unto the hill ? The Lord is my refuge, 66 and my God is the strength of my con6 fidence. In the multitude of the sorrows " that I had in my heart, thy comforts have “ refreshed my soul. They that know thy “ name will put their trust in thee, for thou, “ Lord, hast never failed them that seek “ thee.” * And again, in the words of the text, “ O tarry thou the Lord's leisure: be s strong, and he shall comfort thine heart; “ and put thou thy trust in the Lord.”
This great example, then, is a powerful recommendation of that sovereign medicine to the afflicted soul, TRUST in God. But does Christianity also encourage us to have
* Psalm xi. 1. xciv. 22. ix. 10. VOL. II.
recourse to it? And does it promise us the same consolation that the Royal Psalmist derived from it? It promises to us, that if we faithfully serve the great Author and Preserver of our being, he will permit nothing to befal us but what is upon the whole beneficial to us, and that “ he will make “ all things work together for good to them " that love him.”* He expressly tells us, “ that whom he loveth, he chasteneth, and “ scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” + Afflictions, therefore, far from being any marks of God's displeasure, are proofs of his kindness to us. They are fatherly corrections, they are friendly admonitions, they are salutary, though unpalatable medicines. They are, in short, instruments in the hands of our Maker, to improve our minds, to rectify our failings, to detach us from the present scene, to fix our affections on things above, and thus form in us that humble and devout temper of mind, and unblemished sanctity of life, which are necessary to qualify us for the great purpose of our creation, the attainment of everlasting happiness in another and a better world.
* Rom. viii. 28.
+ Heb. xii. 6.
These considerations are a solid ground for that firm trust in the wisdom and the goodness of God, which will be sufficient to support us, even when his hand lies heaviest upon us. And we know, in fact, that it has supported the greatest and the best of men under the severest pressure of affliction. ;
But great as this consolation is, our divine Religion has greater still in store for us. We are encouraged to hope not only for comfort and assistance under affliction, but sometimes also for relief, and even deliverance out of it. We are commanded “ to be care“ ful for nothing ; but in every thing by. “ prayer and supplication to make our re66 quests known unto God. We are assured, " that the effectual fervent prayer of a righte." ous man availeth much; that the eyes of “ the Lord are over the righteous, and his “ ears are open to their prayer; that godli“ness is profitable unto all things, having “ the promise of the life that now is, and of " that which is to come; and that if we seek “ first the kingdom of God, and his righte" ousness, all other things shall be added « to us."*
But how, says the disputer of this world, can these things be? How is it possible that God should thus interpose in behalf of individuals, or even of nations, without either interrupting the course of nature, or overruling the free agency of his rational creatures ? Admitting, for a moment, this supposed difficulty; who shall presume to say, that the great Governor of the Universe may not, if he sees fit, suspend, or alter, for an instant, those general laws, which he has himself established? Who will venture to affirm, that on great and momentous occasions, which involve the fate, not only of the greatest persons, but of the greatest empires upon earth, he may not, even by extraordinary means, bring about such events, as he sees requisite for the general good?
But these suppositions are unnecessary. There are, undoubtedly, a thousand ways in which the Supreme Lord of all may, without the least violation of the ordinary course of
Phil iv. 6. James v. 16. 1 Pet. ii. 12. 1 Tim. v. 8. Matt. vi. 33.
nature, give a new turn to human affairs, and produce, unexpectedly, the most disastrous or most beneficial effects. He can render the most regular operations of the material world, and the freest actions of his creatures, subservient to his will; and by the instrumentality of second causes, can accomplish every purpose of his wise and righteous government. He can, for instance, at particular periods, raise up persons with dispositions and talents peculiarly adapted to the execution of his designs. He can place them in circumstances and situations, and present to their minds objects and incitements calculated to promote the gracious, ends he has in view. He can so dispose, adjust, and combine the common occurrences of life, as to draw from them whatever consequences he thinks fit; and (as almost every day's experience may convince us) he can, by incidents the most trivial, and apparently the most fortuitous, give birth to the most important changes and revolutions on the great theatre of the world.
That by these and various other means (utterly beyond the reach of our conceptions)