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to his own. Follow him to the retreat of affliction; visit him on the bed of sickness, perhaps of death, and—“ how art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, Son of the Morning !” His health is banished and succeeded by disease; his strength is converted into weakness ; instead of being independent of others, he has, and he feels that he has, “ no power in himself to help himself;" instead of having need of nothing, he is, and he knows that he is, 56 wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” It is well, where this consciousness of weakness is accompanied with that lowliness of mind, to which it ought to lead, and which it should seem, by natural consequence, disposed to produce. It is well, where a sense of the infirmity of our bodies will carry our thoughts farther, and awaken us to an impartial examination, and a conscientious estimate, of the state of our souls.
For 3dly, Amiction is good, as it is the means of leading us to Repentance. He, who contemplates the situation of his body under sickness, and considers how ineffec
tual are his own exertions, to add one hour to his existence, or to put off for a moment the appointed period, when he shall fall into
the dust of death,” cannot but think with lowliness and self-abasement of a frame, so perishable, frail, and impotent. Has he then à more flattering, a more cheering, a more encouraging prospect, when he looks to his soul? Is not his soul as much oppressed with sin, as his body is with disease ? Is not his soul under the sentence of spiritual, as his body is of natural, death? Is he not as incapable of administering a remedy to the one, as to the other; and, if he trusts to his own powers, must they not equally perish without reprieve ? Drawing hastily near and more near to the brink of that gulph, which parts the visible from the invisible world; approaching that dread tribunal, where he expects to hear the sentence of God denounced upon sinners, depart from me, ye wicked, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels; conscious that his own sins have comprehended him in the number of the wicked, and brought him under the sentence of
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 AMiction 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 “ 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."
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.” 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 Amfiction impedes his ordinary business, and interferes with his ordinary plea
.d 2 Cor. x. 5.
e Rom. v. 3.
James i. 2, 3. sures;
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." Accústomed 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