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ourselves for the weight which we have to bear, and accommodate our pofture to our approaching fituation. In the latter cafe, we have no time to collect our strength and affume a pofition for the ftroke which is invifibly defcending.

The fudden death of a friend breaks our purposes, disappoints our expectations and cuts off our profpects. In other cafes we gradually relinquish them, and give them up with a sedate and placid mind.

But we are taught,

II. That whatever may be our affliction, and in what manner foever it may come, we are to regard the intimations of the divine will.

When the prophet's wife died," he did as he was commanded." There was fomething peculiar in the command given to him; but his obedience is a pattern for all.

1. The firft duty required, in this and all other afflictions, is refignation to the providence of God.

The command to the prophet was, "Thou shalt forbear to cry," or "thou fhalt be filent.” And the reason of the command was, "Behold, I take away the defire of thine eyes." He was to be dumb and not open his mouth, because it was God who did it. And who fhall dare to reply against God?

We ought, as men, to be fenfible of, and affected with the ftrokes of the divine hand; but, as Chriftians, we must forbear to murmur and complain under them. The exhortation, which speaks to us, as to children, is this, "Despise not the chaftening of the Lord, nor faint when ye are rebuked of him." To defpise affliction is stupidity; to faint under it is weakness; to murmur against it is impiety.

That our complaints may be filenced, and our




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fpirits compofed, we must confider the wisdom, juftice, goodness and fovereignty of God. "The potfherds ftrive with the potsherds of the earth; but wo to him that striveth with his Maker.. Shall the clay fay to him that fafhioned it, What makeft thou? Or his work, He hath no hands ?''

God has a right to do what he will with his own. He taketh away; and who fhall, hinder him? Who fhall fay to him, What doest thou ?" He will do wrong to none. He will lay upon none more than is meet. To them who love him he will caufe all things to work for good. In all the corrections which he inflicts on his children he has merciful ends. "He chaftens them for their profit, that they may be partakers of his holinefs." His grace is fufficient for their fupport. In the day of trouble he will hear them,

In the lofs of friends we fhould confider the mercy of God in giving them to us, at first, in continuing them with us fo long, and in making them inftruments of our comfort while we enjoy. ed them. The stroke which separates a dear friend from our bofom, is painful. But can we fay, our having had fuch a friend, though but for a short time, has been a calamity? Was not the connex. ion, while it lafted, a real bleffing? Did it not contribute much to our happiness-to our worldly profperity-to our daily content and cheerfulness-to our virtue and piety-to our discreet behaviour and fair reputation? And if the connexion be broken, are we not even now in a more eligible condition, than if it had never been form-.. ed? We have, then, received good at the hand of God, and fhall we not receive evil? Yea, with all the evil which attends us, have we not, on the whole, received good?

We should confider our defert of affliction.

Death entered into the world by fin. The death of a friend reminds us of our fallen and guilty state, and urges us to flee from the wrath to come. Confcious of our guilt, we shall see the juftice of God in all the calamities of life. "Why should a living man complain; a man for the punishment of his firs?"

2. In affliction we are commanded to "fearch and try our ways, and turn to the Lord."

When a friend, especially a companion, is taken from us, our thoughts follow him to the other world. We choose to entertain the pleafing hope, that he is gone to reft. To ftrengthen our hope, we recollect his amiable virtues and ufeful works, and all the indications of piety, which appeared in his life. A fufpicion, that he has exchanged this life for a ftate of mifery, would be the most diftreffing part of our affliction. But if future happiness be important to the dead, it is important to the living; for the living will foon be among the dead. A death in our family fhould call our thoughts home to ourselves. The state of the dead we cannot alter; but we may do fomething to alter our own ftate; for our probation ftill continues. It is ftill a day of falvation. What if we had been removed? Should we have left to our friends the fame confolation, as fome, who have gone before us, have left to us? Or if we were now to be called away, could we depart with the fame ferenity and comfort, as we have feen in fome of our friends, when they took leave of us and of the world? They by their example and conversation have yielded us much affiftance to prepare for heaven. Have our converfation and example been as highly beneficial to them?. Have we done our part with them as fellow helpers to the kingdom of God? We have feen a VOL. V.

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friend removed fuddenly. It is a juft enquiry, whether we are ready to depart on as fhort a warning. Is the temper of heaven formed in our hearts? Is religion our daily work? If our Lord fhould come fuddenly, would he find us doing his will? Or rather, would he not find us fleeping? These are enquiries, to which the fudden death of a friend loudly calls us.

3. Prayer is a duty incumbent on us at all times, and is urged with particular force by affliction; especially ; especially by an affliction like this, which we are now confidering. "Is any afflicted? Let him pray." "Let him call upon God in the day of trouble."

The death of a friend reminds us of our weaknefs, our wants, and our dependence. We cannot rescue our deareft companion from the grave. We cannot arreft the hand of death, when it is ftretched out against one whom we call the defire of our heart, and on whom our happiness in life principally depends. Nor can our friends preferve us, when the number of our months is finifhed. Nor fhall we ourselves have power over our own spirit to retain it in the day of death. What an impotent creature is man? All our dependence is on God; all our hope is in him. Should we not live near to his throne; and daily fpread our requests before him? He can fupply all our wants, and do more than we ask or think.

Affliction gives a difpofition to prayer, it foftens the heart to the impreffion of divine truth; it awakens the attention to another world, and makes it seem more real; it teaches us that all our comforts must come from above; it furnishes us with matter for prayer, and enlarges the heart in this duty; it encourages a hope of acceptance, for God has inade fpecial promifes of his gracious at

tention to the prayers of the afflicted. If we feel a fpirit of prayer awakened by affliction, this is a hopeful token of God's favour; for thus far affliction answers its purpose.

4. The death of a friend is an admonition from God, to withdraw our hearts from the world.

What is the world now to him who has left it? What will it be to us, a few days hence, when we fhall have left it? Juft the fame, as it is now to him. "We brought nothing into the world; and we shall carry nothing out of it. Naked shall we depart to go as we came." The removal of our friend has extinguished more than half of the joys of life. It has fpread a gloom over the world's brightest scenes. Every earthly object is as uncertain, as was the one which we have loft. Shall we fet our hearts on things fo precarious?-on things which fo foon may leave us, or lofe their power to please us? Let us look for fome more fubftantial and permanent good. Let us choose for our portion the favour of the allfufficient God. There is nothing on earth to be compared with this. It is better than the life of a friend; it is better than our own life. When flesh and heart fail, this may be our ftrength and portion forever. Let our affection and conversation be in heaven. There is our God and our Redeemer ; there are holy angels and the fpirits of juft men made perfect; there are the godly friends, who have died before us, and thither will come the pious fouls, who shall leave this world after us. If our friends had continued on earth for the prefent, we could not have enjoyed them long, for we are strangers here, and there is no abiding. If we meet them in heaven, we shall be parted from them no more. They were amiable here; they will be more amiable there. We here faw in them fome imperfec

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