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may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” A christian cannot be unmindful of this exercise; but even he is apt to err in his calculations,—to be too sanguine and confident in his expectations of years to come,-to live too much on the future,-to rely upon to-morrow as a matter of course ; and in the same degree in which he does this, he becomes disposed to deser the work of to-day to some “ more convenient season,”-to be remiss and negligent in improving present opportunities, and in securing a preparation for a dying hour. How useful in correcting this error is a frequent visitation of the afflicted. It is whilst contemplating the premature death of some, and the sudden and calamitous death of others, the awfulness of affliction when disconnected from piety, and the difficulty of acquiring religion when disease and pain oppress the body and distract the mind; that he is made to feel the full impression of the inspired admonition, “boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” And again, “ whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest.”
They present us with affecting examples of the sufficiency of divine grace. A christian who is weak in faith usually shrinks from the prospect of trials. When afflictions of more than ordinary magnitude gather around his path, he is filled with anxious fears for his safety; his mind becomes distressed with gloomy forebodings. What more likely to strengthen the faith of such an one, and to prepare him for personal suffering, than to visit the abode of afflicted piety, and to contemplate the triumphs of divine grace ? O, how often, when the fearful christian, in his rounds of mercy, has met with some pious individual exemplifying the spirit and the resources of christianity under bodily disease, and the losses, bereavements, and disappointments of life; when he has found him witness for God, standing in the evil day
“ Like a rock amidst the ocean's wave,”
with sunshine on its brow, whilst the billows dash against its base; when he has observed him full of peace in Christ, whilst full of tribulatiou in the world; mourning more for his sins than for his afflictions; more concerned to have his crosses sanctified than removed; smiling even in tears; holding fast, amidst the pressure of multiplied calamities, his confidence and hope ; when he has heard him exclaim, with an eye beaming with celestial joy,
“ Though waves and storms go o'er my head,
Though strength, and health, and friends, be gone,
Though every comfort be withdrawn,
At those times he has felt ashamed of his former fears, and with his heart inspired with a conviction of the faithfulness of God, and of the sufficiency of his grace for all the exigencies of his people, he has dismissed every fear, and has thanked God, and taken courage.
Finally, would you be accepted and approved of God at the last and great day, then be merciful and compassionate to the utmost of your power. If we have laid ourselves out for usefulness, and spared of our abundance, or even of our necessaries, we have laid up for ourselves a good foundation for the time to come. “ The Lord give mercy," says Paul, “ to the house of Onesiphorus, for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; the Lord grant that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day.” Yes, the merciful shall obtain mercy in that day when the value of it will be universally known and appreciated. Woe to those in that day, who, though they laid claim to a christian character, evinced an unfeeling heart, and were deaf to the complaints of the poor and needy. They will then find themselves placed “on the left hand of the Judge;" and he shall say unto them, “I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not." Vengeance will glare on them from the throne of judgment, debarring all access to the mercy seat; and justice, inexorable justice, as it pronounces their fearful doom, “depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” will chase them from the limits of God's happy dominious, and pursue them to their own place, to the dwelling of misery and everlasting despair. That practical benevolence, however, which has been the result of evangelical piety, shall then be brought out to notice, and recounted. Yea, those whose love to God has been displayed in acts of sympathy, and kindness, and charity to men, shall be singled out by the Judge, and placed before the eye of the universe, as the objects of God's gracious and complacential regard. Then shall he recount their acts of devotedness to himself, shall publish their character, and proclaim his approbation, “ inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me.” In this sentence all holy beings will acquiesce and rejoice. With what congratulations will they be accompanied in their ascent to heaven. How gratefully will they be referred to by those whose miseries, while here, they helped to remove; whose ignorance they instructed, whose faith they assisted, whose fears they removed, and whose salvation they promoted. Then shall they become as the angels of God, and rejoice in the unclouded and unrestricted manifestations of his love for ever
Endeavour then to do good to the utmost of your power; to crowd into the narrow sphere of life all the useful services possible. Be active, be zealous, for the time is short.
your love appear unto all. By your words of kindness, your visits of
mercy, your acts of benevolence, and self-denying liberality, let it be seen that you are the servants of the God of love, the followers of him who went about doing good. Be not weary of well-doing. Behold the blood-bought crown which glitters in the skies. Hear the voice which cries, “be thou faithful unto death, and thou shalt receive a crown of life."
YOUTH IN AFFLICTION.
Ye fair enchanting throng,
Ye golden dreams, farewell!
And now I break the spell ;
But must I part with all?
My heart still fondly pleads ;
It beats,-it throbs,-it bleeds :
O yes, there is a balm,
A kind physician there,
To bid me not despair ;
WILT THOU NOT FROM THIS TIME CRY UNTO ME, MY FATHER, THOU ART THE GUIDE OF MY YOUTH ?”.
JEREMIAH III., IV.
At every period of life, sickness is painful, and death is awful. In advanced age, however, nature teaches us to expect them, and presents us with a thousand premonitions of that affecting catastrophe, by which “the earthly house of