Page images
PDF
EPUB

who was meek and lowly in heart, required his followers to learn of him this virtue.Their situation was favourable to it's cultiration. They had many difficulties and hardships and evils to struggle with. But pride, arrogance, and self-sufficiency are the natural consequences of greatness and success. Innumerable are the temptations with which we are then surrounded. Who can bear, with constant moderation, the smiles of fortune, the favour of the great, the flattery of the mean and interested, or even the respect of the worthy? But when the scene is changed : when those creatures of a summer's day who courted us for selfish purposes are removed : when we are stripped of those splendid but adventitious ornaments that dazzled our sight; and when we see ourselves as we really are, weak and helpless, what can we then do, but humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and implore him, that in due time we may be exalted. When our spirits are weighed down with afflictions, and our heart is melted as wax within us, it is almost unnecessary to exhort us not to be high-minded, and to flee for refuge to him who is mighty to save.

Patience and resignation are unknown but in adversity. It is easy for that man to live in serenity who enjoys every thing that he can wish, who is sumptuously fed and clothed and attended. If we would meet with a holy patience, we must turn to another quarter, to him whose dwelling is the squalid hut of poverty, whose couch is nightly bedewed with tears, and who daily eats the bread of sorrow. He hath need of patience. He hath full scope for exercising that virtue which is the pride of man and the glory of God. Believing in resignation to the will of his Creator, the child of affliction becomes the child of obedience, and the remembrance of his sufferings on this earth shall be lost in the draught of those waters, whose flowing is as everlasting as the glories of God, and the happiness of the redeemcd of the Lamb.

Charity and compassion are, likewise, nearly allied to adversity. Prosperity gives us the power, but seldom the inclination to do good. We must feel distress before we learn to succour the distressed. Little do the rich and the

gay, who are hurried down the stream of pleasure, reflect how many thousands, at the very moment when they are indulging in lux

ury and extravagance, are wearing out life in poverty, sickness, and all the variety of wo. “They that lie upon beds of ivory,” says the prophet Amos, “and stretch themselves upon “ their couches ; that eat the lambs out of “ the flock, and the calves out of the midst of " the stall ; that chant to the sound of the “ viol ; that drink wine out of bowls, and “ anoint themselves with the chief ointments, “are little grieved for the afflictions of Joseph.” The influence of adversity upon the characters of men to excite compassion, may be inferred from the example of Jesus who submitted to the miseries and pains of humanity, that he might have a fellow-feeling with our infirmities. Being made like unto his brethren in all things, and having suffered, being tempted, he is now able and willing to succour those who are tempted.

5. Affictions are an excellent trial of faith, both with respect to individuals, and to societies of men.

In every society there are many who profess to adhere to it's laws, and

yet are by no means sincere in their profession. The society of christians is not free from such characters. “ Doth Job serve God for nought ?” was the reply of Satan to God,

Gg

VOL. I.

when he pointed out Job as a perfect and upright man; and it is plain, that, many who in prosperity appear zealous for God, go back and walk no more with him when the day of trial cometh. It is easy to be religious when every man may sit under his own vine without any to make him afraid ; but, let persecution, for the sake of righteousness arise, and they only are the true servants of God, who rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.

In individuals, likewise, the tares grow up with the wheat. We imagine ourselves to have many virtues which disappear in the day of trial. - The imperfection of the present statc makes discipline and improvement necessary, and the very idea of discipline implies danger and difficulty. There can be little merit where no temptation is resisted, nor any

difficulty overcome. The rich man's honesty is put to no trial.

He has no motive to be impatient who is in full possession of health and tranquillity. Then, only, do we show the sincerity of our faith, when we are exposed to loss and persecution in maintaining our integrity. In prosperity we frequently impose on ourselves ; adversity undeceives us, and shows the progress which we tare 2 ZILE I the divine life. The we are in a the good seed takes deeper ist. abide this trial of our iat, : 3927r. cious than that of gold stico sa v shall receive praise, and a EIT I the appearing of our Los Jus C

II. I proposed, in te vo 12.5 1 discourse, to set before you bure S. Eclusions which obriously arise se Basject, and,

1. The preceding otsuszc3635 *** moral character of the GoreTOJË Err from all objections arieinig sa mais of natural eril. “ God istory is 3271 “ and righteous in 2.1 tn nokt. ir visa

draweth not his eyes frun tire 41“ If they be bound in fetes, 21,3 trinn “ cords of affliction ; then stone her “ their work and their transgresso in “ have exceeded. He on the out “ discipline, and commande:htiati.cy tem-19 “ from iniquity. If they olay and t¢1::S,

they shall spend their days in propri'y, " and their years in pleasure. But ii tine “ obey not, they shall perish by the thuid, " and they shall die without knowledge."

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »