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Nor is this all. There is, almost as a necessary result of this change in our views and prospects, an awakening of conscience, a deep spiritual thoughtfulness on practical duties, and a most sanctifying and elevating influence on our whole character. Seeing that the material universe will be dissolved, we are struck with the immense importance of the question, What manner of men ought we to be? A searching retrospect is made of our past lives; all adventitious circumstances being removed, every thing is judged by the unfailing standards of truth and goodness: then falls the silent tear of penitence, and the one object which henceforth appears worth living for, is to become like Christ, fit for the divine presence and the abodes of the blessed.* Ought we not, then,
*“ If, (observes Pope in a letter to Sir Richard Steele,) what Waller says be true, that "The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed,
Lets in new light through chinks that Time has made ;' then surely sickness, contributing no less than old age to the shaking down this scaffolding of the body, may discover the inward structure more plainly. Sickness is a sort of early old
to be in a great measure reconciled to an appointment, wherein we can trace so manifest a tendency to build us up to the full stature of the perfect man?
In thus describing the fruits of sickness, we are earnestly desirous others should feel as we do, that we are not dealing in mere gratifying speculations; what we have stated is confirmed by great and good men without number, of all nations and ages. Go we back to antiquity, we have a testimony from an observing heathen, -"I had lately (he remarks) an opportunity of seeing, in my attendance on a friend in a languishing
age; it teaches us a diffidence in our earthly state, and inspires us with the thoughts of a future, better than a thousand volumes of philosophers and divines. It gives so warning a concussion to those props of our vanity, our strength and youth, that we thiuk of fortifying ourselves within, when there is so little dependence upon our outworks."
“ Sickness is one of God's kindest messengers, to put us in mind of our folly, and incogitance, and excess, in health : and how discomposed and disconsolate soever it renders our thoughts, it awakens those that have long slept, and presents many things to our clearest view, which we had laid aside, never to be thought of more." — - Clarendon.
state, how much better we all are for sickness: for avarice and vice then lose their hold upon us; we are no more slaves to our irregular passions; the honors of the world are no allurement to us; its wealth we slight, finding that, be our pittance ever so small, it will serve us to our journey's end. At such seasons, we think of God, and remember that we ourselves are mortal; we neither envy nor despise others, nor take a malignant pleasure in hearing their faults exposed.” And now let Christians bear witness. One, who was at the same time one of our greatest philosophers, and most learned and pious followers of Christ, in reviewing his pilgrimage, as he approached the vale of years, declares, “I even think it an advantage to me, and am truly thankful for it, that my health received the check that it did, when I was young;
since muscular habit, from high health and strong spirits, is not, I think, in general, accompanied with that sensibility of mind, which is favorable both to piety and to speculative pursuits." And an eminent American di
vine, not long since gathered to his fathers, speaks thus in a letter to a young friend : “ There was a time, when we thought it was commanded you speedily to join the company of those who have entered on their reward. Thacher is gone, and others stand feebly in their places, so that we are doubly grateful for every one who is threatened and yet spared. I dare say that you have felt as much thankfulness on account of the sickness itself, as on account of its removal, because you must have found it a most salutary discipline.” And do you not remember the emphatic and solemnly impressive manner, in which, as if a new light had just burst in upon him, the late Dr. Arnold, a few hours before he closed his eyes, never to re-open them, bade his son “thank God for pain?” We might enumerate, almost to any extent, instances of a similar kind; we might refer to Cowper, to whose mental and bodily sufferings we are, partly at least, indebted for his poetry; to Lardner, from whom, in all probability, we should never have had, had it not been for his deafness,
that inestimable work, the influence of which is felt much wider than its name is known, — “The Credibility of the Gospel History;” and to Dr. Kitto, who is, in this our day, pouring forth such treasures of general and theological information, and who was transformed from a common bricklayer into a literary man, by an accident, which cost him his hearing and his speech ! But need we go further than your own history and that of your kindred and friends, for examples - many beautiful examples -of the thoughtless having turned to reflection, the impious to prayer, and the hard-hearted to gentleness, - of those in whom a rapid disease has been outstripped by the spirit's ascent heavenwards, — by its progress in love and tenderness and great principles ? What a weighty consideration, then, is it that "the touching decay, the gradual unclothing of the mortal body, seem to be a putting on of the garments of immortal beauty and life! That pale cheek; that placid brow; that sweet serenity spread over the whole countenance; that spiritual,