Page images

office, and then by an easy transition, and by a manner peculiarly his own, on matters of an higher nature; the poor lad's heart, like that of Lydia mentioned in Scripture, was opened to attend to things spoken.

The subject, (as I afterwards learnt,) to which my friend adverted, was the happiness of that rest which remaineth for the people of God,' in the upper and brighter world; contrasted to the toilsome and unsatisfying nature of all things here below. And when he came to describe the love of the Lord Jesus in purchasing this rest for his people, and his affectionate desires that the poor, and the weary, and the heavy laden, should come to him, and find this rest unto their souls; the poor youth, unable to contain his emotions, melted into tears. He did not in so many words say what he felt, but his eyes expressed it. My friend, who possessed great quickness of penetration, perceiving the effect, without seeming to notice it, then made his discourse somewhat more personal ; and held forth the pleasing consideration to his view, that this love of the Lord Jesus was intended for him. The poor boy wiped away

the tear which had fallen on his cheek, and drew nearer to my friend, as to one whose kindness had begotten confidence and affection; and manifested that kind of sympathy of soul, which seemed to thank him for what he had said, and to request him to say more.


INTERESTED in the highest degree with this. awakened concern in the youth, my friend had forgotten the situation of one of the horses in the stall near him, and was unconscious of any danger until he felt its effect. By a violent kick which he received in his side, just beneath the ribs, he was thrown on the pavement in the stable, and remained in a state of insensibility for a considerable time, after we had brought him into the house and placed him on the bed. The alarm, given on the first rumour of this disaster, soon reached my ears; and it was some consolation to me, in the very afflicting circumstance, that I was present to see him taken up, and very gently carried to his chamber.

As soon as he had recovered from his fainting, I ventured to approach his bed-side, and taking him by the hand, expressed my great concern for what had happened. "How unfortunate, (I exclaimed,) is it, that you should have gone to the stable ! how sad a thing that you should have stood near this horse! If one could but have foreseen'- Be patient, my kind friend, I beg of you,' he interrupted me with saying; and in your affection for me, do not forget the first principles of your holy faith. You are looking wholly to second causes, to the mere instrument; and totally shutting out our gracious God from the government of his own world, and all his tender concern and gracious watching over the persons and interests of his people. Alas! my dear brother,' he continued, by this method you increase every trouble, and rob yourself of a thousand comforts. Would

have me be angry


my. self for going into the stable, or displeased with a senseless horse, for acting according to his nature as a horse ? As well might we take of fence at the winter's cold, or summer's heat. Mere instruments are nothing, but as they are acted upon : and what folly it would be to ascribe to them a power with which they have no connexion! No, no, my good friend,' he continued, never lose sight of that gracious and Almighty Being, who ordereth all things according to the counsel of his own will;' and then you will discover wisdom, and faithfulness,

and love in every providence. It is not enough,' said he, in my apprehepsion, merely to acquiesce in the divine will every true believer in Jesus ought to do more; he should approve of it. It is one thing to say, “the Lord's will be done ;' and another, to say, 'good is the will of the Lord concerning me.' And this is no more, after all, than what is frequently observed in the common circumstances of the world. If, for example, I see an artist of esteemed excellence in his profession, constructing his machine upon various principles of a complicated nature; though the whole appears to my view, intricate and confused, yet I take it for granted that he knows how the several parts will harmonize together, and I yield an implicit obedi. ence to his superior judgment. And shall we so readily ascribe such sagacity to men, and yet venture to question wisdom in the arrangements of God?

• Do, my brother,' he rejoined, do settle this in your mind as an everlasting maxim : our God, our gracious covenanted God in Christ, is unremittingly pursuing, in every minute event of his government over his church and people, their real welfare, whether it be through the path of pain or pleasure. If they are exercised with suffering, or even deeply drenched in

[ocr errors]

affliction, it is because there is a needs-be for it. , Not a single pain or trouble could be dispensed with. It is not sufficient barely to say that the affliction will ultimately do them no harmthis is but a negative kind of approbation. We must say more-it will do them, sooner or later, much good. And so infinitely interesting is the most minute circumstance in their life, that to prevent, (were it possible, one trouble, or to add one prosperous event, would derange the whole plan of God's government. Oh! depend upon it, we are under a wise as well as a gracious superintendance. A synod of angels could not add, or diminish, without manifest injury.

With respect to the present providence,' he added, " I know not what is the will of my God concerning me: but one thing I know, that

all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies*.' And lifting up his eyes, he cried out, . It is my mercy, thou dearest Lord of thy people, that my times are in thy hands!' I have long been enabled, by thy blessed Spirit's grace, to commit my soul into thy keeping. Well may I then leave this body of sin and death to thy care !

* Psalm xxy. 10.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »