Imatges de pàgina
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Secondly, Where then shall we discover x grand specific for this epidemic distemper, where shall we find an antidote against this destructive poison? Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there? Yes there is. Let us hear what reason and religion, the great physicians of mankind, will prescribe unto us. Go, say they both, and get thee the universal medicine, get thee the balm of innocence, to heal thine infirmities. By this only the health of the foul can be preserved, by this only it can be restored. If thou art heavy laden, this will refresh thee; if thou art fick with forrows, this will heal them. Whilst we are in the temple of virtue, we are fafe; it is a facred asylum; and care and difquietude will not dare to enter into and profane it. He who hath her, will enjoy lasting peace and tranquillity; and he who is armed with her, need not fear what man can do unto him : he rises superior to fortune, and looks down on the viciffitudes of life with an eve of calmness and indifference: he sits on the shore in safety, and views at a distance those waves and storms which can never injure, because they can never reach him. All the days of the afflicted are evil; but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feaft. But this is a feast which only God and our own conscience can invite us to, and to which nothing but innocence can insure us a hearty welcome.

The next thing which offers itself to our consideration, and promises immediate relief from discontent and disquic tule, is a firm re

liance on and confidence in the goodness of God, who is always able and always willing to relieve us. He is a God of mercy, and will not afflict us beyond what we are able to bear: he is a God of beneficence, and will make a way for us to escape. If we languish on the bed of pain and fickness, let us remember that the God of health, in whom are the issues of life and death, is always able to restore us : if we suffer hunger and thirst in the barren desart of poverty and amiction, let us call to mind that he is the Master of the whole earth: he who commanded water to flow from the rock, will he not quench your thirst? he who adorned with such transcendent beauty even the lilies of the field, will he not cloath you also ? O ye of little faith!

And to this firm reliance on the divine goodness, therefore, we should be careful to add resignation, humility, and above all, devotion: when I am in heaviness, says David, I will call upon God. To impart our forrows, to pour our griefs into the bosom of a friend, always gives relief and confolation : and to whom can we better impart them, than to that God who is so able and ready to remove them: what friend shall we chuse who is more ready to afsift, than he who is always present with us ? Whom have we in heaven but him, and who is there upon earth that we should desire in comparison of him?

After all then, Let every sober thinking being, every rational and religious man, consider these things. Let him seriously reflect on the Z

divine

divine attributes, and on his own unworthi. ness; and when any calamity overtakes him, when he is in any plague or trouble, when he is in forrow, need, fickness, or any other adverfitý, let him thus reason with himself: Why art thou so vexed, O my soul, and why art thou

fo disquieted within me ? Is not affliction the common lot of mankind, and the portion of mortality? What right therefore have I to expect that the fixed laws of nature should be reversed for me? What have I done to claim Such a privilege, or to merit such an exemption? Why, therefore, art thou so vexed, O my Soul, and why art thou fo disquieted within me? I know that the evils which I suffer are tolerable, because others have borne them; I know that there are hopes of deliverance, because others have been delivered from them. Have I not myself often been relieved from worse than these? hath not God himself interposed to save my eyes from tears and my feet from falling? Why, therefore, art thou fo c'exed, 0 my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me ? Can an indulgence in sorrow remove the cause of it; will it not rather add fresh weight to the calamity? H'hen I already feel so much pain from the sharpness of the arrow, why Thould I dip it in poison to increase the smart of it? Ilave I received good from the hand of God, and shall I not receive evil alfo? Have I not had more happiness than I expected, and infinitely more than I ever deferved ? Have I not committeil a thousand errors which I might have avoided ? Have I not omitted a thousand

duties which I ought to have performed ? If my soul is vexed, therefore, it should be vexed for its own failings; if it is disquieted, it should be disquieted for its own guilt; not for what it suffers, but for what it merits ; not for the afflictions it has undergone, but for the mise. ries which it deserves. Turn then unto thy reft, O my foul, for the Lord, instead of punishing, hath rewarded thee: thou haft led thyself into dangers, and yet he of his infinite goodness, if thou relieft on him, shall make thee to dwell in safety. Put thy trust therefore in him: for in spite of all thy errors, thy infirmities, thy follies, and thy fins, thou shalt yet than! him, who is the help of thy countenance, and thy God.

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HEN we seriously consider the frail,

corrupt, and distressful state of human nature, when we reflect on the general lot and portion of mortality, to what variety of evils we are subject, and how many enemies we have to contend with, 'how few things there are in this life which can impart real and sub

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ftantial happiness; and on the other hand, how many are pregnant with misery and forrow

; we are naturally led to imagine that it must be the business, the interest, and concern of every individual to lighten as much as possible the general burthen; that every office of tenderness and humanity to our fellow-creatures would of course be daily and punctually performed by every one of us; well knowing that all the poor aid and assistance which each particular could lend, would still be but little and insignificant preservatives against universal calamity, as the most that we can do is but to soften that distress which we cannot prevent, and to soothe those sorrows which we cannot

remove.

Amongst all those duties, therefore, which are inspired by benevolence, taught by natural, or commanded by revealed religion, there is not one which can lay a stronger claim to our observance than that which is inculcated in my text, the duty of visiting the sick, fo strongly and pathetically enforced by our blesfed Saviour himself, who not only recommended, but constantly and assiduously performed it: on the discharge of this kind and friendly office he hath more than once assured us, no less depends than our eternal happiness and falvation; those who do it shall be fet on his right hand, and those who neglect it, on his left, when he shall come in his glory to judge the world, and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.

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