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It was charged upon some, that they returned not to him that smote them, nor sought the Lord in their distress : Isa. ix. 13. On the contrary, the clear apprehension which Job had of a divine hand in his afflictions, is as instructive as his patience under them. While Grief rent his mantle, Faith fell down and worshipped :-The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord : Job. i. 21. Let us learn from him never to lose sight of the Author by an undue regard to the mere circumstances of our loss. We may think and speak of the symptoms and stages of the late removal; of the physicians, of the remedies, &c. in their supposed right or wrong application : but not so as to forget that an unerring Providence presided over the whole, yea actually conducted every part on reasons as righteous as they are inscrutable.
Whatever may appear to us peculiar in the sick chamber, the whole was but God's intended method of removing one, who had lived his full (i, e., his appointed) time. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee : thou hast appointed him his bounds which he cannot pass : Job xiv. 6. Instead of fixing our attention upon means and creatures, of which we know so very little, let us turn to him, who wrought by these instruments, and merely effected his own determinations by them. Cease from man, for wherein, is he to be accounted of? Isa. ii. 22. Let not the
creature hide the Creator, nor present things prove the fatal screen of the future; but, in every occurrence, mark the Great Cause, of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things: Rom. xi. 36.-who numbereth the very hairs of our head, and without whom even a sparrow falls not to the ground: Matt, x, 29, 30.
While others, therefore, are wandering without an object, and bereaved without a comforter, yea are going to their worst enemy for relief, let us endeavour to say with Peter, “ Lord, to whom shall we go (John vi. 68) but to THEE?” Consider the Great Physician as now proposing a most serious question to your conscience: Wilt thou be made whole? John v. 6. May the language of your heart be that of the Apostle's: If by ANY means ! Phil. ii. 11. Then, though seemingly swallowed up of this grief, like Jonah, you shall find a resource in it, and finally be preserved by it*. This dart, like that which once pierced an imposthume in battle, shall bring health with its wound: and you shall be enabled, with many who are gone before you, to say, The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death: Ps. cxviii. 18.
Duty also directs you to GRIEF.
Our Heavenly Father, who knows our frame, and remembers that we are but dust (Ps. ciii. 14)
* Jonah ii, 7—10.
allows us to mourn when he afflicts us. He often, in his providence, calls us to it, and charges us to weep with them that weep: Rom. xii. 15. But he admonishes us also of a danger on each hand :My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord; nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; Heb. xii. 5. - If we seriously profess Christianity, our very profession implies, (not only a subjection to our Lord's will, but) that we have special resources in our affliction : several of which have been already named that among other of our
: privileges, there is a peace from God which passeth all understanding, to keep our hearts and minds (Phil. iv. 7) through life and death: and that we have many reasons for not sorrowing as others who have no hope : 1 Thess. iv. 13.-Besides which, Christians have a post of honour to maintain : a high calling (Phil. iii. 14) to demonstrate and commend. We shall, like the pilot in a storm, be brought to our principles : and, as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. vi. 10), should prove that we have them not now to learn.
On the contrary, there is such a thing as nursing and cherishing our grief: employing a “ busy meddling memory to muster up past endearments,” and personate a vast variety of tender and heart-rending circumstances. There is a tearing open the wound afresh by images and remembrances; and thereby multiplying those pangs, which constitute the very bitterness of
death itself. Our melancholy exceedingly affects this voluntary torture : it seeks expedients; and will listen to the most unjust and aggravated accusations, which can approach a tender conscience respecting the diseased. But conscience should rather be concerned to repress such a disposition. It is a temptation. It desperately strives to retain what God has determined to remove. In some cases, it seeks to penetrate an abyss, which he forbids even conjecture to explore: and, while it unfits the niourner for the pressing duties of his station, it leads to that sorrow of the world which worketh death (2 Cor. vii. 10) to his body, his soul, and his Christian character. How different and superior the sentiments of David! His servants said unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? Thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive :-but, when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live : but, now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I SHALL GO TO HIM, BUT HE SHALL NOT RETURN TO ME: 2 Sam. xii. 21-23.
Present circumstances also admonish you to KNOW YOUR OPPORTUNITY; and to improve this season, as peculiarly favourable for spiritual advancement.
There is a tide in the concerns of religion: the Scripture calls it the day of visitation, and sends us to the stork and to the swallow for instruction respecting it: Luke xix. 44. Jer. viii. 7. Your heart is now soft, its fascinations withdrawn, and the call loud and affecting: endeavour, therefore, to take the benefit of a remedy which you feel so expensive.
If, in a sense, “smitten Friends are Angels sent on errands full of love," instead of weeping over their tombs, let us listen to the voice which properly arises from them; especially if it be our privilege to bury one, who, like Abel, being dead yet speaketh (Heb. xi. 4), and who would be ready to say to his mourners, “ Weep not for me, but for yourselves, and for your children (Luke xxiii. 28). I have fought the good fight : I have finished my course : I have kept the faith (2 Tim. iv. 7), and received my crown.
I cannot now come to weep with you, but you may ascend and rejoice with me, where there is no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, for the former things are passed away: (Rev. xxi. 4.) If you truly love me, prepare to follow me. If you earnestly wish to see me again, seek not the living among the dead, but arise and become a follower of them who ihrough faith and patience inherit the promises : Heb. vi. 12. Take that heavenly lamp which shineth as a light in a dark place : walk humbly by it, till the day dawn, and the day star arise in your heart (2 Pet. i. 19).