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that in a moment he can crush us in the dust; that our struggles against his appointments are vain; and that on him alone we rely for life and felicity.

When do we better know his holiness, which cannot endure sin, and his wrath against sinners, than when we feel those pains, which, without guilt, would never have entered into our world ; than when we look forward to that death which is the wages of sin, and to that awful tribunal whence the impenitent shall be blasted by the thunders of the Lord ?

When do we better know the divine faithfulness, than when we find our Heavenly Father supporting his children amidst their pains and weakness, accomplishing all his promises to them, proving that “ his grace is sufficient for them," and making his strength perfect in their weakness?

When do we better know how good is God, than when we find him tenderly standing by us in our sickness, giving us the consolations of his

grace,

and lifting us above the pressure of outward sorrow, by letting down in our soul an anticipated heaven!

Yes, my brethren, I doubt not there are many of you who can attest that, in a week of dangerous and severe sickness, the believer often sees more of the compassion and kindness of God, than in months of health. How delightful is it then, to behold the hand of our Father pointing us to immortality, and leading the soul sinking under pain, to approach to the fountain-head of felicity, and to drink in delight from that stream which makes glad the city of our God!" How delightful, to have him giving us a warm feeling of his love, a full certainty of our adoption, and an assurance of the heavenly glory! And these are blessings which he generally communicates to his children in severe sickness; through his overflowing

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VOL. III.

goodness, he generally then removes every fear and apprehension from the minds even of those believers who, in health, were overclouded by doubts and darkness.

3. Sickness is calculated to make us feel the preciousness of Jesus. Even in the time of health, the Saviour is to the believer the chief among ten thousands, and altogether lovely;" but his value is especially felt by us when sickness has brought us to look into the eternal world. With what lustre do the glories of the Redeemer then shine! with what ecstasy is his name pronounced! with what adoring gratitude is his grace remembered! Oh! what a mercy does it now appear, to have a Christ who hath disarmed death of his sting! who stands ready to conduct our separated souls to that kingdom, of which he hath taken possession for his followers ! who will appear as our advocate before the eternal throne, and receive us to dwell in his embraces for ever! Yes, I repeat it, sickness renders the name of Jesus more dear, and causes us with more eagerness to press his cross to our hearts, as the only source of our felicity, the only basis of our hope, the only foundation of our triumph!

4. Sickness is beneficial, because it makes us more deeply to feel the infinite importance of religion. Yes, the heart that has been most obdurate, is then constrained to feel, and the mouth that has vented the boldest scoffs against vital godliness, is then constrained to acknowledge the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between a holy and a worldly life. The believer then feels more than he did before, under what unspeakable obligations he is to God for having softened, and humbled, and converted his heart; for having forgiven his sins, and

justified him by his grace, and sealed him by his Spirit. And you too, careless sinner, will then have different views and sentiments. The Saviour, whom you now neglect, will then appear to you more desirable than a thousand worlds; that futurity, which you now disregard, will break in upon your soul in all its overwhelming powers; and whilst you, standing on the isthmus which separates time from eternity, look on the one hand and behold the glories reserved for the pious, and contemplate on the other the agonies prepared for the impenitent, you will curse yourself for your folly in refusing to tread that narrow path, which terminates in endless joy!

5. Sickness is beneficial, since it shows us the vanity of the world. On the bed of sickness, honours, pleasures, riches, the pursuit of which occupies the lives of so many men, to the forgetfulness of their soul, their heaven, their God, lose their lustre, and appear but phantoms. What consolation would the acquisition of all earthly dignities afford to him who, from the bed of disease, as from a watch-tower, looks into the eternal world, and sees that the only true honour is that which cometh from God only? What “support can power and authority give to the soul of him who is taught (oh! how convincingly!) by sickness, that he is a feeble, impotent mortal, whose honours will perish in the dust, whose authority will be disregarded in the eternal world ? Does not sickness as forcibly teach us the vanity of earthly pleasures? The ghosts (if I may speak so) of many forbidden delights, in which the voluptuary has indulged, start up around his bed, and instead of tranquillizing his agitated mind, or affording a leni tive to the pains of his body, sting him with remorse, and point to that world where he will recompense,

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ah! dearly recompense, for his guilty joys! And with respect to the innocent pleasures of life, the remembrance even of them can afford him no satisfaction. Whilst he considers that for them he neglected the one thing needful, he is forced to regard himself as a child running after shadows, and amusing himself with toys and playthings, that in a little time must be broken to pieces.

Do riches on the bed of dangerous sickness appear more valuable ? Answer, you who have been accustomed to fix your trust in them, to consider them as the supreme good, as the source of all pleasures, as the antidote to all pains. Did not sickness break your idol, and discover to you its impotence? Did it not make you feel that your gold could then do nothing for you? that it could not assuage the burnings of that fever which scorched you, nor mitigate those bodily pains which oppressed you ; much less refresh, support, uphold your soul, trembling on your lips, and ready to fly to the bar of God? Did it not make you feel that the beggar, lying at your gate, covered with sores and rags, expiring with hunger—but humble, resigned, patient, rich in faithis incomparably more happy from his piety than

you from your riches; and that this poor man, formerly the object of your contempt and scorn, becomes at this moment, and in your own eyes, an object truly great, truly worthy of your envy and respect? How useful'are those disorders, which thus show how false and illusive is the glare of those earthly objects, an inordinate attachment to which destroys so many souls!

6. Sickness is beneficial, when our deportment under it is such as becomes Christians, since it then benefits our neighbour, and glorifics God. Thousands

of examples might easily be produced, of persons who received their first serious impressions from the conduct of Christians in dangerous diseases. Indeed, there can scarcely be found any person so profane and insensible, as not to be affected when he beholds Christians, amidst bodily pains and in the prospect of dissolution, calm, tranquil, rejoicing in the perfections of God and the all-sufficiency of Jesus, and saying with composure to their afflicted friends, “ Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves!” Such spectacles prove to him that there is a great reality in religion; and even if they do not produce a true conversion, they will at least cause him to pause, and have more solemn thoughts of religion than he has hitherto had. And besides this, the hearts of the pious are cheered by such a deportment in sickness; their diligence in serving God is augmented; their fears are removed; they triumph in the faithfulness of their covenant God; and look forward without apprehension to the time when they too shall be stretched upon the bed of sickness and of death. Since then

your
disorders

may

be the means of awakening the careless, of causing the praises of God to be celebrated by those who have hitherto neglected him, and his perfections to be enstamped * upon hearts that have hitherto glowed with no affection to him; since they may inspire the children of God with thankfulness and joy, with confidence and : trust, they may certainly be the effects of his mercy, and sent to you because he loves you.

I intended to have mentioned many other beneficial effects of sickness, but it is time for me to pause. Suffer me, however, before concluding, to entreat those of you who have lately been visited with sickness, to enter into your hearts, and inquire whether

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