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no condemnation. And by the same great and mysterious atonement, He has changed the character of those temporal sufferings about which we are now inquiring. When He stood forth, in our nature, as the new head of our race, and triumphed where Adam fell, He healed the sick, and raised the dead, as being the Conqueror for us of those powers to which man had been brought into subjection; and if we are “ found in Him," we are made partakers of his victories. Those afflictions which were as fierce beasts going about to destroy, have been tamed by the gracious hand of Christ, and are made to minister to the wants of his people. They which were as deadly poisons, aggravating the diseases of our souls, are changed into healing medicines, in the gift of the great Physician.

While we are in a world where sin and temptation are yet found, suffering cannot be taken away. But if we are able to recognize in it the loving correction of a Father, we may even “rejoice in tribulation.” For with all its bitterness it is indeed a dispensation of healing, and it is ever meant to accomplish, through the blessing of God's good Spirit, some merciful purpose for all who will receive it meekly as from Him. Generally, something will be found in the nature of the affliction, which addresses itself to some peculiarity in the character or circumstances of him to whom it is sent,—and if this fitness be perceived by the sufferer, he may see also the hand from which it comes, and the purposes for which it is appointed.

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Perhaps the world is all fair and bright round some young and joyous spirit; the present full of pleasures which have not yet lost their freshness; the future glowing with still happier anticipations. A thousand engagements fill the time; nor, amidst the pressure of all these daily pursuits, is God quite forgotten. His public worship is not altogether slighted, private prayer is not wholly neglected. His service takes its turn with that of the world and of self. But the heart has not yet learned that God is the Supreme Object, his will the standard to which all must be referred: there is no depth, perhaps no reality in its religion.

Affliction comes, and the tumult of the world is exchanged for the stillness of a sick or saddened chamber. God has called aside out of the crowd this one of his servants to speak with alone. Solemn truths, before unknown, or forgotten, or put aside to a more convenient season, are now brought before the stricken heart. Perhaps for the first time it learns that “life is earnest;" that time itself is a gift, which we must not abuse by a thoughtless abandonment to the impulses of the undisciplined mind; that religion does not consist in a certain amount of work done, one day in seven given to God, to ransom all the others for ourselves; in a certain portion of religious reading got through, chiefly that we may have leave from our consciences to read, and think, and feel, in the main, after the imaginations of our own hearts; in a certain amount of almsgiving, to set free all the rest of our worldly goods for selfish purposes ; in a word, in the reluctant giving up of a part of this world, that we may, in the rest, be worldly without risk.

In this time of trial the utter vanity of every such system of compromise may first be clearly perceived, and the great distinctive principle of Christianity, as proclaimed by our Lord Himself, be first truly apprehended; that principle which reveals to us the secret of all real spiritual life :—“ABIDE in Me and I in you: as the branch cannot bear fruit, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.” And if so, the notion of resting satisfied because we occasionally approach Him, while in truth we are living a separate and independent life,—which is in such manifest opposition to his own most blessed will concerning us,-will be altogether abandoned. For we may not consider our religion as an affair, which, though indeed important, has but its set time, and which, being transacted, may be put aside to give room for others. For our life is our religion,-our life, and nothing less. Insomuch that all our engagements and pursuits, our daily intercourse with others, even when not a word is spoken on strictly religious subjects, all must be chastened, elevated, brightened, pervaded, by the grace of Christ within.

If such truths are wrought into the heart when the hour of sickness or calamity has touched and opened it, if a new meaning is given to life, and if, when eternity in all its vastness appears so close at hand, God also is brought very near; then indeed

there will be reason to bless Him for all this time of severe and heavy trial.

But affliction is perhaps sent to some other, who having had far better opportunities of knowing the truth, is too wayward to follow it. God has long been speaking to him by his providence, by the example and by the ministry of others, by his holy word and sacraments; and his voice has been disregarded. For here is an open understanding but a closed heart, and a rebellious and disobedient will. With all the great truths of which mention has just been made, he is quite familiar; his conscience is not asleep; and he is far from happy; knowing himself to be in doubtful and dangerous circumstances, but still resolved that he will not, at least for the present, relinquish what he loves so much better than he loves God. Yet because he dares not look down into that abyss, upon the edge of which this disobedience places him, he interposes some slight screen of moral respectabilities and religious observances; he half persuades himself that the peril is not imminent, and would rejoice if in his inmost heart he could only arrive at some settled belief that his duty to himself or to others justifies the risk.

Expostulation is idle here; the ear that is closed against the voice of God will not be open to that of man. To such an one it is vain to plead the cause of Him to whom all pure intelligences throughout the range of unnumbered worlds bow and obey. The clear understanding, so strong in argument, so ready with illustration, so keen in detecting sophistry, is here all darkened and confused. He can but feebly strive to defend his false position with reasonings of which he more than half perceives the hollowness. He can but speak of what society-(which means his fragment of society)--and its usages demand: for these usages form his gospel,—what is written there he will believe and obey. He dares not stand alone in wrong doing, but finds great sense of security in a crowd.—And yet when did their multitude ever protect offenders from the wrath of God? It did not amongst the angels which sinned; it did not when the Lord overthrew the cities of the plain.He is, however, glad (for his convictions are all on the side of religion) that his associates, in breaking down the distinctions between right and wrong, and confounding the evil with the good, do so only in pursuit of pleasure, and not in deliberate and proclaimed hostility to God. He has heard, indeed, the solemn command, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil,” but it is inconvenient to him to believe, and therefore he will not believe that this can refer to the brilliant throng by which he is surrounded.

The gracious God, who willeth not the death of a sinner, has visited him ere now with the discipline of affliction. Heavily it has fallen upon

him once and again. Under the pressure of his calamity, and when other objects were excluded, he turned to God. And ever, with restored health or recovered spirits, he went back again to his idol worship: and so he has


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