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s destined for, and allowing self-love to usurp in her heart that place which was once filled with love towards him ; if the wife be bitter against her husband, applying taunts for counsel, scoffings for sympathy, and reproach for love ; thinking to increase - her own importance by casting contempt upon him -exceeding bitter must that spirit be; a spirit, alike unchristian and unnatural. Wise then the wife, who thinks her brightest ornament is that meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God himself is of great price. How winning its influence in families, they best can tell who have the misery to mourn its absence. Where it pervades thought, word, and act, there peace flourishes; there husband and wife, like Abraham and Sarah, to their mutual comfort, find their own best happiness, each in studying that of the other; contention is avoided by gentleness ; meekness leaves no room for anger; bitterness enters not the cup of life; and holy love triumphs'.
THE ORDER FOR THE VISITATION OF THE SICK.
SALUTATION. By the great mass of the heathen world in their ignorance, and even by some of the learned among them in their wisdom, it was held, that the severer calamities incident to human life were sent by God upon his creatures, as tokens of his marked anger and abhorrence. It was left for the Gospel to reveal the happier truth, that even the most afflictive dispensations of divine Providence, if sent to punish, have yet mercy, and love, and tender care, not anger for their motive; and the ultimate good of the sufferer for their object'. Our heavenly Father chasteneth, not whom he hateth, but whom He loveth ; He scourgeth every son whom He would receive, not whom He would cast away. Hence the minister, as the herald of Gospel-peace, no sooner enters the dwelling of the sick and afflicted, than he declares not wrath but reconciliation, and proclaims “ Peace to this house and to all that dwell in it.” And what if in these days of light, as many as profess the religion of Jesus must already know this blessed truth, we are all well reminded of it, when, with bodies weakened and our spirits sunk in the languor of sickness, we require every aid which Christian sympathy may supply, and the Church, in her delegated authority, may offer, to sustain our patience, confirm our faith, and animate our hope. The prayer, indeed, which follows —and which the minister, immediately upon finding himself in the presence of the sick, offers on bended knee and in the lowly spirit of an unworthy suppliant —may at first seem rather to encourage the error of supposing calamity to be sent in anger, because he commences at once by deprecating God's recollection “ of our own iniquities and the iniquities of our forefathers :" but observe, he includes himself, and others who may be present, as all equally deserving the Divine wrath, all equally liable to afflictive dispensations. The language is explicit, as applicable generally, and not confined to the sick person individually. “ Spare us, good Lord !” “Be not angry with us for ever” – language this, which so far from selecting individual sufferers as beings marked out for God's judicial anger, speaks but our own consciousness of what we all really merit at his hands, and deprecates “the evils we most righteously have deserved.” The sufferings of the sick may soon be our own ; ours therefore be the prayer for grace to meet them, when they do fall upon us, without a murmur or a plaint. That the sick man is instructed thus to view his state, is manifest from the words in which he responds an ejaculation, brief as suited to his weakness, sufficiently strong however to express his entire and sole dependence upon the mercy of God both in his own and others' behalf — “Spare us, good Lord !”—and how hopefully he thus invokes mercy, every faithful worshipper may for himself tell. He has heard the plea offered-even “the precious blood” of the Crucified—and that plea, he knows, cannot fail.
1 Refer to page 379.
1 This was a very prevailing notion among some of the Jews. Thus in their memorable discourse with our blessed Lord as to the cause of blindness in one born blind, they took for granted that the calamity was judicial; their only doubt being, to which party, as sinners, so grievous a visitation should be traced, to the blind man himself or to his parents. The reply of the Saviour is equally tender towards the feelings of both these parties; and is conclusive as to the fact, that afflictive dispensations are sent upon men, that so they may be drawn from the world and led to their God; may purify their souls as in his sight, and so turn sorrow into joy, affliction into blessing. For though, as the whole Gospel teaches, all men by nature sin, and come short of the glory of God,“ neither had this man nor his parents so" signally “sinned ” as to call down signal punishment upon them above their fellow-creatures. The object was, that partly by the good effect of trial on the soul of the individual sufferer, and partly by the opportunity so given of evidencing before others the mighty power of God, and so promoting the cause of the Gospel,“ the works of God should be made manifest in him."
“ And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Nejther hath this man sinned, nor his parents : but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”—John ix. 1, 2, 3.
The responses which immediately follow, are also brief, as suited to the condition of the weak and sick and dying; yet do they present a most beautiful and comprehensive form of Christian faith. Does the minister implore the “ Lord to have mercy ?”
The ready response of the sick instantly acknowledges in that Almighty Lord and Father, his Saviour also ; and he turns also to “ Christ, to have mercy."
7." The minister completes the declaration of faith by calling upon the third person in the glorious Trinity, that He likewise as the Holy Ghost, the “Lord and Giver of life," would “have mercy upon us.” And what other cry becomes us when seeking to be healed ? Mercy was ever the plea of the distressed; all their cry was“Lord, have mercy on us."
THE LORD'S PRAYER. To what prayer may we humbly trust Almighty God will so readily “bow down his ear" in mercy, as that which his own well-beloved Son did teach and command us? Its very opening—how appropriate an acknowledgment from the sick, that they are under the hand of Thee, O God ! “ Our Father, who art in heaven! Who can murmur at whatever suffering thy fatherly hand may lay upon them? Nay, in their
same, that 66
most trying moments, their trust is in Thee: their great aim to declare and promote thy honour. Their reverential love never weakens, even though trials encompass them around. They know in whom they have believed, and the desire of their heart is still the
Thy name be hallowed !” Their whole soul is now animated with a new spirit. They now feel that if the sick and dying had all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, such possessions could neither give ease of body for the present hour, nor breathe hope to the soul for its future welfare. In the midst of worldly wealth they must be poor, in the midst of worldly honours, miserable, unless they had gained through Christ Jesus the blessed though conditional hope of inheritance in that kingdom which lieth beyond the grave. Filled thus with ardent longing for an answer to their petition, to Thee, O God, they devoutly pray, “ Thy kingdom come !”-established here in truth and grace and righteousness, hereafter in bliss and power and glory! Filled with these elevating anticipations, no obedience is hard. Their wish henceforth is, that “ Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven ! ” True it is, that where life has been passed without a hearty adoption of religious faith and religious practice, sad and bitter self-reproach must be reflected on the awakened soul of the sick and dying, when, as the words of this petition are either uttered by their own weak and trembling lips, or heard only when the minister repeats them, they remember how much of misery and sin has been caused to themselves and others, as they have followed the devices and desires of their own hearts, cast aside the guidance of the Word, slighted the godly motions of the Spirit, stifled the warning