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alike to Thee and to man. Not even in sickness is the soul free from his temptations. To the worldly, he whispers delay; to the righteous, presumption; to the conscience-stricken, despair. For every occasion, even for this, he has his temptation ready. Lo, then, O God! we pray, "be Thou his defence!" O "keep Thou him in perpetual peace and safety!" Keep his soul in peace, and his body in safety, for thy Son's sake, who himself lived in the flesh, and died and rose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The tone of this address, at first, perhaps, strikes upon the mind as bold, and hardly befitting man, when a suppliant before his Maker. David felt that if God deign to behold the things even of heaven, He thereby humbleth himself: the question therefore arises, how shall man, fallen and in misery, call upon so awful a Being, to look down from heaven, and behold, and visit him? The answer is found clearly written in the word of that very God; and Faith with joy applies it. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones 1." Can Faith hesitate then to trust in such a present God? or doubt his power or his will to behold, visit, and relieve his sick and suffering servants? and in all their distresses of mind, body, or estate, "give them the comfort of divine grace and sure confidence in Him?" It is imposssible to doubt, but that He will grant them patience under their sufferings, and at


1 Is. lvii. 15.

last a happy issue out of all their afflictions. O this blessed and sustaining truth! The God of heaven beholds, visits, and relieves his sick and suffering servants on earth!-My soul! Be strong in this faith!

"Hear us, almighty and most merciful God

Christ our Lord.”

through Jesus

THE second Collect instructs the sufferer to cherish a proper frame of mind, whatever be the issue of this visitation. Whether the sickness be for life or death; whether God so answer the prayers offered up, that renewed health be vouchsafed for the body and renovated grace for the soul; or whether it seem good to Him who ruleth all things and ruleth them well, to deny returning health to the body, even though He the more abundantly give grace continually to renovate the soul, till, life's hard conflict over, the spirit return unto the God who gave it-whatever be the end of this visitation, the collect directs us to a right use of it. The prayer is earnest, that this trial of faith, in all its bearings, may be sanctified; that in all the pains of sickness, all its weary wakeful hours, the soul may feel the trial to be from the hand of God; even his fatherly correction. As the sick man finds his bodily weakness to increase, and his life to draw nearer and nearer to the grave, grace is further intreated for him, that he may strengthen his faith in Thee, O God, his only sure trust; and, as time and opportunity for the task of working out his salvation hourly wear away and gradually fail, so he may more and more seriously repent. With every man, in the mid flush of health and strength, repentance is a bounden

duty. If the sick fail in it, what language can tell their daring and their folly!

Suppose the sick man duly impressed with his condition in the season of sickness, as being on the borders of the grave; yet, by divine grace, one with God and with his Christ; his trial sanctified; faith thereby strengthened; hope thereby confirmed—he will be well armed for whatever issue the Almighty may appoint to his visitation. Should it be God's good pleasure "that he be restored to his former health," then like "the lame man healed'," behold! he leapeth for joy; every weight which of old did so easily beset him, is removed; every hindrance which formerly impeded him in his Christian race is laid aside; and free from the dominion of sin, though ever struggling therewith, he leads the residue of his life in the fear and to the glory of God: his sickness has been sanctified. Or should it be ordered otherwise; should his sickness take its onward course to the grave and gate of death; still, by the help of divine grace, he has so borne the visitation of his God, that, by unmurmuring suffering, unwearied patience, dutiful resignation, and a thankful reliance on the hand of his heavenly Father to temper judgment with mercy, his trial has been more than sanctified. His is the hope, of which not even the fraud and malice of the devil or man can deprive him, that "after this painful life ended, he may dwell with his heavenly Father in life everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord." The visitation of sickness, thus sanctified in life, is thus in death glorified.

1 Acts iii. 8.

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In a truly apostolical spirit the Church now proceeds in her office to the duty of exhortation; and this she does the rather, because, as we all probably know from our own experience, both the languor of disease and the restlessness of pain, have each a natural tendency to disturb the mind; rendering it less alive to calm consideration, and fixing its view so nearly and closely upon its own individual suffering, as to prevent it looking beyond the suffering to its cause. Welcome

then be the voice which recalls a truth, perhaps for a time lost sight of, that though secondary causes may have been the apparent means of bringing sickness, it has been permitted and ordered by the great moral Governor of the world. In this, as in all truth, right reason herself harmonizes with revelation. God, who is " Lord of life and death and of all things to them pertaining," is Almighty; supreme therefore over all things; at his pleasure changing the strength and health of youth and age into weakness and sickness; or restoring the sick and the weak to their health and strength again'. Hence, the visitation must be from

1 If, as we meditate upon the relation in which man stands towards his God-the creature towards his Creator-there be one consideration more full of comfort than another, it is that, to which the Lord Christ has himself led us. When compassionating our liability to what are termed "the changes and chances of this mortal life," he reminds us that the minutest concerns of that life are all known to the great Disposer of events*. So minute is his knowledge of them, that not even a bird of the air falleth to the ground; nay, not a hair of our head perisheth, but He knoweth it altogether. The prac

* Refer to the note, page 374.

God! This thought—what benefit, what comfort does it afford! How consolatory under the sore burden of sickness, to "know, that for whatever cause the sickness is sent unto us, it is God's visitation." Perhaps it is sent "to try your patience for the example of others." What a cheering light that view of the visitation pours into your heart; how animating, how comforting the reflection! Doubtless there have been moments in your season of sickness, when among other sad thoughts, this has harassed you; that you are rendered useless to others. But is it so? Nay, is it not far otherwise? Can ever the Christian's ex

ample shine more nobly for himself, more brightly for his fellow-creatures, more evidently to the honour of his God, than when, as he exhibits a patient resignation under suffering; submissive, uncomplaining, unre

tical inference which He draws from it, is as comforting as it is just. "Take, therefore, no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof *." Uninstructed, man had not desired thus to keep his mind free from the anticipation of trouble in a world where trouble is his inheritance; but a firm reliance on the unceasing minute care of the supreme Ruler of events teaches him at once submission under present ills, and such a reliance that future ills will either be averted by love, or sanctified by mercy; that whatever present enjoyment his heavenly Father may vouchsafe to him, he embitters not by sad anticipations for the morrow. He is permitted to view each day's trial as sufficient for the day, and leave the future to his God. Thus the stern duty of faith becomes the Christian's high privilege. Whether health or sickness be appointed him, he knows either to be from God. He rejoices in the one without presumption, and is submissive under the other without repining; "knowing this, that Almighty God is the Lord of life and death, and of all things to them pertaining ‡."

*Matth. vi. 34.

+ Job v. 7.

The opening of this Exhortation.

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