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pining; the language of his lips speaks the language of a subdued heart; “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good :” whilst for the power, the strength, the fortitude thus to bear his cross, he refers others to the same spirit from on high, for which he prayed,—and which he gained, and which is always at hand—the promised Comforter? He owneth the power to be of God; and in so doing promoteth the glory of God. In this season of sickness, then, has it been yours to fear, that your usefulness as a servant of Christ was over; and that activity being past, you could neither honour your God, nor benefit your family, your friends, your neighbours ? Cast off a fear so vain. Be comforted. Never can your light more brightly shine before men, to the honour of your God, than when they see your work of faith thus operative; learn from you the source whence power for the work was gained; and, led themselves to follow your good example, give God the praise ; flee to the same Author and Giver of the spirit of faith ; and so “ glorify their Father which is in heaven ?." Still further does the Church encourage you to meet the dispensation as heaven-sent. What animated motive does she hold out that you bear it patiently? As you, a tender anxious mother, catch at and store up whatever may turn out for the welfare of your child, so the Church treasures up
for her children the wondrous assurances given by Him, who shall judge the world in righteousness, that at the last day there shall be to his faithful ones, through grace, praise, though unmerited; glory, though undeserved ; and honour, though
1 Matt. v. 16.
unlooked for; with the thrilling welcome of approbation—“ Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord !” How anxiously would she win us all over to such a life, as would lead through death to that happy consummation of our patient faith, and enduring hope, and unfailing obedience! That she may the rather gain her end for the soul's welfare, she reminds the sick, plainly and faithfully, that one object of the trial of their faith is to make them meet for their inheritance, and, through Christ Jesus, fit objects of approbation and praise “that their faith may be found in the day of the Lord, laudable, glorious, and honourable ; to the increase of glory and endless felicity'."—Where is the mother's heart which could bear that her child lose commendation, when within reach; fall short of renown, when within its grasp; or fail of honour, when honour is to be gained with safety and with joy? You know no such coldness towards your children; the Church knows no such towards hers.
Strong as are the expressions of encouragement here held forth by the Church, they rest“ upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.” At the last day,” saith the Apostle Paul, speaking of a righteous as a laudable course, “shall every man have praise of God *" So the royal Prophet, whilst he refers the gift to the free bounty of Jehovah, rejoices to know, that to the faithful, whose strength and trust and dwelling is with the Most High,“the Lord will give grace and gloryt." And shall any one doubt the truth, that such a life shall be in honour, whilst the unchangeable word of Jesus Christ himself remains, wherein that truth is founded, as a building on its corner-stone ; man serve me, him will my Father honour I.” How refreshing is it to the Christian pilgrim, thus to find, that the waters of comfort, which the Church proffers to the strengthening and refreshing his faith and hope, are indeed drawn from the well of life ; from the rock whose waters are alike inexhaustible in their supply, and unfailing in their efficacy ; waters, of which they who drink need thirst no more. Are they not free to all ?
66 If any
* 1 Cor. iv. 5.
+ Ps. lxxxiv. 11.
I John xii. 26.
But this visitation may have a further object, according to the state and condition of the sick person. It may be a warning voice to the irreligious, the worldly, the careless. There may be some sin hidden in the heart and concealed from the sight of men, which yet “offends the eyes of our heavenly Father.” Is that your state your conscience will give a faithful answer. It were wise in that case to view the sickness as 6 sent to correct and amend whatsoever” causeth that offence; of whatsoever kind or to whatsoever degree those sins, negligences, and ignorances may be. This warning, however, has for its aim not to discourage the sinner, but to animate him to repentance by the assurance which immediately follows—an assurance fraught every way with benefit and consolation. Whatever be the cause of this visitation ; whether, as fine gold is purified in the furnace, the righteous are thereby tried and formed to brighter glory; or the sinner is thereby tried, that, roused from his death-like torpor, he may become animated to new life and new powers, as a lowly penitent of the cross—whatever be the cause, if the effect be sanctified to the confirming the good and changing the evil, it will be blessed. “ Know you certainly," therefore saith the Church, that “if you truly repent you of your sins, and bear your sickness patiently, trusting in God's mercy, for his dear Son Jesus Christ's sake, and render unto Him humble thanks for his fatherly visitation, submitting yourself wholly
unto his will, it shall turn to your profit', and help you forward in the right way that leadeth unto ever
EXHORTATION FOR THOSE IN EXTREMITY OF
As the sickness becomes more severe, and is evidently wearing away the body, bringing it down to the grave; the sick person is exhorted to consider more and more seriously, that the visitation is sent by his heavenly Father, in mercy, to prepare him for that awful change which death will at last reveal. And surely, whatever aids us in such preparation must be sent in mercy, even though by affliction. God loveth our souls, and desireth their eternal welfare; therefore, as a father, though often to his own pain, subjects his son to chastening, practises him in self-denial, urges him on to exertion, and haply habituates him to disappointments, in order to train him for filling well and honourably and happily, the post of life to which an earthly inheritance may call him; so God, the heavenly Father of us all, in very love afflicts and chastens us, that by sorrow, pain, and sickness, he may discipline our souls for a better state than this ; and make them meet for that eternal state of blessedness and honour, which is by covenant the promised inheritance of the faithful, as fellow heirs with Christ of his eternal kingdom of glory—that, “partakers of his holiness here,” we may be partakers of his happiness hereafter.
The Church then, according to the apostolical spirit
1 Heb. xii, 10.
which pervades her services, proceeds to encourage the sick man by the example of St. Paul, even “ to rejoice in afflictions,” bearing“ with thanksgiving his heavenly Father's correction.” To render this encouragement the more persuasive, she presents to us the suffering Jesus, our example as well as our sacrifice; in proof that there should be “no greater comfort to “ Christian persons than to be made like unto Christ “ by suffering patiently adversities, troubles, and sick
nesses.” And lest in the depressing season of sickness, the afflicted should well nigh let go their faith, she adds the wondrous truth, that the beloved yet afflicted Son of God,“ went not up to joy, but first he “ suffered pain; He entered not into his glory before “He was crucified.” Since, moreover, as that heavenly Sufferer has declared the servant must not expect to be above his Master, where is the faithful and attached servant, who rejoices not to share the troubles of a kind and loving master ?—“so truly our way “to eternal glory is to suffer here with Christ; and our “door to enter into eternal life, is gladly to die with “Christ; that we may rise again from death, and dwell “ with Him in everlasting life.” Thus gently leading us to prepare for the close in death of that visitation which the hand of a heavenly Father hath laid upon us, and concluding that for the considerations before stated we shall take our sickness patiently—seeing it to be for the profit of our souls—she proceeds in exhorting us, to strengthen her exhortation by an appeal to our consistency. What is our profession! We all vowed not only to renounce all evil, and to believe all God's word, but to obey all God's Will. Now, how hast thou kept thy vow in health? What says thy