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Heart-broken as parents must be to behold their suffering child, meet and right is their acknowledgment that "to Almighty God belong the issues of life and death." And to whom is prayer for succour made? even to a "merciful Father;"-and you know his own declaration of love, that sooner shall you forget your children, than He forget them or you'. The three petitions of this prayer are framed in pointed reference to your implied trust that He will order all things well, if you unrepiningly leave the issue to Him, the Lord of life and of death. "Visit this child now lying on a bed of sickness; visit him, O Lord, with thy salvation"-take him, soul and body, to thy care; for though Thou art in heaven and we on earth, we know that Thou carest for this little one, and beholdest him with thy fatherly compassion and love—“ Deliver him in thy good appointed time from his bodily pain." This we pray, not because we are impatient under thy visitation, but because we look for none other sure help but from Thee. O, "good Lord, deliver him." Perhaps deliverance from sickness and pain may be vouchsafed, by return of health and ease; or it may come not, as your heart would have it. Sick⚫ness indeed may yield and pain cease; but death may subdue the one and calm the other. Then, all your cry is, that whether in life or in death, he may be the Lord's. "save his soul, for thy mercies' sake." Upon the alternative we still dwell. Who hopeth not to the end? If life and health be restored, then our earnest supplication is, that the fruits of the seed of truth sown in tears, may bear fruit unto holiness; that the recollection of past deliverance, young as he
1 Isa. xlix. 15.
may be, will prove an abiding motive for goodness; for a stricter obedience to parents, a warmer love to brothers and sisters, a kindlier behaviour towards all, and a livelier sense of duty to God. Nor will these recollections, let us hope, fail to influence him throughout his after-life, but the rather move him to show forth his thankfulness, not with his lips only, but in his life; by giving up himself to the service of that God who raising him from his sickness, "prolonged his days here on earth," and to whom, therefore, he owes that life, which has been twice the gift of Heaven. So may he live to God; and be-what every good man strives to be "an instrument of God's glory;" "serving God faithfully, doing good in his generation," and witnessing by his life to the truth and power of the Gospel. Should it be otherwise ordered by the Divine Will; should this sickness be unto death, and he die in his youth-the flower blighted in the bud-even then we commit him to the care of the same Almighty Lord and most merciful Father'.
1 As few sorrows are at the time felt so keenly as the death of young children, so none seem to bring with them richer consolation. True! it is sad to stand over the features of a loved child, marbled by death. "Is this "—so methinks the bereaved parents bewail themselves" Is this the end of our long watching, and devoted anxiety? "Has the plant been nurtured with fond care, only that the flower "be blighted at its budding, and mourned with fonder regret? The very smiles of nature around us do but mock our dark sorrow, and we can view only the grave of the loved one.”—Behold, ye afflicted parents, there is yet joy for you! You retire into your own hearts, and there commune with the great Disposer of events-your Father and your God. In the hour of that holy communing peace returns; for Faith assures you, that all must be ordered well. You are then like one who should haply bide in the sea depths where all is calm and bright, though storm and tempest rage above. Your heart is with your child; and in thought you follow it through the valley of
Ours is then the humble but firm trust that a better home-more enduring health, more undisturbed rest, joys more bright, happiness more complete, a communion of hearts more blessed-will be his portion in the world beyond the grave; "received into those heavenly habitations, where the souls of them that sleep in the Lord Jesus enjoy perpetual rest and felicity."
And on what do we ground our hope that we shall be heard in mercy, and answered in peace? Not on the value of our prayers-they, like all our services, are unworthy: not on the virtues of the young sufferer— however lovely they are in the sight of men, before God they can have no merit: nay, not even on his unoffending innocence, if he be still in infancy-touching to our tenderest feelings as it is to mark that innocency; even that is nothing in God's sight; so universally has Adam's sin tainted his posterity. All our cry is for God's mercy; all our trust is the Saviour's merit; all our hope is in the exercise of that mercy for those merits' sake. And can that trust be otherwise than firm? can that hope be otherwise than bright? They each rest on the love of a heavenly Father, who hath committed all power to his Son our
the shadow of death to the garden of life; to a heavenly Eden, where no pains or sickness reach, where its spirit is as calm in new life as its body in death; and where with kindred angels it rejoices for ever in the presence of its God. These are thoughts, by which parents, even in their deepest sorrow, find a soothing. From the turbulence of their grief they pass, thus supported, to the calm of a holy resignation; whilst the hope which, whilst life lingers, they cherished of a few years' longer fellowship in this short fleeting state of woe, has risen into a brighter and more glorious hope of a never-ending communion in the eternal world of bliss.
Mediator; and that Mediator, supreme-" living and "reigning with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever "one God, world without end!”
A PRAYER FOR A SICK PERSON, WHEN THERE APPEARETH SMALL HOPE OF RECOVERY.
"O Father of mercies
Our Lord and Saviour."
In leading us to earnest supplication on behalf of a sick fellow-creature, the Church supplies a prayer, framed in language every way adapted to its purpose. It admirably depicts the feelings of the sick, who from weakness and increasing infirmity are rendered often incapable of giving due expression to their thoughts and feelings; whilst, at the same time, it evinces our own perfect reliance upon God's power to raise the sick, if such be his good pleasure; and our devout submission to his will, if he see fit that this sickness close in death. The sufferer, in this hour of his trial, needs "help and succour:" we therefore seek both from the "Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort." The body is weakening, the springs of life are giving way, and no longer able to bear the burden of the flesh, "the outward man is fast decaying;" but the inner man also - the soul. - has a life which never dies. We therefore implore Almighty God to strengthen the sick in that "inner man" by his "grace and Holy Spirit;" that his whole mind being free for the work of preparing to meet his God, may be duly exercised in "unfeigned repentance for all the errors of his past life, and stedfast faith in Jesus Christ;" so may "his sins be done away by mercy, and his pardon sealed in heaven, before he go hence and be no more seen." Nor is this the language of despondency even as
to the recovery of bodily health. Our holy confidence in the power of God is avowed, that He, as the Lord, in whose hands are the issues of life and death, is able to do all things; even to raise the sick from the dying couch; yet, since sickness hastens us on our way to the grave, and to all human apprehension the frame appears about to be dissolved; the welfare of the soul, which must pass to its final reckoning when the body shall have joined its kindred dust, is now the one thing above all others needful wherefore our supplication is, that the Lord would mercifully take to his special care the soul of the dying sufferer, and "so fit and prepare him against the hour of death, that after his departure hence in peace"-for that is the greatest boon which heavenly love vouchsafes to us on earth — “he may be received into God's everlasting kingdom." Even here, none can mistake the perfectly pure faith of our Church. Neither the sufferings of the sick or dying, nor the remembrance of their virtues, nor the merit of their graces, form the ground of our hope to be heard and answered-That rests solely "on the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour."
As these words of supplication for our departure hence in peace-catch our attention, when we are on a sick, perhaps a dying bed, consciousness yet remaining; how happy for us, if memory whispers, that in our health we did those things which bring peace at the last; that we did then "keep innocency and took heed to the thing which is right." O God! grant to us all-we implore Thee, for Christ's sake-grant to us a death-bed of peace! That granted, how little shall we think all our trials, pain, and sorrow. Peace at