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fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
From these examples, it must follow that no depth of adversity can warrant suspicion as to the religion of the sufferer. We see that afflictions, the most complicated and continuous, may belong to the lot of the righteous, even of the most righteous. Such as are appointed to us, therefore, can be no other than are accomplished in our brethren who are in the world. Were we without chastisement, of which the children of God are said to be invariably partakers, there might then be cause to fear but, with respect to the path of great tribulation, we know that this is the course in which those multitudes have laboured who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Yes; and where there may seem to be the greatest exemption from adversity, there may be most of those secret griefs which among the variety of our burdens, are perhaps the least easy to be borne. The remembrance of facts like these not only serves to reconcile the believer to his lot, but throws even an air of greatness and sanctity over the paths of affliction. It is seen, that to be a sufferer is to be conformed, in one point at least, to the pattern of the excellent of the earth in every age, a thought which can never fail to cheer and elevate the spirit of the man of God,
Another consideration especially encouraging to the Christian in his time of trouble is, that no
cloud ever passes over him except from DIVINE APPOINTMENT. When injured by men, his resentment is stayed by a knowledge of the fact that though the wickedness of men is their own, their power against the just could be nothing if it were not given them from above. Hence the prayer of David,-Deliver my soul from the wicked which are thy sword, from men who are thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world. He accordingly speaks of God as the being who performeth all things for him. And in that dark day when Shimei cursed him as he went, and heaped the lowest insults upon him, the fallen monarch said to those who would have slain the base-hearted rebel, Let him alone, and let him curse, FOR THE LORD HATH BIDDEN HIM. It may be that the Lord will look on mine afflictions, and will requite me good for his cursing this day. Thus the violence of the wicked does not always bear the servant of God away with it, but rather tends to call forth the principles and dispositions peculiar to the men whom the Lord has taught.
And that doctrine which was the stay of David's heart, how beautifully is it taught by the compassionate Redeemer. Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body what ye shall put on. Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; YET YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER FEEDETH THEM. ARE YE NOT MUCH BETTER THAN THEY?
It is by means of such scriptures as these that
Christians are led to connect the hand of the Omnipresent Ruler with all their affairs, and to view them as parts of an arrangement partaking at once of infinitude and minuteness, and of the same perfectness in the great and the small. In his view, indeed, the distinctions of small and great must be unknown. The world, in comparison with his greatness, is in kindred with the atom. It is no more an act of condescension in him to number the hairs of our head, than to number the stars of heaven; the one being as near to his infinity as the other. The men who realize this stupendous truth, learn to cast their care upon their God, believing that he careth for them. They are aware that the dark day comes not except in obedience to the divine will; and this assurance is often enough to chase away half its gloom. It is this secret of the Lord which enhances every mercy, and lessens the bitterness of every trial, in the experience of those who fear him.
The Christian is sometimes strengthened in adversity by remembering that its darkest day Is NOT SO DARK AS IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. Should the head ache, the heart may be at ease; or, should the spirit be, in some sense, wounded, the body may not be subject to infirmity. If much that once conduced to a state of prosperity has passed away, there may be much remaining. Or if the things which have made to themselves wings, and forsaken the mourner, should be his all,-his good name may still be left, and the aspect of providence
may still be such as to forbid despair. If some, on whom he had hoped to lean in the hour of need, have failed; others, of whom he thought not, have been raised up to supply their place. Afflictions, which it would have been alarming beyond expression to have foreseen, have been so adjusted as to time and circumstances, and connected, perhaps, with so much unexpected prayerfulness, calmness, tenderness, and resignation, as to make the remembrance of what he has suffered as much a matter of gratitude as of sorrow. There are joys, as well as sorrows, which mourners only know: it is when afflictions abound, that we may expect consolations to abound.
Thus the devout man is admonished that even his worst state might have been still worse. In proof of this he has only to glance at the state of many of his brethren, or on the history of the Saviour who died for him. Truly could He say, Never were sorrows like unto my sorrows. In the garden, and upon the cross, it pleased the Father to deal with him according to our sins, and to reward him according to our iniquities. Strict justice was his, that the richest mercy might be ours.
It must be kept in view, also, that the design of God in our afflictions is always BENEVOLENT. Such events befall us, not because he has pleasure in appointing them, but because they are needful to our improvement. Hence adversity is frequently spoken of as A MEANS OF TRIal. It was so with Job. The enemy would have solved all the religion
of the patriarch into selfishness; and declared that the test of moderate suffering would soon make the truth of his charge manifest. The test was applied; and the sufferer could say, even in his lowest state, When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Thus is it ever with the suffering Christian; and hence the instance of Job is adduced as a general example: Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. Adversity is a revealer of secrets; it tears the mask from the hypocrite; it shows the believer a multitude of imperfections that might otherwise have been unknown; and, at the same time, convinces him, more deeply than ever, that the principles on which he has been resting his hope, in prospect of the day of evil, are real and invaluable. Hence these become like tried friends, that may be trusted another day. Paul felt all this when he said, I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.
From these causes, adversity is often described as a SCHOOL in which the servants of God are taught wisdom. The evil of sin, the vanities of earth, the feebleness and uncertainties of an arm of flesh, these are all matters of which we may learn something by the hearing of the ear, but it is through the medium of adversity that the eye seeth them. We may discourse about sickness, or poverty, or slander, or bereavements; but it is