網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

" allurements of a deceitful world? And have “ we since met with any thing but crosses and “disappointments in our lawful callings? With w what have our industrious struggles for bread “ been rewarded, but with poverty and distress? " Are we not made a scorn and derision to " them that are round about us? Are not our “ most innocent expressions misrepresented by “ the poisonous tongue of calumny, and our 6 most innocent actions perverted into crimes ? “ Hath not God multiplied upon us sicknesses “ and infirmities; and our days, though few, “ are they not full of evil? Are not even our “ blessings turned into our misfortunes, and “ our joys iiito curses? The friend, that should “ have been our support, has treacherously de“ ceived and betrayed us :—the child, whose

beams we might have hoped should have “ gilded the evening of our days with pleasure, “ has set in darkness, never to rise again. “ Thus helpless, poor, and friendless, we bend " towards the earth, and wait, in melancholy “ suspense, for that awful moment which shall .“ bring us to the grave. What, therefore, are "we to conclude from hence, but that God " hath marked us out from our childhood as " the signal objects of his heavy and unmerited “ vengeance –And if we look forwards ; if we 36 carry our views to another life after this,

0 %

" what

“ what better treatment can we expect at his “ hands? What reason can we have to imagine " that he who hath dealt so hardly with us “ here, will deal more favourably with us here" after?"

'Such, too often, is the language of the unfortunate under the afflicting hand of God.

But what weak, as well as presumptuous, reasoning is this! Thou considerest, О man, that God hath left no week of labour without its sabbath; no trial without its issue; nó toil without its reward; no darkness of calamity without light sufficient to direct thee to Christ, the harbour of safety and eternal salvation.

And farther; what are all thy sufferings, be they ever so great and many, when compared with those of thy blessed Redeemer? Read his history, and be silent; " look unto Jesus, the “ author and finisher of our faith,” and learn patience, thou that darest to repine at the dispensations of heaven!. .

His first appearance was that of a helpless babe; surrounded with all the marks of infamy and neglect; exposed to all the miseries, infirmities, and sufferings of mortality: He sub

mitted

mitted not only to be man, but even to be the least and lowest of men. ' The circumstances of his birth were not only void of all worldly pomp and grandeur; but even such as would naturally subject him to the scorn of the haughty, the contempt of the rich, and the derision of fools. .

[ocr errors]

Though he was born a king by his office, yet mean swaddling-clothes were his imperial robes, and a manger his royal cradle. And no sooner was he born into the world, than he was doomed the victim of a tyrant's jealousy; nor could any thing less than a wretched banishment from his country deliver the helpless babe from the edge of a tyrant's sword. And after this escape, this: foreboding prelude to his inisfortunes, what was his whole ministry upon earth but one continued scene of hardship; nor had he frequently even where to lay his head. He was persecuted with all the combined malice of men and devils; he felt the bitter pang of being despised and rejected of his own brethren; he was buffeted, spit upon, and scourged; and, at last, closed a most miserable life by a most painful and ignominious death ;-he was slain, and hanged on a tree

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Go now then, thou murmuring sinner, when thou hast answered this one question, “Why “ should the servant expect to fare better than !' his Lord?”—go and complain, that thy labours are ill requited ;--that thou art afflicted beyond the ordinary measure of human suffering, and singled out as the passive mark of the fiery arrows of the Almighty

Or, if you think Christ an example far above your imitation, let us descend to lower examples :-look into the history of his disciples, men, weak and frail men, like yourselves, and there seek out for a parallel to your misfortunes, and a pattern for your conduct. Yet these weak and frail men were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. These holy men had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment: nay, they underwent sufferings almost shocking to the feelings of humanity to recite :-“they were stoned,—their "bodies were sawn asunder, they were tempted, " -were slain, with the sword; they wandered “ about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being $ destitute, afflicted, tormented: they wandered “ in deserts and in mountaine, and were glad " to take up their abode in the dens of wild " beasts, and the caves of the earth:” in short,

[ocr errors]

so many and so great afflictions did these holy men undergo, that, if in this life only they had hope, they were doubtless of all men the most miserable.

PS

But instead of repining at the hard usage which they received from an ungrateful world, which they were labouring to save from eternal destruction, how wisely did they reason upon the misfortunes which befel them! They knew that afflictions were the common lot of men, and especially of the saints and faithful followers of Christ :-that their appointment was of God, and their end the benefit of man. They wisely considered them, not as the stripes of ą harsh and implacable master, but the chastisements of a kind and benevolent father. They knew that they were intended to humble and purify their souls from sin; to wean their thoughts from things below, and direct them to things above, where alone true joys are to be found. They looked upon them in the light of so many proofs of their perfect resignation to the almighty will, and firm reliance on his justice and mercy, who governs all things in heaven and in earth.

And as they were thus sensible that trouble was their portion, appointed for good ends,

to

« 上一頁繼續 »