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that Jesus died and rose again, so surely do we believe that 'them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him:' 1 Thess. iv. 14. Taught of God, we should view Losses, Sickness, Pain and Death, but as the several trying stages by which a good man, like Joseph, is conducted from a Tent to a Court :-Sin, A his disorder ; Christ, his physician; Pain, his medicine; the Bible, his support ; the Grave, his bed ; and Death itself, an Angel, expressly sent to release the worn-out Labourer, or crown the faithful Soldier. 'I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works follow them : Rev. xiv. 13.
But, admitting the state of your departed friend to be doubtful, yet, in all cases that are really so, let us cultivate honourable thoughts of God: let us remember the FAITHFUL CREATOR. Righteousness is his throne, though clouds surround it. Whatever he has left obscure, we may safely leave him to explain. Let us recollect that, amidst innumerable obscurities, he hath made things clear in proportion as they are important :v and therefore repeatedly urges it upon our consciences, that the door is still open to us ;—that it is awful to stand before it unresolved that we must trust him to-day; and that to-morrow he will equally remove our conjectures and our complaints.
Perhaps you are ready to reply, “I have heard many such things:' and 'I also could speak as you do, if your soul were in my soul's stead, Job xvi. 2, 4: but my heart and my expectations are so crushed by this blow, that I can hear nothing but 'Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound grievous : thou hast no healing medicines ::” Jer. xxx. 12, 13.
Beware, however, of falling into their sin who 'limited the Holy One of Israel :' Ps. lxxviii. 41. There is a charge continually brought against man, that, in his troubles, the Source and the Resource are equally forgotten. 'Though affliction cometh not forth of the dust;' yet 'none saith where is God my Maker, who giveth Songs in the night ? Job v. 6; xxx. 10. Endeavour, then, in extremities, to recollect an ALL-SUFFICIENT FRIEND
a very present Help in trouble. He, at least, may add, (as he does in the passage just alluded to) 'I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds: saith the Lord.' Cannot the voice which rebuked a tempestuous sea calm our troubled spirits ? Is his hand shortened at all, that he cannot 'bless our latter end, like Job's, more than the beginning ? Job xlii. 12. Is it not the Lord, that maketh poor and maketh rich; that bringeth low and lifteth up ? 1 Sam. ii. 7. Many, whose hearts have been desolate like yours, while they have looked around, have at length 'looked UPWARD unto Him and been lightened: Ps. xxxiv. 5. A single promise has afforded them not only relief, but strong consolation.
Let us, therefore, my dear friend, turn again to this strong-hold as prisoners of hope. Even to-day can be render double to us: Zech. ix. 12. Let us look to Abraham's God, and his encouragement is ours : ·Fear not: I am God ALMIGHTY: Gen. xvii. 1. 9.
d. “I am all-sufficient in all cases. I am enough; and able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think:' Eph. iii. 20. I have taken away thy Gourd, but dost thou well to be angry? Have I left nothing for thankfulness? This world, however, connot be your home, nor its objects your consolation: they are all too poor for the soul of man. 'Look unto me and be saved : Isa. xlv. 22. Acquaint thyself
with Me and be at peace : Job xxii. 21. Follow Me and you shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life :' John viii. 12. However dark and distressing the present state of things may appear, "commit thy fatherless children to my care, I will preserve them alive; and let the widows trust in Me:” Jer. xlix. 11.
Still, the beloved object is gone, and your heart follows it. You can scarcely receive counsel from infinite Wisdom, or comfort from Omnipotence. fresh encouragement you are ready to reply, Wilt thou show wonders to the dead ? Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Shall thy loving kindness be declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in destruction ? Ps. Ixxxviii. 10, 11. His word repeatedly assures you they shall; and that 'all that are in the graves shall bear his voice : John v. 28. But it informs you also, that he can do abundantly more for the living than merely restore their dead friends, or revive their fainting spirits : it teaches you that He can sanctify the separation; that he can give a divine life to the survivor, though dead in trespasses and sins,' Eph. ii. 1, and inseparably unite both in his kingdom.-If the Comforter could make up for the loss of Christ's bodily presence; yea, make it even expedient that he should go away,' John xvi. 7; how much more can he supply the place of every creature !
May this COMFORTER, writing his word in your mind, help you to say with a confidence highly honourable to himself and his Gospel, “My perishing gourd is, indeed, withered a day before I expected it: my broken reed is gone; but God is left,—'a father to the fatherless,—a husband to the widow: Ps. lxviii. 5. "And now, Lord, what wait I for? truly my hope is in thee: Ps. xxxix. 7. Thou canst give me “in thy
house, a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters,' even 'an everlasting name, which shall not be cut off: Isa. lvi. 5. And, thererore, though the figtree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the GOD OF MY SALVATION:!” Hab. iii. 17, 18.
Once more: let us endeavour, at such seasons as these, to recognize a Gracious Monitor. Whenever · the Lord strikes he speaks. Let us listen, at such a time as this, with humble attention ; yet with holy confidence; for it is the voice of a Friend,—a wonderful Counsellor. Let us, with the prophet, resolve to ascend the tower of observation, and observe "what he will say unto us, and what we shall answer when we are reproved. If, with him, we thus watch our dispensation, 'at the end,' like his, 'it shall speak: Hab. ii. 1–3.
God is continually raising up witnesses, and sending them in his name to sound the alarm’in ·Zion : Joel ii. 1. He charges them to admonish the wise, as well as the foolish Virgin, to beware of slumbering, since the bridegroom is at hand: and when one is called away, to cry to those that remain, 'Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh :' Matth. xxiv. 44. Some, indeed, like the sons of Lot, desperately scorn the admonition, and treat it as the fear of dotage: Gen. xix. 14. Some, like those in the Acts,' are in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this ? and others mocking reply, These men are full of new wine: Acts ii. 12, 13. But Truth, like a rock furiously assaulted, but unshaken, remains to scorn its scorners : and, while the witnesses continue to bear a faithful and consistent testimony, God, sooner, or later, appears in vindication of their integrity and of his own word. Entering a careless family, he smites the first-born; and as one that will be heard, calls aloud,
Awake thou that sleepest; arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light:' Eph. v. 14.
And is it not, my afflicted friend, an infinite mercy, if, by any means, God will enter with such a light? that he will rouse such a sleeper? that, by his minister Death, he will arrest the attention of him who has slighted every other minister? What patience! what long suffering ! to take such an one apart; bring him, from noise and occupation, into the secret and silent chamber; speak to his heart; and seal the most important truths on it, by the most affecting impressions ? Is it not saying, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I make thee as Admah :' Hosea xi. 8. Certain it is, that questions, which before only reached the ear, often now, like barbed arrows, remain fixed in the conscience. Conscience, no longer stifled or amused, discovers the CONTENDER; and, trembling before him, cries, "Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me and I shall be turned, for thou art the Lord my God: Jer. xxxi. 18.
This, I say, is often the case, and should it be realized in yours, as it has been in that of your present Visitor; if, instead of flying for relief to every object but God, you are brought humbly to his feet with patient submission, serious inquiry, fervent prayer, holy resolution, and firm reliance: if, in a word, by the severest stroke, the enchantment is also broken, your soul escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler,' Ps. cxxiv. 7, and returned to its proper rest; what reason will you
have to say,
Those we call, wretched are a chosen band.