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When his servants, in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, refused to infringe the laws of the Lord their God, and were cast into the furnace of fire, he exhibited his power to save, and his delight to support them in suffering, by his presence; for “ there were seen four men walking in the midst of the fire, who had no hurt: and the form of the fourth was like unto the Son of God."* And, although we do not now expect the same visible interference and miraculous preservation, we are assured that the people of God are equally his peculiar care; that it is his delight to be doing them good, and that he is ever nigh unto them by his Word and by his Spirit. His ear is open to their cry: this almighty Friend is always aecessible; he is willing to listen to their complaints, and he has the power to sooth their sorrows. Come then to this Friend, and pour out your heart before hiņ: detail all your cares, and seek to obtain the benefit which he has intended: trust yourselves and your all in his hands, and then you shall find that he is a very present help in trouble; that, in opening your heart unto him, the severity of your grief has been mitigated; and that you have in heaven a Friend who loveth at all times, a Friend more certainly endeared than the nearest and most perfect human relation.
* Dan. iii. 25.
Our Lord Jesus Christ himself has left us an example of a real mourner; he was indeed “ a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” It is recorded of him, that he wept over the grave of Lazarus, and that, because he loved him. He does not rebuke the tears of the bereaved relatives, though he strives to comfort them; and, so far from affording to his followers an example of unmoved suffering, “he is troubled,” he "groaned in his spirit;" yea, he drops the tear of sympathy and affection over the deceased.* Jesus was a mourner here below, and he has smoothed the rugged path of sorrow, by leaving us an example, not of unyielding indifference, but of submission to the will of his heavenly Father, and of the relief bountifully provided for the sufferer, in weeping over his loss. And although it is not now the first concern of our Lord and Saviour, to recall to earth the object of his solicitude, yet the bodies of his people are his peculiar charge, and he will raise them up at the last day to glory, and honour, and immortality.
This idea beautifully illustrates his divine compassion; " for we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities: but who was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”+ He knows the extent of your sufferings, for he has felt the same; his heart overflows with pity, and is expanded towards you, in all the fulness of redeeming grace and dying love; you are interested in his compassionate regards, and he seeks to allure you to himself. He invites you to east your burden upon him, and is only seeking, by this light affliction, to recall your wandering affections from the creature, and to withdraw your erring footsteps from the uncertain track of time and sorrow, to the satisfying pursuit of substantial good. He seeks that the heart may be softened and rendered accessible; and he appears, not as a God of judgment, but of mercym-chastising, but in love afflicting, but from the purest compassion --and supporting with the richest consolations. He
* John xi. 33.
1 Heb. iv. 15.
sees, he feels your sorrowhe hastens to your relief-he interposes his cheering presence, his animating voice. He says, “ Weep not,” and proclaims himself as the " resurrection and the life.” Yes! he comes to you in the endearing character of friend; he calms your agitated bosom by his sympathy, he comforts by his Spirit, supports by his grace, and leads your thoughts onward to that glorious period of immortality and peace, when you shall be re-united to your lost relative, in realms of unfading bliss; and shall associate with his glorified spirit, now transformed into the image of your mutual Redeemer,
in ascribing all the glory of your salvation and eternal felicity to the “ Lamb that was slain." Our great High Priest and Advocate still lives and reigns to make intercession for us; he is
Unchangeably faithful to save,
" Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."* Let us commune with our own hearts, and with this almighty Saviour, that we may listen to his voice, and obey his word, and follow him whithersoever he leadeth.
ON THE MODERATION OF GRIEF.
CHRISTIANITY does not forbid its disciples to mourn; but rather sanctions the expressions of grief, occasioned by the loss of friends, when viewed as the consequence of sin generally, as the result of our own carelessness and folly, and as forming a part of that probationary discipline which is designed to prepare us for another and a better world. Grace does not destroy, but simply regulates nature; it does not supersede the affections or forbid their influence, but only moderates and directs their exercise.
Could we distinctly view every object and event through the chastened medium of Christianity, there would be no danger in the indulgence of grief: there would be no fear of offending God by weeping over the loss of those blessings which he has conferred, together with all capacity for their enjoyment: there would be no necessity to restrain the exercise of those affectionate sympathies which he has implanted in our bosoms, as the source of many of our plea