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and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they be many. All that cometh is vanity.” Yes, your treasure on earth moth and rust may corrupt, or thieves break through and steal. Your health may be exchanged for sickness. Your friends may be converted into enemies. Your relations may be carried down to the dust. The soft and delicate hand may be forced to ply the oar of labour. You may not be known of those your bounty has fed. And after the morning sunshine, the noon or the evening of life may set in with dark waters and thick clouds of the sky. Is such vicissitude impossible? Improbable? Unfrequent? Let the day in which we live answer this. And such desolation religion may not interfere to prevent. Is it then useless? And does it keep aloof when we need its aid P No. When it does not rescue us from the evil day, it prepares us for it. What it does not prevent, it softens. What it does not hinder, it sanctifies. It indemnifies the sufferer by inward supports, and future expectation. It renders every loss a gain. It turns the curse into a blessing. What will the worldling do in the loss of his prosperity? His portion is gone. His hope is wrecked. His heart is desolate. Refuge fails him. He curses God and his king, and looks upward. Or he lies down in his shame, and his soul prefers strangling and death rather than life. His time ends with one hell, and his eternity begins with another. But to the upright there ariseth light in the darkness. God is his refuge and strength ; a very present help in trouble. He feels, but he is not miserable. He is perplexed, but not in despair. He is cast down, 206
THE CHRISTIAN, IN PROSPERITY.
but not destroyed. He is laid waste, but he is not resourceless : "6 Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls : yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places."
But this falls in with the subject of our next Lecture; which will show us the Christian in Adversity.
THE CHRISTIAN, IN ADVERSITY.
“ In the day of adversity consider.”—Eccles. vii. 14.
THE condition in which we have recently viewed the Christian is not a very common one. We felt the difficulty; and in the course of the Lecture, were often led to make the PROSPEROUS the subjects of reflection, rather than the objects of address. For when a minister enters his pulpit, how few among the godly can he see in his audience, that are set on the high places of the earth, and have the waters of a full cup wrung out unto them, and have more than heart can wish!
But, of this kind, we feel no difficulty in the present service. We are no more at a loss to find persons to address, than topics to enlarge upon, when we treat of AFFLICTION. The inheritance of griefs is as sure to mortals, as the laws of nature are inviolable-6 Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Some parts of his destiny are less exposed, and less painful, than others; but after every concession, life is a warfare, and earth is a vale of tears.
“I hang the world in mourning ?” It is Solomon, who saw its most favoured aspects, and enjoyed its most envied resources: it is all history; it is univer
sal observation; it is individual experience, that proclaims, “All is vanity, and vexation of spirit.” Who has purchased an assurance from accident and disease? Who has not enemies that oppose him ? Cares that corrode him? Fears that dismay him? Disappointments that confound him? Who does not find in his comforts, the elements of sorrow? In his possessions, the sources of danger? In his distinctions, the excitements of envy and detraction ? In his affections, the seeds of anxiety and anguish ? In his connexions, the pledges of apprehension and bereavement ?
“E'en roses grow on thorns,
“And honey wears a sting.” Sufferer! You think your case is singular, and you are often urged to exclaim, “I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.” “Behold and see, if there be sorrow like unto my sorrow.” But this is the language of self-importance, and ignorance. “ For there hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man.”
But you ask, “ How is it, not with the man, but with the Christian? Has the favourite of heaven no indulgences, or, at least, no exemptions on earth ? Surely, if they had it in their power : surely, the friend would secure the companion of his bosom, and the father the child of his love, from every thing hurtful and distressing. And if God was my father and my friend, he could by one volition of his will set me at ease; and would he suffer me to walk in the midst of trouble, to be straitened in want, and to pine away with sickness ? If I am His, why am I thus?" Yet David said, 6 Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” And our Saviour says to his
disciples, 6 In the world ye shall have tribulation.” And it is the Christian we are to view, this morning,
It is to 6 the elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father," that the Apostle Peter addressed himself, when to break the force of their surprise, he said, “ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." No. Religion does not preclude the evil day; but it prepares us for it; and shows itself to most advantage, when all other resources must fail.
We have a thousand instructions and admonitions concerning the spirit and demeanour of the Christian in tribulation ; but they may all be summed up in the words of our text, “ In the day of adversity consider."
We enter upon our subject with one important remark. Whatever the people of the world may think of it, the religion of Christ is a reasonable service." Nothing can be more distinguishable from groundless belief, from the enthusiasm of ignorant impulses, from a mere mass of unintelligible feelings. It commences in the renewing of the mind. It is carried on through the medium of thought. Nothing can be moral that does not arise from design, and is not influenced by motive. Spiritual agencies are not like the cures of a charm, of whose efficiency no account can be given. They are not like the forced motions of a machine insensible of its workings and results. Neither are they like the operations of the physical powers in the human body: these are carried on independently of the mind and will.