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earnest with the God of all grace, that he would maintain the supremacy in their affections : so that let him bless them with children however amiable and engaging, Christ may be still dearer than any or all of them : and that, amidst their tenderest feelings for them, their hearts may be still reserved for Jesus.
Thirdly, we are in danger of repining when we are deprived of our children. In this case we are often guilty of excess, as well as in those instances which have been already mentioned. We act as if we thought that our children are not mortal: or as if we supposed that they must necessarily outlive ourselves. We forget, too, the promises which we made when we devoted them to God in baptism, that we would leave them entirely at his disposal for life or death; and that we would look upon them as his, more than our own, and would resign them to him when he should be pleased to demand them. But if the Lord take us at our word, and call for a child, perhaps our dearest or our only child, possibly, too, at a time when it was most engaging, and when every circumstance seemed to concur to make its life desirable, do we readily give it up, and say, “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord ?" It were well if such a submission were always displayed. But many, alas ! in those afflictive circumstances, refuse to be comforted. They are soured, and fretful, and secretly offended with Providence, for robbing them of that which was their greatest delight, and making a breach in their comforts, which they imagine nothing can repair. Upon this a despondency takes place, and they become unfit for duty, and negligent of it;
as if there were not enough in Christ to make up for the loss of this withering comfort. Let us reject the thought with abhorrence.
We have never more need of earnestness with God, than when we are tried with such an affliction. Let me add too, that we have never a fairer opportunity of testifying the sincerity and the superiority of our love to Jesus, than when earthly comforts are in this manner removed. Then, to show that our sorrow for them, cannot hinder us from delighting in him, and that we can love him even when he puts such a bitter cup into our hands, is honourable to him; and declares to all the world, that " we count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.” To conclude, let us all adore the
of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he will condescend to accept of our love. Let us contemplate more frequently those divine excellencies, which render him infinitely worthy of our highest regard : and let us be particularly careful that we do not, by our immoderate joy at the birth of children, or our excessive grief at their death, give him cause to be jealous of us, while he says, “ He that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me."
CONSOLATION IN CHRIST.
PHILIPPIANS ii. 1,'.
If there be any consolation in Christ.
Did the Apostle doubt it? Was it a disputable matter with Paul, who had obtained such singular mercy? Did he, who had been caught up into the third heaven, and had tasted of that joy which is unspeakable, and full of glory, put the question, as if it were doubtful, whether there were any consolation in Christ or not? Impossible. The Lord had never a warmer advocate than this zealous Apostle. He scarcely ever mentions his name, but with rapture; and frequently digresses from his subject, to indulge the overflowings of his grateful heart, in the praises of his best-loved friend and Redeemer. Far from intimating any suspicion, he seems to mention it as a thing which no one could question. “ If there be any consolation in Christ, as surely you know and feel that there is; if there be any comfort in love, as you must all of you acknowledge ; fulfil ye my joy; that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” I shall now put the question to several classes of people, and then mention the inferences which it naturally suggests. But it may be proper first to observe, that I shall appeal to
those only who may be supposed to be competent judges. I shall address none but such as are really the disciples of Christ ; and who, having been admitted to the most intimate communion with him, can best tell how far he deserves the character of the “ Consolation of Israel.” I ask not you, sinners, who are slaves to your passions, whose God is your belly, who glory in your shame, and who mind earthly things, if there be any consolation in Christ ; for you are incapable of enjoying the happiness which religion imparts. I ask not you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, who clean the outside of the cup, and make broad the borders of your garments, and, when you give alms, sound the trumpet before you, to attract the notice of men : You labour hard for a form, but know nothing of the power of religion. I inquire not of you, if there be any consolation in Christ: You are not the persons to whom our Lord refers, when he says, “ He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and manifest myself unto him." But I ask, first of the young convert, if there be any consolation in Christ?
By young converts, I mean those who have been lately awakened to a sense of their misery and danger; and have fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel. Were I to ask such, if there were any consolation in Christ; “ Any consolation in Christ !” they hastily reply; why there is no consolation without him. When horror and anguish took hold upon us, because of God's righteous judgments, we knew not whither to flee,
nor how to escape the damnation of hell. We looked every where for consolation, but were always disappointed. We tried at first to stifle our fears, which gave us so much uneasiness; and to silence conscience, when we could not satisfy its demands. But it was not in our power: our misery and trouble increased. We afterwards endeavoured to soothe and quiet'conscience, by fair promises of future amendment. In some instances we actually reformed: but not laying the axe to the root, and our hearts not being right with God, we found no consolation in these endeavours. We then redoubled our diligence; and attended on public worship, and private devotions : but we found no more lasting comfort in this, than in any other means of relief. As our last refuge, we called upon God: but instead of consolation, he answered us out of a whirlwind; “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, that are written in the book of the law to do them.” This alınost drove us to despair; and we were giving up all for lost, when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to us, and said, “ I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me; and him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” We were then enabled, relying upon the promise and grace of the Saviour, to cast ourselves at his feet ; and we met with a most merciful reception; and felt the burden removed from our conscience. So that, let others think of Christ as they may, we must always declare that there is consolation in him.
In the second place, I appeal to the active and laborious Christian. I refer to those, who, like their master, are intent upon their heavenly Father's busi