Page images

You are yourselves dying creatures; and have souls which must be happy or miserable for ever, Take the warning, then, so kindly given by God. Be often thinking of death ; be always look, ing to Jesus : and what I say to you, I say to all, Watch.

[ocr errors][merged small]



JOB VII, 4, 5.

When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the

night be gone. And I am full of tossings to and fro, unto the dawning of the day. My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust ; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.

When any disease severely attacks us, we are ready to imagine, that our trouble is almost peculiar to ourselves. We think it strange concerning the fiery trial which has befallen us; and seem to sup: pose, that our disorder is attended with circumstances which have never been experienced. “ Others, (we perhaps secretly say,) who have been sick, have been speedily relieved. But I lie here, fast bound in the cords of affliction, which are not only galling for the present, but leave me no hopes of being ever recovered. All my endeavours to mitigate my pain have been unsuccessful; and my disorder rages the more, for the methods taken to give me relief; so that for many weeks I have been almost dying daily. No; never was sorrow like my sorrow.” So we may think; but we are deceived. Were there no other proof of it, our text would inform us, that the same complaint has been formerly made; and that others have

exceeded us in sufferings, as much as they have excelled us in patience and piety.

Job was a perfect and upright man; yet his afflictions were so grievous, that he cursed the day of his birth We have an affecting representation of a part of his sufferings in our text; and they remind us of a truth, confirmed by our own frequent observation, that there are disorders incident to the human frame, which render our beds uneasy to ourselves, and make our bodies offensive to others.

There are disorders which render our beds uneasy.

“ When I lie down, I say, when shall I arise, and the night be gone? I am full of tossings to and fro to the dawning of the day.” Night is the usual time for rest; but night and day were alike to Job. The time of others' repose was tedious to him; and that not for a slıort period only; then he could have easily borne it; but night after night, for a long while together, he was restless and miserable, and scarcely knew what to do, or to wish. In the morning, his cry was, “ Would to God it were even ;” and in the evening, with equal impatience, “ Would to God it were morning.” Let me, on this occasion, mention a few obvious circumstances, that render the night particularly tedious to those who are sick.

I will remind you, first, of its darkness. Truly light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is to behold the sun. There is something cheerful and exhilarating in looking at sunshine; though we cannot go abroad to enjoy it. In the day, we are amused with a variety of objects, which divert our thoughts, and prevent our continual poring on our disorders; but in the

night there is nothing of this. If it be not totally dark, the glimmering of the taper affords no agreeable prospects; but rather spreads a gloom over the objects around us, and adds affliction to our sorrowful spirits. The hours seem unusually long. We every now and then put aside the curtains, and almost strain our eyes to catch the first appearance of dawn, Disappointed, again, and again, we eagerly inquire, “ Will it never be day?” The Psalmist, we may suppose, was no stranger to such feelings, when, speaking of his earnest desire of the return of God's presence and favour, he says, " My soul waiteth for the Lord, more than they that watch for the morning; yea, more than they that watch for the morn. ing."

The solitariness also of the night increases the sick person's afflictions,

afflictions. In the day, the company and conversation of friends help to beguile the time. We talk a little ourselves, as our strength will bear; and then sit still, and listen to others. Sometimes the conversation turns on trifling and insignificant subjects; for, being unable to go abroad, every one is kindly industrious to get something new to afford us entertainment. It is not always, however, with such idle discourses that our visitors attempt to amuse us. They sometimes speak to us of subjects infinitely more important, and to serious minds more entertaining too, than the news of the day, or any common occurrences, It is highly agreeable, when a friend comes in, and talks of the sovereignty and wisdom of Providence: when he reminds us that affliction springs not up from the dust, and that trouble comes not out of the ground; that the disorder itself, and the time

of its first appearance, with the steps by which it should advance, the frightful wounds which it should make, and the manner in which it should terminate, that all the circumstances of it were ordered by Him who is wonderfulin counsel, and excellent in working. This checks our peevishness, and awes us into silence and humble submission. By the time that one friend is gone, another comes in, and speaks of the everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure. He tells us, that when God sets apart any for himself, he engages to root out sin, to implant holiness, and to fit them for glory ; and that if mercies will not draw, afflictions shall drive them nearer to God. He assures us, that whatever wormwood and gall may be in his judgments on a wicked world, he always afflicts his people in love. Such conversation as this brightens our countenances, and cheers our spirits. We feel our minds disposed, not merely to submission, but to joy and thanksgiving. We forget our pains, when we think of the gracious designs of the Lord, in causing them; and we cry, “ Lord, if I may but be blessed in this furnace of affliction, I care not how long I continue in it, nor how much I endure.” Here another is beginning to talk about heaven ; and to remind us of that delightful world where there shall be night no more ; and where the inhabitants shall no more say, “ I am sick.” But we cannot stay to hear him out.

I have detained you longer already than I intended. I was only saying, that in the day-time, the company and conversation of a friend help to pass away the hours, and divert us for a while from thinking of our disorders: but at night, our friends one after another take an affectionate leave, and drop

« PreviousContinue »