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4. You should next “ consider" what is the best method of bearing your affliction. It must be borne, and cannot be avoided: but the question recurs, How may the burden be best supported, and rendered lightest ? Surely impatience, fretfulness, and peevishness not only provoke the indignation of God, but increase the weight of your sufferings, and render all around you weary of assisting you. On the other hand humble submission, patience, and quietness of spirit break the force, and lessen the weight of afflictions; and render every person cheerful, and ready to afford you the help which you are capable of receiving. And“ why should a living man complain, a man “ for the punishment of his sins ??” Is it not better “ to be chastened of the Lord,” than “ to be con“ demned with the world ?” We are punished much less than our iniquities deserve: and it is our own fault and folly, if all our sufferings do not prove blessings to us; as they are the appointment of infinite wisdom and love, and have a direct tendency to our good, if our obstinacy and depravity do not render them ineffectual.
5. This introduces another subject of “ consi“ deration,” namely, how you may extract benefit from your afflictions, should it please God to restore your health. “ Have ye suffered so many “ things in vain ? He who derives no benefit from afflictions must be a great loser : for he adds ingratitude to his former provocations; and, if not given up to final impenitency, still sharper corrections will be requisite to bring him to himself,
! Read Lam. iij. 22-41. Heb. xii. 1-11.
Read Luke xv.
seeing milder measures have been ineffectual. The sinner who is not humbled, and brought to repentance and newness of life, by affliction, has evidently “ suffered in vain," and has cause to suspect that his recovery will not prove a blessing to him. But he who, like Manasseh? under his affliction, seeks the Lord, and humbles himself greatly before him, with penitent confessions and fervent supplications; who with true repentance, and faith in Christ, seeks and obtains the pardoning mercy of God, and the grace of his Holy Spirit, by which he may be enabled henceforth to lead a new life; will have cause to be thankful both for sickness and for recovery, and may say, “ Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I
keep thy word :” “ It is good for me that I have been afflicted.”
6. You should“ consider” the goodness of God to you, in the care taken of you by this Charity. You ought to be thankful to those who are the instruments of God in your relief, and pray that every blessing may attend them ; but the Lord himself creates the medicines, and gives skill to the physicians, and ability and inclination to your generous benefactors. Through his goodness you have all that can alleviate your distress, or tend to remove your disorder, without any trouble or expense to yourselves: this furnishes great cause for gratitude ; and on him you must still depend for your cure, and give him thanks for it.
7. Having through your sickness and confinement (as far as you are not totally disabled by
See 2 Chron. xxxiii.
your disorder,) much leisure from wordly business and
company; and therefore much opportunity for getting acquaintance with the scriptures and your own state and character; and being favoured with the means of grace in the scriptures read among you, the exhortations addressed to you, the prayers offered up for you and with you, and the administration of sacred ordinances by your chaplain : you should " consider” seriously how you may obtain real advantage from these things; which you cannot do, unless you diligently apply your mind to them, and use them heartily, as in the presence of God, and with a desire and expectation of his gracious assistance and blessing.
Especially, should you be disposed to approach the Lord's table, remember that the bread and wine are only the outward and visible sign of an ' inward and spiritual grace:” that not the outward sign, but this inward and spiritual grace, (even the body of Christ which was broken, and his blood which was shed, upon the cross, as the atonement for our sins, and which are verily and indeed received, by the true believer, in the Lord's supper,) brings salvation to the soul : and that
you must ' feed upon him in your hearts, by ' faith with thanksgiving.'? Receiving the sacrament implies a humble confession of guilt, in that we come to the table not trusting in our own ' righteousness, but in God's manifold and greatmer'cies ;' an entire reliance on the atoning sacrifice of the death of Christ, through faith in his blood, for forgiveness of sins and acceptance with God
I See the Church Catechism.
as the only way in which he is merciful to sinners ; a cordial receiving of him as our Lord and Saviour; an avowed confession of our faith in him and obligations to him; a thankful remembrance of his sufferings as the ransom of our souls and the purchase of our salvation; and a solemn dedication of ourselves, as bought with his blood, to serve him in body and soul, and live to his glory in all righteousness and true holiness all the days of our future life.
You must therefore consider that you come to the Lord's table, not to merit of God, but to receive the pledge of unmerited blessings : not to atone for your own sins, but to receive the benefit of the atonement which the Son of God made in our nature on the cross; to express your unworthiness of, and thankfulness for, this inestimable gift; and to seek grace from him, that you may lead the rest of your life as one who is a partaker of this great salvation.
If therefore you are living in known sin, or neglecting known duty: if you are proudly trusting in your own goodness; establishing your own righteousness, and not thankfully relying on the atonement of Christ: or if you are not desirous of living a new life: in short, if you do not come in deep humiliation, and repentance of sin, express dependence on Christ, with many previous prayers, and serious purposes through his grace of living a life of faith and holiness; and if you come not forgiving all others from your heart, as you hope for forgiveness from God; your service will be mere formality, and you will receive unworthily.' But,
coming in the exercise of repentance, faith, love, and gratitude; seeking forgiveness for yourselves, forgiving others, and earnestly desiring and praying to lead a new life ; you will be an acceptable communicant: and you may humbly expect that your' soul shall be strengthened and refreshed by - the body and blood of Christ, as your body is by the bread and wine.'1
8. You should “ consider” how you can render yourselves useful to others in the hospital. How you can promote peace and regularity in your ward, repress immorality or improper conduct; alleviate the sufferings of any of the patients; be assistant to the nurses ; speak any thing for the warning, instruction, or encouragement of others ; read the scriptures or good books to such as are willing to hear but incapable of reading ; pray for them or with them; or do any thing which can in any respect be beneficial. This is evidently your bounden duty; and the least return you can make for the kindness shewn to you. 9. Should you perceive that your
dissolution approaches, “ consider” how you may most properly meet that solemn event. Settle all
Settle all your other concerns as speedily as possible, that nothing may distract your mind in the hour of death; and remember that sacraments and other religious duties are but' means of grace;' but that renewed repentance of sin, and cordial acceptance of Christ, and committing your soul into his almighty hand, to be washed by his blood, and sanctified by his grace,
" Read John vi. 27--58.