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calms, prosperity and adversity, of health and sickness. Job had his afflictions, but he endured them with extraordinary resignation. Hear his language : “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Again we read : “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried : they shall call on my name, and I will hear them : I will say, It is my people : and they shall say, the Lord is my God." The apostle James remarks--"Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
Affliction is a school in which many have learned important lessons : such as their own unworthiness, their frailty, and the necessity of a preparation for death and cternity. Affliction is a furnace, through which the children of God are sometimes conducted, that they may be purged from all impurity of heart, attain to a higher state of grace, and a more perfect likeness to Him who is the “brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person.” We have frequently too many drossy particles,-dregs and tin about us ; too much imperfection and worldly mindedness. “Thy silver is mixed with dross, I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin.”
The furnace may at times be heated to an unusually high temperature; but the Refiner sits to inspect the process, and knows when we are sufficiently purified. He will not allow the heat to rise one degree higher than we are able to endure; he will lay no more upon his people than they can bear. Relative and bodily afflictions are circumstances which afford ample scope for the development of christian patience. We must receive the corrections of our heavenly Father with cheerfulness and
docility; His singular chastisements without murmuring; submit to His dispensations without complaint; yield to His appointments with willing resignation ; receive His blessings with thankfulness; and in seasons of severe trial exclaim, “Not my will, but thy will be done."
“When I can trust my all with God,
In trial's fearful hour,-
And bless His sparing power;
Then there are,
3. Difficulties which often perplex the mind. We cannot find out the Almighty unto perfection. His ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts. “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and back
I ward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, when he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him : but he knoweth the way that I take,” Job xxiii. 8—10. “He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud
it." Much is concealed from our view, and many of his ways are past finding out Partial, however, as is the revelation given to man, it is sufficient to answer all the purposes with reference to his salvation. In consequence of our limited knowledge, we are unable to comprehend the designs of his unerring administration. The dealings of God with his people are often mysterious, their privations and sufferings are sometimes complex and protracted. The affectionate mother weeps over her expiring child; the afflicted widow, with symbols of bereavement fresh upon her, laments the loss of him who was the partner of her joys, and the lightener of her sorrows; but why this sudden and unexpected bereavement, this shattered reed of humanity is at a loss to know. The church frequently mourns over the loss of a useful and devoted pastor, who ministered at her altar, cut off in the midst of his zeal and vigour; but she cannot comprehend the designs of the Almighty Sovereign of the universe.
“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform ;
And rides upon the storm.”
“He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies,” Ps. xviii. 11.
But religion teaches its possessors to acquiesce in the inscrutable mysteries of Divine Providence. David said, “I was dumb; I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it.” Paul said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known," 1 Cor. xiii. 12. He has not thought proper to furnish us with the reasons for his conduct; but we may comfort ourselves with the assurance that “What we know not now we shall know hereafter.” The period is coming when there will be a full solution of all that is now involved in impenetrable mystery; when all the faithful will simultaneously acknowledge—“Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee: for thy judgments are made manifest,” Rev. xv. 3, 4. Observe,
III. THE ADVANTAGES DERIVABLE FROM THE POSSESSION AND EXERCISE OF THIS FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
Though this temper of mind is somewhat difficult to be acquired, yet the advantages are incalculable.
1. It smooths the path of life. To escape opposition, trials, and unabridged enjoyments, is, perhaps, too much to expect in this world. Nevertheless, if we cultivate christian patience, it will afford solace to the mind, and enable us to bear up under all the vicissitudes of life, and render our conduct more estimable in the world.
Pure religion does not plant thorns in the path of life, torture the body, nor fill the mind with sorrow and gloomy forebodings. This may be the Romish way, as their convents, nunneries, and inquisitions testify. The deluded inmates of these places have known, to their sorrow, while performing penance, kneeling on peas, and perforating their cheeks with pins, that it was a rugged road to heaven for them. Their mouths have been gagged, their bodies brutally tortured by the “pulley" and the “rack," and damp and filthy dungeons have been their miserable abodes; and they were taught by their corrupted and fiendish priests and other functionaries of such diabolical dens of infamy and dungeons of death, to believe that that was the only way to secure everlasting happiness in heaven.
On this subject, you need only read “The awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, as exhibited in a Narrative of her Sufferings during a Residence of Five Years as a Novice, and Two Years as a Black Nun, in the Hotel Dieu Nunnery at Montreal.” Published, 1836, by Horner and Bates, New York; and reprinted by J. Howitt, Nottingham. Also, the Narrative of a Singular Escape from a Portuguese Convent, with an Introductory Address by the Rev. W. Carus Wilson, Rector of Whittington. And also, the ably written "History
“ of the Inquisition,” by Charles H. Davie.
Such inquisitorial proceedings, such extorted confessions and imposed penances, under the garb of religion,
is absolute mockery,-a system which savours more of Satan than of Christ. The religion of the Bible is a religion of light, liberty, love, and enjoyment. It sweetthe
сир of life, assuages grief, and moderates the desires of the heart. It has reduced many a mountain to a plain, made many a rough path smooth, many a crooked thing straight, many miserable souls happy, and given an essential feature to the character.
If the mind is torn and distracted by impatience and fretfulness, there cannot exist in the soul that deep repose and settled calm which is the result of longsuffering; a virtue we should possess, a grace we should cultivate, and a spirit we should always manifest. must “be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
2. It gives sobriety to the judgment. Cause and effect, actions and results, are closely connected. Where patience and fretfulness exist, there is corresponding evidence in the conduct. Patience is very requisite in seasons of trial and affliction, or we are liable to forget that they are designed for our profit. When Jonah's gourd withered by his side, and he fainted beneath the scorching rays of the orb of day, he became fretful and querulous, when he said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” “I do well to be angry even unto death." But the resigned and submissive patriarch could say, and, perhaps, under far more trying circumstances than those of Jonah : Though thou slay me, yet will I trust in thee." Fretfulness would soon conclude, “ All these things are against me;" but patience does not jump to a hasty conclusion, but examines, calculates, reasons, weighs, and then conducts you into a rational and inspired opinion. “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord,” Lam. iii. 25, 26.