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minded, that it is not to the individuals alone who are actually subjected to suffering, that the salutary effects of affliction are confined. Such is the con. stitution of our nature, and such the circumstances in which we are placed, that we are mutually dependent on one another for not a little of what is essential for our present comfort and well-being ; nor would it be easy to conceive a case in which an individual could be so entirely under the dominion of a selfish spirit—where he could so contract the sphere of his affections, and so concentrate his regards upon himself, as that his comforts should be beyond the reach of being affected by any change in the circumstances and condition of those around him; and if a solitary instance of such an individual could be found, there are few, we are persuaded, who would hesitate to pronounce him the most desolate, and forlorn, and pitiable, of human beings. With such sympathies and feelings, then, as render it impossible for us to remain insensible to the condition of one another, provision is thus made, by the very constitution of our nature, for giving to affliction a far more extended'influence, than merely the effect which it produces on the individuals actually afflicted. However limited may be the sphere of the sufferer's relationship or acquaintance, there must be some, at least, to whom his condition cannot be a matter of indifference; and if his sufferings have been sanctified to himself, there must be something in his character and state, that has a tendency to convey salutary impressions to all with whom he may have an opportunity of holding intercourse. . . The effects,

indeed, of such dispensations may extend far beyond what it is possible for us to conceive. We are assured in Scripture, that “there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth ;” and contemplating this truth, in connexion with what we are also told on the same authority, that angels are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation ;” and that “ unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places is known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God;" we cannot doubt that every step of the believer's progress towards a state of meetness for the inheritance of the saints, in light, is a subject of interest to these holy and happy spirits. And if so, then it is impossible to determine how far the influence of the believer's holy resignation under affliction may extend, or what enlargement it may give, even to those higher intelligences who do not, and cannot require to be themselves subjected to suffering, in their conceptions of the

power of divine grace, and the riches of divine wisdom; and impossible, therefore, to estimate the amount of that accession, which the humblest Christian may be the means of making, to the blessedness that is diffused through the subjects of God's holy administration. But, independently of the testimony that is thus borne, to the faithfulness of the divine promises, and the efficacy of divine consolations, it is evident that, in every case of affliction, there must be feelings awakened, and sympathies called forth, which have themselves a most salutary -tendency; that the witnesses of such afflictions are thereby reminded of death and eternal things, in a way more solemn and impressive than they could be by any other means, short of the actual experience of similar afflictions in their own person; and that, in this way, the sufferings of an individual may be made to exercise a most wholesome influence, even upon multitudes who are themselves exempted from the severity of such discipline, and who, amidst the uninterrupted enjoyment of worldly prosperity, might be in danger of forgetting their mortality and frailty.

We have thus endeavoured to suggest to the believer some considerations calculated to illustrate the Scripture declaration, that “ God doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men;" and to point out some of the happy effects of affliction, considered as a salutary discipline. . In attempting, however, to do so, we would not have the Christian suppose, that our object has been to point out special reasons for any particular case of tribulation, as if the discovery of such reasons were necessary to command his resigned acquiescence in the divine appointments. Whether such reasons can be assigned or not, there is one truth from which the considerations now stated derive all their force, and the belief of which can never fail to secure this resignation on the

part of the Christian. If he believes and recollects that God so loved the world, guilty and apostate as it was, that he spared not his own Son, but freely gave him up to the death for us all, he can require no other argument to convince him that there is mercy in affliction, and no farther explanation of the divine procedure to reconcile him to any of God's dispensations. It is this truth indeed, and this alone, that

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can call forth unreserved submission to the divine will; and it is to this, therefore, that the believer betakes himself in every season of perplexity and trouble. He sees in the death of Christ the surest, because infinitely the most valuable pledge that God himself could give, that no affliction will be employed but such as infinite love dietates, and infinite wisdom approves; and persuaded as he is, that his salvation, even the perfection and blessedness of his nature, is the end of all God's dealings with him, and the object on which God looks with complacency, he cannot but be also persuaded that his happiness is the ultimate design of every afflictive visitation. Το the worldly mind, it may appear a paradox, or absolute contradiction, to say, that suffering is inflicted for the purpose of securing the happiness and the well-being of the sufferer; and the resignation, therefore, of such a mind will never be any thing more than a sullen and constrained submission to stern necessity. But it is because that mind has never seen the glory of that effulgence with which the death of Christ illuminates the divine government, and the character of love and mercy which it impresses on every act of his administration towards the children of men; for the man who has learned to contemplate the divine procedure by the aid of this light, will believe not only that God afflicteth not willingly, but that he does so with reluctancereluctance in this sense, and to this extent, that he pities while he afflicts, and looks upon the sufferings of his people with an infinitely more profound compassion, than ever affectionate father did on the child

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whom he loves, and whom that very love constrains him to chasten. It is the Christian's consolation to believe that his once tempted, and suffering, and crucified Redeemer is now exalted to the sovereignty of the world; that to Him has been committed the administration of all things that concern the wellbeing of his followers; that his supremacy is unceasingly exercised in providing for their security and comfort; and that no affliction can befall them, but with his knowledge, and by his appointment. He is, moreover, assured, and he believes, however difficult and hard the saying may appear to others, that this compassionate Saviour sympathizes in the very sufferings which he himself appoints; for it is expressly said, that “ we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

And with this assurance, can he doubt, that in such hands he is secure from every affliction that is not essential to his well-being ? can he desire any other pledge on this point, than that it is the appointment of Him who loved his people even unto the death? or can he require any thing more to soothe and to support him, than the reflection, that he has the sympathy and affectionate commiseration of the Lord of life? Let the believer seek to realize this truth, and it will give a meaning and a force to the subject of these remarks, which no illustration can impart to it—let him labour habitually to recollect it, and he will need no argument to convince him, that “God afflicteth not willingly, nor grieveth the children of men.”

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