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With these general remarks on the subject of affliction, we would refer our readers to the following Treatises, where they will find the considerations at which we have but just hinted, fully illustrated, and most powerfully enforced. We do not, indeed, know any works better fitted to be a companion to the afflicted; nor can the Christian, we think, rise from the perusal of them, without some salutary impressions, calculated to soothe him under present suffering, or fit him for meeting future trials with devout acquiescence in the divine appointment. They are the works of men who knew human nature well, because they were well acquainted with their own heart; and we cannot conceive any form which dissatisfaction with the dispensations of God's providence can assume, that they have not examined and exposed. This observation is particularly applicable to the treatise by FLAVEL, who, with great spiritual skill, has laid open those secret feelings of discontentment with the divine procedure, of which Christians are at times hardly conscious perhaps, but which too frequently lie at the foundation of immoderate and unbecoming sorrow in seasons of affliction. Cecil's “ Visit to the House of Mourning," the Christian will find set forth, in a very impressive light, the abundant consolation which the gospel provides for him in the time of trouble, and such an exhibition of the divine perfections, as is admirably fitted to strengthen the conviction, that even in the severest of his chastisements, God is still faithful to his character as a compassionate Father. But, if we might venture to single out one, among works that
are all so excellent, we would especially recommend to the notice of our readers, the first of the treatises by Shaw. Independent of its general excellence, as containing a large portion of truth, condensed into a small compass, it derives a peculiar interest from the circumstances in which it was written, as embodying the experience of a man of eminent piety and spirituality of mind, while under the pressure of a very painful and trying visitation of providence. We know scarcely any thing more impressive than his prefatory address to the reader, when he “solemnly and sincerely professes before God, and angels, and men, that he was never so much as inclined to think hardly of God, or his good and holy ways, because of his afflictive dispensation;" and while this declaration, we doubt not, will remind many of the hard thoughts, and unworthy suspicions, to which they have sometimes given way in seasons of affliction, it furnishes also an encouraging example of the maturity of strength to which the believer's faith may be brought, and after which it is alike the privilege and the duty of every Christian to aspire. But whatever may be our predilection for Shaw's work, we trust that our readers will find the whole worthy of a repeated perusal; and we may venture to apply to each of them the words of the excellent preface to this edition of Cecil :-" The value of this work has been already well tried by the test of extended experiment; and it has found a warm friend in many a distracted heart which it has soothed, and in many an afflicted family whom it has visited with the balm of heavenly consolation. The blessing of the Great
Comforter has largely accompanied it; and it has been stamped by heaven as one of the most valuable treatises of Christian truth, and Christian consolation. The unction of evangelical sentiment rests on it, and the spirit of genuine Christian sympathy pervades its every page.”
Edinburgh, August, 1824.