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in full unanimity-no dissentient juror-declare, that it was in scenes of the severest woe, that they found the hidden evil, the great abomination of their hearts, which they knew not of; and then turning and driving deeper, they found yet greater corruptions; and they now acknowledge that such, at the time, inexplicable methods, were requisite to make them resemble the cultivated field, or to remove those erils which would have choked their hopes, or diminished their fruitfulness.
As a general truth, it must be admitted, that sanctified afflictions do most detect latent evil, do most sever from our mind unholy attachments, and do most essential service in cleansing instrumentally,--not meritoriously, (for the praise of tillage is not given to the harrow, but the farmer-the agent in agriculture) the human heart, from noxious tempers and deep-rooted corruptions.
From the whole of this subject, we may learn the necessity of frequent adversity. Our corruption requires this treatment: we admit the fact in our daily confessions; we implore this discipline in our prayers for holiness ; and shall we repine if our fruitfulness is promoted by the ordinary, if not, indeed, the only efficient means of religious cultivation? The advantages of affliction are thus obviously suggested, as they respect either the comfort of
our own minds, the sanctity and usefulness of our lives, the credit of our common faith, or his honor who has condescendingly said, “ Hereby am I “ glorified that ye bring forth much fruit.” Moreover, by the transitory nature of this process in husbandry, we are led to contemplate the speedy termination of our present trials, heavy and tedious as we consider them, the time cometh, yea, frequently now is, when we shall say, “ For our light “ affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh “ for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight “ of glory; while we look not at the things which
are seen, but at the things which are not seen :
for the things which are seen are temporal; but “ the things which are not seen are eternal."*
Again. From some parts of this discourse, we are naturally led to mourn over the untractable and untameable tempers and tongues of man. The unicorn and other powerful animals cannot indeed be rendered tame, but they can be subdued by human skill and strength. “ Behold, we put bits in “ the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and “ we turn about their whole body. Behold also “ the ships, which, though they be so great, and
are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned .“ about with a very small helm, whithersoever the
+ 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18.
governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little “ member, and boasteth great things. Behold “ how great a matter a little fire kindleth! and “ the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is “ the tongue among our members, that it defileth " the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of “ nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every “ kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and “ of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been “ tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man “ tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poi
Grace can do that which to nature is impossible. Arduous as the undertaking is, it can be accomplished by Him who will subdue our iniquities under us, nor let any sin have dominion over us.
* James, iii. 3-8.
scenes; hitherto our toil has been tedious, and we weary and faint in our minds; but shortly we shall see that while the untilled land is cursed with barrenness, or fruitful only in thorns and briars, the harrowed field is blessed with the smile of heaven: thus prepared, it is made soft with showers of rain, and on it the clouds drop fatness.*
JAMES, v. 7.
Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain. . Be ye also patient,
PATIENCE, may perhaps be justly considered as the most difficult of moral duties, and certainly is the most lovely of christian graces; as one star differeth from another in glory, this may be seen as the most brilliant of that constellation which adorns a holy character; and like its beauteous emblem, the Star of Bethlehem, has led the admiring spectator who was ignorant and afar off, to Him who is the fairest model, and furnishes the most vigorous motives for the exemplification
of this grase.