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lje so deep, and are so firmly rooted, that they are not easily discovered or dislodged. God has tried us by his word, directing us to that part of the scripture where we might see ourselves as in a glass, and where our sin or duty was particularly described : but that availed nothing. He next gave us loud and repeated calls in the course of his providence, holding up to our view the example of some emi. nently holy Christians, to excite our emulation ; or the conduct of certain characters notoriously wicked, to awaken us from our criminal security. He tried us by his Spirit; sometimes addressing us in a still small voice ; and sometimes speaking to us in thunder, and raising a storm in our consciences, to bring us to a sense of our sins and our duty. But that did not succeed. It affected us for a moment, but the impressions soon wore away; and we sunk again into sloth and security. It became necessary, therefore, for the kindness and faithfulness of God, to lay upon us some heavy afflictions. Not a few have derived their first serious impressions from such a painful occurrence. God speaks to them in their prosperity, and they will not hear. He then changes the scene, and brings them into trouble, and this becomes the happy means of exciting their attention. “Speak, Lord," say they, “ for thy servant heareth. Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Thus awakened to a sense of their duty and danger, like Manasseh, they have reason to bless God for their thorns and their bonds, as the means of their repentance, and deliverance from ruin.

But if some have been chosen, many have been refined in affliction's fiery furnace. What David says of himself, has been the experience of thousands :

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“ Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now have I kept thy word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.” I believe, that most can recollect more than one instance in which affliction has reclaimed them from the paths of destruction. They had wandered into the tents of iniquity; and they tremble to think how long they might have continued there, if the Lord had not made their own wickedness correct them, and their backslidings reprove them. The severe chastisement, however, which they received, has convinced them, that it is an evil and bitter thing to depart from the Lord; and now they are ready to say, " I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.'

I now proceed to observe, Thirdly, that the prospect of being benefited and brightened by affliction, reconciles believers to the severest of trials.

Few ever laboured under a greater accumulation of sorrows than Job; painful and loathsome disorders in his body, the loss of all his substance, the death of · all his children, and the unfounded impeachment of his integrity, were a part only of the sufferings which this good man endured. But he bore his afflictions with patience, from a consciousness of his uprightness, and from a belief that God would make his trials the means of his advantage. When the time, therefore, to favour him was come, the Lord gave him “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” His health was restored, his substance increased, a new family raised up to him, and his character from God's own mouth, became fairer and higher than ever. But

VOL. I.

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whether temporal good accrue from affliction or not, the people of God have often experienced the fulfile ment of these words of the apostle: “He chastens us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”

I shall not attempt to enumerate all the benefits of afflictions, but confine myself to those which are mentioned in the following words: “ And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also ; knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope."

Tribulation worketh patience. Perhaps, when the Lord first “ lays his hand upon us, and touches our bone and our flesh,” we fret and toss like bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke ; and say, in the frenzy of our grief, “ I do well to be angry. This evil is of the Lord; why should I wait for the Lord any longer?" Such, in the beginning of an affliction, are the im. pious ravings of our unsubdued spirits. But by degrees our passions subside, and, like the prodigal when he began to be in want, we come to ourselves, and humbly say, “ Lord, show me wherefore thou contendest with me?" Ah! if the Lord were to reveal to us all that is amiss in our hearts and our lives, we should be startled at the sight of so much defor. mity and pollution. But he shows us enough to make us abhor ourselves, and sincerely repent in dust and ashes. Then, instead of complaining that our affliction is so heavy, we are thankful that it is not heavier: and if nature dare murmur, grace presently checks it, with saying, “ It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good: I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him.” In this manner tribulation worketh patience,

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Patience worketh experience. Affliction has been familiarly called God's school, where some of the most eminent saints have had the principal part of their education. When they were first placed there, they knew little of God, or themselves, or the methods of providence and grace. They thought, that as soon as they had passed the strait gate, their difficulties would be entirely over. They imagined, that when once they had a good hope through grace, and were really converted, and numbered among the chil. dren of God, they should never be in trouble like other men, but should walk in the light of God's countenance all the day long. When, therefore, they saw holy persons greatly afflicted, they knew not how to account for it; for they supposed that to be afflicted, is to be miserable; that rejoicing in tribulation, is the greatest absurdity; and that inward

peace under outward trouble, is absolutely impossible. So foolish were they and ignorant! But when they were brought into affliction themselves, they found that it was not so formidable and destructive as they had imagined, but in an eminent degree beneficial and salutary. They perceived, that the weeds of depravity were so deeply rooted, and grew so fast; they saw so much deceitfulness in the world, so much evil in sin,and so much of divine wisdom, love, and faithfulness, in the choice of their affliction, and they felt such supports and comforts under it, that at the very time when their eyes were streaming with tears, you might have heard them sing with the Psalmist, “ Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord; and teachest him out of thy law.”

Experience worketh hope. The young and untried Christian, at his first setting out, is uneasy and fearful. He sees a wilderness before him. He is told, that he must wrestle, not with flesh and blood only, but with principalities and powers, and spiritual wick. edness, in high places, Feeling his own weakness, he is alarmed and dejected, and eagerly cries out, " Who is sufficient for these things?” But when the Christian has been some time in the furnace, and finds how wonderfully he is supported, and when he perceives that he has more freedom with God, and that God is nearer and kinder to him when he is in trouble than at any other season, his hopes begin to revive. " I hope," says he, “ that he who has been with me jo six troubles, will be with me in seven; and that he who has loved me so long, will continue his love to the end. I have trusted him in many difficulties and dangers, and have always found him faithful and kind, and therefore, though I now walk in darkness and see no light, yet I wait for the Lord: my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. I have had such repeated experience of his kindness and con. stancy, that, though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.

Such are the blessed fruits of sanctifed affliction : I

say of sanctified affliction, because in itself it has not any such tendency. In many instances it has produced a contrary effect, as it is said of King Ahaz; $ In the time of his distress, he trespassed yet more against the Lord.” Instead of “ tribulation's working patience,” it makes some peevish and fretful, ready to quarrel with every one about them ; and it leads others in the madness of despair, because they can,

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