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of its first appearance, with the steps by which it should advance, the frightful wounds which it should make, and the manner in which it should terminate, that all the circumstances of it were ordered by Him who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working. This checks our peevishness, and awes us into silence and humble submission. By the time that one friend js gone, another comes in, and speaks of the everJasting covenant ordered in all things and sure. He tells us, that when God sets apart any for bimself, he engages to root out sin, to implant holiness, and to fit them for glory; and that if mercies will not draw, afflictions shall drive them nearer to God. He assures ns, that whatever wormwood and gall may be in his judgments on a wicked world, he always afflicts his people in love. Such conversation as this brightens our countenances, and cheers our spirits. We feel our minds disposed, not merely to submission, but to joy and thanksgiving. We forget our pains, when we think of the gracious designs of the Lord, in causing them; and we cry,
“Lord, if I may but be blessed in this furnace of affliction, I care not how long I continue in it, nor how much I endure.” Here another is beginning to talk about heaven ; and to remind us of that delightful world where there shall be night no more, and where the inhabitants shall no more say, “I am sick." But we cannot stay to hear him out.
I have detained you longer already than I intended. I was only saying, that in the day-time, the company and conversation of a friend help to pass away the hours, and divert us for a while from thinking of our disorders: but at night, our friends øne after another take an affectionate leave, and drop
off, to enjoy the repose which we are seeking in vain. · The company all gone, a solemn stillness prevails within doors and without. All in the house are asleep but the person whose turn it is to watch, that we do not slip out of the world no person knows how; and to bring us, at the appointed hour, the nauseous, but perhaps necessary, medicines. Then, having nothing to look at, nothing to listen to, we lie poring on our misery: we think on what we do suffer, and then on what we may; what part of our body is now in pain, and what may next be affected ; and so we double our distress which needed no aggravation. We are impatient to hear the clock ; and when it has struck, we are distressed to think how long we must lie, and how much we must suffer, before we hear it again, We eagerly wish for morning, to have our friends about us ; though all we can reply to their kind inquiries, is, to go over the dismal occurrences to every new visitor.
The confinement of the night too renders it more tedious. In the day, should the disorder not have come to the last stage, if we have strength to get up, and especially, if, with the help of a crutch and a friend, we can walk about the room, though the motion be painful, yet the change of place and posture is a little temporary relief. If we be tired of one chair, we try another: if the light be too strong for us on this side, we remove to that: if weary of site ting, we stand ; and if too weak for that, we throw ourselves on a couch, and doze away an hour or two of the day: and so by a variety of changes, and frequently shifting the scene, we make the time pass tolerably away. But at night, we are shut up, as it were, in a prison. We get to bed with the curtains close drawn; and there we must remain till the morning come, and relieve us. If we have strength enough to move ourselves, when tired on one side, we turn on the other: but if too weak for that exertion, we beg the person that watches by us, to assist us to take off some of the clothes, or to put on more, according as we feel or fancy. Our thoughts are continually upon the stretch, to find some new posture to employ and divert us; though it may give no substantial relief. But, alas! all the changes of which our narrow limits will admit, are soon gone through, and then we are impatient to get up; though perhaps, before night, we are as eager to go to bed again.
I might add, the wakefulness of the night as increasing our uneasiness. If we could get a little sleep, though it were only artificial, or what is procured by opiates, we should welcome it is a very desirable blessing. It would render us, for a time, insepsible of pain ; and help us to slumber away the gloomy and lingering hours of darkness. But sometimes this friendly aid fails; or it may not be thought advisable to have recourse to it; and then it is dismal indeed. We go to bed without the least expectation of rest. If our friends request us to try to sleep, cannot sleep,” we cry; perhaps with a kind of desperate uneasiness. “I do not expect to close my eyes all the night;" and perhaps we do not. We are again, as we often have been, full of tossings to and fro, to the dawning of the day.
But as you are tired of hearing so much of the tediousness of the night, I might suggest some useful
reflections which offer themselves ; but I shall only mention two.
In the first place, then, be thankful for former mercies. Those who are in perfect health, and enjoy refreshing sleep, are scarcely sensible of the value of the blessing. It may be, some of us have lived, twenty, thirty, forty years or more, and yet have hardly passed one restless night, during the whole of that period. We are, perhaps, come to look upon it as a thing of course; and our hearts are but little affected with gratitude to God, or compassion to those who pass
of their hours in weariness and sor. row. But if we sit up a night or two with a sick friend, it might make us thankful for God's distinguish. ing goodness. When we see him full of tossings to and fro, and in the morning quite exhausted with pain and fatigue, it ought to send us home, blessing God for the ease and sleep with which we have been favour, ed. But seeing it in others is not sufficient; it is ne, cessary that we feel it ourselves.
When we are chastened with pain upon our bed, and the multitude of our bones with strong pain, what would we give for one good night's refreshment? Then, if we can but get a little interval of ease, so as to forget ourselves for a few minutes, how thankful are we when, we awake! We speak of it again and again; to every one that comes near us: how good the Lord, has been to us, that we have had some rest, though but broken and short. We wonder how we could be so stupid as to overlook the many comfortable nights which we formerly enjoyed; and hope that if God rea, store us to health, we shall be as thankful for sleep by night, as ever we have been for provision by day.
Humiliation for former sins is another duty sug. gested by the subject to which we have attended. If it had not been for sin, we had never known any of those disorders of body or mind, which are the causes of so much unhappiness. But while we were in health, we perhaps troubled not ourselves about the sinfulness of our condition. We derived no imme diate ill consequences from it, and hardly believed what the scripture says, of its being so evil and bitter. Or rather, we were so busy all day, and slept so soundly all night, that we scarcely thought at all upon the matter. If our course had gone on thus smoothly, we might have slept the sleep of death, and our souls have been eternally lost, before we were apprised of our unspeakable danger. God, therefore, mercifully altered the scene: He took one of his sharpest arrows out of his quiver, and aimed it at that part where he intended that our illness should begin. We feel oorselves indisposed, and at first do not regard it. It grows, however, upon us; and we think, by keeping within doors for two or three days, to shake it off easily. That not succeeding, we take to our chamber, and then we are confined to our beds: and there, at first, we are perhaps, fretful and sullen.
We toss like bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke; and can hardly refrain from charging God foolishly, for sending such a heavy disorder to us, who deserved, at least who needed, not any affliction. But by degrees, God tames our spirits, and turns our repining and rebellious hearts. By lying much awake, the stillness of the night, and the anguish of our disorder, put us upon serious reflection. We begin to think, that this affliction came not upon us by accident, but that