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Consolatio : or, Comfort for the afflicted online

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of His children. Things past have not injured me,
things present do not injure me, things to come
cannot injure me ; this is the cool and dispassion-
ate conviction of my soul. How unspeakably
great are the privileges, how strong therefore
should be the confidence of the Christian !

Are any among you, however, disposed to add,
It is true, for I believe my Redeemer's promises,
things present and things to come, however threat-
ening and disastrous, are, and by the wonderful
workings of his providence and grace, shall be
my own ; but there is yet one enemy I dare not
face, there is one hour for which my faithless
heart still quakes : that hdur is the hour which
shall for ever call me hence, — that enemy is death.


Be of good courage, brethren ; this constant infir-
mity of our nature has not been forgotten in pro-
mised privileges. It might have been sufficient
to have included it in the " all things" which are
ours ; it might have contented our hearts to know
and to feel that if "things to come" be ours,
death must necessarily be one, and therefore
needed no separate enumeration; but "He, who
came*' expressly "to destroy him that had the
power of death, and deliver them who, through
fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to
bondage," has not failed to speak, even to our
very weakness and our fears, upon this deeply
interesting point. He tells us distinctly, by the
mouth of this holy Apostle, that even "death" is
ours ; ours not indeed to escape from, (that would
be a faithless and a coward wish,) but ours to
meet, ours to oppose, and ours to conquer, in the
strength and through the merits of our Redeemer.
Yes, the time must arrive when what has hap-
pened to all shall happen to you. " When the
grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall
fail ; when the silver cord shall be loosed, and the
golden bowl be broken ; when the dust shall re-
turn to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall
return unto God who gave it." What is not the
assurance worth, which can stand against that
hour which shall be calm, when all around are
agitated ; peaceful, when all around are anxious,


and enable you to say, " I know whom I have
believed, and am persuaded that He is able to
keep that which I have committed unto Him
against that day." "My flesh and my heart
faileth ; " there is no promise that they shall do
otherwise, for they are of the earth, earthy — " My
flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength
of my iieart, and my portion for ever." Thus,
through the grace of your conquering Redeemer,
death will be yours, its sting drawn out, its ter-
rors quelled, its power for ever broken. And this
to the faintest and weakest believer among you,
as certainly and unquestionably, as to the strong-
est and most advanced. If you are indeed placed
upon a rock, though you stand but a single foot
above the highest limit of the waves, you are as
secure as he who stands ten thousand feet above
your head, and that rock must fall before your
life be perilled. So is it with the Rock of ages.
Whether life or death, or things present, or things
to come, all are yours, if you are Christ's, for
Christ is God's.

Cleave to the will of God, and turn with it
constantly, as the weather-cock does with the


Sanctifying meanings of affiiction.

It behoves us to treat suffering, whether in our-
selves or others, in a much more solemn way
than the generality even of serious Christians are
wont to do. In itself it were a punishment for
sin, oppressive, hopeless ; through God's mercy
in Christ, it is His healing medicine, to burn out
our wounds, and purify us for His presence. All
are tokens of His presence; the great Physician
of our souls, looking graciously upon our spots
and sores, checking our diseases ere they take
deep root, or cutting deeply and healthfully into
our very souls, if He have compassion upon us,
when we have deeply offended Him. All, from
the most passing pain of the body, to the most
deep-seated anguish of the soul, are messengers
from Him : some spread over life to temper our
enjoyments, lest we seek our joys here; some
following closely upon what is wrong; some
gradually thickening upon us, if we neglect the
first warnings; some coming suddenly in an
instant, to startle people out of their lethargy and
careless ways, and show them that the life which
they are wasting is an earnest thing; some in the
natural order of His Providence, as the loss of
parents and of children; yet all manifesting, if
we will regard it, His fatherly care, tempering
our cup with pain and sorrow, as He sees most


needful for ns: all, in their degree, loosening onr
hold of this life; all leading up thitherward,
where there shall be no pain; all humbling us,
as being creatures who require it, and deserve far
more; all teaching us to look into ourselves, to
see for what disease in us tliis medicine has been

All, then — pain, sickness, weariness, distress,
languor, agony of mind and body, whether in
ourselves or others, is to be treated reverently,
seeing in it our Maker's hand passing over us,
fashioning, by suffering, the imperfect or decayed
substance of our souls. In itself, it were the
earnest of hell; through His mercy in Christ, it
is a purifying for heaven. It is the cross changed
from the instrument of shame, the torture of male-
factors, into the source of life; it is the cross ap-
plied to us, washing away our filth by the spirit
of judgment, and the spirit of burning.

Every sorrow we meet with is a billow on this
world's troublesome sea, which we must cross
upon the cross, to bear us nearer to onr home:
we may not then remain where we were ; we may
not, when God's " wave and storms have gone
over us," be what we were before ; we may and
must bear our parts in the world's duties, (but in
proportion to its heaviness, and the loudness of
God's warning voice in it.) not as wc did in its
joys; each trouble is meant to relax the world's


hold over ns, and our hold upon the world ; each
loss to make us seek our gain in heaven ; each
bereavement to fix our hearts thither, whither we
hope the treasures lent us are removed; each
chastisement to deepen our repentance for those
sins for which God has so chastened us. Sadder
far than the sight of any sorrow is it to see per-
sons, after sorrow, become in all outward show
what they were before; even as the impassive
waters are troubled for a while by the stone which
severs them, and then become calm and cold as
heretofore ; sadder far, for it seems like casting
aside God's healing hand, and rising up from
under it when He is laying low. Rather, it is a
Christian's joy, and comfort, and peace, and
health, when God has laid him low, there to lie;
humble, in proportion as God has humbled him;
to lie low at the foot of His cross, trusting that,
by the virtue of that cross, He will raise up those
who lie willingly where He has placed them. It
is well to be there where God wills ; and so, what-
ever it be, sorrow bringing sin to remembrance, or
agony for past sin, or dread of judgment, it is our
wisdom not to vent it in excitement, much less to
seek to distract it or waste it, but to take it calm-
ly home to our bosoms, and treasure it there,
jealously watching lest we lose one drop of its
wholesome bitterness ; not anxious to escape sor-
row, but anxious only not to lose its fruits.


In pain, sickness, tronble, methinks I hear
God say, Take this medicine, exactly suited to
the case, prepared and weighed by my own
hands, and consisting of the choicest drugs which
heaven allbrds.

A most covifortablc command.

"My son, give me thine heart. "• Wlio can
fathom the breadth, and lengtii, and depth of
tliis one expression 7 It seems to say, "All
that breathes within that heart is known to
me. I know how vulnerable, how ill prepared it
is to stand the shocks, and bear the assaults, of
such a world as it now lives in. I know the
sickening anguish, the deep distress, the killing
disappointments it will feel, if it vainly assays to
rest its sensibilities upon the creature, or to satisfy
its thirst at streams that are rapidly drying up.
That heart was made for me, and in me alone it
can be happy. I can lodge it where no sliaft can
reach it. I can ' keep it safe as the apple of the
eye, and hide it under the shadow of my wings.'
I can still its tlirobbings, calm its perturbations,
and turn its sorrow into joy. Out of me it must

' Prov. xxiii. 26.


wander without peace, for I am the haven where
it would be. My son, then, give me thine heart."

Trial, ever the portion of the true disciple.

Take np thy portion, then, Christian soul, and
weigh it well, and learn to love it. Thou wilt
find, if thou art Christ's, in spite of what the
world fancies, that, after all, even at this day,
endurance, in a special sense, is the lot of those
who offer themselves to be servants to the King
of Sorrows. There is an inward world, which
none see but those who belong to it; and though
the outside robe be many-colored, like Joseph's
coat, inside it is lined with camels' hair, or sack-
cloth, fitting those who desire to be one with Him
who fared hardly in the wilderness, in the moun-
tain, and on the sea. There is an inward world
into which they enter who come near to Christ,
though to men in general they seem the same as
before. They hold the same place as before in
the world's society ; their employments are the
same, their ways, their comings in, and their
goings out. If they were high in rank, they are
still high; if they were in active life, they are
still active: if they were wealthy, they still have
wealth. They have still great friends, powerful


connections, ample resources, fair name, in the
world's eye ; but if they have drunk of Christ's
cup, and tasted the bread of His table in sinceri-
ty, it is not with them as in times past. A change
has come over them, unknown indeed to them-
selves, except in its eftects ; but they have a por-
tion in destinies which other men have not; and
as having destinies, they have conflicts also.
They drank what looked like a draught of this
world, but it associated them in hopes and fears,
trials and purposes, above this world. They
came as for a blessing, and they have found a
work. They are soldiers in Christ's army; they
fight against " things that are seen," and they
have "all these things against them." To their
surprise, as time goes on, they find that their lot
is changed. They find that, in one shape or
other, adversity happens to them. One blow falls,
they are startled; it passes over, it is well ; they
expect nothing more. Another comes; they
wonder. " Wiiy is this? " they ask ; they think
that the first should be their security against the
second ; they bear it, however, and it passes too.
Then a third comes; they also murmur: they
have not yet mastered the great doctrine, that
endurance is their portion. O, simple soul, is it
not the law of thy being to endure, since thou
camest to Christ 7 Why camest thou, but to
endure ] Why didst thou taste His heavenly


feast, but that it might work in thee? Why didst
thou kneel beneath His hand, but that He might
leave on thee the print of His wounds'? Why
wonder, then, that one sorrow does not buy off
the rest? Does one drop of rain absorb the
second? Does the storm cease because it has
begun? Understand thy place in God's kingdom ;
and rejoice, not complain, that in thy day, thou
hast thy lot with prophets and apostles.

Judge not by appearance, but be sure that,
even when things seem to brighten and smile
upon God's true servants, there is much within
to try them, though you see it not. Of old times
they wore clothing of hair and sackcloth under
rich robes. Men do not observe this custom now-
a-days; but be quite sure still that there are as
many sharp distresses underneath the visible garb
of things as if they did. Many a secret ailment
or scarcely observed infirmity exercises him who
has it, better than thorns or knotted cord. Many
a silent grief lying like lead within the heart, or
like cold ice iipon the heart. Many a sad secret
which a man dare not tell, lest he should find no
sympathy ; many a laden conscience, laden be-
cause the owner of it has turned to Christ, and
which he would not have felt, had he kept from
Him. Many an apprehension for the future,
which cannot be spoken ; many a bereavement
which has robbed the world's gifts of their


pleasant savour, and leads the heart but to sigh at
the sight of them. No ; never while the Church
lasts, will the words of old Jacob be reversed,
"All things here are against us" but God ; but if
God be for us, who can be really against us? If
He is in the midst of us, how shall we be moved ?
If Christ has died and risen again, what death
can come upon us, though we may be made to
die daily ? What sorrow, pain, humiliation, trial,
but nuist end as His has ended, in a continual
resurrection into His new world, and in a nearer
and nearer approach unto Him? He pronounced
a blessing over His Apostles, and they have
scattered it far and wide over the earth unto this
day. It runs as follows : " My peace I give unto
you ; not as the world giveth, give I unto you."
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in
Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall
have tribulation ; but be of good cheer, I have
overcome the world."'

God does not oflcr me health, long life, plenty
of worldly accommodations, respect, distinctions,
principalities, universal empire; but. oh unutter-

able grace! — Himself.


Consolation of the sjjmpathj of Jesus Christ.

" When Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the
Jews also weeping which came with her, he
groaned in the spirit, and was troubled."^ It is
the very nature of compassion or sympathy, as
the word impHes, to " rejoice with those who
rejoice, and weep with those who weep." We
know it is so with men ; and God tells ns He also
is compassionate, and full of tender mercy. Yet
we do not know well what this means ; for how
can God rejoice or grieve? By the very perfec-
tion of His nature. Almighty God cannot show
sympathy, at least to the comprehension of beings
of such limited minds as ours. He, indeed, is hid
from us ; but if we were allowed to see Him,
how could we discern, in the Eternal and un-
changeable, signs of sympathy? Words and
works of sympathy in another, affect and comfort
the sufferer more even than the fruits of it. Now,
we cannot see God's sympathy; and the Son of
God, though feeling for us as great compassion as
His Father, did not show it for us, while He re-
mained in His Father's bosom. But when He
took flesh, and appeared on earth. He siiowed us
the Godhead in a new manifestation ; He invest-
ed Himself with a new set of attributes, those of
our flesh; taking into Him a human soul and

1 John xi. 33.


body, ill order that tlioughts, feelings, and affec-
tions, might be His, which could respond to ours,
and certify to us His tender mercy. When, then,
our Sa\Mour weeps from sympathy with Mary's
tears, let us not say it is the love of a man over-
come by natural feeling; it is the love of God, the
bowels of compassion of the Almighty and Eternal
condescending to appear as we arc capable of re-
ceiving it, in the form of human nature. Jesus
wept, therefore, not merely from the deep thoughts
of His understanding, but from spontaneous ten-
derness ; from the gentleness and mercy, the
encomi)assing loving-kindness, and exuberant
fostering alfection of the Son of God for His own
work, the race of man. Their tears touched Him
at once, as their miseries had brought Him down
from heaven. His ear was open to them, and the
sound of weeping went at once to His heart.

IjCt us take to ourselves these comfortable
thoughts, both in the contemplation of our own
death, or upon the death of our friends. "NViiere-
ever faith in Christ is, there is Ciirist Himself
He said to Martha, " Believcst thou this?''
AV'herever there is a heart to answer, "Lord, I
believe," there Clirist is present; there our Lord
vouchsafes to stand, though unseen : whether
over the bed of death, or over the grave; whether
we ourselves are sinking, or those who are dear
to us. Blessed be His name ! nolhiuG; can rob us


of this consolation : we will be as certain, through
His grace, that He is standing over us in love, as
though we saw Him. We will not, after our ex-
perience of Lazarus's history, doubt an instant
that He is thoughtful about us. He knows the
beginnings of our illness, though He keeps at a
distance. He knows when to remain away, and
when to draw near. He notes down the advanc-
ing of it, and the stages. He tells truly when His
friend Lazarus is sick, and when he sleeps. We
all have experience of this in the narrative before
us ; and henceforth, so be it ! will never complain
at the course of His Providence. Only, we will
beg of Him an increase of faith, a more lively per-
ception of the curse under which the world lies,
and of our own personal demerits ; a more under-
standing view of the mystery of His cross ; a more
devout and implicit reliance on the virtue of it,
and a more confident persuasion that He will
never put upon us more than we can bear, — never
afflict His brethren with any woe. except for their
own highest benefit.

The hordes second advent, the cure for care and sorrow.

" Let your moderation be known unto all men.
The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing;
but in every thing by prayer and supplication


with thanksgiving let your requests be rnade
known unto God. And the peace of God, which
passcth all understanding, shall keep your hearts
and minds through Christ Jesus."^ Why does
the Apostle counsel thus? His object is to
produce moderation. The way to produce it,
is to rid yourself of anxiety. If I am not
anxious whether my cup be lull, or whether it be
empty, I cannot be immoderate in my desires.
If I am letting my mind lie passive on the sea of
God's providential dispensations, then come storm,
come calm; whatever it be, I am at rest, I am
tranquil, I am at anchor : my cable is faith, the
rock I am tied to, is the will of my Father in
heaven. There is a blessed peace in this state of
holy acquiescence. It is the anxiety about so
many unimportant things, that makes life so
troubled. It is the fixing our minds upon this
thing or that thing, and determining with our-
selves that they are absolutely indispensable for
our happiness, that makes us so unhappy. We
jeopardy our peace, directly that we determine
any earthly thing to be indispensable for our wel-
fare. It is astonishing how many barks of happi-
ness are wrecked in this way: it is quite amazing
how many stately vessels of Christian hope, if not
quite wrecked, arc stranded, or tossed and beaten

' Phil. iv. 5.


about among these quicksands of unrestrained
desire. " This thing," says one; "give me but
this thing, or take from me but this sorrow, or lead
me but out of this one difficulty, or remove from
me but this rival, and then my soul shall be at
peace." Unhappy they who thus imagine ! How
contrary is all this to the prayer we daily offer,
" Thy will be done." Beloved brethren, strive
to think every thing a blessing which God sends
you, — every thing injurious which He denies you.
Be not anxious about earthly matters, whether
they be great or small ; and in the end you will
find every earthly thing too small to make you

Will the thought of the period of the second
Advent, help the Christian man to moderation?
The text tells us that it will. Why, then, and
how will it do ill The answer is simple. One
great and filling thought will drive out all smaller
and more troubling anxieties. The expectation
of the Creator will calm and displace those vain
expectations, which we are constantly forming,
of the creature. If I am looking anxiously for
Christ's coming, I cannot look very anxiously for
the fulfilment of any earthly hopes. A full cup,
or a full purse, or marriage blessings, or a home
to rest my body in, or a friend's bosom for my
heart to repose on, or grandeur, or pomp, or
power, or place — it is impossible that I should


inordinately crave any of these things, if I am in
true earnestness looking for my Lord and i^avionr.
They are many of them great blessings; flowers
of innocent fragrance, planted along the path we
tread: but they are not necessary; we can do
without them. And if the Lord be our hope, if
we are waiting for His coming, looking for it,
longing for it; if the dawning of it seem to our
glad hearts already glimmering over the hills; if
the wonderful march of mighty events be like the
solemn, but "beautiful feet" of our God upon
"the mountains;" if we are thus "looking for
and hasting unto" that glorious appearing, how
is it possible that worldly cares should make us
over anxious? " Nay, my soul," so reasons such
a blessed expectant; "nay, my soul, one thing
alone is needful; trouble not thyself about this
loss, or that gain ; smile not too joyously, weep
not too sadly; for smiles, and tears, and loss, and
gain, shall all be swallowed up in the glory, and
forgotteu in the overwhelming presence of thy
returning Lord."

Rut it is not by thoughts like these, however
good and great, that anxious care can be alto-
gether overcome. The Apostle gives us a further
direction; it is to pray. "In everything by
prayer and supplication, let your requests be
made known unto God."

J\ow, it is the Spirit that teaches us to pray :


it is the name of Christ that we plead, and by the
power of the Spirit that we are enabled accept-
ably to do so. But prayer links us to God: it is
a chain of glory reaching from earth to heaven ;
the wants of man pass like electricity np its shin-
ing links, and heaven in all its power and conso-
lation descends upon them. This is the reason
why the Apostle counsels ns to make our requests
known unto God; he counsels this as the way to
peace, for the telling of our wants and our sor-
rows to God is the sure way to obtain consola-
tion and supply. The assurance of this fact is
built on the eternal truth of God's faithful charac-
ter ; we cannot go to God in earnest seeking with-
out success. " Ask and ye shall have, seek and
ye shall find," is the unalterable law of heaven.
" Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth
for you," is the hand-writing of an Apostle, and
the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. We do well
to take this blessed counsel, and hide it in our
bosom. We should put it away as a cure for
heart's trouble, as men put away some valuable
receipt for some dangerous disorder. In " every
thing" remember, not in one thing, not in two,
not in great things only, but in every the smallest
thing that tries and perplexes you, "let your re-
quests be made known unto God." If a child is
hurt, it runs to its mother, and tells her of the
injury it has received; if it is in want, it goes to


its parents to relieve it; or if in riper youth it is
anxious about tiie future, troubled, thoughtful,
perplexed, it goes to its father, and pours all its
troubles into his heart. But the things of earth
are but the patterns of things in the heavens.
Every parent is to his children a type of God to
his. This is our encouragement. We are to
come with expectation, praying for help; we are
to come also with "supplication," i. e. with ear-
nest prayer, with clasped hands and bended knees,
prostrating ourselves before the mercy throne.
We are to come with "thanksgiving" also; we
are to remember how much we possess, although
there be so much that we want ; how much we
are to bless God for, while there are so many
burdens which we beg Him to remove. AVe must
remember what an exceeding privilege it is to be
allowed, nay, invited to pray; what an unspeak-
able blessing to be assured that we have in Him,
in whose name we pray, a most tender and. sym-
pathizing Friend, as well as an Almighty and
all-prevailing Intercessor. Even in our deepest
sorrows we have abundant cause to pray " with

It may seem to some as if we almost lowered
the idea of the majestic God, by making Him so
entirely the depository of our wants ; but the ex-
pression of the text justifies the most unbounded
confidence, so o/i/y our confidence be mingled with

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