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approved and commended: He exemplified the power of his religion by the strength of his patience, when in the height of all his sufferings and sorrows he breathed out his complaints so submissively in the following words: “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord !” And when his wife would have persuaded him, in the rage and agony of his torment, to have spoken injuriously and dishonourably of God and of his dealings, he replied, “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” And therefore we have this testimony of him from God upon record : “ Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Good men in all ages have exemplified their patience by thus enduring affliction: The apostles of our Lord learned from him not to murmur at any

evils which here befel them, but to undergo with constancy and courage whatever of this kind should be laid upon them; as well remembering that it was one great offence of the Jews against God, to murmur at his providence; for God admonished them in the Book of Numbers, saying; “ And thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die pot.”

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, we must bear afflictions with patience and courage, and must not murmur at them, observing what is written : “ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” The Holy Ghost hath also spoken to this purpose by the mouth of Moses, saying; “ The Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no." And again;

6. The Lord your God proveth you, to know whether you love the Lord

your God with all your heart, and with all

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your soul.”

7. Your fear of God, and your affiance in him, should indeed be strong enough to prepare you for all encounters. Thus the loss of your estate, racking pains and torments in all the limbs of your body, the melancholy separation of your wife, your children, or your dearest friends from you, should rather be considered as rencounters to exercise, than as stumbling-blocks to make you fall; instead of weakening the faith and hope of a christian, they should rather exemplify their power; and a firm dependence on future good, should flatten his sense of any present evil. There can be no victory, without a struggle for it. When he comes off conqueror from that struggle, then, and not otherwise, may he expect his crown. A storm

approves the skill of a pilot, and a soldier's valour must be tried in battle. To dance upon the rising wave, where there is no danger, is rather matter of entertainment, than any trial of skill ; so that nothing but real adversity will pass for a proper proof of christian fortitude. The tree which hath its root well and deeply fixed in the earth, will not give way to the utmost fury of the winds; a tight vessel will bear the assaults of the waves without leaking; and when corn is threshed, you may observe the true grain untouched by any blasts of wind, whilst the chaff is dispersed and carried off by it. Thus the apostle St. Paul hath told us, that, after having suffered shipwreck, been beaten with rods, and endured many sore calamities, he was rather amended then depressed by all of them; and the more he was afflicted, the surer was the proof which he gave of his virtues : “ There was given (saith he) to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me; and he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Whensoever, therefore, any epidemical distemper rages, or any weakness or sickness oppresses us, this we are to consider as the season and occasion of making our virtue perfect, and of crowning our faith, if it be found strong enough to abide the test. For thus we find it written : “ The furnace proveth the potter's vessel ; so doth the trial of affliction prove the righteous.” This, then, is the great difference between us and others who know not God; that they are full of complaints and murmurs in their affliction; whereas no degrees of it can ever allay our sterling faith and virtue; but instead of impairing will improve and strengthen them. Even the distemper which at present lies so hard upon us, and is so truly terrible in its dreadful symptoms; such as the sinking of our strength, grievous inflammations, which prey upon the very substance of the parts affected by them; convulsions of the stomach ; a fiery redness of the eyes; mortifications, and thence amputations of the limbs; even all this, I say, though so singularly grievous and formidable to human nature, assists in strengthening and confirming the christian's faith. And indeed what an instance is it of bravery and heroic courage, to encounter undauntedly so many assaults of death and destruction; to stand firm and unmoved amidst the ruins of mankind ; and to bear up with vigour and spirit, when others, who have no hope in God, sink and despair under the heavy burden? We should embrace with all cheerfulness the favourable juncture which presents us with such an happy occasion of signalizing our faith and patience ; and of going to Christ, through the narrow way which leads to him.

8. Some, it must be confessed, have reason to be afraid of dying; but there are such as are not

entitled to the privilege of regeneration by water and the Spirit, and so are obnoxious to the damnation of hell ; such, as have no claim to the benefits of the cross of Christ, or to his saving passion ; such, as a present death shall consign to a future; such, as a departure out of this world shall deliver over to the unspeakable torment of everlasting burnings in another ; finally, such as shall be gainers by a longer continuance upon earth; gainers at least of a reprieve from those unutterable sorrows which await them at their exit hence. Wherefore, as the present mortality carries all the worst effects of the most dreadful plague along with it to Jews and heathens, and in general to all the enemies of our Lord and Saviour; so the faithful servants of God should consider it as introductory to an advantageous removal for them: So that when we acknowledge death to be dealt out in common to the righteous and the wicked, we would not be understood to mean that there is really no difference nor distinction between their several fates; inasmuch as the righteous are called off to a place of refreshment, whilst the wicked are hurried to their proper punishment; the former enter the sooner upon a state of security, as the latter anticipate a part of their final doom. therefore, my brethren, much out in our reckoning of this whole matter; we discern not in it the gracious purposes of providence, nor the advan

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