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5. Consider how many mercies you have, which death cannot deprive you of.
Were you one of those who receive all their good things in this life, then your children had been your principal treasure, and the loss of them might well throw you into agonies, and make you cona clude yourself undone. But you are better off : you have other, and nobler, treasures above, secured beyond the reach of accidents,--the favour of God, an interest in Christ, a principle of grace, and a title to heaven. What are the dearest and sweetest earthly comforts compared with these? The least of those spiritual blessings is worth a world, yea, a thousand such worlds as this; and yet, amidst all your losses, these you have still; these you can never lose : for with respect to them, God's gifts and callings are without repentance. Thy Maker is thy husband: the Lord of hosts is his
and by that relation he bath given you a Dame better than that of sons and of daughters :
an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.” JE ever, therefore, you are “cast down and disquieted within you,” and tempted to think hardly of God, because of those frequent breaches the almost total desolation he hath made in your family ; instantly check the unreasonable and ungrateful murmur, by considering “how great things the Lord hath done for you :" and say,
with those great believers, 5
Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.” (2 Sam. xxiii, 5.) “ Although the
fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stall ; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will' joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab. iii. 17:) “ For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Rom. viii. 38.)
I intended, if strength had permitted,
II. To “gather up the fragments that remain," for more general instruction.
As it is, I can barely mention the two or three following-viz.
I. That many of our distresses are owing to our mistakes. It was so, as you have heard, in the story before
Those afflicted parents were almost breaking their hearts about their children, supposing that they must necessarily be all dead; whereas they were only prisoners ; and if they had had patience, they would have seen the Lord turn again their captivity, and restore them safe to their parents and country again. And it is very often the case with ourselves: we fear, where no fear is; and terrify ourselves almost to distraction, where there is no real danger: and so we grieve immoderately where there is no real cause to grieve at all, yea, where (all things considered) we are rather called to joy and thankfulness, « Blessed are the dead
which die in the Lord; even so, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours," and are season-' ably taken away from the evil to come: and if any of them were allowed to speak to us, they would check our excessive sorrow with a “ Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves”—“ if ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said I go unto the Father."
2. That over-fondness in possession makes way for over-grief at parting.
God sends us an agreeable child, or an agreeable partner, or some other outward comfort, no matter what: we are pleased with it, doat upon it, and must needs make an idol of it; and all our cares and joys are bound up in its life. Hence it is, that when God calls for it again, we let it go with so little patience and piety: we fret, we murmur, we rage, and, in a tone of
discontent, cry,' “ They have taken away my gods, and what have I more!" The rule is (and we are always happiest when we keep to it most closely,) “ Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth.” (Col. iii. 2.)
3. That “they who sow in tears shall reap in joy."
I mean, if they be the children of God; for otherwise they have nothing to do with joy, either here or hereafter : and do you not think their case must be doubly deplorable, who lose their earthly comforts, and have no share in divine consolations ? who meet with trials that bring down their grey hairs with sorrow to the grave, and yet, dying in their sins, without an interest in Christ the great propitiation, . are frowned upon by the Judge of all the earth, and condemned to outer darkness, “ where is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth for ever."
: Go home, therefore, and beg the God of all grace to put you among his children : beseech him to reveal his Son in you : 'to “ create in you a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within you ;" to “ turn away your eyes from 'beholding vanity ; and to
66 shed abroad the love of God in your hearts abundantly, through the Holy Ghost."Then, if ever I should be called to sympathize with any of you under trouble, I should not hesi. tate to assure you, that though you were now sowing in tears, you should one day reap in joy ; that “ though weeping may endure for a night, joy will come in the morning;" that, though for the present all God's waves and his billows seem to be passing over you, yet “the Lord will command his loving-kindness in the day-time, and in the pight your song shall be with him, and your prayer to the God of your life;" that your
light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" and that, notwithstanding your present sorrows and sufferings, yea, in consequence of your present sorrows and sufferings, you shall shine glo, riously among those happy ones, concerning whom it is said, “ These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb: there, fore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and He that sits teth upon the throne shall dwell among them :