« ForrigeFortsæt »
in the hand of the Spirit of God, to those who are exercised with them. Parricide is lawful in no ease else but this: here it is a righteous thing that afflictions, which are the legitimate offspring of sin, should first curb the power, and at last destroy the being of their accursed parent. And for our comfort, let us know that afflictions themselves cannot survive the sin which they instrumentally destroy.
In the mean while the dying man continued and said, My dear friends, despise not the chastening of the Lord; resist not affiliction with a foolish Pagan bravery; neither murmur,repine, nor faint when you are rebuked by him: for he chastiseth not in anger, neither does he rebuke in hot displeasure. If you are the objects of divine love, you must expect the application of the rod; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If you are the disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus, you must expect in this life to bear the cross, for it is always antecedent to the crown. Without afflictions, you do not, you cannot bear the image of the heavenly Jesus, for he was afflicted; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. They greatly mistake who hope for Christ here, without affictions along with him. Our passover is never to be eaten in this world without bitter herbs; therefore that religion which is unconnected with the cross is not the religion of Christ, but of the world. Be you assured, my friends, that the way in which no cross is found, must needs be the broad and down. ward way; for the cross of Christ is the right, the only path-way to the kingdom; and those who despise and reject the cross, will find themselves at death deprived of the crown. Here he stopped again, his strength being exhausted, and his silent friends stood with a mournful pleasure around his bed.
After some time, one of them made so free as to ask him, whether he would choose to live or die, on supposition that the Almighty would grant his desire? To which, being a little refreshed, he replied: indeed, my friend, I cannot tell you; for so far as I know my
own heart, which hath all along, been a mystery to me, I neither desire life nor death; for me to live is Christ, and for me to die is eternal gain. I know that the Almighty hath numbered my days, and my months are with him ; he hath fixed the limits both of my time and of my habitation, so that I cannot pass over them : yea, he hath, by an immutable decree, appointed the very moment and means of my dissolution. Why then should I anxiously think, or care any thing at all about the matter? His purposes are for ever the same, and the thoughts of his heart unto all generations. His council shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. If I am appointed to death, as I think I am, I trust he will glorify himself in my death; and if it should be that I am appointed to life, he hath wisdom and power sufficient to glorify himself even by my living. I yield myself wholly to his disposal, for the Judge of all the earth can never do wrong; living and dying may God be glorified in me. Here he ceased, and his friend with visible
sympathy rejoined: Happy, my dear brother, it is for you, to be thus indulged with strength from on high, in the time of your great distress. But tell me, my friend, if your strength will permit, do tell me, if you have no desire to live and see your wife and children comfortably provided for? Methinks it is a desirable thing to see our children educated in a religious manner, and settled agreeably in the world. These things often lie with a distressing weight upon my mind, and are ties which strongly bind me down to earth, and from which I sincerely desire to be delivered.
The sick man replied: My dear friend, I must confess to you, that next to the welfare of the Redeemer's church, my wife and children are dear to me *, and if any thing could now prevail with me to
* These words of Stabilius, “ Next to the welfare of the Redeemer's church, my wife and children are dear to me," are very remarkable, and ought to be regarded. That he loved his wife and children is evident from what he
desire a longer sojournment in this valley of sorrows. it would be the welfare of my dear children, and.. dearer wife, for they have always been dear to me ever since I enjoyed them. Consulting their welfare, hath formerly been attended with great anxiety; but now I see, that in my over-carefulness I was far from being submissive to the sovereign pleasure of an all-· disposing God; and as far as lay within my power was for wresting the dispensations of providence out of his unerring hand. Had I done what I could to promote their welfare, and left the issue to the Almighty, I had done well; but, alas! I could not be easy, unless I evidently saw the issue answer my desire. But blessed for ever be that God who turneth our hearts as he does the rivers of water; at present all anxiety appears to be gone, and my wife and children are no burthen at all to my mind; for I know that the God whom I serve will convert the stones of the wall into bread, before he will suffer the seed of the righteous to famish *
Settling my children in the world appeared a very desirable thing before I came to a death-bed, but
both in this place and elsewhere; but, however fervent his affection for them might be, it gave place to the love he bore to the Redeemer's church. This evidences the true spirit of Christianity in him, and serves as much to fix his character, as the exalted exercise of his faith ; being expressive of the very spirit of that text, Matth. X. 37. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." If this is to be regarded as a rule, it will fix a lasting stigma upon those professors who are so full of care for themselves and families, that they have neither leisurç nor inclination to care for the church of God. These are like withered limbs in the common body, they neither impart nor receive nourishment; neither are their death-beds likely to be lionoured, as that of the good Stabilius.
* An illustrious instance of divine regard to the seed of the righteous, and care for the widow and fatherless, we have in the provision made for the numerous family of a worthy minister, the Rev. Mr. BURFORD, lately deceased.
now I am taught that their settling in the world does not in the least depend on my being present with them; for the determination of Jehovah hath long since divinely gone forth by a firm and unalterable decree, in which all their circumstances, great and minute, are infallibly settled, by the unerring wisdom of him who worketh all things after no other council but that of his own wiil, The life of the sparrow and the dinner of the raven are provided for in his grand decree ; yea, the very hairs on our bodies are numbered, coloured and disposed by unerring wisdom much more are the bounds of our habitation, and the extent of our possessions, the result of divine appointment. If the Lord is pleased to make my children poor (as it is his prerogative to make poor) how shall my presence with them be able to make them rich ? or if he in his sovereign bounty shall be pleased to exalt and make them rich, what circumstances so pernicious as to prevent the execu. tion of his design? Holy and reverend is his name, he disposeth of all creatures and things as his wisdom doth direct. By his determination kings reign, and princes decree justice. Races and battles are under his direction ; yea, the very turning up of the lot is determined by Jehovah ; much more the station and circumstances of his people, and their children. Why then should I desire to interfere in the matter of set. tling them to the disquieting of my own mind; for God both can and will bring his purposes to pass without my instruinentality, if he is pleased to take me to himself !—Their education in religious principles hath been by far the most tender point with me, well knowing the influence which a godly education often has upon the conduct of youth; but this also I am enabled to leave with the Lord. Not from any indifferency about them, so as to be careless about their welfare in time or eternity ; but I have ever been so sensible of my deficiency in regard to paternal duty, that I often fear my children have been more injured by my imperfections, than profited by my precepts and instructions. Besides, I am fully per
suaded that God will be at no loss for an instrument, when he is about to teach them the knowledge of himsel.
: Be assured, my friends, that children are not brought one hour sooner to the knowledge of God, on account of their parents lives being preserved; but many have, by their parents death, been brought into circumstances by which the Lord has been pleased to lead them into the knowledge of themselves, and the secret of his own immutable love to their persons. Therefore I commit my tender offspring to the protection and grace of him who has deigned to become the father of the fatherless, and who hath said to men in my condition. Leave your fatherless and your widows to me.” I trust his word, and believe that of all guardians he is the most disinterested. My dear Honora, my beloved spouse, always hath been dear to me, ever since it pleased the Lord, by his holy ordinance, to make us one; but although she is so dear to ine, asthat we seemed to possess butonesoul, I can with pleasure leave her a few days behind me in this world, notwithstanding it is, and she finds it to be a world of sin and sorrow.
I know that she is an elect vessel, a daughter of faithful Abraham, and an heiress according to the promise, and as such she is under divine protection, and cannot miscarry. Fear not, my dear Honora, fear not the safety of your passage through life.
I know that this world is a land of snares, and a hell of pain and sorrow, when compared with the haven of pure felicity to which we are bound. It is, and, my dear, you know it to be a land inhabited with implacable enemies to the heaven-born pilgrims who are passing through it; but let not this discourage my Honora, for He who saved your soul from Death, will also preserve your feet from falling. He who hath loved you with an everlasting love, will bear you through all difficulties and dangers, and make you more than conqueror." It is your God, my love-your husband and friend, who reigns supreme over all creation, who holds the reigns of government in his own Almighty hand, and