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Thus I have run over the chief lessons of instruction or doctrine, which may be derived from our sensations of pain here in this world: But there is no need of this sort of discipline in the blessed regions of heaven to teach the inhabitants such truths.
They well remember what feeble helpless creatures they were, when they dwelt in flesh and blood; but they have put off those fleshly garments of mortality, with all its weaknesses together. The spirits of the blessed know nothing of those frailties, nor shall the bodies of the saints new raised from the dust, bring back any of their old infirmities with them. These blessed creatures know well how entirely dependent they are for all things upon God, their Creator, without the need of pains and maladies to teach them, for they live every moment with God, and in a full dependence upon him: They are supported in their life and all its everlasting blessings, by his immediate presence, power, and mercy.
They have no need of pain in those fields or gardens of pleasure to teach them the evil of sin; they well remember all the sorrows they have passed through in their mortal state, while they were traversing the wilderness of this world, and they know that sin was the cause of them all. They see the evil of sin in the glass of the divine holiness, and the hateful contrariety that is in it to the nature of God, is discovered in the immediate light of all his perfections, his wisdom, his truth and his goodness. They behold the evil of sin in the marks of the sufferings of their blessed Saviour; he appears in glory as the Lamb that was slain, and carries some memorials of his death about him, to let the saints know for ever what he has suffered to make atonement for their sins.
Nor have the blessed above any need to learn how dread. fully God can punish sin and sinners, while they behold his indignation going forth in a long and endless stream, to make the wicked enemies of God in hell for ever justly miserable: And: in this sense it may be said, that "the smoke of their torments comes up before God and his holy angels, and his saints for over;" Rev. xiv. 10. Nor do these happy beings stand in need of new sensations of pain, to teach them the exceeding greatness of the love of Christ, who exposed himself to intense and smarting anguish both of flesh and spirit, to procure their salvation: For while they dwell amidst the blessedness of that state, which the Redeemer purchased with the price of his own sufferings, they can never forget his love. Nor do they want to learn in heaven the value of the word of God and his promises, by which they were supported under their pains and sorrows in this mortal state. Those promises have been fulfilled to them partly on earth, and in a more glorious and abundant manner in the
heavenly world. They relish the sweetness of all those words of mercy, in reviewing the means whereby divine grace sustained them in their former state of trial, and in the complete acoomplishment of the best of those promises in their present situation' amidst ten thousand endless blessings.
And if any of them were too cold and remiss, and iufrequent in their applications to the mercy-seat by prayer, when they were here on earth, and stood in need of chastisement to make them pour out their prayers to God, yet they can never forget the value of this privilege, while they themselves dwell round about the throne, and behold all their ancient sincere addresses to the mercy-seat answered and swallowed up in the full fruition of their present glories and joys. Praise is properly the language of heaven, when all their wants are supplied, and: their prayers on earth are finished; and whatever further deaires they may have to present before God, the throne of grace is ever at hand, and God himself is ever in the midst of them to bestow every proper blessing in its season that belongs to the heavenly world. Not one of them can any more stand in need of chastisement or painful exercises of the flesh to drive to the throne of God, while they are at home in their Father's house, and for ever near him and his all-sufficiency. It is from thence they are constantly deriving immortal supplies of blessedness, as from a spring that will never fail.
SECT. V.-I proceed now to consider in the last place, what are the "practical lessons which pain may teach us while we are here on earth, in our state of probation and discipline, and shall afterward make it evident, that there is no need of pain in heaven for the same purposes."
1. The frequent returns of pain may put us in mind “to offer to God his due sacrifices of praise for the months and years of ease which we have enjoyed." We are too ready to forget the mercy of God herein, unless we are awakened by new pain-ful sensations; and when we experience new relief, then our lips are opened with thankfulness, and our mouth shews forth his praise: Then we cry out with devout language, Blessed be the Lord that has delivered us! When we have been oppressed for some time with extreme anguish, then one day, or one hour of ease fills the heart and the tongue with thankfulness; "Blessed be the God of nature that has appointed medicines to restore our ease, and blessed be that goodness that has given success to them !" What a rich mercy is it under our acute torments, that there are methods of relief and healing found among the powers of nature, among the plants and the herbs, and the mineral stores which are under ground? Blessed be the Lord, who in the course of his providence has given skill to physicians to compose and to apply the proper means of relief? Blessed be
that hand that has planted every herb in the field or the garden, and has made the bowels of the earth to teem with medicines for the recovery of our health and ease; and blessed be his name who has rebuked our maladies, who has constrained the smarting diseases to depart by the use of balms and balsams that are happily applied!
While we enjoy the benefits of common life, in health of body and in easy circumstances, we are too often thoughtless of the hand of God, which showers down these favours of heaven upon us in a long and constant succession; but when he sees fit to touch us with his finger, and awaken some lurking malady within us, our ease vanishes, our days are restless and painful, and tiresome nights of darkness pass over us without sleep or repose. Then we repent that we have so long forgotten the God of our mercies; and we learn to lift up our praises to the Lord, that every night of our lives has not been restless, that every day and hour has not been a season of racking pain. Blessed be the Lord that enables us, without anguish or uneasiness, to fulfil the common business of the day; and blessed be his hand that draws the peaceful curtains of the night round about us! And even in the midst of moderate pains, we bless his name who gives us refreshing slumbers; and we grow more careful to employ and improve every moment of returning ease, as the most proper way of expressing our thankfulness to our almighty Healer.
Alas, what poor, sorry, sinful creatures are we in the present state, who want to be taught the value of our mercies by the removal of them! The man of a robust and vigorous make, and a healthy constitution, knows not the true worth of health and ease, nor sets a due value upon these blessings of heaven; but we are taught to thank God feelingly, for an easy hour after long-repeated twinges of pain: We bless that goodness which gives us an easy night after a day of distressing anguish. Blessed be the God of nature and grace, that has not made the gout or the stone immortal, nor subjected our sensible powers to an everlasting cholic or tooth-ache.
2. Pain in the flesh more effectually teaches us to sympathize with those who suffer. We learn a tenderness of soul experimentally by our own sufferings. We generally love self so well, that we forget our neighbours under special tribulation and distress, unless we are made to feel them too. In a particular manner, when our nature is pinched and pierced through with some smarting malady, we learn to pity those who lie groaning under the same disease. A kindred of sorrows and sufferings works up our natures into compassion, and we find our own hearts more sensibly affected with the groans of our friends under a sharp fit of the gout or rheumatism, when we ourselves have felt the stings of the same distemper.
Our blessed Saviour himself, though he wanted not compassion and love to the children of men, since he came down from heaven on purpose to die for them, yet he is represented to us as our merciful High-priest, who had learned spmpathy and compassion to our sorrows in the same way of experience as we learn it. He was encompassed about with infirmities, when he took the sinless frailties of our nature upon him, that he might learn to pity us under those frailties. In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted: For we have not a High-priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, though he was always without sin; and by the things which he suffered, he may be said, after the manner of men, to learn sympathy and pity to miserable creatures, as well as obedience to God who is blessed for ever; Heb. ii. 18. and chapter iv. 15. and chapter v. 2, 8.
3. Since our natures are subject to pain, it should teach us "watchfulness against every sin, lest we double our own distresses by the mixture of guilt with them." How careful should we be to keep always a clear conscience, that we may be able at all times to look up with pleasure to the hand of God who smites us, and be better composed to endure the pains which he inflicts upon us for our trial and improvement in grace. Innocence and piety, and a peaceful conscience, are an admirable defence to support the spirit against the overwhelming efforts of bodily pain : But when inward reproaches of mind, and a racking conscience join with acute pain in the flesh, it is double misery, and aggravated wretchedness. The scourges and inward remorse of our own hearts, joined to the sorrows of nature, add torment to torment. How dreadful is it when we are forced to confess, "Į have procured all this to myself by intemperance, by my rashness, by my obstinacy against the advice of friends, and rebellion against the commands of God."
Probably it was such circumstances as these, that gave the soul of David double anguish, when his bones waxed old, through his roaring all the day long, when day and night the hand of God was heavy upon him, and his moisture was turned into the drought of summer; when he complained unto God, thy arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore: There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thy anger; nor any rest in my bones, because of my sin. My iniquities are gone over my head as a heavy burden, they are too heavy for we. Deep calls unto deep at the noise of thy water-spouts, all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me. The deep of anguish in my flesh calls to the deep of sorrow in my soul, and make a tremendous tumult within me. My wounds stink and are corrupt, because of my foolishness: I am feeble and sore broken; I have roared by
reason of the disquietness of my heart; nor could he find any rest or ease till he acknowledged his sin unto God, and confessed his transgressions, and till he had some comfortable hope that God had forgiven the iniquity of his sin. See this sorrowful scene exemplified in a very affecting manner, in Ps. xxxii. and Xxxviii. Happy is the man that walks closely with his God in the days of health and ease, that whenever it shall please his heavenly Father to try him with smarting pain, he may find sweet relief from a peaceful conscience, and humble appeals to God concerning his own sincerity and watchfulness.
4. Pain in the flesh may sometimes be sent by the hand of God, to teach us "to wean ourselves by degrees from this body, which we love too well; this body, which has all the springs of pain in it." How little should we be fond of this flesh and blood in the present feeble state, wherein we are continually liable to one malady or another; to the head-ache or the heartache, to wounds or bruises, and uneasy sensations of various kinds: Nor can the soul secure itself from them, while it is so closely united to this mortal body. And yet we are too fond of our present dwelling, though it be but in a cottage of clay, feeble and ruinous, where the winds and the storms are continually ready to break in and distress us. A sorry habitation indeed for an immortal spirit, since sin has mingled so many diseases in our constitution, has made so many avenues for smart and anguish in our flesh, and we are capable of admitting pain and agonies at every pore.
Pain is appointed to be a sort of balance to the "tempting pleasures of life, and to make us feel that perfect happiness does not grow among the inhabitants of flesh and blood. Pain takes away the pleasures of the day, and the repose of the night, and makes life bitter in all the returning seasons. The God of nature and grace is pleased, by sending sickness and pain, to loosen his own children by degrees from their fond attachment to this fleshly tabernacle, and to make us willing to depart at his call.
A long continuance of pain, or the frequent repeated twinges of it, will teach a christian and incline him to meet death with courage, at the appointed hour of release." This will much abate the fierceness of the king of terrors, when he appears as a sovereign physician to finish every malady of nature. Death is sanctified to the holy soul, and by the covenant of grace this curse of nature is changed into a blessing. The grave is a safe retiring place from all the attacks of disease and anguish : And there are some incurables here on earth, which can find no perfect relief but in the grave. Neither maladies, nor tyrants, can stretch their terrors beyond this life; and if we can but look upon death as a conquered enemy, and its sting taken away by