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4. It were not right that we should not feel and mourn over the afflictions and misfortunes of life, like angels who have not the passions of our nature. It were not right either that we should sorrow without consolation like the heathens, who know not the hope of grace. But it is right that we should be afflicted and comforted as Christians, and that the consolations of grace should rise superior to the feelings of nature; so that grace should not only be in us, but victorious in us; so that, in hallowing our heavenly Father's name, his will should become ours; so that his grace should reign over our imperfect nature, and that our afflictions should be, as it were, the matter of a sacrifice which grace completes, and consumes to the glory of God: and that these individual sacrifices should honour and anticipate that universal sacrifice, in which our whole nature shall be perfected by the power of Jesus Christ.

And hence we derive benefit from our imperfections, since they serve as matter for such sacrifices. * For it is the object of true Christians to profit by their own imperfections, in as much as all things work together for good to the elect.

And if we are careful, we shall find great profit and edification in considering this matter as it is in truth. For since it is true, that the death of the body is only the image of the death of the soul, and that we build on this principle, that we have good ground to hope for the sals vation of those whose death we mourn ; then it is cer. tain, that if we cannot check the tide of our grief and distress, we may at least derive from it this benefit, that if the death of the body is so dreadful, as to give rise ta

* ? Corinthians xii. 9, 10,

such emotions, that of the soul would have caused us agonies far less consolable. God has sent the former to . those for whom we weep; but we hope that the latter he has averted. See then in the magnitude of our woes, the greatness of our blessings ; and let the excess of our grief, be the measure of our joy.

5. Man is evidently too weak to judge accurately of the train of future events. Let our hope, then, be in God; and do not let us weary ourselves by rash and unjustifiable anticipations. Let us commit ourselves to God for the guidance of our way in this life, and let not discontent have dominion over us.

Saint Augustin teaches us that there is in each man, a Serpent, an Eve, and an Adam. Our senses and natural propensities are the Serpent; the excitable desire is the Eve; and reason is the Adam. Our nature tempts us perpetually ; criminal desire is often excited; but sin is not completed till reason consents,

Leave then this Serpent and this Eve to distress us if they will; but let us pray to God so to strengthen our Adam by his grace, that he may abide victorious,--that Jesus Christ may be his conqueror, and may dwell in us for ever.

CHAPTER XXIII.

FRAYER, FOR THE SANCTIFIED USE OF AFFLICTION

BY DISEASE.

O LORD, whose Spirit is in all things so good and gracious, and who art so merciful, that not only the prosperities, but even the humiliations of thy elect are the re

sults of thy mercy: graciously enable me to act in the state to which thy righteous hand has reduced me, not as a heathen, but as a true Christian ; that I may recognize thee as my Father and my God, in whatever state I am ; since the change in my condition, makes no change in thine ; since thou art always the same, though I am ever variable ; and that thou art no less God, when thou ministerest affliction or punishment, than in the gifts of consolation and peace.

2. Thou hast given me health to serve thee, and I have profanely misused it. Thou hast now sent disease to correct me. Suffer me not so to receive it as to anger thee by my impatience. I have abused my health, and thou hast rightly punished me: let me not abuse thy correction also. And since the corruption of my nature is such, that it renders thy favours hurtful to me, let thy Almighty grace, O God, make these thy chastenings profitable. If in the vigour of health, my heart was filled with the love of this world, destroy that vigour for my safety's sake, and unfit me for the enjoyment of this world, either by weakness of body, or by overcoming love, that I may rejoice in thee only.

3. O God, to whom at the end of my life, and at the end of this world, I must give an account of all that I have done; O God, who permittest this world to exist, only for the trial of thine elect, and the punishment of the wicked ; O God, who leavest hardened sinners to the luxurious, but criminal enjoyments of this world ; O God, who causest this body to die, and at the hour of death, separatest our souls from all that in this world they have loved ; O God, who at the last moment of my life, break.

est me off from all those things to which I am attached, and on which my heart has been fixed; O God, who wilt consume, at the last day, the heavens and the earth, and all the creatures that are therein, to shew to all the world that nothing subsists but thyself, and that nothing but thyself is worthy of love, because thou only dost endure; O God, who wilt destroy all these vain idols, and all these fatal objects of our affections ; I praise thee, and I will bless thee, O my God, all the days of my life, that it hath pleased thee to anticipate in my favour, the event of that awful day, by destroying already, as it respects me, all these things, through the weakness to which thou hast reduced me. I praise thee, O my God, and I will bless thee all the days of my life, that it hath pleased thee to reduce me to a state of inability to enjoy the sweets of health, and the pleasures of the world; and that thou hast in a manner destroyed for my profit, those deceitful idols which thou wilt hereafter effectually destroy, to the confusion of the wicked in the day of thine anger. Grant, Lord, that I may henceforth judge myself according to this destruction, which thou hast wrought in my behalf ; that thou mayest not judge me after that entire destruction which thou wilt make of my natural life, and of the whole world. For seeing, O Lord, that at the instant of my death, I shall find myself separated from this world, stripped of all things, and alone in thy presence, to answer to thy justice for all the thoughts of my heart: grant that I may consider myself in this disease, as in a kind of death, separated from the world, stripped of all the objects of my affection, and alone in thy présence, to implore from thy compassion the con. version of my heart; and that hence I may have great comfort from the thought, that thou visitest me now with a species of death, as the result of thy mercy, before thou appointest me really and finally to death as the result of thy justice. Grant then, O my God, that since thou hast anticipated my death, I may anticipate the rigour of thy sentence; and that I may examine myself before thy judgment, to find mercy in thy presence.

4. Grant, O my God, that I may adore in silence, the order of thy providence, in the guidance of my life; that thy rod may comfort me; and that, if I have lived in the bitterness of my own sins during my prosperity, I may now taste the heavenly sweetness of thy grace, during the salutary evils with which thou hast chastened me. But I confess, O my God, that my heart is so hardened, and so full of the thoughts, and cares, and anxieties, and attachments of the world, that neither sickness, nor health, neither sermons, nor books, nor thy holy Scriptures, nor thy gospel, nor its holiest mysteries, nor alms, nor fastings, nor mortifications, nor the sacraments, nor thy death, nor all my efforts, nor those of the whole world put together, can effect any thing whatever, even to begin my conversion, if thou dost not accompany all these things by the extraordinary assistance of thy grace. For this, O my God, I address myself to thee, the Almighty, to ask from thee a gift, that all thy creatures together could not bestow. I should not have the daring to direct my cry to thee, if any other being could answer it. But, O my God, since the conversion of my heart, for which I now entreat, is a work which surpasses all the efforts of nature; I can apply to none but to the Author and Almighty master of nature, and of my heart. To whom should I cry, Lord, to whom should I have re, çourse, but to thee? Nothing short of God can fulfil

my

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