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fections of the heart, in the knowledge and soultransforming contemplation of things eternal and divine, as to lift us up above the cares and sorrows of this present world, and enable us to "glory in tribulation." This is, indeed, so evident, that thousands, who despised the Gospel and its Ministers, in their days of health and prosperity, have been glad to apply to them for consolation and support, in the days of sickness and misery. Seek then this consolation and support, betimes,- -even Now, while it is called to-day; that, when affliction comes, you may not have then to seek for, and to learn, the true source of peace and comfort; but to turn to a Fountain at once, whose fulness is known, -to a Friend and Redeemer, whose love and faithfulness have been proved. (2 Tim. i. 12.)
But it is to the Christian Reader, to my Brethren in the Faith of the Gospel, that these pages are more especially addressed. To those I desire to impart whatever instruction and consolation the Lord hath given to me: and it was with reference to them that the first design of this little work was conceived.
This was rather more than four years ago, when under a dispensation of affliction myself; being in such a feeble state of health that for a long period I was entirely laid aside from preaching. At the same period some of my Christian friends were sorely afflicted too. This concurrence of circumstances led my mind to the subject; and I put down a few brief hints, which I had found by experience to be important at such seasons, with references to various Texts of Scripture. These were printed on a card, which has since been reprinted by the Religious Tract Society, as a Hand-bill (No. 109). This, with a few alterations, will be found at the end of this preface, as a kind of index to the book. Afterwards, at my leisure, I wrote out all the Texts, and added from time to time a few reflections, and some verses of hymns, till I found that I had made a little book. The pleasing testimonies I have received that the card, as first printed, has been attended with a blessing, have induced me to hope that the whole, in its present form, would be acceptable; and especially that it would be found more convenient, as bringing the Texts
of Scripture into one view, which few perhaps would look out one by one; while the addition of the reflections might serve to illustrate and enforce the Thoughts at first so briefly stated.
Except in quoting hymns, I have not directly or consciously availed myself of the productions of other writers; though well aware that by so doing I might have made the work more valuable. The size, however, would have been increased; nor could I have presented it to my Brethren as so simply and entirely the substance of that which the Lord has taught me in the school of experience, which is the character under which I am most desirous it should be received.
With regard to the views advanced in this little book, they are, I think, so fully supported by the Scriptures quoted, that I trust they will commend themselves, on those Scriptural grounds, to every one who is conversant with the Word of God. Yet probably some will think I have insisted too strongly on sin as the distinct cause of all suffering. But can we deny, or even question, the existence of some adequate and especial sinful cause of every suffer
ing, without, by inference, imputing unkindness, if not injustice, to Him who is most just and merciful? And is it not better to incur the censure of severity, in throwing blame upon the creature, than that of presumption in arraigning God? We may not spare ourselves, or one another, at His expence. And the more willing we are to humble and condemn ourselves, and justify Him, the more likely shall we be to find abundant consolation, and that soon.
Others may think, that I have too much insisted on the Sovereignty of God, His absolute appointment of every event, and on Doctrines connected therewith. It is, however, in our times of affliction, and in attempting to comfort others, that we more especially find the practical importance, the absolute necessity, of these Doctrines. Insomuch that those who are very shy of what are reviled as Calvinistic Doctrines, under ordinary circumstances, when called to comfort the Afflicted, will be found insisting, that God overrules all events, both great and small, according to His eternal purpose, and the good pleasure of His will; and that He who
has begun a good work in them, will also perform it to the end. They are then compelled to maintain High Doctrine, as it is called: for then they find its legitimate use, and vast importance.
In the arrangement of the Thoughts I have been, from the first, very careful. Which I mention because I conceive that the consolation and practical benefit to be derived from the whole, depends very much on observing this order.
To my original design has been added, the consideration of three particular cases of Spiritual Distress; which I trust will be found useful to burthened and doubting souls. This seemed not only consistent with the title and purpose of the work, but requisite to its usefulness: for spiritual distress is the sorest of all, and demands our deepest sympathy,- -our best and most earnest endeavours to administer comfort. It is also often superadded to the weight of outward afflictions, of which the enemy of our souls takes advantage, to harass us with temptations and perplex us with doubts. Over these, no less than outward troubles, it is my soul's desire that my brethren should be enabled to triumph: and