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hope. Our light afflictions work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us and we gave them reverence; shall we not then much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?
And if this be the tendency of all trials and temptations generally, it is more peculiarly the tendency of the more PAINFUL AND SEVERE.
The particular affliction to which the Apostle refers in the text was of this nature. It touched him in the most tender point, for all bis affections were bound up in the prosperity of the Gospel of Christ. His apostolical authority had been committed to him by the Saviour himself, and the exercise of it was connected with the true grace of God in which the churches stood, and was opposed by those only who secretly wished to bring in another Gospel. Thus every thing concurred to quicken his feelings on this subject. He was, besides, at this time, a prisoner, and therefore doubtless more susceptible on any questions which tended to subvert the faith of his converts, and lessen his own just influence over them. And yet in this very point -his trials arose. Men entered the church, and preached Christ of envy and strife, expressly to add affliction to his bonds. They opposed his authority, and troubled the peace and union of the whole body of the faithful. They corrupted
the doctrine of salvation, and endangered the souls of their hearers. This then was the very amiction which would of all others most severely press upon his mind. And yet this he was assured would turn to his salvation; because this he knew would most effectually wean him from himself, take him off from dependence on the creature, place his entire reliance on the divine grace, mortify the remaining pride and selfishness of his heart, teach him bis own insufficiency and weakness, increase his value of Christ and his salvation, and quicken bis ardent longings after the peace and purity of heaven. Other afflictions, which did not affect him so nearly, would obviously have this tendency in only a proportionably lower degree. ( It is disappointment in the favourite object, which loosens the soul from earth, and draws it more powerfully towards Christ and heaven.
It has been thus with the sincere servants of God in every age. Jonah must mourn over bis withered gourd. Hannah must long remain childless. David must fly from his throne. Jacob must lose his beloved Rachel. Abraham must offer up Isaac,-even he that had received the promises, his only begotten son. God knows the most tender part, and suits bis providences to our temptations and our necessities. The very thing which our disposition, our turn of mind, our duties and pursuits make most dear
to us, he will sometimes smite, on purpose that we may adequately feel the stroke. Thus we learn to subdue an excessive passion, to be separated from the creature, to know our own hearts, to die to the world, and to live by faith in closer union with Christ our Lord. No created thing. ought to be essential to our happiness. When general afflictions have been applied in vain, some more piercing and appropriate calamity is often suffered to arrive, in order to leave such a deep and abiding impression, as may produce in us afterwards the peaceable fruits of righte
This effect, however, is not always obvious and direct. The expression, I know that this shall turn to my salvation, seems to imply that such a consequence shall eventually take place, though things may appear for a time to have a very different tendency. Afflictions may seem rather to threaten to injure and retard our salvation; they may be brought about by wicked instruinents; much that is connected with them may be criminal and sinful, so far as the agents themselves are concerned; they may for a time excite distrust and unbelief and murmurs in our minds; they may remove is from the means of grace, may expose us to peculiar temptation, may check our joy in religion and paralyse our exertions, may deprive us of the occasion of doing much good, may lessen our strength and
capacities for the service of God, and abridge our influence over others; and yet at length they may turn and fall out, unexpectedly perhaps, and even wonderfully, to our final benefit. They may be diverted from their apparently natural tendency, and be guided to a pew and surprising event. Out of the eater, to apply the proverbial expression, may come forth meat, and out of the strong may come forth sweetness. Like the component parts of an efficacious medicine, they may lose their distinct and proper qualities, and be so modified by combination, that they shall exert new agencies, and produce effects of a higher and more important order. The Christian may not remark this operation for a long time; in some instances he may never be able to discern it: but yet, the process is not the less sure. He may think a particular trial to be decidedly hostile to his best interests, and to be approaching him as an enemy; but ere long, like Esau when coming to meet Jacob, it shall forget, as it were, its fierceness, and embrace him with the tenderness of a brother.
Nothing could seem to be more unlikely for the good of the Apostle Paul, than the envy and divisions occasioned by the false teachers; and yet God ordained them for his salvation. Nothing could appear more unpromising to Joseph than the jealousy of his brethren, his being
sold to the Ishmaelites, his removal to Egypt, his being falsely accused by the wife of Potiphar, and then cast into prison and forgotten. How could these events be capable of promoting Joseph's salvation ? Yet they doubtless humbled him before God, prepared him for his future elevation, protected him from the pride of
power, and guarded him in the court of Pharaoh. Who can say that there was any part of these dispensations which was not absolutely necessary, in the order of means, to his reaching heaven? We are so full of folly and perverseness and worldliness, so subject to declension in religion, so apt to be languid and cold and formal, so ready to relapse into temptation, so prone to choose a flowery path rather than a safe one, so little able to judge of our dangers and our enemies, that we should inevitably depart from our God, if his gracious care did not order and direct the affairs of life, so as to promote, not perhaps our fancy but our benefit, not our feelings but our graces, not our fond schemes and projects but our attention to our heavenly vocation, not the interests of time but of eternity, not our ease but our salvation. And surely if we resign ourselves, nay submit with gratitude, to salutary medical discipline, however painful or severe, much more should we lie patiently in the hands of that heavenly Physician who understands intimately all our