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... 4.4 their cause." We use to fay, “He is rich whom God loves," and it is a certain truth; for his favour is life. With the enjoyment of that, a little will go a great way. A good man not only desires to have the divine permission to enjoy the blessings of his providence, he would also taste his love in them, and along with them. “ Lord,” says he, “ I have little, very little, which I can call my own in this world; but let me enjoy thy benediction, and thy favour with what I have, and I shall be fully satisfied. I am poor in this world, but let me be rich in faith, rich towards God, and I ask no more.
Suppose a good man to suffer in his name and character, the favour of God is his support. In such a case he may say, “ I am denied the favour of men; they reproach, persecute, and opprefs me; but be not thou, O Lord, a terror unto me; for thou art my only hope. Many of my fellow-creatures are against me, but let me enjoy thy friendShip and favour, and then I may bid defiance to
The officers took a bed-curtain, spread it on the floor, poured the meal upon it, and sold the cheft. But God, by his favour, can sustain his children in trials like these, and even in sufferings ftill more severe. “ Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that ye have in heaven, a more sure and enduring substance."
the world. Thy approbation more than counter : balances all that I suffer from the censures of men. Let persons of evil intentions report what they please concerning me, I desire to have a good report of the truth itself, and pray, that by the power of
may be so helped to exercise myself, as to have a conscience void of offence, towards God and towards men, and then, the flanders of the world will not much disquiet me. If I am reproached for the sake of Christ, I ought to look upon it as a singular honour conferred upon me, as Moses counted the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect to the recompense of reward. I find the persecuted disciples of Jesus thus addressed, “ If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of God and of glory resteth upon you." His followers of old rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. My mind is composed to a divine calm, when I hear the Lord thus speaking in his word, “ Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. I, even I, am he that comforteth you : who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker, who hath stretched
forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and has feared continually every day, -be. cause of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy ? And where is the fury of the oppressor ?
Are the children of God attended with diseases in their outward man ? Nothing is so desirable to them as the favourable and consolatory smiles of their heavenly Father. When a good man is visited with sickness, and brought low by the power of disease, a variety of gloomy thoughts may becloud his mind, and add weight to the calamity under which he labours. The company, the converse, and the prayers of his religious friends may, in that case, afford him relief and encouragement. But, above all, the favour of God is life to him, and he esteems it as such. If it please the Lord, in infinite condescension, to visit him with the kind tokens of his love, to speak comfortably to him, by applying the promises of grace to his desponding heart, his darkness is turned into day, and his mourning into joy. It is a sovereign support under oppreflive disorders, to find the Eternal God to be our refuge, to be upheld by his mighty arın, and to be strengthened by his cheering presence on the bed of languishing, when most we need his aid. When the Lord, according to
his own merciful promise, makes all our bed in our sickness, we shall surely find ease in the midst of pain; and though the outward man seem to be perishing, the inward man will be renewed day by day.
Sometimes the people of God are afflicted in their relative capacity, and have much trouble on account of those who are bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh. Some of those who lie nearest their hearts, are oppressed with all the weight of violent attacks of sickness, or otherwise wear out a dying life under the languors of slow disease. A feeling heart cannot but be deeply affected in such cafes. Others of their relations are sunk in all the depths of poverty and necessity; while others, if not poor, are profane, and have not the fear of God before their eyes. They are violent opposers of all that is good, and in thein the words of our Redeemer are verified, “ A man's enemies are they of his own house.” In any of these cases the trial is heavy, and the christian is under the necessity of looking to the Lord for relief and comfort, as in the circumstance last mentioned, the prophet Micah resolved to do. * Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up
against her mother. Therefore I will look unto the Lord : I will wait for the God of my falvation: my God will hear me." As if he had said, " I am willing to lose the favour of my father, my mother, my wife, my brothers or fifters, if I may but enjoy the favour and friendship of the God of my life. From him I expect all my felicity."
Thus in all outward troubles, the favour of God is life. If it is inquired for what ends, and on what accounts it is so earnestly desired in these cir. cumstances, much might be said in reply; but I fhall only obferve, That a sense of God's favour sweetens the bitter potion of affliction, and lightens the burden of distress. Our heavenly Father moft certainly corrects his children in love, in wisdom and in faithfulness. The end he has in view, is their profit, to make them partakers of his holiness, and to fit them for his heavenly kingdom. Affliction in itself is not joyous, but grievous, and if not alleviated by divine consolation, it would be still more so. Hence the afflicted christian sometimes says, “ If I can but see that the heart of
hea. venly Father is towards me, while his corrective hand is upon me, I shall be satisfied. If he is pleased to wound me in the tendere ft part, I shall be contented, if I may but be assured that it is the wound of a friend. I will say, “ It is