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have been desired. And yet, how often does it happen, that under circumstances of this kind, the claims of the Saviour are particularly disregarded, and basking in the sunshine of prosperity, the hand of God is entirely forgotten. Who is it that makes thee to differ from thy neighbour? Yes, yes, my friends, strange and inconceivable as the proposition be to you, Christ knocks at the door of

your

hearts through the medium of these dispensations of prosperity; and unless the review of God's unmerited goodness does lead you to repentance; unless as you contemplate the unnumbered temporal blessings by which you are surrounded, you seek to trace up every stream of earthly comfort to the fountain of eternal love; unless the grateful feeling of your hearts leads you to the question—What shall I render unto the Lord for all the benefits he hath done unto me? unless you are willing to live for his service, and to his glory, you contravene the intention of his loving kindness, and do but heap up wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; for you turn from the door of your hearts, not a needy and dependent mendicant, but that rich and powerful Benefactor who has given you all you have, and who could, if he saw fit, wrest it from you as easily as you crush the veriest insect which is beneath your feet. And permit me to tell

you, brethren, you whose prosperity runs on as a deep and flowing river, that in this prosperity Christ is at your hearts; that he knocks for admission, and that unless your hearts are opened to his reception, there cannot be, in the catalogue of crimes which swell the pages of the book of remembrance, one more black than the ingratitude which

marks your conduct. Seated in your costly and elegantly garnished mansions, with all the comforts of your prosperity about you; or seeking repose on your bed of down, Christ dwells in all your blessings, and on nothing can you rest your eyes, which does not bear a legible inscription, "give unto God thy heart.”

But, brethren, dangerous, awfully dangerous, in a spiritual sense, is the season of prosperity: so many temptations are in the way to gratify all the pride, and extravagance, and the ambition of the carnal heart; so much room is there for the indulgence of all that is criminal, and all that is selfish, that well has our Saviour said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.” The thing is not impossible: for grace, rich grace, may do even this mighty work; but few will listen to the voice of Christ, when he speaks to them through the medium of prosperity ; few will open, when he knocks at the heart which is surrounded with so many comforts without, and generally, so much pride and self-dependence within. I turn from this subject to another. Christ knocks at the door of your hearts by his dispensations of adversity, and it is here that I feel the peculiar fitness of my subject this day; and let me first offer a few general observations. Few, brethren, are there among the sons of men, who have been exempt from the pressure of adversity. Many and various are the forms in which it comes upon the children of Adam, and I doubt whether there is one before me to whom affliction is a total, though it may be a comparative stranger. Perhaps in one case the dispensation has reached you through the medium of your property; and per

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VOL. II.

haps through the ordinary misfortunes of business, or a spirit of too criminal adventure, or the knavery of others, you are reduced from affluence to comparative poverty. Perhaps, in another case, the dispensation hath reached you in the loss of health, and you complain that days of pain and nights of weariness attend you. Perhaps, in another case, the dispensation not only came into your doors, but settled on your heart, as you were compelled to resign to the stern mandate of the King of terrors some object of the tenderest affection. Brethren, it matters not in what shape the adverse dispensation hath reached your bosoms; it came not spontaneously from the dust. It came from the hand of God, and has been meant to minister to your ultimate advantage. Let me not be misunderstood, my friends; I do not mean to say, that every affliction is a judgment of God on some special act of sin; this would be an observation which finds no authority in Scripture; but I mean, that any affliction is an appeal of Christ to our hearts for our good, to wean our affections more from the world, and to fix them intensely upon him. There is nothing more common, and I hesitate not to say, that there is nothing more practically atheistic, than to overlook, as most men do, the hand of God in the trials and afflictions which come upon us in our pilgrimage. We ascribe them to chance, or looking upon them as those ordinary events which we see happening alike to all men, we put off the instruction which they were meant to convey to our own bosoms, and we would often scoff at the idea, that in the dispensation there was a special message of Christ to the sinner's heart. Instead of improving the dispensation to the pur

poses of self-examination, of repentance, of

prayer, and of humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, we meet it with a state of mind which absolutely borders

upon
atheism. A kind of stoical

apathy comes over us; we determine to make what we foolishly suppose the best of the existing circumstance which we cannot help, and we try by the varied expedients of pleasure, of business, of company, or of occupation of some kind, to divert our thoughts from the very subject towards which they should be most anxiously directed, and to alleviate the pains which had settled on our souls. Now, my friends, this is what Scripture calls “despising the chastening of the Lord,” and a course of conduct, of which this is the faithful description, must be offensive in his eyes. It cannot be otherwise, for when he speaks and we will not hear, when his hand is lifted up and we will not see it, it amounts to neither more nor less than a contemptuous and irreligious casting of the Lord behind our backs. Few there are among you, brethren, at whose hearts Christ hath not in some dispensation of affliction knocked, and as his persevering knocking, I beseech you to consider it. Strange as it may seem to the ungodly, it is God's increasing love which hath meeted out to you the measure of your sufferings. In the very verse which precedes the text, and on which, in the discourse before the last I so enlarged, as to render further remark on it almost superfluous, Christ says“as many as I love I rebuke and chasten;" and it is the universal language of the Scripture, that “God does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men, but that every adverse dispensation of his providence is meant to answer the wisest and the best of

ye have

purposes, to strike a blow at the awful supremacy of the world over our hearts, and to constrain us, by sad and sorrowful and heart-rending experience, to feel what we never else could have been induced to feel, that we have no permanent and unalloyed enjoy ments, and that we have here no abiding city. If any one should doubt these merciful intentions of adversity, let him read the declarations of the Scripture, and learn the lesson of wisdom and submission—" And forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him : for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not ? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence : shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure ; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now, no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow

peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

Let me press this matter upon you, brethren, be

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