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where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. If thou art sensible of these vanishing pains, consider well how much thou art obliged to the goodness of God, who hath freely pardoned all thine offences, and redeemed thee from that eternal and unspeakable misery of the other life.
5. Thou must imitate those men, who having their sight dimmed with the extraordinary splendour of briglit colours, or of a body of light, turn off their eyes to look upon less offensive objects. Instead of handling always the wounds and sores, instead of thinking of the afflictions that lie heavy upon thee, meditate upon the goodness and favour of God, vouchsafed to thee since thy.conception until now. I give thee leave to put in one side of the scales all thy crosses, losses, diseases, pains, and grief, upon condition that in the other scale thou wilt cast all the mercies, favours, blessings, and deliverances, which thou hast receieved from God's liberal hand. It is true thou groanest under thy misery, and complainest of thy condition ; thou verily believest that there is none so miserable as thou art, so that willingly thou wouldst say with the prophet Jeremiah, “Doth not this move ye, O ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.” But though there should be nothing else but this alone, that God hath called thee to the knowledge of his holy will, enriclied thee with the graces of his divine Spirit, and sowa in thy heart the seeds of eternal life, and the blessed hopes of seeing his face in glory; thou oughtest to look upon thye self as one of the happiest creatures under heaven.
6. Finally, Thou must meditate with a religious attention upon the joys; and the eternal blessedness, of paradise. “ For I reckon (with the apostle) that the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall
be revealed unto us,” Rom. viii. 18. When we cast our eyes upon the earth alone, we judge it to be very spacious and large. Our sight is lost in the contemplation of so many provinces, cities, and kingdoms; but, when we compare it with heaven, we find it to be but a point. Likewise, when we look upon and reckon up the hours, days, weeks, months, and years of our sufferings, the time appears very tedious and long; but, when we compare all these parcels of time with eternity, they seem to us but a moment. Though we should have been plunged in the depths of evils and miseries, from the first instant of our entrance into the world until the last of our going out, yet we have reason enough to say with St. Paul, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we looknot on the things which are seen, buton the things which are not seen ; for the things which are seen are ten. poral, but the things which are not seen are eternal,"2 Cor. iv.
The only spring of all our comforts is God's gracious promise of seasonable help in time of peed. Imprint therefore in your minds these divine passages:“When hethat loverb me shall call upon me, I will answer him ; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him, and honour him," Psa. xci. “The Lord delivers from all temptations them that honour him; he is rich unto all that pray unto him," 2 Pet. ii. “He is near co all them that call upon him; yea, to all them that call upon him faithfully," Psa. cxlv. 18. “ He accomplisheth the desire of the humble, he hears their cry,"Psa. x. 17.cxlv. 19. “The righteous is encompassed with many evils, but the Lord will deliver him from them all,”Psa.xxxiv. “Call upon me in the day of thy distress, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me:" Psa. 1. 15. When a poor subject is courted and visited by his prince, in the time of his sickness, he looks upon it as a great favour and happiness indeed ; and when we enjoy the presence of a dear friend, whom we desired to
see, in the midst of our most grievous pains, we are wont to say, “ Methinks I feel no more pain, now that I have this satisfaction of your good company.” Now the glory of God's majesty accompanies the tenderness of his love. He is the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions. He is like that faithful friend that never forsakes us ; for in our greatest calamities he succours us, Prov. xii. He is the King of kings, and yeć our most cordial and sincere friend, who frequently visits the houses of sorrow, and is near to every broken and bruised heart, Psa. xxxiv. The more we are oppressed with evil, the more he remembers us, Psa. cxxxvi.
- Notwithstanding our children's imperfections and miscara riages, we cannot bear to see them in distress, but are moved with compassion, and persuaded to help them according to out ability: and shall thy God, who loves thee more sincerely and more cordially than the best of fathers, and the most tender-hearted mothers do their children, forsake thee in the day of affliction ? This merciful and loving Father, who did take thee into his protection when thou didst enter into the world, and who since hath furnished plentifully to all thy necessities, shall be dený his most gracious assistance now in the time of this thy.calamity? He who hath fula filled his praise by thy mouth, when thou didst suck at thy mother's breast, who hath crowned thy youthful days witli, his divine blessings, he will not forsake thee now in thine áld age. He will not cast thee off in the last moments of thy life, when thy strength is decayed, and thou art not able to belp thyself.
When we offer any assistance to our sick and wounded friends, we labour to lessen their pain ; we employ all our skill, and discover our most excellent secrets: at least, we endeavour to make them sensible of our displeasure and grief Les 1
for their distempers by our sighs and tears, and by all good offices. Their complaints and groans are darts that strike us to the heart: likewise our merciful God is sensible of sur calamities; when he sees us oppressed with grievous pains, his bowels yearn, his heart is as it were moved, and his ten. der love for us is concerned. In all our afflictions he is afa flicted'; and whosoever toucheth us toucheth the very apple of his eye, Hos. i. Isa. Ixiii. He is said to weep and grieve at the torments that we feel, and to be sensible of our infirmities. He binds up our wounds, and pours into them his divine balm, Luke ïi. He cures the diseased heart, and causeth the bruised bones to rejoice, Job v. He casteth into our beds of sickness his most excellent perfumes, and drives from thence all grief and displeasure. When a pestilential fever hath seized upon you, this heavenly Physician can give you some cordial waters, powerful antidotes to keep the poison from the heart, Jer. xxx. Ps. cxlvii. li. xxxiv. Cant. i. His gracious hand can drive from the soul the venom with which the old serpent labours to infect it. He will, in thy need, clap upon thy head, thy stomach, or rather to thine heart, not a bleeding pigeon, but the living and cherishing virtue of the Holy Spirit. Only discover to him the afflicted and diseased part or member of thy soul or body, and he shall anoint it with the oil of joy and gladness, that shall run down into thy joints and marrow. · If thou feelest thyself weak or fainting, say to him, as the spouse in the Canticles. “ Comfort my heart with wine," ch. ii. and he will not fail to present unto thee the new wine of his kingdom. . If thou art thirsty, ask of him some drink, and he will give thee of that water, “which if a man drink, he shall never be athirst."
My brother or my sister, cast thyself upon God; for his power is as great as his love to thee. He understands, bet. ter than thou or we can, what is expedient and good for thee. In his due time he will make thy pains to cease, and will pull
out of thy flesh its incommodious thorns; either he will drive from thee the spirit that afflicts thee, or accomplish his virtue in thine infirmity. He will strengthen thee in such a manner, and with such patience, constancy, and faith, and fill thee with so much extraordinary joy and comfort, that every one shall visibly perceive, that God himself is thy help, and that his virtue sustains thee. O how sweet and pleasant is God's assistance to a Christian soul! It brings along with it so much pleasure and admirable delight ; it causeth such undeniable testimonies of our predestination to: appear; it gives us so many rare foretastes of our celestial inheritance; that St. Paul prefers it not only to all the pleasures and honours of the world, but also to his being ravished into the third heaven, and to his seeing unspeakable things, which cannot be uttered, 2 Cor. xii.
If afflictions are increased with Christ, joy and comfort increase also with him: for as God commands wine to be given to a man whose heart is oppressed with sorrow, to drive away his sadness, and bury his troubled thoughts in oblivion; so in the greatest evils he supplies us with the strongest and most cordial consolations. It is on this occasion that he declares his greatest power, and pours out most plentifully his divine graces, Isa. ix. Though thou shouldest walk through the flames, the fire shall not burn or touch thee: for as the Son of God was in the furnace with Daniel's three companions in Babylon, Dan. iii. thus, in thy most violent fits. of the fever, in the midst of thy most grievous aches, he will satiate thy soul, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, or as a living spring of comfort, that can never be stopped or dried up. Let the storms and floods beat against thee; let the defluxions endeavour to choak thee, Isa. Iviii. thou mayest say with king David, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved,” Ps.xix. Though I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death ;