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and make joyful, finds everlasting comfort in God. He satisfies the soul with his love, and establishes this persuasion, "that all things shall turn for the best to his people." Now by prayer the divine power and favour is engaged for our support and deliverance. How many psalms of David begin in tears, and end in triumph? In his great exigency, when ready to be swallowed up by his enemies, he dispatched a flying prayer to heaven for relief; "Lord, take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help :" and the Almighty appeared in arms for his rescue. And he recounts another blessed experience of the efficacy of prayer; "in the day when I cried, thou answeredst me; and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul." Psal. 138. The affliction was still incumbent, but did not overwhelm him; which was a more gracious testimony of God's love, than if it had merely been taken away. It is said of the distressed, "they looked to him, and were lightened." Psal. 34. 5. It is the perfection and propriety of the saints in heaven to see the glorious face of God without veil or shadow; but here some rays of his quickening countenance comfort his afflicted servants, while they lift up their eyes and hearts to his sanctuary, a joyful light breaks forth, that leads them out of the dark labyrinth of their troubled thoughts. If the saints remain disconsolate, it is not for want of mercy and power in God to refresh their sorrows, but from neglecting to improve their interest in him, and deriving spiritual comforts from his fulness, by humble believing prayer. When the disciples were surprised with a storm in the sea of Tiberias, they toiled with hard labour to save the ship that was like to be overwhelmed by the waves; but all in vain, till by their cries they waked our Saviour, who was asleep in the ship. "He lifts up his head and the proud waves presently sink; he speaks a word of command, and the boisterous winds are silent; and a great tempest is changed into a great calm." * This may fitly represent the afflicted state of a christian, their passions swell into a storm, they are ready to be overwhelmed with troubles, but it is because Christ sleeps in them; they have his presence as if they had it not; but earnest constant prayer will awake him, and his propitious presence will secure them from
* Si non dormiret in te Christus, tempestates istas non patereris. Ideo Яuctuabat Navis quia Christus dormiebat. Navis tua cor tuum, Aug
shipwreck, and make their breasts the true pacific sea, and bring them safely to the blessed eternal shore.
Briefly; God teaches us to profit by our afflictions, and this affords matter of joy and thanksgiving. The psalmist declares, "blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, and instructest out of thy law." The divine teacher gives a right understanding of sufferings, for what end they are sent, and teacheth by the voice of the rod to obey his word. He instructs us in our duty with the clearest convictions, and infuseth gracious dispositions suitable to his doctrine. He gives directing light, and a seeing eye to perceive it; he presents heavenly encouragements, and prepares the heart to receive them. Now what St. Paul speaks of the cross of Christ, is applicable to the crosses of the saints: "God forbid that I should glory but in the cross of Christ, by which the world is crucified to me, and I to it." The cross of Christ made the Jews and Pagans to despise and reject the gospel, esteeming it to be gross folly to expect a glorious immortal life, from one who was ignominiously put to death; yet that was the great argument of the apostle's triumphant joy, because he felt the virtue of it to unbind the charms of the world so admired by carnal eyes. He looked upon it with the same disaffection and disregard, as one that is near expiring; it appeared in his eyes rather as a loathsome object, than with amiable qualities.
And if the cross of a christian be the means of internal mortification, if thereby this vain deceiving world be rendered contemptible to him, and his affections are inflamed to things above, he will find cause to glory in tribulation. To conclude this argument:
There is no affliction how great soever, though with respect to natural means unremovable and unmitigable, yet if it be sanc tified by divine grace, a christian even while he is so afflicted, has more cause of joy than grief, more reason to bless God for it, than to repine and complain. "In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thess. 1. 5. He turns afflictions into benefits, and our affectionate praises are due upon that account.
THE experience of all ages has verified, that none are exposed to more dangerous trials than the prosperous in this world. The great tempter has found the temptations of prosperity so insinuative and prevailing with men, that he attempted our blessed Saviour; expecting, by the pleasant prospect of the kingdoms of this world, and their glory, to have fastened an impression upon his spirit, and tainted his inviolable purity. But he found nothing in our Saviour, not the least irregular inclination to his allurements, and could work nothing upon him. It is otherwise with men born of the flesh, in whom there is a carnal heart (the centre of apostacy and corruption) that is easily inticed and overcome by charming complacencies. Prosperity is a disguised poison, pleasant to the unwary sense, but deadly in the operation; and the more pernicious in the effects, because less dangerous in the opinions of men. The temptations of prosperity are so frequent and favoured by us, that they give vigour to the inward enemy, the sensual affections, and boldness to the malicious tempter. They foment the carnal appetites, that defile and debase the soul; and are the more rebellious and exorbitant the more they are gratified.
Prosperity is the strongest obstacle against the conversion and reformation of sinners. Whilst they are plying their various pleasures, they have neither will nor leisure to advert to the voice of conscience, so reproachful and stinging to them. And many times prosperity stupifies conscience, that men are fearless of divine judgments, involved in sensual security. They will not reverence and obey God's authority, till they feel his power; they abuse his blessings to pride and vanity, idleness and luxury, and are hardened in their impenitence, died with the deepest tincture of ingratitude: they drive on through a course of sin, till death puts a period to their lusts. How destructive, how penal is pros