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severe, to which the indulgence of the delusive hopes of youlli would have subjected thee.
3. Affliction restrains the young from sensual indulgences. To these they are often strongly solicited. Even to pious Timothy, the apostle judged it necessary to address the exhortation," Flee from youthful lusts." Before the young, Pleasure displays all her attractions. She exhibits herself to them, decked in the gayest attire, with a countenance wearing the most enchanting smiles; and accosts them in language soft and fascinating, " Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thine heart cheer thee in the days of thv youth !" "1 have decked my bed with covering of tapestry ;—i have perfumed it with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon." So powerful is the influence of the allurements of Pleasure over the hearts of the young, that numbers of them have followed her to their ruin. Many of them have been led by her to the commission of crimes, against which Modesty, Reason, and Conscience lifted their voices in vain. Nothing more effectually counteracts the influence of Pleasure, than the rod of sanctified afflictions: by these the voting have been formed to sobriety of mind; — by these they have been led to despise the pleasures of sin, as grovelling, transitory, and destructive. What attractions will the chair of the scorner, the bed of the harlot, or the song of the drunkard, have in the eye of him who is chastened with pain, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain ! Does the young man, whom God places in the house of mourning, whom he calls to minister to a dying parent, to receive his last breath, and to commit his body to the graVe, does he sigh after the house of feasting, or the assemblies of gaiety and dissipation? Were but a wish to mingle in such scenes, to start upon the bosom of an affectionate youth at a solemn period like this, he would reject it with utter abhorrence. The young who meet with trials, have reason to bless that hand which, by severe sickness, drives them from the paths of sensuality; for adpmcti though they are with lilies and roses, they are, in truth, the way to Hell, going down to the chambers of death. Whether think you, ye soivs of. youth, is it better to labour under the disease of a day? or to have the constitution broken by intemperance? Whether is it l>etter to be stopped in the ways of sensuality f or to be allowed to run on in them till a dart strikes through your liver, and your course terminates in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone?
4. Affliction has sometimes been the means of conversion in youth. There have been many instances of young men who> like the prodigal, when reduced to want, have resolved that they ivould arise and go to their father. In the season of affliction., sin is brought to remembrance ; that levity of the mind i« repressed, which is so unfriendly to moral seriousness, and death and the tribunal of God are broughtiqto view. This has often led to such applications to God for mercy, as have been attet.-ded with the happiest effects. Orton, in his Sermons tf> the Aged, tells us of a young man who had been long confined, with a diseased limb, and Was hear his dissolution, when, at the desire of a friend, his loathsome sore was uncovered, tic said, "There it is ; and a preciotrs treasure it has been to me! It saved me fi-pm the folly and vanity of yonth ; — it made me cleave to God as my only portion,-"* and to eternal glory as my only hope; and 1 think it bath now brought me very near to my Fathers house." Some young men, when tliey have met with, disappointments in business, have been led to seek after the good part which shall never be taken from them, and to I11V up treasures in Heaven ;—some, when their friends have dealt treacherously with them (than which scarce any thing can.
Srive a more violent shock to the glowing feelings of youth) lave been led to that Friend who rests in his love. VV'liile young persons have been taking their last leave of the corpse of a brother or a sister dearly beloved, —while they have beeii. looking, for the last time, on their pallid countenance, and grasping, for the last time, their cold hand, have had their mind* directed to Him who is not ashamed to carl us Brethren; and who has said, " Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, who is in Heaven, the same is my mother, and sister, and brother *."'
■ 3tli. Affliction lias often made the young experience the sympathy and compassion of our Lord Jesus. Christ is a friend born for adversity; and to the young of his people in affliction, he manifests peculiar kindness. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd-, and slither the lambs With his arms, and carry them in his bosom. It is common with men to express peculiar concern for the young when in distress. Who can behold disease robbing their checks of their bloom, and wasting their beauty like a mothj; without being disposed to pity! And will the Lord of compassion take no interest in their sufrerings r While parents are sitting by the bed-side of a distressed son, watching with unutterable anxiety every change of his features, and listening to every groan that rises from his breast, Jesus is with them, and tends the object of their solicitude with a compassion far more tender, and a care far more assiduous than theirs. His compassionate eye sleep never closes; bis ear is never shut to the complaints of his children; and hi* kind attentions are never unavailing. "As one whom his mother comforts, even so will I comfort you, and ye shall be comforted." How sweet, render, airdtttri'c<rcious, are the comforts of a mother to a child in distress! Such is the figure employed to point out the consolation* imparted by the Lord out Redeemer, The Son of man bore the yoke in his youth. Ill
• febxxxvi. »,(9, Jo.'
his infancy, Herod sought to murder hi in. For years, it is pro* bable, he wrought as a carpenter for the support of his widowed mother. During the whole of his public ministiy, he bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows; and before he was thirty-' four years of age, he was crucified and slain. So heavy was that yoke which was wreathed about his neck, that it made his strength fail, and brought him to the dust of death. We hare not an high priest who cannot be touched with the failing of our infirmities, but who was in all points tried like as we are, vet without sin. How much must this early experience of our Lord's compassion, endear him to the souls of the young! and how must it encourage them in their passage through the world, to know that Christ will be a present help to them ia every time of need! and that he who has been the Guide of their youth, will be the Comforter of their old age!
Lastly. Affliction invigorates the minds of the young. The tendency of uninterrupted prosperity to enervate the mind, has been generally admitted. How seldom do we hear of a great Or heroic character nursed in the lap of prosperity! But by hardships and trials, the mind is strengthened for sustainiug losses the most severe, and executing schemes tire most arduous. Prosperous situations in life may be resembled to those Countries where the sun shines with a scorching heal, and where nature pours all the necessaries, nay the luxuries of life in the greatest profusion at mens' feet. It is not in such climates that we are to expect to meet with characters which are distinguished for energy of mind, or enterprise in (conduct. 1 f we wish to find these, we must look for them amid the ice and snows of the north, where necessity stimulates men to spirited and laborious exettiou. Fly disappointments and trials m youth, some have acquired such a strength of mind, that they have endured the rtxrglrest blasts of distress in after-life without shrinking. Or should the man whose mind has beers braced by adversity in youth, be raised to opulence and grandeur in the after-periods of his life, the remembrance of the hardships of his early days will give a douhle relish to prosperity. Iteniembering his affliction and misery, the wormWood and the gall, he will feel a higher satisfaction than he could otherwise have done, wheh God anoints his head with oil, and makes his cup to run over. The man whose heart ha^ been made bitter by the saddening of his conn tenancy -in youth, is least of all likely to he corrupted by the influence of prosperity. Such a man will need no solicitation to strcteh out his hand to relieve merit wljcn struggling with distress, without a friend to patronize, without a comforter to sooth it. He knows the heart of the unfortunate in youth, and to them be feels himself constrained by every tie to thew ktndneaa and respect.
Such are some of the advantages of afflictions to the young. It ought to be remembered, that they are also beneficial in. the other periods of life. The cup of sorrow is mingled by a Being wise and compassionate; and he never puts it into our binds, nor holds it to our lips but When he sees it to be necessary. There is not a single drop more in it than he sees wiJI lie for our'profit, to make us partakers of his holiness. The afflictions which those in middle life meet with, are often blessed for checking their immoderate anxiety about the world, and leading them to seek first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness of it. Let not the aged question the advantages that arise to them from the infirmities of advanced life. Let them not say, The yoke of affliction may be necessary for the stubborn neck of youth, but how can it be so for me!" Let the storm blow on the green bay-trees of youth, let it shape their branches, let it strip them of their leaves; but let it not blow on the feeble almond-tree of age: it will quickly shatter it in. pieces. By the infirmities of old age, God intends to awaken yon to serious reflection, to detach your hearts from the world, to lead you to consider your latter end, and to make death welcome. The^day will come when God shall wipe away all tears from the eyes of his saints, when he shall take the yoke from their necks, and place the crown of glory on their heads.
LETTER FROM A GENTLEMAN TO A LADY,
To the Editor. Sir, ■ The following letter was written many years ago, by a pious gentleman, to a lady his friend, on occasion of the death of her first-born child. Similar events are daily recurring in the course of Providence. As the hints suggested in this letter seem well adapted to administer consolation to christian parents, whilst experiencing such bereavement;, your inserting it in your valuable Miscellany, may perhaps be gratify fog to other readers, as well as to, Sir,
Your most obedient Servant, C. K. MY DEAR MADAM, .
When I saw, this day, by a letter from your father, that you are now in sackcloth, mourning the death of your first-born, my heart felt pain for you; and 1 was ready to say, Lord, why is it thus? What the provocation ? Why thus deal in severity with persons whom thou so dearly lovest r—Severity, did I say? i.et me recall the imputation! Tis doubtless kindness; distinguishing 1(5vc. infinite Wisdom beholds and judges of things in quite a different view from what dim-sighted mortals do. Hence the following reflections quieted me while musing upon this mournful event with respect to you. This life was never designed for a happiness; or home to the pilgrim of hope: 'tis only designed for a state of probation for eternity. So soon as the time fixed by the eternal decree is ended, and the purposes of this probation, with respect to the divine glory and grac£, are accomplished, a release is signed, admission to rest commanded, and a happy translation to the heavenly home effected. To Him, my d. ir Madam, who " out of, the mouths of babes and sucklings peifecteth praise," and who hnth also said, that the child shall die an hundred years old,—to Iliin, I s;iy, it does not matter at what period of life he transplants his flowers to his parterre above. With him there is no need of manhood or old age to complete his workmanship, and to-finish out the vessel of mercy for the employ of the courts above. lie has already effected all he intended, — all that was necessary for fitting your dear little babe for the station and honourable service to which he has now appointed him in his palace yonder. To none, methinks, can the description given of the followers of the Lamb, in Rev. xiv. 4, 5. but to him, and such as him, with equal propriety be applied. A pure, a virgin heart, a guileless, faultless tongue, to be sure, he now possesses: and, dear Madam, does-he ride in such triumphant state? Is lie decked with such robes of glory? Has he so amazingly soon attained to such a perfection of stature and honour, and to such inconceivable endowments of spirit, as to be a fit attendant npon the Lamb,— following him whithersoever he goeth? is his speechless tongue so early loosed, to join the choir of his little brethren yonder, in their enraptured songs of praise to God and the Lamb? Sure he regrets not his quick translation! ~£io. He found, though his stay was truly short, this world was indeed mora, bitterness to him. Think then, my dear Madam, how comfortable the Bctktsda, the House of Mercy, where he now is, must be! Tis true, he knew, while here, neither father nor mother;—but where he .is, he acknowledges his Father in Heaven: beholding his glory, and seeing him as he is, he is transformed into the very same image. One day, I doubt not, you shall see him again, and know him too,—as he will also know you when you have joined the illustrious assembly of the first-born. But ohl. what a wonderful change will you then see made upon your, engaging little babe! Now, perhaps, the pangs of natural affection may, at times, provoke a quarrel with your Lord, who hath so early, removed from you the desire of your eyes; but, in that happy day, you'll thank him for the call,—you'll praise him for the honour,—you'll admire him for this very instance of love. What! has lie made you the mother of a child, so soon fixed as a pearl in his crown *s iit sot djstinguishingly kind in your infinitely gracious Lord*