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were read to him, particularly in St. John's writings; and at the recital of the state of the blessed in the 5th chapter of the Revelation, his feelings were kindled into rapture. He lamented his past failings, and remaining corruptions, in the spirit of unfeigned contrition, and expressed his lively thankfulness for that grace by which he had been early led to trust in his Redeemer, and had been enabled to regard the Almighty in the character of a reconciled Father. Early in the morning, two days before his decease, he experienced a short freedom from pain, which, he said, afforded him more than a compensation for all the sufferings he had undergone. During this interval he enjoyed uninterrupted communion with God in prayer, and a transporting sense of the blessedness of heaven, and he felt a strong assurance of the sufficiency of Christ's merits, an entire reliance upon them, and a deeper conviction of the infinite littleness of earthly things than he ever before entertained. After a short struggle, in the forenoon of the 1st of February, 1815, his spirit took its flight so peaceably, that his noble friend, who watched over him with the most tender solicitude, was not aware when he ceased to breathe.
The following unfinished discourse on the duties and advantages of affliction, was written in his twentieth
and the reader will, perhaps, readily excuse its insertion.
“ To an inquisitive mind, when surveying for the first time the nature and situation of mankind, nothing appears more confounding than the distribution of happiness and misery: strongly impressed ourselves with the worthiness of virtue and the demerits of vice, and sensible, perhaps, of the essential tendency of the former towards increasing felicity, we are ready to cry out with the prophet, • Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper ? Wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously ??—Let the same prophet then furnish the
• Behold I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: Is there any thing too hard for me?'
“ It is the peculiar province of Omnipotence to produce good out of evil, and as we have full evidence both of his power and justice, it is our duty to believe that he will do so. The merit of faith principally consists in not suffering the calm convictions of truth to be shaken by apparent contradictions, and that humility which is so strenuously inculcated in the gospel, is the best preservative against the dangers of scepticism. Thus, in this respect as in all others, our service may justly be termed a reasonable service; for in every investigation, the most indispensable of all rules is this, not to suffer that which we do not know to invalidate that which we do. The greatest apparent inconsistencies, therefore, in the moral world, afford but a poor palliation for infidelity; because, difficulties are no answer to demonstration. — But, though the enquiry of the prophet was probably enforced by the scenes then passing before his eyes, the converse seems more naturally suggested by the general lot of humanity. To prove that the way of the wicked is prosperous, would, perhaps, be found difficult, considered as a general fact, however warranted by particular exceptions; for we must feel, though we would fain
forget, that sin and sorrow are naturally connected; but it is not difficult to be convinced that the way of the virtuous is strewed thick with thorns, and that the practice of our duty proves no exemption against the calamities of life. Here then it is that we find ourselves in a state of probation. • We must walk by faith and not by sight.' The present state of things is against us; have we sufficient evidence to convince us that this affords no presumption against the goodness of God, no excuse for the neglect of our duty? or, having this evidence, have we also fortitude to trust in him who made us, putting on the whole armour of righteousness ? — If not, I fear we have little claim to be entitled Christ's faithful soldiers and servants, since it is the duty of the latter to obey the orders of their master without discussing their propriety, and of the former to face manfully their enemy, confiding in the wisdom of their leader. Yet, as in the hour of distress, we are often disposed to act rather from feeling than duty, it will be wise to examine beforehand the nature of those miseries which we shall all some day encounter; that when the hour of trial shall arrive, whether it march deliberately towards us like a spreading pestilence, or blast us at once like a bolt from heaven, we may be found armed at all points, prepared for the encounter, and having done all, may stand. Let us then employ the present moments in meditating on affliction, for affliction we must all know, and, however unwelcome be the guest, it will be better to court her favour by previous acquaintance, than provoke her indignation by ill-judged contumely. I shall consider it in the three natural divisions of its advantages, its duties, and its comforts.
“ First then for its advantages : and, surely, these at least we may accept without repining. Alas! no; benefits indeed we would fain receive, but then they must be benefits after
our own fashion, and this is adjusted rather to the standard of present gratification, than prospective felicity. Yet advantages it has, however unwilling we may be to accept them; and as one of the first of these will be to controul our present petulance, perhaps in the day of necessity, our mental vision will be unveiled to behold the train of smiling cherubs attendant on their stern mistress, to pour a balm into the wounds her chastisement inflicts. The present state of man is evidently a state of discipline, by which, through every æra of our life, we become capable of acting in situations for which we are naturally unqualified. By discipline are our rude passions and appetites corrected and repressed, till we are able to harmonize with those gentler habits of civilized society in which selfishness yields to urbanity. By discipline, our bodies are habituated to the exercise or art which we cultivate, and our minds subdued to the rigour of tedious application. By discipline, infancy is ripened to manhood, and manhood matured to perfection. In all these cases, so much are we influenced by early habit, necessity, and interest, that the wiser part of mankind uniformly accept the badge of their severe monitress; and those who neglect her lessons are allowed to be either vicious or contemptible. Yet what is affliction but a higher state of discipline? what is discipline but a lower degree of affliction? If present pain be dreaded, both are equally obnoxious; if future happiness be desired, both are equally advantageous; but man, earth-born man, buries his thoughts in that dust from whence he sprung, and forgets that the spark of celestial fire infused into his nature at the creation, should elevate him to higher regions. To those forms of discipline which precedent has established and experience sanctioned, we willingly submit, and think we testify our wisdom in devoting our youth to labour, that our hoary
hairs may be crowned with honour ; yet when the hand of a merciful Father inflicts on us a healing discipline from above, to wean us from a world of folly, and gently force us along that path which only can conduct us to happiness, we shake the yoke as a burthen from our shoulders, and despise the corrections of the Most High. Yet, let us examine these truths still more accurately, and see whether the benefits of special affliction are practically discernible even by our short-sighted observation. To every reasonable Christian it is almost self-evident, that the improvement of our moral character ought to be the highest object of pursuit. Now virtue includes the three great classes of duty, to our God, our neighbour, and ourselves. Surely I need not inform those whose eyes are open to the world, that in the days of prosperity almost every one, in a greater or less degree, forgets the God who made him; by which I mean, not that he disbelieves his existence, for this is impossible; or is wholly devoid of gratitude for his favours; but that in the tumult of business, the glare of wealth, the ecstacies of ambition, and the elevation of spirits, we have little time for reflection, and less disposition to disengage ourselves from the complication of happiness in which we are involved, in order to court the pangs of mental disapprobation; by degrees our eyes become dazzled with the glittering scene for ever presented to them, and no longer perform their office when turned towards the sombre shades of wisdom. Our minds dance with rapture, and at last, intoxicated with success, are whirled round the ring of dissipation, senseless alike to every object; for as the extremes of abstinence and repletion are equally injurious to the natural body, so those impressions which never recur at all, or which recur continually without cessation, are equally unnoticed. So few are those who in any age or nation have been found