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Adversity is the grand test of what is true and what is false among the different objects of our choice ; and our love of God, tried by this test will soon discover its infinite value and excellence. Persons of every character are liable to distress. The man who loveth God, and he who loveth him not, is exposed to the stroke of adversity. But on the bad man, adversity falls with double weight, because it finds them without defence and without resource. When his health, his riches and pleasures, in which he placed his happiness, are all torn from him, overwhelmed with sadness and despair, he knows not whether to turn for relief. If, as is most natural for a creature in distress, he lifts his supplicating eyes to his maker, conscious ingratitude and disobedience to God, immediately check him: if he turn to his fellow-men, whom he has abused or neglected, consciousness of meriting their
contempt or aversion, discourages him. If he seeks relief in his own mind, there, shame, remorse and self-condemnation, must overwhelm him.
But to the man whose soul rejoices in his God, adversity has nothing gloomy and terrible. Believing every thing in the world to be under the administration of God, and looking up to that God, as to an all-wife andbenevolent father and friend, he welcomes every thing that comes from him. Persuaded that the Father of Mercies, delighteth not needlessly to grieve the children of men; and well knowing that he foresaw this impending affliction, and could easily have prevented it: he concludes, that, since it is come, it is come on some errend of love.
"Since all the downward tract of time,
God's watchful eye surveys,
To regulate our ways!
O the sweetly powerful influences of love! Love can enable the sugar-doating child cheerfully to take the cup of wormwood, from the hand of the parent whom he loves. Love can cause the delicate woman to forget better days, and to smile in poverty and toil with the husband whom she loves. Aye, and if we loved God as we ought, none of his dealings would seem grievous to us. The very idea, that this or that afflićtion was brought on us by him, would sweetly reconcile us to it, and kindle in us a divine ambition to please him by the cheerfulness of our submission. Afflictions we should look on not as marks of
God's displeasure, but as certain evidences of his love—
"As many as I love, I chastise." Jehovah.
*' I Ha Ve smitten you with blasting and mildew, your vineyards and your Jig trees did the palmer worm devour."—Jehovah.
And then the love that did this, makes this complaint, "Yet ye have not returned to me."
"Pestilence have I sent amongst you; I have made the smell of your dead to come up. even in your nostrils"
And then the fame love that inflicted this wholesome chastisement repeats the complaint. O my brethren, fee here the design and end of all God's chastisements !" Yet have ye not returned to
These are the views in which the divine lover is taught to contemplate the afflictive dispensations of his God; not as the messengers of his wrath, but as the ministers of his mercy, and the great T 2 means means of wisdom and virtue. Such views of God's adorable government, impart the most sensible consolation to every pious heart. They place the compassions of the universal Father, in the most endearing light. And these afflictions, which human follies render necessary; instead of estranging, do but the more closely attach a good man to his God. "Although the fig tree Jhall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat: yea, though the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the flails; yet, will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."