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In no way could one do more for the comfort of his fellow-men. The sick are with us always. They look to us for more than the love that ministers to bodily relief. They speak of their souls, and turn to us to help them. Why will not those who are able, prepare for them some silent companion which shall stay by them when pastor and friend are away? Why may there not be something written for the sick, which shall be to them what the sermons of Greenwood and Peabody are to the afflicted ?
It is not expected that this little book will answer fully the demand. It is sent out to stand in the gap until a better shall take its place. If it shall do any thing toward presenting sickness in its true light - any thing toward lifting the shadow from the valley of death, the purpose of its publication will have been answered.
J. F. W. W.
CAMBRIDGE, Nov. 19, 1847.
CHRISTIAN VIEW OF SICKNESS.
That sickness is most painful to bear, it were thoughtless to attempt to conceal. The sunk eye, the wan cheek, the trembling limbs, are distressing, even to the common beholder; how much more dis.. tressing must it be to experience the pain, languor and restlessness of which they are only the outward effects! Agreeable and strengthening food, now nauseous and burdensome, though we so much need nourishment; the soft, refreshing atmosphere, the sure forerunner of chills, fever and cough, though our bodily frames are sinking from the want of its exhilarating embrace; long nights of sweet, balmy sleep, no longer known, though in body and in spirit we are
so weary; the world rolling on as usual, the sun rising and setting, - our fellow-men going forth to their labors, while we linger, helpless and suffering, upon our couch, the animating voice of morning no less calling us in vain to our occupations, than the gentle voice of evening endeavoring to lull us to repose; anxious countenances everywhere around, eagerly watching for some faint indication of amendment; — all the circumstances of sickness confirm our own feelings, that our existence is no longer a pleasure, for the joy thereof has been withdrawn. We have deemed it, therefore, an object worthy a Christian pastor's attention, to attempt to afford some alleviation by viewing the subject through the medium of Christianity, by setting forth, and, if possible, bringing home to the heart and conscience, our sublime Christian doctrines, prospects and hopes.
And, first, we must remind our sick friend of what we learn in almost every page of the sacred Scriptures, that difficulties and suffering are a part of the divine
economy for the final well-being and happiness of man, that God sends us losses, disappointments and diseases, - not because He derives pleasure from our woes, or is indifferent as to whether we are in joy or tears, but to make us wiser, better, stronger, more like Jesus Christ, and more fit for everlasting life. Let me give a few drops from this inexhaustible fountain of consolation. " Affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring from the ground.” “Blessed is the man, whom thou chastenest, O Lord !” " Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” Whence the noble Apostle Paul, entering thoroughly into the spirit of the vast scheme of human salvation, writes, “We glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed.” We would say, therefore, to our sick brother, “Bear up with calmness and fortitude - thou dost indeed suffer but the cup, which thy Father giveth thee,
wilt thou not drink it? Bear up as cheerfully as thou canst, and thou wilt soon find that no unnecessary pang, anxiety or grief has been allotted to thee!"
We propose, however, to do more than give this general reason for being reconciled to sickness; not, indeed, that we are in possession of any source of comfort more powerful to soothe and heal, than those plain promises to which we have referred, and which are within the reach alike of the unlearned and the learned, the poor and the rich; but while there are some events so utterly beyond our comprehension, that, though we have faith that they are wisely and mercifully ordained, we yet cannot discover the method in which the good is effected, — there are others respecting which fuller revelations are attainable from the books of nature and experience; and, when such is the case, it is not only gratifying to watch the beautiful course of Divine Providence, but it is also of great practical utility, as affording us an opportunity of becoming fellow-laborers with Jesus and with God.