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DEVOTIONAL EXERCISES IN SICKNESS.
“ He that is our God is the God of Salvation, and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death."-Ps. lxviii.
Every stage of life, my dear young friends, has its troubles and its trials sent us in proportion to our capacity for bearing them, to purify and fit us for a better state of existence. Some of these troubles and trials, however, are common alike to us all; and among them may be reckoned sickness, that seemingly cruel destroyer of all our most innocent enjoyments. It is truly said, “ Man cometh forth as a flower;" and like a flower he is subject to untimely blight. How often do we see the young languishing under diseases, the seeds of which they may have inherited from their birth. Consumption, scrofula, spinal affections, and other forms of suffering, dreadful for fond parents to contemplate, are yet frequently the appointed mediums through which our heaveuly Father in mercy calls many away, ere they are tainted by the sins, or corroded by the cares of a guilty and sorrowing world,
The sickness and affliction of the young is like
wise often permitted as a chastisement to parents, who may have made them the objects of too selfish and idolatrous an affection, or who may themselves require the chastening arrows of the Almighty, where they are most vulnerable. David humbled himself and confessed his sins before the Lord, when he saw his innocent offspring suffer for them; and the father of the boy possessed with a dumb spirit was brought to conviction and faith by the situation of his child, exclaiming, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.”
Not that we are to consider the early departure of the young as an evil, excepting to those whom they may leave sorrowing behind. However fair the prospects of life may appear before them, however pleasing it may be to anticipate the fruits of their attainments, yet what are the joys, what the successes of the happiest existence here, compared to the pure, transcendant bliss which awaits those who “ die in the Lord,” and which is secured to them with perpetual increase throughout eternity. The great consideration then, is, so to live that we may always be resigned to die. Not with sullenness and severity, as though this life were undesirable ; for it is good, and all around it is beautiful and good, and has been blessed as such by the Creator. It is likewise the first step towards eternity, though a short one ; and if we are not thank
ful and cheerful here, we are not in that frame of mind which will render us capable of happiness hereafter. We ought to consider ourselves as travellers on the banks of a stream, which we know not when we may he called upon to cross. whilst we stay on this side, be kind and useful each other, and enjoy the pleasing objects by which we may be surrounded, but let not our pursuit of them draw us too far away from the chief object of our interest; and the moment we hear the summons, let us willingly embark, in joyful anticipation of the far lovelier scenes and brighter skies that await our arrival at the opposite shore.
As, however, the flesh is often weak, when the spirit would otherwise be willing ; and as in longcontinued sickness, the mind, like the body, requires still more careful nutriment and attention. It will be found highly desirable to strengthen that habitual preparation for death, in which we ought to live, by more fervent prayer, more devout meditation, more earnest examination of ourselves : so that we may at any rate turn our sufferings into blessings, by making them the instruments, through the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, of our regeneration, and well-doing in this life, should our days in it be extended, and of our admittance into his “ Father's house,” where “ there are many mansions,” should it be his pleasure to remove us hence. In addition, therefore, to the forms of self-examination, and the exercises of penitence and thanksgiving connected with it, the following prayers and offices are recommended at times of sickness, and the use of them may likewise sug. gest others to the minds of individuals, according to the circumstances in which they may find themselves respectively placed.
Prayer on the first approach of Sickness.
“ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him ; he also shall be my salvation.”---Job. xiii.
O most merciful Lord, to thee I lift up my eyes in a fiction, for thy tender mercies are over all thy works ; and though whom thou lovest thou chastenest, yet thou dost not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. “Thy will be done,” O my Father ! do with me even as thou wilt ; grant me only the inestimable blessing of resignation under all the trials with which thou mayest see fit to visit
Grant they may be sanctified to me by patience, and be made to work together for my good. O blessed Lord, sickness, languor, and uneasiness, take possession of my outward frame, but thou canst keep my inward self cheerful and serene. My pursuits become irksome to me, pleasures amuse me no longer, and my studies I am unable to pursue ; but thou canst give me new and profitable occupation in turning my thoughts to a better world, by depriving me of the empty enjoyments of this : and all of which I may fall short in mere human learning, thou canst abundantly supply by teaching me in these moments of solitude and reflection so to number my days as to apply my heart unto wisdom : that true wisdom which may finally conduct me into thy kingdom, my Lord and Saviour, in “ whose presence is fulness of joy,” and at whose “right hand are pleasures for evermore.” Grant, then, O Lord, that if it be thy will to afllict me even unto death, I may be enabled by thy grace to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, and to close my eyes on this transient state in the firm belief of a joyful resurrection, through thy own most glorious ascension from the grave. But if this trial, 'O Lord, be meant only to draw me nearer to thee, and make me more fit at some future period to render up the account which now thou mayest be pleased to continue a little longer in my trust, grant that I may cultivate a meek and grateful spirit to those who minister to my necessities, and that I may take it with me, and act up to cvery good resolution, when