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“ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: and why cannot you go on,
< Blessed be the name of the Lord ?” It signifies nothing to look back on the disorders they died of, and say, One died of a mortification, two died of a consumption, the last died of a feyer: these were only the special messengers which God made choice of to fetch them home. " No affliction springeth out of the dust, nor trouble out of the ground :" there is never a breach made upon our comforts, but under immediate direction from above. The hairs of our head are all numbered: and if not one of them can perish, nor a sparrow fall to the ground, without our heavenly Father, surely not a child. We are not to suppose that Death bath an absolute and unlimited commission to make what ravages he pleases upon mankind, and plunge his dart into your bosom, or mine, just as humour or chance may direct. No, no ; “ precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints :" his eye is always upon them; and when he sees that any of them have been long enough in the wilderness, and are meet to be partakers of " an inheritance among the saints in light,” he says, 'Go, Death, to such a house, and say to such a soul, Thy Father hath sent for thee!'-One would think, this should effectyally silence every murmur: it did so with the Psal. mist; “ I was dumb, I opened not my mouth! because thou didst it.” (Ps. xxxix. 9.) Wbat avails it to sit poring on the amiable dispositions of this and the other child, and to mutter, as loudly as you durst, that for objects to be rendered so endearing, and then snatched away, seems as if Providence took a pleasure in tormenting you; and that it was only building up for the sake of puiling down again.
Depend upon it, you will never acquire peace or credit by indulging thoughts so dishonourable to God. The Lord knew your children better than you did; and it is really an honour done.you, that he will interest himself in your family concerns. So Job thought and spake : " What is man, that thou shouldst magnify him, and that thou shouldst set thine heart upon him, and that thou shouldst visit him every morning, and try him every moment ?" (Job vii. 17.) Let me therefore recommend it to you to look less at the rod, and more to the hand that holds and guides it; and then you would soon learn to say,
" It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good.”
3. Consider what hope you have in their death.
Had you now been mourning over the grave of a set of profligate children, who had given themselves up to commit all iniquity with greediness, and by debauchery and intemperance had brought them selves to an untimely end, before they had lived out balf their days ; then, indeed, you would have cause enough to weep, and nature might feel a fresh pang every time you thought of what was the portion of their cup. But this is not your case: you do not “sorrow as those that are without hope.” The chile dren
you have buried, though they had their imperfections (who is without them ?)-yet gave good evidence of their being born again, born from above, and being in reality children of God: “and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus, Christ," of an inheritance in heaven, incorruptible, undefiled, and everlasting :--consequently, they are not, cannot be lost. It is true, they are not visible to us; we do not see them now sitting in yonder
seat, as we used to do: you do not see and converse with them at home, as you used to do: but they are living, for all that; yea, they are more alive than ever. When they departed from us, they went to be with Christ, “which is far better;" and only wait for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body,” to make their blessedness complete. And when this is the case, surely an early removal out. of the snares and dangers of this wicked world is no small privilege. Has it not already been a pleabure to you to think ; Well, now I have so many children safely housed. I formerly had a thousand painful thoughts about them, for fear temptation should be too hard for them: for fear,' “ lest, a promise being left them of entering into bis rest, any of them should seem to come short of it;" for fear they should not “ hold fast the profession of their faith, without wavering;” but now, thank God! my fears for them are over: they have “ fought a good fight, and finished their course, and kept the faith ;" and I do not doubt but whenceforth there is laid up for them a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give them at that day:" so that, however a natural and injudicious fondness may sometimes tempt me to regret their removal, I would not, in my cooler moments for the world, I would not wish them back again.
Instead, therefore, of confining your thoughts in the grave, among their putrefying bodies, let your spirit associate with theirs in Paradise, and comfort yourself with the promise, that “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Besides, children are many times sad drawbacks to dying parents. To see a number of them stand weeping
round your bed, sometimes pressing forward to take a long, last farewell: at other times, unable to stand the shock, hastily retiring to some corner of the room, and there in almost convulsive sobs, giving all the vent they dare to their bursting hearts-do you not think this would be a great incumbrance? When you thought that you were dead to this world, and just stepping into another ; those tender images twining about your heart might cause nature to revive again, and affect you so strongly, that you might feel a reluctance to part with them, and might be even tempted to say, “O spare me, that I may recover strength before I go hence and be no more
But now your children being almost all gone before you, there will be no such pangs at parting When the messenger of death beckons you, it is but taking leave of one, and away ;-a circumstance which, however painful it may be just now, will yield you no small comfort then.
4. Consider how soon you are likely to follow them.
Were I to say this to the men of the world, who have their portion in this life, they would think me a miserable comforter ;-the young and gay especially, who are just setting out in the world with high expectations, and are looking forward to many years, which to them seem 'so many ages, of carnal merriment: If, by way of comforting them under any persopal or family troubles, I were to hint, that, from some symptoms of decay in their constitutions, they would probably be very soon released from all worldly troubles, I should quickly perceive that I had touched upon the wrong string; that I was ad
ding affliction to the afflicted; and as soon as they could recover breath enough to speak, they would cut me short with a What do you talk to us about death for? We do not want to die yet: we do not care if we never die at all; we like the world, with all its troubles : and if we could help it, would never change. Death a cordial! We should oever have thought it. Offer it to those who can find out its virtues.'-So I will.
To the afflicted believer I know it will be highly exhilarating. Indeed, I know not what better news to tell you, than that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh; that the burthen and heat of the day is. over, and evening coming on apace; that the most fatiguing part of your journey through the wilderness is past, and that a few stages more will bring you to the banks of Jordan. I do not say these remaining days will be all sunshine-they may be as dark and stormy as any you have ever known: God may crowd a great deal of trouble into an inch of time ;-but, still, it is a comfort to think, that when a few years are comė, you shall go the way whence you shall not return, and the days of your mourn- . ing shall be ended. In this view it must be a pleasure to you to hear the Apostle say,
“ Brethren, the time is short : it remaineth, that they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not. abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” (1 Cor. vii, 29.)