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So far as is known to the compiler, this volume is the first of the kind published in this country. Within a few years past, several collections similar in their general character have appeared in England. German literature, too, is any thing but deficient in this department. A specimen may be found in Knapp's Liederschatz, B. II., where it will be seen, that hymns 3057-3081 are expressly for the sick, There have also been for many years distinct collections in that language; Lavater's Lieder für Leidende, 1787, 8vo. 'Hymns for Sufferers'-Auswahl der besten Trostgesänge für Leidende, von J. S. Fest. Leipsic, 1789. 8vo. 'Selections of the best Consolatory Songs for Sufferers.'
That such collections are desirable would seem quite obvious. The sick and suffering are generally unable to listen, or to read, with attention, for any length of time continuously. An adaptation, therefore, to their case will be found in the
brevity of these lyrical productions. And no one needs to be informed, that in suitable poetry there is also an especial adaptation. Its condensed and harmonious form of expression arrests and tranquillizes the mind beyond any other mode of human address.
The following collection includes pieces original and selected; chiefly the latter; most of which it is presumed are not familiarly known in this country. A few, however, have been inserted because of their familiarity, their acknowledged excellence, and particular adaptation to the design of this volume.
It will probably be found that, so far as suited to lyrical purposes, the more usual, and more important circumstances and spiritual necessities of the sick-room have been specifically remembered in this collection. A passage of Scripture, entire or in part, is prefixed to each hymn, that the best of all comforters and instructors may be kept constantly in mind. The hope is entertained that where wearisome days and nights are appointed, this volume will, in numberless instances, answer the question, 'Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no Physician there?'
Of few days and full of trouble; such is an epitome of human life. You, my friend, are now ready to admit the truth of this. You are laboring under disease. Former activity has given place to confinement. Your situation is that of disappointment, irksomeness, and pain. A word of Christian interest cannot be unacceptable to you. As one who by experience is not wholly unacquainted with your case, let me suggest a few things.
You have been asking yourself in the retirement of this room, Why is it that I-why is it that man should be heir to so much suffering? Evidently and only because of so much sin. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed
all men, for that all have sinned. All suffering is penal. The pains you now undergo form a part of what is wrapped up in that comprehensive and ponderous word, 'death.' The sickness and other evils incident, to our fallen state are one mighty expression of God's displeasure at sin. Every pain endured by man since the apostasy has been a punitive messenger reminding how dreadful is human guilt. You will not understand me as intimating that retribution is limited to the present life. No; the transient paroxysm, and the intermittent burning now felt, are only precursors of the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched. Bear in mind then that one design of this sickness is to impress upon you the fact of universal sinfulness and the consequent curse, and of your participation in the same. Do you penitently admit your own sinfulness? Do you feel your utter moral helplessness? Do you see convincingly your need of an almighty Saviour? For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is griev ous. There is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up; thou hast no healing medi
cines.' Will you not then cry to the great Physician, Lord Jesus, have mercy on me?'
But it is also true, a present Providence has ordered your sickness. You have spoken of an hereditary predisposition, a certain exposure, an over-exertion, with which your illness seems to stand connected. This is proper. But beware of suffering such an expression, as 'It happened thus or thus,' to beguile you into a denial of God's constant inspection and control of the events the minutest even - of your whole life. The very hairs of your head are all numbered. And affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground. Wearisome nights are appointed unto you. God has laid you upon this bed. As truly has he done it, as if his unseen hand had become visible in conducting you hither.
Your thoughts have probably anticipated me in saying that resignation, complete resignation, is justly claimed of you. Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? There is infinite propriety in your suffering thus. Meek submission to it, therefore, as