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It is good for a Man that he should constantly 26,
But tho'be cause Grief, yet will be have come
Tea,like as a Father pitieth his ownChildren,even Psal. ciii. fo is the Lord merciful unto them that fear him. 13.
In the Multitude of the Sorrows which I have xciv. 19. in my Heart,thyComforts have refreshed my Soul.
For I know, Ibat with Thee there is Mercy and cxxx. 7. with my God is plenteous Redemption.
lxxix. 8. Oremember not my old Sins, but
have Mercy up-
Glory be tothe Father,and to theSon, &c.
I Sam. iii.
Ear me, Almighty and most merciful God and Saviour,
extend thy accustomedGoodness to me thy poor Servant, now cast upon this Bed of Languishing, and grieved with Sicknefs. Sančtify, I beseech thee, this thy Fatherly Correction to me, and grant that I may receive it with all the Patience and Submission of a Dutiful Child. I desire to acknowledge and adore thy Divine Wisdom and Goodness in every Dispensation of Providence toward me; and only beg, that thou wouldest keep me safe under all, and then use what Methods thou pleasest of bringing me to thy Self. Manifest thy Strength in my Weakness, make even my feeble Condition an Instrument of thy Glory; and the more my outward Man decayeth, strengthen me, I beseech thee, so much the more continually with thy Grace and boly Spirit in the Inner Man. Let the Sense of my Weakness and Strength to my Faith, and Seriousness to my Repentance. That if it be thy good Pleasure to restore me to my former Health, I may lead the Residue ef
my Life in thy Fear and to thy Glory; or else grant me so to take thy Visitation, that after this painful Life ended, I may dwell with thee in Life everlasting. For this, O Lord, is the chief, the most earnesi Defire of my Soul, that whether I live, I may live unto the Lord ; or whether I dié, I may die unto the Lord; so that living and dying I may bethine, thro? Jesus Christ, my dear and only Saviour. Amen.
M ED. V.
Upon Recovery from Sickness.
1. IF Dangers and Deiftreffes awaken our Confiderapass unobserved. The Judgments of God extort Complaints from us; and shall his Mercies be received in filence? when he afflicts and wounds, we seek him early ; 'and shall we forget him, when he refreshes and heals us ? That sure were most unworthy, most reproachful. The rather so; because we are able to give our selves a very plain and rational Account, how it comes to pass that we receive Evil at the Hand of God; But the Good he vouchsafes us, furnishes just Matter, no less of Wonder, than of Thankfulness. Death is the Punishment of Sin; The Diseases and Decays of our Bodies are so many Degrees of and Advances towards that Death: And our Consciences can find no difficulty in justifying these painful Dispensations. For none of us can descend into his own Breast, without discovering infinite personal Offences, which might provoke God to take this forfeit Life, and to cut us off in the midst of our Days. But when he forbears to do so, when he checks his Wrath, and suspends the Execution of that fatal Sentence gone
out against us, We can discern no reason for This in our selves; but must resolve it all into the sole, the undeserved Goodness of our compassionate and longsuffering Lord.
And such, my Soul, is now thy Case. Thou wert hastening apace to the Regions of the Dead, and in fear that
thou should it be deprived of the Residue of thy Years. But when thou wast almost cut off with pining Sickness, and thine Eyes even
1. xxxviii, failed with looking upward ; when thou reckoned'st each Night and Morning, that there would be an End of thee upon Earth ; then did the Lord stand by thee and save thee, even because he had a favour unto thee.
Ps. xviii. 19:
II. Now tho this be the Condition common to all Mankind, that we contribute no part to the Efficient or Meritorious Cause of such Goodness; yet in the Final one we may and must bear a very considerable part. We could not give the Blessing to our selves : We could not deserve that Almighty God should give it us: But it will lie upon us to take care that such Grace be not bestowed in vain. In one respect indeed, and strictly speaking, neither This, nor any other of the Dispensations of Providence can possibly be in vain. For some Effect they will of neceflity have, even with regard to Us. But if they do not answer the good Purposes for which they were designed ; better were it for Us, that we had never received them at all. The lengthening out our Days, if we do not amend our Manners, is but the miniftring fresh and larger Oppor: tunities of adding yet more to our Sins here,and our Torments hereafter. And happier had it been to have been swept away with a swift Destruction,than to be deliver'd from our Fears and live such a Life afterwards, as is certain to render us more miserable in the End. For every Mercy, every Escape must be accounted for, and thoie
which are entertained unthankfully, will at length prove Curses instead of Blessings to us. It will therefore become thee, my Soul, very seriously to consider, wherein true Thankfulness consists, and what are the Instances by which it must be express’d.
III. When Men do any fignal Acts of Kindness to each other, the Receiver esteems himself obliged to pay them back again, in some Service or Benefit as good. This is what Men cannot be excused from, provided fit Opportunities offer, and their Circumstances enable them to do it. But when the Power of doing thus is wanting, we are sensible that so much as falls Thort in procuring a Friend's real Advantage, ought to be made up in all becoming Testimonies of Respect ; In such a Readinefs of Mind, às plainly shews that the Party does not however want the Will and hearty Desire of returning such Favours in kind and to the full.
Now the fame Rule of Equity must needs hold toward our Great Benefactor in Heaven. He is indeed fo
great, that his All-sufficiency can neither need nor receive any Addition : And We are so very Poor and Impotent, that it were the Extremity of Vanity and Madness to imagine our selves capable of adding to him. The utmost we can do is so to demean our selves, that He and all the World may plainly perceive us duly sensible of his Bounty. Now this can only be demonstrated by our Conitant and Zealous Care to please and honour him, by taking delight in the Obedience he hath enjoined us, and testifying by our Practice that we esteem the Service of so liberal a Mafter our most reasonable Duty, and perfea Freedom. Altho' therefore our Lips ought to set forth the Praises of the Lord, and his Kindness should ever be in our Mouths ; Yet are those Praises never set forth effectually, yet is that Kindness never acknowledged as it ought, except our Lives and every Adion publish
it. The Professions of Gratitude are of no consideration in any case, farther than they express the inward Sentiments of the Heart: That Heart cannot be truly grateful, which does not labour and study by all proper Means to approve it self to the Person, whose Debtor it is ; And how this is to be done to Almighty God, his own Word hath informed us; by declaring, that the Man who truly bonours him will order his Conversation aright; that they who ' Pfalm I. 23. love him will give Testimony of their Af- John xiv. 15. fe&ion, by keeping bis Commandments; that the Goodness and Forbearance of God does (in
Rom. ii. its natural and designed Tendency both )
4. lead to Repentance ; and even constrains Men
2 Cor. V. 15. to live no longer to themselves, but to him who hath done so great things for tkem.
IV. These are Reflections so felf. evident, so very obvious and natural to every Man, that seldom are any remarkable Calamities undergone, or Deliverances obtained, without exciting them in our Minds. Few Wretches are so hardened in Wickedness, few fo abandoned and lost to all Sense of God and Goodness, but in the Seasons of Sickness and Danger they see their paft Follies with Displeasure, and discern the Reasonableness of forsaking them. But this is the generalUn. happiness, this the great Fault of most Men, that this Remorse quickly wears off, and their Good Intentions cool again. The Smart of the Rod ceases, and the Success of the Correction is loft with it: The Health of the Body grows more confirmed, and the Conscience hardens in proportion to the Constitucion. And thus the Man returns to his old Vanities and Vices with the same Unconcernedness as before.
But, O my Soul, let it not be thus with Me. No! Let me look back with grcat Seriousness upon the Vows I made when I was in Trouble ; and contider,