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experience. Though man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward, yet affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground. God takes care of every one of mankind from the cradle to the grave, and never suffers any affliction to fall upon them by accident, or blind, unmeaning chance. Though he afflicts every one, yet he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. It is only if need be, that he afflicts them; and when he afflicts them, he orders the time, the place, the circumstances, the nature, and the degree, of every affliction, according to his original and eternal purpose, which he formed in unerring wisdom and perfect goodness. He always acts agreeably to the counsel of his own will, in every evil he inflicts, as well as in every good he bestows. He claims the right of acting as a sovereign, in dispensing both good and evil to mankind. “I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things.” Hence the prophet asks, “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” All the afflictions, and sorrows and sufferings of Christ, were brought upon him, according to the eternal appointment of God. This the evangelist expressly asserts. “For of a truth, against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” Under the Old Testament, God often foretold the afflictions and calamities which he was about to bring upon mankind, which implies that they were fore-appointed; for they could not have been foretold, unless they were fore-determined. God's hand, which wields the rod y his wrath, is always guided by his unerring and pre-determinate counsel. He never strikes any person but whom he pre-determined to strike, nor inflicts a heavier wound than he pre-determined to give. He measures the tears and weighs the sorrows of the afflicted, before he afflicts them. Though God does not, at this day, foretel any afflictions or calamities which he brings upon a kingdom, or nation, or city, or family, or any particular person, yet we have sufficient evidence that every affliction, which we either see or feel, is a stroke of his rod, which is always guided by his unerring and pre-determinate counsel. This is not only a plain and important, but a practical truth; and lays the only solid foundation for support and consolation under all the afflictions we are called to endure, in this present evil world. I now proceed to show, II. That every affliction has an instructive voice. This is plainly intimated by the figurative expression in the text. “Hear ye the rod and who hath appointed it.” God would not call upon men to hear the voice of his rod, if his rod had no voice. Men often speak as plainly by what they do, as by what they say. And God often speaks as plainly by his rod, as by his word. God speaks as plainly, as significantly, and as impressively, by the rod of his wrath, as by the most solemn denunciations of his displeasure. Elihu supposed that God. was speaking to Job, by the voice of his providence, and reproved him for not regarding it. “Behold, in this thou art not just; I will answer thee that God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against him? For he giveth not account of any of his matters. For God speaketh once, yea, twice, yet man perceiveth it not.” Though every affliction has a voice, which is the voice of God, yet the afflicted, who feel the smart of his rod, are not apt to perceive or understand the instructive voice of it. God declares that he means to teach and does teach by his providence. “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the holy one of Israel, I am the Lord thy God, which teacheth thee to profit;” that is, by my providence. And Elihu emphatically asks, “who teacheth like him 2* Though men are naturally apt “not to regard the works of the Lord, nor the operations of his hand,” yet every affliction has a voice which is designed and calculated to teach them what they always need to learn. It is true, that every affliction is painful and disagreeable in its own nature; but afterwards it may yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. All afflictions, and especially those which may be properly called bereavements, may be very instructive and profitable. For, in the first place, they directly tend to teach the afflicted their entire dependence upon God. This they are naturally insensible of, and need to be taught by the voice of the rod. Men are born, as Job says, like the wild ass's colt. They naturally grow . and live, estranged from their Creator, Preserver and Benefactor. If they early hear of God, and know something about him, they like not to retain God in their knowledge. They choose to forget and forsake him as much as possible. They inwardly say to God, “Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” They endeavor to live without God in the world, and to think as little about their dependence on him, and obligations to him, as the instructions they have received will allow them. And with respect to many it is strictly true, that God is not in all their thoughts. They feel, and live, and act, as though they were absolutely independent of him, and not accountable to him for any of their conduct. Nor will what they see, and hear, and read, and enjoy, raise their thoughts to him, in whom they live, and move, and have their being. But when God comes near to them, and afflicts them, by taking a father, or mother, or wife, or son, or daughter, or any other object that lies near their hearts, he effectually teaches them what they never would learn before, and makes them realize that they were dependent upon him, for what he had given them and taken away. Men must learn their dependence on God, before they can be happy, either in this life or in that which is to come. The voice of affliction instantaneously taught Job this important truth. The first words that he uttered after he was completely stripped of all his earthly comforts were, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.” He then more sensibly felt his dependence upon God for every good, than he ever did before. And thousands have been taught the same lesson by the voice of the rod. In the next place, the voice of affliction tends to teach mankind the vanity of all earthly enjoyments. Though God has told them in his word that all things on earth are vain, uncertain, and unworthy of their supreme attention and regard, yet they will imagine that the world will make them happy. Their great inquiry is, who will show us any temporal good? And if God grants them outward prosperity, and pours the blessings of his providence upon them, they are ready to think that their mountain stands strong, that their happiness is secure, and that they shall never see corruption. Their hearts become wedded to the world. But when God chastens them with the rod of correction, and takes away one earthly blessing after another by his bereaving hand, they are ready to adopt the lanage of Job: “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither;” or to say with Solomon, “Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Every one has his portion of the world; and when God comes and takes away a part or the whole of his portion, he takes away a part or the whole of this world from him; and then he sees nothing but vanity here on earth. This is often verified by the conduct of the afflicted and bereaved, who become entirely disconsolate and indifferent to all earthly objects, because God has taken away some intimate friend, or some near relative or connection. When God afflicts, he spreads a gloom over the whole world, and especially in respect to the afflicted; and makes them realize what he has told them in his word, and what he has told others in his providence, that all things on earth are vain, uncertain and delusive. This is a truth which the afflicted always need to learn. It is highly necessary that both the young and the old should realize that the fashion of this world is continually passing away, and that no dependence can be safely placed upon any of its enjoyments, hopes, or prospects. Again, the voice of affliction naturally tends to turn the thoughts of the afflicted upon the most serious and solemn subjects. When the world appears vain, other things appear weighty and important; when vain thoughts are banished from the mind, serious thoughts will enter; when temporal things lose their lustre, eternal things will assume their importance, and fix the whole soul in solemn reflections and anticipations. Affliction had this effect upon the mind of David. He says, “I was dumb with silence: I held my peace, even from good, and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire burned; then spake I with my tongue, Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an hand-breath, and mine age is as nothing before thee; verily, every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Surely, every man walketh in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.” “I was dumb. I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.” “When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth : surely, every man is vanity.” This effect of affliction is often very visible and striking. How often do we find the afflicted sitting silent and thoughtful, and fixing their whole attention upon future and eternal things, which they had long endeavored to banish from their minds. The day of adversity is the day to consider; and, in such a day, very few can refrain from thinking, and from thinking seriously too. This is one of the natural and salutary effects of divine corrections. Those who are bereaved of near and dear friends and connections, naturally follow them, in their thoughts, into eternity, whither they are gone, and from whence they will never return. And, before they are aware, they find their minds absorbed in the solemn scenes and objects of the invisible and eternal world. And the more they think, the more they feel; and the more they feel, the more they think. And such serious thoughts and impressions often remain until their hearts are softened and sanctified, and they are prepared both for living and dying. How often do afflictions prepare the way for awakenings, convictions and conversions! Prosperity dissipates the thoughts; but adversity collects, composes and fixes them upon proper objects. It is the natural tendency of affliction to promote the spiritual benefit of the afflicted and bereaved. Accordingly, Eliphaz had reason to say, “Happy is the man whom God correcteth.” Thus it appears, that every affliction has a voice, which is very instructive, and may be very useful. Therefore, III. It is always a point of wisdom to hear the instructive voice of affliction. This is plainly implied in the text. “The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.” The Lord cried to the city, by the voice of his rod; and the voice of his rod was the voice of affliction, which was designed to instruct, to reform, and save every one who wisely heard, understood, and improved it. Now that it is a point of wisdom in the afflicted, to hear the voice of the rod that afflicts them, will appear, if we consider, 1. That the voice of affliction is the voice of God. It is God who always speaks by the rod of correction; and his voice is clothed with infinite authority. There is none that can speak and teach like him. He has always been teaching all men in the school of his providence; and it is a point of the highest wisdom in every man to hear his providential instructions. They flow from infinite wisdom and goodness, and are always suited to the character, and state, and capacity, of the afflicted. If they are o disposed to hear the voice of their Creator, they cannot fail of receiving useful instruction. The man of wisdom will always grow wiser by the instructive voice of affliction. David, after reflecting upon the various dispensations of divine providence, remarks, “Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.” It is the indispensable duty of the afflicted to hear the voice of affliction. God commands them to do it, in the text. “Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.” They are under stronger obligations to hear the voice of his rod, than the voice of his word; for he employs the voice of his rod only because the still, small, mild voice of his word has been disregarded. Hence he said of his people of old, “I will go and return to my place till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.” The men of wisdom, who see and know the name of God; that is, those who know and love the character, perfections and government of God; will hear, understand and obey the voice of the rod of his wrath, which is his most solemn, . imperious and impressive voice. 2. It is a point of wisdom in the afflicted to hear the voice of affliction, because to refuse to hear it will be highly displeasing to God. For this, he often complains of his ancient people. He says by Isaiah, “The people turneth not to him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts.” And he puts this solemn question to them: “Why should ye

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