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his help in a day of trouble. And if they really cast themselves upon his mercy, they are capable of receiving light, and strength, and comfort, in proportion to the weight and magnitude of their afflictions. “God giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” It is only when men are weak, that they can be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. The best of men in their lowest state, have frequently found the highest enjoyment in God. When Job was totally stripped of earthly comforts, and lay prostrate under the heaviest load of calamities, he cast his burdens upon the Lord, and found occasion to bless him for his frowns as well as for his smiles. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” And David went to God, under a sense of his weakness, and cast his burdens upon him, in full confidence of obtaining all needful support and consolation. “O my God, my soul is cast down within me : therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy water-spouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his loving-kindness in the day-time, and in the might his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” God has promised to those who cast their burdens upon him, that as their day is, so their strength shall be. And many christians, at this day, have experienced the faithfulness of God, in fulfilling this promise. They have found heavy burdens lighter to carry than light ones, and enjoyed more of God in the lowest state of adversity, than in the highest state of prosperity. It is, therefore, a consoling truth to the sorely afflicted, that the more their troubles increase and the longer they continue, the greater peace and consolation they may enjoy in God.
3. If God will sustain those who cast their burdens upon him, then the afflicted never have any reason to murmur or complain under the burdens which are laid upon them. This, however, is a complaining world, and all mankind are extremely prone to murmur under the afflicting hand of Providence. Cain complained that his punishment was greater than he could bear. The patriarch Jacob, when he supposed he was bereaved of one and of another of his favorite children, indulged and expressed hard and unbecoming thoughts of God. The children of Israel, while under the peculiar care and direction of the God of their fathers, spent and lost their lives by murmuring in the wilderness. And when the same people were carried into the land of their enemies, they became still more impatient, and boldly complained that the ways of God were
WOL. iii. 7
not equal. The afflicted are always in danger of complaining. But they never have any just ground of complaint. “Why should a living man complain 7" None ever have endured greater evils or calamities than they have deserved at the hands of God. Besides, God always stands ready to support and relieve them, if they will only become reconciled to him, and east their cares and burdens upon him. . Their complaints only serve to hide God's face from them, and justly provoke him to continue and increase their burdens. While they fight against God, they have abundant reason to expect that he will add affliction to affliction, until they are either relieved or destroyed. They ought to remember therefore that none ever hardened themselves against God and prospered. 4. If God will sustain those who cast their burdens upon him, then the afflicted never ought to faint and sink under the weight of their burdens. There is a strong propensity in mankind, first to despise the chastening of the Lord, next to complain of it, and finally to become faint and weary of his corrections. Light troubles they despise, and overlook the hand of God in them. Heavy afflictions they are constrained to ascribe to God, and while they cannot but feel the weight of his hand, their hearts naturally rise in opposition to his wise and holy dispensations. But after they have despised and opposed God in his providence, and found no relief, they then naturally sink under the rod, and despair of relief. But what occasion have any to faint and sink under their burdens, while God is both able and willing to sustain them, if they will only cast their burdens upon him, and take hold of his strength 2 It would be very unreasonable in a child to faint under a burden which his parent has laid upon him, when he might be assisted and supported any moment, if he would only apply to his father for relief. And it is no less unreasonable and undutiful in a child of God, to faint and sink under his afflictions, while his heavenly Father is constantly saying to him, Cast thy burden upon me, and I will sustain thee. Hence God forbids every one of his children to faint in the day of adversity. “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction :” mor, as the apostle expresses it, “faint when thou art rebuked of him.” The afflicted cannot faint and sink under the heaviest burdens, without distrusting and displeasing God. When Elijah sunk into gloom and despondence, God rebuked him for his conduct. And God is always displeased with the afflicted, when instead of casting their burdens upon him, and thus deriving the light and comfort which he is ready to afford them, they give themselves up to grief and despair, through an evil heart of unbelief.
5. If the afflicted ought to cast their burdens upon the Lord, then it highly concerns them to call upon his name. Prayer is the proper way of unbosoming themselves to God, of making known their wants and desires to him, and of casting their cares upon him. Hence he expressly enjoins this duty upon them. “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” And the apostle James says to christians, “Is any among you afflicted 2 let him pray.” David tells us in the context, that he resolved to call upon God with full confidence that he would hear and relieve him. “As for me, I will call upon God: and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning, and at noon will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” David's confidence arose from his experience; he had often prayed, and been heard in times of trouble. He relates a striking instance of this kind, in the hundred and sixteenth psalm. “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. I was brought low, and he helped me.” When the afflicted are truly resigned to the will of God, they are prepared to draw near to him, and to ask for the supports and consolations of his spirit. They have the spirit of grace and supplication, and find a pleasure in giving themselves unto prayer. Jacob wrestled with God in his troubles, and prevailed; and God has never said to the seed of Jacob seek ye me in vain. The afflicted, above all men, ought to pray without ceasing, without doubting, and without fainting. Let the experience and exhortation of the Psalmist excite them to constancy and perseverance in effectual, fervent prayer. “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait I say on the Lord.”
Now, may these things make a due impression upon the minds of all who have been smitten of God and afflicted. This number is undoubtedly large; for few, if any, have entirely escaped the rod of his wrath. Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward. This life is one continued scene of trial to all the children of men, from the cradle to the grave. But there is one here present, whose wounds are bleeding, and whose tears are flowing. She has, in the course of the last week, suddenly and unexpectedly lost the object which lay nearest to her heart, and which was the firmest foundation of her earthly hopes and prospects. Though Doctor Everett had a slender constitution, and usually enjoyed but a small share of health, yet the morning before he died, there were no visible nor sensible symptoms of the near approach of death. Neither he, nor his friends, had the least apprehension of the danger he was in, but a few hours before he breathed his last. God hath poured a full and bitter cup of the wormwood and the gall, for the disconsolate widow. He has bereaved her of her husband in the midst of his days, without allowing either her or him the desirable opportunity of preparing their minds for the parting stroke. This painful circumstance, while it increases her burden, diminishes her fortitude and strength to support it. She may, with more than common propriety, cry, “Have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me.” But let her seriously consider, that her bereavement, with all its aggravating circumstances, was ordered by Him who cannot err, and who doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. The Judge of all the earth has, in this, as well as in every other instance of his conduct towards her, done right. Let her not murmur and repine, but cheerfully submit to the sovereign will of God. Let her commit herself and her fatherless children into his holy and gracious hand. He has promised to be the father of the fatherless, and the widow's God. If she will only cast her burdens upon him, he will sustain her, and make this light affliction, which is but for a moment, work for her a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Amen.
DEATH OF CAPTAIN AMOS HAWES, JANUARY 18, 1804, IN HIS 43rd YEAR.
I AM the Lord thy God, which teacheth thee to profit. —Is A1 AH, xlviii 17
It belongs to God to govern the moral as well as the natural world. He is able not only to order all the outward circumstances of mankind, but to govern all their views and feelings, in every situation in which they are placed. He can make all the objects with which they are surrounded, and all the scenes through which they pass, produce just such effects in their minds as he sees best. He can blast prosperity, and bless adversity. This is a ground of consolation to the afflicted, who ought to desire that God would make their afflictions instructive and beneficial. But God knows that they are often slow of heart to believe that he is either able or willing to give such an issue to their troubles. It was while his own people were in a state of adversity, and despairing of relief, that he undertook to comfort them, by reminding them of his power over them, his relation to them, and his tender regard for their spiritual good. “Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called; I am he ; I am the first: I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens. Come ye near unto me, hear ye this. Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, which teacheth thee to profit.” We find no intimation here that God would put an end to the afflictions of his people, but only that he was able to sanctify them, or cause them to have a salutary and desirable effect. This then is the truth which the text naturally suggests, and which will be the leading sentiment in the present discourse.