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My remarks had their use, at least for that evening ; which we passed in great good nature; and I hope it may lead my friends to some advantageous reflections. However, as theirs, I believe, is an epidemical distemper, these hints may be generally useful. As so much social happiness depends upon each other, let husband and wife study to soften alternate cares; and learning to take the world as it passes, let them bear with chearfulness unavoidable evils, and not double those evils by their own impetuosity, imprudence, and absurdity. is!
Sævit et in lucem Stygiis emissa tenebris
To the VISITOR.
SIR, ... : I HAVE often observed with secret concern, 1 that when the Small-pox prevails in a community, the families who by a kind interpofition of Providence, were formerly carried with safety through the distemper, seldom pay a religious regard to this formidable visitation. Although the funeral bell is daily apprising them of the dreadful havock, which the disease is making in the houses of their neighbours--although death is come up into our windows, and is entered into our palaces, to cut off the children from without, and the young men from the Streets ; yet such, as by prior fickness are secured against the present evil, seldom think themselves interested in this general devastation ; but pursue their several pleasures with eagerness and alacrity.
Doch mot this conduct betray in them the fouleft ingratitude for their own deliverance,
and and a cruel insensibility of the sorrows of others? Methinks the tender laws of humanity, and the common bonds of friendship were alone fufficient to arrest the mind in its giddy career after triftes and vanity ; and more than sufficient to reprefs all licentious sallies of intemperate mirth and jollity. But when this levity and diffipation are beheld with an eye of religion, how exceedingly culpable muft they appear to the Yober and serious thinker!
Undoubtedly it is one part of the design of Providence, in such melancholy dispensations, to put the whole community upon thought and consideration. We stand impeached of the most flagitious folly in the fight of heaven, when we will not permit the death of our friends to raise in us proper reflections upon that dissolution which awaits ourselves. Ob! that they were wise ; that they would consider their latter end, was the compassionate exclamation of infinite Wisdom.' • That the contagious nature of the small-pox often precludes the fick from the attendance of their dearest relations, and thereby aggravates the sufferings of the diseased, is too obvious a truth. But, what is many times of far superior consequence, this fore calamity often debars' the minister from the dying bed; who, through a just sense of the danger, arifing either perhaps to his own person, or to his family connexions, is compelled to absent himself
. from the infected chamber. Hence the soul, in the last moments of her separation, is left destitute of spiritual assistance, when her wants ! and emergencies are the most importunate. Naked and discomforted she now stands upon the beach, eyes the vast ocean of eternity which lies before her, and shudders at the multitude of its terrors. Then with all the tremblings of anxiety, she turns over the register of her former life, marks the numerous fins, errors, and miscarriages of it, and is overwhelmed with confusion at the painful retrospect. In all this tumultuous perplexity of thought, the cafts her despairing countenance around, loaking, but there is none to save; wondering, but there is none to upbold. Surely amidst such distracting scenes, those venerable personages who officiate at the altar of the LIVING.GOD, might greatly: avail the agonizing heart, by the prudent and pious exercise of their functions. The facred oracles are an inexhaustible, source of the best confolations in the worst extremities : therefore every Scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, knows where to fetch rich supplies for every exigence. · Is any fick among you ? says the apostle St. James, bet him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him. Not perhaps that ministers are always to wait for such invitations. But, doubtless they must counteract the soft emotions
of nature, and stifle the suggestions of duty, who upon frivolous pretences refuse the dying rollicitations of the pensive, dejected christian, or of the awakened, enquiring finner.
It is in some degree incumbent upon every man to attend the couches of those who are languishing under infirmities and pains. The enquiry which will be made at the last day after this sort of charity, demonstrates how important a place it holds in all our practical religion; and those words, fick and ye visited me, or visited me not, abundantly shew what a mighty influence it will have upon our sentence, either of absolution or condemnation. But much more does: this -doctrine concern those whose appropriated office it is to prepare the soul for her entrance upon a new state of existence; who are set as watchmen to the house of Israel; and whose indifference, carelessness and neglect will afsuredly render them obnoxious to the severity of the divine displeasure. .