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Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”-His mercy can be my support here, and my abundant recompence hereafter.
17. But what do we offer to God, in return for these instances of his love towards us; these awakening calls of his Holy Spirit ?-How often do we turn his most precious gifts into so many means of shewing our ingratitude for them! God is the source of our being, and of every enjoyment we can derive from it: The objects which we hold most dear, are only the vehicles of his goodness to us; yet they too often become the means of our ingratitude towards Him from whom they are sent. God is a jealous God; and when we thus force him to bereave us of what alienates our hearts from him, we should remember, that he chastens and corrects us, only that he may not give us over unto death.
Oh, just and righteous Lord God
Almighty! myself and all belonging to me, are not mine, but Thine, (though they may be dearer to my soul than life itself); give me grace to hold them as only lent to me during thy good pleasure; and fill
and fill my soul with that love for Thee, and that confidence in thy mercy, which thou requirest. Amen.
18. We are ever expecting that God will bless us with prosperity, and we are not willing to see Him in sorrow and misfortune :- But what right have we to prescribe unto God? We must leave it to his Wisdom, to appoint to us whatsoever pleases him. How often do we find reason to acknowledge the mercy and goodness of God to us, in that which we have at first accounted our greatest misfortune! God loves us most when he humbles and chastens us. Is it on God, or on the blessings and comforts which he bestows, that we place our love ?--If we love God for himself alone, we shall soon be consoled for the loss of those blessings which he may reclaim, or those comforts which he may withhold from us, by the reflection that his love and presence are with us. The true love of God produces in us an entire submission to his will, and an entire acquiescence in all his dispensations.
19. In proportion to the rarity and excellence of the gifts of God to us in this life, is the duty which he requires of us, and the watchfulness which is necessary against an excessive attachment to them. When, therefore, we behold extraordinary beauty, talents, or moral excellence, in the objects of our love, we should endeavour not to forget the hour when we must be deprived of them, and which may be even now at hand. We should remember that they are not our own, but God's, and that they were but lent to us for a time. We found them, indeed, delightful, and they formed our happi
ness; but they belonged to God! and we have no right to rebel against him, when he has thought fit to reclaim them. The more precious his favours are, the greater is the risque which we run in possessing them. God loves us too well to abandon us to the snare into which he sees 'us ready to fall.-He recals the temptation (to our mortal anguish, indeed); but (if it be not our own fault) to our immortal felicity.
20. Notwithstanding all our efforts, we find that so long as we are in the flesh, we must partake of its weakness. This is our infirmity, and we must not be discouraged by it, for God does not ask of us more than we are able to give him. Our piety may be exemplary, and our inclinations to goodness sincere, yet the ties of affection, friendship and reputation, are interwoven with our mortal state, and are with difficulty resigned. Too plainly is this proved, on the loss of any
beloved object: the ties which bind us to it are become interwoven with our existence, and nature will have her rights, in mourning for what is gone. Yet it is only in affliction that we can truly judge of our spiritual state with God; and such are the times that shew whether our religion is more than a mere form of words.
When God breaks asunder these dear and tender ties, what are our sentiments, and the feelings of our souls ?-Do we remember that the trial comes from Him ? and do we, on that account, submit to it with humility and patience ?" If this mind be in us," we need not fear the displeasure of God against the indulgence of our tenderest feelings ; for he knoweth whereof we are made. He does not command us (in this world) to put off humanity, or to possess the perfection of Angels; it is enough, if we endeavour, though with uncertain steps, to follow the rays of that divire Light which shines upon us.