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21. If, in our persons, God has bestowed on us great and noble talents, or superior qualifications, either of body or mind, we are the more answerable, both to God and to ourselves, for the use which we make of them. Far from being the occasions of pride or self-love, they should excite us to watchfulness and distrust of ourselves; for God regards us with a strict eye, and will require a faithful account from us. · Indeed, the chastisements of God are often inflicted on us, for our abuse of such precious gifts ; and it is in mercy he then afflicts us, to recal us to a sense of our dependance on Him.
22. It is possible for us to turn the most acute bodily sufferings into blessings, by our manner of receiving and supporting them. Stretched upon the bed of sickness, or smarting under severe pain, if our souls rest upon God with hope and resignation, we shall not only
bear our sufferings with patience, but even with a satisfaction of mind, in the conviction that they are sent to us by our merciful Creator for our benefit.
23. If we are sorrowing under a misfortune, of which this world affords no alleviation, the death of those most dear to us, let us humbly offer to our God the beloved whom we have lost. And what (after all) have we lost ?—the remaining days of a being, whom we indeed loved, but whose happiness we do not consider in our regret; who, perhaps, was not happy here, but who certainly must be much happier with God; and whom we shall meet again, not in this dark and sorrowful scene, but in the bright regions of eternal day, and partaking in the inexpressible happiness of eternity.
24. How can we neglect, or waste the short and precious moments of a life, on which depends the happiness or misery of eternity ?-If God sends affliction, let us suffer humbly, and with an unrepining spirit. If we bring our minds to this state of acquiescence, we shall be happy, not only in spite of our worldly sorrows, but even through them.
25. If we really look forward to another life, let us, while in this life, bear our cross with Jesus Christ. We know not how short may be the time allowed us to prepare, by our temporal sufferings, for a blessed eternity. “Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are not wor. thy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us,” if we pass through them in submission to the will of God. Death will then be a welcome release to us; it will be our happy admission to the presence of our God," who will wipe the tears for ever from our eyes ; from whose sight sorrow and sighing flee away ; in whose presence is the fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
26. It is through sickness and sorrow that we best fit ourselves for death. This life (even to the prosperous) is frail and short, and full of anxiety; why, then, should we hesitate to sacrifice early to God, what is only worthy of our contempt --a vexatious and unsatisfactory world?
27. We must learn (as St. Paul says) to rejoice in tribulation; not, indeed, with a joy arising from our senses, but with the joy of our will. Sinners cannot conceive this joy; for they must inwardly suffer, even amidst sensual' gratifications. The voice of conscience will not always be silent, but will often speak in thunder to their dismayed souls, threatening them with everlasting torments. How different is this state from the meek submission, the patient hope, the peaceful calm of the virtuous! With what fear and cau tion should we, then, choose our path, and weigh well the difference between the service of God, and that of the devil! We must serve either the one or the other; and that not merely for this short life, but for all eternity.
* Continuation of this subject in the following extracts, entitled,
FAMILIAR ADVICE AND PIOUS
1. “ WHEREFORE do you complain so much of the afflictions which you suffer? It is because you will not distinguish in them the hand of God; and your self
; love hinders you from perceiving it. Renounce yourself, and God will not abandon you ; place your trust in Him, and he will help you. He sends these afflictions to awaken your soul, and to recal you to the love and obedience which
* The reader will perceive in the following pages some repetitions of preceding thoughts and advices; but the translator did not think that circumstance sufo ficient to justify her in omitting them.