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Thy love that he should be with Thee where Thou art. We would give him up to Thee, though it is hard. We would

say

“ It is well.” We would not call him back to the temptations and perils of a sinful world. But we ask Thee, O Jesus, to have mercy on us who remain. Oh! make all Thy children to know how short and uncertain their time is. Let them think that, if a child is not too young to die, children too must be ready to die. And may they learn to love Thee and to serve Thee, in obedience and innocence, that so, when Thou callest them

away, their eyes may “see the King in His beauty, and behold the land that is very far off;" and they may join the happy band of holy ones, who praise Thee day and night. Hear us, O SAVIOUR, who, with the FATHER and the Holy Ghost, art one God, evermore. Amen.

III.

AFTER THE DEATH OF AN INFANT.

O MERCIFUL FATHER, Thou hast taken away the little one Thou gavest. We bow to Thy holy and loving will, and believe that it is best. The child Thou hast taken was Thine, not ours. Thou hadst washed its soul from the stain of its sinful nature in the waters of Baptism, and hadst suffered no wilful sin to dim its brightness and its purity. Who that has known the defilement of sin might not envy its happy innocence ? Thou hast taken it home before it knew of a heavenly FATHER's love, or could speak that Father's Name. Redeemed from among men, it knew not of Him who died that it might live for ever. Yet it is blessed to learn from Angels the holy lessons a mother's lips can feebly teach. It is blessed to know Thee and Thy dear Son first where there can be no falling away, no hiding of Thy blissful presence, for ever and ever. O holy FATHER, bless Thy sinful servants with Thy grace, that, washed' from all their sins in the precious Blood of the Lamb, they may be made meet for an inheritance with the saints in light; for the sake of Thy dear Son, JESUS CHRIST. Amen.

Readings.

I.

THE LESSONS OF SICKNESS.

God has laid you on this bed of sickness. It is His doing. He has willed it. But God does not like seeing His children suffer. He is not like a cruel tyrant taking delight in giving pain. He means this sickness to be for your good. He is speaking to you in it. It is His

way

of preaching to you, and He has some very precious lessons to teach

you,

if

you will only try to learn them. Let us see if we can make out what some of these are.

1. God would teach you through this sickness to know yourself. This is the beginning of knowledge. Oh, how blind most of us are to our true state and character! Now God sends some trouble or sickness to open our eyes that we may see what we ourselves are like. It makes

We may be going to die soon. At any rate we are laid by for a time, and this affliction has broken in upon our lives, and turned our thoughts from their usual daily

Now is the time for going over the past, and questioning ourselves, and finding out what we have been, what sort of a life we have been leading, what is the state of our hearts, whether we have been so living as to be fit to die. Sickness bids us examine ourselves. This must not be only about great sins, such as

us think.

course.

your sickness.

stealing, or drunkenness, or swearing, or impurity, or quarrelling. We want to know what is the real state of our hearts, whether they have been changed by the grace of God, whether they have become humble, and pure, and true, and loving, whether we have been living to God and His glory, or to self and our own pleasure. This is the first thing God preaches to you through

2. Next, God is teaching you a lesson of patience. It is very hard for some to be patient under suffering—much harder for some than for others. But this God requires of you. He is trying you to see whether you will bow yourself down beneath His hand, and bear the cross humbly and patiently; whether you will say from your heart, “It is the LORD, let Him do what seemeth Him good”: “Not my will, o God, but Thine be done.” Does it seem to you hard to have to bear so much pain, and to be deprived of so much pleasure? Then try to think of two things. Think of Jesus and all He bore, and all He gave up for your sake. If you could look at Him hanging on the Cross with the cruel thorns on His bleeding Brow, and the nails tearing His sacred Hands and Feet, and could only say to yourself, “He bore this for me,” I think you would be ashamed to murmur and complain. Then, again, think what this suffering will look like some day. Of what account will you reckon it when you look back on it from eternity ? Will it seem heavy and long then? Or will it not seem a “light affliction," and “but for a moment”? Nay, may it not be that you will then bless and praise God for this very sickness, which you will see He sent to draw

לל

you nearer to Himself and to heaven. Oh, yes ! If we could only see things as they are, we should know that St. James was not wrong when he said, “Behold, we count them happy which endure."

3. God is teaching you that He expects you to do better than you have done. He is purgingthat is, cleaning and pruning—the branch, that it may bear more fruit.”

He has come, as it were, to seek fruit upon His tree. Oh, how little has He found! If He were to be quite justjust only, without being also merciful—might He not say of the tree, “Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground"? Ah! but He is merciful as well as just. And there is One to plead for the tree. He has not lifted up His axe to cut it down at a stroke.

He is even now digging about the roots to loosen them from the hard dry ground. He is even now giving it nourishment, and watering it with the dews of His grace. Will it bear better fruit now if it is spared? You know what the fruit is which God looks for ? The fruit of a good life—the fruit of the Spirit. Will God see this fruit if He spares the tree this time? Supposing you are to get better, will it be to lead a new life?

4. God is preaching to you new lessons as to the means of grace. The chief means of grace —that is, the chief ways to get God's grace and help—are Prayer, and Reading the Bible, and the blessed Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. How have these been used in the past? Think a few moments of each. Have you been one who has really prayed ? Mind, to say your prayers is not to pray. Have you been in the habit of speaking from your heart to God? Have you

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