The season of sickness!
(From Winslow's, "The Sick One Whom Jesus Loves'')
The season of sickness is the schooling of the soul.
More of God is unfolded then, and more of His truth
is learned, than perhaps in any other circumstances.
The individual was, it may be, but little more than
a 'mere theorist'. He could talk well about God, and
Christ, and the Gospel. He could reason accurately,
and argue skillfully, and speak fluently, and yet there
was an extensive and melancholy deficiency in his
religion; much was still lacking.
But a lonely sick chamber has been his school, and
sickness the teaching discipline. Oh how the character,
and the perfections, and the government of God become
unfolded to his mind by the teachings of the Spirit of
truth during the season of sickness! His dim views are
cleared, his crude ideas are ripened, his erroneous ideas
are rectified; he contemplates God in another light, and
truth through another medium.
But the sweetest effect of all, is the personal appropriation
of God to his own soul. He can now say, "This God is my
God, and is my Father, and is my portion forever"; words
of assurance hitherto strange to his lips.
The promises of God were never realized as so precious,
the doctrines were never felt to be so establishing, and
the precepts never seen to be so obligatory and so
sanctifying as now; blessed results of a hallowed
possession of the season of sickness!
And what a pruning of this living branch has
taken place during the season of sickness!
What weanedness from the engrossing claims of the
earthly calling, from an undue attachment to created
good, from the creature, from the world, and from what
is the greatest weanedness of all: a weanedness from
the wedded idol, self!
What humility of mind, what meekness of spirit, and
self renunciation follow! Accompany him on his return
to the world, where he has again been brought, as
from the confines of the grave, and from the land of
Beulah. He appears like another man! He entered that
chamber as a proud man! he leaves it as a little child.
He went into it with much of the spirit of a grasping,
covetous, worldly minded professor; he emerges from
it with the world under his feet; 'Consecration to Christ,
and holiness to God' written upon his substance, and
engraved upon his brow.
He has been near to eternity!
He has been looking within the veil!
He has been reading his own heart!
He has been dealing with Christ!
He has seen and felt how solemn a thing it was to
approach the gate of death, to enter the presence of God;
and from that awful point of vision, he has contemplated
the world, and life, and human responsibility, as they are;
and he has come back like a spirit from another sphere,
clothed with all the solemnities of eternity; to live now
as one soon in reality to be there.