What shall I render unto the Lord for all his kindness
unto me! The sorrows of death compassed me about, the pains of the grave
took hold on me; my feeble joints were made to smite together; disease
attacked every part, and rapidly prevailed. My eyes, with languid looks,
spoke forth my inward trouble. My throbbing heart spread sense of pain
through every member, and vexing dreams disturbed my night's repose. But
what was all this to that confusion my sympathizing soul was in? No
composure there. I could not meditate with calmness on my final change—which
seemed to await me; nor could I enquire aright into the case of my
soul—which I thought would soon be dislodged from this body, and brought
before the bar of God.
Hence I learn, that health is the proper time to
prepare for sickness, death, eternity. The new, the spiritual life, is too
late in beginning, when the lamp of natural life is about to be blown out.
Yet the men of the world postpone the most momentous business to their last
moments. O! my soul, come not into their assembly; with their
procrastination—be not united!
But what shall I render to the Lord for adding to my
days! I yet live, yes, and am well. The canopy of the heavens might have
been converted into the crumbling clods or covering worms; the light of the
world into the shadow of death, and time into eternity; and my broken
strains of praise into perpetual silence; the living only can praise you, as
I do this day. By how many ties am I yours? I am yours to all eternity,
because redeemed from everlasting wrath; and yours while I dwell below,
because redeemed from temporal death. Many times, before I could expect it,
deliverance came, and your mercy preserved me. Shall your goodness be
forgotten, or your love seem little in my eye? No, for should not that life
be spent to your praise, which is preserved by your power, restored in your
pitying mercy, lengthened out in your love, and covered with your
Death, with his malignant troops, is now gone, and I
almost a prisoner of the grave, am set at liberty, before I was fast locked
in the irons of corruption. Was my life precious in your eyes, who am of so
little importance among so many millions of beings, which are dependent on
your sustenance? Would I have been missed among them, if removed? No; yet
your never-failing kindness would not, as yet, let me drop among the
congregation of the dead! How should my love live to you, whose love to me
is so active, exuberant, and full!
With the recovery of my health, let every grace revive:
and let my soul, as a watered garden, be put into a flourishing condition.
And, if spared to old age, when others fade, may I bring forth fruit, be fat
and flourishing. Yes, in the last decline of nature, when my outward man
decays, let my inward man be renewed day by day; may my views of his glory
be more bright, my faith more active, my hope more fixed, my heart more
established, my affections more purified, my desires more heavenly, my
longing after complete fruition, and uninterrupted communion with God,
increased; and my soul set on fire with love, and filled with heaven; until
I, at last, am taken into that land, where the inhabitant shall not say, 'I
am sick', because the people who dwell there are forgiven their iniquity.