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upon these things which we have written, and profit by the wisdom which God hath given us.
Speech must fail, our eyes grow dim, and our bodily exertions can only be for a time; but when we write, and publish that we write, we speak for years, and hope, though dead, that our speech may not be forgotten. There is a great pleasure in the thought that some souls may take comfort in these reflections.
I own that such is the joy which I promise myself in this production—namely, that the soul of the sick may imbibe profit.
In all hospitals, the visits of the physician are short, as the many patients divide his time and attention: so, in the multitudes we personally visit, the time we can bestow upon each is short; and that brief period has so many visible infirmities displayed even by the best of us, that we often feel that we have not said enough. I would, therefore, with all sincerity and affection, remain with you a little longer in these addresses upon the book of Job. Imagine, if you will, that I am either praying, talking, or preaching to you. Few of you, who have any serious thought of God and your religion, can fail to find something in these addresses applicable to yourslves. May it please
God to comfort you with these words, and to improve your souls beneath His Spirit with such holy joy, that, whether it seem good to Him to let you recover and enjoy a little longer health and activity, or to let your career of life in this world terminate with your present affliction, we may ultimately meet together and be happy in the fruition of that Spirit through whom we have now communion in these reflections.
The title of "THE COMFORTER" may appear to some presumptuous to be used as the title of a book; but, surely, men might argue the same of a title to a college-" Trinity," "Jesus," "Christ's," &c. In using the appellation of the word "Comforter," the Author attempts only to magnify the office to which he is called -of being instant in season or out of seasonto comfort others with the same hope wherewith he himself is comforted. And if any
should be comforted in reading this his humble thank-offering to God for past mercies, to God be all the glory, through whose permission he has been enabled to utter these words in his church, and now publishes them in the shape of addresses to friends whom he knows not; but whom it will be his joy to know when we shall
PREFATORY LETTER TO THE SICK.
all be known, and each must give an account of his stewardship.
Wishing you all well, and that it may be well with us all here and hereafter, I remain with holy love, your humble friend,
Rectory, Wortham, Diss,
ALMIGHTY GOD, who givest life and takest it away, give unto us such faith in thee and such dependence upon thee, that we may at all times submit ourselves to thy holy will and pleasure, and study diligently to serve thee both in body and soul, through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord.
"Naked came I out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away blessed be the name of the Lord.— JOB i. 21.
MY DEAR FRIENDS-The language of this venerable, inspired, and pious man is so full of truth, and so adapted to the condition of every child of Adam, that we cannot make a reflection upon his writings which is not applicable to us all. All the other books of the Old Testament have a peculiar reference to a peculiar people, and many things therein are totally done away with since the Christian era; and, though they contain in many places most instructive lessons, the parallels of which are to be found in the Gospel, yet they are chiefly historical though deeply instructive.
In the book of Job, however, we come to a deep, reflective, and universally applicable tone of feeling, addressed to all mankind; more full of natural and revealed knowledge of life and God than any other individual book of as ancient date: and, as I have dedicated to you a series of addresses from this book, I can only say with earnest prayer-May the Lord God Almighty, who has enabled me, by His mercy, so to do, convey to your hearts the comfort thereof. I am sure that this book of Job will be found to contain such solid reflections that Christians alone can fully appreciate their force and truth; and I pray God to give us a double portion of His Spirit that we may learn therefrom not only our duties as men, but our duties as faithful sons and servants of the living God. I will not speak any further of this task of duty, but proceed at once to the consideration of the object of this address. "Naked came I out of my
mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither."
It is evident that Job speaks this of his earthly origin, and not of his carnal mother, because he could not possibly return again to the womb of his parent; but, seeing that out of the dust of the earth man was originally made, naked and unclad, so must he return to his natural dust again. "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. iii. 19).
It was not in the days of Job's prosperity that this wise reflection was made. Men do not often make wise observations at such times-that is, observations which have a tendency to fix their hopes upon another world. In prosperity we are apt to drive away solemn, serious, and holy thoughts, if we are not apt to engage ourselves in unholy and unlawful pursuits. Few men had reason to be more suddenly