Psalm 119:67

We are constantly dealing with the mission of affliction to the spiritual life. It may come with some freshness to follow the thought of the psalmist here, and see that the experience of affliction tells directly on the practical life of duty and relationship. It masters that growing self-willedness which leads the good man to try and take life into his own hands; and brings to him the humility and self-distrust which incline to keep well within the limits of God's Word. "If any of us remember a time in which we had no trouble, we also probably recollect that then grace was low, and temptation was strong." As an illustration in a larger sphere, Bishop Wordsworth's suggestion may be taken, "This was eminently true of the Hebrew nation. Before the Captivity, they had been torn by schisms - Israel against Judah, and Judah against Israel, and corrupted by idolatry; but they were purified from these evils by their afflictions."

I. AFFLICTIONS PROVIDE TIMES OF MEDITATION. They are to the moral life what sabbaths are to the bodily life. They stop the rush; they affirm that there is something more important than self-interest; they compel quietness; they give opportunity for reviewing. When we can do nothing, we have a chance of thinking. Let life go on without changes or trials, and the sell must assume exaggerated importance. How can a man keep nobly dependent on God, who finds everything prosper under the hand of his energy? Affliction comes, makes him stop and think, and look back and up.

II. AFFLICTIONS TONE TIMES OF MEDITATION. Distinguish between the tone of meditations in our holiday-times, and in our times of affliction. In the one case we have bodily health; in the other, bodily weakness. It is an element of importance that suffering and pain should give tone to meditation; but it is needful to bear in mind that affliction may make meditation exaggerated, one-sided, or unworthy. The meditation of such times needs Divine guiding and sanctifying.

III. AFFLICTIONS PASS INTO NEW OPPORTUNITY. When a man comes back to life from a sick-bed, it is as if he began life afresh; with this difference - he had to grow into experience, now he has the opportunity to use experience. Habits are broken. He can make a new way, ordered and shaped by the new resolves based on the meditations of his affliction. - R.T.

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word.
1. Your afflictions, if sanctified, will lead you to searchings of heart. Many sins, long forgotten, are now recalled to remembrance. Then, retiring, into the secret recesses of the spirit, where latent evils are concealed, you view yourselves in a true light, and form the right estimate of your characters.

2. Will dispose you to justify God even under the most trying dispensations. When you reflect on all that God hath done for you, and on your own sinfulness and ingratitude, you will perceive abundant cause to condemn yourselves, and to justify God.

3. Will greatly enhance your estimate of Christ and His salvation. In all His offices, characters, and relations He is most precious to you.

4. Will lead you to a more perfect understanding of the Scriptures.

5. Will work in you patience and submission to the Divine will. "Tribulation worketh patience."

6. Will enhance a spirit of sympathy with others similarly situated.

7. Will enable you to form a correct estimate of the things of the world.

8. Will induce in you a more unreserved consecration to the service of Christ.

9. Will excite in you more ardent desires for that glorious condition of existence where sorrow will be unknown.

(T. Swan.)

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