The next few days will feature an Advent sermon by Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham (who has often been excerpted in these pages)
"TRIALS NO STRANGE THING."
"BELOVED, THINK IT NOT STRANGE CONCERNING THE FIERY TRIAL WHICH IS TO TRY YOU, AS THOUGH SOME STRANGE THING HAPPENED UNTO YOU. — 1 Peter iv. 12"
The Apostle, in this passage, seeks to reconcile the minds of his fellow-disciples to the troubles that were impending over them, by the thought that troubles are the common lot of man. He would thus, not only prepare them for calamity, but help them to bear it patiently when it came. By resisting the idea that any thing " strange" was befalling them, or about to befall,—any thing that singled them out for a peculiar hardship, — any thing out of the course of nature, or beyond precedent and reasonable expectation, — any thing inconsistent with the least claims they could seem to have upon life or the Lord of life, — he hoped to subdue their spirits to the appointments of God. Men are apt to fancy, in their misfortune or their distress, that it exceeds the usual measure, or comes in an extraordinary shape. They aggravate their suffering by surprise and disappointment. They make exaggerated estimates of it by self-tormenting reflections. It is too bitter to drink. It is too heavy to bear. We would endure any thing rather, we could submit to any thing better, than this. We did not look for it, or there is nothing else like it. So they are apt to complain. " Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?" cries the lamenting prophet; " behold, and see if there be any sorrow like mine." And the same lament is taken up by those who have very little of that prophet's excuse. Some persons feel as if there was almost an injustice done them, whenever they are put to loss and pain, or called upon for services that they resist paying. They look at those who are at ease, while they cannot rest; at those who are in good health, while they must lead an invalid life; at those who have enough and to spare, while they are reduced and straitened ; at those who seem full of pleasures, while they are full of cares; and wonder that it should be ordained so; — instead of considering the respects in which they too are exempted from evils to which all are exposed. They compare the present dark day with its happier predecessors, or with the sanguine hopes that they had indulged in; instead of taking into view the blessings that yet surround them. It is " strange," that the " fiery trial" should scorch just in this or that place, or should consume what they were specially anxious to preserve safe. It is " strange," that I should be prevented, deprived, disabled; that I should be oppressed on this side and forsaken on that; that I should suffer wrong when I have done none, and be treated with harshness or indignity, when I might have looked for an opposite award; that I should be thwarted in my plans, spoiled of my property, separated from my friends; that, when every thing seems to be prospering to my heart's wish, some trouble should arise to overcloud it all while it lasts, or some sudden desolation to sweep it all away."