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thankful. All, it is true, have not deserved evil equally. Yet all of us deserve it more or less; and to merit good at the hand of the Lord, is what none of us can pretend. At the best, we are but unprofitable servants. Even this is more than we are entitled to claim. For if God were to enter into judgment with us, who could stand before him ? who could justify himself in his sight? When the most inoffensive compare their conduct with God's holy law; when they reflect upon the duties they have omitted, and the actual guilt they have contracted, they will find more reason to accuse themselves, than to complain of the divine chastisement. Whatever innocence any of us may plead, nay, whatever merit we may claim, with respect to men and the world, we suffer no more than what we deserve from the Governor of the world; and of his displeasure, we know that the wrath of man is no other than the instrument.

Not only all of us have done evil, but what ought to be particularly attended to, God has a just title to punish us for it. Although a man know that he deserves punishment, yet he will not allow every one to inflict it. A child will submit to his parents, a servant to his master, a subject to the magistrate, when he would not bear correction from another hand. But no parent can have so complete a right to authority over his children, no master over his servants, no magistrate over his subjects, as the Almighty hath over us. When we were born, we brought nothing with us into God's world. During our continuance in it, we have lived on the things which God has pleased to lend us; and of which, God and our own conscience know that we have made but a sorry improvement. When he

good thinks proper to take any of them away, no wrong is

, done us : for they were not ours. To have enjoyed them so long, was a favour. To enjoy them always was what we neither deserved, nor had any title to expect.

In the third place, the good things which at different times we have received and enjoyed, are much greater than the evils which we suffer. Of this fact, I am sensible it will be difficult to persuade the afflicted. But would they weigh, in a fair balance, the whole of their circumstances, they would find it true. Whatever persons feel at the present, makes so strong an impression upon them, as very commonly to obliterate the memory of all the past. When one is impressed with some painful disease in his body, or wrung with some sore distress of mind, every former comfort, at that moment, goes for nothing. Life is beheld in all its gloom. A dark cloud seems to hang over it, and it is reviled, as no other than a scene of wretchedness and sorrow. But this is to be unjust to human life, as well as ungrateful to its author. -Let me only desire you to think how many days, how many months, how many years, you have passed in health, and ease, and comfort ; how many

,

; pleasurable feelings you have had ; how

many

friends you have enjoyed; how many blessings, in short, of different kinds you have tasted ; and you will be forced to acknowledge, that more materials of thanksgiving present themselves, than of lamentation and complaint. These blessings, you will say, are past. But though past, ought they to be gone

from your remembrance? Do they merit no place, in the comparative estimate of the goods and evils of your state? Did you, could you expect, that in this mutable world, any temporal joy was to last for ever? Has gratitude no influence to form your minds to a calm acquiescence in your benefactor's appointments? What can be more reasonable than to say, “ Having

, “ in former times received so many good things from “ the hand of God, shall I not now, without mur

, “ muring, receive the few evils which it pleases him " to send ?"

In the fourth place, not only the goods of life are, upon the whole, greater than its evils; but the evils which we suffer are seldom, or never, without some mixture of good. As there is no condition on earth of pure unmixed felicity, so there is none so miserable, as to be destitute of every comfort. Entire, and complete misery, if ever it take place, is of our own procuring, not of God's sending. None but the most gross and atrocious sinners can be in such a situation, as to discover no ray of relief or hope. In the ordinary distresses of life, it is generally our own folly and infirmity, which, upon the loss of some one blessing that we had highly prized, deprives us of satisfaction in all other things. Many of our calamities are purely imaginary, and self-created; arising from rivalship or competition with others, and from false opinions of the importance of objects, to which custom and fashion have annexed an ideal value. Were these mistaken opinions once corrected by reason, the evil would disappear, and contentment would resume its place. With respect to those calamities which are inflicted by God, his providence has made this wise and merciful constitution, that, after the first shock, the burden by degrees is lightened. Time brings a gentle and powerful opiate to all misfortunes. What is very violent cannot last long; and what lasts long, we become accustomed to bear. Every situation that is permanent, at length is felt to be tolerable. The mind accommodates itself to it; and by degrees regains its usual tranquillity. Hence the greatest part of the evils of life are more terrible in the previous apprehension, than in the actual feeling; and it seldom happens but, in one corner or other, something is found on which the mind can lay hold for its relief.

How many, for instance, do we behold around us, straitened in their worldly circumstances, and yet finding the means to live cheerfully, with poverty and peace in the same habitation ? If we are deprived of friends whom we tenderly loved, are there not still some remaining, from whom we may expect much comfort? If our bodies are afflicted with sore disease, have we not reason to be thankful that our mind continues vigorous and entire; that we are in a situation to look around us for whatever can afford us ease; and that, after the decay of this frail and mouldering tabernacle, we can look forward to a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ? In the midst of all distresses, there remains to every sincere Christian, that mixture of pure and genuine consolation which springs from the promises and hopes of the Gospel. Consider, I beseech

what a singularly happy distinction this makes in your situation, beyond the state of those who, under the various troubles of life, are left without hope, and without God in the world ; without any thing to look to, but a train of unknown causes and accidents, in which they see no light nor comfort. - Thank the Father of mercies, that into all the evils he sends he infuses this joyful hope, that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in the end, to the virtuous and good.

you,

In the fifth and last place, as the evils which we suffer are thus alleviated by a mixture of good; so we have reason to believe, that the evils themselves are, in

many respects, good. When borne with patience and dignity, they improve and ennoble our character. They bring into exercise several of the manly and heroic virtues; and, by the constancy and fidelity with which we support our trials on earth, prepare us for the highest rewards in Heaven. It has always been found, that the present constitution of human nature cannot bear uninterrupted prosperity, without being corrupted by it. The poisonous weeds which spring up in that too luxuriant soil, require the hand of adversity to extirpate them. It is the experience of sorrow and distress that subdues the arrogance of pride, tames the violence of passion, softens the hardness of the selfish heart, and humanizes the temper to feel for the woes of others. Many have had reason to

say, that it was good for them to be afflicted.* When men take the timbrel and the harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ, they are apt' to say unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him? But when they are holden in cords of affliction, then he sheweth them their work and their transgressions that they have exceeded. He openeth also their ear

* Psalm cxix. 71.

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