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SERMON 11.

On the Influence of RELIGION upon

ADVERSITY,

PSALM xxvii.

5.

In the time of trouble, be shall bide me in

his pavilion ; in the secret of his tabernacle
shall be hide me ; be shall set me upon a
rock.

SERMON

II.

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THE
HE life of man has always been å

very mixed state, full of uncertainty
and vicissitude, of anxieties and fears. In
every religious audience, there are many
who fall under the denomination of the
unfortunate ; and the rest are ignorant how
soon they may be called to join them. For,
the prosperity of no man on earth is stable
and assured. Dark clouds may soon gather
over the heads of those whose sky is now
most bright. In the midst of the deceitful

calm

II.

calm which they enjoy, the storm that is SERMON to overwhelm them has perhaps already begun to ferment. If a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall

be many

*

Hence, to a thoughtful mind, no study can appear more important, than how to be suitably prepared for the misfortunes of life ; so as to contemplate them in prospect without dismay, and, if they must befal, to bear them . without dejection. Throughout every age, the wisdom of the wise, the treasures of the rich, and the power of the mighty, have been employed, either in guarding their state against the approach of distress, or in rendering themselves less vulnerable byüts attacks. Power has endeavoured to remove adversity to a distance ; Philosophy has studied, when it drew nigh, to conquer it by patience ; and Wealth has sought out every pleasure that can compensate or alleviate pain.

While the wisdom of the world is thus occupied, religion has been no less atten

Eccles. xi. 8.

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SERMON tive to the same important object. It in

forms us in the text, of a pavilion, which
God erects to shelter his servants in the
time of trouble ; of a secret place in bis taber-
nacle, into which he brings them; of a rock.
on which he sets them up; and elsewhere
he tells us, of a shield and a buckler, which he
spreads before them, to cover them from the
terrour by night, and the arrow that flieth.
by day. Now of what nature are those
instruments of defence which God, is re-
presented as providing with such solicitous
care for those who fear him? Has he
reared up any bulwarks, impregnable by
misfortune, in order to separate the pious
and virtuous from the rest of mankind,
and to screen them from the common
disasters of life? No; To those disasters
we behold them liable no less than others.
The defence which religion provides, is
altogether of an internal kind. It is the
heart, not the outward state, which it pro-
fesses to guard. When the time of trouble
comes, as come it must to all, it places good
men under the pavilion of the Almighty,
by affording them that security and peace.
which arise from the belief of Divine

protection,

protection. It brings them into the se- SERMON cret of his tabernacle, by opening to them sources of consolation which are hidden from others. By that strength of mind with which it endows them, it sets them up upon a rock, against which the tempest may violently beat, but which it cannot shake.

How far the comforts proceeding from religion merit those high titles under which they are here figuratively described, I shall in this discourse endeavour to shew. I shall for this end compare together the situation of bad men, and that of the good, when both are suffering the misfortunes of life, and then make such improvement as the subject will naturally suggest.

I. RELIGION prepares the mind for encountering, with fortitude, the most severe

shocks of adversity; whereas vice, by its natural influence on the temper, tends to produce dejection under the slightest trials. While worldly men enlarge their possessions, and extend their connexions, they imagine that they are strengthening them

SERMON selves against all the possible vicissitudes of

life. They say in their hearts, My mountain stands strong, and I shall never be moved. But so fatal is their delusion, that, instead of strengthening, they are weakening, that which can only support them when those vicissitudes come. It is their mind which must then support them; and their mind, by their sensual attachments, is corrupted and enfeebled. Addicted with intemperate fondness to the pleasures of the world, they incur two great and certain evils; they both exclude themselves from every resource except the world; and they increase their sensibility to every blow which comes upon them from that quarter.

They have neither principles nor temper

which can stand the assault of trouble. They have no principles which lead them to look beyond the ordinary rotation of events; and therefore, when misfortunes involve them, the prospect must be comfortless on every side. Their crimes have disqualified them from looking up to the assistance of any higher power than their own ability, or for relying on any better guide than their own wisdom. And as

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