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which all either do or might enjoy; plea- SERM.
XIII. sures which, for the most part, far exceed, both in duration and weight, the proportion of woes which are intermixed with them. Is it not then the highest ingratitude, after we have been, for a long time, experiencing great and unmerited favours at the hands of God, if the scene a little varies and presents us with darker prospects, to be impatient and discontented ?
But still farther, if the matter be accurately examined, we shall find that many of the evils, which are the subject of our hasty complaints, are brought on us by our own imprudence: disappointments frequently arise from unreasonable expectations; that degree of poverty, which is highly oppressive and disgraceful, is the general product of idleness; sickness is, in many instances, caused by intemperance; the loss of reputation, by vice or folly: in these cases, shame, one would think, should
SERM. silence our murmurs, and prevent us from XIII.
attributing to the constitution of human affairs, what is only to be imputed to our. selves.
Instances indeed may be met with, where the misery of particular individuals greatly overbalance their happiness, and where, perhaps, it could have been prevented by no exertions of prudence or of virtue: those, however, to whose lot this may fall, are not (as I have shewn in the beginning of this discourse) without abundant reasons for consolation; though woe be their present portion, it will arise from their own negligence, if it be not converted into bliss; heaviness may endure for a night, but, by patience and piety, joy cometh in the morning. :
Let us then enjoy, with moderation and gratitude, the bounties of God, and let us submit with manly firmness to his chastisements; let us esteem them, as they are,
but as different modes of his goodness; let SERM.
XIII. us understand them, as they are meant, as trials of our virtue and correctors of our hearts; and let us rest assured, that if we carry ourselves under them with truly religious resignation, we shall entitle ourselves to the benediction pronounced by our Saviour on those who mourn; and at the great day of retribution shall, in return for transitory pain and sorrow, be recompensed with an eternity of bliss and glory.
THE IMPROPRIETY OF JUDGING OF THE
MISFORTUNES OF OTHERS.
St. Luke xiii. 3.
I tell you, Nay; but, except ye repent, ye
shall all likewise perish. The occasion on which these words were SERM. spoken, was this; it had just been related to our Saviour, that Pilate, the Roman go. vernor, had mingled the blood of some Galileans with their sacrifices, i. e, that he had put them to death whilst they were sacrificing at the altar; from which account Je. sus takes an opportunity (as was usual with him on most occurrences) to inculcate on