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as admitted, he hears this voice issue, Call
upon me in the day of trouble, and I will answer thee. Fear not ; for I am with thee. Be not dismayed; for I am thy God. And as he hears a voice which speaks to none but the pure in heart, so he beholds a hand which sinners cannot see.
He beholds the hand of Providence conducting all the hidden springs and movements of the universe ; and with a secret but unerring operation, directing every event towards the happiness of the righteous. Those afflictions which appear to others the messengers
of the wrath of Heaven, appear to him the ministers of sanctification and wisdom. Where they discern nothing but the horrors of the tempest which surrounds them, his more enlightened eye beholds the angel who rides on the whirlwind, and directs the storm. Hence a peace keeping the mind and heart, which is no where to be found but under the pavilion of the Almighty.
IV. Good men are comforted under their troubles by the hope of Heaven ; while bad men are not only deprived of this hope, but distressed with fears arising from a future state. The soul of man can never divest itself wholly of anxiety about its fate hereafter. There are hours when, even to the prosperous, in the midst of their pleasures, eternity is an awful thought. But much more when those pleasures, one after another, begin to withdraw; when life alters its forms, and becomes dark and cheerless ; when its changes warn the most inconsiderate, that what is so mutable will soon pass entirely away; then with pungent earnestness comes home that question to the heart, Into what world are we next to go ? How miserable the man, who, under the distraction of calamity, hangs doubtful about an event which so nearly concerns him ? who, in the midst of doubts and anxieties, approaches that awfựl boundary which separates this world from the next, shudders at the dark prospect
, before him ; wishing to exist after death, and yet afraid of that existence ; catching at every feeble hope which superstition can afford him, and trembling, in the same moment, from reflection upon his crimes !
But blessed be God, who hath brought life and immortality to light ; who hath not only brought them to light, but secured them to good men ; and by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, hath begotten them unlo the lively hope of an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Justly is this hope styled in Scripture, the anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast. For what an
anchor is to a ship in a dark night, on an unknown coast, and amidst a boisterous ocean, that is this hope to the soul, when distracted by the confusions of the world. In danger, it gives security; amidst general fluctuation, it affords one fixed point of rest. It is indeed the most eminent of all the advantages which religion now confers. For, consider the mighty power of hope over the human mind. It is the universal comforter. It is the spring of all human activity. Upon futurity, men are constantly suspended. Animated by the prospect of some distant good, they toil and suffer through the whole course of life, and it is not so much what they are at present, as what they hope to be in some aftertime, that enlivens their motions, fixes attention, and stimulates industry. Now, if, in the common affairs of life, such is the energy of hope, even when its object is neither very considerable, nor very certain ; what effects may
it not be expected to produce, when it rests upon an object so splendid as a life of immortal felicity ? Were this hope entertained with that full persuasion which Christian faith demands, it would, in truth, not merely alleviate, but totally annihilate all hùman miseries. It would banish discontent extinguish grief, and suspend the very feeling
But allowing for the mixture of human frailty ; admitting those abatements which our imperfection makes upon the effect of every religious principle, still you will find, , that in proportion to the degree in which the hope of heaven operates upon good men, they will be tranquil under sufferings; nay, they will be happy, in comparison of those who enjoy no such relief. What, indeed, in the course of human affairs, is sufficient to distress, far less to overwhelm, the mind of that man who can look down on all human things from an elevation so much above them? He is only a passenger through this world. He is travelling to a happier country. How disagreeable soever the occurrences of his journey may be, yet at every stage of that journey he receives the assurance that he is drawing nearer and nearer to the period of rest and felicity.-Endure, and thou shalt overcome. Persevere, and thou shalt be successful. The time of trial hastens to a close. Thy mansion is prepared above; thy rest remaineth among the people of God. The disorders which vice has introduced into the works of God, are about to terminate ; and all tears are soon to be wiped away from the eyes of the just. The firm assurance of this happy conclusion to the vexations and vanities of life, works a greater effect on the sincere illiterate Christian, than all the refinements of philosophy can work on the most learned infidel. These may gratify the mind that is at ease; may soothe the heart when slightly discomposed : but when it is sore and deeply torn; when bereaved of its best and most beloved comforts, the only consolation that can then find access, arises from the hope of a better world; where those comforts shall be again restored ; and all the virtuous shall be assembled, in the presence of Him who made them. Such hopes banish that despair which overwhelms, and leave only that tender melancholy which softens the heart, and often renders the whole character more gentle and amiable.
Of this nature are the resources which religion provides for good men. By its previous discipline, it trains them to fortitude ; by the reflections of a good conscience it soothes, by the sense of Divine favour it
supports them and when every comfort fails them on earth, it cheers them with the hope of heaven, Distinguishing his servants with such advantages, God is justly said to erect his pavilion over