Obrazy na stronie
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being ; ever remembering my humble ori

gin, and that I should have been as the “ earth on which I tread, but for thy gra“ cious bounty to me.” The conduct of too many of these rich men proves they have no love of God; for the infallible consequences of love are, frequently thinking of the object beloved ; enumerating the favours and obligations received ; acknowledging them with heartfelt pleasure and delight; being in the highest degree desirous not to offend, and anxious in the same degree to please, the object of their affection. It is equally clear from their conduct that these men have no proper fear of God, by their entire inattention to, or violation of, that sabbath their God has most peremptorily ordered them to keep holy; by their loose and lascivious conduct, when their God has told them in his Scriptures that no adulturer shall enter into his kingdom; and by neglecting to read those Scriptures, which, where they are promulgated, he requires all men to do. But instead of an humble and submissive compliance with his injunction in this respect, they despise these Scriptures and their contents; and likewise the acquisition of that holiness, without which God

has declared no man shall be admitted into his presence. Now if God is pleased to visit one of these men with some affliction, deep enough to correct his sins and ingratitude, and to induce him to acquire, before he dies, that holiness of character, so indispensably necessary to the enjoyment of the happiness of a future state; what he considers punishment, is in reality the greatest mercy that can be shewn him : from whence this inference is fairly to be drawn, that before we find fault with the misery that prevails in the world, we ought to admit, for the general and individual welfare of mankind, and for the keeping in any tolerable order such a rebellious, unreasonable, sensual, ungrateful character as man frequently is, that it must be just as necessary for God in his moral government of him as a free agent, capable of doing wrong, and continually doing so, to inflict a great deal of discipline and punishment on him, as it is necessary for a monarch on the throne, or for a general of an army, to do so. For what robbery, pillage, and murders, would be committed in a state, and what mutiny and disorder would prevail in an army, if the delinquents in each were never punished:

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and what bloated, arrogant, proud, oppressive characters would many men be, if they were not occasionally checked by adversity ; when we find some of them are so even with all the checks they receive. Indeed Lord Bolingbroke himself observes of human nature, (undisciplined,) that she may be compared to a wild beast, on whom you cannot put too many curbs to keep her in any tolerable order.

God has expressly declared by his prophet Jeremiah, that he does not grieve the children of men, or afflict them willingly; but, as St. Paul informs us, only for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness: and the Scriptures proclaim our God to be the Lord, “ merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and “ abundant in goodness ; forgiving iniquity,

transgression, and sin,” &c. Therefore we have every reason to be of opinion with the Poet,

Of every evil since the world began,
The real source is not in God, but man:

and that the misery which prevails in human life, as it originally proceeded from the disobedience of man to the commands of God, so the continuance of it, in the great degree

in which we see it exhibited, arises from the same cause; that is, because men in general neither love or fear God, or obey his commands, as they might and ought to do. It is much to be wished the truth or falsehood of this opinion was to be determined by experiment; and that for this

purpose

all mankind would agree to adopt the dying advice of Sir Philip Sydney to his friend, of ruling their will and affections by the will and word of their Creator; and then probably we should see but little misery in human life. But this idea is a visionary one, and I know will be so considered : yet, however visionary it may be when applied to the world in general, it is not at all visionary when its application is made by any one man to himself in particular; and if he values his happiness, instead of losing his time in repining and railing at the misery which exists in the world, he will employ it much better, and much more profitably, by mak. ing a trial of the efficacy of this conduct: for if he expects to enjoy happiness in a world of sorrow, which sorrow was caused by guilt, he must remove the cause, that the effect may cease: since it can be only by regaining as much as he can the innocence of Para

dise, that he will stand any chance of regaining its happiness. But even should a worthy man experience great misery and affliction in this life ; when the difference between time and eternity is duly considered, the longest possible duration of his misery is not equal to the punishment that an indulgent father might, for some just cause, inflict on a beloved son, by confining him for a few minutes to his chamber: and therefore he thinks with St. Paul, that “ the sufferings of “ this present time are not worthy to be com

pared with the glory which shall be revealed “ in us: and that these light afflictions, which

are but for a moment, work for him a far

more exceeding and eternal weight of glo“ ry.” And the faith of this worthy man will, beyond all question, induce him to submit to any affliction God may be pleased to appoint him, with the most perfect resignation; without imagining such affliction any sort of imputation on the goodness of God : for such a man must know, that it is in the power of God to reward him in another life in

any ratio he pleases, for any extraordinary afflic, tion to which God may appoint him in this; in which he considers himself only in a state of discipline and probation : and he has

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