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ii. Tim. iv. 5. Endure Afflictions.
HAPPY is the man, who lives and dies in the fear of God, whatever be his present portion! Be it poverty, disgrace, sickness, or captivity; yet, if it secures to him an inheritance with God, his lot is above princes, and all their transitory glories!
For nothing is good or evil to any creature, but as it promotes or obstructs his principal end. If, by the indisposition of a day, you could secure to yourself the comforts of a: long and happy" old age; you would hardly con
sider it as an evil, you would embrace it as a blessing rather than a misfortune. If, then, a life of suffering tends certainly to secure to you a happy eternity -t why should you not, in parity of reasoning and prudence, bear it with patience, rather than murmur under it as an insupportable affliction?
Afflictions, disagreeable as they are to our animal feelings, have the happiest influence upon our tempers and better interests. When the judgements of the Lord are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Isa. xxvi. 9. There is no class of mankind, to which they are not adapted: they tend to reform the vicious —to improve the careless—and to perfect the virtuous.
While the world smiles around us, while the weather is fair, and a favourable breeze drives us along, on we sail careless and secure: we resign ourselves to sport and pleasure: Lost in the enjoyment,
joyment, we think not of the author of our happiness: we dread no change: it is not, till the windy form- ariscth, that we learn to know ourselves and call upon the Lord. An even course of things, an uninterrupted flow of success, lulls us into security: we abandon ourselves to a sottish forgetfulness of God. "Whereas the corrections of the Almighty make us serious, vigilant, and attentive. Reason awakes from its slumbers: conscience, beguiled before by a succession of amusements or stupified by intemperance, begins to speak the honest language of truth.
It was good for me, says David, that I was. afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes: for before I was afflicted, I went as ray, hut now have I kept thy word. .Ps. cxix. 67, 71. And this he spoke from the happiest experience. He had passed through the several stages of adversity with firmness and integrity.
Temptations assailed him in vain: his I trials trials were his happiness: they but confirmed his innocence; they gave double lustre t£> his virtues.—Alas! how little do we know of our true happiness I — Prosperity, the great object of his wishes, was his greatest snare. Softened by the charms and blandishments of a prosperous fortune, he fell into the worst of crimes, from which nothing but the visitation of God awakentd him again.
Manasseh is an example of a simU lar reformation. He was, as we read, tnore wicked than all the Kings of Judab and Israel. But, carried away into cap^ tivity, his errors appeared in all their horrors: his eyes were opened: he returned as eminently good, out of the school of affliction, as he was abandoned before, in the thoughtless gaiety of abundance.
When the world, then, has this effect upon any man, the greatest blessing God can shew him, is to visit him with