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some awakening judgment; and that man, who uses this season of serious reflexion for the purpose of examining into his past life and conversation, bewailing his transgressions, and resolving to begin and pursue a better course for the remainder of his life, will amply find his account in it. He will either find his evils removed in God's good time, or will bear them with patience as a judgment greatly inferior to his deserts. For the wages of sin, which God thus corrects in him, is much greater than any thing he can suffer in life: the wages of unreproved and unrepented sin is eternal death.
There are, in particular, some evils, which are the necessary consequences of vicious courses; and a removal of these no wise man can well expect of God, as governing the world by certain general stated methods, which he cannot alter upon every little exigency of individuals. Sobriety is the natural I 2 means means of health, and industry of a comfortable subsistence. Where, therefore, poverty is the effect of extravagance, diseases the effect of riot, and ill success the effect of temerity and profusion; these things indeed must be looked upon as God's visitations (for it was he, who established this conn nexion between wickedness and misery) but they cannot be expected to be removed by an extraordinary interposition of Providence. * Where they are remediable, our own endeavours must co-operate with his blessing; where they are not, they must be submitted to, as the fatal effects of our own misconduct —to continue for life; but not beyond
•poscis opera nervis, corpusq; fidele senectæ:
it, upon our true repentance and sincere humiliation.
I Proceed now to a second purpose of affliction. It tends to awaken the thoughtless, to confirm the weak, and to call them to a proper consideration of their purpose in the world.
Many, who are not remarkably wicked, may be, however, too much pleased, too much transported with their present situation. Indeed a sense and relish of the blessings we enjoy, is the foundation of the gratitude and adoration, we owe to the Divine Being: but, some how, a constant uninterrupted series of prosperity, has a contrary effect. It softens and enervates the mind, and cools the more generous affections. Basking in the comfortable warmth and influence of easy circumstances, we think it good to be here; we want no better country; we look for no higher inheritance. But adversity reminds us of our imperfect state, and I 3 obliges obliges us to seek those comforts in another, which we find not here.
It is certain, we are more sensible of blessings under the absence of them, than in the fullness and satiety of enjoyment. We best know the value of health, under the pangs of a severe disorder; we know the pleasure of liberty under the solitude and rigour of confinement. The stated returns and vicissitudes of the seasons we consider, upon account of their regularity, as things of course; rejoicing in their influence with a supine thoughtless sort of complacency, we hardly think of the being, who ap pointed them for the benefit of man. But, when a change comes, and the earth denies her fruits and the sun withdraws his heat; then, struck with the novelty, we begin to reflect, and see the reason of acknowledging our own impotence, and looking upwards for assistance and relief. It is thus, in general, with afflictions. We begin not
fully to know ourselves, till necessity puts us upon the disagreeable task. Worldly blessings are not so thoroughly considered as the gift of God, till he has convinced us, by the removal of them, that he is the sovereign arbiter and disposer of human fortunes. Even self-love is of service to us in pointing out this conclusion; for when we see others unfortunate, we consider imprudence, dissipation, and the like, as causes of their miscarriage; but personal affliction brings the conclusion home to our own selves, and forces us to acknowledge a first cause in all these things.
Whether we consider it or not, we are all travelling on towards the grave, the common end of all the living. There a new and unalterable scene opens. They that have done good go into everlasting life; they that have done evil into everlasting punishment. — Pray now, consult yourself; when do you think most of these things, in the serious thoughtful 14 hour