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us from temptation, calming the mind, and strengthening every virtuous resolution.
It has pleased the Almighty Father, in the wise dispensations of his providence, that almost every station in life, and every event that can befal us, should form some portion of that discipline, which was meant to exercise our virtues here, and to prepare us for a better state of existence hereafter. We daily see evil arising out of apparent good; while wisdom, happiness, and power, (attainments that we chiefly covet,) are often the result of temporary difficulties and imaginary misfortunes. Hence, prosperity and adversity are equally calculated to try us. Under their varied forms of sickness and health,-of moderate possessions and craving wants, of pleasure and pain, of gratification and disappointment, they enter largely into that moral system of action, suffering, or forbearance, which so ef. fectually disciplines the human heart, and which constitutes our warfare with the world.
Every man, therefore, beside the ordinary temptations of life, has some that are pecu: liarly his own ;—some that are adapted to his individual character, to his passions, and his temper, his circumstances and pursuits : so that we might well be exhorted, in the words of the text, to “ Watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation.” The duty of vigilance, therefore, is binding on all; and, before we envy another's station, or murmur at our own, we should consider it relatively, always viewing it in its effects on our disposition and conduct; for nothing is more evident, than that the same means, in different hands, produce either vice or virtue; misery or happiness.
Many are the excellent fruits which adversity has cherished in the minds of some; as it has enlarged their views, and made them think and feel to some practical purpose ;-as it has taught them the true lesson of wisdom and humanity ;-as it has instructed them to be humble and courteous, charitable and forbearing; while in others the same cause has produced such lamentable effects of folly and of sin, as we ought to guard against with the greatest vigilance, and from which we should pray to be delivered with the utmost fervor.
First, adversity often causes an indolent despondency, or lasting dejection of mind, that destroys all relish for the ordinary comforts of life, and renders men incapable of fulfilling the duties of their station. Because the object of their earnest desire is withheld, or because
some portion of what they once enjoyed is taken from them, perhaps, the remaining treasure of life is lost, or cast away; and their future days pass on, without improvement, in helpless and unavailing sorrow. Instead of considering the fixed, unalterable conditions of our present state ;-instead of casting a retrospective glance to the land whither all their fathers are gone before, or looking forward to their children's children, that must come after them, they would enjoy life in perpetuity. The world must fluctuate with others around them ;--all things must rise and fall, blossom, ripen and decay, but they would be permanent and secure ;—they
pilgrims and strangers here; but will foolishly cannot persuade themselves that they are ju believe themselves at home. 7 Hence, the calamities of life are no means of discipline or improvement to them, but quite the reverse. While others are roused by adversity to thought, meditation, and action, they are deprived, as it were, of their mental powers, and sink into helpless misery. Its effect, on the one, is like the animating shock of electric fire; on the other, it resembles the numbness of the torpedo, or palsy's stroke.
It is in such gloomy periods of existence
as these, that despondent sufferers have been tempted to cast away existence, or else have lingered out the remnant of a miserable life, useless to others, and a burden to themselves. This, therefore, is one of the snares of adversity, against which we must watch and pray with diligence and fervor.
Let no one persuade himself that it is not in his power to check this gloomy despondency, as well as other evil dispositions of the mind. The truth is, that all sinful passions are the offspring of self-indulgence; and men are permitted to cherish some, rather than others, only because their lamentable effects are confined to themselves.
The divine command is, “ to work the will of him that sent us.” We must run the race that is set before us; and are required to suffer patiently, like good soldiers of Christ: but if we become slothful and unprofitable from those very causes, which should quicken our activity, and strengthen our fortitude, we frustrate the grand ends, for which afflictions were sent into the world, and turn the means of future happiness to misery and condemnation.
Besides, the indulgence of sorrow for any adversity, beyond what it derives from our infirmities, is not only sinful, but unnatural. By
the merciful provision of our heavenly Father, the heart, whatever be its sufferings in the hour of affliction, has always a tendency to recover its repose; and it is only banished, for any long duration, by an over-weening fondness for the things of this world ;-by indolence,—by a species of selfish, morbid sensibility,-or by the want of a steady, well-founded confidence in the Supreme Being.
Such is the variety of our wants and duties in this mixed state ;—so many objects are there that solicit our attention, exciting our hopes, or alarming our fears ;--and so many calls are there on our benevolence, our fortitude, and selfdenial ;—that he who suffers one object wholly to engross his soul, or one passion to circumscribe his happiness, must be weak and foolish, if not sinful and depraved. Independently of the awful concerns of eternity, which should never be forgotten, Time, in the small portions in which it is measured out to us, is constantly reminding us of something that we have to do. Morning, noon, and night, the duties of active life
press upon us, and point out something to avoid as evil, or to pursue as good. Sorrow flies at mental fortitude and bodily exertion, as the mists of the morning before the sun; and