- Sermon I. the Rising Generation Exhorted to Adopt the Religion of Their Christian Forefathers.
- Sermon II. Hope In God.
- Sermon III. On the Means and the Importance of Grace.
- Sermon IV. Corruption of Heart the Source of Irreligion and Immorality.
- Sermon V. Against Despair and Suicide.
- Sermon VI. On the Folly and Danger of Thoughtlessness.
- Sermon VII. Perseverance In the Religious Principles Taught In Youth, and Particularly In Faith and Hope, Recommended.
- Sermon VIII. Good Intentions the Least Fallible Security For Good Conduct.
- Sermon IX. Religion the Chief Concern of Life.
- Sermon X. On Conformity to Fashion and the Customs of the World
- Sermon XI. On Seeking a Remedy For Sorrow, In Vice and Dissipation.
- Sermon XII. Christian Politeness
- Sermon XIII. On the Duty of Preventing Evil, By Actual Coercion, As Well As By Advice and Remonstrance.
- Sermon XIV. On Pursuing Visionary Schemes of Happiness, Without Attending to Scripture, and Revealed Religion
- Sermon XV. the Pride of Human Learning and False Philosophy, a Great Obstacle to the Reception of Christianity.
- Sermon XVI. On the Duty of Servants.
- Sermon XVII. On the Wickedness and Misery of Envy and Contention.
- Sermon XVIII. the Cunning Oe the Wicked Inconsistent With Wisdom.
- Sermon XIX. On the Snares of the Devil, and Means of Escaping Them.
- Sermon XX. Moderation Necessary to All Solid and Durable Enjoyment.
- Sermon XXI. Happiness to Be Found Rather In the Enjoyment of Health and Innocence, Than In the Successful Pursuits of Avarice and Ambition.
- Sermon XXII. On the Duties of the Preacher and the Hearer.
- Sermon XXIII. * On the Benefits to Be Derived From the Sight of a Funeral.
- Sermon XXIV. a Preparatory Persuasive to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
- Sermon XXV. the Prospect of Perpetual and Universal Peace to Be Established On the Principles of Christian Philanthropy.
- Sermon XXVI. On the Necessity of Increasing the Places of Public Worship On the Establishment; and On the Duty of Supporting the Objects of the Philanthropic Society.
- Sermon XXVII. the Support of the Magdalen Hospital Recommended.
- Sermon XXVIII. the Education of the Poor Recommended.
hope in god.
Psalm xlii. 5.—Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou so disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him for the light of his countenance.
The beautifully pathetic strains of this psalm are supposed to have been occasioned by the unnatural rebellion of Absalom against the royal writer of it. And indeed, unhappy parent, thou hadst reason to be cast down, if ever man had, when thine own son was in arms against thee, and had driven thee from Jerusalem, which thy soul loved. A child wielding a sword against his father∗ The reflection is sharper than the sword, and pierces more deeply, and cuts more keenly, than the barbed arrow from the bow. And bitterly dost thou lament thy misfortune. Thou feelest as a man, though at the same time, like a good man, thou derivest consolation from the only source of it in severe affliction, Hope in God.
The example which David exhibits, in seeking comfort under distress, from God, is worthy universal imitation; and the words of the text are doubtless recorded, not only as a memorial of David's behaviour under his distress, but as a guidance for all the sons and daughters of affliction.
And let me ask, What mortal is there who is not of this family? Man is born to woe. Many drink more deeply of the bitter cup than others, but all, at some time of their lives, have a portion of it. Man fell from his obedience, and evil entered into the world; the natural consequence and punishment of rebellion. Human, misery is indeed productive of improvement; and God Almighty decreed in his wisdom, that the consequence of man's fall should operate as one cause in producing his re-elevation, by causing his repentance and amendment.
The lessons of virtue are best taught in the school of adversity; but it is a severe school, and man, in the course of his trials, frequently faints. The burthen of his evils becomes intolerable: he falls down prostrate to the earth, and would rejoice if it would swallow him up, and snatch him from the ills of life, even by consigning him for everlasting to nonentity.
It must indeed be confessed, that if religion did not open cheerful prospects to the view, human nature might have reason to complain of the injustice of the Divine government. What can be more unjust, than that a man should be unconsciously born, forced into existence without his own consent, merely to suffer evil without the hope of a compensation∗ Such an idea cuts off all hope in God, and therefore tends immediately to produce insanity and suicide, both which prevail deplorably in the present age, in consequence of unsettled principles of religion, or of downright infidelity; a circumstance which, I hope you will agree with me, renders the subject I have chosen particularly seasonable. Insanity and suicide∗—these are the glorious trophies of that false philosophy which seems to be aiming at nothing less than the extermination of Christianity.
Great, heavy, numerous are the evils of life. It is granted with a sigh: bat they are not so great, not so heavy, and not so numerous as to lead to insanity and suicide, unless God and a sense of his protection are first discarded.
For great, solid, numerous, on the other hand, are the comforts of Christianity. Christianity does most clearly vindicate the ways of heaven. We collect from that system, that this life is a state of probation; that the troubles of it are trials of faith and virtue; that no believer shall be tempted above what he is able to bear; that he shall have support from heaven; and that his afflictions, which endure, comparatively but for a moment, shall be rewarded with an eternal and exceeding weight of glory.
This persuasion alone is sufficient to afford comfort to a sincere believer under the severest distress; but he has also another source of joy. Under the pressure of adversity the sincere believer looks up to God as to a friend and father, with hope and confidence, and sees, amidst the gloominess which surrounds him, a bright effulgence bursting from the lowering horizon; a serene sky, which forebodes that the clouds immediately surrounding him will soon be dispelled. Though he travels with weary step in the vale of sorrow and darkness, and his feet be ready to slip in the dangerous and rugged road; yet shall thy staff, O God, be his support and guide. Though be stumble, yet shall he not fall; thy right hand shall be stretched out to raise him up, and through hope in thy aid he shall persevere with alacrity, and finally conquer, and be crowned with immortality.
I will take a transient view of a few among the miseries of life, for to enumerate them all is impossible, and endeavour to point out in what manner a trust in God affords consolation under them; and I will then proceed to evince, that they who have no confidence, in God, however they may plume themselves on their self-sufficiency, their natural parts, and their acquired learning, are of all men most miserable.
To be reduced from the glittering envied heights of rank and riches, to the humble vale of poverty and obscurity, is a change which the worldly-minded deplore as the extremity of woe, the last act in the tragedy of life. They have been accustomed to splendour; and they must now be contented with necessaries, however mean and homely. They have been used to ornament in dress, and superfluities at the table; and they must now rejoice, if they can be protected from inclement weather by decent clothing, and from hunger by wholesome diet. They have been attended by a useless tribe of domestics, and they must now either accommodate themselves, or be satisfied with such attendants as contribute only to use, and not to ostentation. They bewail their worldly adversity in all the bitterness of unfeigned sorrow; and indeed it must be confessed, that if in this world only they have hope, they are fallen into misfortunes which may justly render them deeply dejected. They have lost their all: they have lost, in the loss of riches, the object of their ardent love; and they go about moaning, in the agony of one who is bereaved of his only comfort. But if they have happily furnished their hearts with religious principles, their grief shall soon be turned into joy. They shall look up from the darkling valley, and behold on the hills the feet of him that bringeth salvation. They shall see with purged eyes the vanity of all which this world can bestow, and in the midst of poverty find riches, which cannot make to themselves wings; find a treasure, where neither moth doth corrupt, nor thieves break in and steal. And indeed, if their worldly adversity has caused them to think at last of him who gave and who taketh away, it may justly be esteemed the most fortunate event of their lives. It is good for them that they have been afflicted. If poverty has taught them humility, it has given them an ornament, in the sight of God, more beautiful and precious than all the splendid decorations which their former opulence lavishly supplied. If their poverty has taught them not to lean on the world, it has found for them a bulwark and column of support which shall never fall; even the RockofAges, JESUS CHRIST.
Happy change∗ though mortals, fascinated with the scenes before them, can scarcely acknowledge it; yet if salvation is more desirable than perdition, wise and godly adversity is better than sinful and thoughtless opulence: and that uninterrupted prosperity has a natural tendency to blind the understanding, and render the heart insensible to the feelings of piety; proud, presumptuous, and hard; we need but look into the gay, the busy, and the great world to observe.
No man, however, whatever may be the benefits of adversity, will voluntarily relinquish the temporal advantages of prosperity; but every man may be deprived of them by the vicissitudes of this mortal life; and when this happens, considerations of this kind will surely teach him not to sink under his misfortune, but to turn it evidently into a blessing, and a prize. O∗ taste, ye sons and daughters of adversity, what sweet waters of comfort issue from' heaven∗ look up and see a sunbeam from the throne of God, which is ready to dart a glorious lustre, around your gloomy path, and to convert the wilderness in which ye wander, into a paradise of fruits and flowers, blooming, like evergreens, in the midst of winter∗ Hope ye in God; for ye shall yet praise him for the light of his countenance.
In all worldly losses and disappointments, what has been said in the change from affluence to want, will be equally applicable. The loss of fame or character, if it be unjustly lost, will little affect him who resolves to recommend himself to the approbation of the Most High, instead of courting the breath of popular applause. The loss of health, though painful, and most devoutly to be deprecated, indeed, as one of the greatest of real misfortunes, will be wonderfully alleviated by a sincere faith and hope that, at the close of this short life, our corruptible shall put on incorruption, and our mortal, immortality; and that once more, like the phœnix, from its ashes, we shall flourish in a beautiful rejuvenesence. Thou, O God∗ art health and strength and glory to all who flee to thee for succour; and the pious sufferer, on the bed of disease and death, in his last faltering accents, whispers praise.
But there is one loss, which I confess is almost too grievous to be born with patience; I mean the loss of those we love, the loss of children, dear relatives, or any others closely allied either by friendship or consanguinity. It is a separation which rends the heart-strings; the fountain of tears will then burst in torrents, and the mourner will long go heavily on his way; his soul will refuse to be comforted; and sacred be his sorrows: let so much indulgence be allowed to this amiable infirmity, that no attempts be made to soothe the sufferer by remonstrance, till his passion has subsided, and time's lenient influence assuaged the venom of the wound. Then, at last, religion, that lovely matron, that kind nursing mother, will step in with friendly aspect, raise the mourner from the ground, and bid him look up to God, who can call the forms which moulder in the earth from the dark chambers of death, from a state of corruption, to a state of glory; who, after a short separation, can cause those who were united in love during life, to meet in love again after death, never more to be torn asunder, and wrenched from the rivets of affection.
Sweet hope∗ unknown to the ungodly, to the disputer of this world, the vain, the conceited caviller, into whose dark and callous bosom the beams of grace never penetrated: Sweet hope∗ and more to be desired than all the treasure the richest plunderer ever wrung from the oppressed Indian on the banks of the Ganges—To meet those who were dear to us as our own souls, in a purified and exalted state; lovelier and more estimable, more worthy our love, than they ever appeared on earth∗ Delightful expectation∗ and blessed is he who cherishes it, and blessed be the God, who has in his revelation given wretched human nature reason to embrace it with confidence.
“Child of my heart,” may the poor parent exclaim, while he bends his head over the untimely grave, and drops a parting tear on the insensible coffin—“Child of my heart, farewell; for thee I mourn; nature must indeed feel the parting pang∗ thou art torn from me, and the anguish of separation is as if one should tear by violence this limb from this body∗ my heart bleeds at every pore∗ But I submit to necessity with cheerfulness; because my religion teaches me to turn my view from earth to yonder regions of glory, where I see thee, with the eye of faith, borne up by angels in a transfigured form, partaking the bliss of saints, and clothed in the vesture of immortality. Thou canst not come to me, but one comfort still remains, I shall go to thee. My sorrows shall be turned into joy. Gracious is God. In him will I trust∗ I return to the poor occupations of a wretched world for a short time comforted by nothing but a reliance on him who subdued death, and a hope, by his mercy, to be reunited in the mansions of bliss to the souls whom I loved in the region of sorrow. Thou only sleepest in the grave, as lately in thy cradle; no more I weep: sleep on, sweet babe∗ the voice of lamentation shall be changed into a song of triumph∗ I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, write, from henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, even so saith the spirit, for they rest from their labours. And thy spirit, sweet babe, is pure and spotless∗ and thou art gone with cherubs, thy brothers and companions. O death, where is thy sting∗ O grave, where is thy victory.”
Such is the good man's triumph over a calamity which, of all those which afflict poor mortals, is indeed the sorest, the most afflicting. To be bereaved of one's children, is to be bereaved indeed∗ Let him who never had a child, think lightly of it∗
I have enlarged a little on this instance, because he who learns where to seek comfort under the greatest of sorrows, will know where to find it in abundance when involved in the lighter. And what are all the losses compared with those which death, the inexorable king of terrors, occasions? The loss of money is the loss of trash—may be compensated by subsequent industry and good success; but who can call back a child from the grave? the loss of a beloved babe is a blow which no feeling bosom could bear, were it not strengthened from above.
But other losses by death are severe indeed. For whom tolls the bell on yonder time-honoured tower? For my friend at whose table I sat but yesterday, in all the joy of cordial conviviality∗
Gone is the friend of my heart,—gone perhaps the wife of my bosom—my respected father—my tender mother, at whose breasts I lay in infancy—on whose knees I sat and smiled and prattled, and asked by wailing, or moved by tears, and she was moved∗ Deaf is the ear that listened to the voice of love; cold the heart that throbbed in sympathy; closed the eye that sparkled with joy at meeting me; the pulse which so often fluttered beats no more∗ Cruel separation∗ but I can bear it; as a Christian I can bear it, because my belief teaches me that we shall meet again. All that was lovely shall be lovelier still. The unbeliever, unhappy man, has no such hope. Dismal, dreary—he views nothing but a long vista, terminating in darkness, shadows, frightful phantoms, baleful regions, where hope never comes that comes to all.
In every calamity to which man is heir, and the time would fail me if I attempted to enumerate the sad and long catalogue, he who puts his trust in the Almighty, will find comforts springing up like flowers under his feet in a desert. He will experience, that God is the father of the fatherless, the husband of the widow, the friend of the friendless, and the sure guardian of all such as have none to help them∗ An inward strength is supplied to him, who, in the midst of misery, abounds in faith and indulges hope. True religion possesses a power resembling that of oil poured on the troubled sea. It smooths the waves to a glassy expanse of limpid water. True religion possesses a power like that attributed by the ancient mythologists to a certain king, by which he was enabled to turn all he touched into solid gold. It is the panacea, the anodyne of woe, the vulnerary, the universal medicine of mental disease.
Wise then are those parents, who, among the accomplishments which they solicitously seek for their children, forget not to furnish them with a balsam, which they may bear in their own bosoms, and which will gently assuage that pain and anguish to which, like every mortal, they may one day be exposed. How vain and shortsighted are others, who, anxiously wishing to promote the future happiness of their offspring, engage their whole attention in cultivating those arts alone, which contribute to the acquisition or security of a little worldly pelf, and the decoration of a perishable body∗
We have seen that the pious and faithful Christian finds comfort under extreme misery, in falling down before the God of mercy; but what shall console him who lives without God in the world, who has no God to fall down before, under those sufferings and misfortunes which will undoubtedly be his portion at some period of his life, probably at the last period when he is least able to bear them? He scorns to bend his stubborn knee, and to lift up his heart in prayer; for he has been taught to consider all religion as a mode of superstition, as priest craft, as an engine of state, as the folly of dotards. On what then can he depend?
On what? on himself∗ This poor, shivering, short-lived, helpless animal, called Man, depends upon himself, and defies his Maker. Proud of his own scanty reason, proud of the little science he has been able to collect, he doubts not, but that his own skill will be able to extricate him from every difficulty, and that his own strength will support him whenever he is assaulted by calamity. Poor mortal, how little does he know of his own nature∗ nothing is more wretched and infirm than a man abandoned to his own guidance, without the grace of God. And how, indeed, does this proud boaster support himself? After all his arrogant pretensions, he is like a babe in leading-strings, forsaken by its nurse. Consult experience. Does he not vent his rage and grief in the bitterest expressions of resentment, in cursing, and in blaspheming? Is not his heart torn with the conflict of violent passions, when all should be still and serene? See him stretched, all pale and languid, on the bed of sickness; horror and dismay mark his bloodless countenance; he loves neither God nor man, he trusts in neither. Does not his fury often end in real madness? Do not the pistol, the dagger, or the poisoned cup, too frequently close the melancholy scene of aggravated misery? He gnashes with his teeth, curses God, curses man, dies, and makes no sign of grace∗
He falls; but he falls, not ripe like a shock of corn, or like fruit come to maturity. He falls by his own hand, and hopes for that peace, which the world and its vanities could not bestow, in the grave. To become as though he had never been, is the greatest blessing to this heroic philosopher, this liberal-minded man, this enlightened despiser of the Holy Trinity, who dares to strip our Saviour of all share of the divine nature, to blaspheme the Holy Ghost, his sanctifier, and to cast Jesus, his redeemer, from the throne of heaven∗ To be as though he had never been, is the ultimate hope of this enlightened, this self-applauding philosopher∗ How gloomy, dreary, forlorn, and dismal, are all his views in life∗ Little does he know of that health of mind, that serene cheerfulness, that divine complacency, which soothes the resigned Christian; who, whenever his soul has a tendency to be disquieted within him, resolves to hope in God; and in consequence of his firm reliance, finds the light of God's countenance beaming upon him with the most animating warmth and the brightest illumination; like the day-spring from on high chasing away the shades of night. He stands as a rock in the sea; the waves beat on its base, but eternal sunshine settles on its head.
But in what manner do the greater part endeavour to subdue the sense of their afflictions? By eagerly running into amusements and diversions of every kind, the most puerile and nugatory. Dissipation of mind is their only resource. They resolve not to think, they determine not to feel; but can they keep their resolution? Dreadful, I fear, are the intervals of their diversions. They do, indeed, continue to drive away reflection, during the noisy mirth of festivity, or the dazzling scenes of fashionable gaiety; but neither the noise nor the glitter can continue always without intermission. At night, when they lay their heads on their pillows, serious thoughts will spontaneously obtrude themselves, however unwelcome, and become the more importunate as they have been the more obstinately resisted. Imagination can with difficulty conceive a more distressing situation, than that of him who has spent the whole day in running away from himself, but is obliged, at the close of it, to meet the phantom which has haunted him, and which, by the help of company and dissipation, he has escaped, till the bell announces the midnight hour. Silent is the voice of mirth, which lately re-echoed through the palace of pleasure. The musical instruments sleep. The wine no longer gives its colour in the cup. The lamps which dazzled him with the brightness of their lustre, and charmed with the variegated colours of the rainbow, are extinguished. All is still and dark. And now the miserable man is in his chamber alone, silent; and whether he will or not, must commune with himself and be still. The darkness and gloominess of the night are but imperfect emblems of his soul in his present state. Has he any gleam of comfort? No, not one; he has shut up every avenue to light and cheerfulness. Does he kneel to pray? Alas, to whom should he pray, with his infidel principles? He has no God to whom to pray. The philosophers have robbed him of his God; but can they cure his diseases, or ward off death, or give him sleep even at this midnight hour? He has acknowledged no God but the world, and the world has deserted him. He has no comfort in the night-season, in that quiet hour when the sleep of innocence and piety is sweet indeed. The pious peasant slumbers sweetly on his flock bed; but this man cannot close his eyelids, though stretched on down and surrounded with trappings. Nature, however, quite wearied with vigilance, may at last submit; but short and disturbed is the repose. The bed of down is to him a bed of thorns. He counts the hours with all the impatience of a perturbed spirit. The lingering morning at last returns. The same circle of dissipation returns with it; till at length, by force of habit, the mind contracts a stupid insensibility to its woe: a dreadful insensibility, since it argues a mortification begun in the soul, a wretched state from which there are scarcely any hopes of recovery.
All men, indeed, would willingly fly from their evils, but they cannot fly with sufficient speed to outstrip the merciless pursuers; unless, indeed, they fly to God. He is ever at hand, and will be heard by every one who, with a heart filled with faith, animated with hope, warm with charity, and subdued by humility, offers up prayer in affliction.
But there is another resource, besides the dissipation of company and the circle of pleasure. Many seek comfort under their distress in the draught of intoxication: a most unhappy expedient, since it tends immediately to increase the misery which, like a treacherous friend, it pretends to remove. Intoxication causes only a short oblivion of woe, and weakens the mind so as to render it less able to bear its misfortunes, when the artificial stupor is dispelled. It brutalizes the man, and chains him to the earth. There he lies, and cannot lift up the eye of his mind to heaven. The energies of his soul, by which it might otherwise ascend, are all deadened. The wings are clogged in the mire of sensuality, like those of the insect in the vessel of honey, and cannot expand themselves for so sublime a flight, as that which would lead him up to the throne of mercy. How delusive is the draught of intoxication∗ Sweet indeed to the taste, but poison to the soul. The sleep which it produces is the sleep of death: death to all the finer sensibilities of our nature, death to all religion, and perhaps, which God forbid, death eternal∗
The temptation to seek immediate relief under a very heavy affliction from the bowl of intemperance, is great; but beware, thou that art yet alive to God, beware how thou indulgest in the deceitful potion. One submission will facilitate a second, and when thou art once on the declivity of the hill, who can say how rapidly, and how low thou mayest descend? Thou mayest descend, for aught thou knowest, down to the pit of everlasting destruction. Be then on thy guard, and avoid excess of strong drink in thine adversity, as thou wouldest the poisoned cap, the serpent's tooth, or the uplifted dagger.
If thou wishest for a cordial, because thy heart is faint within thee, a cordial is at hand, of the highest efficacy, sweet to the taste, and comfortable to the heart. Fall on thy knees, and humbly pray for support; and the God of mercies will send his Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, to fill thy bosom with joy which no man taketh away from thee. Hear the comfortable words of the divine invitation, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. What music to the ear of mortal man∗ Will the dry disquisitions of metaphysicians afford such melody to the heart? What say they?—Your misery has no remedy.—Religion is superstition.—Die—rot—be forgotten like thy fellow-brute∗
With respect to those who pretend to deduce, from philosophy alone, such reflections as will enable them to bear all afflictions of life with patience, their number is small, compared with the great mass of mankind; and their pretensions are the result of pride, rather than of conviction and experience. Philosophy, a name sadly perverted, true philosophy (very different from that of the modern sceptics) can indeed suggest consolations from reason; and reason can certainly afford many topics tending to alleviate the sense of misfortunes; but reason cannot entirely cure the wounds of the mind. She can only palliate the sore which religion cures; and experience evinces, that few are more outrageous under the pressure of calamity, and more inclined to despair under misfortune, than the proud pretenders to philosophy, unnaturally divested of religion. Man is a pitiable object, when he acknowledges his weakness with all humility; but when the worm, that crawls on the earth, dares to trust in its own strength, and to defy its Creator, it seems to invite the foot of Omnipotence to trample upon it with indignation. If the mercy of God were not long-suffering beyond all conception, he who in his weakness and distress refuses to seek comfort from him, would draw down upon his head the heaviest, the hottest bolt of the divine vengeance.
Afflictions are mercifully designed by God to reduce men from a thoughtless or sinful state to a reliance on him. The heart on which they produce not this effect, may be compared to the stony ground, on which, when the seed falls, it perishes, without vegetation: it is a barren fig-tree, and will draw upon it a curse.
Let not us, I beseech you, O let not us become so insensible to God's goodness and to our own happiness, as to neglect the Disposer of all events both prosperous and adverse, either in the day of prosperity or adversity. He will sweeten every enjoyment in a successful season, and alleviate the burden of every evil in the day of our calamities. Happy situation∗ to have the all-powerful and most merciful Lord of heaven and earth our friend and protector against the assaults of adversity. He shall defend us, under the shadow of his wing, from every evil which the devil or man worketh against us. Though we appear unfortunate in the eyes of the world; though we may be poor and despised, who were once rich and honoured; though we may suffer in our reputation; though we may be tormented with pain and the languor of ill health; though death should tear from our arms the dearest object of our love; yet will we trust in God, and he will infuse a balsam into our hearts, which shall assuage every anguish, and heal the sorest laceration. The fear of death, which torments the sinful man of the world, shall have no painful effect on the man who really hopes and fully trusts in Him, who hath subdued death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Let me then prevail with you, to labour in season and out of season, to bring your minds to this real confidence in God, under all the vicissitudes of this mortal life, in prosperity as well as adversity; for a godless prosperity is the most dangerous situation to which human nature can be exposed. Exercise yourselves in it under little crosses and inconveniencies, that when you suffer great evils, you may not be off your guard; but may meet them with the fortitude of men, of Christian men, arising from an entire trust in your heavenly Friend and Father. While we are well, and all goes smoothly with us, I know it is easy to prescribe to others, and that we are apt to give advice, which, in our turn, we are unwilling to follow. But let us not be wise in word only, but in deed; and seriously lay to heart, and apply to ourselves, the doctrines which we hear and approve. If we have received a good impression, let us bear it away uneffaced to our graves. If God has vouchsafed to open our hearts, let us not suffer them to close again amidst our worldly cares.
Then may you say to your souls under every evil with which you may be visited in the pilgrimage of this life, even in the last pangs of agonizing nature; Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? To grieve, indeed, is natural, but to grieve without hope, is forbidden to the professor of Christianity, and leads to the last sad catastrophe of human life. To repine and murmur against Providence, is unpardonable impiety: to sink into despair, and to cherish a wish to terminate our sufferings by self-murder, an act too common, and even recommended by the writings of men possessing acute understandings with hard hearts, unhappily strangers to the comforts of religion, is to increase every evil which we suffer; and for the sake of avoiding a momentary pain, to risk the bitter pains of eternal death. Adopt not such unhappy errors, O my soul, but hope thou inGod∗—On God recline, as on a pillow, for repose, and a column for support.—Hope thou in God, the foundation of all real happiness, and all solid and lasting comfort. Hope thou in God—for I shall yet, after all my fears and sufferings, I shall yet praise him for the light of his countenance, for that light which, if I may compare great things with small, like the light of the blessed sun, shall dispel every mist of doubt, dread, and sorrow, and leave thee, O my soul, in a state of unclouded serenity; only to be surpassed by the happiness of those realms above, where the light of God's countenance beams forth to all eternity, the mild rays of mercy, blended with glory and majesty unutterable∗