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tience; in the next Place, I shall direct to the like Behaviour under comparative Misfortunes, which is generally expressed by the Name of Contentment; and after these moral Obligations, which however need not and cannot well be altogether separated from those of Piety, I shall proceed to lay before you more distinctly the religious ones, of Refignation first, and then of Thankfulness, under
Afiction and seeming Disadvantage.
Now the Feelings unavoidably disagreeable to us, and tempting us to Impatience, are chiefly Pain, Sorrow, Fear, and Anger. 1. Pain : under which
comprehended also Sickness, Restlessness, and languid Lowness. These are often so grievous, by their Degree, or Continuance, or both; that we cannot fail, from the very Make of our Nature, to suffer under them extremely : and stilling at such Times all Expreslions of suffering, and earnest Wishes of Ease, would usually require too violent an Effort to be lasting; or perhaps to be safe, even could we persist in it. Besides, these external Marks of Distress were certainly designed by Providence to excite a proper Degree of Pity and Allistance from those around us; which, without some power
ful Calls upon them, would frequently be withheld. And therefore we ought neither to condemn ourselves, nor others, who may possibly undergo far more than we imagine, for some strong Expressions of present Misery : nor think it a very heinous Fault, if they now and then exceed the
Bounds. But still the more calm and moderate we are, the more we shall appear, if not to need, yet to deserve, both Compassion and Relief ; and they will both be afforded us with more Good-will and Regard. Then further, all vehement Complaints and immoderate Significations of our Wretchedness, heighten strangely our own Sense of it; and thus either work us up into wild Rage, or sink us down into spiritless Dejection ; and so make our Case much worse than it was ; when, alas, we have Cause to seek out for every Alleviation, great or small,
In acute Torments, it is a very comfortable Circumstance, if we can hope, that they will not be durable. Even a fhort Time, indeed, will seem dreadfully long to us. But however, it must be a Consolation in a Storm, that we are making towards a safe Harbour within our View, though we seem to approach it fowly. And as the easing of Pain
is not only Ease but Delight; we should sup-
useful to look back now and then, and see how much we have gone through already : not in order to load our Minds with the Burthen of it a second Time ; but to learn, from what we have done already, what we can do more, if Need be. And probably, we shall be able to do it with less Difficulty hereafter, than we did before. For by Degrees and proper Care, both our Minds, and Bodies become habituated to endure Hardship quietly and chearfully. It is a great Proof and Instance of the Mercy of our Creator, that we are so framed. And we ought to make a faithful Use of his Goodness in this Respect, as well as others.
But in order to acquiesce more patiently under our Sufferings, we should look beyond the Bitterness to the possible Benefits of them. Our Liableness to them may teach us Caution and Prudence in many Parts of our Conduct, in order to avoid them; may preserve us from Follies destructive to our Fortunes, our Reputations, our Health itself. For Numbers have presumed so far upon their Strength, as
utterly to destroy it by Irregularities, while the happy Necessity of being discreet in the Management of themselves hath carried on many
who were very infirm, comfortably enough, to a good old Age. Therefore, on the Whole, perhaps bodily Complaints may prove a Security against greater Inconveniences: and, were these less; yet only the Difference between the one Evil and the others ought to be computed, as clear Loss to us. Nor is it only from Follies, that Men are thus kept back, but frequently from Sins also: from some, to which, if they would examine themselves, they might perceive they should have been exposed ; and possibly from others, of which they have no Suspicion. Firmness of Constitution, Vehemence of Appetites and Passions, flowing Spirits, Confidence of being able to do and to bear almost any Thing, miflead Men unaccountably in the Conduct of Life : make them forgetful of God and their latter End, prompt them to Debauchery, Intemperance, Violence, Injustice, to regard only present Indulgence, and take the good Things of this world for their Portion. Better were it for such as resist not these Temptations, if
they had experienced in their Stead the severest Discipline of Pain and Sickness. These remind us of our Dependence on him who made us ; of the Vanity of earthly Enjoyments, of Mortality and its Consequences ; of pitying and lessening the Afflictions of our Fellow-creatures ; of Thewing Kindness, as we often need it. And the Exercise of Devotion towards God, and Goodness to those around us, will so pleasingly employ our Thoughts, fo effectually sooth our Minds, and reconcile us to ourselves and our Condition, that we shall find the rougheft Attacks on our outward Frame very supportable.
I shall only observe further under this Head, that Poverty and Want, when they are so extreme as to bring on actual bodily Sufferings, are to be placed to the Account of Pain : but such Pain very feldom, if ever, arises to near the Height which various Difeases cause; and is much more constantly cured or mitigated by the Care of charitable Perfons. Indigence, therefore, in this View, is very consistent with Patience : and that in the other View, of Reflection and Comparison, it is equally compatible with Contentment, shall be shewn you hereafter.