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Mind, may fometimes be fo grievous, that, had we no invifible Sovereign to obey, and Nothing to hope or fear after Death, it would be hard to perfuade ourselves to continue in Life. At least we fhould undergo in it a great deal of Mifery, with few and poor Confolations. Those indeed, which I have mentioned to you, are in many Cafes of confiderable Use by themselves in all Cases they may be of Service, when combined with Reflections of a higher Nature. And our groveling Minds are often more affected with feeble Reasons, that are level to them; than with strong ones, that seem above them: or however may best be quieted a while by a previous Ufe of the former, till they can be raised to an Ability of applying the latter. And Humanity requires, that even the weakest Aid be called in: but at the fame Time, that the principal Strefs be laid on the firmest Support: elfe what will be the Confequence? Only indeed what most of us in our Turns have probably experienced. We have been told that Grieving would not help us, without being told what would; and fo have been left to grieve on. We have been told, that fooner or later our Sufferings would abate,
which is small Satisfaction in the mean while; or that they would be fhort, because our Lives are fo, which is leaving us to be miferable, as long as we are any Thing. We have been told perhaps, that Pain is no Evil, and Virtue is its own Reward in all Circumftances, when we were actually feeling the contrary: or that others were as wretched as we, or even more fo; as if that could make our Wretchedness cease. We have been bid to turn our Thoughts from our Sorrows to Amusements; when we could not, if we would; and poffibly should have abhorred to do it, if we could. Sage Maxims and Counsels of various and contradictory Sorts, have been urged upon us, which had no Authority or Weight to make their Way into our Hearts: but we have remained in the Condition, which poor Job expreffes to his Friends: I have heard many fuch Things: miferable Comforters are ye all. Or though Men have ever fo few Sufferings, yet, without religious Views, they may have so few Enjoyments, and those so low, that a rational Soul muft difdain them, and feel its Existence to be infipid and unfatisfactory. Or, however content, upon Force, to acquiefce
2 Job xvi. 2.
after a Sort in our own Condition, we may ftill either be perfuaded, that the general State of Things upon the Whole is wrong and unhappy, or doubt fo greatly whether it be right and good, that the World may appear very gloomy and comfortless to a benevolent Mind.
If therefore we defire to pass through it with Complacency, we must extend our Thoughts further, like the Pfalmift in the Text; and confider ourselves, as in the Hands of God: for then, whatever happens, or whatever is wanting, to us or to any one, we shall see Cause to fubmit to it, compofedly and placidly, without objecting. I became dumb, and opened not my Mouth: for it was thy doing.
The Creator of all Things is evidently, as fuch, Lord of all Things: and hath a Right to place us in what Station, and expose us to what Accidents he pleases; provided the Being, which he hath given us, be not, on the Whole, without our Fault, worfe than not being. For who art thou, O Man, that replieft against God? fhall the Thing formed fay unto him that formed it, Why haft thou made
me thus? Is it not lawful for him to do what he will with his own? He can have no Need, no Temptation to use us unjustly: and, without any, we never use one another fo: which Knowledge alone is enough to produce in us a confiderable Degree of dutiful Submiffion. If what we diflike in our Condition were the Effect of mere Chance or fatal Neceffity, we might rebel in our Hearts against it. But a Principle of yielding to the lawful Authority of an almighty Ruler is Part of human Nature. Our Circumstances perhaps are disadvantageous, or even our Sufferings great. But if we look diligently into our Temper and Behaviour, have we not deferved all that we undergo, have we not deferved much worse? And if fo, furely we should say in our Hearts, with poor penitent Eli, It is the Lord; let him do what feemeth him good: and with Feremiah, Wherefore doth a living Man complain, a Man for the Punishment of his Sins? Let us fearch and try our Ways, and turn again to the Lord. Perhaps also, the Uneafiness, which we feel, whether inflicted for our Tranfgref-. sions or not, is more than overbalanced by
Matth. xx. 15.
1 Sam. iii. 18.
b Rom. ix. 20.
e Lam. iii. 39, 40.
the Comforts that we enjoy. Our Impatience may lead us into great Mistakes in this Matter: but God is liable to none. Or if, at present, Wretchedness preponderates, he can eafily make us a Compenfation, either here or hereafter nay, if Justice requires it, he certainly will. And it is good, that a Man fhould both hope, and quietly wait for the Salvation of the Lord. In the Midft of Heathen Darkness indeed, there may to fome have feemed Cause of Doubt, especially on trying Occafions, whether the Administration of Things were just or not; and, fuppofing it to be fo on the Whole, whether it was or could be fo in Regard of each particular Perfon. Now thefe, the more Love and Zeal they had for what was right, the more they must be diffatiffied with what appeared to be wrong: and therefore might be excufable in a Degree, if they murmured against the Dispensations of Providence towards themfelves, or others, Some again, impatient of the Evils of this Life, ignorant of the Means of procuring Strength to bear them, and perhaps also doubtful at beft of another to reward them,
might, without any heinous Depravity, yield
f Lam. iii. 26.