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yieldeth the peaceable Fruits of Righteousness unto them, which are exercised thereby! If Men be bolden in Cords of Affliction, faith Elihu in Job, then God seweth them their Work, and their Transgressions, that they have exceeded : be openeth their Ear to Discipline ; and commandeth, that they return from Iniquity. If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their Days in Prosperity, and their Years in Pleasure".
Whatever makes us better, will ordinarily make us happier even now. For our Faults and Follies are what usually bring on our Troubles : and in that Case Amendment is the likeliest Way to remove them, and prevent more. Or fuppose it proves otherwise, mere Consciousness of Amendment will administer no small Consolation. And as there is very commonly pitiable Wretchedness hid under thewish Prosperity, so there may be sweet Tranquillity of Mind under fore Calamities. In the Multitude of the Sorrows, that I had in my Heart, thy Comforts have refreshed iny Soul'. Innocence gives great Joy in the Midst of Sufferings : why may not Piety, superadded to Innocence or to Penitence, give Heb, xii. II. * Job xxxvi. 8-11.
Pf. xciv. 19.
: greater ?
greater ? Few, alas, are qualified for such Feelings; and therefore the Mention of them may seem strange : but as they are perfectly rational, we may justly, on the Authority of Scripture, believe God to excite and strengthen them in devout Minds to such a Degree, as to make them abundantly an Over-balance: to the heaviest Pressures of this Life. Or if they be not, the Christian Temper, formed and cultivated within us by the Means of these Pressures, will fit us for higher Rewards in the Life to come.
So that indeed the Burs thens, which our Maker lays upon us, are intended by him, who knoweth our Frame, and whereof we are made', as a requisite Preparation for our truest Good : that we may be strengthened with all Might, according to his glorious Power, unto Patience and long Suffering with. Foyfulness; and give Thanks unto the Father, who maketh us meet to be partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light u. Were we but influenced by this Consideration
we ought, we should say to God with pleasing Wonder, what yob faith by Way of discontented Expostulation. What is Man, that thou shouldest magnify him thus; that thou
u Col. i. il, 12.
Pf. ciii. 14.
Jouldest set thine Heart upon him; that thou shouldest vist him every Morning, and try bim every Moment w ?
But supposing the Trials we undergo, should not improve our Virtues at all, yet they must be deemed a very severe Exercise of them: and even were such Exercise to impair some. of them a little; provided it be not through undutiful Misbehaviour under them, but merely from Weakness, contrary to our Wills and best Endeavours, undoubtedly every single Circumstance of our Case will be equitably confidered in our Favour. It is true, our most laborious Service hath no Merit in it: but through the unmerited Goodness of God, if we endure Hardness as good Soldiers of Jesus Christ*, we shall be plentifully recompensed by the Captain of our Salvation. For, as St. Paul triumphantly expresses it, All Things are for our Sakes, eveiy Dispensation of Providence is designed to increase our future Blesfędness, that the abundant Grace may, through the Thanksgiving of many, redound to the Glory of God. For our light Affliction, which is but för a Moment, worketh for us a. far more ex-, "Job vii. 17, 18. * 2 Tim. ii. 3•
y Heb. ii. 10.
ceeding and eternal Weight of Glory”. Therefore let us, like him, as well as we can, rejoice in Tribulations : knowing that Tribulation worketh Patience ; and Petience, Experience ; and Experience, Hope ; and Hope maketh' not ashameda
Still we are by no Means to run, either wilfully or carelessly, into unnecessary Troubles ; or expose ourselves by Indolence and Neglect to unnecessary Losses, Failures, and Disappointments : for under such we have no Promise that Heaven will support us, or make us the least Compensation for them. But when the Hand of Providence brings them on, God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are ableo: and since he will also reward us for bearing what he strengthens us to bear, well may we count it all yoy, when led by him, we fall into divers Temptations o.
Joy of this kind indeed, will unavoidably be mixed, in our weak Natures, with an Allay of Uneasiness, and probably no small one. But be it ever so great, were it enough to extinguish for the present all Feeling of Pleasure and Thankfulness intirely; yet we may
certainly reflect, that we have Cause to be pleased and thankful, if we could. And this alone will make our worst Sufferings much more tolerable, than if we were to consider them as so much Evil without any Thing to counterbalance it. Besides, by looking on every Thing in so animating a View, Appearances will gradually change for the better, the Vigour of our Minds will augment, and we shall come to smile at Events, that formerly would have terrified and overwhelmed us. But this is wholly on Supposition, that, with our heartiest Efforts, we join our most earnest Prayers for Grace to belp in Time of Need d. The Attacks upon us are often sudden, vio, lent, and long : our own Abilities, we have had but too much Proof, are inconsideșable; and apt to fail us the most, when we depend on them with the fullest Confidence. But the divine Allistance can enable us to do every Thing: and, though our Beginnings be feeble, yet, if we sincerely trust in God, and faithfully exert the Powers he will give us, out of Weakness we mall be made strong ®, and not only run with Patience the Race that is set before us', but greatly rejoice that now for a Heb. iv. 16.
Heb. xii. I.
• Heb. xi. 34: