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which is small Satisfaction in the mean while; or that they would be short, because our Lives are so, which is leaving us to be miserable, 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 Circumstances, when we were actually feeling the contrary : or that others were as wretched as we, or even more so; 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 possibly 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 expresses to his Friends : I have heard many such Things: miserable Comforters are ye all". Or though Men have ever so few Sufferings, yet, without religious Views, they may have so few Enjoyments, and those so low, that a rational Soul must disdain them, and feel its Existence to be infipid and unsatisfactory. Or, however content, upon Force, to acquiesce a Job xvi. 2.
after a Sort in our own Condition, we may still either be persuaded, that the general State of Things upon the Whole is wrong and unhappy, or doubt so greatly whether it be right and good, that the World may appear very gloomy and comfortless to a benevolent Mind.
If therefore we desire to pass through it with Complacency, we must extend our Thoughts further, like the Psalmist in the Text; and consider ourselves, as in the Hands of God : for then, whatever happens, or whatever is wanting, tous or to any one, we shall see Cause to submit to it, composedly 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 such, Lord of all Things : and hath a Right to place us in what Station, and expose us to what Accidents he pleafes ; provided the Being, which he hath given us, be not, on the Whole, without our Fault, worse than not being. For who art thou, O Man, that repliest against God? shall the Thing formed say unto him that formed it, Why haft thou made
me thus 6? Is it not lawful for him to do what be 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 considerable Degree of dutiful Submission. If what we dislike in our Condition were the Effect of mere Chance or fatal Necessity, we might rebel in our Hearts against it. But a
inciple of yielding to the lawful Authority of an almighty Ruler is Part of human Na
Our Circumstances perhaps are disadvantageous, or even our Sufferings great. But if we look diligently into our Temper and Behaviour, have we not deserved all that we undergo, have we not deserved much worse? And if so, surely we should say in our Hearts, with poor penitent Eli, It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good d: and with Jeremiab, Wherefore doth a living Man complain, a Man for the Punishment of his Sins ? Let us search and try our Ways, and turn again to the Lordo. Perhaps also, the Uneasiness, which we feel, whether inflicted for our Transgref-. fions or not, is more than overbalanced by
the Comforts that we enjoy. Our Impam tience may lead us into great Mistakes in this Matter : but God is liable to none. Or if, at present, Wretchedness preponderates, he can easily make us a Compensation, either here or hereafter : nay, if Justice requires it, he certainly will. And it is good, that a Man should both hope, and quietly wait for the Salvation of the Lord'. In the Midst of Heathen Darkness indeed, there may to some have seemed Cause of Doubt, especially on trying Occasions, whether the Administration of Things were just or not; and, supposing it to be so on the Whole, whether it was or could be so in Regard of each particular Person. Now these, 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 excusable in a Degree, if they murmured against the Dispensations of Providence towards themselves, 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 best of another to reward them, might, without any heinous Depravity, yield
Lam. iii. 26.
to the Temptation of thinking themselves allowed or even called, by the Author of their Beings, to put a voluntary End to them, whenever they were oppressed by Sufferings hard to support. But in the clearer Light of our Days, either of these Dispositions would be unspeakably more criminal.
Yet, were we only to believe, that God will do us no Wrong, our Submission to his Will, though it might well be full of the profoundest Reverence, would not be accompanied with the highest Degree of Esteem. But happily he hath also shewn us great Kindness. For every Pleasure that we enjoy, every Capacity of receiving Pleasure that belongs to our inward or outward Frame, proceeds from his Bounty. And how do we commonly behave upon
it? Yield ourselves up to his Dirposal with a chearful Trust in him? No: repine and complain, that he hath not done more for us, or that he doth not continue to us all that we ever had. But every Thing is more than we are intitled to. We have no Property in any Thing : we ourselves are his Property. Our very Being is not ou own : He bestowed it, and whatever we pora sess in it, and that only during his Pleafure : he may allow us as few Comforts, or mix with Q 2