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fore he can rejoice in God, even in the midst of trouble and affliction, when he considers, that as his affictions come from the hands of a good and gracious Being, who does not willingly afflict the children of men; so he knows, that as the time is short, they can be of no long continuance, and that, if he makes a right use of them, they will work for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 2 Cor. iv. 17.
See then the folly and madness of those, that take not God for their strength; but trust to the multitude of their riches, and strengthen thema selves in their wickedness, Ps. lii. 7. and think by these ineans to be fortified against the evils of this life !Alas! there are numberless calamities, from which wealth and power can never shelter us: and therefore if a nian withdraws his trust in God, and takes sanctuary in the strength of his wickedness, he will find himself miserably mistaken when the day of adversity comes upon him. The weight of sin superadded to that of temporal evils, is a burthen heavier than any per.
son is able to bear. It is certain, «batever the great of this world may think, nothing can alleviate the pressure of worldly troubles but a good life. It is that and that only, which is a sufficient counterpoise to balance the weight of any severe affliction : nothing else is sufficient to support a man in the evil days of his pilgrimage, and to sustain his spirit under the most oppressive calamities of this life. All other experiments, how promising soever, will be found vain and ineffectual. The consciousness of having in some measure lived holily and unblameably, will make him look up with humble assurance to the great Supporter of his being, enable him to see through the darkest clouds of sorrow, and behold with an eye of faith that heavenly country to which he is travelling, and where he hopes shortly to arrive. And this, though it will not wholly remove the afflictions which God is sometimes pleased, for wise and good ends, to send upon some men in this life, nor make us insensible of the pangs that attend them; yet it will greatly lessen and enervate their force, and enable us to bear up under them with courage and even cheerfulness. For how strong a consolation must it be for a good man, under bodily pains, or grief of mind, to contemplate a state where there shall be no more sorrow, no more pain, and where all tears shall be wiped for ever from his eyes ! or, if he is under the pressure of want and extreme necessity, how must it support and relieve his sinking spirits to consider, that he has a Father in heaven who will never leave, him nor forsake him, Heb. xiii. 5. how much soever he may at present think fit to deprive him of outward comforts ! and that there is no person in the world so great, so prosperous, or so happy, but that (having a little patience) he himself shall be more so !
The sum of what I have said upon this head is so elegantly expressed by the author of a late Essay upon the Onrnipresence of God, that, I am persuaded, I shall leave this reflection more strongly upon my reader's mind, if I give the words of that unknown,
but excellent person : How happy, (says he, speaking of the intercourse there is between God and the souls of good Men), how happy is an in
tellectual being, who by prayer and • meditation, by virtue and good ' works, opens this communication • between God and his own soul!
though the whole creation should ' frown upon bim, and all nature look • black about him, he has this light and
support within him, that are able to
cheer his mind and bear him up in • the midst of all those horrors which encompass him. He knows that his helper is at hand, and is always nearer to bim than any thing else can • be which is capable of annoying or terrifying him. ' In the midst of calumny or contempt, he attends to
that Being, who whispers better things • within his soul, and whom he looks
upon as his defender, his glory, and ' the lifter up of his head. In his !
deepest solitude and retirement he • knows that he is in company with the
greatest of Beings; and perceives • within himself such real sensations of
' his presence, as are more delightful,
than any thing that can be met with • in the conversation of his creatures. ! Even in the hour of death he con: • siders the pains of his dissolution to • be nothing else but the breaking down of that partition which stands be· tween his soul and the sight of that • Being, who is always present with
him, and is about to manifest itself • to him in fulness of joy.
• If we would be thus happy, (tu proceed in the words of this pious author) "and thus sensible of our • Maker's presence, from the secret
effect of his mercy and goodness ; we must keep such a watch over all
our thoughts, that, in the language of • the Scripture, his soul may have
pleasure in us; must take care not to grieve his Holy Spirit, but • endeavour to make the meditations
of our hearts always acceptable in his
sight, that he may delight thus to re• side and dwell in us. The light of na
ture could direct Seneca to this doctrine, in a very remarkable passage among his epistles; sucer inest in