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der the trial of our virtue.

Ignorance SERMON

of the events that are ordained to befal

us, ignorance of the plans and decrees of
Heaven, enter necessarily into a state of
trial. In order to exercise both our intel-
lectual and moral powers, and to carry them
forward to improvement, we must be left
to find our way in the midst of difficulties
and doubts, of hardships and sufferings.
We must be taught to act our part with
constancy, though the reward of our con-
stancy be distant. We must learn to bear
with patience whatever our Creator judges
proper to lay upon us, though we see not
the reason of the hardships he inflicts. If
we were let into the secret of the whole plan
of Providence; if the justice of Heaven
were, in every step
every step of its procedure, made
manifest to our view, man would no longer
be the creature he now is, nor would his
present state answer any purpose of discipline
or trial.

Mystery and darkness, therefore, must of necessity now take place in the course of things. Our present state can be no other than a state of twilight or dawn,

where

IX.

IX.

SERMON where dubious forms shall often present themselves to us, and where we shall find ourselves in a middle condition between complete light and total darkness. Had we enjoyed no evidence of a just Judge ruling the earth, and of his providence interposing in our affairs, virtue would have been altogether deprived of its encouragement and support. Had the evidence, on the other hand, been so strong as to place the hand of the Almighty constantly before our eyes, the intention of our present existence would have been defeated, and no trial of virtue have remained. Instead, therefore, of complaining of the obscurity which at present covers the conduct of Providence, we see that, on the whole, we have reason to submit and adore,

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II. THE text suggests that, though what God is doing, or what he intends to do, we know net now, yet there is ground to believe, that at some future period we shall receive information. What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. The question here arises, what that bereafter

hereafter is, to which we are to look for the SERMON solution of our present doubts?

IN In the first place, hereafter may, on some occasions, refer to the subsequent course of events in this world. It often happens that the consequences of things throw light on the designs of God. The history of Providence, in proportion as it advances, disembroils itself. Though our present condition forbids extensive and complete information, yet yet as much is sometimes allowed to appear as gives us favourable openings into the righteous and benevolent counsels of Heaven. Thus in the public affairs of the world it has been frequently seen, that from the most unpromising causes important and beneficent effects have, in the sequel, arisen. In our own country, at one period, the violent passions of a prince gave beginning to the Reformation. At another peric arbitrary attempts against religion and liberty occasioned that happy Revolution which has formed the æra of national prosperity. In many instances, the wrath of man has been made to praise God. Those

IX.

wars

IX.

some.

SERMON wars and commotions that shake the moral world have answered similar purposes with tempests in the natural world, of purging the air from noxious vapours, and restoring it to a temperature more sound and wholeFrom the midst of confusion, order has been made to spring; and from temporary mischief, lasting advantages to arise. In all cases of this nature, with which sacred and civil history abounds, secret designs of Heaven were going on, which were unfolded in the end. The wheel was always in motion. The hand of the clock was advancing with unperceived progress, till the moment came of its striking the appointed hour.

In like manner, with respect to individuals, there is often a hereafter in the course of their lives, which discloses and justifies the ways of God. Not to mention the good effects which misfortunes are found to produce on the minds of men, by checking their vices and correcting their errours, innumerable exemplifications can be given, of misfortunes paving their way to future advancement in the world. We are always querulous and impatient

IX.

when designs succeed not according to SERMON our wish. Ignorant of what futurity is to bring forward, occupied with nothing but the present, we exclaim, Where is God? Where the sceptre of righteousness? Hath he forgotten to be gracious? or doth he indeed see, and is there knowledge in the Most high? God seeth not as man seeth: He looketh not merely to what you suffer, but to what the effect of these sufferings is to be. Consider only in how different a light the patriarch Joseph would view the events of his life after he had seen in what they had terminated, from the light in which he saw them, when led away by the Ishmaelites as a slave, or when thrown by Potiphar into the Egyptian prison. We murmur against Providence, just as the impetuous youth frets against his instructors and tutors, who are keeping him under a strict, and, as he thinks, a needlees, discipline. He knows not that, by their instruction and discipline, they are laying the foundation of his future fortunes; of the wealth which he is to acquire, and of the advancement to which he is to rise in the world. What

may

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