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appointment of Heaven? Is there no SERMON

ground to suspect that man himself is the
chief and immediate author of his own
What the text plainly suggests
is, that it is common for men to complain
groundlessly of Providence; that they are
prone to accuse God for the evils of life,
when in reason they ought to accuse them-
selves; and that after their foolishness hath
perverted their way, and made them un-
dergo the consequences of their own mis-
conduct, they impiously fret in heart against
the Lord. This is the doctrine which I now
propose to illustrate, in order to silence the
sceptic, and to check a repining and irreli-
gious spirit. I shall for this end make some
observations, first, on the external, and
next, upon the internal, condition of man,
and then conclude with such serious and
useful improvement as the subject will na-
turally suggest.

I. LET us consider the external condition of man. We find him placed in a . world, where he has by no means the disposal of the events that happen. Calamities sometimes befal the worthiest and the



SERMON best, which it is not in their power to pre


vent, and where nothing is left them, but
to acknowledge and to submit to the high
hand of Heaven. For such visitations of
trial, many good and wise reasons can be
assigned, which the present subject leads
me not to discuss.
But though those un-
avoidable calamities make a part, yet they
make not the chief part, of the vexations
and sorrows that distress human life. A
multitude of evils beset us, for the source
of which we must look to another quar-
ter.- No sooner has any thing in the
health, or in the circumstances of men,
gone cross to their wish, than they begin
to talk of the unequal distribution of the
good things of this life; they envy the
condition of others; they repine at their
own lot, and fret against the Ruler of the

Full of these sentiments, one man pines under a broken constitution. But let us ask him, whether we can, fairly and honestly, assign no cause for this but the unknown decree of Heaven. Has he duly valued the blessing of health, and always observed the rules of virtue and sobriety?


briety? Has he been moderate in his life, SERMON and temperate in all his pleasures? If now he be only paying the price of his former, perhaps his forgotten indulgences, has he any title to complain, as if he were suffering unjustly? Were you to survey the chambers of sickness and distress, you would find them peopled with the victims of intemperance and sensuality, and with the children of vicious indolence and sloth. Among the thousands who languish there, you would find the proportion of innocent sufferers to be small. You would see faded youth, premature old age, and the prospect of an untimely grave, to be the portion of multitudes who, in one way or other, have brought those evils on themselves; while yet these martyrs of vice and folly have the assurance to arraign the hard fate of man, and to fret against the Lord.

But you, perhaps, complain of hardships of another kind; of the injustice of the world; of the poverty which you suffer, and the discouragements under which you labour; of the crosses and disappointments of which your life has been


SERMON doomed to be full. Before you give



too much scope to your discontent, let
me desire you to reflect impartially upon
your past train of life.
Have not sloth,
or pride, or ill-temper, or sinful passions,
misled you often from the path of sound
and wise conduct? Have you not been
wanting to yourselves in improving those
opportunities which Providence offered
you, for bettering and advancing your
state? If have chosen to indulge your
humour or your taste, in the gratifica-
tions of indolence or pleasure, can you
complain, because others, in preference to
you, have obtained those advantages which
naturally belong to useful labours, and
honourable pursuits? Have not the con-
sequences of some false steps, into which
your passions or your pleasures have
betrayed you, pursued you through much
of your life; tainted, perhaps your cha-
racter, involved you in embarrassments,
or sunk you into neglect ?—It is an old
saying, that every man is the artificer of
his own fortune in the world. It is cer-
tain that the world seldom turns wholly
against a man, unless through his own



fault. Godliness is, in general, profitable SERMON unto all things. Virtue, diligence, and industry, joined with good temper and prudence, have ever been found the surest road to prosperity; and where men fail of attaining it, their want of success is far oftener owing to their having deviated from that road, than to their having encountered insuperable bars in it. Some, by being too artful, forfeit the reputation of probity. Some, by being too open, are accounted to fail in prudence. Others by being fickle and changeable, are distrusted by all.The case commonly is, that men seek to ascribe their disappointments to any cause, rather than to their own misconduct; and when they can devise no other cause, they lay them to the charge of Providence. Their folly leads them into vices; their vices into misfortunes; and in their misfortunes they fret against the Lord. They are doubly unjust towards God. In their prosperity, they are apt to ascribe their success to their own diligence, rather than to God's blessing; and in their adversity, they impute their distresses to his providence, VOL. IV.



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