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appointment of Heaven? Is there no SERMON
ground to suspect that man himself is the
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
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
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.