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his hard fortune with firmness and serenity,-and this, not from a stoical stupidity, but a just sense of GoD's providence, and a persuasion of his justice and goodness in all his dealings;-such an example, I say, as this, is of more universal use, speaks truer to the heart, than all the heroic precepts, which the pedantry of philosophy has to offer..
This leads me to the point I aim at in this discourse; namely, that there are no principles but those of religion, to be depended on in cases of real distress, and that these are able to encounter the worst emergencies, and to bear us up under all the changes and chances to which our life is subject.
Consider, then, what virtue the very first principle of religion has, and how wonderfully it is conducive to this end ;-That there is a GOD, a powerful, a wise and good being, who first made the world, and continues to govern it ;-by whose goodness all things are designed and by whose providence all things are conducted to bring about the greatest and best ends. The sorrowful and pensive wretch that was giving way to his misfortunes, and mournfully sinking under then, the moment this doctrine comes in to his aid, hushes all his complaints-and thus speaks comfort to his soul: "It is the LORD, let him do what seemeth him good:-Without his direction, I know that no evil can befal me, without his permission, that no power can hurt me ;-it is impossible a Being so wise should mistake my happiness, or that a Being so good should contradict it. If he has denied me riches, or rather advantages,-perhaps he foresees the gratifying my wishes would undo me, and, by my own abuse of them, be perverted to my ruin. If he has denied me the request of children,- OF, in his providence, has thought fit to take them from me-how can I say, whether he has not dealt kindly with me, and only taken that away which he foresaw would embitter and shorten my days? It,
does so to ten thousands, where the disobedience of a thankless child has brought down the parent's grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. Has he visited me with sickness, poverty, or other disappointments?-can I say, but these are blessings in disguise-so many different expressions of his care and concern, to disentangle my thoughts from this world, and fix them upon another-another, a better world beyond this! This thought opens a new scene of hope and consolation to the unfortunate;and as the persuasion of a providence reconciles him to the evils he has suffered, this prospect of a future life gives him strength to despise them, and esteem the light af flictions of his life, as they are, not worthy to be compared to what is reserved for him hereafter.
Things are great or smail by comparison-and he who looks no farther than this world, and balances the accounts of his joys and sufferings from that consideration, finds all his sorrows enlarged, and, at the close of them, will be apt to look back, and cast the same sad reflection upon the whole, which the patriarch did to Pharaoh" That "few and evil had been the days of his pilgrim"" age." But let him lift up his eyes towards heaven, and stedfastly behold the life and immortality of a future state; he then wipes away all tears from off his eyes for ever and ever ;-like the exiled captive, big with the hopes that he is returning home,--he feels not the weight of his chains, or counts the days of his captivity; but looks forward with rapture towards the country where his heart is fled before.
These are the aids which religion offers us towards the regulating of our spirit under the evils of life: But, like great cordials, they are seldom used but on greater occurrences. In the lesser evils of life, we seem to stand unguarded; and our peace and contentment are overthrown, and our happiness broke in upon, by a little impatience of spi
rit under the cross and untoward accidents we meet with. These stand unprovided for; and we neglect them, as we do the slighter indispositions of the body, which we think not worth treating seriously
and so leave them to nature. In good habits of the body, this may do; and I would gladly believe, there are such good habits of the temper-such a complexional ease and health of heart, as may often save the patient much medicine. We are still to consider,that however such good frames of mind are got they are worth preserving by all rules; patience and contentment,-which like the treasure hid in the field, for which, a man sold all he had, to purchase, is of that price, that it cannot be had at too great a purchase, since, without it, the best condition in life cannot make us happy, and, with it, it is impossible we should be miserable, even in the worst. Give me leave, therefore, to close this discourse, with some reflections upon the subject of a contented mind, and the duty in man of regulating his spirit, in our way through life;-a subject in every body's mouthpreached upon daily to our friends and kindredbut too oft in such a style, as to convince the party lectured, only of this truh,-that we bear the misfortunes of others with excellent tranquillity.
I believe there are thousands so extravagant in their ideas of contentment, as to imagine that it must consist in having every thing in this world turn out the way they wish-that they are to sit down in happiness, and feel themselves so at ease at all points, as to desire nothing better, and nothing more. I own there are instances of some, who seem to pass thro' the world as if all their paths had been strewed with rose-buds of delights; but a little experience will convince us, it is a fatal expectation to go upon. We are born to trouble; and we may depend upon it, whilst we live in this world, we shall have it, tho' with intermissions,-that is, in whatever state we are, we shall find a
mixture of good and evil; and therefore, the true way to contentment, is to learn to receive those certain vicissitudes of life,-the returns of good and evil, so as neither to be exalted by the one, or overthrown by the other; but to bear ourselves towards every thing which happens, with such ease and indifference of mind,as to hazard as little as may be. This is the true temperate climate fitted for us by nature, and in which every wise man would wish to live. God knows, we are perpetually straying out of it, and by giving wings to our imaginations, in the transports we dream of, from such or such a situation in life, we are carried away alternately into all the extremes of hot and cold; for which, as we are neither fitted by nature,or prepared by expectation, we feel them with all their violence, and with all their danger too.
COD, for wise reasons has made our affairs in this world, almost as fickle and capricious as ourselves. Pain and pleasure, like light and darkness, succeed each other; and he that knows how to accommodate himself to their periodical returns, and can wisely extract the good from the evil, knows only how to live; this is true contentment, at least all that is to be had of it in this world, and, for this, every man must be indebted, not to his fortune, but to himself. And indeed, it would have been strange, if a duty so becoming us, as dependent creatures, and so necessary,besides,to all our wellbeings, had been placed out of the reach of any in some measure, to put in practice; and for this reason, there is scarce any lot so low, but there is something in it to satisfy the man whom it has befallen; providence having so ordered things, that, in every man's cup, how bitter soever, there are some cordial drops-some good circumstances, which, if wisely extracted, are sufficient for the purpose he wants them, that is, to make him contented, and if not happy, at least resigned. May GOD bless us all with this spirit, for the sake of JESUS CHRIST., Amen,
The character of Shimei,
2 SAM. XIX. 21. 1st Part.
But Abishai said, shall not Shimei be put to death for this.
T has not a good aspect-This is the second time Abishai has proposed Shimei's destruction; once in the 16th chapter, on a sudden transport of indignation, when Shimei cursed David,➡ "Why should this dead dog, cried Abishai, curse my "lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and cut
off his head."-This had something at least of 'gallantry in it; for in doing it, he hazarded his own; and besides, the offender was not otherwise to be come at: The second time, is in the text when the offender was absolutely in their power -when the blood was cool, and the suppliant was holding up his hands for mercy.
-Shall not Shimei, answered Abishai, be put to death for this? So unrelenting a pursuit looks less like justice than revenge, which is so cowardly a passion, that it renders Abishai's first instance almost inconsistent with the second. I shall not endeavor to reconcile them; but confine the discourse simply to Shimei; and make such reflections upon his character as may be of use to society.
Upon the news of his son Absalom's conspira, cy, David had fled from Jerusalem, and from his own house, for safety: The representation given