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ters the nature of the cross accidents to which we lie open, or does at all pervert the course of them, yet imposes upon the sense of them, and, like a secret spring in a well contrived machine, though it cannot prevent, at least it counterbalances the pressure, and so bears up this tottering tender frame, under many a violent shock and hard jostling, which otherwise would unavoidably overwhelm it. Without such an inward resource, from an inclination, which is natural to man, to trust and hope for redress in the most deplorable conditions,-his state in this life would be, of all creatures the most miserable. When his mind was either wrung with affliction, or his body lay tortured with the gout or stone,-did he think, that, in this world, there should be no respite to his sorrow, could he believe the pains.he endured would continue equally intense,-without remedy, without intermission;-with what deplorable lamentation would he languish out his day, -and how sweet, as Job says, would the clods of the valley be to him? But so sad a persuasion, whatever grounds there may be sometimes for it, scarce ever gets full possession of the mind of man, which, by nature, struggles against despair; so that whatever part of us suffers, the darkest mind instantly ushers in this relief to it, points out to hope,-encourages to build, though on a sandy foundation-and raises an expectation in us, that things will come to a fortunate issue. And indeed it is something surprising to consider the strange force of this passion;-what wonders it has wrought in supporting men's spirits in, all ages, and under such inextricable difficulties, that they have sometimes hoped,as the apostle expresses it, even against hope,—against all likelihood; and have looked forwards with comfort under misfortunes, when there has been little or nothing to favor such an expectation.
This flattering propensity in us, which I have here represented, as it is built upon one of the most deceitful of human passions,—that is, selflove, which, at all times, inclines us to think better of ourselves, and conditions, than there is ground for; how great soever the relief is, which a man draws from it at present, it too often disappoints in the end, leaving him to go on his way sorrowing, mourning, as the prophet says, that his hope is lost. So that, after all, in our severer trials, we still find a necessity of calling in something to aid this principle, and direct it so, that it may not wander with this uncertain expectation of what may never be accomplished, but fix itself upon a proper object of trust and reliance, that is able to fulfil our desires, to hear our cry, and to help us. The passion of hope, without this, though in straits a man may support his spirits for a time with a general expectation of better fortune; yet, like a ship tossed without a pilot upon a troublesome sea, it may float upon the surface for a while, but is never, never likely to be brought to the haven where it would be. To accomplish this, reason and religion are called in at length, and join with nature in exhorting us to hope;-but to hope in Gon, in whose hands are the issues of life and death, and without whose knowledge and permission we know that not a hair of our heads can fall to the ground. Strengthened with this anchor of hope, which keeps us stedfast,-when the rains descend, and the floods come upon us,-however the sorrows of a man are multiplied, he bears up his head, looks towards heaven with confidence, waiting for the salvation of GOD: He then builds upon a rock, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. He may be troubled, it is true, on every side, but shall not be distressed,-perplexed, yet not in despair: Though he walks through the valley of
the shadow of death, even then he fears no evil; -this road and this staff comfort him.
The virtue of this had been sufficiently tried by David, and had, no doubt, been of use to him in the course of a life full of afflictions; many of which were so great, that he declares, that he should verily have fainted under the sense and apprehension of them, but that he believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. He believed!-how could he do otherwise? He had all the conviction that reason and inspiration could give him,-that there was a being, in whom every thing concurred which could be the proper object of trust and confidence; power to help, and goodness always to incline him to do it. He knew this infinite being, though his dwelling was so high, that his glory was above the heavens, yet humbled himself to behold the things that are done in heaven and earth :-That he was not an idle and distant spectator of what passed there, but that he was a present help in time of trouble: -That he bowed the heavens, and came down to over-rule the course of things; -delivering the poor, and him that was in misery, from him that was too strong for him;
-lifting the simple out of his distress, and guarding him by his providence, so that no man should do him wrong: -That neither the sun should smite him by day, neither the moon by night. Of this the psalmist had such evidence from his observation on the life of others, with the strongest conviction, at the same time, which a long life, full of personal deliverances, could give: - -All which taught him the value of the lesson in the text, from which he had received so much encouragement himself, that he transmits it for the benefit of the whole race of mankind after him, to support them, as it had done him, under the afflictions which befel him.
Trust in GoD :-As if he had said, Whosoever thou art, that shall hereafter fall into any such straits and troubles as I have experienced,learn, by my example, where to seek for succor; -trust not in princes, nor in any child of man, for there is no help in them: The sons of men, who are of low degree, are vanity, and are not able to help thee;-men of high degree are a lie, too often deceive thy hopes, and will not help thee: But thou, when thy soul is in heaviness, turn thy eyes from the earth, and look up towards heaven, to that infinitely kind and powerful Being, who neither slumbereth nor sleepeth; who is a present help in time of trouble :Despond not, and say within thyself, why the chariot wheels stay so long?-and why he vouchsafeth thee not a speedy relief?—but arm thy self, in thy misfortunes, with patience and for titude; -trust in Gop, who sees all those conflicts under which thou laborest; -who knows thy necessities afar off, and puts all thy tears into his bottle;- -who sees every careful thought and pensive look, and hears every sigh and melancholy groan thou utterest.
In all thy exigencies, trust and depend on him; nor ever doubt, but he, who heareth the cry of the fatherless, and defendeth the cause of the widow, if it is just, will hear thine,and either lighten thy burden, and let thee go free,or, which is the same, if that seems not meet, by adding strength to thy mind, enable thee to sustain what he has suffered to be laid upon thee.
Whoever recollects the particular psalms said to be composed by this great man, under the several distresses and cross-accidents of his life, will perceive the justice of this paraphrase, which is agreeable to the strain of reasoning,-which runs through, which is little else than a recollection of his own words and thoughts upon those occa
sions, in all which he appears to have been no less signal in his afflictions, than in his piety, and in that goodness of soul which he discovers under them. I said, the reflections upon his own life, and providential escapes which he had experienced, had had a share in forming these religious sentiments of trust in his mind, which had so early taken root, that when he was going to fight the Philistines, when he was but a youth, and stood before Saul, he had already learned to argue in this manner:-Let no man's heart fail him; thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock, and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth; and when he arose against me, I caught him by the beard, and smote him and slew him;-thy servant slew both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be as one of them ;-for the Lord, who delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will also deliver me out of his hand.
The conclusion was natural; and the experience which every man has had of God's former loving kindness and protection to him, either in danger or distress, does unavoidably engage him to think in the same train. It is observable, that the apostle St. Paul, encouraging the Corinthians to bear with patience the trials incident to human nature, reminds them of the deliverances that GOD did formerly vouchsafe to him, and his fellow laborers, Gaius and Aristarchus; and on that ground builds a rock of encouragement, for future trust and dependence on him. His life had been in a very great jeopardy at Ephesus, where he had like to have been brought out to the theatre, to be devored by wild beasts, and, indeed had no human means to avert, and consequently to escape it; and therefore, he tells them