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own drag. “My brethren, these things ought not so to be." It is not more true that our breath is in the hand of God, than that his are all our ways, and that him it is our duty to glorify in all. Alas! can any of us truly say, upon an impartial review, that this has been the case, in the manner it might, and the proportion it ought? To those, however, who are not chargeable with total neglect in this particular, and more especially to the experience of my elder friends, I may safely appeal, whether what has at first worn the appearance of loss and disappointment, has not frequently issued in the real advantage and improvement of their temporal concerns. When one plan, upon which much was thought to depend, has fallen thronghi, we have been under the necessity of turning our attention a different way, which has led to consequences more satisfactory than even success upon the former scheme could possibly have produced. Here, the hand of Providence has been (I had almost said) visible; and cold indeed must be that bosom which, in such a case, feels no grateful emotions, but ascribes all to fortune, or according to the common phrase “ good luck.” Such language is very unbecoming the lips of a Christian. It better suits those who are too wise in their generation to give to God any share in their thoughts, or if they do, it is only to ask, “ Who is the Almighty that we should serve him? or what profit shall we have if we pray unto him?" It is indeed, sometimes, permitted to such to prosper in the world, and to increase in riches. But where among the number shall we find one who can honestly say that the attainment of his object is really worth all the toil, and pains, and anxiety it has cost him, together with the frequent
reproaches of his conscience, if he has turned aside from the straight path of integrity in the eager pursuit of it? But if disappointment, or indeed that ruin which is the frequent consequence of unwarrantable risks, should happen, then let him seek for consolation where he can, let him cry unto the gods he has chosen, and see if they can deliver him in the time of trouble. No—it is he only, whom Paul acknowledged to have been his deliverer, who forsakes not his faithful servants in their utmost need, but is ever at hand with his gracious, his effectual consolations. Of them I would askhave not afflictions and trials of every kind, under his merciful direction, proved substantial blessings? Have not your wills been thereby subdued into an humble acquiescence with that divine will which you have seen it was in vain to oppose? Have they not taught you the instability of the best earthly enjoyments, and led you to fix your hopes on something more valuable and lasting? Have they not endeared to you the gospel and its promises, and led you to take them as your heritage for ever? If these have been the effects of affliction, bless your Father's hand which hath given the stroke, and thankfully acknowledge the supports he hath afforded you under it. Yet more than this—place all your mercies of every kind in one scale, and your afflictions in the other, and deny, if you can, that goodness and loving kindness have followed you all your days, and every single successive day of your life. I call upon you my friends, I call upon myself, after the brief and cursory retrospect now taken, and as the last solemn religious act of the kind we shall have it in our power to perform while the present year continues, to say, whether the afflictions we
have endured be not as a drop in the ocean, compared with our enjoyments, even if it were just to reckon the former among real evils. These, I believe, if we were to set ourselves to count them up, might be enumerated in a few words—but where should we begin the catalogue of the tender mercies and compassions of our God? To do justice to such an undertaking, we ought to take into the account every breath we have drawn every pulsation that has propelled the vital fluid through our veins—every motion our limbs have made-every morsel or drop of refreshment we have taken ;-but, when we can number the stars of heaven, or the particles of sand on the shore, then might we hope to bring the sum to its total.
Calling back our thoughts from the past, let us now fix them for a while on the present; and let the situation of our country claim our first regards. When we compare it with that of some others, how applicable do we find that clause of our text, “ He that hath delivered, doth deliver"_" He maketh peace in our borders”—“Our shores have peace, our cities rest.” Our houses are undemolished, our public edifices unconsumed. We have not been stunned with the tremendous roar of artillery, nor terrified with the explosion of the bursting bomb.* We have not been compelled to flee from destruction, or to stay to witness the indiscriminate slaughter of both sexes, and of every age, from the infant in the arms of its distracted mother, to the infirm and bending under the weight of years. We are apt to peruse narra
* Alluding to the bombardment of Flushing by the British forces this year.
tives of this kind with too much indifference, when we are at a distance from the shocking scene, and with too little thankfulness for preservation from such dire calamities, and such as this year has actually witnessed, which is the more inexcusable, considering the critical state of our public affairs for a long time past. Not less highly favoured have we been in this city in particular, with respect to health, and an exemption, notwithstanding some grounds of serious alarm, from those awful visitations which are too recent to be forgotten by the greater part of us. It may be, however, that when we look nearer home, some of us are experiencing those distressing privations which the common lot of humanity awards to us all. We may have lost the tender, the faithful associate, dear to us as our own souls, the revered parent, the nurse of our infancy, the guide and guardian of our youth-the child in whom we had treasured up hopes of happiness for years to come. But can we look around us and say with truth, that we are destitute or forsaken? Is there not one sympathising friend, one kind relation, ready to supply, as far as in their power, the place of those whose loss we mourn? Never_0 never did the God of mercy send upon any of his rational offspring unmitigated sorrow, unalleviated and irremediable distress! Feel the stroke, of whatever kind it be, as nature bids; but consider, when one item is subtracted from the sum of your comforts, how large is the remainder. What if nothing more were left you than you can claim on the score of merit? We are too apt to call those things our own to which we have not in reality the smallest
When we are called to part with them, there is only one kind of language which befits us-“The
Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, and blessed be the name of the Lord.” Perhaps you find yourself, in consequence of accident or disease, abridged of many of your former enjoyments-unable to engage in your usual avocations What then? have you any right to complain because the Almighty did not suspend the laws of nature, or work a miracle, on your account? We should accustom our. selves to take enlarged and comprehensive views of the divine government, and to beware of annexing an unreasonable degree of importance to our own comparatively trifling concerns. Does any little pain or inconvenience we happen to feel, lessen the general sum of happiness? “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it-why hast thou made me thus ?” When we are tempted to think that God hath forgotten us, we should check ourselves as David did with. This is my infirmity,” his goodness is unalterably the same. Besides, in the case alluded to, it may be that you are not entirely laid aside, and that some degree of usefulness is yet continued to you. Whatever species or branch of duty you are capable of discharging, do it with cheerfulness and thankfulness, and no more will be required of you than you are able to perform. Nay, though you be totally disqualified for active, still passive duty is within your power; in patience you may possess your soul, and give an edifying example of sub nission to the divine will. Again-If your affairs be not in so easy and prosperous a condition as you may naturally and lawfully desire, there is no cause for despondency. If such be the effect of that mutability which attaches to all human things, you may even from thence derive hope if the laws of the di