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made without them. If a series of uninterrupted prosperity be calculated to render the pampered child of fortune presumptuous, haughty, sensual, and place him so far above personal calamities as to render him careless and indifferent, respecting the miseries of others, he must be consigned over to adversity. This may become a profitable, although' unwelcome teacher of humanity, diffidence, and also of sympathy with brethren in misfortune.
Such are the corrections which the heavenly Father employs for his beloved, although perverse offspring. These are so necessary in themselves, and so interwoven with the Divine plan, that, notwithstanding the blessedness which is so frequently pronounced upon the Righteous, and the promises that they shall enjoy, even in this world, a superiority of happiness, compared with the wicked, yet to no one is there a promise of exemption from sufferings. Nay, the Pious are informed that these shall be their lot; which can alone proceed from their beneficial influence. The pious David confesses that before he was afflicted he went astray. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, places this subject in a very interesting point of view, in his quotation of a passage from the Proverbs of Solomon. “ My son despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourges every son whom he receiveth. If thou endurest chastisement, God dealeth with you as with Sons. For what Son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons. Moreover, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence ; shall we not much rather be subject to the father of our spirits, and live? For they for a few days chastened us for their own pleasure, -or in the gratification of their resentments; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastisement for the present is joyous but grievous, nevertheless, it afterwards yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby."*
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, says “ I glory in tribulation, also knowing that tribulation worketh patience, patience experience, and experience hope ; and hope maketh not ashamed:"--and in his letter to the Corinthians, he says, “ I rejoice that you were made sorrowful, (by a preceding letter) but that you sorrowed to repentance. For you were made sorrowful after a godly manner: godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of;" and all the primitive Christians were forewarned that “ through much tribulation they were to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”
* Heb, xii. 5.
It is observable that such language is very different from that which was current among the ancient Jews. Although there be occasional observations relative to the beneficial tendency of afflictions, yet the evils of life were generally denounced as judgments, without being stated as marks of parental affection. The judgments were chiefly directed against the sin of Idolatry, and the atrocious crimes that were fostered by it. Temporal prosperity was promised to them as a nation, on the condition of their obedience to the law of Moses. The consolations of a future state were not revealed to them, as constituting a part of the Divine plan; or as the immediate object of the dispensation. The promises and threatenings were of a temporal nature; and as we have shewn in a former disquisition, their blessings and afflictions were always correspondent to their national character. Christians having higher expectations, and assurances of a nature infinitely superior, they are informed that, having“ exceeding great and precious promises,” they are not to expect exemption from the evils of life, in consequence of their attachment to the Gospel ; and that their fidelity to the cause may expose them to peculiar trials and sufferings. Yet they are still exhorted to rejoice, because their present sufferings would“ work out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
No other principles can entitle the lovers of virtue and piety to enjoy complacency in distress, but those of Christianity. The Author of this new Dispensation, and his faithful apostles, frequently exhort Christians to rejoice under circumstances that would overwhelm the mind with anguish and despair, were it destitute of the hopes which Christianity inspires. These alone can render a compliance with the injunction practicable, “ rejoice always, and again I say rejoice.”
With such hopes the injunction is not extravagant; nor its observance impracticable. It is perfectly consonant with a governing principle in the human mind. In every case, the possession, or the assured prospect of a greater good, will more than console for a privation of advantages, comparatively trivial in their nature and duration. The man who
have suffered pecuniary losses, to an amount which would have destroyed his peace, will cheerfully bear this temporary inconvenience, when consoled with the promise of a large estate, at no distant period. The Christian, who is practically convinced, that all things are under the direction of a reconciled complacential father, and of consequence are working together for his good; who compares eternity with time, and the glories to be revealed with either the joys or sufferings of a transitory life, cannot feel the chagrin which torments the bre of those whose hopes are confined within its limits. He may possess his soul in peace, and habitually enjoy a state of mind, totally unknown to those whose expectations terminate with the present state of existence. · Experience has put these principles to the test, and found them triumphant.
Saint Paul declares, none of these things move me,” because he felt the force of the assertion, “that the light afflictions which are but for a moment, work out for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Martyrs have enjoyed transports in the horrors of a prison; have exulted in the flames; and they have been envied by those who attempted to torment them.
When the happy parent perceives that the object of his tender care is desirous of improving, in every qualification required, he takes