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to think more highly of one's self than we ought to think, but to think soberly," is the characteristic of a truly great, wise, and good mind. For want of this, how many are quarrelling with their fellow creatures, and complaining of their hard fortune, when in reality they themselves only are to blame! They would be strong without bestowing the necessary pains for the acquisition of power; they would be rich without labor, talents, or privations; and renowned without wisdom, genius, or any distinguished virtue; but while they thus vainly endeavour to rise above their proper level in society, they generally sink below it; and often the keenest edge of Adversity will not rouse such persons from their dreams of vanity and folly.
To a mind not duly impressed with the importance of Christian humility, indeed, there is something extremely painful in the idea of that self-abasement, which the Holy Gospel requires; though it would, in reality, often shield them from the severest sufferings that agitate the human heart. Hence, on the failure of some favorite project or pursuit, the peculiar vices of some, the selfishness, avarice, or folly of others, and even the want of spirit, taste, and discernment of the whole world, will be assigned
as causes of disappointment, rather than any suspicion should arise of vanity, weakness, and presumption.
Thus a kind of moral hostility is kindled between man and his fellow-creatures. Folly of this kind stops not at disappointment, and is not often corrected by Adversity; but engenders a train of unsocial and malevolent affections, that interrupt the practical duties of life, and point out to her deluded followers the path that leads to vice and misery.
These are some of the evils arising from Adversity under various circumstances, which require the vigilance of all to guard against, and the most fervent prayer to the Almighty Father, to "lead us not into temptation, but to deliver us from evil."
But the greatest sin, and the most alarming danger to be apprehended from Adversity is, lest it should shake our trust and confidence in God, or lead us, for a moment, to doubt his wisdom, goodness, and superintending Providence. Wretched, indeed, is the man, who in the season of affliction is deprived of hope;-who sees the comforts of this world, one after another, gradually withdrawn, and no prospect of future happiness opening beyond the grave!
But if Adversity, instead of enlarging, contracts his views; if, instead of raising the soul to heaven, it chains it, in grovelling misery, to the earth; and, instead of rendering his dependence on God more interesting and necessary, it seems to dissolve the relation which connects him with eternity, I should assert, that "the truth as it is in Jesus," was never properly established in his mind. It might have been professed in form, perhaps, but never felt in reality. Where the only solid foundation of duty is
thus wanting, it is possible, that all our assumed virtues might originate in disguised selfishness;-that mutual advantage might be the only standard of action, and that "we did good only to those who could do good to us." For, without trust in God, through the infinite merits and atonement of Christ, what is man? A creature neither fit for this world nor the next. The mere sport of fortune; driven about on the wide ocean of life by every adverse wind that blows, without any certain direction; endowed with faculties, that have no adequate object, with desires that never know complete gratification, he seems to live to no valuable purpose, and hastens to the grave, like the offspring of chance, or the victim of despair.
-Life, indeed, would scarcely be desirable on such terms, unless by those who are sufficiently depraved to sit down for a while at the banquet of sensual pleasure, and, rising with an appetite satiated or destroyed, die and are soon forgotten.
Men capable of such impiety to the great Author of their being, must have had their consciences hardened, and their understandings blinded by "the deceitfulness of sin." If the hour of affliction first call it forth, they must have been believers only in word, not in truth, and have possessed the mere form of god liness, but denied the power.
Let us be careful, therefore, above all things, in our earliest days, when surrounded with comforts, and with minds at ease, to fix deeply in our hearts the awful and sublime truths of religion, as the great source of dignity and consolation in this life; and rest our entire dependence on God for ultimate happiness, for a just retribution, and eternal salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in that which is to come. Then, in the midst of every worldly calamity that can befal us, we shall not "perish in our afflictions," but may say with the venerable Paul, "We are troubled on every side but not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted,
but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."od was tyd a ver Pmts? dogg 1 .. Should the evil thought, that God hath forgotten us, or ceased to be gracious," ever cloud our minds, for a single moment, under some severe trials, the light of religion will soon dispel the gloom, and we shall learn to possess our souls in patience."
After short meditation, so far will Adversity be from alienating us from God, that it will with draw us from the world, and fix our hearts on Him with greater constancy and fervor. Then shall we rejoice in hope, and be enabled to say with the Psalmist, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou, O Lord, art with me." Then, too, we shall meditate with profitable attention, on the uses of Adversity, and apply them to our consolation and improvement. We shall perceive, that the best men are not exempt from it, and that the Saviour of the world himself, in order to sanctify his precepts by example, became "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."
We shall farther reflect, that it is the sure test of our sincerity and obedience; that many of the most important duties of life arise from