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true, our total destination ; the destination of all that exists and lives, and is susceptible of happiness. To this end has he made us; to this end has he afligned us this part of his dominion for the place of our abode, and embellished it with so many beauties and blessings; to this end has he placed us in the various connections wherein we stand with the material and the spiritual world. He has likewise excited in us all a thirst, an ardent thirst after happiness; and how is it poflible that he, the Allgracious, should have raised in us this thirst, and not have furnished us with the means of assuaging it! -No, we are surrounded on all sides with sources of pleasure and delight, inviting us to enjoyment, no less diversified than exuberant, and which we can never entirely exhaust, nor each of their feveral kinds.
And yet man, this creature so beloved of God, and so evidently ordained to happiness, frequently nieets with grievous afflictions; and no one yet of all our race has ever passed his life without having fuffered more or less. Are then thefe afflictions at strife with our destination? Do they exclude us from the path of happiness? Have they a tendency to defeat the purposes of our Creator, the plans of almighty goodness ? No, that were impoflible; even these afflictions must tend to fomething good, must polless a certain value, must contribute to the advancement of our happiness : otherwise God, who loves us with paternal ten
derness, and would have us happy and joyful as his children, certainly would never allow them to befall us.
And thus the matter stands, my dear friends, even afflictions, even tribulations are good ; are benefactions of our heavenly Father. They are means, harsh and unpleasant indeed, but efficacious and falutary means, for our purification, for our amendment, our higher perfection. They lead us a rough and dreary way, a way often moistened with tears and the sweat of our brows; but a way that terminates in happiness. Of this our own reason and experience will not permit us to doubt ; and the facred books confirm what they teach us, in a manner the most express. “ No chastening,” fays the apostle in our text, “ for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous :” all severity is repugnant and disagreeable to us while we feel it. “ Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby :" in the fequel it produces the best effects to them who allow themselves to be corrected by it, by rendering them good and vir
“ It is good for me," says the psalmist, " that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.” And the apostles of Jesus, in behalf of themselves and their fellow-christians, glory also in tribulations, knowing that “ tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience, hope ; and hope maketh not ashamed.” May we then, my devout audience, learn to take
the afflictions and tribulations of our lives, no less than the proper goods and satisfactions of them, for what they are and ought to be, and employ them to the advancement of our happiness! My design is, by my present discourse, to give some direction to your reflections upon them. To which purpose I shall examine with you the value of afflictions and tribulations in regard to human happiness, and to that end first shew, how and to what amount afflictions and tribulations have a real value; and then, what gives them that value, wherein it consists, how they have a tendency to further our happiness.
Afflictions and tribulations have no value as ulti, mate objects, but only as means. They are not in themselves either good or wholesome, but only in regard of their effects. Afflictions are and must ever continue to be afiliations; disagreeable, painful sensations. Tribulations are and must ever re. main tribulations; accidents and occurrences that are adverse to our nature, and hostile to our views and desires. While they are present, fays our text, we think them unpleasant and grievous ; and this of themselves they actually are. They are medicines, bitter medicines, which are not prescribed on account of the pleasantness of their taste, but only as good against diseases, and which probably we must be long plagued and tormented with be. fore we are completely recovered. They are exer. cises, not enjoined us on their own account, but for the sake of their effects. The schools considered
as schools, have no great value. It is not the restraints they impose on our liberty; it is not the toila some application they at one time induce and at another compel us to exert; not the chastisement they bestow on the negligent scholar, for his punishment and correction, that make them desirable. It is only the good consequences of these hard restraints, of this laborious assiduity, of this grievous chastening: only the useful knowledge, the better dispositions, the good habitudes, we thereby acquire, that confer its whole value on whatever we do and suffer there. So also ficknesses, misfortunes, losses of goods and honours, losses of patrons and friends, the failure of plans and undertakings, poverty, humiliations, persecutions, and whatever else oppresses and afflicts mankind, have only so far any real worth, as by their means we become wiser and better and happier.
Hence it naturally follows secondly, that they acquire this value only by the use we make of them. Not every man to whom medicine is ad. ministered, or who voluntarily takes it of himself, will thereby be healed. There must be vital powers yet remaining in him ; he must not purposely hinder and diminish the effects of the medicine he has taken ; he must do or abstain from many things, which at other times he need not do or ab. stain from, and so frame his whole conduct as is befitting his present condition. Not every one who frequents the schools, and allows himself to be in
structed or is forced to be taught, will learn what they are adapted to tcach. Many a one will leave them as ignorant and unqualified, probably more corrupted and vicious, than he was before. It is only the attentive, the studious, the obedient scho. lar, who willingly imbibes instruction and profits by discipline, that returns from them enriched with the treasures of wisdom, and blesses the man that entered him there. If we would have afflictions and tribulations to be of real value to us; we must use them aright: we must account them just what they are; must consider them in their dependency on God and his will ; must reflect upon them, view them on their moral side, attend to the de. sign of them, and demean ourselves in all respects according to our situation, as it is altered by them.
In short, afflictions and tribulations have often no more than a comparative value, only inasmuch as they snatch us from the dangers of an uninterrupted profperity, and teach us what that could never inform us of, or lead us to a point of wisdom and virtue to which prosperity could never conduct us. On this principle, they are not necefsary to all men in the fame kind and to the fame degree. There are children who may be educated by careíles alone; there are others that require a harsher difcipline. The former have a tender and fusceptible heart; feel the whole value of every kindness shewn to them; think nobly; and find no duty, no facrifice, too painful whereby they may