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pensioners are real mourners at the burial of their benefactors, who can be no more concerned for them; there a tender family are weeping at the grave of both parents. Here the packet from the distant Indies, brings the melancholy account of father, son, or brother's death, who was long expected home, but now shall return no more; there the list of the slain on the day of battle, fills many a sad heart with sorrow. Here a sudden misfortune snatches one away in the bloom of life; there another is slain by the bloody ruffian. Here the tender suckling dies unseen in the silent night; and there the pretty boy perishes in the water. Here the devouring flame robs a man of his all, while some of the inhabitants are consumed in the burning; there the fierce tempest sends the merchant's treasure into the depths of the sea, and the crew go down together. Here the barren wife longs to embrace a son; and there another bitterly bewails that ever her's was born. Here one loses his good name innocently, and has no method to clear it till the day of judgment; and there peace is taken away from them that should live in daily harmony. Here some are oppressed with pinching want; there others with pining sickness. Some are banished their native country; others condemned to perpetual imprisonment. Some are deformed from their mother's womb; others lose their limbs by accidents. There sits the blind begging, while the lame is carried from door to door. Of some God has tied the tongue, that it cannot speak; of others stopt the ear, that it cannot hear. There some deprived of reason, neither rest themselves nor suffer those around them to rest, while their case is melancholy above description. In a word, what losses and crosses, sorrows and distresses, uncer
tainties and anxieties, do mankind labour under! The wisdom that is from above, will lead me to expect nothing but vanity and vexation below. But, O! how happy is the soul that has all his treasure in heaven, all his happiness in God! May this be my case, and then I shall triumph in the midst of losses, distresses, disappointments, and pain.
How manifold are the mercies of God, and how surprising the scene of adorable Providence! Here wheels revolve within a wheel, and all the glorious spokes are full of flaming eyes, signifying ómniscience and wisdom. Seeming contradictions just conduce to bring about the longed-for blessing. Were all things silent, providence aloud proclaims a God; and to the observing eye, the government of the world in general, and of men and their affairs of life in particular, is not less beautiful, is not less surprising, than the creation. What mighty mountains are removed, what stupendous difficulties are dissolved, that a plain and easy passage may be prepared for the approaching good! O how is my soul delighted with the back-look into my life, and ravished with the sweet survey of the conduct of Providence ! All mercies are benign and comforting; but O how do some exceedingly surprise! when I behold the instrument or hand by which, the way and manner how, and the time when they came. Have I not seen it from a hand I expected nothing from, in a way and
manner I never could have contrived, and at a time when least apparent? Has not holy Providence writ ten a blank on my wisdom and prudence, in baffling my enterprises, rendering my endeavours abortive, and bringing my counsel to nought, that he alone might be exalted? And then, in a way out of my view, foreign to my expectation, and without my endeavours, granted the very same request I had sought? Sometimes seeming contradictions vex the poor expectant, though only sent to exercise his faith in God, and patience for the performance of the promise. I have also seen disappointments multiplied. Disappointments not only bring about, but beautify the blessing. Sometimes providence has hindered me to embrace an offered favour, when I knew not how or why, that to my greater advantage it might be afterwards bestowed.
Thy path, O thou Governor of men and angels! is in the mighty waters, and thy footsteps are not known; for who can know the ways of him who is wonderful in working? Therefore I approve his conduct, admire his goodness, and where I cannot see his end, am silent, and adore.
MANY are reckoned great by the world, and are
often envied by their inferiors, who are yet ignorant of what renders a man truly great. A courtier, as Ahithophel, a prince, as Haman, and a king, as Belshazzar, may be mean and sordid persons; for often
in the highest stations the basest of men are set up. Coaches and chariots; horses and hounds; many servants, and a numerous retinue; a sumptuous table, and fine apparel; high titles, and honourary posts; great friends, and noble blood; rich connexions, and immense wealth, do not constitute true greatIt is not getting a staff in the field, or a flag in the fleet, being made secretary of state, or sent ambassador to foreign courts, that will render one great. It is not strength of body, natural courage, liberal education, bright parts, or sparkling genius, that can make a truly great man. Hence this seeming contradiction, yet sterling truth, Great men are not always great. Are there, then, great men any where to be found? Yes, though they attract not much notice or regard of men. The holy, humble, self-denied soul, is such ;-he that lives above the things of time, and has his meditation on God, and the things of the invisible world; that is pleased with a little of the good things of time-can forgive enemies-pass by affronts-forget injuries-repay hatred with love-rejoice in tribulation-triumph in faith-have rule over his own spirit-mourn for the sins of the times-weep over his want of conformity to God's law-tremble at his threatenings depend on the promises-bewail his omissions-repent daily of his sin, wrestle in prayer, and prevail with God, and, Enoch-like, have his conversation in heaven, and walk with God:-This is he that is truly great in the eye of angels, in the eye of God.
How uncertain are our best founded expectations from created things! Nothing seemingly more sure; the time when, the place where, and the manner how, designs were to be put in execution, being set by the agreement and concurrence of every one concerned! And yet, in the event, nothing more unsure! O irresistible Providence! How dost thou laugh at the folly of man, whose purblind eye sees nothing to change the face of things, till by an unexpected revolution, and severe discipline, he is made to know his fallibility and blindness! O foolish heart of man, to be fond of this or that to excess! Thou secst the beginning of a matter, but not the end; thou beholdest the outer wheel of providence, but considerest not there is an inner wheel, even a wheel in the middle of a wheel, which produces scenes unobserved before, scenes which finite wisdom never could invent.
Perhaps the present disappointment, though great and unexpected, is a kind one,* could I with patience wait and see the issue; and, beyond dispute, it is a just one; "for shall not the righteous Judge of all the earth do right?"
But is my disappointment in the most momentuous things, or only in matters of inferior concern? Have I got a message from the court of Heaven, that there is no salvation for me there? no mercy at the throne?
* Such it was, indeed, is the author's reflection, in 1778, on the particular disappointment to which he alludes.