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Maker, and refers us, for evidence of his future mercies, to a recollection of the past. Indeed, our religious attainments are too generally so low, and the nature we have inherited is so frail and so corrupt, that it is not always easy to feel as sensibly as we ought the inestimable value of the blessings which we enjoy. Sufferings and temptations, though but moderate in their degree, are sufficient to cloud our brightest hopes; and we are sometimes ready to stand in doubt whether we have not altogether mistaken the path of happiness. But these are only feverish dreams, the phantoms of an hour of darkness. Consider the import of those blessed words,“ being reconciled to God.” They contain a picture of happiness more rich, more full, more glorious, than the pen of poetry or eloquence ever delineated. And compare now the state of those who possess this heavenly assurance, with the sad condition of our less happy brethren. Be it that the Christian sacrifices the pleasures and the honours of this life: be it (though it is not always so), that through “much tribulation" he inhe. rits eternal life ;-~yet“ there is hope in his end, saith the Lord;" “ his light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight: of glory;" he is not forgotten of his God; in a few years, all his labours are ended, and he enters into his everlasting rest. Meanwhile, what is the world which he has res nounced, and what the too-often envied enjoyments of those who claim it as their portion? He who understood and enjoyed them all, has left us the testimony of his experience; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Not that life indeed is scantily supplied with satisfactions, for God has showered his blessings abundantly around us. But without Him the brightest pleasures, though they delight us for
a moment, are essentially unsatisfying, and leave nothing but regret behind them. The hour-glass is soon run out, and a death-bed reveals in a moment the folly of all our pursuits, and emptiness of all our enjoyments. There Louis, who for eighty years had been the idol of his people, felt at last, and acknowledged his errors, and transmitted to his successor a lesson of wisdom, which he had learned only when it was too late. There Condé, the darling of victory, the prince of heroes, slighting all his achievements, and the glory they had purchased for him, declared that virtue was the only object worthy the pursuit of a wise man. There Salmasius *, after a life of literary labours and triumphs, deplored with his expiring breath the vanity of his acquirements; “ Eheu! vitam perdidi operosè nihil agendo. “ Alas! I have wasted my days in toil, and have done nothing.” Indeed, it should seem quite sufficient to read the language in which the inspired writers speak of this world, and to cast a hasty glance on the notices which history has left us, to convince us that those only are to be envied, who can relinquish it entirely, having their hopes secured upon a better inheritance. In the New Testament it is described as, in a considerable measúre, subjected to Satan, whom Christ appears to have designated by the title of “the prince of this world;" words of an extensive and awful import. Doubtless his authority is greatly contracted, through the merciful interposi-, tion of our Redeemer. Yet how is it possible to hear of the tragedies which have in every age been acted upon our
* I am not quite certain whether it was Salmasius or Grotius, of whom this anecdote has been preserved. Nor is it important: their literary fame is equal.
globe, without believing that the expressions which the Scriptures contain are something more than figures? In this happy land indeed, and in these happy days, surrounded as we are with knowledge, and riches, and refinement; enjoying, even in war, the best privileges of peace, and cheered with the glad tidings of the Gospel of righteousness, we may be disposed to indulge in pleasing visions of the general happiness of our fellow-creatures; measuring, in some degree, their feelings by our own, and willing (naturally and justly willing) to find, in the imagination of their enjoyments, a source of pious thankfulness and pleasure. Of all illusions, perhaps, this is the most amiable and innocent. But no mistake is free from danger; and it becomes the humble Christian to acquire fortitude sufficient to contemplate with entire resignation, though not indeed without sensibility, every part of the dispensations of his Maker. I know not whether, to a feeling mind, the past history and present condition of our fellowcreatures, is not, of all subjects, the most affecting. How have they been trampled down age after age, the slaves of sin, the sport of tyranny and ambition; equally a prey to their own vices, and to those of their governors! Even while I now write, while the peals of triumph are ringing round us, and the “song of Hope" is heard again, what thousands are perishing in misery, the victims of wickedness and folly; what tens of thousands are weeping in silence, over the unknown death or hopeless captivity of those who were most dear to them!
Of unregarded fame
Of distant war, lending an eager ear,
Weep on * Nor is the present age more full of sorrows than those which are past. The heart sickens at the contemplation nof the horrors which all the pages of history;—which have swelled the triumphs of Eastern conquerors, and tracked the steps of the plunderers of the West; which have “dyed the sands of Africa, and stained with silent and inglorious torrents the snows of the polar regions t." Civilization, we are told, has generally begun in conquest; thus our blessings have their foundation in misery: it has always produced corruption; and thus they end in guilt, Surely it is not in a world like this, that any wise or good man would wish to take up his permanent residence, even if it were possible. Or grant that these colours are too dark and gloomy: let the scene be sketched by the brightest pencil: yet there is sickness, and sorrow, and weariness, and pain, and disappointment, and separation from those we love: there is sin within us and around us; and labour, the fruit of sin; and death, the end of both. Undoubtedly, all this notwithstanding, existence is generally a blessing: I mean, independently of its reference to futurity. . But he surely is greatly to be pitied, who can think that such an existence is worthy of being compared with a holy and everlasting kingdom; and he too is not wholly blameless, who, with the promised inheritance before him,
* Joan of Arc, by R. Southey.
still casts a sad and lingering look at the world which he renounces. I knew a French gentleman who had passed some of his early years at Paris, and tasted, I fear, too freely of the gaities and vices of that capital. He delighted to talk of the happiness of his younger days, before the Revolution had driven him abroad; and he still ended, with a sigh, " Je pleurs ma jeunesse.” The confession was very honest and very melancholy. He mourned the oss of pleasures which he had enjoyed only a little while, but of which he still cherished too lively a recollection, If all whose hearts are devoted to this world were equally sincere, I am afraid the same lamentation would be often repeated. Compare now this acknowledgment with the language of the blessed A postle; and let the fondest lover of this life judge between them: “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity (not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same) in hope; because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit; even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by Hope. But Hope that is seen is not Hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
With patience wait for it. This is in perfect con