Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

to point out the unreasonableness and in- SERM.

XIII. gratitude of discontent and despondency.

I will endeavour to clear up the difficulty of the existence of misery, and to recon. cile it with the benevolence of God.

When man was first created, he was created innocent and happy; had he and

posterity persevered in their innocence, their happiness had still been continued to them - neither misery nor death would have found entrance into the world. To try his obedience, a certain condition was proposed ; -- the favour of his Maker was promised him on his observing it the punishment of its violation was death. Seduced by the artifices of the grand deceiver, and abusing the gift of free will, with which God had endowed him, he fell; he transgressed the law which was imposed on him-he ate of the tree, whereof it had been commanded him that he should not eat; and, by his transgression, entailed on himself and his posterity--woe and death..

If

SERM. -. If this be the true cause of the evils XUI

which we see in the world, as we are as. sured by the Bible that it is, it is clear that they cannot be charged on God; he created man happy--he gave him an easy law to obey--he told him what terrible consequences would follow, if he broke this

aw:--yet, with his eyes open, he voluntarily did break it; therefore himself alone can he justly blame for all the dreadful effects of his rebellion. But still further as unhappiness was not the original lot of mankind, so neither shall it be the final lot: - sin and misery entered into the world by Adam, but it was not God's intention that they should reign there for ever--he. has opened a way, by the sufferings and death of our Redeemer, for the penitent part of his subjects to regain his favour — to recover the dignity of their natures - and to be again, what they were at first created in Paradise, innocent and happy! Surely this is a consideration

which

which will not only vindicate the goodness SERM.

XIII. of God from any impeachment, but will exhibit it even in a more amiable light, than if man had never offended nor been condemned. Reflect-you were created happy, by your own faults you became miserable; your Creator, notwithstanding, redeemed you from this state; he bought you with a price, and, merciful God! with what a price-even with the blood of his only Son-and the only penance for your guilt is a mixture of misery with happiness, in that short interval which passes between the cradle and the grave.

But, to set this matter in a still stronger light, there is much reason to believe that those sufferings, to which we are exposed in this world, are absolutely necessary for the recovery of that perfection, in which we were first created, and for the regaining of that dignity and purity which we forfeited by the fall: this conclusion is supported Vol. II,

0

by

SERM. by many passages in scripture, wherein the
XIII.

Almighty is introduced, expressing his un-
willingness to afflict the children of men,
and assigning their improvement in good-
ness and holiness, as the reason and ground
of his chastisements. It is likewise con-
firmed by what we read of past ages, and
what we see in our own: the best and
most virtuous characters, which history,
either sacred or profane, hath handed
down to us, were, generally speaking, those
who were most exercised in afflictions;
and we cannot but, ourselves, have observed
the tendency of prosperity to corrupt,
of adversity, to purify the heart; what is
true of individuals, is probably true of the
whole; we have, therefore, a presumptive
proof that the misery, which was intro-
duced by sin, is absolutely necessary to
bring us back to virtue; and thus the af-
Aictions, with which God visits his children,
become the highest favours,-his severest

chas

chastisements, the most tender mercies, SÉRM,

XIII. Upon the whole, I trust that the goodness of God will stand clearly vindicated; we were created happy at first, till by our own fault we became miserable; it will again be our own fault, (if we are not happy at the last; God desires it, and has graciously invented a way to bring it about: and still farther, the sublunary cares and sorrows to which we are, in the mean time, liable, are the necessary steps to our restoration.

Having thus shewn that the miseries, which are to be met with in human life, are no impeachment of the benevolence of the Almighty, I now proceed to what I proposed in the second place, to point out the unreasonableness and ingratitude of discon. tent and despondency. Each of those arguiments, which I have been using, to free from imputation the goodness of God in permitting or inflicting evils, is equally efficacious to silence the murmurs of those

indivi.

O 2

« VorigeDoorgaan »