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of the text, to "Watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation." The duty of vigilance, therefore, is binding on all; and, before we envy another's station, or murmur at our own, we should consider it relatively, always viewing it in its effects on our disposition and conduct; for nothing is more evident, than that the same means, in different hands, produce either vice or virtue; misery or happiness.
Many are the excellent fruits which adversity has cherished in the minds of some; as it has enlarged their views, and made them think and feel to some practical purpose; as it has taught them the true lesson of wisdom and humanity;-as it has instructed them to be humble and courteous, charitable and forbearing; while in others the same cause has produced such lamentable effects of folly and of sin, as we ought to guard against with the greatest vigilance, and from which we should pray to be delivered with the utmost fervor.
First, adversity often causes an indolent despondency, or lasting dejection of mind, that destroys all relish for the ordinary comforts of life, and renders men incapable of fulfilling the duties of their station. Because the object of their earnest desire is withheld, or because
some portion of what they once enjoyed is taken from them, perhaps, the remaining treasure of life is lost, or cast away; and their future days pass on, without improvement, in helpless and unavailing sorrow. Instead of considering the fixed, unalterable conditions of our present state;-instead of casting a retrospective glance to the land whither all their fathers are gone before, or looking forward to their children's children, that must come after them, they would enjoy life in perpetuity. The world must fluctuate with others around them ;-all things must rise and fall, blossom, ripen and decay, but they would be permanent and secure ;-they cannot persuade themselves that they are pilgrims and strangers here; but will foolishly believe themselves at home.
Hence, the calamities of life are no means of discipline or improvement to them, but quite the reverse. While others are roused by adversity to thought, meditation, and action, they are deprived, as it were, of their mental powers, and sink into helpless misery. Its effect, on the one, is like the animating shock of electric fire; on the other, it resembles the numbness of the torpedo, or palsy's stroke.
It is in such gloomy periods of existence
as these, that despondent sufferers have been tempted to cast away existence, or else have lingered out the remnant of a miserable life, useless to others, and a burden to themselves. This, therefore, is one of the snares of adversity, against which we must watch and pray with diligence and fervor.
Let no one persuade himself that it is not in his power to check this gloomy despondency, as well as other evil dispositions of the mind. The truth is, that all sinful passions are the offspring of self-indulgence; and men are permitted to cherish some, rather than others, only because their lamentable effects are confined to themselves.
The divine command is, "to work the will of him that sent us." We must run the race. that is set before us; and are required to suffer patiently, like good soldiers of Christ: but if we become slothful and unprofitable from those very causes, which should quicken our activity, and strengthen our fortitude, we frustrate the grand ends, for which afflictions were sent into the world, and turn the means of future happi ness to misery and condemnation.
Besides, the indulgence of sorrow for any adversity, beyond what it derives from our infirmities, is not only sinful, but unnatural. By
the merciful provision of our heavenly Father, the heart, whatever be its sufferings in the hour of affliction, has always a tendency to recover its repose; and it is only banished, for any long duration, by an over-weening fondness for the things of this world ;-by indolence,—by a species of selfish, morbid sensibility,—or by the want of a steady, well-founded confidence in the Supreme Being.
Such is the variety of our wants and duties in this mixed state;-so many objects are there that solicit our attention, exciting our hopes, or alarming our fears;-and so many calls are there on our benevolence, our fortitude, and selfdenial; that he who suffers one object wholly to engross his soul, or one passion to circumscribe his happiness, must be weak and foolish, if not sinful and depraved. Independently of the awful concerns of eternity, which should never be forgotten, Time, in the small portions. in which it is measured out to us, is constantly reminding us of something that we have to do. Morning, noon, and night, the duties of active life press upon us, and point out something to avoid as evil, or to pursue as good. Sorrow flies at mental fortitude and bodily exertion, as the mists of the morning before the sun; and
we may observe, that the desponding victims of adversity are generally found among the rich and indolent ;-among those who, having no necessary employment,-nothing which they are compelled to do, are at leisure to cherish sorrow, and increase their own wretchedness.
Religion, therefore, making proper allowance for the weakness of our nature, even sanctifying the tear that springs from a feeling heart, by the example of the Saviour of the world himself, requires us "not to sorrow as those that are without hope, for those who depart in the Lord," but tells us that "virtue is made perfect by suffering." She farther declares, that " they who sow in tears shall reap in joy," and pronounces her blessing on "those that mourn, for they shall be comforted."
The uses which religion would make of adversity are numerous. She would at all times rouse us from the slothful despondency of grief, by teaching us to consider it as a warning from God, that "this is not our resting place ;"-that we, and all that we can call ours, in this world, are changing, or fleeting away fast as the vaporous cloud before the wind ;-that, after the short sleep of death, the immortal spirit shall wake in eternity;-and that our happiness there