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as that which regards it as a state of probation ; meaning, by a state of probation, a state calculasted for trying us, and calculated for improving us. A state of complete enjoyment and happiness it

certainly is not. The hopes, the spirits and the 3** inexperience of young men and young women -56-are apt, and very willing, to see it in this light.

To them life is full of entertainment; their rel. ish is high ; their expectations unbounded; for a

very few ycars it is possible, and I think barely * possible, that they may go on without check or i interruption; but they will be cured of this de

10 -* lusion. Pain and sorrow, disease and infirmity, rout accident and disappointment, losses and distress,

will soon meet them in their acquaintance, their de les families, or their persons. The hardhearted for und the their own, the tender for others woe, will always

!! find and feel, enough at least to convince them, same that this world was not made for a scene of perpetual gaiety, or uninterrupted enjoyment.

Still less can we believe that it was made for a place of misery; so much otherwise, that misery is in no instance the end or object of contrivance. we are surrounded by contrivance and design. A human body is a cluster of contrivances. So is

the body of every animal : so is the structure of Jens

every plant; s' is even the vilest weed that grows pe liani upon the road side: Contrivances therefore infi

nite in number, infinite also iu variety, are all direta

rected to beneficial purposes, and in a vast pluince rality of instances, execute their purpose

In our orce owu bodies only reflect, how many thousand

things must go right for us to be an hour at ease. hai Yet at all times multitudes are so; and are so

without being sensible how great a thing it is. Too much or too little of sensibility or of action, in any one of the almost numberless organs, or of any part of the numberless organs by which life is sustained, may be productive of extreme an. guish, or of lasting infirmity. A particle, smaller than an atom in a sunbeam, may, in a wrong place, be the occasion of the loss of limbs, of senses, el

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of life. Yet, under all this continual jeopardy, this momentary liability to danger and disorder, we are preserved. It is not possible therefore that this state could be designed as a state of misery, because the great tendency of the designs, which we see in the universe, is to counteract, to prevent, to guard against it. We know enough of nature to be assured, that misery, universal, irremediable, inexhaustible, misery, was in the Creator's power, if he had willed it. Forasmuch therefore as the result is so much otherwise, we are certain, that no such purpose dwelt in the Divine mind.

But since, amidst much happiness, and amidst contrivances for happiness, so far as we can judge (and of many we can judge,) misery, anii very considerable portions of it do exist; it becomes a natural inquiry, to what end this mixture of good and evil is properly adapted. And I think the Scriptures place before us, not only the true (for, if we believe the Scriptures, we must believe it to be that, but the most rational and satisfactory answer, which can be given to the inquiry; name. ly, that it is intended for a state of trial and proba. tion. For it appears to me capable of proof, both that no state but one, which contained in it an admixture of good and evil, would be suited to this purpose ; and also that our present state, as well in its general plan as in its particular properties, serves this purpose with peculiar propriety.

A state, totally incapable of misery; could not be a state of probation. It would not be a state in which virtue or vice could even be exercised at all; I mean that large class of virtues and vices, which we comprehend under the name of social duties. The existence of these depends upon the existence of misery as well as of happiness in the world, and of different degrees of both; because their very nature and difference consist in pro. moting or preventing, in augmenting or diminish

in cursing, aggravating, or relieving the wants, erings, and distresses of our fellow-creatures:

Compassion, charity, humanity, benevolence, and even justice, could have no place in the world, if there were not human condition to excite them; objects and sufferings upon which they might operate ; misery, as well as happiness, which might be affected by them,

Nor would, in my opinion, the purposes of trial be sufficiently provided for, ny a state, in which happiness and misery regularly followed virtue and vice; I mean, in which there was no happiness, but what was merited by virtue; no misery, but what was brought on by vice. Such a state would be a state of retribution, not a state of probation. It may be our state hereafter; it may be a better state, but it is not a state of probation ; it is not the state, through which it is fitting we should pass, before we enter into the other; for when we speak of a state of a probation, we speak of a state, in which the character may both be put

to the proof, and also its good qualities be confirmeft ed and strengthened, if not formed and produced

by having occasions presented, in which they may be called forth and required. Now beside that the social qualities, which have been mentioned, would be very limited in their exercise, if there was no evil in the world but what was plainly a punishment: (for though we might pity and even that would be greatly checked, we could not actually succour or relieve, without disturbing the execution, or arresting, as it were, the hand of justice ;) beşide this difficulty, there is another class of most important duties, which would be in a great measure excluded. They are the severest, the sublimest, perhaps the most meritorious, of which we are capable; I mean patience and composure under distress, pain, and affliction ; a steadfast keeping up of our confidence in God, and our dependance upon his final goodness, even at the time that every thing present is discouraging and adverse ; and, what is no less difficult to retain, a cordial desire for the bappiness and comfort of others, even then, when we are deprived of our

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own. I say, that the possession of this temper is almost the perfection of our nature. But it is then only possessed, when it is put to the trial : tried at all it could not have been in a life, made up only of pleasure and gratification. Few things are easier than to perceive, to feel, to acknowledge, to extol the goodness of God, the bounty of Pro· vidence, the beauties of nature, when all things go well; when our health, our spirits, our circumstances, conspire to fill our hearts with gladness, and our tongues with praise. This is easy, this is delightful. None but they who are sunk in sen suality, sottishness and stupefaction, or whose understandings are dissipated by frivolous pursuits ; none but the most giddy and insensible can be destitute of these sentiments. But this is not the trial, or the proof. It is in the chambers of sickness; under the stroke of affliction; amidst the pinchings of want, the groans of pain, the pressures of infirmity; in grief, in misfortune; through gloom and horror, that it will be seen, whether we hold fast our hope, our confidence, our trust in God; whether this hope and confidence be able to produce in us resignation, acquiescence and submission.–And as those dispositions, which perhaps form the comparative perfection of our moral nature, could not have been exercised in a world of unmixed gratification, so neither would they have found their proper office or object in a state of strict and evident retribution ; that is, in which we had no sufferings to submit to, but what were evidently and manifestly the punishment of our sins. A mere submission to punishment, evidently and plainly such, would not have constitu. Led, at least, would very imperfectly have consti

uted, the disposition, which we speak of, the true resignation of a Christian.

It seems therefore to be argued with very great probability, from the general economy of things around us, that our present state was meant for a tate of probation; because positively it contains frat admixture of good and evil, which paght to be found in such a state to make it answer its purpose, the production, exercise, and improvement of virtue: and because, negatively, it could not be intended either for a state of absolute happiness, or a state of absolute misery, neither of which it is.

We may now also observe in what manner many of the evils of life are adjusted to this particular end, and how also they are contrived to soften and alleviate themselves and one another. It will be enough at present, if I can point out how far this is the case in the two instances, which of all others the most nearly and seriously affect us, death and disease. The events of life and death are so disposed, as to beget in all reflecting minds, a constant watchfulness. “ What I say unto you, I say unto all, watch. Hold yourselves in a con. stant state of preparation. « Be ready, for ye know not when your Lord cometh.” Had there been assigned to our lives a certain age or period, to which all, or almost all, were sure of arriving : in the younger part, that is to say, in nine-tenths of the whole of mankind, there would have been such an absolute security as would have produced, it is much to be feared, the utmost neglect of duty, of religion, of God, of themselves; whilst the remaining part would have been too much overcome with the certainty of their fate; would have too much resembled the condition of those, who have before their eyes a fixed and appointed day of execution The same consequence would have

ensued, if death had followed any known rule : whatever. It would have produced security in

one part of the species, and despair in another. The first would have been the highest degree dangerous to the character; the second insupportable to the spirits. The same observation we are entitled to repeat concerning the two cases of sudden death, and of death brought on by long disease. If sudden deaths never occurred, those, who found themselves free from disease, would be in perfect safety: they would regard themselves as out of the reach of danger. With all apprehen.

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