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We may draw from hence a motive to bear all our infirmities with patience, and resignation to Providence. Good God! how many has sickness faved, whom health would have damned ? Whilst we feel no pain, no uneasiness within us, we place our happiness in the enjoyment of the pleafures of this life, without any thoughts of the other: we live, in finé, as if we were never to die, or never to revive. We esteem nothing but what flatters sense, and give ourselves up to the government of our unruly passions; but when infirmities affail us, when no art of physicians is able to divert our pain, or give us a moment of ease; oh! then we change our opinion of all those transitory pleasures that enslaved
We perceive this world is but a passage, either to an eternity of happiness or misery. And then, if we have the least tincture of religion, we prepare our felves for heaven, by a sincere repentance.
It is true, many suffer their infirmities, as the damned do their torments, with curses and imprecations ; but the favour is not less, because we abuse it: the fault lies on our side, who turn the antidote into poison, and the best remedy against fin, into, murmurs against providence for preventing it.
Say therefore, with resignation, Oh my Redeemer, I have long abused my health by offending thee. I deserve to be deprived of the blessing: I resign my self to thy will, and only desire thy assistance, to turn it to the profit of my soul: I know I must suffer for my sins, either in this life or the next: oh! spare me in eternity, and torment me in time: let me suffer here, as thy child and friend, not hereafter, eternally, as thy enemy.
Our Saviour would not heal them on the spot, but ordered them to repair to the priests. Go, Dhew your selves to the priests. But, wonder!
whilst they were on their way, they found themselves cured. But why did our blessed Lord fend them to the priests? In compliance with the Jewish Jaw, which he came not to destroy, but to ful
But now, behold a miracle of ingraçitude, almost as great as that of the cure! of the ten, one alone returned to thank our Saviour, and he a stranger. Were there not ten cleansed ? but where are the nine ? There are not found, that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
This is our Saviour's complaint : has he not as much reason to reproach us, dear Christians, with our ingratitude, as the nine lepers with theirs? How many favours have we received from his bounty ? how many graces ? Of a thousand, have we fériously returned him thanks for one? When we stood on the precipice of sin, and by consequence of damnation, how often has he with-held us? nay, how often has he raised us to life, when we were dead to him and heaven, by the sinful disorders of our lives? Have we acknowledged the favour? have we thank'd our Benefactor ?
Oh! ungrateful creature that I am! instead of thanks, Almighty God! I return thee affronts ! and employ those very favours, thou bestowest on me for thy glory and my falvation, to thy dif. honour and my damnation. For the future, by the aslistance of thy grace, I will not only thank thee with words, but with my whole heart: I will praise thy mercies, and obey thy commands.
EPISTLE to the Galatians, Chap. v. Ver.
16. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and je Mall not fulfil the Lufts of the flesh.
17. For the flesh lufteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh : and these are contrary the one to the other; so ibat ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18. But if ye be led by the Spirit, je are not under the law.
19. Now the Works of the flesh are manifesi, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20. Idolatry, witchcraft, batred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, feditions, herefies,
21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like : of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they, which do such things, Mall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22. But the fruit of the Spirit, is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23. Meekness, temperance : against such there is no law.
24. And they that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh, with the affe&tions and lufts.
The MORAL REFLECTION.
THE Apostle exhorts the Galatians to fol
low the impulse of the Holy Spirit, not the inclination of flesh: that leads us to virtue, this to pleasure ; that is, the one conveys us to heaven, the other to our everlasting misery. All our happiness depends on our obedience to the call, and inspiration of the Divine Spirit, and all our misfortune comes from our compliance with the inclinations of our corrupt nature.
But, alas! the Aesh and the Spirit are adverfaries : they are continually at variance; they fight one against the other ; and this domestic and civil war only ends with our lives. There is no hope of a peace, nor even of a truce, till death puts an end to the quarrel, and our fesh lies in the grave.
This contest fills our imagination with strange ideas of virtue: it persuades us, if we intend to practise it, we must bid farewel to all fatisfaction, and never expect one moment of content or pleasure. But, oh my soul, can this be true ? Oughtest chou not to give up all right to the least fatisfaction in this life, for an eternity of happiness in the other? Tho'thou didst hang on a rack forty years; what proportion between this torment, and an everlasting joy in heaven!
But virtue is not so void of pleasure, as corrupt nature and the devil represent it. Ask the faints, who practised it, and they will tell thee, on their own experience, nothing is more sweet, nothing more pleasant. St. Paul assures us, in the midit of his labours, and persecutions from Jews, Gentiles, and false brethren, he was replenished with joy. And is it not worth while to make a trial ? Does the difficulty deter men from the enterprize, when there appears a prospect of gain ? yet what they pursue is inconsiderable, and uncertain: but endeavour to be virtuous seriously, and you cannot miscarry. The success depends on your will, assisted by God's grace; and this will not be wanting : the recompence will be a peace of conscience here, and an eternal happiness hereafter.
The apostle gives a long catalogue of the works of the flesh, and, at the end, threatens hell and damnation to those that practise them: Adultery,
fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, 'witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, frife, feditions, beresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like ; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they, who do such things, Mall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Do all those fins exclude from heaven? Not always; as some small dissensions, a light motion of anger, jealousy, or envy. But they are mortal, when they arrive to such a degree, as to extinguish charity. However, they are, even in this circumstance, tho' venial, yet real offences against his Divine Majesty. And this very thought should keep Christians within the bounds of peace, who have received from their Redeemer so many exhortations ; nay, so severe commands to live in union and amity one with another.
But all acts of impurity are mortal, and the guilty are liable to those pains St. Paul threatens. Yet, O God! who would think there was such a precept, that misery, diseases, and beggary punished the delinquents in this world, and hell in the next? This unfortunate fin damns the greatest part of mankind ; notwithstanding the custom and frequency of it, all are ashamed of it. God once punished it with an universal deluge; he consumed five cities with fire and brimstone, and it has drawn down from heaven almost all the publick calamities on mankind, from the beginning of the world. Yet, in spite of all the chastisements in this world, and of threats of eternal torments in the next, men plunge into this vice, as if there were no prohibition. O dear Christians! act a little like men, and follow not, like beasts, the impulse of sense and passion. Weigh seriously what you expect from this offence, and what in reason you ought to fear. You can expect nothing but a short pleasure, fol