Imatges de pÓgina
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We may draw from hence a motive to bear all our infirmities with patience, and refignation to Providence. Good God! how many has fickness faved, whom health would have damined? Whilft we feel no pain, no uneafinefs within us, we place our happiness in the enjoyment of the pleafures of this life, without any thoughts of the other: we live, in fine, as if we were never to die, or never to revive. We esteem nothing but what flatters fenfe, and give ourselves up to the government of our unruly paffions; but when infirmities affail us, when no art of phyficians is able to divert our pain, or give us a moment of eafe; oh! then we change our opinion of all thofe tranfitory pleasures that enflaved us. We perceive this world is but a paffage, either to an eternity of happiness or mifery. And then, if we have the least tincture of religion, we prepare our selves for heaven, by a fincere repen

tance.

It is true, many fuffer their infirmities, as the damned do their torments, with curfes and imprecations; but the favour is not lefs, because we abufe it the fault lies on our fide, who turn the antidote into poison, and the best remedy against fin, into murmurs against providence for preventing it.

Say therefore, with refignation, Oh my Redeemer, I have long abufed my health by offending thee. I deferve to be deprived of the bleffing: I refign my felf to thy will, and only defire thy affiftance, to turn it to the profit of my foul: I know I must fuffer for my fins, either in this life or the next; oh! fpare me in eternity, and torment me in time: let me fuffer here, as thy child and friend, not hereafter, eternally, as thy enemy.

Our Saviour would not heal them on the fpot; but ordered them to repair to the priests. Go, Shew your felves to the priests. But, O wonder!

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whilst they were on their way, they found themfelves cured. But why did our bleffed Lord fend them to the priests? In compliance with the Jewish Jaw, which he came not to deftroy, but to fulfil.

But now, behold a miracle of ingratitude, 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 cleanfed? but where are the nine? There are not found, that returned to give glory to God, fave this ftranger.

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 feriously returned him thanks for one? When we stood on the precipice of fin, and by confequence 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 finful 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 thofe very favours, thou bestowest on me for thy glory and my falvation, to thy dif honour and my damnation. For the future, by the affiftance 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

EPISTLE to the Galatians, Chap. v. Ver

16. This I fay then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall 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; fo that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

18. But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19. Now the Works of the flesh are manifeft, which are thefe, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lafciviousness,

20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, ftrife, feditions, herefies,

21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and fuch like of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they, which do fuch things, fhall not inherit the kingdom of

God.

22. But the fruit of the Spirit, is love, joy, peace, long-fuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23. Meekness, temperance: against fuch there is no law.

24. And they that are Chrifl's, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lufts.

The MORAL REFLECTION.

TH

HE Apoftle exhorts the Galatians to follow the impulse of the Holy Spirit, not the inclination of flefh: that leads us to virtue, this to pleasure; that is, the one conveys us to heaven, the other to our everlasting mifery. All our happiness depends on our obedience to the call, and infpiration of the Divine Spirit, and all our mis

fortune

fortune comes from our compliance with the inclinations of our corrupt nature.

But, alas! the flesh and the Spirit are adverfaries they are continually at variance; they fight one against the other; and this domeftic 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 flefh lies in the grave.

This conteft fills our imagination with strange ideas of virtue it perfuades 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 foul, can this be true? Oughteft thou not to give up all right to the least satisfaction 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 everlafting joy in heaven!

But virtue is not fo void of pleasure, as corrupt nature and the devil reprefent it. Afk the faints, who practifed it, and they will tell thee, on their own experience, nothing is more fweet, nothing more pleafant. St. Paul affures us, in the midst of his labours, and perfecutions from Jews, Gentiles, and falfe 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 profpect of gain? yet what they purfue is inconfiderable, and uncertain: but endeavour to be virtuous ferioufly, and you cannot mifcarry. The fuccefs depends on your will, affifted 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 apoftle gives a long catalogue of the works of the flesh, and, at the end, threatens hell and damnation to thofe that practise them: Adultery, fornication,

fornication, uncleanness, lafciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, ftrife, feditions, herefies, envyings, murders, drunkennefs, revellings, and fuch like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time paft, K that they, who do fuch things, fhall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Do all thofe fins exclude from heaven? Not always; as fome fmall diffenfions, a light motion of anger, jealoufy, or envy. But they are mortal, when they arrive to fuch a degree, as to extinguish charity. However, they are, even in this circumstance, tho' venial, yet real offences against his Divine Majefty. And this very thought should keep Chriftians within the bounds of peace, who have received from their Redeemer fo many exhortations; nay, fo fevere commands to live in union and amity one with another.

But all acts of impurity are mortal, and the guilty are liable to thofe pains St. Paul threatens. Yet, O God! who would think there was fuch a precept, that mifery, difeafes, and beggary punished the delinquents in this world, and hell in the next? This unfortunate fin damns the greatest part of mankind; notwithstanding the cuftom and frequency of it, all are afhamed of it. God once punished it with an univerfal deluge; he confumed five cities with fire and brimftone, and it has drawn down from heaven almoft all the publick calamities on mankind, from the beginning of the world. Yet, in fpite of all the chaftifements in this world, and of threats of eternal torments in the next, men plunge into this vice, as if there were no prohibiO dear Chriftians! act a little like men, and follow not, like beafts, the impulfe of fenfe and paffion. Weigh feriously what you expect from this offence, and what in reafon you ought to fear. You can expect nothing but a fhort pleafure, fol

tion.

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