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And thirdly, It gives us a more devout and pious, and therefore a better heart.
And First, then, Sorrow is better than laughter, because it gives us a more humble, and therefore a better heart.
A very little knowledge of the world will fuffice to convince us, that man, whilst in prosperity, is a most proud and insolent being, a stranger to the wants of his fellow-creatures, and insensible of their miseries: whilft he is in the actual enjoyment of the good things of this life, ungratefully forgetting the hand that gave them, and always fattering himself that tomorrow will be like to day, and more abundant. As the wise man says, In the day of profperity there is no more remembrance of affliction, and in the day of affliction, there is no more re membrance of prosperity; that is, there is in man neither wisdom or gratitude, for we often weep
when we ought to rejoice, and complain, when we ought to be thankful.
In the warmth of summer, when the sun enlivens and invigorates all things around us, we can hardly bring ourselves to imagine that there is such a time as winter approaching, or that so pleasing a scene can be quickly deformed by storms and tempest, and rendered an image of barrenness and horror.-And so it is with regard to the temporal and transitory things of this life: when the body glows with health and vigour, and the mind is elated with joy and success, penury and misfortune are at such a distance, that we cannot readily form any conception of them; self-love is ever ready to flatter
and deceive us; and because we wish our pleasures should be lasting, we haftily and rashly conclude that they must be fo.
Happy is it for us then, that the great phyfician of mankind hath prepared a medicine, liowever unpalatable, for this worst of distempers, the pride and haughtiness of the human heart; happy is it for us, that when we are thus on the brink of evil and destruction, affliction may step in to save our eyes from tears and our feet from falling, that she may come, like the Cherub from the gate of Eden, to drive us from our visionary Paradise, and shew us that world which we are doomed to inha, bit, as it really exists.
but another advantage arising to us from sorrow, is, that it enhances the value of its opposite. Sorrow is to joy, what vice is to virtue, the best foil to its beauties; the come, liness of the one is recommended by the defor. mity of the other. The heart which hath never groaned under affliction, will not truly enjoy the transport of felicity; the man who has never been a slave, is a stranger to half the joys of freedom; and the warriour who has once been vanquished, if the fortune of the day should turn again in his favour, enjoys a double victory.
Another advantage also, and that no in, considerable one, is, that as it saves us from pride and infolence, fo doth it secure us also from ridicule and contempt. Human nature has subjected us to many diftreffes, and the ingenuity of man hath created as many more:
where the constitution is not subject to disorders, fancy, in weak minds, is ever ready to fupply them; where fortune hath provided against natural wants, humour and caprice can find out artificial ones, infomuch that the whimsical and abfurd suffer perhaps more from the absence of what they do not stand in need of, than of what they really want. Here then we again see the advantage of forrow; for those who have felt real misfortunes, will not make to themselves imaginary ones; the loss of trifles will not afflict him who hath at any time been deprived of a substantial good; and the man who knows what it is to want the necessaries of life, will not be over anxious for the superfluities of it.
But Secondly, Sorrow not only gives us a more meek and humble, but it gives us also a firmer, steadier, nobler, and therefore a better heart.
Fortitude is one of the highest virtues which we can acquire; it gives a dignity to human nature, and exalts it almost to divine. There cannot be a nobler spectacle, says the philosopher, nor worthier the fight of God himself, than a brave and virtuous man struggling with and subduing affliction; and on the other hand, there is not a poorer or more contemptible being, than he who bends beneath every blaft of fortune, and sinks under every disappointment. The man who makes so little use of his facul. ties, is unworthy of them; and he who has no hope or confidence in the gracious providence of God, can have no claim to his protection.
But moreover, sorrow not only enables us to bear with fortitude our own evils, but induceth us also to compassionate those of others. There is a graceful modesty, an amiable condescending meekness, in the behaviour of those who have been afflicted, which is seldom to be met with in the bofoin of plenty and prosperity. Strangers to pain and sorrow are frequently also strangers to humanity and compassion; their hearts are callous and insensible of the sufferings of their fellow-creatures, and they cannot pity what they have never felt: whereas those who have been acquainted with grief, have hearts to feel for the sufferings of others, and hands ready to relieve them.
But to be convinced how necessary affliction is to render us humane, benevolent and compassionate towards each other; let us but place before our eyes one of the gay sons of fortune, in all the pride of youth, health, and plenty, looking down on the poor and destitute with an eye of contempt and insensibility; because he is above the wants, fancying himself above the duties of life; fcoffing at religion, and defpising or perhaps disowning his Maker, would one take him for a created, mortal, dependent being. But let fancy change the scene, let us view this man, perhaps the very next hour, reduced to penury and want, or languishing on a bed of fickness, and observe the change: he who but a little before would scarce condescend to talk with the worthiest of his species, is glad to ask the aid and assistance of those whom he despised; he can then pity a distressed friend,
or relieve an indigent neighbour; he is no longer proud, obstinate, or impious, but humane, charitable, patient, and devout; he begins at laft to feel himself a man, and to know that there is a God; that there is a Being far more superior to himself than he can possibly be to the lowest part of the creation.
of the creation. Are not then the tender mercies of God over all his works, and does he not sincerely love those fons whom he chastifeth?
But, Thirdly and Lastly, Affiction is the mother of true piety: forrow gives us not only a more firm and noble, but withal a more devout and pious heart.
Were men to pass through life in an uninterrupted flow of pleasure and prosperity, they would perhaps have very little remembrance of Him who made thein; but there is a time when every one who believes there is a God will apply to him, and that is, when the help of men is vain. In the hour of afHiction men mult address themselves to some invisible power for immediate support and redress. Even those who deny the Being of a God, will then sue for his protection; and Atheists in alli&tion, like blind beggars, are forced to ask, though they know not of whom.
Our behaviour towards the Supreme Being is indeed the height of ingratitude and infidelity: whilst there are any other means left, we scorn to seek his aid, or to solicit for his interest, and never ask a favour of Him, till it has been denied us every where else: our acknowledgment of his power arises but from the sense of our own incapacity; and we seldom have