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when all the rich are outliving themselves: but certainly it is of bad consequence, that the maintenance is fixed by the laws; depending on which, many people make themselves poor by idleness and drunkenness, and apply for relief, when they ought rather to be sent to the house of correction. When the high price of the necessaries of life brings a poor industrious family into difficulties, so that they are obliged, after all their labour, to live upon what credit they can get; harassed with small debts, and dejected at the sight of their creditors; then my heart bleeds for them: I wish I was rich enough to relieve them all. I lament that there is not more ceconomy in their betters; and I pray that God will some time shew them a better world than this they now live in. When we compare the wants of many honest poor people, some under difficulties, some in distress, some in sorrow and lamentation, with the thousands which are squandered away for no one good purpose by the rich; a sum, perhaps, in the adventures of a single night, is hazarded and lost, sufficient to clear and set up an hundred poor families-for lire: when we compare these things, what shall we say, but that wickedness and folly united, cannot shew us a worse case? If he who gains the world, and loses his soul, be a fool, what is he who loses both! For here I am to warn all Christian people, that God giveth to us, that we may be able to give to others. He is no respecter of persons; his ways are equal; his mercy is over all his works; and all men must account strictly to his justice. Then the prodigal, who hath tormented and ruined himself, will discover that he has also robbed the poor, and that the Almighty is their avenger. Therefore, let the poor be frugal, that" they may lessen the troubles of the present life; and let the rich be prudent, that they may be charitable; so shall they find the blessing of God upon themselves and their affairs in this world, and secure an interest in the world to come.
HOW IS IT THAT YE DO NOT DISCERN THI* TIME? LUKE XJi. 56.
f~^ O D never calls upon us to discern the ways of his Providence, without giving us some signs, to direct and assist us in our judgment; who can no more comprehend the Divine counsels, without the Divine light, than we can behold the sun, without the assistance of his own rays.
When our blessed Lord required the people to examine, and judge for themselves, from the signs which attended his coming, he called them to a pleasant as well as a profitable enquiry: for as he then came to save the world, all the signs given to confirm his mission, explained the end of it, and were signs of salvation. The blind received their sight, the ears of the deaf were opened, the
'- i sick were healed, the dead were raised. Even
the heathen poets, according to the expectation they had of so desirable an event, represent it under the most beautiful imagery, as the restoration of a golden age, in which man should recover that purity and happiness, of which he had so long been deprived by the corruption of his nature. And when these things were about to be fulfilled, we hear the servants of God, who were better informed, congratulating each other on the times they had lived to see; Blessed art tkott among women, said Elizabeth to the holy Virgin: Blessed are your eyes, said the Lord to his disciples: many prophets and kings have desired to see the things which ye aee, and have not seen them. The wise men of the east rejoiced with exceeding great joy, when they saw the star which directed them: the shepherds glorified and praised God for all the things which they had seen and heard: even the heavenly host uttered a song of triumph: the heartens rejoiced, and the earth was glad, when the Saviour was ushered into the world: all the signs of his birth, and of his ministry, were favourable and salutary, and inspired with hope and gladness all those who were wise enough to understand them.
Such were the sentiments 6f men and angels at his first appearance. His second coming, to judge the world, hath also its signs; but none of them are pleasant: they are all alarming, all terrible; all partaking of the nature of that tremendous event in which they are to terminate: earthquakes, famines, pestilences, distress of nations: insurrections and tumults; disturbing the world, as storms agitate the wide waters of the sea: these are the things we are to look for. As bodily death is preceded by symptoms of a deadly sort; by terrors and faintings, and pangs, and convulsions; we have every reason to expect, that the world's death will be brought on by sins and disorders, upon a great scale, and of a new species. And here it is worth observing, that while men, by their perverseness, are making the miseries of the time, they are marking its characters: but, in ignorance; they know not what they do.
Herod and Pontius Pilate, and the rulers of the Jews, were all busy in bringing to pass what the hand and counsel of God had determined to be done; but without knowing it: they had ends and objects of their own, at -•which they were aiming for themselves, while they were fulfilling the purposes of God;