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collect, that in proportion as spiritual benefit would arise to any from the performance of family prayer, will be the sin of the head of that family who neglects it; because, it is our duty to promote good where it is likely to arise; to inculcate religion where there is a disposition to imbibe it ;-and if it be incumbent upon us to perform these duties, it must be criminal to neglect them. We' have now considered the necessity of prayer, and

, the danger of neglecting it, and I shall therefore quit the subject with pressing upon you the advice given in the text, to “pray without ceasing.”

SERMON XXIII.

ON PHYSICAL GOOD AND EVIL.

JOB, 11. 10.

“ Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we

not receive evil ?"

You may remember that these were the words of the patriarch Job when writhing under the visitation of bodily sufferings such as it has rarely fallen to the lot of man to undergo; and they propose a very pertinent inquiry to every human heart. In these words it is evident that good and evil are to be taken in their most limited, not their general acceptation : the latter signifying physical, as opposed to moral, evil; the former physical, as opposed to moral, good.

That God is the source of all good, is nowhere a question. Whatever good, therefore, we enjoy must proceed from him, and however distant from the fountain we may drink of the stream, we must still go up to Him as its pure and eternal spring. Let us not however infer, from the words before us, that he is also the source of evil. True it is, that “great plagues remain for the ungodly, but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord, mercy embraceth him on every side.” That, as the Deity frequently dispenses blessings, so he also visits mankind with occasional penalties, which we denominate evils, is not to be denied ; it belongs to the economy of his moral government; for by these we are chastened “unto the day of redemption." But then he merely permits evil, he did not originate it. From the rebel angel, “ the father of lies,” it derived its origin; and man by a breach of covenant with his Maker admitted it into the world. The evil of suffering followed the evil of sin. Sin, therefore, and not God, is the cause of it. infinite perfection cannot be the author of sin, so neither can it be the author of evil. “O Lord God of our fathers ! art thou not God in heaven, where nothing impure can enter ? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?” It is however the power to do good and the might to do justly, which alone belong to God. Though the Almighty allows evil to prevail as a punishment for sin, it can be no more said to be derived from him than good from Satan, because the latter does not always prevent the operation of good when this may happen to be in his power.

In considering the Patriarch's question, we shall

And as

treat of the good and evil there mentioned as embracing only those temporal pleasures and pains which accrue to man, during his brief journey to that land of everlasting rest, where good is universal and the name of evil is unknown.

Apt as we are to repine at our afflictions in this world, we should perhaps feel somewhat abashed at our folly if we did but soberly reflect that amidst all the numerous difficulties and troubles by which we are beset, we are ourselves the positive and sole cause of almost the whole of them. “After all that is come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great trespass, seeing that God has punished us less than our iniquities deserve, but has given us great deliverance” in the atonement which he has himself offered for our sins, should we not fall low on our knees to bless him for his mercy that we suffer so little, instead of grieving that we suffer so much? Indeed, a very large proportion of the evils of this life might be evaded if we would only adhere strictly to the discipline of religion, directing our lives upon the rules laid down in holy writ. And if means have been furnished to us for mitigating at least, if not removing our afflictions, we can have no cause to be dissatisfied with our sufferings, if we neglect to employ those means. If piety will not remove tribulations, it will at all events reconcile us to them ; it will render us patient under them ; it will turn them to our account by taking from them lessons of resignation to the

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divine will, and of encouragement to better hopes in a better world; it will cause them to direct our recollections to what we are, and enable us to extract from them seeds that shall grow up and ripen into righteousness. Under the rough and repulsive vesture of calamity there will often be found many an infant virtue, which, fostered by the spare and bitter nutriment that she supplies, shall grow up into vigour and comeliness, and at length come forth, like “ the polished corners of the temple," arrayed in the “beauty of holiness," and fitted to take their everlasting station at “the right hand of the Majesty on High.”

We are generally but too unwilling to believe that we originate our own sufferings : a little reflection, however, will make this obvious to us all. Is not our uneasiness of conscience to be traced to our want of piety; our poverty often to extravagance, to wild speculations and unjustifiable

, schemes of profit? Is not disease frequently the result of dissipation-ignorance, of idleness—and even death, of an over-scrupulous adherence to the fastidious, but alas! criminal, laws of honour ? Do not many of our bodily infirmities arise from our excesses? May we not, for the most part, attribute insult to provocation, contempt to insolence, chastisement to slander, disgrace to depravity, and evil report to immoral practices? Do we not invariably reap from what we sow? Tares can only produce tares. In short, all the evils of this life

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