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Amidst all the evils that threaten me, I will look up to Him for help, and question not but that He will either avert them, or turn them to my advantage. Though I know neither the time nor the manner of the death I am to die, I am not at all solicitous about it, because I am sure that He knows them both, and that He will not fail to support and comfort me under them.'
Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
Make God thy friend
"with true prayers
That shall be up at Heaven, and enter there
and then it is no matter who is thine enemy.
With all imaginable application of mind and resignation say, "Not my will, but thine, be done;" and then go and be as happy as thou pleasest.
Misfortunes improved are converted into blessings: advantages abused become curses.
We are in several respects unjust to Providence in the computation of our pleasures and our pains. We remember the hours which are spent in distress or sorrow; but we forget those which have passed away, if not in high enjoyment, yet in the midst of those gentle satisfactions and placid emotions which make life slide smoothly along. We complain
1 Spectator, No. 7.
2 Measure for Measure.
of the frequent disappointments which we suffer in our pursuits; but we recollect not that it is in pursuit, more than in attainment, that our pleasure now consists.'
This we well know that we ourselves are often the very worst judges of what is good or ill for us in this life. Often have we seen that what we considered at the time as a sore disappointment, has proved in the issue to be a merciful providence; and that, if what we once eagerly wished for had been obtained, so far from making us happy, it would have produced our ruin.2
We are too apt to forget how often God hath succoured us in our needs and straits; how continually he hath provided for us; how patiently and mercifully he hath borne with us.
It is, really, infidelity which is at the root, as of all sin, so particularly of discontent.3
There can be no greater affront offered to God than to give Him the lie by questioning His veracity or fidelity. God hath expressly promised to care for us, and never to forsake us, or leave us destitute; which word of His, if we did not distrust, we could not be discontent.4
Expect not life from pain or danger free,
Nor deem the doom of man reversed for thee.
If God govern all things, he is just, because it is a part of infinite perfection; and, if so, he either
rewards here or hereafter; but not here always, therefore hereafter.1
Let us remember that we are in the hands of Him who knows when to give, and when to take away; who will look upon us with mercy through all our variations of existence; and who invites us to call on Him in the day of trouble. Call upon Him in this great revolution of life, and call with confidence. You will then find comfort for the past, and support for the future.2
I do not exhort you to reason yourself into tranquillity. We must first pray, and then labour; first implore the blessing of God, and [make use of] those means which he puts into our hands. Cultivated ground has few weeds: a mind occupied by lawful business has little room for useless regrets.3
If we heartily believe the doctrine of Divine Providence, let us show our faith by our works: let us live as if we did believe it; industriously, indeed, wisely, warily, because by this means we are to entitle ourselves to the protection of God; but withal unconcernedly, cheerfully, resignedly, as knowing that we are sure of His protection when we stand in need of it.4
Heav'n has lent
Our sorrows for our sins, and then delights
1 Pope (Letter to Charles Blount, 1693). 2 Johnson (Letters).
As if there were degrees in infinite,
And infinite would rather want perfection
That our present happiness may appear to be greater, and we the more thankful for it, let us consider how many, at this very time, lie under the torment of the stone, the gout, the tooth-ache, and other troubles. Every misery that I miss is a new mercy, and therefore let us be thankful: let me tell you there are many, with forty times our estates, who would give the greatest part of it to be healthful and cheerful. It has been wisely said, "there be as many miseries beyond riches as on this side them." I have a rich neighbour who is so busy that he has no leisure to laugh. God knows that the cares, that are the keys that keep those riches, hang often so heavily at the rich man's girdle, that they clog him with weary days and restless nights, when others sleep quietly."
He, and he only, possesses the earth as he goes towards that kingdom of heaven, who is humble, and cheerful, and content with what his good God has allotted him; he has no turbulent, repining, vexatious thoughts that he deserves better.
I have heard a grave divine say that God has two dwellings-one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.3
Let not the blessings we receive daily from God make us not to value them, or not to praise Him
1 Dryden (All for Love). 2 Isaac Walton.
because they are so common: what would a blind man give to see the pleasant rivers, and meadows, and flowers, and fountains, which we are allowed the privilege to see!
Many other blessings we enjoy daily, and let us not forget to pay their praises, because it is a sacrifice so pleasing to Him that made the sun and us, and still protects us, and gives us flowers, and showers, and stomach, and meat: and so let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord!'
To God pertain the issues of life and death. It is the Lord; let Him do what seemeth good in His own eyes; His "will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." 2
2 Jeremy Taylor.