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and ease and affluence were placed beyond thy hope ; for when ease and affluence approached thee, thou wast content with poverty and labour no more. That which then became the object, was also the bound of thy hope; and he, whose utmost hope is disappointed, must inevitably be wretched. If thy supreme desire had been the delights of Paradise, and thou hadst believed that by the tenour of thy life these delights had been secured, as more could not have been given thee, thou wouldest not have regretted that less was not offered. The content which was once enjoyed, was but the lethargy of soul; and the distress which is now suffered, will but quicken it to action. Depart, therefore, and be thankful for all things; put thy trust in Him, who alone can gratify the wish of reason, and satisfy thy soul with good : fix thy hope upon that portion, in comparison of which the world is as the drop of the bucket, and the dust of the balance. Return, my son, to thy labour; thy food shall be again tasteful, and thy rest shall be sweet; to thy content also will be added stability, when it depends not upon that which is possessed upon earth, but upon that which is expected in heaven.'
Hassan, upon whose mind the Angel of Instruction impressed the counsel of Omar, hastened to prostrate himself in the temple of the prophet. Peace dawned upon his mind like the radiance of the morning : he returned to his labour with cheerfulness ; his devotion became fervent and habitual ; and the latter days of Hassan were happier than the first,
RELIGION THE BEST SUPPORT AMIDST THE
DISTRESSES OF LIFE.
CONSIDER religion in the light of consolation, as bringing aid and relief to us, amidst the distresses of life. Here it incontestibly triumphs; and its happy effects in this respect furnish a strong argument to every benevolent mind, for wishing them to be further diffused throughout the world. For, without the belief and hope afforded by divine revelation, the circumstances of man are extremely forlorn. He finds himself placed here as a stranger in a vast universe, where the powers and operations of nature are very imperfectly known; where both the beginnings and the issues of things are involved in mysterious darkness ; where he is unable to discover, with any certainty, whence he sprung, or for what purpose he was brought into this state of existence; whether he be subjected to the government of a mild, or of a wrathful ruler; what construction he is to put on many of the dispensations of his providence; and whiat his fate is to be when he departs hence. What a disconsolate situation to a serious, inquiring mind! The greater degree of virtue it póssesses, its sensibility is likely to be the more oppressed by this burden of labouring thought. Even though it were in one's power to banish all uneasy thought, and to fill up the hours of life with perpetual amusement; life so filled up would, upon reflection, appear poor and trivial. But these are far from being the terms upon which man is brought into this world. He is conscious that his being is frail and feeble; he sees himself beset with various dangers, and is exposed to many & melancholy apprehension, from the evils which he may have to encounter before he arrives at the close of life. In this distressed condition, to reveal to him such discoveries of the supreme Being as the Christian religion affords, is to reveal to him a father and a friend; is to let in a ray of the most cheering light upon the darkness of the human estate. He who was before a destitute orphan, wandering in the inhospitable desert, has now gained a shelter from the bitter and inclement blast. He now knows to whom to pray, and in whom to trust; where to unbosom his sorrows, and from what hand to look for relief.
It is certain, that when the heart bleeds from some wound of recent misfortune, nothing is of equal efficacy with religious comfort. It is of power to enlighten the darkest hour, and to assuage the severest woe, by the belief of divine favour, and the prospect of a blessed immortality. In such hopes, the mind expatiates with joy; and when bereaved of its earthly friends, solaces itself with the thoughts of one friend, who will never forsake it. Refined reasonings, concerning the nature of the human condition and the improvement which philosophy teaches us to make of every event, may entertain the mind when it is at ease; may, perhaps, contribute to soothe it, when slightly touched with sorrow; but when it is torn with any sore distress, they are cold and feeble, compared with a direct promise from the word of God. This is an anchor to the soul, both sure and stedfast. This has given consolation and refuge to many a virtuous heart, at a time when
the most cogent reasonings would have proved utterly unavailing.
Upon the approach of death especially, when, if a man thinks at all, his anxiety about his future interests must naturally increase, the power of religious consolation is sensibly felt. Then appears, in the most striking light, the high value of the discoveries made by the gospel; not only. life and immortality revealed, but a mediator with God discovered; mercy proclaimed, through him, to the frailties of the penitent and the humble; and his presence promised to be with them when they are passing through the valley of the shadow of death, in order to bring them safe into unseen habitations of rest and joy. Here is ground for their leaving the worid with comfort and peace. But in this severe and trying period, this labouring hour of nature, how shall the unhappy man support himself, who knows not, or believes not, the hope of religion? Secretly conscious to himself, that he has not acted his part as he ought to have done, the sins of his past life arise before him in sad remembrance. He wishes to exist after death, and yet dreads that existence. The Governor of the world is unknown. He cannot tell whether every endeavour to obtain his mercy may not be in vain. All is awful obscurity around him; and in the midst of endless doubts and perplexities, the trembling reluctant soul is forced away from the body. As the misfortunes of life must, to such a man, have been most op, pressive; so its end is bitter : his sun sets in a dark cloud; and the night of death closes over his head, full of misery.
THE SAME SUBJECT. THERE are no principles but those of religion to be depended on in cases of real stress, and these are able to encounter the worst emergencies; and to bear us up under all the changes and chances to which our life is subject.
Consider then what virtue the very first principle of religion has, and how wonderfully it is conducive to this end : that there is a God, a powerful, a wise, and good being, who first made the world, and continues to govern it;-by whose goodness all things are designed—and by whose providence all things are conducted to bring about the greatest and best ends. The sorrowful and pensive wretch, that was giving way to his misfortunes, and mournfully sinking under them, the moment this doctrine comes in to his aid, hushes all his complaints--and thus speaks comfort to his soul, „It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.-Without his direction I know that no evil can befal me,—without his permission that no power can hurt me:-it is impossible a being so wise should mistake my happinessor that a being so good should contradict it. If he has denied me riches or other advantagesperhaps he foresees the gratifying my wishes would undo me, and by my own abuse of them be perverted to my ruin.- -If he has denied me the request of children,--or in his providence has thought fit to take them from me--how can I say whether he has not dealt kindly with me, and only taken that away which he foresaw would embitter and shorten my days? It does so to,