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SERM. cessful or not, we equally obtain a place in his favour: he fully understands every species of merit, and is most pleased where he finds it most abundant: if we are poor and weak, he looks to our intentions, and if those are pious and benevolent, he will not withhold his applause, because our situation will not permit us to carry them into action: the smallest alms given according to our abilities, the most hidden charitable wish fervently put up in private for our fellow creature attracts his notice, and secures his approbation; he sees them in secret, but we may be assured that he will reward them openly. What an incitement is it to be virtuous, to know that none, not only of our good actions but even of our good intentions, shall be lost! that the same gracious Being is the constant spectator, the intelligent judge, and will be the liberal rewarder of them!
Besides this influence on our conduct,
which the omnipresence of God should ob- SERM. tain, besides exciting us to what is good, and deterring us from what is evil, it ought also to have an influence on our temper, to prevent us from too strongly dreading the approach, or too inordinately lamenting the oppression of any calamity or misfortune. If an all-powerful and all-merciful Being has us constantly under his eye, we may be assured that nothing can happen to us, which is not either good in itself, or capable of being converted into good by our own behavi our under it.
Man is a very short-sighted and feeble creature; he is perpetually subject to evils, which he cannot foresee, or which perhaps, if he could foresee, he could not avoid; he ought to rejoice therefore, that he has a beneficent and powerful friend, the constant superintendant of his concerns, who will never fail to order them for the best, if his favour
SERM. favour is sought by those easy means, which IV. himself has appointed.
Let not then the good man be cast down, though apparent calamities do befall him; the patience and fortitude, with which he submits to them, the noble efforts to which they may give rise, the many virtues, for the exercise of which they afford opportunity, have a constant and accurate witness, who is ever at hand to register, and to reward them; who will never suffer those who trust in him, to be oppressed beyond their strength, to be tempted above what they are able to bear; who knows the precise time, when the aid of his holy spirit is most necessary, and will be most efficacious; and when he perceives that from the weakness of humanity we are almost overpowered, he may, either by infusing into us new strength, invigorate and revive our drooping spirits, or he may by some unexpected turn in our concerns do away what oppresses us; or, lastly,
lastly by a timely death he may snatch us from our sufferings, receive us himself, and recompense us for all we have undergone, with a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.