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2 Cor. viii. 9.
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that,
though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
HAVING considered the duties which we
all owe to God, and some of those which particular situations of life require from us, as children, as husbands, as parents; I will, in the present discourse, address myself particularly to those who depend on their own industry, with the blessing of God, for their support ; and make some observations which relate principally to their situation in life.
Whatever opinion men may form of the advantages attendant on riches, and however they may despise poverty, it appears from the Gospel,
his country. Thus men are born unequal; and the necessary consequence is, that through life some will be stronger, some will be wiser, and some will be richer than others. No man, who believes what he reads in his Bible, can doubt that this was the intention of Providence; for, from the very first, God gave power to the husband over the wife, to the father over his children, and even to the elder brother over the younger, as appears by the story of Cain and Abel.* It must be acknowledged that this dispensation of Providence places some men in a more comfortable situation than others: for poverty and nakedness, cold and hunger, are great evils and we might reasonably wonder that some of the children of God should enjoy a much larger portion of the good things of this world than others, if our short life on earth were all we had to consider. But this is the fatal mis. take which has ruined thousands, and in our own times has made the world a field of blood. Men consider this life as a time of enjoyment, not as a time of trial; and finding themselves less happy than some of their neighbours, they try to make all equal, and in doing so they make all miserable. Let us, therefore, consider the world as the Holy Scripture represents it.
* Gen. iy. 7.
We are never taught to view this world as a state of happiness, though many blessings are bestowed to support us in our passage through it. This life is called a journey, a warfare, a pilgrimage ; we are told that here we have no abidingplace, but that through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God. Our business here is to prepare for heaven; and whatever be the state in which we are most likely to work out our salvation, and obtain the favour of God, this is the state in which a wise and a good man would wish to be placed. Our gracious God has been pleased to order that different men should be tried in different ways. He has appointed different ranks amongst mankind, and He has commanded us to submit to those whom He has set over us, for his sake. Why one man was born a king, and another a beggar, is known to God alone ; but if they serve him faithfully in their different stations, both will be accepted by him; and though we are not all equal when we come into this life, we certainly are so when we go out of it, except in what is the consequence of our own good or bad conduct here. We are
indeed often mistaken, in thinking that they who are born in a high station are the happiest, even in this world ; and many a sleepless night is spent by those who govern kingdoms, to secure the peace of the poor man's cottage ; but this is not the point which ought to be considered by the heir of immortal glory. Whether we are clothed in purple, and fare sumptuously every day, or whether we lie at the gate full of sores ; whether we sleep on a bed of down, or, like our blessed Lord, have not where to lay our head ; still a few more days and nights must put an end to these distinctions.
The rich and the poor must alike rest in the grave, the rich and the poor must alike rise to judgment, the rich and the poor must alike be sentenced to eternal happiness or misery
If we consider the good of the whole community, even in this world, it is easy to prove, that different ranks in society contribute much to the happiness of mankind. There must be some men appointed to make laws for the protection of all, or the strong would oppress the weak. There must be some to defend the rest, or the country would be a prey to every invader, and none could eat the fruit of his own industry,