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because mankind deserve trouble. It was fit that God should provide such a habitation for such creatures as the human race are. It was fit that they should be placed in a world very different from that in which holy beings are placed. It was fit they should dwell in brittle houses of clay, in a valley of tears, and a world of darkness, trouble and affliction, where every thing around them should remind them of their unworthiness, and the displeasure of God towards them for their apostacy and disobedience. Natural evil is the only proper punishment of moral evil. There is no ground to suppose that there ever would have been any natural evil in this world, if moral evil had never come into it. Since all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, they deserve to feel all the pains, and disappointments, and bereavements, and sorrows, which fall to their lot in this troublesome world. They have reason to say, amidst their greatest troubles, that they are punished far less than they deserve at the hands of their offended Sovereign. Why should a living man complain of a troublesome world, which is infinitely better than he has deserved? 2. God ordained this to be a troublesome world, to wean mankind from it. They are naturally too much attached to this world, notwithstanding all the evils and afflictions they suffer in it. The good they enjoy overbalances the evils they endure; and instead of desiring to leave the world, they wish, and desire, and sometimes vainly hope, that their houses may continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations. How few are there, who have lived long enough to be completely satisfied with living, and desirous of leaving their present dark and dreary abode! But when God causes men to experience trouble upon trouble, and sorrow upon sorrow, and dissolves one tender connection after another, they often grow less and less attached to this evil world, and become more and more reconciled to leaving it. Trouble made Job say of life, “I loathe it: I would not live alway.” And trouble always has a tendency to wean mankind more or less from the vain pursuits and uncertain prospects of this short and delusive state. It was wise in God, therefore, to make this a troublesome world, when he had determined that men should not live for ever: but after a few years or few days go to their long home. We commonly find that the young and prosperous, who have never drunk deep of the cup of sorrows, are more fond of the world, and more reluctant to going out of it, than those who have been bowed down under the weight of heavy afflictions and sore bereavements. The means which God employs always produce the effects which he intended to produce. And since we find by experience and observation, that the troubles and afflictions in this present evil world do actually serve to wean mankind from it, we may justly conclude, that God made it an evil world to answer this salutary and important purpose. Besides, 3. There is another good reason to be given, why God ordained this to be a troublesome world; and that is, to prepare those who live in it for their future and final state. All troubles, afflictions, sorrows, and bereavements, are trials of the human heart. They have a powerful tendency to draw forth both virtuous and sinful exercises, and so to prepare men for future happiness or misery. It is, by means of worldly troubles, that God often awakens the attention, alarms the fears, convinces the consciences, and subdues the hearts of sinners. He took this method to restrain, reform, and convert Manasseh. And when he resolved to arrest the careless and stout-hearted sinners in Zion, he said, “I will melt them and try them.” Many have been chosen, and tried, and purified in the furnace of affliction. It is also by the means of the afflictive dispensations of providence, that God sometimes prepares men for final ruin. By this method, he hardened the hearts of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and fitted them for their awful doom. And it is by the means of singular troubles and fiery trials, that God refines and beautifies the characters of sincere and emiment believers. By such rough means, he formed the beautiful character of Abraham, of Joseph, of Moses, of Job, of David, of Daniel, and of all the prophets and apostles, and even of Christ himself, who through sufferings was made perfect. A troublesome world is well adapted to be a place of trial, and a place of trial is well adapted to prepare mankind for their final condition. The troubles of life never fail to make men either better or worse, and to form their character for eternity. God orders all the natural evils in this world, in weight, and in measure, and in duration, so as to answer his eternal purposes, respecting the final destination of the human race. He has wise and good ends to answer, by making this a troublesome world to all who live in it. It is every way fitted to express his feelings, to try their hearts, and prepare them for endless joy or sorrow, according to their views, and feelings, and conduct, under his correcting hand.
1. Since God has ordained this to be a troublesome world, it is a very great favor that he has given us his word, which unfolds his wise and holy designs in making and governing all things. The mere light of nature does not discover to mankind the source of the evils which fall upon them. Though they are generally very little concerned to know from whence comes the good they enjoy, yet they have always been both curious and anxious to know from whence comes the evil they suffer. This important question has been agitated in all ages and among all nations. The Philistines were anxious to know whether the sore evils they were suffering were inflicted by some invisible power, or were the effect of mere blind and unmeaning chance. And mankind ever since have generally been as much puzzled to account for the troubles, and afflictions, and sufferings, which abound in this present evil world, as the Philistines were. They have commonly been disposed to ascribe the evils of life to nature, rather than to the God of nature. But the Bible teaches us that they come from the Creator and Governor of the world, who causes them to take place to answer wise and benevolent purposes. This throws light upon every evil that falls upon a city, or family, or any individual person. Nothing but the Bible can dispel the darkness, the thick darkness which rests upon divine providence. Neither heathens, who have never seen the Bible, nor infidels, who do not believe it, can see the least gleam of light respecting the evils that they or others suffer. The heathen are represented as “sitting in darkness, and in the shadow of death.” And infidels are represented as saying, “The Lord hath forsaken the earth.” “The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil.” The great mass of mankind are now groping in heathenish or infidel darkness, and cannot account for any public calamities or personal afflictions. It is therefore an unspeakable favor, that we enjoy the word of God, which explains the ways of providence, and throws light upon the dark side of things in this present evil world. The gospel has brought life and immortality to light, and assures us that God has made this an evil world, for the benevolent purpose of preparing us for a future and better world. And what can be more consoling to mankind, while they are passing through the afflictive and trying scenes of life, than to know that they come from the heart and hand of an infinitely wise and benevolent being, who will bring light out of darkness, and joy out of sorrow, to all his submissive and dutiful subjects. The Bible is an infallible guide and support to all the afflicted who read, believe, and love it. It exhibits such glorious truths and objects, as are sufficient to spread light, and peace, and consolation, to all who are travelling the strait, and narrow and rugged path to eternal life. 2. As God had wise and good reasons for making this a troublesome world, we may justly conclude that he has as wise and good reasons for not making it any more troublesome than WOL. III. 36
it is. Though it affords a great deal of evil, yet it affords much more good than evil. Mankind very seldom enjoy good without a mixture of evil, and never suffer evil without a mixture of good. Notwithstanding the numerous evils that fall to the lot of mankind, they are generally in a state of joy, rather than in a state of sorrow. This appears both from observation and experience. We constantly see many more rejoicing than mourning; and we find it much more easy to rejoice with those who rejoice, than to mourn with those that mourn. But if we were more sorrowful than joyful, we should be more disposed to associate with the sorrowful than with the joyful, and to mourn with those who mourn, than to rejoice with those who rejoice. How hard do people generally find it, to bring their views and feelings into unison with mourners at a funeral! But how easy do they find it to bring their views and feelings into unison with those who rejoice at a festival! The truth is, though God has made this a troublesome world, yet he hath filled the earth with his goodness. God is good, and doeth good, and his tender mercies are over all his works. The good he dispenses far exceeds the evil he inflicts. He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. It is only if need be, that he sends sickness, afflictions and bereavements to the children of men. But he might have made this world tenfold more troublesome than it is; and he undoubtedly would have done it, had he not designed it to be a state of trial, and not of final retribution. He never afflicts any but those whom he finds it necessary to afflict; and he never lays more or greater burdens upon any, than he sees it necessary to lay upon them. He is here training up rational and immortal creatures for a future and eternal state, and dispenses both good and evil in the wisest and best manner, to prepare them for their final destination. When milder methods fail of producing such effects upon the hearts and lives of men, as he sees necessary to produce, he employs the rod of correction, and throws them into the furnace of affliction. Some will not be taught by any other means but briars and thorns, and a series and complication of afflictions. He is constrained to “melt them and try them.” But he refrains from chastising them as long as infinite wisdom and goodness will permit. He told his backsliding people, that he was extremely reluctant to punish them. “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim 2 how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah 2 how shall I set thee as Zeboim' Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim : for I am God and not man.” God makes this troublesome world as free from trouble as he possibly can, consistently with his great and good design in creating it. 3. Since this is a troublesome world to all who are born and . live in it, we have reason to think that some are not so much more happy than others, as they are ready to imagine. Though mankind are dispersed all over the world, and placed in very different external circumstances, yet we cannot determine, that their happiness or unhappiness bears an exact proportion to their external circumstances. Every person knows his own circumstances better than those of another, and his own happiness or unhappiness better than the happiness or unhappiness of another. Mankind are more apt to think that they suffer more than others, than that they enjoy more than others; and this comparison, which they are so apt to make, is one of the greatest sources of unhappiness in the world. They judge of one another's happiness and unhappiness, by what they see, and not by what they know. The poor imagine that they are more unhappy than the rich; the sickly, that they are more unhappy than the healthy; the unfortunate, that they are more unhappy than the fortunate; and the afflicted, that they are more unhappy than those in prosperity. But in all these cases, they judge of one another by outward appearance, and not by internal views and feelings. And this is a very fallacious way of judging. Every man's heart knows its own bitterness, and not the bitterness of another's. One man suffers more from one evil, than another would from the same evil. One man suffers more in one situation, than another would in the same situation. One man suffers more from one misfortune, than another would from the same misfortune. The exterior circumstances of mankind are far from being a certain criterion of their internal happiness, or unhappiness. The servant is often much happier than the master; and the subject much happier than the prince; and the poor much happier than the rich; and the unfortunate than the fortunate. The rich and the poor meet together, and stand much nearer upon a level, in respect to worldly happiness or unhappiness, than either are ready to imagine. They are all born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward; and one is extremely apt to think that he has a larger portion of it than another, and that there is no sorrow like unto his sorrow. 4. Since this is ordained to be a troublesome world, it is folly and presumption in any to expect that they shall escape the common evils of life, and enjoy uninterrupted prosperity and happiness. Those who are prosperous in the morning or meridian of life, are extremely apt to imagine that their mountain stands strong, and that they shall never meet with the