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gularity in the distribution of the gifts of Providence. Power, affluence, and abilities, are divided among men in very unequal portions; and while some are elevated, by these means, to a station which frequently does not appear to belong to them, others are as much lowered and depressed. These circumstances have afforded a constant ground of complaint ; and, at first sight, there seems to be some difficulty in pointing out the justice of this arrangement. In the words of the Apostle, however, we shall find a clue to guide us ; and it may
be useful to follow out some reflections which naturally arise from them.
In the first place, notwithstanding the hardships and injustice which frequently are produced from the disparities in the condition of mankind, it may be remarked, that, unless there were these distinctions, society could never be formed into
one whole. If every man were complete in himself, no one would require the assistance of another, and, instead of that regular and compacted form, which, amidst all'its disorders, the frame of human society exhibits, every one would exist in a state of disunion from his fellows, and a stop would be put to the whole progress and improvement of the world. The wants of some, and the superfluities of others, form the great link of union which binds men together ;--the weak take shelter under the wing of the powerful, and the ignorant receive light and intelligence from the wise. It is thus that all become “ members one of ano“ ther,” and in this connection, there is actually much less preference shewn to any one class than may at first be imagined The disorders inseparable from the present state of our nature will always, indeed, raise some
measurably high, and depress others equally low; but, taking the condition of mankind at an average, the distinctions which prevail are, as the Apostle terms them, differences of office or employment, much more than distinctions in point of advantage. It has often been remarked, that the lower orders of society enjoy a tranquillity and happiness to which those in the higher departments of life are very commonly strangers ; and when the poor and the humble industriously perform the duties of their station, it seldom happens that there is any condition above them which they can have much reason to envy.
: These observations apply to human society, even as it appears before us, vitiated by guilt and folly, and in which, therefore, the true principles on which Providence .designed it to be conducted, do not meet with their complete effect. Yet we may
discover what these principles are, if we consider, secondly, the natural tendencies of the distinctions among mankind, on the supposition, that they were not thwarted and led aside from their aim. And here, I believe, it will undeniably be found, that none of these distinctions are in themselves of a private or partial nature, but that they are all directed, with exquisite benevolence and wisdom, to the general good of the species. Men differ from each other, in power, in affluence, or in abilities. Yet none of these endowments can add very materially to the happiness of the person to whom they belong. Does the Prince sleep sounder than the Peasant ? Does he whom fortune enables to accumulate around him all the luxuries and distinctions of life, really enjoy greater happiness than he who is blessed with competence and contentment? Does the Philosopher speculate, or the Warrior toil, or the Legislator plan, for his own private entertainment ?
And do not, on the contrary, all the powers which men exercise, and all the gifts of Heaven, look beyond the individual who possesses them, and evidently point to the surrounding multitude of the human race, who may derive from their right employment incalculable benefits ?
In the very nature of these distinctions, therefore, we may clearly perceive the design of Providence in regard to them;a design, indeed, which it is left for man to carry into effect, and which he too often neglects or misapprehends. It is too frequently our weakness to be delighted with the possession of an endowment, while we are inattentive to the uses for which it was bestowed ;--- a weakness to