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pugnant to the justice of God's government. For riches, and honour, and power are not the necessary fruits of virtue ; they are peace of mind, and the testimony of a good conscience. In short, vice is immediately followed by its natural punishment, and virtue by its natural reward. God's natural government, then, is perfectly complete ; and as far as it is concerned, we have no reason to complain.

Indeed, the greatest part of our complaints is founded on our own inconsistent ideas. Why should we envy the wicked man the pleasures of this life when he has sacrificed ease, and liberty, and conscience, to obtain them? They are certainly purchased at a dear rate. Why do we repine at his success, when he takes the natural and direct road which leads to it: when he rises early, and sits up late : when this world engrosses all his thoughts and care ? On the other hand, we form unreasonable expectations in behalf of the good. There is a modesty natural to virtue which prevents a man from exerting his faculties to their full extent.

The good man, whose prospects lie beyond the grave, puts little value on the things of this world, and undergoes little trouble to acquire them.

The contempt in which he holds those honours and that grandeur at which other men so eagerly grasp, effectually damps his ardour in the pursuit of them. He possesses, in short, a nice sensibility of conscience and a scrupulous adherence to integrity which will not allow him to mingle in the bustle and intrigue of life: to conform himself to the maxims and opinions of the world, or go with the multitude to do evil. No wonder, then, that he is poor, neglected, and unsuccessful.

God's natural government would be incomplete, were it otherwise.

But still religion teaches us, that, bad men ought not to be happy, nor good men miserable; that, vice deserves farther punishment, and virtue a further reward, than they have a natural tendency to produce; and we think, that, if God's moral government were equitable, the wicked should not escape, nor the expectation of the just be cut off. But, in the first place, do you suppose, that, wicked men, however great or opulent, are really happy? No, my friends. The main pillar of one's happiness must be placed in his own breast, and if all is not right within, the vain show in which many men walk, the noise and splen

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dour which surround them, will only create new sources of uneasiness. The face may wear the smile of joy, but underneath lurk care, anxiety and discontent. Observe the conduct of those who live in the opulence and luxury of life, and whose merits, you think, do not entitle them to such elevation? Does it indicate the possession of happiness greater than what other men enjoy? They fly to business, to company, to amusement, in order to get rid of their own thoughts, and in quest of happiness to which, at home and in private, they seem to be strangers. Nay, frequently, after having been jaded in the ways of vice, tossed in the whirl of pleasure, and lost in dissipation of thought, life at length becomes insipid, its enjoyments tasteless, and existence itself a burden. This is the state of too many of the rich and great, in whatever way their riches and power have been obtained. But if they have been acquired by fraud, by rapine and by oppression, then they are unacquainted with that pure and exquisite pleasure which springs from a conscience void of offence to. wards God and towards man. Then there is a gall which embitters every feast, there is a poison which is mingled in

every cup. Then

Conscience, who was not heard amidst the storm of passion, lifts up her voice, and speaks in terrour to the guilty soul. And wretched indeed must be the situation of that man who has no internal resource nor comfort; who is exposed to the stings and reproaches of his own mind : whose steps are ever haunted by the dæmon of remorse; whom guilt appals with awful anticipations of future punishment. What are poverty, and pain, and sickness to this? A man may sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit, who can bear?

In the second place, though the justice of God be, undoubtedly, pledged for the punishment of the wicked, we can have no proof that it is pledged to inflict this punishment immediately upon the commission of the crime. In God's moral government, we have already observed, there is no connection between the crime and the punishment, but that of desert; and a thing's being deserved only proves, that, it shall certainly happen some time or other, without determining either the time or the manner of its happening. How then shall we pretend to say that it is unjust in God to delay the punishment of sinners even for a single moment? We ought not to limit

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the God of nature, or suppose that He whose dominions extend throughout all space, and whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, is obliged to make this world the scene of punishment, or that he is confined to the present life for its execution.

The punishment, then, even of the most notoțious offenders, who in the judgment of all men are ripe for vengeance, may

without injustice be delayed. But I go farther, and maintain that it must be delayed to a certain degree, without its being productive of the greatest injustice and disorder, without destroying the whole constitution of human affairs.

If God's moral government were to counteract his natural, if the execution of the general laws of the universe were prevented or suspended in order to punish or reward individuals, there could be no certainty in human affairs; vice, disorder, and confusion would take place of that harmonious and uniform plan of things which now prevails. Men would not know how to act under so uncertain and changeable a government, because they could have no security that their actions would be attended with their due reward. Who would sow their fields, or plant their vineyards, if

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