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No subject of exhortation is oftener chosen by the divine and the moralist than the dangers of prosperity and the blessings of adversity . It is a good subject , and deserves all that can be said upon it ; but should not the reverse of the picture be sometimes held up to view ? There is little need , perhaps , to dwell much on the moral advantages of prosperity in order to make it desired , as such a state needs no new attractions to render it beautiful in the
eyes and welcome to the heart of man ; but it seems desirable to point out to the child of immortality the dangers which beset the path of sorrow ; a path which , though thorny to the feet and obstructed to the view , is generally represented as enlightened by the day-spring from on hi g h , and infallibly tending to heights of holiness and peace . Do we sufficiently reflect that such is not its universal tendency ? Are we aware that adversity has
slain its thousands , though prosperity may have destroyed its ten thousands ? It behoves us to be careful that , wbile we desire and aim at advancement in holiness , we are not lost through want of circumspection . While we guard against the snares of wealth , ease , and worldly privileges , let us not flatter ourselves that , as soon as sorrow overtakes us , we must necessarily become more worthy of the love of the Father who chasteneth us , that our hearts must necessarily be purified , and our affections elevated .
We shall be in great danger of falling into this fatal error if we take any other guide than the sound words of the gospel of Christ . Human guides may lead us astray ; we may follow them as far as , on comparison , we may find their warnings to agree with the voice of divine truth , but no further . When the poor man attains wealth , when he who was unknown or despised , stands on the eminence of fame , wben the bereaved mourner collects around him the elements of domestic peace , and is once more " safe bosomed in
his loved and happy home , " every voice is raised to warn him against the sins of ingratitude , pride , and avarice ; these voices tell him the truth , and we shall do right to awaken a powerful echo in the bosom of others , or in our own , if we wish to preserve our innocence and security . But when the mourner ' s friends , gather round him to speak to him of his peculiar safety when they raise his sinking spirit by asserting that his sorrows are marks of God ' s especial favour ; when they tell him that he will become holy by his
discipline , that his sufferings entitle him to an inheritance in the future world , and that the clouds which encompass him are but the veil behind which a benignant Deity descends to commune with his , chosen servant in his sanctuary , we must examine the enticing words of man ' s wisdom ,, and bring them to the test of Scripture . We must remember that adversity is sent to humble us ; that it is , a sign that we need correction ; that it rather becomes the sufferer to cry , " Lord ! be merciful to me , a sinner / ' than " Lord ! I thank thee that I am not as other men are . ' * We must
remember that though sorrow may soften the heart , it may also harden it ; that it inay expand or contract the affections ; that it may bring us to God or alienate us from him , according to our previous habits of mind , or to our course of action under the pressure of new circumstances . Instead of believing that the bitter draught of sorrow will assuredly confer immortality , -we must bear in mind that it will act according to our preparation for its operation ; it may renovate our powers ; it may restore our vigour , and infuse new life into our spiritual frame ; but it may also exert a relaxing and benumbing influence , and unawares lay m * prostrate in eternal death . If we
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ON THE DANGEKS OF ADVERSITV .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Aug. 2, 1827, page 558, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1799/page/6/