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out of which he alone can save them, is a doctrine which none but good men can understand or believe. And let them never be discouraged: such trouble is no sign that God has forsaken them; it is a sign that God hath adopted them for his children, and will save them at last. One of the greatest favourites of heaven, the patriarch Jacob, was exercised with these trials; but under them all God was present to his faith, redeeming him from all evil; and whenever we are in extremity, let his words be a lesson to us.—/ have waited for thy Salvation, O Lord,
NOTE I.—Page 117.
I HE Poet in his Elegy on an unfortunate Lady who killed herself for love (I believe incestuous) thus blends his praises with his lamentations.
First, it is made questionable whether it can be any crime in heaven to act the part of a Roman, and the lady is celebrated for thinking greatly and dying bravely: that as she soared above vulgar passion in the practice of incest, her ambition was sanctified by the example of aspiring to angels and gods, that is devils; for h<- can allude to nothing but the fall of Lucifer, whose fall is called a. glorious one. The poet, seeming to think himself in possession of St. Peter's keys, makes no doubt but that the pure spirit of this self-murdress (who made Lucifer her pattern) is gone to heaven, its congenial place. Yet such is the consistency of a poet's logic, that he prays heaven that th« lasting lustre, the great sentiments, and the heroic death of this woman, may be sent as a curse, and a sudden ven» geance on the posterity of those who crossed her desires. So are they all to perish; that is, they are to indulge tha passion of angels and gods, and die an honourable Roman
death, receive the protection of angels' wings over their graves, and consecrate the uncousecrated ground in -which self-murderers are buried!
Our studies of late have encouraged a sort of religion which has no devotion in if; while it affects superior rationality, it leaves us there, and so we are destitute of that divine comfort without which the sonl of a Christian cannot weather the storms of life.
Want of employment renders the mind stagnant, vapid, and by degrees noxious to itself.
If the affections are violently set upon any thing in this world, whether fame, wealth, or pleasure, and are disappointed, then life becomes insupportable. Therefore the moral is this: "Set your affections on things above, not oo thiogs on the earth."
Lunacy, though sometimes accidental or natural, is generally artificial .• ungovernable appetites fill the vessels with gross humours, and if they settle in the head, they generate disorders in the mind. I do not suppose there ever was a well-governed mind in an ungoverned body: and mortification being now totally out of fashion in the world and exploded in religion (so far have we unhappily carried on reformation) there is more self-indulgence than there used to be, and consequently the mind becomes distempered, and when vice co-operates, and inflamed passions are disappointed, lunacy succeeds, and ends in suicide. This is often the progress: the world is full of disappointment; he who would bear it well must reduce his passions, and he who would do this must mortify his body. There is no other course. I have heard it observed in a Roman Catholic country, " that the fulness which Intemperance breeds in the gentry is brought down by the meagre days of the week; and if that is not sufficient, u the Lent comes found, that it is sure to bring thern
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into good order, good principles, resignation to the will of God in all things, and trust in his protection." God permits the troubles of the righteous, whose disappointments are productive of future good to pious men, and they then often live. Faith holds out a light in the darkest night of vexation, and hope raises the dejected spirit. They are not the passions of good people that lead to suicide, but of the proud, the vain, and irreligious; who take their comfort from this world, and it forsakes tl^em.
Temperance is the next preservative: and to open the mind to some faithful friend, especially to a spiritual counsellor. When the mind is filled with some bad subject and overloaded, it must be relieved, as the body is when it is too full of bad blood.
Vanity and ungoverned passions breed extravagance; extravagance soon leads to distress and poverty: to remedy which they fly to gaming for a poor chance of mending their broken affairs, which becoming still worse by this dreadful expedient, desperation ensues, and self-murder is the end.
The doctrine of reprobation terrifies some ill-informed minds, who taking the notion of absolute unconditional predestination in a wrong sense, are driven to despair, and give themselves up as objects devoted to destruction; a most unhappy delusion, to remove which would require a discourse of itself; but here I can only touch "upon it.
Note 2, page 118.
Ignorant and ill designing people tell us, that suicide
is no where forbidden in the Scripture. If it be not
expressly forbidden, it is because it is not supposed, as
being a thing to which there is no temptation; for no man
hateth hi* own flesh; he is in danger of loving it over much 5 when a man is forbidden to murder for robbery or revenge, to commit adultery, and to covet his neighbours' goods, there is the temptation of gaining or gratifying; and therefore there is something to be forbidden: but how strangely would it sound, if it were inserted into the commandments, "thou shah not put out thine vwn eyes!" It would look as if the commandments were given for the benefit of fools and madmen; to whom no commandments can be of any service: and they that can argue in 6uch a manner are surely no better.
Note 3, page 119.
When a man is surrounded with danger, and knoweth riot in his distress which way to turn himself; it may sound like foolishness to bid him sit still, but it is good doctrine, even the doctrine of God himself, by the prophet Isaiah, (XXX. 7.) their strength, says he, is to sit still: and it is very true; for when it comes to this, God is their strength; and in that case they are sure to be delivered. There are situations, under which nothing can preserve the servants of God, but the faith and patience with which they wait upon him.