Strange " you call it. And this word of yours implies, in the first place, that you are on the whole graciously dealt with ; that the order of things which encircles you, and holds you up, and carries you forward, is on the whole merciful. For why else should you find fault with what afflicts you, as if it were a departure from that order? Why else should you have so much as called it by the word you have used ? Why else should you have allowed yourself in the expectations that have been brought to nothing? Thus, your very complaint is proved to arise out of a condition that is a favored one; for you would never have thought of making that complaint but for your encouragements. You confess, then, that the usual course of events is not hard and depressing. And if you confess, how shall we forget it, — that this usual course is of just such a character as to show its general benignity, at the same time that it may put you or me to grief? It justifies abundantly all the good endeavors of men. It cheers on their hopes. It is full of rewards for those who will deserve them. The hand of Providence,— how much oftener it is open to give, than clenched to strike! It takes our small interests into its capacious care. It covers our weakness with its mighty protection. It condescends to lead us, receiving our feeble fingers into its eternal clasp. It is never weary of furnishing us with supplies. Do you not prove yourselves unreasonable, therefore, if you chide with it, when it withholds your desire or withdraws your dependences or admonishes you with its unwelcome dispensations? If it were a strange thing that you are called to suffer, — as indeed in a sense it is, when you compare its occasional occurrence with the steady stream of your benefits,—this would be so far from excusing a murmuring heart, that it should be a ground of thankful acknowledgments. And this is one side of our subject that is worthy of our attention."