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Two Sides of a Question

Two Sides of a Question

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
GEORGE PAXTON YOUNG, A.M,



" All things have I seen in the days of my vanity : there is a just man that
perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that pro-
longeth his life in his wickedness. Be not righteous over- much ; neither
make thyself over-wise : why shouldest thou destroy thyself ? Be not
over-much wicked, neither be thou foolish : why shouldest thou die be-
fore thy time ? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this ; yea,
also from this withdraw not thine hand : for he that feareth God
shall come forth of them all."— Eccl. vii. 15-18.
GEORGE PAXTON YOUNG, A.M,



" All things have I seen in the days of my vanity : there is a just man that
perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that pro-
longeth his life in his wickedness. Be not righteous over- much ; neither
make thyself over-wise : why shouldest thou destroy thyself ? Be not
over-much wicked, neither be thou foolish : why shouldest thou die be-
fore thy time ? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this ; yea,
also from this withdraw not thine hand : for he that feareth God
shall come forth of them all."— Eccl. vii. 15-18.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 16, 2013
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TWO SIDES OF A QUESTIOGEORGE PAXTO YOUG, A.M, " All things have I seen in the days of my vanity : there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that pro- longeth his life in his wickedness. Be not righteous over- much ; neither make thyself over-wise : why shouldest thou destroy thyself ? Be not over-much wicked, neither be thou foolish : why shouldest thou die be- fore thy time ? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this ; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand : for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all."— Eccl. vii. 15-18. It is a circumstance inseparable from a probationary state like the present, that the degree of outward prosperity which falls to a man's lot does not bear any thing like an exact and invariable correspondence to his character. A time is coming when every one shall receive according to his deeds ; but the exact apportionment of recompense, whether it be of glory on the one hand or of shame on the other, is reserved for a future life. Here, for many reasons, — to exercise faith, to teach patience, to subdue corruptions, to wean the heart from sensible things, and to attract it to those which are invisible, — the righteous are often permitted to lie under a load of affliction, while the wicked are allowed to prosper. It could not well be other- wise, in a world where persons of all characters are mixed together, left free agents, and placed under laws which, 62 MISCELLAEOUS DISCOUKSES. while calculated to prove beneficial to the utmost extent upon the whole, could not, without disturbing the frame of human society, be altered to meet particular cases.
 
ot only do the righteous often suffer, while the wicked prosper, but the very righteousness of the former may be the cause of their suffering, and the wickedness of the latter may be the cause of their prospering. This would be a moral anomaly, admitting of no explanation, on the infidel theory that limits the term of man's existence to the present life, and teaches that God governs the human race only by attaching to their actions the consequences which follow them here. May not true piety involve its possessor in losses, subject him to pain, occasion his death ? May not impiety ride triumphant over the arena of time, carrying its head unbent to the last ? An element is no doubt present in the case of the good man, and wanting in the case of the bad man, which external fortune cannot affect ; I mean, the witness of a good conscience. Still I think that all who will speak candidly must admit that even the throwing of this weighty element into the scale, does not in every case produce the exact apportionment that justice requires, of happiness to the righteous and misery to the wicked ; but leaves much, for the adjustment of which we must look to a state of being beyond the tomb. The fact that righteousness may be the cause of outward ills which wickedness would avert, operates powerfully in drawing individuals into sin ; and is often used, by those who would seduce their companions from the path of rectitude, as the fulcrum on which the lever of their per- suasion rests. A certain course of conduct may be right, but it has obvious present disadvantages connected with it. We say to ourselves therefore, — or, if we wish to play the part of tempters, we say to others, — " Why be so strict in adhering to what is right, and bring these disadvan- TWO SIDES OF A QUESTIO. 63 tages upon our heads ? Let us not be too precise, but consult our pleasure a little, though our wheels should
 
deviate somewhat from the established tracks of recti- tude." While, however, the administration of God's moral government is unquestionably such as to allow room for the existence of such an inducement to iniquity, it is an inducement founded upon a very partial and shortsighted view of things. If religion have its temporal disadvan- tages, in how much more awful and certain a sense is this true of irreligion ! Is it not matter of daily proof that irreligious courses, free from inconvenience and strewn with pleasures as they may seem at the commencement, lose this character insensibly as they proceed ? The flowers soon wither. The sunshine that made every thing seem so gay, changes into gloom and coldness. The soul feels, if it do not give utterance to the melancholy verdict, that " all is vanity and vexation of spirit ;'' and sorrows upon sorrows, sorrows uncombined with any thing that can miti- gate them or give support under them, are discovered, — but alas ! too late, — to be the result of a mode of life that once was full of enticement. Then, with this we must join another idea, namely, that though strict adherence to righteousness may involve us in outward ills, the general tendency of things being other- wise, the good man may, under all his misfortunes, war- rantably cherish the hope of a favourable issue to them. There is infinitely more likelihood that his boat, when thrown over among the storms of life and covered with the waters, will right itself again, than there is that such a result will happen in the case of the ungodly man. How often, when iniquity has seemed to triumph for a time, while true religion was trampled in the dust, have the tables (if I may so speak) been in God's providence turned ! And even if this should never take place decidedly in this 64 MISCELLAEOUS DISCOURSES.

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