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it was their duty, and having an entire confidence in God that he would provide for them, give their whole income away. And according to their faith, fo it was done unto them. God no doubt approved of their simplicity, and integrity of mind, and he appearrd for them in the time of need, and sent them a proper fupply. But I have known others do the fame thing, from whai motive I will not pretend to fay, who have lived long enough to repent of fuch conduct; and have been brought into very distressing circumftanccs. It does not appear to me, to be our duty when providence puts it in our power to live independent of others, willingly and knowingly to put it out of our power. This does not appear consistent with common prudence, neither can such persons be said, to be good stewards of the manifold gifts of God.
When we meet with pious people, who by the mere providence of God, whether by affliction, losses in trade, or want of employment, are brought into distressing circumstances, we certainly ought to relieve them according to our ability ; and endeavour to comfort and encourage them, byopening and applying those scriptures which belong to persons so circumstanced: In doing this, it requires great care and tenderness; as we should enter as far as reason requires into the heavy crosses they are called to bear, and tenderly sympathize with them. Who can tell what it is to want bread, but those who have had the trial to bear; or who can tell what a parent must feel when he is obliged to hear his children cry for bread, when he hath none to give them? We cannot say that no such instance as this, hath ever been known among even pious people. The apostle himself informs us, that he had known hunger and thirst, as well as cold and nakedness. And we well know that many among the people of God, have not only suffered from the want of common necessaries; but have also been persecuted even unto death, and have gloriously sealed the truth with their blood. We dare not say that a christian man was never known to fall in battle, or that when the judgments of God have come down upon a guilty nation, the righteous were never permitted to suffer with the wicked. As all this is contrary to well-known matter of fact, let us not be too confident, and let us take care, lest by applying those promises to individuals, which God hath made to his church, considered as a collective body, we greatly deceive ourselves, as 1 fear too many are doing at this day. .. ;t How then are we to comfort them whoarenowin distress, or whp are filled with painful fear respecting any particular
danger wliich threatens them f Not by assuring them that. happen wliut will, they shall suffer nothing, 'we have no authority from the rforti of God to speak thus. But we may shew them that the hand of an infinitely wise and gracious God, is in all the events of his providence: -That they must make all their requests known unto him bv prayer,, aiid: steadily trust in him who hath said. As thy day is, so shall thy strength be. We- may boldly der'are, that the Lord will appear in behalf of all those who fear him, and will enable them in patience to posi-e.^s their souls; so that present trials shall be sanctified, and in due time he will deliver them.
I well know that it is verv easv for warm men to express themselves in a remarkably bold and confident manner; much more so, than the scriptures well understood, will baar them out in. But such men would do well to consider, that as we mav be in danger from anxious care^ and painful fear on the one hand, so it is possible, we mav be too little concerned for the welfare of the church and nation to which we belong, on the other. Perhaps we may be found among those who are at ease in Sion, or those who are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph, and have not the prosperity of the church of God so much at heart as we ought; and it is not impossible, but we may be deceived by a false confidence, so that we are too little concerned for our own personal safety, as well as that of our families.
What a stranger to the present state of the world must that man be, and what a marvellous want of consideration would he discover, who would say to a christian trades-man, -without any limitation or restriction, Take no thought for to-morrow, but let to-morrow take thought for the things of itself. With what reason and truth, might such a person reply; Indeed friend you have not properly considered this subject, I can assure you my business requires the utmost care and attention, and all the prudence I am master of, in order to manage it properlv.' J am obliged to look before me, or I should soon find myself in such a situation as I should not wish, and therefore 1 bless the Lord, as I can in general, so trust in him, that I am mercifully preserved from perplexity of mind, yet at the same time, I see, whether you do or not, that business cannot mind itself, but must be properly attended, or bad consequences will follow, both tomyself and others, and the way of truth will be evil spoken of through my sin arid fully.
We must allow, that experience is the best teacher, there
fore those who are in business know tho best, what eser'cises they frequently pass through, on account of losses, 'slnd'disappointments, as well as the dangers and difficulties which they meet with. And on this account, it does not appear a little strange to me, that Christian men, will incuir.ber themselves with a more extensive business than 'reason requires. For as so I?rge. a trade must of necessity, fill their whole souls with care from morning to night, so that their hands, and heads and hearts must be fully engaged; I do not see, even supposing thev should gain all they wish, and get safe to heaven at last ; that all that they can possibly gain can be considered as a sufficient recompence, for the never ceasing care and labour, they have 'been obliged to endure. For besides all the peace and happiness they have been deprived of, in this world, what will the fruit of their labour be to those who may inherit their substance? They may have put it in their power to enjoy the world; speaking after the manner of men: But have they put them in the most likely way to save their souls?—Hath it not sometimes happened, that the children bf such parents, have destroyed theirprecious souls in spending that which they provided, with so much care and labour.
'As no man living, who is capable of employment, should be unemployed; but a moderate share of lawful business is necessary for every one ; it is happy for those, who know when, and where to stop, so that being nntncumbered, the^ may have proper time to mind the best things, and take sufficient care of their everlasting concerns; that living in the enjoyment of communion with God, and in the daily exercise of faith in the blessed Redeemer, they may be mercifully supported under every trial, andkept by the power, and presence of the Lord, from every needless care, and painful fear, and may go on their way rejoicing in hope of that glory which will ere long be revealed. ''', I
When the times in'which we live are unspeakably perilous, and when danger seems to threaten us, when our enefiiies are plotting our ruin, and threaten destruction both to 'the church and state; it then nearly concerns us, to walk closely with God, and to be much engaged'in prayer, for ourselves and families, for the prosperity of the church of God, and for the safety of the nation. Surely if we fear God, we shall honour the king, and love our country;; we shall wish success to the gospel, and have the salvation of souls much at heart.—And1 if so, we shall be often found *» • ''- * "' '" "~ * f ...,..'•' -'-'
upon our knees pleading with God, for the peace of Jerusalem.—At such times shall any who pretend to love God, be unconcerned? No, surely. But should there beany of this disposition, might we not say to them as Mordecai-did to Queen Esther, If thou altogether hold thy peace at this lime, then shall there enlargement come from some other quarter, but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed. if we see the judgments of God abroad in the earth, and if we have too much reason to fear, that he is about to punish, our beloved nation, because of the wickedness of the inhabitants thereof, then let us be found among the men who sigh, and who cry for all the abominations which are done in the midst thereof, so shall we have reason to hope that the Lord will set his mark upon us; and if the storm should come down upon the ungodly, our gracious God wiil put a difference between the righteous and the wicked; and will say to the executioners of his vengeance, Come not near any man upon whom is the mark. Let us like the holy men of God, who have gone before us, seek the peace and happiness of our king and country, and fervently pray that peace and truth may still prevail; and all our religious and civil rights and privileges may be continued to us.
Christian prudence will naturally lead us to be careful, as persons who sincerely desire to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, so an unshaken confidence in God, will preserve us from all those anxious cares and tormenting fears which tbose who know not God, are perplexed with. But in order to rise above those cares and tears, it is highly necessary for us to retain a clear sense of the love of God, that our hearts stand fast in the liberty wherewith he hath made us free. That we should have clear and scriptural views of bis gracious designs towards us, and that we should earnestly endeavour to close in with them, that all bis precious promises, as they respect the entire sanctificatiou of our souls, may be fulfilled in us.—Jesus is full of truth and grace, and we are called to receive out of his fulness, and grace for grace. For this end, faith must be kept in exercise, that the spiritual-life may be maintained, and our souls may advance in real holiness. As by the light of God, we see the rich treasure contained in the promises, so by the hand of faith we lay hold upon, and embrace them, and .while faith is thus employed, in going out to Jesus for continual supplies of crace, we shall be so strengthened 'with might by the Spirit in our inward man, that anxious care shall have no place in our hearts. This will certainly be our case, if we can so believe, as to experience the per* feet love of God, this will cast out all painful fear, and give us that entire confidence in an all-jufficient God, which will enable us to say on all occasions, The Lord is my helper, therefore I will not fear what man can do unto me.
But in order that unnecessary cares, and groundless fears may have no place in our hearts, we should endeavour to gain as clear and perfect an acquaintance with the promises of God, which respect our being supported by him, under our heaviest trials, protected by him in our greatest dangers, as well as from our most powerful enemies:—And in his word he certainly gives us all the encouragement that our hearts can desire.—Here we view that glorious Being, 'who is our father and our friend, sitting upon the circle of the heavens, and governing the whole world in infinite wisdom and boundless love: Holding all the events of providence in his hand, whether as they respect us, they be prosperous or adverse. Here we view him taking his people under his peculiar protection, numbering the hairs of their bead, strengthening the weak, comforting the feeble-minded, and lifting up their heads above all their enemies. In his word, we hear him solemnly declaring, that he will be a strength to the poor, and a strength to the needy in his distress, a refugefrom every storm, and a covert from the tempest. He there assures us that his grace shall be sufficient for us, that his strength is made perfect in weakness, and not only so, but that all things shall work together for good to them who truly love him.
But notwithstanding all that ourgracious God hath said in his holy word, in order to fortify the minds of his children against distressing cares and fears, yet it is as natural for some men to fear, as it is to others to be too confident; but let those self-diffident-, yet truly sincere followers of God ever remember, that the great Shepherd of Israel hath a peculiar regard for the Lambs of his flock, and accordingly his first charge to Peter was, Feed my lambs. And in how gracious a manner does he speak to^ll such, by the prophet Isaiah. lie will gather the Lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.—Every part of the sacred scriptures, has a natural tendency to deliver us from everv degree of unbelief, and to give us the clearest views of God's love towards us, and of his willingness to help us on all occasions, so that we may have the fullest confidence in him, throughout all the changes and chances, the temptations, afflictions, crosses