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fear, or to the mitigating or shortening of it, as to God's infinite wisdom and goodness shall seem best: To this we are directed by St. Peter, when he exhorts us to cast all our care upon God, who careth for us; according to what he had been taught by our Saviour Christ, who in his divine sermon on the mount says: Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye sball drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on : is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? behold the Fowls of the air: for they low not, neither do
they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedleth them. Are ye not much better than they?, Wbich of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature ? and why take ye thought for raiment: Consider the lillies of the field bowo they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, mall be not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or what all we drink? or wherewithal mall we be clothed; (for after all these things do the Gentiles Jeek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye bave need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.. Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: fufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matt. vi. 25, &c.
That is to say, not that we are to live at random, secure How we and ca
que and careless of whatever may befal us; not that muff trust we are to look into the consequences of our own in God. or cther men's actions, and not to endeavour any ways to foresee, and prevent approaching dangers; not that we are to make no manner of provision for future events, to lay up nothing, and concern ourselves about nothing, but what is present, and immediately before us: doubtless, fagacity in discerning, and a prudent forecast towards declining evils, are not only allowable, but commendable qualities: frugality and diligence are certainly virtues: but our Saviour's meaning plainly is to forbid such a care and concern for future accidents, as is attended with uneasiness, distrust,
and despondency; such a degree of thoughtfulness, as takes up, and dejects, and distracts the mind, We are not too cu- , riously to pry into the remote issues of things, nor to perplex and afflict ourselves with the forethought of imagined dangers : we are not to guard against want by an eager anxious pursuit of wealth, nor be so carefulin providing supplies for the necessities of this life, as to forget that we are designed for another : 'tis very unreasonable to disquiet ourselves about distant evils; it often happening, that the presence of the things themselves suggests better expedients, wiser and quicker counsels to us, than all our wisdom and forethought at a distance can do. The morrow (lays our Lord) falltas thought for the things of itself; that is, it shall bring alca's with it a power and strength of mind answerable to its ne cessities; a frame of spirit every way suited to our circumItances and occasions."
He that terrifies himself with the apprehenfion of future evils, declares in effect, that he doth not absolutely rely upon God for his ordering and disposing them. And he, who doth not absolutely trust God with all his concerns, has no right to his protection and defence; no reason to expect his support and assistance; but is left to work out every thing as well as he can, by the dint of second caufes, by his own parts, policy, and prudence. And how wretched is his case, who has brought his affairs to that pass, as to be deprived of his best and faithfullest counsellor, his most kind and potent friend, and to live, as it were, without God in the world? It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. And surely, next to that, it is a fearful thing to take ourselves out of his hands, and to exempt ourselves from his care ; which he is "justly supposed to do, who sets himself with any degree of solicitude to take thought for the morrow, Therefore,'1'," i
Let us not by our rafhness and folly provoke trouble and danger, and bring them upon ourselves. Let us, according to our Saviour's counsel, be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves. Let us use that care and prudence, which is consistent with innocence and a good conscience; and, when we have done that; let us be no farther solicitous, but refign up oura
selves, and all our cares, to the good pleasure of God, and to the disposal of his wise providence, and leave it to him, who made the world, to govern it: for no doubt he understands it much better than we. " Here it can't be improper to remark, that the vain desire
of knowing before-hand things to come is such a The finful reps of for. desire of the knowledge of secret things, as is not tune-tell. . consistent with our trust in God; nor is it per ing, dc. mitted us by the present circumstances and condition of our nature. And it is very observable that those always, who have least knowledge of God, and least trust in his promises, and least understanding, have the greatest confidence in groundless pretences, and unwarrantable methods of pursuing knowledge; for to pretend to know things by the stars introduces fatality, and destroys religion; and is a dis, trust of the Almighty: and witchcraft, fortune-telling, and all unlawful arts, either real or pretended, whenever they have any reality in them, are evidently diabolical; and when they have no reality, they are cheats and lying impoftures : the works of him, who was a lyar from the beginning. And therefore let me exhort you in the words of St. Paul: Be careful for nothing: but in every thing, by prayer and supplication with thanksgivings, let your requests be made known unto God. Phil. iv. 6.
VII. A fixth duty to God is HUMILITY, or that lowliHumility or ness of inind, which is an intire resignation to the Jubmillion will of God, and a dependence upon him in all Telipe to dangers that relate either to our bodies or fouls; obedience. consisting in the true knowledge of ourselves, and the understanding our own weak and finful condition, taking to ourselves the shame and confusion due to our follies, and giving God the glory of all the good we receive, pr are inabled to do. For he who desires to be truly humble, and clothed with humility, inust do nothing on purpole to dsaw the eyes and good opinion of men, but purely to please God; and he must receive from the hands of God all afflictions and trials without murmuring against his justice; fo thatthesub mission of a christian consists in a firm persuasion of mind, that nothing happens to us but by the will and permission of
God, and that we never presume too much upon the best of our works (for all our righteounsess is as filthy The use rags; so that, when we have done all those things thiness of our which are commanded, we are no better than un- best works. profitable servants ; *) and again, in being persuaded that he loves us better than we do ourselves, and knows the best me. thods of making us happy. Such a submission as submiffon this will make us easy under the greatest afflictions: in respect of and tho' God should visit us with the most intole- patience., rable disappointments and losses in this world, it will either stop our mouths against providence; because it is the work of God: Or, it will inable us with courage to receive them with the resignation of good old Eli, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth to him good.
Therefore, whenever hestrikes with the rod of correction; we must not only bear it, as it were, because we
Thankful. can't avoid it, but to our patience let us add our ne force thanks: forasmuch as we, having highly provoked God's corhis goodness, are not by his justice given over to rections ; our own hearts lusts, but are still preserved under the wings of his mercy. And this should be so far from cau-". Final sing us to repine against God, that it should raise ness under in us an immediate reformation, repentance, con- them. . fesion, contrition, and full purposes of amendment with sa: tisfaction. For some of the greatest afflictions and calamities of lifearenotalways real and positive inflictions of judgments from the hand of God, but merely the original differences of men's state and circumstances, the variety of God's creation, the different talents committed to men's charge, the different stations God has placed men in, for their various trials, and in order to the exercise of a diversity of duties. The like may. be faid of want of honour and power, want of children to succeed in our estates and families, weakness of body, shortness of life, and the like; nay, and even of spiritual disadvantages themselves; likewise want of capacity and good understanding, want of knowledge and instruction, want of many opportunities and means of improvement which others enjoy. ::.. Dei
: None See this Doctrine explained on Page vji in the Preface to this Book, by the nith, 12th, and 13th Articles of Religion.
None of all which are any justground of complaint against em... God, or any reason why we should not with all Submission to his rif- satisfaction acquiesce in his divine good pleafure; dom in his fince all these things areonly different distributions ommands.
mase of such free gifts, as he, not being obliged to bestow on any man, may therefore without controversy divide to every man in what measure and proportion he himself thinks fit: only this we may depend upon, that in such measure only will he exact our duty, as he inables us to perform it; and that to whom littleis given, of him shall not be much required. And this brings all the seeminginequalities in the world to a real equali at last.
In all circumstances of life therefore, we are not to be unIn bis dif- easy that God has made us inferior to others; or, Dosals. that he has set before us greater hardships and difficulties to gothrough; or that he has given us less abilities, and fewer opportunities, than others : but we are to apply ourselves wholly, with all resignation, to the proper duties of that station, or of thosecircumstances, wherein God has been pleased to place us. Even poverty is not an argument to envy the rich; but a strong obligation to study the duties of humility, contentment and resignation : neither is ignorance and want of capacity, meanness of parts and want of instruction, a reason to murinur that God has not intrusted us with more talents; but an admonition to take care that we make a right improvement of those few that are given us. Weakneis OI DOdy is not a just occasion to repine against God, for not giving us the strength and health wherewith he has blessed some others; but a continual argument to us to exercise and improve such virtues as are more peculiar to the mind. Lastly, the consideration of the uncertainty and shortness of life itself ought not to make us spend our time in fruitless complaints of the vanity and meanness of our state; but to cause us perpetually to consider that it is not of fa great importance how long we live, as how well: and it ought to be a sufficient fatisfaction to truly pious and religious persons, that God has reserved for them their portion in another life. Therefore we fhould becontentinevery stateand condition of life, let whatever befal us, how contrary foever to our own inclinations,