« AnteriorContinuar »
"of God to hearken unto you, more than "unto God, judge ye."
This habitual regard to God, and entire confidence in him, is also represented as the best support of the mind under all the difficulties and trials of life. David fays, Ps. xvi. 8. "I have set the Lord always be"fore me: because he is at my right hand, "I shall not be moved." The prophet Isaiah, exciting to confidence in God, says, ch. xxvi. 3. "Thou wilt keep him in "perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on "thee." Solomon also gives this excellent advice, Prcv. iii. 5. &c. "Trust in the "Lord with all thine heart; and lean not "unto thine own understanding. In all thy "ways acknowledge him, and he shall di"rect thy paths:" and the apostle Peter encourages christians, in time of trial, to "cast their care upon God, who careth for "them." 1 Pet. v. 7.
From a firm persuasion that every thing is under the direction of a wise and good providence, we find in the scriptures, such
expressions expressions of hope, joy, and even exultation, in the most calamitous and trying scenes, as heathens, could have no idea of; because they had no principles from which such sentiments and language could possibly flow. The calm acquiescence of Job under a most afflictive dispensation of diyine providence, has been mentioned already. When Eli heard a message from God by Samuel, the import of which was the greatest calamity that could bcf;dl his family, he replied, i Sam. iii. 18, "It is the Lord: let "him do what scemeth him good." The prophet Habakkuk gives us a most admirable description, not merely of the acquiescence, but of the chearfulness with which afflictive providences should be borne, ch. iii. ij. "Although the fig-tree shall not "blossom, neither shall fruit be in the "vine.s; the labour of the olive shall fail, "and the fields shall yield no meat; the "flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and "there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet "I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in "the God of my salvation." David gives the general ground of this satisfaction and
Confidence in the most obscure scenes of providence, when he fays, Ps. xcvii. 1. &c. "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice: "let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. "Clouds and darkness are round about him: "righteousness and judgment are the habi"tation of his throne."
On the foundation of this firm persuasion of the favour of God to the righteous, and the certainty of the reward which he reserves for them, our Lord encourages his followers to the most chearful bearing of persecution for conscience sake, Matt. v. 10. &c. "Blessed are they who are perse"cuted for righteousness' fake: for theirs "is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are "ye when men shall revile you, and perse"cute you, and shall say all manner of evil "against you, falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, "and be exceeding glad: for great is your "reward in heaven: for so persecuted they "the prophets who were before you." Our Lord took the most effectual method to inculcate an entire submission to the will of God, by directing it to be the subject of
Vol. II. S our our daily prayers, Matt. vi. 10. "Thy will "be done on earth, as it is in heaven;" and he exhibited an example of this entire submission in a scene of the greatest distress to which it is probable that human nature was ever subjected, I mean in his agony in the garden, when "his foul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death -," when yet he prayed, saying, Matt. xxvi. 39. "O my "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass "from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but "as thou wilt." And again, in his second prayer on that occasion, v. 42. "O my "Father, if this cup may not pass away "from me, except I drink it, thy will be "done." Lastly, the apostle James makes use of exhortations exactly similar to those of our Saviour in the case of persecution, James i. 2. 12. "My brethren, count it "all joy when ye fall into divers tempta"tions. Blessed is the man that endureth "temptation: for when he is tried he shall "receive the crown of life, which the Lord "hath promised to them that love him." And 'the apostle Peter, on the same occasion, says, 1 Pet. iii. 14. "If ye suffer for righte
"ousness fake, happy are ye: and be not "afraid of their terror, neither be troubled."
The propriety of praying to God is far from being satisfactorily proved from the light of nature, and much less can the obligation of it, as a moral duty, be strictly demonstrated upon those principles. Had the practice appeared ever so desirable, the humble and the diffident might have thought it too presumptuous, as much as others would have thought it unnecessary. It is, therefore, with peculiar satisfaction, that, in the. scriptures, we find all the indigent and dependent race of mankind encouraged in the freest and most constant access to God by prayer. And notwithstanding the infinite distance that subsists between the divine being as our creator, and us as his creatures, in the whole of the scripture history, he appears in the condescending and amiable character of our Father, as ready to attend to our wants, as he is able to supply them; being to us, in reality, what our occasions require him to be; insomuch, S 2 that