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God, which I hope is the case with many of you, will not this suffice to give you comfort amidst all your distresses? Can you distrust the wisdom of your heavenly Father, or suspect poison in the cup that comes from him? What man is there of you, whom, if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone, or, if he ask a sish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?
Besides, affliction can be no surprise to you, since we are expressly told, that the way to the kingdom of heaven is through many tribulations; and since that covenant, which secures us against eternal misery, nowhere promises exemption from temporal afflictions j nay, assures us, that they shall- not be withheld, if God sees them necessary to recal our wandering steps, or to quicken our pace to our eternal home. And here let me prevail on such as are real Christians, to reflect on the temper of their minds, when sirst they made choice of Gcd, as their God in Christ. Say, was not the spirit of resignation, then, universal and complete? Did you then make an exception of any of your savourite enjoyments, of your riches, your health, or- your honours? All these were, then, swallowed up in your concern for the one thing 'needsul. When the burden of sin lay heavy on your souls, when the wrath of'God, the curse of the law, and the sears of heil beset you on every side; say, how happy were you to escape that danger, had it even been with the loss of every worldly comfort? And, now that you have got a nearer prospect of heaven, do you repent the choice you have made, or think that you have purchased heaven at too great a price? You dare not; I am persuaded you do not: and yet impatience has something in it very like this. .Strive then against it, and you will not sind the burden so galling as it otherwise would be.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
Psalm cxix. 75.—1 know,0 Lord, that thy judgments art right, and that in faithfulness thou hajl affliSled me.
——UT, as general arguments upon any subject, _53 however conclusive in their own nature, are frequently lost, for want of skill or care in applying them; I shall now endeavour,
IV. To specify, Fourthly, Some of those particular situations which call forth the exertion of this amiable spirit. And let us attend,
1. To poverty, which is, no doubt, heavier to those who have been reduced to it from a state of affluence. Yet, even here, such as attentively consider, will sind many arguments against impatience. Riches do not recommend us to God, nor does poverty sink us below his notice. It is the frame and temper of the heart which God regards, and not any of those outward circumstances by which one man is raised above another. I do not mean, that riches are in themselves pernicious; they are a talent put into our hands, which, by a wise improvement, may endear us the more to God, our great Master. Neither , I mean that poverty is constantly attended with
spiritual spiritual advantage 5 for a man may be poor indeed, m every sense of the Word; he may be poor and wretched in this lise, and miserable in the next. But the scope of my argument is to show, that neither riches nor poverty have the least connection with our happiness in a suture state; and that therefore no man has any reason to complain, on account of being reduced in his circumstances in this world.
Allow me to ask you a sew questions. Are yovd reduced through your own mismanagement? In this case, blame yourself; but do not murmur against Gods for you are already liable to his displeasure, by squandering away that which should have been improved? to his honour. Or, if you have been reduced to poverty by misfortune rather than imprudence, still yod ought to remember that God has the disposal of your lot, whose undoubted province it is to provide for all his samily, and give to every one a portion, as he sees convenient. If your former plenty was only made the instrument of luxurious and sensual enjoyments you have no occasion to wonder that it is now taken: from you. Rather wonder that God did not takes you from it by a sudden death, before you had leisure to repent. But, if your conscience bear witness that you endeavoured to honour God with your substance while you had it, the sting of adversity must to you be almost extracted; and you may consider it, not as a punishment, but as a trial of your faith and submission to God. You are now cast into the surnace, that the trial of your saith, being; much more precious than that of gold that perisheth, may be found to the praise and the glory of God. Our Lord prosed the sincerity os the young man in the gospel, by desiring him to sell all he had, and give it to the poor. You are now brought to a similar situation. Let this, therefore, awaken your attention, lest, like him, you be found wanting, and left your goodness, which in prosperity glittered like precious metal, mould discover itself to be base and counterseit, when brought to the touchstone.
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2. Let us attend to the reproach of the world. This trial is, doubtless, a severe one; and yet, even here, there is no reafon to murmur or complain. If the reproaches which we meet with are just, we ought to lament the occasion, and amend our conduct for the suture. But suppose the censure altogether without foundation, may it not be permitted for wise purposes? And I am apt to believe,
• that false aspersions, however vexatious in the mean time to those who labour under them, are yet capable of many excellent improvements. Thus, a man who sets too high a value on the opinion and applause of his sellow-creatures, and who is ready to endeavour to attain it -by indirect methods, may by this rrieans have his eyes opened, to see the impropriety of a violent regard for the esteem of the world. It will show the necessity alfo of approving ourselves to God, the Witness and only infallible Judge ef the characters of men. The opinions of mankind are seliiom right, and always liable to abuse; nor are the friendships of the world extremely constant. The appearance of a storm may foon baniih our general friends; for sew have refolution to support a character which the general voice condemns: but the unchangeable God .never varies in his judgment. Whom he justifies, .none can condemn; and whom he loves, he Joves unto the enil. Besides, bearing the reproach of men, may serve to render the Redeemer more precious in our esteem. And surely we ought never to complain of any thing that may be improved to this purpose. Does reproach, does calumny, sit heavy on your mind? How much then do you owe to Christ, whp, for your fake, became of no reputation, and endured the contradiction of sinners! He was accused of drunkenness, of gluttony, -and many
. other vices; and yet, in spite of all, persisted in his gracious design of faving a lost and ruined world. What an admirable opportunity then are they favoured with, of increasing in love and gratitude to their
great great Redeemer, who sind reproach sitting heavy on their minds!
3. Let us attend to the loss of dear and valuable friends. This is an affliction, under which, 'to a certain degree, we may, with propriety, indulge our seelings. When we reilect on our former happiness in the fociety of our friends, on the agreeable moments we have spent together, and on all those obliging suffices which render their memory clear to us; ami are obliged to conclude all with this melancholy reflection, that now they are for ever gone, never, never to return to this earth 'again: O, what regret, what bitter affliction must distress the foul! Afsliction, indeed, the ,rr.ore excessive, because it can; never be relieved. Yet, this is not sin; liunianity calls for tears; religion does not forbid them: Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. But beware that your sorrow does not exceed its. bounds; remember it is the doing of the Lord. Let your tears then run in another channel; and mourn not fo much for your sufferings, as for sin, which brought death into the world. And if it appear fo terrible, in the loss of one friend, how much more dreadsul must it appear, when you consider that it could provoke the mercisul God to subject all his creatures to the King of terrors. This is the proper improvement of every dis^ penfation of this kind. We should view the cause in the effects, and then we would discover, that it is not death, but sin, that is our enemy: and the greater enemy, on this account, that it not only separates our friends from us, but, if not repented of» if not forgiven, will eternally separate us from God, our best friend; " for evil cannot dwell with him, ** and he abhorreth all the workers of iniquity." Happy would it be, if we could convert these mournsul occasions into opportunities of such wholefome instruction. Happy, if, instead of vainly wishing back our friends to us, we would, by a caresul imitation of whatever was excellent in their character, study fo to live, that we may at last attain to the hapL Z' piness