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nies; and, comparing his present situation with the poor condition in which he had been driven from home twenty years before, he breaks out into this act of praise, “ I am not worthy, O Lord, of all thy mercies; “for with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now "I am become two bands!" How pious and how cheering was this reflection! And afterwards, Gen. xxxiii. when his brother Esau asked him concerning his sons, “They are the children, (said he,) which God “ has graciously given thy servant.” Such a deep and abiding persuasion of the Most High God, ordering and over-ruling all our concerns, would, like the light, diffuse a lustre and a beauty upon every thing around
To consider every comfort of life as an effect and proof of the divine favour towards us, would, like the feigned alchymist's stone, turn all our possessions to gold, and stamp a value upon things which a common eye might judge indifferent. Nor is this more than the truth: “ The hairs of our head are all numbered," Matth. x. “The eye of divine providence is upon every
sparrow of the field;" nor can we properly term any circumstance of our lives small, since such as seem most trifling in themselves do often give birth to those which we judge most important. On the other hand, to be able to discover the wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father, through the darkest cloud of troubles and afflictions; to see all our trials appointed to us, in number, weight, and measure ; nothing befalling us by chance, nothing without need, nothing without a support, nothing without a designed advantage : what a stay must these apprehensions be to the soul: Take away these, and man is the most forlorn, helpless, miserable object in the world; pining for every thing he has not, trembling for every thing he has ; cqually
suffering under the pressure of what does happen, and the fear of what may; liable to thousands of unsuspected dangers, yet unable to guard against those which are most obvious. Were there no future life, it would be our interest to be truly and uniformly religious, in order to make the most of this. How unhappy must they be to whom the thoughts of a God ever present is a burden they strive, in vain, to shake off! But let us learn “ to acknowledge bim in all our
ways," and then“ he will direct and bless our paths, Prov. ii. 2d, Since all we have is the gift of God, let this
“ in whatever state we are, therewith to be “ content.” “ Our heavenly Father knoweth what we “ have need of before we ask him,” Matth. vi. “ earth is his, and the fulness thereof," Ps. xxiv.; and his goodness is equal to his power; a proof of which we have in the text. He has already given us more than ten thousand worlds. Are you poor? Be satisfied with the Lord's appointment. It were as easy to him to give you large estates, as to supply you with the bread you eat, or to continue your breath in your nostrils; but he sees poverty best for you; he sees prosperity might prove your ruin; therefore he has appointed you the honour of being in this respect conformable to your Lord, who when on earth,“ had not “ where to lay his head,” Matth. viii. Have any of you lost a dear friend or relative, in whose life you thought your own lives bound up? Be still, and “ know that he is God," Ps. xlvi.
It was he gave you that friend ; his blessing made your friend a comfort to you; and though the stream is now cut off, the fountain is still full. Be not like a wild bull in a net; the Lord has many ways to turn your mourning into joy.
Are any of you sick? Think how the compassionate Jesus healed diseases with a word, in the days of his flesh. Has he not the same power now as then? Has he not the same love? Has he, in his exalted state, forgot his poor languishing members here below? No, verily; he still retains his sympathy; "he is touched "with a feeling of our infirmities; he knows our frame; "he remembers we are but dust," Ps. ciii. It is because sickness is better for you than health, that he thus visits you. He dealt in the same manner with Lazarus, whom he loved, John xi. Resign yourselves, therefore, to his wisdom, and repose in his love. There is a land where the blessed inhabitant shall no more say, "I am sick," Isa. xxxiii.; and there "all that "love the Lord Jesus" shall shortly be. Are any of you tempted? "Blessed is the man that endureth "temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive "the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to "them that love him," James i. Sure you need no other argument to be content, or shall I say, to rejoice, and be exceeding glad? My son, despise not thou "the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art "rebuked of him." Heb. xii. Be it in poverty or losses, in body or mind, in your own person or another's, it is all appointed by God, and shall issue in your great benefit, if you are of the number of those that love him.
3d, Once more: since it is said that all things are freely given us in and together with Christ, let us "give "all diligence to make OUR calling and election sure,” 2 Pet. 1.; to know that we have an interest in him and his mediation; and then, (if I may borrow a common expression,) we are made for ever. The Lord Jesus Christ, sent from God on a merciful errand to a lost VOL. II. 2 T
world, did not come empty: no, he is fraught with all blessings, suitable to all persons, extending to all times, enduring to all eternity. O make it your great care to know him and to please him; study his word, call upon his name, frequent his ordinances, observe bis sayings, seek to know him as the only way to God, John xiv.; the way to pardon, peace, and divine communion here, and to complete happiness hereafter. When once you can say, “My beloved is mine,” Sol. Song ii. I account all his interest my own, "and I am “his,” I have given myself up to him without reserve; you will, you must be happy. You will be interested in all his attributes and communicable perfections. His wisdom will be your high tower, his providence your constant shield, his love your continual solace. “ He will give his angels charge over you to keep you “ in all your ways,” Ps. Ixxxi. In times of difficulty he will direct your counsels; in times of danger he will fill you with comfort, and “ keep” you “ in perfect peace,” Isa. xxvi. when others quake for fear. He will bless
your basket and your store, your substance and your families : your days shall happily pass in doing your Father's will, and receiving renewed tokens of his favour; and at night you shall lie down, and your sleep shall be sweet. When afflictions befall you, (for these likewise are the fruits of love,) you shall see your God near at hand, “a very present help in trou“ ble,” Ps. xlvi. ; you shall find your strength increased in proportion to your trial; you shall in due tune be restored, as gold from the furnace, purified sevenfold, to praise your great Deliverer. Every thing you meet in life shall yield you profit; and death, which puts a fatal period to the hope of the wicked ; death, at whose name thousands turn pale, shall to you
be an entrance into a new and endless life. He who tasted death for you, Heb. ii. and sanctified it to you, shall lead and support you through that dark valley: you shall shut your eyes upon the things of time, to open them the next moment in the blissful presence of your reconciled God. You, that a minute before was surrounded by weeping, helpless friends, shall, in an instant, be transported and inspired to join in that glorious song, "To him who loved us, and washed us "from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and strength, for ever and ever. Worthy is "the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and Thus "blessed shall glory, and blessing," Rev. v. "the man be that fears the Lord," Ps. cxxviii. "Thus "shall it be done, (Esth. vi.) to him whom the King delighteth to honour.”
ON SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES.
JOHN V. 39.
Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
THE phrase in the Greek is ambiguous; and
be either rendered, according to our reading, as a command, search the Scriptures; or else as simply affirming, ye do search the Scriptures. And as the words were spoken to the Scribes and Pharisees, who were exceedingly studious in the letter of the Scriptures, this may perhaps have been their first design. The differ