Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

THE

SOVEREIGNTY AND WISDOM OF GOD

DISPLAYED IN THE

AFFLICTIONS OF MEN,

TOGETHER WITH A CHRISTIAN DEPORTMENT UNDER THEM.

BEING THE SUBSTANCE OF

SEVERAL SERMONS

ON

ECCLES. vii. 13. PROV. xvi. 19. AND 1 PET. v. 6.

TO WHICH ARE ADDED,

SOME SERMONS

ON THE NATURE OF

CHURCH COMMUNION,

FROM 1 COR. x. 17.

TO THE READER.*

HABITUAL unreconciledness to the cross, and a palpable deficiency in many of the duties incumbent on us, as members of the body of Christ, mightily mar our Christian comfort, our edification, our usefulness: and instead of adorning, they cast a dark shade on our holy profession. For remedy in both cases, the Lord in his kind providence is sending us fresh assistance in the two following treatises. Both the subjects are set in a new and engaging light. It is not amiss that the reader should know, that the former, namely, that of the Crook in one's lot, was among the last subjects the blessed author handled; and that the revising of it so far (for he got not through his notes) was amongst his last works with the pen. We shall leave it to exercise the reader's attention how far he himself revised; and where we have only his notes as he preached them. May the same divine blessing, which the author often and earnestly sought to accompany ought of his that was, or should be called forth for the service of the church, go along with these treatises that here follow.

To these treatises there was formerly prefixed a preface, signed by the Reverend Messrs. Colden, Wilson, and Davidson, giving a short account of the author's life. This is not now deemed necessary here, as the complete edition of the "Memoirs" will be published, and will form the concluding volume of the Works.-EDIT.

THE CROOK IN THE LOT.

ECCLESIASTES vii. 13.

Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which he hath made crooked?

A JUST view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment under them: and that view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense. For it is the light of the word alone that represents them justly, discovering in them the work of God, and consequently designs becoming the divine perfections. These perceived by the eye of faith, and duly considered, one has a just view of afflicting incidents, fitted to quell the turbulent motions of corrupt affections under dismal outward appearances.

It is under this view, that Solomon, in the preceding part of this chapter, advances several paradoxes, which are surprising determinations in favour of certain things, that to the eye of sense, looking gloomy and hideous, are therefore generally reputed grievous and shocking. He pronounceth the day of one's death to be better than the day of his birth, namely, the day of the death of one, who, having become the friend of God through faith, hath led a life to the honour of God, and service of his generation; and thereby raised himself the good and savoury name better than precious ointment, ver. 1. In like manner, he pronounceth the house of mourning to be preferable to the house of feasting, sorrow to laughter, and a wise man's rebuke to a fool's song; for that, howbeit the latter are indeed the more pleasant, yet the former are the more profitable, ver. 2-6. And observing with concern, how men are in hazard, not only from the world's frowns and ill usage, oppression making a wise man mad, but also from its smiles and caresses, a gift destroying the heart; therefore, since whatever way it goes, there is danger, he pronounceth the end of every worldly thing better than the beginning thereof, ver. 7, 8. And, from the whole, he justly infers, that it is better to be humble and patient, than proud and impatient, under afflicting dispensations; since, in the former case, one wisely submits to what is really best; in the latter,

ver.

he fights against it, ver. 8. And he dehorts from being angry with our lot, because of the adversity found therein, ver. 9. cautions against making odious comparisons of former and present times, in that point insinuating undue reflections on the providence of God, 10. And, against that querulous and fretful disposition, he first prescribes a general remedy, namely, holy wisdom, as that which enables one to make the best of every thing, and even giveth life in killing circumstances, ver. 11, 12. And then a particular remedy, consisting in a due application of that wisdom towards the taking a just view of the case, Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which he hath made crooked?

In which words are proposed, (1.) The remedy itself, (2.) The suitableness thereof. First, The remedy itself is a wise eying the hand of God in all we find to bear hard upon us: Consider the work (or, See thou the doing) of God, to wit, in the crooked, rough, and disagreeable parts of thy lot, the crosses thou findest in it. Thou seest very well the cross itself; yea thou turnest it over and over in thy mind, and leisurely views it on all sides; thou lookest withal to this and the other second cause of it; and so thou art in a foam and fret but, wouldst thou be quieted and satisfied in the matter, lift up thine eyes toward heaven, see the doing of God in it, the operation of his hand look at that, and consider it well; eye the first cause of the crook in thy lot, behold how it is the work of God, his doing. Secondly, As for the suitableness of this remedy, that view of the crook in our lot is very suitable to still indecent risings of heart, and quiet us under it: for who can (that is, none can) make that straight which God hath made crooked? As to the crook in thy lot, God hath made it; and it must continue while he will have it so. Shouldst thou ply thine utmost force to even it, or make it straight, thine attempt will be vain: it will not alter for all thou canst do, only he who made it can mend it, or make it straight. This consideration, this view of the matter, is a proper means, at once to silence and satisfy men, and so to bring them unto a dutiful submission to their Maker and Governor, under the crook in their lot.

Now we take up the purpose of the text in these three doctrines. I. Whatsoever crook there is in one's lot, it is of God's making. II. What God sees meet to mar, one will not be able to mend in his lot. III. The considering of the crook in the lot, as the work of God, or of his making, is a proper means to bring one to a Christian deportment under it.

DOCTRINE I. Whatsoever crook is in one's lot, it is of God's making. Here two things fall to be considered, namely, the crook itself, and God's making it.

I. As to the crook itself, the crook in the lot, for the better understanding thereof, these few things following are premised. 1. There is a certain train or course of events, by the providence of God, falling to every one of us during our life in this world: and that is our lot, as being allotted to us by the sovereign God, our Creator and Governor, in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways. This train of events is widely different to different persons according to the will and pleasure of the sovereign Manager, who ordereth men's conditions in the world in a great variety, some moving in a higher, some in a lower sphere. 2. In that train or course of events, some fall out cross to us, and against the grain; and these make the crook in our lot. While we are here, there will be cross events, as well as agreeable ones, in our lot and condition. Sometimes things are softly and agreeably gliding on; but, by and by, there is some incident which alters that course, grates us, and pains us, as when, having made a wrong step, we begin to halt. 3. Every body's lot in this world hath some crook in it. Complainers are apt to make odious comparisons: they look about, and taking a distant view of the condition of others, can discern nothing in it but what is straight, and just to one's wish; so they pronounce their neighbour's lot wholly straight. But that is a false verdict: there is no perfection here, no lot out of heaven without a crook. For as to "all the works that are done under the sun, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. That which is crooked cannot be made straight," Eccl. i. 14, 15. Who would have thought but Haman's lot was very straight, while his family was in a flourishing condition, and he prospering in riches and honour, being prime minister of state in the Persian court, and standing high in the king's favour? Yet there was, at the same time, a crook in his lot, which so galled him, that all this availed him nothing, Esth. v. 13. Every one feels for himself, where he is pinched, though others perceive it not. No body's lot in this world, is wholly crooked: there are always some straight and even parts in it. Indeed, when men's passions, having got up, have cast a mist over their minds, they are ready to say, All is wrong with them, nothing right: but though in hell that tale is, and ever will be true, yet it is never true in this world; for there, indeed, there is not a drop of comfort allowed, Luke xvi. 25. but here it always holds good, that it is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Lam. iii. 22. Lastly, The crook in the lot came into the world by sin: it is owing to the fall, Rom. v. 12. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin," under which death the crook in the lot is comprehended, as a state of comfort or prosperity is, in scripture-style, expressed by living, 1 Sam.

« AnteriorContinua »