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"be wise;" this is the candidate, who deems himself by his proposal capable of governing, and wishes to arrange things according to HIS mind.
My brethren, have you not often found yourselves mistaken, where you deemed yourselves most sure? Have you not frequently erred in judging yourselves; and generally erred in judging others? Do you not blame those who condemn any of your proceedings before they understand them, especially when the objects on which they decide fall not within the sphere of their knowledge or abservation? What would you think of a subject, who scarcely competent to guide the petty concerns of his own household, would rush forth to assume the direction of the affairs of an enlarged empire, after censuring measures which he does not comprehend, cannot comprehend; whose labyrinths he cannot trace, whose extensive bearings he cannot reach, whose distant consequences he cannot calculate? All this imagery is weak when applied to "the man who "striveth with his Maker," and "asks, what dost "Thou?" For whatever differences subsist between man and man, all are partakers of the same nature, and all are liable to err; but "in God there is no darkness at "all." "Is there unrighteousness with God? God "forbid: how then could God judge the world?"
If we know not the peculiarities of the disease, how can we judge properly of the remedy which the physician prescribes? If we know not the station which the son is destined to occupy, how can we judge of the wisdom of the father in the education he is giving him? And how can we decide on the means which the Supreme Being employs, while we are ignorant
of the reasons which move him, and the plan which he holds in view? A providence occurs; it strikes us ; we endeavour to explain it; but are we certain that we have seized the true meaning? Perhaps what we take as an end, may be only the way; what we take as the whole, may be only a part; what we deprecate may be a blessing, and what we implore may be a curse; what appears confusion may be the tendencies of order; and what looks like the disaster of Provi dence, may be the preparations of its triumph. "Canst "thou by searching find out God? canst thou find "out the Almighty unto perfection?" "Such knowl edge is too wonderful for" us; "it is high," we cannot attain unto it." "O the depths of the riches "both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how "unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways are past "finding out! For who hath known the mind of the "Lord, or who hath been his counsellor?" Do not misunderstand the inference we would draw from these premises; there is nothing shameful in the limitation of our powers, nor should we be miserable because we possess only a degree of intelligence; but let us not forget our ignorance; let us not "darken counsel by "words without knowledge;" let us not summon to our tribunal "the only wise God," and condemn all that accords not with our contracted notions. Before we begin to reform, let us be satisfied an amendment is necessary, and before we censure, let us understand.
III. The desire of having things "according to our "mind" is CRIMINAL. The sources are bad. "Men "do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles."
It argues ingratitude; it is infinite condescension in God to be "mindful of us;" to be willing to manage our concerns, and to allow us to cast all our care upon him, with an assurance that he careth for us," and will make "all things to work together for our "good." For all this he surely deserves our thankfu! acknowledgments; and we insult him with murmuring complaints! What can be more vile, than for a poor dependent creature, who holds his very being by the good pleasure of his Maker, and possesses nothing underived from the bounty of his benefactor, to overlook so many expressions of his goodness, because he complies not with every fond desire! What can be baser than our repining, when the very same kindness which urges Providence to give, determines it also to refuse !
It springs from discontent; it shews that we are displeased with his dealings; for if we were not dissatisfied, why do we desire a change? This was the sin of the Israelites in wishing a king. It did not consist in desiring a monarchy, they would have sinned equally in demanding any other form of government. But they were under the immediate empire of God, and He had not pleased them; they would set him right; they "charged Him foolishly;" they would be like the "rest of the nations," when it was his pleasure that they should be a peculiar people; "the people shaM "dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the na"tions."
It betrays earthly-mindedness; the soul feels it when cleaving to the dust." According to our attachments, will be, all through life, our afflictions and our perplexities. When you find yourselves in prosper
ous circumstances, surrounded with affluence and friends, enjoying health and peace, the providence of God is not only agreeable but intelligible. We never hear you exclaim, as you "join house to house, and "add field to field," Oh! how mysterious the dealings of God are! But when the scene is reversed; then, not only hard thoughts of God are entertained, but all is embarrassment; "his way is in the sea, and his path "in the deep waters, and his footsteps are not known." What, does not God still continue to govern? Has he less wisdom in a cloudy day than in a fine one? Why does every dispensation of Providence become intricate as soon as it affects you? Are you so innocent as to render it doubtful, whether you can be lawfully touched? Are you such attentive scholars, as to render a stroke of the rod a mystery? Is God in blessing his people, confined to one class of means only? Do not "these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, "work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory?" So much more attached are we to our fleshly interests, than to our spiritual concerns, so much more are we influenced by things seen and "temporal, than by those things which are unseen and "eternal."
It is the produce of impatience; this will suffer no delay, this can bear no denial, this struggles to be free from all controul, and cries "let us break" his "bands asunder, and cast away" these "cords from us.”
It is the offspring of pride and independence; the cursed disposition which expelled angels from heavens and Adam from paradise. In a word, it is a presumptuous invasion of the authority and prerogative
of God. Your place is the footstool, not the throne ; you are to follow, not to lead; to obey, not to dictate. Suppose a stranger, or a neighbour, should come into your family, and begin to new place the ornaments and utensils of your rooms, to order your children, to command your servants, to rule your house, you would blame him. And on what principle? This is not his office; this is not his province; he is an intruder. Maintain your distance here, and do not encroach on the divine rights. You did not create the universe, it does not depend on your care; the world is not yours, nor the fullness thereof, nor even yourselves ; YE are not your own; but there is One to whom the whole belongs; "he is Lord of all." God cannot have an equal, and he will not have a rival. A prince may be pleased, if his subjects endeavour to Imitate him in his mercy, his goodness, his truth, or in any of those virtues which are common to persons in all situations; hereby they honour him, but if they imitate him in his regalia, in those attributes and actions which are peculiar to him as a king; if like him they aspire to wear a crown, to enact laws, to declare peace and war, to levy contributions, to new model the state, they are guilty of high treason.
IV. The desire of having things" according to our "mind," is DANGEROUS. If it were accomplished, all parties would suffer; God, our fellow-creatures, and ourselves.
First, The honour of God would suffer. Nothing Now occurs by chance; every thing falls under the regulations of divine Providence, and as affairs are NOW