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kind that befal man in the world, that befal all the kingdoms of the world, the four great monarchies of it, and all other subordinate domnions; more on especially in all the mutations that befal the church of God in the world, and all men of all fects and sorts therein, but most especiallyourselves. Labour to converse with that infinite mind, wifdom and understanding that ordains and orders all the changes that befal yourselves. Now our conversing with God in the several changes that befal us in the world, is in general by endeavouring to serve the providence of God in every change. The promise of God ferves itself even upon wicked men, and upon all creatures that do least understand it; but a godly man only knows how to serve the providence of God in the things that befal him: he bath
heprivate, selfish interest of his own, but counts interest chearfully and faithfully to serve the will of God, to be what God would have him to be, to be without that which God would have 1 him to want, and to do what God would have him do. Every wicked soul in the world sets up some trade for himself, and drives on some particular self-interest distinct from God: but a godly soul counts it his greatest honour and happiness to be nothing in himself, nor for himself, but is wholly at the beck of his creator ; and looking upon
all his interest as being bound up in God, is solicitous for nothing else but to serve the will of God in his generation : so the life of holy David is described, Aits xiii. 36. David in his generation having served the will of God, i. e. the providence of God, say the Dutch annotations, translating the words in this order. A good man eyeing nothing but the
great and blessed God in the world, and knowing that he was not made for himself, but for a higher good, is only ambitious to be subservient to that infinite and sovereign being; herein imitating his blessed Saviour, who lived not to do his own
will, but the will of himn that sent him, yolun 4. vi. 96. and again, to seek the glory of him that
sent him; John vii. 18. In a word, he looks upon
to converse with him aright in the time of afAictions.
1. Because then especially it is hard to do it: We are then very apt to be taken off from it, therefore we hould then especially labour to pursue it, and perform it: we are then in eminent danger to be taken off from it; and that by these means.
1. Our senses de set us on work to converse with outward means,
which, whilst we attend upon too eagerly we neglect and forget God. This might appear by an induction of particular afflictions; but that would be too long. I will only instance in one or two for explication. The fickness and painedness of the body, calls out the mind to seek after, and converse with physicians; bodily wants call us to seek after bodily supplies, and so all kind of distresses call out the foul to seek creature-relief. Call upon the sick and languishing patient to call upon, and hang upon divine help, to converse with God: alas, he hath enough to do to attend upon his pains and pangs; tels him of ease, of recovery and he can hearken to you, for that is the news that he longs to hear.
Call upon the poor pined beggar to seek relief of God, to converse with him: alas, he finds such a faintness in his limbs, such a gnawing of hunger, such a restless appetite within himself, that he can groan out nothing, but, Oh that one would give me bread to eat! In a word, the soul is more naturally addicted to mind its body to which it is joined, than the God that joined it to that body. Hence you may observe two things by the way, viz.
1. The reason why fo few persons repent in time of sickness; the sense of sickness drowns the sense of sin.
2. The reason why so few poor people who are evermore conflicting with the necessities of the body, do not at all mind the concernments of their souls: the exigencies and straits of the body, do cry
louder in their hearts than all the words and works of God. So that as health is the best time for repentance, so it seemeth that the best way to teach the
is to relieve them. 2. The corruptions of the heart are then the most apt to make war against heaven.
This is the opinion of him who knows the temper of man too well, Jobi 11. Put forth thine hand against him and he will curse thee to thy face. And I am persuaded that the devil acts much by this observation; which makes him endeavour all he can to make many good men poor, thinking thereby to make them Tess good; though the wise and merciful God dotte wonderfully prevent him. For indeed the soul is so naturally tender of the body, that it is loth God himself should touch it; if he do, it is ready to fret and storm, and fly in his face. Converse with God ! faith the wicked king, Why this evil is from the Lord; what should I wait upon the Lord any longer! 2 King. vi. 33. There are many corruptions of the soul that are most ready to clamour against God in the time of affliction, as fear, anger, unbelief, yea, and sinful self-love and creature-love, an affection that can never be taught to converse with God, yet will go crying after him, when he takes away any darling from it, as Pbaltiel went crying after his wife ; or rather, crying against him,
as Micah cried against the men of Dar, saying, Ye have taken away my Gods, and are gone away, and what have I more? Judg. xviii. 24.
3. Temptations do then come strongest from without Then it is the devil's time to play his game: what, put up this reproach! what, will you sit down with this loss! up and revenge thyself. He that knows so well the temper of man's heart so ready to curfe God when he touches him, Job ii. 5, will not fail to touch the heart, and tempt it to curfe him indeed, Job ii. 9. Curfe Ged and die.
The second reason why we ought especially to study to converse with God in the time of antictions, is because that is a time quherein we are most apt to think ourselves excufed from this duty, as if it were allowed us in our extremity to forget God, and mind ourselves only. And that not only in respect of those bodily ftraits and distreffes, which I named under the laft head, but in respect of our own paffions. When the afflicting hand of God is upon us, pressing and grieving of us, and taking our beloved comforts from us, we are apt to indulge our own private and felfish paffions, care, fear, forrow, complainings, &c. Yea, to think we are in some sense allowed to indulge them. How willingly do we fuffer ourselves, to be drawn into a converfe with ourselves, to be contracted as it were into ourselves, and fuffer ourselves to be carried down the Atream of our own paffions, which at other times we should think it were our duty to resist! even as the heart in naturals draws home to it in a time of danger, the blood that was dispersed abroad in the body, as it were to defend itself: so the heart in morals gathers home its с