« AnteriorContinua »
which occur during the course of our lives, are appointed, either for reclaiming us if we are vicious; or building us up if we are righteous, in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation. From God cometh down “every good and perfect gift; he maketh poor and maketh rich; he bringeth low and lifteth up. He killeth and he maketh alive; he woundeth and he healeth; he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up. In his hands is the breath of every living thing, and the souls of all mankind." These then, are sufficient reasons to induce us to put our trust and confidence in God; to cast all our care upon him, since he careth for us.
Having thus adduced some proofs for the doctrine of a particular providence, as reasons wherefore we should cast ail our care upon God, I proceed to shew,
III. The reasons which should induce us to comply with the duty in the text.
Since human affairs are subject to the controul of the preserver of men, is it not a source of satisfaction to commit our ways unto him, that he may direct our steps ? He manages the concerns of the world, and the fortunes of individuals, according to the counsel of his will : none can stay his hand from working, or say unto him, what doest thou? To whom then should we intrust ourselves and all our destinies, but to him who doeth with his creatures what seemeth good in his sight? If we do, then we shall be relieved from anxiety about the issue of every event which may befal us; since we believe, that nothing shall occur without his ordination or permission. If we acquaint ourselves with him, we shall be at peace; we shall not be afraid of any evil, since “our heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.”--But if we do not acknowledge him in all our ways; if we think, that by our own power and wisdom, we may accomplish the devices which we form ; we shall be left to endure all the agitations of solicitude, and fret ourselves about the uncertainties of life, over which we have no controul. All our care will produce no good effect; it cannot insure success in any scheme which we contrive; it cannot make the course of
things proceed according to our wishes. Nay, it cannot prevent any accidents of which we are apprehensive, nor alter the appointments which are destined to ensue. Which of us by taking thought, can add one cubit to our stature? which of us by taking thought, can promote the devices of our hearts? We may arrange our plans, and adopt the most prudent measures for their accomplishment, but we can do no more; the issue must depend upon the will of him who ruleth in the kingdom of men; we may use our best endeavours for effecting our purposes, but we cannot secure the event which must be directed by a higher hand than ours, and brought about according to the counsel of the Almighty. The way of man is not in himself; and it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
It requires the combination of many circumstances to produce such fortunate incidents as we would desire to come to pass. These are beyond our power to arrange; and therefore let us not disquiet ourselves in vain, about things which it is not permitted us to regulate according to our pleasure. We may indeed fondly wish for the attainment of certain objects and advantages, which are beyond our reach; but God alone can bestow them: he alone can fulfil the desires of our hearts, by arranging the course of his providence in such a manner as shall contribute to our good. Or, he can stir up means to counteract our designs, and frustrate our hopes, by the most trifling incidents, which may give a new direction to the fortune of our lives. Therefore, since the issues of futurity are not subject to our controul, let us not trust to our own understanding; since we cannot command success in any pursuits, let us moderate our care and anxiety ; since all events are at the disposal of divine providence, let us trust in the Lord with all our heart, let us commit our way un. to him and he will direct our steps.-Then shall our minds be free from those tormenting cares, which so often embitter the lives of the worldly and ungodly; then shall we be satisfied in acting our part with prudence and propriety, and leave the future accidents of life to that providence which ruleth over all. From how much per. plexity would men be relieved, if they cast all their cares upon God? how would their hearts be lightened by considering, that it does not belong to them to regulate events? and how would they rest contented, that whatever befals them is ordered by the unerring wisdom of the Most High, who hath promised “ to guide us by his counsel while we live, and afterwards receive us to glory."
This sentiment is most reasonable and becoming, since all our concerns are in the hands of a Being, who conducts them in the wisest and best manner for promoting the welfare of his faithful servants. We surely cannot wish, that they should be under better management than that of his, “ who maketh all things work together for our good.” He knows the end from the beginning, foresees all the occurrences which shall take place during the course of our lives, and arranges our fortune according to that plan, which will ultimately promote our interest. Under his guidance, nothing can befal us but what he either appoints or permits for the most beneficent purposes; and if we knew all the relations of those circumstances in which we are placed, to accomplish our happiness, we would be constrained to acknowledge, that “he hath done all things well." We may, indeed, sometimes be ready to conclude, that our lot is not so prosperous, nor our condition so comfortable as we could desire. But who knoweth what is good or evil for us in this life? Perhaps those changes which we would reckon a favourable juncture, might produce vanity and vexation of spirit; and therefore God permits us to remain in our present situation, as more conducive to our advantage.Those who have lived any length of time in the world, and made observations on the various vicissitudes of life, have discovered, that what they once reckoned a most desirable acquisition would, if bestowed, have proved the most baneful and pernicious; and they have had reason to bless God for withholding what they eagerly wished to obtain. We may be assured, that this is the case in all other instances; and therefore we should cheerfully submit to be guided by the superior wisdom of our heavenly Father, who perceives what is good for us better than we do ourselves. We may be assured, that whatever condition
he allots for us is the one most suitable to our present welfare; and therefore let us enjoy it with contentment and happiness, since it is chosen for us by that wise and beneficent Being, "whose tender mercies are over all his works." Nay it is certain, that, if we could take a view of the whole of our existence, and perceive how every thing which befals us shall issue in our good, we would choose exactly those circumstances in which we are placed: if then God does that for us, which we would do for ourselves, have we not reason to be satisfied with the allotments of his providence? As he is perfectly good, and distributes the fortunes of men according to the rules which his goodness dictates; how is it possible, that our lot can be better arranged than it now is by the appointment of his providence?
If we imagine, that the distribution of our fortune might be otherwise arranged; that we might have greater prosperity, and fewer distresses; greater riches and a less share of poverty; that we are entitled to be placed in another rank than that which we occupy, and should attain many other enjoyments on which our hearts are set; we thereby impeach the wisdom and goodness of God, because he has not thought fit to bestow them. What arrogant presumption is this; to call in question the benignity of the Father of mercies, or wish that human affairs were under another direction than that of "the only wise God!" Wherefore, since he alone knows what is good for us, let us thankfully receive every thing which he appoints as the best that could befal us.-Do we not even take the advice, and submit to the direction of those who are wiser than ourselves in many important matters, especially if we are persuaded of their concern for our welfare? Surely we have much more reason to receive good or evil, prosperity or adversity at the hand of God; since he both knows and consults our advantage, in every situation which his providence allots for us in the present world. He knows whether elevation of rank and digni fied occupations, or success in business and the acquisition of friends, the prosperity of our families and provision for old age, be most consonant to promote his glory and our
good :—and he perceives whether obscurity of station and a laborious employment, misfortunes in their families and the hardships of poverty, be most suitable to certain individuals; and places them accordingly in these respective situations, according to the good pleasure of his will.
We may allege indeed, that some men are the favourites of providence, and have reason to be thankful for the lot which is assigned them; but we cannot help repining when our expectations are disappointed, when disasters befal us, when poverty oppresses us, or sickness brings us low. But do we consider, that these events, disagreeable though they be, are a part of that sore travail which God hath ordained for the children of men, and that none of these things can happen without his direction or permission?
This should be sufficient to reconcile us to our lot, and induce us to say with Eli, “ It is the Lord, let him do what scemeth him good;” and with David, “I
I was dumb), and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it." Besides, we should reflect, that these trials are anpointed for detaching our hearts from this present world, that they may be placed on heaven and the things above; and that “ our light afflictions which are but for a moment,” will, if duly improved, “ work out for us a far more exceeding, even an eternal weight of glory.” Be patient therefore, brethren, and establish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. We are here as children placed under the discipline of our heavenly Father; and as they are often denied many things which they covet, and must submit to many corrections which they do not relish; so we also must be contented to want many desirable possessions, and endure many hardships in this state of probation in which we are placed. But, as parents confer what is best for their children; so our heavenly Father withholds or bestows what is good for us; and we may be all assured, that his infinite wisdom distinguishes what is most suitable for our necessities, and makes all things work together for good to those who fear and obey him.---Let us therefore acknowledge his wise disposal of all our concerns; let us trust in him that he will bring to pass every thing for our advantage; since alį