« AnteriorContinua »
"in fuch an enterprise to my own counfel! I fhould "have advanced till I had fallen from a dangerous "precipice, if He had not hedged up my way with "thorns; at first I murmured at the check, but when "I looked over, and faw the abyfs, I kneeled and faid, "Lord, I am thine; fave me in every future peril." Thus by experience He has been convincing you, that "the way of man is not in himself," and that "it is "not in man that walketh to direct his fteps;" and having feen the hazards to which you will be exposed in managing for yourselves, you are now on your knees faying, "He fhall choose our inheritance for us.",
Surely I have behaved and quieted myself as a child "that is weaned from his mother; my foul is even as "a weaned child."
We have only one more view to take of the fubject. The defire of having things "according to our mind" is,
V. IMPRACTICABLE. Obferve only two things. First, the defires of mankind in ten thousand inftances are oppofite to each other; hence they cannot be all accomplished. Secondly, the plan of divine government is already fixed; the machine is in motion; it is rolling by, and we can neither arreft its progrefs, or give it a new direction. "He is in one mind, and who “can turn Him? and what his foul defireth, even that "He doeth; for He performeth the thing that is ap
pointed for me, and many fuch things are with him." "Our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever "he pleased." "Declaring the end from beginning, and "from ancient times the things that are not yet done, faying, my "counfel fhall ftand, and I will do all my pleas
"ure." How useless therefore is your anxiety! "Which "of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his "stature?" You may repine; but you fret and rage' in vain. God will not yield up the reins into your hands. "He teareth himself in his anger: shall the "earth be forsaken for thee? and shall the rock be " removed out of his place?" "Should it be according "to thy mind? He will recompense it, whether thou "refuse, or whether thou choose." Having established a general principle, it will be necessary to make such an application as will preclude the abuse of it, and render it useful to promote resignation, to encourage our faith, and to animate our hope,
First, Let not the conscientious christian suppose himself guilty of the disposition we censure, when he only indulges allowed desire. You may ask of God any temporal blessing conditionally, and with submission to the pleasure of the Almighty. Are you in trouble? afflictions are not immutable dispensations; and your praying for their removal will not be striving with Providence, if you are willing to refer the case ultimately to the determination of infinite wisdom and goodness, and to acquiesce in the decision. Thus did our Saviour; "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; "nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." To offer a humble petition differs widely from making a demand, or proposing a task. When our desires are rash, unqualified, impetuous, enforcing, they are not only offensive to God, but they injure the soul, and they injure our cause. If, to use the expression, when we insist upon an object, we are gratified, the indulgence is dreadful, it is a curse. Thus God punished the
sinful importunity of the Jews; "He gave them a king in his anger, and took him away in his wrath." But if He loves you, in such a case He will be sure to deny you; he will teach you by his refusal, that he has a right to withhold, and that you have no claims upon the Giver; he will bring you to supplicate what before you seemed to order. He sees that while you are thus passionately eager, he cannot with safety indulge you with the object; you would make too much of it. He is a God of judgment, and he waits a cooler and more sober frame of mind, when you can receive it properly, and not be so lost in the gift, as to disregard the Giver. The best way for a christian to gain any temporal good, is to seek after a holy indifference; the moment it ceases to be dangerous, He will be ready to gratify you, for "He taketh pleasure in the prosperity of his "servants."
Secondly, The subject preaches submission. It powerfully urges you to leave yourselves to the disposal of divine Providence; to lie as clay in the hands of the potter, willing to receive any shape he chooses to give you, or to take any impression he is pleased to impose; to keep your eye towards the fiery cloudy pillar, and to be ready to move as it moves, turn as it turns, pause as it pauses. And is not all this implied in your profeffion, resolutions, and vows? Do you not remember a time when you gave your God, what you had too long withheld from him-your heart? And have you not often fince renewed this engagement? Are there no seasons in your experience, no spots in your walks, made facred in your recollection by fresh dedications of yourselves to Him? When the will is in unison with
the will of God, which is perfect rectitude, it is ennobled. To be like-minded with God, is the highest honour we can ever possess; to furrender ourselves to his pleasure, is the pureft act of obedience we can ever, perform. It is the effence of holiness, to do what God loves, and to love what God does. And as nothing can be more pious, fo nothing can be more wife than such a resignation. If your will correfponds with the will of God, you may be always fure of its accomplishment: "commit thy works unto the Lord, and "thy thoughts fhall be established." This is the only way to be happy in a miserable world; on this all your satisfaction depends. He knows what things you have need of, and what will be for your advantage. Depend on Him. Follow Him. Secure His favour; refer all "It is vain for you
to Him, and leave all with Him. "to rife up early, to fit up late, to eat the bread of "forrows for fo he giveth his beloved fleep." "Be "careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer "and fupplication with thanksgiving, let your requests "be made known unto God; and the peace of God, "which paffeth all understanding, fhall keep your "hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Thirdly, Let the fubject infpire you with consolation. Make use of the question to repress all the uneafineffes which you would otherwise feel when you contemplate the diverfity of human affairs. Remember it when you think of the world, and your imagination is bufied in fchemes of revolution and reformation. Remember it when you think of the state of the nation, and deplore many things which appear deplorable, and defire many things which appear defira
ble. Remember it when you think of the condition of the church; when you afk, "why fuch diversities " of opinion among its leaders? why fuch frequent "perfecution of its members? why are they generally "fo poor and afflicted? Why are they all the day long "plagued, and chaftened every morning; while their "ungodly neighbours abound in affluence and indul' gence ? Should the finner live within, clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring fumptuously ev ery day; while the faint lies at his gate, a beggar "full of fores?" Remember it when you think of the circumftances of the family; when driven in from a troublesome world, and hoping to find an afylum there, you are forced as you enter to sigh with David, દ my house is not so with God;" or what success in business, what servants, what children, what relations? Remember it when you think of your respective cases as individuals; of perplexities and fears; of losses and vexations; of pain of body; of imperfections of mind; of continuance in this world-" Should it be accord"ing to thy mind," or "according to the purpose of "Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will;" and "who is wonderful in counsel, and " excellent in working?"
Finally, Let all this lead you forward, and draw forth your expectation of another, and a more glorious economy. Beyond this vale of tears lies a land flowing with milk and honey. You are now in a state of probation and discipline; but trials and corrections will not be always necessary. The denials and restraints, to which the heir of glory submits while he is a child, cease when he comes of age. You now walk