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things do not appear capable of teaching muchwisdom : but still, what they do teach gives po offence : which is, you know, more than can be said with truth, of some of the graver lessons, you get occasionally from certain per
Besides there is a great deal of pride in our reluctance to be “shut up” to an exclusive dependence upon God, and to a complete deference to His will. For, why should we be less dependent than irrational things ? We are not so pure as the lily, nor so innocent as the bird. We can indeed, do more for ourselves, and we can think much: but if both our doing and thinking have for their real object, to try how far we can take our affairs out of the hands of God, into our own hands, we need not wonder that God should cross us
at times, and always leave us to feel that we
nor lighten our burdens by impatience.
You do not believe, perhaps, that you want to take your affairs out of the hands of God, into your own hands. There may be only two or three things in your lot, which you wish to alter: and as there are many good things in the lot of others, which you are content to be without, you think it rather unfair to be charged with pride or perverseness, merely because you want to have your own way in a few points. Besides, you may even be conscious that one great reason, why you are so dissatisfied with some things, is, because they distract your mind, and thus prevent you from serving God so well as you wish to do. It is, therefore, you think, both ungenerous and unjust, to be suspected of, much more to be charged with, any such impious design as that of wanting to be independent of Providence ! You never dreamt of such a thing—did you ?
Do not answer this question, until you have
considered another peculiarity in the Saviour's lessons on Providence. He does not teach confidence in, nor resignation to Providence, either as abstract duties, or for their own sake, as Christian virtues; but chiefly for the sake of keeping up the spirit and habit of prayer, and a proper regard to the eternal welfare of the soul. Now the fact is, we really pray no more, either for spiritual or temporal blessings, than just to the extent of our sense of entire dependence on God. Our words may go beyond this ; but our praying stops where our sense of dependence on the Divine goodwill and power ends. There may be some worship and some devotion in what we say to God, when we no longer feel utterly helpless, nor absolutely at his disposal ; but there is no prayer. Nothing is prayer, but that asking, or seeking, which proceeds from a full conviction, that God alone can help or uphold us
Now we are unable to bear this deep sense of utter helplessness, in regard to every thing we need for life and godliness. Our spirit would sink entirely, if it always felt all its needs, as it feels some of them. Our Heavenly Father does not forget this. “He knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are but dust." He teacheth us dependence, as well as other things, only as we are “ able to bear” the discovery. Accordingly, it is only at a few points in the circle of our wants, or of our weaknesses, that we are compelled to cry out, “ Lord save, or I perish.” It is only now and then that the full truth of the oracle, “ vain is the help of man,” is forced deeply home upon us.
We are not left, however, to forget this oracle, nor to give up that prayer.
God will have us—by some means-sensible of our absolute dependence on
Now, what if the hardship, the cross, or the burden, which you and I so want to get rid of, and which we bear so ill, be the very best thing, indeed the only thing, that could keep us at the feet of God? Remember;
we must be kept there by something. It is also but too true, that those things in our lot which please us most, do not send us oftenest into our closets, even for thanksgiving—to say nothing of supplication for their continuance. Might not, therefore, the removal of the cross which we fret under, remove us from the closet altogether?
Now this is just the secret of our case. That one thing in our lot, which we are so anxious to get rid of, is the very thing which makes us feel that we cannot controu! Providence, nor do without help from God. Were, therefore, that cup to pass away,” this feeling would pass
away with it.
It is all fallacy or fancy, to reckon otherwise.