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to the appointment of Heaven, not only Serm, is a duty which piety requires, but tends also to mitigate distress, and to suggest consolation. For to dwell, as is too commonly done, upon the instruments and j subordinate means of our trouble, is frequently the cause of much grief, and much sin. When we view our sufferings as proceeding merely from our fellowcreatures, the part which they have acted in bringing them upon us, is often more grating than the suffering itself,' The unreasonableness, perhaps, of an enemy, the treachery of a friend, the ingratitude or insolence of one whom 1 we had much obliged, add weight to a load laid upon us by means so provok-ing. The thoughts of their malignity, or of our own neglect in guarding against it, serve to poison the sore. Whereas, if instead of looking to men, we beheld the cross as coming from God, these aggravating Circumstances would affect us less; we would feel no more than our proper burden; we would submit to }t more patiently; and many
. resources would open to us, as shall in a little be shown, from thinking of the hand that lays it on. Had - Job, when
j despoiled of all his substance, thought of nothing but the Chaldeans and Sabeans who robbed him, with what vio
j lent passions would he have been transported, and with what eager desires of revenge tormented? Whereas, considering them as rods and instruments only in the divine hand, and receiving the correction as from the Almighty himself, the tumult of his mind subsided j and with respectful composure he could say, The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away: BleJJ'ed be the name of the Lord, This leads me,
III. To consider the last, and most important instruction, arising from the text; namely, that there are many reasons why we, who receive good from the hand of God, mould receive with patience the evils which he is pleased to inflict. This is strongly, conveyed by that interrogatory'form of speech, in which the sentiment of Job is expressed:
What ? Jliall we receive good at the hands e R M. of God, and shallwe not receive evils In, order to unfold all that is contained in this appeal made to every man's conscience, let us consider,
In the first place, that the good things which God has bestowed, afford suffix cient evidence for our believing, that the evils which he fends, are not causelessly jor wantonly inflicted. Did we live in a world which bore the marks of a malicious or cruel governor, there might be reason for distrusting every step of his conduct. But in the world which we inhabit, we behold, on the contrary, plain marks of predominant goodness. We behold the structure of the universe, the order of nature, the general course of Providence, obviously arranged with a benevolent regard to the welfare of men. All the art and contrivance of which the divine works are full, point to this end; and the more they are explored, create the firmer belief, that the goodness of the Deity gave rife to the system of
SERM.creation. What is the conclusion to be y^^i) thence drawn, but that in such parts of the divine administration as appear to us harsh and severe, the same goodness continues to preside, though exercised in a hidden and mysterious manner?
Let me desire you to consider, whether, if some powerful friend had placed you in an opulent and comfortable station, and, in the general conduct of your affairs, had discovered the most disinterested kindness, you would not ascribe any occasional discouragements you received, to some unknown reason or cause, rather than to his unfaithfulness or cruelty? Ought not the experience which we have had, and the discovery which all nature affords, of the divine goodness, lead us to put a like construction on the evils which we suffer from a hand that hath so frequently loaded us with good?—Have we forgotten, in the midst of our complaints, who brought us unto the light of day; who watched over our helpless infancy; who reared our growing childhood; and through
ten thousand surrounding dangers, has SERM. been our protector and guardian until XvI' this day? How often has he rescued us from fickness and death, and made our hearts glad with unexpected comforts? Now, that some cloud is thrown over our prosperity, or some blessing withdrawn, in which for a time we had rejoiced, can we imagine that there is no good cause for this change of his proceeding? Shall we suspect that his nature is entirely altered? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger JJiut up his tender mercies ? No, let us fay with the Psalmist, This is my infirmity; but I will remember the works of the Lord. I will remember the years of the right hand of the mojl High*.—One signal work of the most High, at least, let us remember, and rejoice in the remembrance of it; even that final remedy which he has provided for all the evils occasioned by sin, in the redemption of the world accomplished by Jesus Christ.
* Ps. lxxvii. 9. 10.