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share. Complain not when thy portion is removed. It is not permitted to any one, to remain always at the banquet.

II. We are taught by the text, that both the goods and the evils which compose this mixed state, come from the hand of God. A little reflection may convince us, that, in God's world, neither good nor evil can happen by chance. If there were any one moment, in which God quitted the reins of the universe, and suffered any power to interfere with his administration, it is evident, that, from that moment, the measures of his government must become disjointed and incomplete. He who governs all things, must govern continually; and govern the least things as well as the greatest. He never slumbers, nor sleeps. There are no void spaces, no broken plans, in his administration; no blessings that drop upon us without his intention; nor any crosses that visit us, unsent by him. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness. I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things.

How it has come to pass, that this life should contain such a mixture of goods and evils, and that the mixture too should be of God's appointment, gives rise to a difficult enquiry. For how can any thing but what is good proceed from the God of love? Can darkness issue from the source of light? or can it be any satisfaction to the Father of mercies to behold the sorrows of creatures whom he has made ?

Here there was room for much perplexity, till reve


* Isaiah, xlv. 6, 7.

tion informed us, that the mixture of evils in man's estate is owing to man himself. Had he continued as God originally made him, he would have received nothing but good from his Creator. His apostacy and corruption opened the gates of the tabernacle of darkness. Misery issued forth, and has ever since pursued him. In the present condition of his nature, that misery is partly punishment, partly trial. He is become incapable of bearing uninterrupted prosperity; and by the mixture of evils in his lot, merciful designs are carried on for his improvement and restoration.

What the text leads us at present to consider is, the effect that will follow from imitating the example of Job, and referring to the hand of the Almighty, the evils which we suffer, as well as the goods which we enjoy. Such a reference of the distressful events of our life to the appointment of Heaven, not only 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 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 then the suffering itself. The unreasonableness, perhaps, of an enemy, the treachery of a friend, the ingratitude or insolence of one whom we had much obliged, add weight to a load laid upon us by means so provoking. 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, behold the cross as coming from God, these


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aggravating circumstances would affect us less; we would feel no more than a proper burden; we would submit to it more patiently; and many resources would open to us, as shall in a little be shewn, from

a thinking of the hand that lays it on. Had Job, when despoiled of all his substance, thought of nothing but the Chaldeans and Sabeans who robbed him, with what violent 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; and with respectful composure he could say, The Lord gave ; and the Lord hath taken away: Blessed 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, should 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 ! shall we receive.good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? 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 sufficient evidence for our believing, that the evils which he sends, are not causelessly or wantonly inflicted. Did we live in a world which bore the marks of a malicious or cruel gover

nor, 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 rise to the system of creation. What is the conclusion to be thence drawn, but that, in such parts of the Divine administration as appears 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, to 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 into the light of day; who watched over our helpless infancy; who reared our growing childhood; and, through ten thousand surrounding dangers, has been our protector and guardian until this day? How often has he rescued us from sickness 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 shut up his tender mercies? No; let us say 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 Most 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. He who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, will he, in any case, wantonly afflict the children of men with superfluous and unnecessary sorrows? Is not this a proof so satisfactory, so express and demonstrative, of the gracious purposes of God, as should dispose us to take in good part every thing which proceeds from him? Consider,

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In the second place, that the good things we receive from God are undeserved, the evils we suffer are justly merited. Every reasonable person must feel the weight of this consideration, for producing patience and submission. For, though to suffer at any rate be grievous, yet to suffer unjustly is doubly galling. Whereas, when one receives a mixed portion, whereof the goods are above his deserts, and the evils below his deserts, to complain in such a case, is unreasonable; there is more ground for being

* Psalm lxxvii. 9, 10.

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