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whose destination and agency men are no SERMON more than the secondary instruments? To what but to the original plan of his goodness, do you owe the favourable circumstances of your birth or your education, the kindness which he ordained to spring up in the breast of your friend, or the talents and abilities which he implanted within you, in order to favour your success?
But an exhortation to gratitude, you perhaps consider as coming unseasonably in your present situation. The time was, when the light of the Divine countenance shone upon you, and, looking up to a Benefactor in heaven, with a grateful heart you acknowledged your blessings to be derived from Him; but that time is now past; you are left desolate and forsaken, bereaved of the chief comforts on which you had set your hearts. And, because many of the favours of Heaven are past, ought they to be gone from your remembrance? Are there not still some others remaining, for which you have reason to give thanks? Have you forgotten all the blessings you have continued to enjoy ever since the day that you came forth a helpless infant into
SERMON the world? Be assured that a gratitude of that sort, which dies away as soon as it ceases to be fed by the usual stream of benefits, which has regard to present favours only, and none to those that are past, is not true gratitude, but the symptom of a selfish and mercenary spirit. If you be disposed to. thank God only when he is giving you all the desires of your hearts, what praise have ye? Do not publicans and sinners the same? Men who have little either of religion or sensibility of heart. But when Providence shrouds itself in a dark cloud, and some of your favourite enjoyments are carried away, if still, with calm and patient mind, you continue to bless the name of the Lord, and still retain a thankful sense of the blessings you have so long, and so far beyond your deserts, been permitted to enjoy; this is to be truly grateful; this is to shew yourselves the dutiful children of a Father in Heaven.
In reviewing the grounds which we have for gratitude to God, it becomes us to attend, not only to those blessings which appertain individually to each of us, but to those also which we enjoy in common with
others of our brethren.
How much reason SERMON
SERMON giveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies*. Let us now add,
III. ENTIRE and profound submission, as a disposition most necessary to be preserved on our part towards God. This includes submission of the understanding to the discoveries which God has been pleased to make; submission of the inclinations to the laws which he has promulgated for our conduct; submission of the will to the dispensations of his Providence, as they affect the events of our life. It is not submission constrained merely by a power against which we know that it is in vain to struggle; it is submission arising from reverence compounded with gratitude; submission to One whose supreme perfection entitles Him to absolute obedience, whose experienced goodness affords ground for implicit trust.
In the present imperfect state of human nature, there will be often found no small reluctance to that entire resignation to God which religion requires, The pride of
* Psalm ciii. 1, 2, 3.
human understanding will sometimes revolt SERMON against the discoveries which God has made in his word, as deficient and unsatisfactory; the struggles of passion will frequently rise against the restraints imposed on us by his laws, and the severities inflicted by his Providence. But in the heart of a pious man all such opposition is checked and borne down, by a steady faith that, under the administration of the Almighty, all is ordered for the best, though for several steps of that high administration we are unable at present to account. Hence that calm tranquillity he preserves, and that resolute and magnanimous submission he maintains, amidst the most unpromising circumstances. He knows that in this stupendous universe, there must be many things that lie beyond our comprehension. As yet thou seest no more than the rise of the divine government, the beginnings of a great plan which is not to be completed until the course of ages shall end. Meanwhile darkness must be allowed, for wise reasons, to remain upon many things; severe restraints must be imposed on conduct, and occasional sufferings must be endured. If thou sufferest, sigh, and be