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he,) and this by way of punishment to David for the offence he had committed.
The example of David in thus looking up to God, and passing by the wretched instrument Shimei, may be of excellent use to us, whenever we sustain any unjust reproaches or injurious usage from men. It would not only direct us how to make a right use of such trials, but would be of service also to prevent a very ill use which we are too apt to make of them. It might prevent our entertaining rancour and malice, and revengeful thoughts against the man who hath injured us, instead of repenting of our sins, and humbling ourselves before God. It is a very wrong practice, to let our thoughts rest in the mere instruments, and not to look higher up to God, in whose hands they are, and by whose permission they act : and, however wicked and injurious the enemy may be, God is kind and gracious in so directing the event, and will abundantly recompense the sufferer, here or hereafter. From hence then let us learn what use to make of enemies, and how to behave under every trial of that kind. For considering that it is every one's case almost, more or less, and that few can escape without injuries of one kind or other from wicked men ; it may be of service to us to remember this useful lesson, and to lodge it in our minds for the regulating our judgments, and the bettering our lives.
Not that I would have any one infer from hence, that a man should be careless and indifferent as to enemies ; or that he should lay himself open to them, or not use all proper and prudent precautions against injurious usage ; or not arm himself against them by all the honest methods which law, and justice, and common prudence prescribe. If a man neglects these, he may be thought rather to bring troubles upon himself, than to receive them at the hands of God. But to proceed.
3. Another inference deducible from the doctrine of the text, concerns our opinions and judgments of the ordinary stream of affairs, the common course of the world. The course of the world may be very bad: wickedness may prevail and triumph, in some places more, and in some less, and in one age more than another, too much in all : but still, let it be a comfort to every good man, that “ the Lord is King, be the people never so un· patient; he sitteth between the cherubims, be the earth never “ so unquiet d.” Whatever irregularities or disorders we observe
d Psalm xcix. I.
in the moral state of things, still true it is, and it is a confortable truth, that God governs the world. He does not interpose by an irresistible power to keep men from sinning ; for that would be destroying human liberty, and governing men in such a way as cannot be at all proper in a state of probation : but, which is much more wonderful, amidst all that variety of wickedness which prevails in the earth, he protects and preserves good men, and suffers no attempts to prevail against them, while they keep their integrity. Not that he always preserves them from violence and wrong; for sometimes he thinks proper to chastise them, and sometimes calls them to lay down their lives for his name's sake : but this last case is extraordinary; while in the more ordinary course of affairs, good men, with respect even to the comforts of this life, find in him a very sure and safe retreat. This consideration may be of force to animate and encourage good men in troublesome times. God sits at the helm, and is no unconcerned spectator over human affairs as easily change the face of things, and bring order out of confusion, as he can calm a troubled sea or lay a tempest. Let no man be dismayed at any doubtful appearances, or be filled with melancholy apprehensions on any view of things : a good man has nothing to do, but to preserve his own innocence, and to do the utmost he can to make the world better: the rest he
may leave to God.
4. The doctrine of Providence duly considered is the best preservative against anxiety and multiplicity of cares; which our blessed Lord himself hath very particularly observed, and largely inculcated, as may be seen in the 6th and 10th chapters of St. Matthew's Gospel. He there reminds us how God's providence extends to the fowls of the air,” which neither sow nor reap ; and yet our heavenly Father takes such care, that they are plentifully fed and provided for by him. He further observes, how the same kind providence extends even to the “ lilies of " the field,” which, though they neither toil nor spin, are yet finely clothed, and beautifully arrayed by the hand of God. He intimates still further, that every sparrow is under the care of Divine Providence; much more man; and that the
" hairs " of our heads are all numbered" with God. These are very lively expressions of a particular Providence superintending every individual man, woman, or child ; and they are all so many cogent arguments against too much anxiety. Therefore “ take no thought,” (that is, no anxious thought,) “ saying, “ What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Where“ withal shall we be clothede ?" The sum is : be frugal, provident, industrious; but be not anxious to waste the body, and enfeeble the mind, and to eat out the very heart and spirit of devotion and godliness. Trust to God's blessing upon honest industry and moderate care about the things of this life. Among the thousands that die daily, how few do we hear of who die for want of bread or of clothing? Is it not demonstration that God, by his good providence, takes as particular care of mankind in these respects, as of the “ lilies of the field,” or the “ fowls of “ the air ?" And yet if such a thing should sometimes happen, as a person's being starved, or famished for want of necessaries; it would be but a very rare example, of one among many millions; and probably owing, either to some very odd accident, or to some gross neglect or grievous fault of the person so suffering. Be not then so extremely anxious for the necessaries of life, which God himself has taken under his particular charge, with this special promise annexed; " Seek ye first the kingdom of “ God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added “ unto you.” Can any thing be kinder than this promise is, except it be, his most exact and constant performance of it? As, upon these accounts, you have but little reason for being extremely anxious for yourselves, so have you still less reason for anxiety about your children after you: for that is more distant, and is what you have not so near a concern in.
What if you should die, and should leave nothing behind you? Providence can never die. If God takes you away, your children are then God's care, and no longer yours : and he that made them, and gave them you, has the greatest interest in them, and the tenderest concern for them. They are your children ; but they are his creatures and children too, and he the kindest of all fathers. Why should you imagine that you are able to do well for them, and that God cannot; or that you shall be kind and tender towards them, and that God will not ? Away with those vain fears and superstitious cautions : cast your care upon God, who careth both for you and yours. Be not over solicitous about future portions : give your children a good sense of religion, and bring them up in the fear of God: be that their portion, for that
e Matt. vi. 31.
includes every thing. Be that your care, and God will do all the rest. What shall I say more to move you to trust in Divine Providence, and give over anxiety, which is bưt vain and fruitless for the present, and, which is worse, grievous both to body and mind; and in conclusion dangerous, perhaps fatal, with respect to your nearest, your everlasting concernment ? But enough of this particular. 5.
The general conclusion from the whole is, that we endeavour to fix in our minds an awful and constant sense of Divine Providence. Entertain it not as an empty notion only, but let it sink down into our hearts, and become habitual and familiar
Think upon it at all times and in all places ; let it abide and dwell with us, when we lie down, and when we rise up, and under all circumstances and conditions of life. Recount we and consider with ourselves, what we owe to Providence, what dangers we have escaped, what blessings we have received; how we have been relieved in straits, comforted in distresses, and supported all along, under divers exigencies and casualties. will be of great use to us in life, to have always a present, lively, feeling apprehension of God's presence with us, and his care over
It will make us thankful in prosperity and patient in adversity. It will support our spirits under trouble or danger, and make us easy and well contented under checks and disap. pointments. It would be the best preservative against querulousness, pride, envy, and other foolish and hurtful vices or passions. When we consider all things as coming from God, and conducted by an all-wise and steady hand, we shall then take all things in good part, and rest content with any thing that befalls us. We shall live, as it were, under God's eye, and look up to him in all emergencies. And, what is more than all, by thus constantly thinking of him, we shall make it our daily study and endeavour to serve and please him, that so we may enjoy his favour and blessings here, and his presence hereafter.
The Case of passing Judgment concerning Calamities
examined : what kind of Judgment on such Occasions is innocent and just ascertained; and the culpable extremes noted and censured.
The First Sermon on this Subject.
LUKE xiii. 2, 3.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Gali
læans were sinners above all the Galilæans, because they suffered
such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
course which passed about the Galilæans, a seditious sect of men, who had refused subjection to the Roman government, upon superstitious principles which they had imbibed.
“ There were present at that season,” says St. Luke in the first verse of this chapter, “ some that told him” (told our Lord) “ of the Galilæans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their “ såcrifices." Those Galilæans, probably, were the followers of Judas of Gaulonitis, who seems to have been the head of the discontented party, dissuading their countrymen from paying submission to the Romans. The plea or pretence was, that they were the Lord's people, and owed no subjection to any mortal upon earth, or at least to no foreign power whatever: they would therefore pay no tribute to Cæsar, or his officers, but to the Lord only, and his ministers, or, in one word, to the temple. At the time of the Passover, as is reasonably supposed, they came