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that something more than the industry of man is required to render him happy or prosperous; and that it is, with good reason, that, in our daily prayers, we ask our daily bread, of God: since no day in the year can be found, in which His blessing is not needed, either to preserve the seed; or to prosper the tender stalk; or to fill the ear; or to rebuke the mildew, or the storm, by which the maturer crop is endangered. And, when we behold these perils, for the most part, passed away; when the corn hath sprung up, we know not how; and the land is filled with the goodness of the Lord; and the food of many days is waving before our eyes; and famine driven far from our doors; and the heart of the poor made glad within him; we cannot choose, if our thoughts are guided into a proper channel, we cannot choose but feel an anxious joy, a solemn, and, in some degree, a mournful thankfulness, when we compare our own unworthy lives with the unbounded mercies of God; when we recollect, how little and how seldom we have thought on Him, who careth for us continually; and when we tremble, lest, even now, our sins should interrupt the stream of His mercy, and that the improper use, which we too often make of plenty, should, even yet, turn our abundance into hunger.

But, if such be the natural and usual feelings of those, who, at this season, walk forth, like

the Patriarch, to meditate in the fields; and to converse with God amid the yearly marks of His bounty, we should seem, my brethren, peculiarly called on, in times of approaching affliction, to cry strongly unto our God, "who hath sent thunder and rain in our wheat harvest:" to read, in His visible judgements, a token of our dependance on Him, -to perceive, like the Israelites, "that our wickedness is great, which we have done in the sight of the Lord; "—and to look up, with humble patience, to His afflicting hand; till such time as He have mercy upon us.

For there is scarcely one single truth to be named, which may be more clearly learned from Scripture, than that, as all the blessings, which we enjoy, proceed from God, and are justly attributable to His mercy, so His justice, and anger, against sin, are made visible in the sorrows which He sends us. "A fruitful land maketh He barren, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein."1 "If Israel commit iniquity," saith the Lord, "I will chastise him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men." "I offer thee three things," said the Lord to David, "choose thee one of them;" "shall seven years of famine come unto thee, in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while

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1 Psalm cvii. 34.



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they pursue thee: or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land?"1 "Foolish men," saith the author of the 107th Psalm,“ 2 plagued for their offence: their soul abhorreth all manner of meat, and they draw near unto the gates of death." "For this cause,' saith St. Paul to the Corinthians, "for this cause" for your provocations, namely, and impieties, " many are weak, and sickly, among you, and many sleep" the sleep of death. So greatly mistaken are those, who fancy that the events of this world succeed each other by chance, or by unalterable destiny, or that the Sabbath of the Almighty has continued since the world was made; and that He has left, since then, without the watchful care of His providence, the goodly frame of things to which His word gave first beginning. Far otherwise it is He who chastiseth us when we offend, and visiteth our sins with scourges. All our life long, we are in His hands, and under His guidance; not a sparrow can fall to the ground, without His decrees; nor is there any deliverance, or any affliction brought to pass, among the nations, but the counsel of the Lord hath done it.

It is true, indeed, and the observation of

1 2 Samuel, xxiv. 12, 13.

2 Ps. cvii. 17. Common Prayer, and Bible Version, v. 18. 3 1 Cor. xi. 30.

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this fact has caused many to doubt, whether the providence of God do really descend to the particular fortunes of nations and men; it is true, that we can seldom, or never, in the general course of things, perceive any remarkable difference made between the good or evil fortune of the wicked whom God hateth, and the few whom He condescends to call His children, His beloved, His faithful and chosen servants. On the other hand, we very often behold the faithful, afflicted and brought low; while the ungodly are in great prosperity: and the happiness, or misery, both of the one, and of the other, apparently determined by circumstances altogether foreign to their religious principles, or to their conduct in the present world. The observation of this fact moved David himself to doubt and murmur; and it provoked from his son Solomon the bitter complaint that "all things come alike to all that there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath."

Now, to this objection it is, perhaps, the most obvious answer to urge, that we know,

1 Ecclesiastes, ix. 2.

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on the other hand, that God both encourages and commands us to ask for worldly blessings and worldly deliverances; that we are exhorted to cast our care on Him, as knowing that "He careth for us;" that we are directed to pray for daily bread, for peace, for deliverance from evil and temptation; that we are told,

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that, if any two of us agree on earth as touching what we shall ask in prayer, it shall be done for us by our Heavenly Father;"-" that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth" even to change the course of the seasons, and to make the earth either barren or fruitful; that we are encouraged to make supplications for the prosperity of particular persons, and for escape from particular evils, for the safety of the princes, who rule over us; for the ministers, who instruct us; and for the nations, where we dwell; and, that we are assured, moreover, as in the passages which I have already instanced,,that the course of this world, yea, and the smallest, and, apparently, the most trifling events in that course, are ordered by the providential care and immediate superintendence of Him, who, "though He hath His dwelling so high, yet humbleth Himself to behold the children of men." For, as we may be sure, that God would not flatter us

1 Psalm cxiii. 5.

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