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detained under the reign of folly and wickedness, SERM. that we are not inevitably made fools and beasts. A To be disgusted with Providence for affliction or poverty, is no other than as if we should be angry with our physician for administering a purge, or for prescribing abstinence to us'; as if we should fret at our chirurgeon for searching our wounds, or applying needful corrosives; as if we should complain of the hand which draweth us from a precipice, or pulleth us out of the fire. Many benefits, saith Jude 23. Seneca, have a sad and rough countenance, as to burn and cut in order to healings: such a benefit of God is adversity to us; and as such with a gladsome and thankful mind should we receive it.
If with a diligent observation we consult experience, we shall find, that as many have great cause to bewail that they have been rich, that they have Luke ri. 24. been blinded and corrupted with prosperity, that Amos vi. 1,
James v. i. they have received their consolation here; so many &c. have great reason to be glad that they have been poor, that they have been disappointed, that they have tasted the bitter cup; it having instructed and corrected them ; it having rendered them sober and considerate, industrious and frugal, mindful of God, and devout toward him : and what we may rejoice in when past, why should we not bear contentedly when present ? why should not the expectation of such good fruits satisfy us ?
**H vozoớyTay tampeiai, 1 tytaivoyTa Yuuvaơ tai. Simple Kpeittur einpepías åxahsvátou vóoos pinócopos. Naz. Ep. 66.
8 Beneficia multa tristein et asperam frontem habent, quemadmodum urere, et secare, ut sanes. Sen. de Benef. v. 20.
! Horrorem operis fructus excusat. Tert. Scorp. 5.
SERM. Why should not such a condition, being so plainly XXXIX.better in itself, seem also better unto us? We can
not, if we are reasonable, but approve it in our judg. ment; why then are we not fully reconciled unto it in our affection ?
not change us in our intrinsic worth or state. It is but a garment about us, or as weather.
- Ego utrum Nave ferar magna an parva, ferar unus et idem. Hor. Ep. ii. 2.
SER MON XL.
Phil. iv. 11. I have learned, in whatsoever state, &c. 5. BUT further : Let our state be, as to quality, SERM. what it will, good or bad, joyful or unpleasant, we XL. may yet consider, that it cannot be desperate, it may not be lasting; for there is not any necessary connection between the present and the future: wherefore, as the present, being momentary and transient, can little trouble us, so the future, being unknown and uncertain, should not dismay us. As no man reasonably can be elevated with confidence in a good state, presuming on its duration, (Boast not thyself Prov. xxvii. of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may". bring forth ;) so no man should be dejected for a bad one, in suspicion that it will abide longa; seeing neither (considering the frequent vicissitudes that occur, and the flux nature of all things here) is each of them in itself stable; and the continuance of each absolutely dependeth on God's arbitrary disposal; and as God often doth overturn prosperity, to human judgment most firmly grounded, so he most easily can redress the to appearance most forlorn adversity;
a Multa intervenient quibus vicinum periculum vel prope admotum aut subsistat aut desinat, aut in alienum caput transeat.
SERM. and he, being especially the helper of the helpless,
XL._ doth frequently perform it: as he poureth contempt Psal. lxxii. upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the 12. cvii. 9. x. 4. cri. 9. mighty ; so he raiseth the poor out of the dust, and Ps. cvii.4o.lifteth the needy out of the dunghill : he casteth
; 5 down the mighty from their seat, and exalteth the Job v. II. Isa. ii. !!: humble and meek: he sendeth the rich empty Psal. xviii.
away, and filleth the hungry with good things. Ps. cxiii. 7. cvii. 41.“ He maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, Job v. 18. Sam. 1... and his hands make whole.
Considering therefore the reason of things, and the nature of God, if our state be at present bad or sorrowful, we have more reason to hope for its amendment, than to fear its continuance". If indeed things went on in a fatal track, merely according to a blind and heedless chance, or a stiff and unalterable necessity; if there were no remedy from God's providence, or support by his grace to be expected; (although even then there would be no reason to grieve or complain; grief would be unreasonable, because unprofitable, complaint would be vain, because fortune and fate are deaf;) yet our infirmity
might somewhat excuse that idle proceeding ; but Matt. x. 29, since not a sparrow falleth to the ground, not a Luke xxi. hair of our head perisheth ; nothing at all passeth
otherwise than by the voluntary disposition of a most wise and gracious God; since he doth always strictly view, and is very sensible of our griefs, yea doth in
a manner sympathise with them, (according to those Hos. xi. 8. pathetical expressions in the prophets : His bowels
b Tούς γε νούν έχουσι και σώφρονι λογισμό κεχρημένοις ουδέν των ανθρω-
sound, and are troubled ; his heart is turned within SERM. him ; In all their afflictions he was afflicted :) since he further hath by promise obliged himself to care Jer. xxxi. for us, to support and succour us; we have all rea- Isa, Ixiii. 9, son to hope, yea firmly to believe, (if at least we can Luke xii. find in our hearts to hope and to believe,) that we shall, as soon as it is good and expedient for us, find Matt.vi.33.
u Phil. iv.6. relief and ease; we shall have that evkalpov Bohoelav, . Pet. v. 7.
Psal. lv. 23. that seasonable succour, of which the apostle to the xxxvii. 5.
Heb. iv. 6. Hebrews speaketh.
Hope lieth at the bottom of the worst condition that can be: The poor, saith Job's friend, hath Job v. 16. hope ; and the rich can have no more; the future being equally close to both, the one can have no greater assurance to keep what he hath, than the other hath to get what he needeth; yea clearly the poor hath the advantage in the case; for God hath more declared, that he will relieve the poor man's want, than that he will preserve the rich man's store: if then we have in every condition a hope present to us, why do we grieve as those who have no hope ? · Thess. iv. having ever ready the best anchor that can be to rest Heb. vi. 19. upon, (for in this rolling sea of human affairs there is no firmer anchor than hope,) why do we let our minds be tossed with discontentful solicitudes and fears ? why do we not rather, as the apostle enjoineth, rejoice in hope, than grieve out of despair ? why Rom. xii. do we not, as the prophet adviseth, hope and wait Lam.iii. 26. quietly for the salvation of the Lord ? The effect of so reposing ourselves for the future on God's providence would be perfect content and peace, according to that of the prophet, Thou wilt keep him in Isa. xxvi. 3. perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee ; because he trusteth in thee; and that of the Wise Man,