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appeared in our nature; and with the infinite price of his own precious blood, redeemed us from the hand of justice, and purchased for us complete and everlasting salvation. And now, with what face can we decline his service or refuse subjection to any of his laws? It is purely by bis merit that we live at all: and shall we reckon it grievous to walk by bis direction? Surely nothing can appear more just and equitable, than that he who bought us should possess us, and that the ransomed should be entirely devoted to their Redeemer.
Let these considerations prevail with us to live unto him who “ died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." And while we look up to him for that divine aid, which he hath not only encouraged us to ask, but commanded us to expect, let us go forward in his strength, making mention of his righteousness, even of his only; that when we die, we may fall asleep in that Jesus, unto whom we now live, and commit our bodies to the dust, in the assured hope of a glorious resurrection : when that promise shall be fulfilled in its largest extent, “ If any man serve me,
let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be. If any man serve me, him will my Father honour." Amen.
1 PETER V. 7.
Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.
EXHORTATIONS of this kind, which frequently occur in the sacred Scriptures, represent our holy religion in the most amiable light. It appears, in all respects, suited to our present necessities, and friendly to our highest, our most important interests. How deplorable would be the state of men upon earth, were they left to struggle in their own strength with the trials and sufferings to which they are continually exposed? In prosperity, when the mind is vigorous and undisturbed, Reason may discover a variety of arguments for bearing affliction with patience and fortitude, and may even suggest some topics of consolation, which, in the distant view of adversity, seem to promiso a seasonable and effectual relief; but these are rather specious than solid, and when brought to the test, have always been complained of as feeble and unavailing. The best of them are those which lead our thoughts upwards to the Supreme Disposer of all events, the wise and righteous Governor of the world. But as it is impossible for a creature, conscious of guilt, to separate the idea of pun. ishment from suffering, it is not easy to conceive how the mere pursuasion, that our sufferings proceed from one who is incapable of doing wrong, should yield us any comfort, unless we are assured, that while he punisheth our sins, he is at the same time willing to be re
conciled to us; nay, that the correction itself is the fruit of his love, and graciously intended for the cure of our souls. But here Reason, unassisted, is unable to move one step upon firm ground; and though it could, yet, as the mind itself is too commonly unhinged and broken by adversity, any aid that depended upon a process of reasoning would come by far too slow to our relief. 66 The spirit of a man will sustain bis infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?"
In this distressed situation, when every other refuge fails, divine revelation comes seasonably to our assist. ance. So bright are the oinjects it presents to our view, that they prevent the labour of a tedious inquiry: The mind sees them at once; and though greatly disturbed, can with ease discover both their nature and their use. The import of a striking fact is much sooner comprehended than the force of an argument. Thus when we are told “ that God spared not his own Son, but deliv. ered bim up to the death for us,” we no sooner hear and believe the fact, than we are sufficiently prepared to draw the same conclusion from it that Paul did, “ How shall he not with bim also freely give us all things ?” But the Scriptures do not stop here: they not only relate what God hath already done, and thereby furnish us with proofs of his mercy and grace; they likewise contain explicit declarations of what he hath purposed and determined to do. They abound with great and precious promises, confirmed by the oath of an unchangeable God, “ that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, they may have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them."
Of this kind is the argument with which the Apostle presseth the exhortation in my text, Casting all your
care upon God, saith he, for he careth for you. Nothing can be more simple; and, at the same time, nothing can be more persuasive. No acuteness is requisite for discovering the meaning of the argument. And then its strength is irresistible; " for if God be with us, who can be against us?” If the great Lord of heaven and earth vouchsafe to become our friend, nay, our guardian, then surely, with a cheerful and unreserved confidence, we may resign ourselves wholly to his disposal and government. The objects of his paternal care must always be safe; no real evil can befal them, neither shall any thing that is truly good be withheld from them. But to whom doth the Apostle address bis exhortation ?
This question is of importance, and must be answered in the first place.
Secondly. I shall lay open the nature and extent of the duty here enjoined, and show what is included in casting all our care upon God.
Thirdly. I shall illustrate the propriety and strength of the motive with which the exhortation is enforced, God careth for you.
And then direct you to the practical improvement of the subject.
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to say to every one that hears me, Thou art the person who art invited to cast thy care upon God: but it is truth, and not inclination, that must dictate what I say. The great Prophet of the church compares the office of a minister to that of a steward, whose business it is to feed those committed to his care, by giving unto each“ his portion of meat in due season.” A promiscuous distribution of the bread of life, is not merely unprofitable, but in many cases hurtful, to the souls of men: And give me leave to add, that in no case is it more likely to be hurtful, than when the subject, like the present one, is soothing and agreeable. And therefore, that this word of truth may be rightly divided, it will be necessary
I. In the first place, To inquire who the persons are to whom the exhortation may properly be addressed.
It is certain, that as there are privileges peculiar to sanctified believers, so there are many duties enjoined in Scripture, which the impenitent and unbelieving are incapable of performing; and, I apprehend, there is no duty whatsoever that lies farther beyond their reach, than the exercise of trust and hope in God; for every part of his word denounces wrath against them so long as they persist in their rebellion and enmity. “God is angry with the wicked every day. He hath bent his bow, and made it ready; he hath also prepared for him the instruments of death." And therefore, to persons of this character, a previous exhortation is necessary. I must address you in the words of Eliphaz to Job, “ Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace, and hereby good shall come unto you.” At present my text doth not speak to you at all. If you look back to the foregoing part of this epistle, you will see the persons described whom the Apostle had in his eye. He doth pot write to all promiscuously, but “ to the elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Christ." He writes to those 6 who are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” He address. eth his exhortation to believers in Christ Jesus, " who loved him though unseen,” having tasted of his grace; whom he distinguished by the honourable appellations of “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.” These are the objects of God's