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taking part against him. And had it been denied to him, it had probably only vexed his unrighteous soul to no purpose: for mortifications and corrections, though good in their proper place, are distinguishable as such only to the eye of faith; and we are assured too truly, that all men have not faith. The prophet David, when he reasoned with himself upon the dispensations of Providence, was soon relieved under this difficulty: I have seen, said he, the ungodly in great prosperity, and flourishing like a green bay-tree. But then it follows, yet he passed away, and lo, he was not; yea I sought him, but he could not be found. His life, though splendid and promising for a time, was short and transient. He seemed to himself to have taken deep root in the earth, and thought his fruit would endure; but a blast struck him on a sudden, perhaps when he thought least about it. He was preparing to enlarge his granaries, and enjoy the increase of his goods, and that night his soul was required of him. Self-indulgence is a burthen, and they who live without it are frequently in better spirits; plenty breeds fulness, and fulness breeds diseases; and so the lives of the rich are often much shorter than they might be; or it may please God by some sudden stroke to cut short the progress of a
worldly man, to teach others not to trust in uncertain riches. Besides, the good things of this life are often but a temptation and a snare upon the passions: the great and the wealthy are in a slippery situation, more liable to fall than other men; and their circumstances bring them into so many evils, that contentment with safety is far preferable to grandeur and danger, even when we consider nothing but the present life. So that upon the whole, we have no objection against a special Providence from this consideration.
Neither is there any real objection from the sufferings of good men, if we take their condition altogether. To those who place all their pride in the esteem of men, and all their pleasure in ease and indolence, they seem to be under great disadvantage, as if Providence neglected them: but this is so far from being the case, that the greatest favourites of heaven, to whom Providence has been most attentive, have been called to troubles and sufferings in this world, from wicked and unreasonable men. Persons of distinction, commonly so called, are they whom man has honoured, and who make a figure with their titles and their outward appearance: but persons of distinction in the sight of God, are they who are of superior minds and
rich in faith; and of such it is the privilege to be scorned and hated by an evil world. Read the instrument of St. Paul's preferment, and you will find it runs in this style-He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and Kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. His suffering was no sign that God had forsaken him; it was his profes ́sion as a chosen vessel, his privilege, his honour as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. And all Christians are called to the same condition of life; honoured of God, and opposed by the world; persecuted, but not forsaken; and, when they suffer for the truth, his grace is more abundant, so that they can sing with joy under such circumstances as would provoke others to lamentation, and drive them to despair. Paul and Silas sang praises to God in a dungeon at midnight, when their feet were fast in the stocks. But their minds were still free and happy; for the word of God was not bound. Ye shall know the truth, said Christ, and the truth shall make you free; with a sort of freedom. which no sum can purchase; the freedom of the mind: a freedom from the bondage of error, and vice, and fashion, that variable foolish tyrant; a freedom, which gives us a right to con
verse with God: to search into the treasures of his wisdom; to hope in him, to trust in him, and sing praises to him; all of which are privileges, such as the world cannot take away. The miser may be robbed of his wealth, the prince of his kingdom; but the Christian cannot lose the treasures of his heart, and as to the value of them, the psalm of a saint, within the walls of a prison, has more real comfort in it than the triumphs of an emperor, if he lives without God in the world.
Another difficulty yet remains with respect to the doctrine of divine Providence. Some think it an office unworthy and troublesome, beneath the Almighty, to attend to the multiplicity of small occurrences in human life. But this arises only from our imperfect way of considering things, and measuring the powers of God by the conceptions of man. No office can be burthensome to him whose eyes are in every place, and whose word can speak a world into being. Our Saviour hath extended the attention of Providence to the lowest particulars in the creation; to the hairs of our head, and to the life of a sparrow. How can the resurrection of the same body be brought to pass, unless he whose eyes did see our substance before it was perfect shall have it still under his view after
after its dissolution? His attention therefore does not only extend to single persons, but to the dust of the earth, and to single atoms. How often do we see the most trifling occurrences productive of the greatest events? All are therefore equally under the direction of God; the small as well as the great; for they depend upon one another. If it were possible to suppose any thing independant of Providence, it would be the casting of a lot; but the wise man affirms, the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposal thereof is of the Lord. Prov. xvi. 33. And accordingly, in the chusing of an Apostle to succeed Judas, they referred the matter to the divine direction by the casting of a lot, and supposed that the Lord, according to their prayer had thereby shewed which of the two He had chosen.
Having thus considered and stated the doctrine of Providence, with the certainty of God's presence and attention to the ways of men; let me tell you, the belief of this is so essential to the profession of a Christian, and so necessary to the comfort of life, that I know of no better test of the state of a man's soul, than a daily sense of God's presence with him, for the direction of his life, either by his own immediate act, or the subordinate ministration of his holy an