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Thus, if we look into the Nature of God, and his most facred Attributes, we find strong and irrefragable Arguments, why, in all our Troubles and Distresses, we should put our whole Trust in him ; and if we now turn our Eyes upon ourselves, and consult our own Experience of his former LovingKindness to us, we shall perceive abundant Reason to continue the same Affiance in him for the future. For, of the many Calamities incident to human Life, how many, through the Goodness of God, have we escaped ? How many, just hanging over our Heads, and what we saw no Possibility of avoiding, has his watchful Providence averted from us? How many, after they had seized us, and began to press hard upon us, has he at first abated, and afterwards wholly removed ? And how many, by his over-ruling Power, have had so good an Effect, that we have Reason to rejoice for having been visited by them ? Have we never, by a painful and lingering Sickness, been brought to the very Brink of the Grave, and when Medicines have failed, and Physicians have pronounced our Doom, by some unexpected Turn, been restored to our Health again ? Has our good Name never been aspersed by some foul and base Slanders, under which we have long lain, without being able to clear it, and has not God, by his good Providence, brought forth our Righteousness as the Light, and our Innocence as the Noon-Day? Have we never seen Poverty coming upon us as an armed Man, when, on a sudden, God has raised up unhoped for Benefactors to relieve us, or struck out for us unforeseen Means of Subsistence ? Have we never known the Wrath and Malice of Men fet against us, when, without any Offence of ours, they came gaping upon us, and were ready to swallow us up quick, when God has either restrained the Fierceness of their Wrath, or covered us, as it were, under the Shadow of his Wings, until their Tyranny has been over-paft?
If then we have had any such Instances of God's Goodness to us, (as certainly we all of us have had, and, unless we have been very careless Obferv. ers of Providence, must have taken Notice of) from the Sense of past Mercies, we may draw this comfortable Conclusion, that be, who hath delivered us from so great Dangers, and doth deliver, in him we may safely trust, that he will yet deliver us: For bis Hand, which has so often been stretched forth for our Help, is not since shortened, that it can no longer save ; neither is his Ear, which has been so often opened to our Prayers, grown beavy, that it can no more bear. If we commit our Souls to him in Well-doing, the Experience we have already had of his watchful Care over us, will be our standing Conviction, that, in all Circumstances of Danger or Distress, he will defend us under his Wings; under bis Feathers we hall be safe ; bis Faithfulness and Truth Mall be our Shield and Buckler.
II. If then our Trust and Reliance on God, under all the Pains of Body, and Anxieties of Mind, under all the Frowns of Fortune, and Difficulties of Life, which have befallen us, and all the Apprehensions of Evils, which we fear may befal us, be both our Duty, and our Remedy, it may be a Matter well worth our Enquiry, by what farther Means and Considerations we may beget and nourish in us this happy Temper of Mind ; and in order to this,
1. The first Thing we are to do, is to divest our Minds of all Presumption and Self-confidence. For when, without any Regard to God's Providence, Men are bold enough to rely on themselves and their own Abilities, and vainly imagine, that, without the Divine Help and Direction, by the Contrivance of their own Wit and Discretion, they
can compass their Design, and make themselves Masters of their utmost Wish; it is no Wonder, that they should fo frequently miscarry; and therefore trust thou in the Lord (as the wife Man advises) with all thine Heart, and lean not on thine own Understanding ; in all thy Ways acknowledge him, and be Mall dire&t thy Paths ; for be that trusteth in his own Heart, as he says in another Place, is a Fool. And a Fool he is without all Controversy; for,.
2. Considering the Situation of human Nature, it is absolutely necessary, that there should be something for us to lean upon, and have Recourse to, as our proper Support and Refuge. Every Man in his best Estate is but a feeble and infirm Creature : What from the Impotence of his Mind, and the Disorder of his Passions within ; what from the Troubles and Difficulties which he meets with from without ; together with the Mutability of all human Affairs, which cannot be ascertained by all the imaginable Foresight which Men are capable of; it is imposible for us to live independent. Evils there are innumerable, from which, neither the Wisdom of the most prudent, nor the Riches of the most wealthy, nor the Forces of the most pow-, erful, nor even the Virtue of the most innocent, can always secure them; and therefore Faith, and Hope, and Trust, are altogether necessary in our present State ; and the Man must be in a very unsafe and uneasy Condition, that is not provided with something to support and relieve him in his Necessities. But now, if such a Support be necessary, we can have it no where placed so commodiously, as in the Hands of Almighty God; For where can we find a fafer Diretor of our Affairs, than an all-comprehending Wisdom? Where a better Protetor against Dangers and Insults, than omnipotent Power ? Where a better Provider of every Thing that we want, than that Goodness which is infinite ?
Since then the Necessity of trusting in something, the Folly of trusting in ourselves, and the Wisdom of trusting in God is so apparent ; these are Confiderations wherewith we should frequently entertain our Thoughts : And, to give them a stronger Impression, we should always bear in Mind the Promises, that God hath made us of his Readiness both to guard us in Danger, and to relieve us in Want: Because thou hast made the Lord, which is thy Refuge, even the most High, thy Habitation, there mail no Evil befal thee, neither fall any Plague come nigh thy Dwelling ; for be shall give bis Angels Charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy Ways : They fall bear thee up in their Hands, left thou Mouldst das thy Foot against a Stone. This is our Protection from Danger, and our Security from Want are the comfortable Words of our blessed Saviour : Take no Thought for your Life, what you fall eat, or what you shall drink; neither for your Body, what you shall put on : Is not your Life more than Meat, and your Body than Raiment? Bebold the Fowls of the Air ! for they fow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into Barns ; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them : Are ye not much better than they? And why take ye Thought for Raiment ? Consider the Lillies of the Field, how they grow ; they toil not, neither do they spin ; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his Glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God cloath the Grass of the Field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the Oven, Mall he not much more cloath you, O ye of little Faith? Therefore take no Thought, saying, what shall we eat? or what Mall we drink ? or wherewithal mall we be cloatbed ? for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye bave Need of these Things. But seek ye first the KingD4
dom of God and his Righteousness, and then all these Things shall be added unto you.
5. Submission to God.
UBMISSION to the Will of God is of two
Kinds, the Submission of Obedience, which consists in a ready Compliance with his Commands in all Things, and the Submission of Patience, which is nothing else, but a quiet and chearful Suffering of whatever Amictions he shall think fit to lay upon us ; which is the Duty we are here to enforce and recommend.
Patience then is that Virtue, which qualifies us to bear all Conditions and all Events, by God's Disposal incident to us, with such Apprehensions and Persuasions of Mind, with such Dispositions and Affections of Heart, and with such external Deportment and Practice of Life, as God and good Reason require, viz. with a thorough Persuasion, that nothing befals us, but either by the Permission or Direction of Divine Providence ; a firm Belief, that all Occurrences, however contrary to our Defires, are both consistent with God's holy Attributes, and conducive to our Good ; a full Trust and Dependence on him, veither for Strength to enable us to bear our Amictions, or for a seasonable Removal or Mitigation of them ; abstaining from all discontented Complaints and Murmurings against Providence ; from all malicious and revengeful Thoughts against the Instruments of our Sufferings ; and from all unworthy and irregular Courses, to extricate ourselves from them; that fo, suffering according to the Will of God, we may commit the keeping of our Souls to bim in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
In there, and such-like Acts, does the Practice of this Virtue confift, and the Inducements we have to it arise, I. From the Consideration of the