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Nature of God, and our Relation to him ; and II. From the Benefits of Virtue itself, and the Advantages that accrue to us from our Afflictions.

1. It is an Observation made by Eliphaz, in the Book of Job, that Affli&tion cometh not forth of the Duft, neither doth Trouble spring out of the Ground, but are disposed and appointed by God, who has a sovereign Right and Dominion over us, and may therefore deal with us as he pleases, so long as he leaves us in a State preferable to Non-existence. And, from this Consideration, the devout Pfalmist, in all the Calamities that befel him, was not only dumb, and opened not his Mouth, in any Murmuring or Complaint, because it was God's Doing, but even carried his Resolution to the highest Pitch of Resignation, while I live, will I praise the Lord, yea, as long as I have any Being, though deprived of every Thing else, will I fing Praises unto


God. He had the Confideration before him of the numberless Favours and Benefits, which from Time to Time God had extended to him, and, if he so frequently received Good at the Hand of God, it was but equitable, he thought, that he should sometimes receive Evil. He considered the infinite Wisdom of the supreme Disposer of Things, and implicitly believed, that there was an exact Harmony in all his Administrations, and that, at the last Day, when we shall behold bis Presence in Righteousness, and this great and wonderful Scene shall be laid open and revealed, every one should be fatisfied with the Beauty and just Conduct of it, though to us, who sit at a Distance, some of its Parts seem very cloudy and perplexed. He called to Remembrance his paternal Relation, and knowing, that, like as a Father pitieth his own Children, so is the Lord merciful unto them that fear bim, he could not but perceive, that the Amictions, he laboured under, were necessary for the Chafțisement


of his Faults : He therefore reflected upon his own State and Condition of Life, and perceiving that, as he was by Nature God's Servant, it was but decent for him to acquiesce in that Rank and Station, which he had appointed him in his large Family ; that as 'he was a Sinner, and less than the least of God's Mercies, it was no more than his Duty to be content and thankful for any Thing on this Side Damnation. We will bear the Indignation of the Lord, says the afflicted Church in the Prophet Micab, because we have finned against him ; for wherefore doth a living Man complain, a Man for the Punishment of bis Sins ? Since Amfictions are the natural Fruit of our Wilfulness and Misconducc, we ought always to cast the Blame on ourselves, and never dare to upbraid God's Providence : Efpecially considering, that, were we much more innocent than we are, this World is not a Place of

perfect Pleasure and Delight ; that we came not hither to do our own Will, or enjoy our own Wishes, but are naturally born to Trouble, as the Sparks fly upwards, and need not therefore be surprized, if, in a Vale of Tears, we meet with such Calamities and Croffes, as are suitable to our Nature and Condition ; that no Adversity, either in Kind or Degree, is peculiar to us, but, if we take a View of other Men, and compare our Case with theirs, we shall find, that we have many Affociates in Misery, many far worse, and most as ill afflicted as ourselves : That it has all along been the Lot of the best Men, and greatest Favourites of God, to be exercised in this Manner; and that the Captain of our Salvation, a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with Grief, was himself made perfeet through Sufferings. If therefore we either look upon God, as the Author and Disposer of all our Affictions, or upon ourselves, either as Men, that are subject to them, or as Sinners, that do justly deserve them,


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it must needs be great Partiality and Perverseness in us, to be displeased, that we are not exempted from bearing, either the Wages of our Iniquity, or the common Burthen of our Nature : Especially if we consider,

II. Some of the Advantages, that do accrue to us from our Afflictions, as well as the great Benefits of bearing them with Patience. The Masters of Ethicks, who have looked into the Properties of the Mind, are generally of this Opinion, that Impatience and Discontent, under any kind of Tribulation, proceed from a Poorness of Spirit ; argue a Man conscious of his own Weakness, and that he has not Courage to resist an Evil ; whereas, had he but Resolution to face it, he would be so employed, as to have no Leisure to complain ; his Blood would be so heated with the Sense of Honour, and the Hopes of Victory, that the Blows and Smarts of the Encounter would scarce be felt. He, that in Patience pollesles his Soul, is always easy and serene : His Spirits do not rise and fall with his Circumstances : The actual Suffering of Adversity cannot deject him : He relies upon his Innocence and his God : Upon this Foundation he stands fixed like a Rock, and tho Waves and Storms may pass over him, yet he remains unshaken, nor can all the Shocks of Adversity ever deprive him of his Principles, or his Peace, He is persuaded, that as God stands in no Need of our Happiness, much less of our Misery, so he does not afli&t willingly, nor grieve the Children of Men' and therefore whenever he is compelled to do so, it is either for the Correction of our Failings, or the Improvement and Purification of our Virtues, that the Trial of our Faith, as the Apostle has it, being much more precious, than thet of Gold, which perisheth, though it be tried with Fire, might be found unto Praise, and Honour, and Glory, at the Appear

ing ing of Jesus Chrift. For this is another Inducement to Patience and Resignation under all Conditions, that our light Afliktion, which is but for a Moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal Weight of Glory, while we look not at the Things that are seen, but at the Things which are not seen; for the Things, which are seen, are temporal, but the Things, which are not seen, are eternal. And is there now any Room for such a Passion, as Grief or Discontent, after such a Consideration as this? Can a Man, acting upon this Persuasion, be disturbed at any Accident, or be impatient in any Condition of Life ? Can he murmur or repine at the Strokes of God's afflicting Hand, which he knows are given with a gracious Intent, which are present Interruptions, but future Enlargements of his Happiness, like the misty Vail of the Morning, which for a while shuts in the Rays of the Sun, but at length contributes to the greater Lustre and Triumph of the Day? Shall not I then drink the Cup, be the Ingredients what they will, which my heavenly Father has given ? " My Father, who is too perfect,

to need my Misery, though, in respect of his su

preme Dominion, he might afflict me as he plea*** ses; who is too wise to mistake my true Inte“ rest; and too good to prescribe any Draught, but “ what he knows is wholesome for me ; who has “ given me all the Happiness I enjoy, and parted “ with more, for my Sake, than he can possibly “ take from me in this World : Has parted with “ his beloved Son for my Redemption, and, in “ lieu of what he takes, has provided for me an Inberitance incorruptible ; and shall I then refuse " the Cup, which such a Father as this has given ?” No; I will count it all Joy (will the truly Christian Sufferer fay) when I fall into Temptation, I will be contented and satisfied under God's feverest Dispenfations,

6. Of Inward Purity.

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URITY of Heart, in the general Notion

of it, may be considered in a double Sense ; either in Opposition to Mixture, and so it removes Hypocrisy ; or in Opposition to Pollution, and so it removes Sensuality. In the former Sense, it denotes the Simplicity and Sincerity ; and, in the latter, the Sanctity and Cleanness of our Thoughts and Intentions : So that, in the Sense, wherein we mean, at present, to take it," the Pure in Heart

are such, as, meaning to recommend themfelves “ chiefly to God's Acceptance, who searcheth the Heart, regulate, not only the external Conduct " of their Lives, but also the inward Frame and " Habit of their Minds, and conforin, not only " their Actions, but their Wills and Desires, their “ Thoughts and Designs, to the Rule of the Law, " and to the Dictates of the internal Light of God w in their Soul : Such as sanctify the Lord " their Hearts; compose the inmost Recesses of “their Minds into an holy Awe and Reverence us of the Divine Presence ; fet a Law to all their « intelle&tual Powers, and suffer not the least

Thought or Passion to violate the Order either 6 of Reason or Grace : Such, lastly, as yield no “ Consent either to the Being or Stay of irregular " Motions ; as delight themselves with no plea“ fing Recollections, no imaginary Scenes of their

past Immoralities ; but set themselves at the “ greatest Distance from Sin, resist the very first “ Beginnings, and, as near as they can, abstain'

from the least Appearance of Evil.

This is the most resembling Idea we can frame to ourselves of the Pure in Heart : And, that is may not be taken for a mere Idea, or a Thing of Notion, rather than Practice, we shall, I. Repre


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