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who was the happiest man on earth? and met with a deferved difappointment in the reply. If we fhould put a queftion much more profitable, as well as much more eafily refolved, in what rank of life the most exquifite human mifery has been found? I have no doubt but it ought to be answered, upon a throne. Experience will always ratify the wife man's obfervation: Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. A fanctified lot is an ineftimable treasure. The bleffing of God on a cruise of oil, and a pot of meal, is better than inexhauftible mines of gold and filver. What caufe of contentment and patience to the child of God!
In the last place, you may learn from what has been faid on the fubject, what is the plaineft, the shortest, and indeed the only fure way to deliverance from diftress or calamity of whatever kind. It is to fly to the mercy of God through the blood of Chrift, to renew the exercises of faith in him, and, in proportion as it pleafes God to fill you with all joy and peace in believing, you will perceive every other covenant-bleffing flow clear and unmixed from this inexhaufted fource. It will lead to repentance, humiliation and fubmiflion. The fanctified ufe of the affliction will be obtained, and this brings deliverance of itfelf; for no rod will be continued longer, than it hath anfwered its end. At any rate, when fuffering is necessary, grace, to fuffer with patience, fhall not be withheld.Would you have any more, and is not this remedy always at hand? Can the pooreft man fay it is not within the reach of his purfe? It is, at once, effectual and universal. It was once faid in contempt of a worthy and pious minifter, that he made fo much of the blood of Chrift, that he would apply it even to a broken bone. But bating what may be thought indecent in the expreffion, chofen on purpose to bring a good man into ridicule, the thing itfelf, I make bold to affirm, is a great and a precious truth. Faith in the blood of Chrift makes a man fuperior to all fufferings. It foftens their afpect-it abates their feverity-nay, it changes their nature, When a man is under diftrefs or calamity of any kind, and confiders it enly in itself, and independently of his relation to God,
it retains its old nature, and taftes with all the bitterness of the original curfe; but when it is confidered as limited in its nature-in its measure and its continuance by a kind Saviour, the believer fubmits to it with patience, as a part of his Creator's will; bears it with patience in his Redeemer's ftrength, and fometimes is enabled to embrace it with pleasure, as ferving to carry him to his Father's prefence. Is this going too far? No, my dear brethren ; these are great realities to which the word of God, and the experience of his faints, bear united evidence: Many here present, I doubt not, have been witnesses of this truth in the carriage of their relations now with God; and not a few, I trust, will repeat the teftimony to fucceeding ages. I conclude all with that animated paffage of the apostle Paul-2 Cor. iv. 16, 17. "For which caufe we faint not; "but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man " is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which "is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceed"ing and eternal weight of glory."
ON THE PURITY OF THE HEART.
PROVERBS XXX. 7, 8, 9.
Two things have I required of thee, deny me them not before I die: remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me, lest I be full and deny thee, and say, who is the Lord? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in
UR dependent condition as creatures, and much more our dangerous condition as finners, exposed to daily temptation, renders prayer a duty of the most abfolute neceflity. You must all be fenfible, how frequent and preffing the exhortations to it are in the holy fcrip. tures. And, indeed, there cannot be a better evidence of a right temper of mind, than an habitual difpofition to the exercise of this duty.
But as prayer is a necessary duty, we ought to give the greater attention to the manner in which it is performed. We ought to ask only for such things as are truly safe and ufeful. We ought alfo to offer up our prayers with importunity, or referve, according to the nature and comparative importance of thofe bleffings we defire to obtain.
All our wants are perfectly known to God; he is alfo the beft judge of what is fit for us, and therefore, our petitions fhould be well weighed, and expreffed in fuch terms, as, at the fame time that they intimate our defires, leave much to himself, as to the measure and manner of satisfying them.
We have an excellent example of this pious and prudent conduct, in the prayer of the prophet Agur, just read in your hearing. All his requests are fummed up in two general heads. These he feems to infift upon, as abfolutely neceffary to afk, with that humble, holy confidence which is founded on the divine promise, that if we ask any thing agreeable to his will, he heareth us. He feems allo to ask them, as what would fully fatisfy him, and be fufficient for the comfort of the prefent life, and the happiness of the life to come. "Two things," fays he, "have I required of thee, deny me them not before," or, as it ought rather to be tranflated, "until I die."
These two requests are conceived in the following terms "Remove far from me vanity and lies, give me neither poverty nor riches." The firft, viz. "remove far from me vanity and lies," evidently relates to the temper of his mind, and the ftate of his foul. The fecond, viz, give me neither poverty nor riches," relates to his outward condition or circumstances in the prefent life. There are two things in the general structure of this comprehenfive prayer, that merit you particular attention. First, The order of his requeft; beginning with what is of most importance, the temper of his mind, and his hope towards God; and then adding, as but deserving the fecond place, what related to his prefent accommodation.
Secondly, The connection of his requefts. The choice he makes as to his temporal condition, is in immediate and direct fubferviency to his fanctification. This is plain from the arguments with which he preffes, or the reafons which he affigns for his fecond petition. "Give me nei"ther poverty nor riches, left I be full and deny thee, "and fay, who is the Lord? or left I be poor and steal, 66 and take the name of my God in vain.”