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patriarch, with all his tender concern for their well-being, yields them up into the hands of God, their righteous Judge, in a full persuasion, that not a soul of them, whatever might be his character, would ever have ground of complaint against God, for what inight befall him: My brethren, we have all need, very often, to call to mind the sentiment of believing Abraham, expressed in our text, as the providences of God, in so many instances, wear a frowning aspect, and threaten an interruption to our own welfare and that of others. If we are full and fer
vent in our belief, that the Judge of all the earth will do right, what will be wanting to quiet and console our minds, even in the darkest hours? If we have confidence in the power that reigns, that he will never do amiss, where shall we go to find even one painful and perplexing consideration to mar our peace? It is on account of wrongs, either real, or imaginary, that we suffer what we do from an unquiet and agitated frame of mind. A man fears nothing from one, in whom he places confidence, and concerning whom he has not the least jealousy or suspicion, that he will do him an injury. If we have entire confidence in the government of God, that, in all things, it will be perfect, without the smallest defect, can we dread any of its operations? Why is it, that men do not universally trust in God, as invited in the scriptures, and so procure to themselves the enjoyment of all good, but that
they have a disbelief, or doubts, at least, of the protection of Providence? They are not completely satisfied that God will do right; that he governs upon the most upright and equitable principles; and will eternally save himself from the imputation, or guilt, of partiality.
As our professed object is to show from the perfections of God, that all creatures have reason to place the most implicit and unbounded confidence in him; we shall aim to pursue the subject in such a line, as to make it obvious to common sense, that Jehovah, as his character is revealed to us, is a being who may be safely leaned upon, and ought to be trusted, without reserve, by every intelligent creature. It is one thing to claim the confidence of others, and another, to make it evident, beyond dispute, that we deserve it. God, in his word, does abundantly represent it to be the duty of creatures to put their trust in him; but no one can feel it to be his duty to commit himself and all his interests into the hands of God, until he has attained such views of his character as will af ford him conviction of the propriety and safety of so doing. If God has not made it certain to us, that he will do right, or given us good reason to receive this as an established truth, it can never be imputed to us as a fault, that our confidence is not in him. But if, by attending to the light, which has been imparted, relative to the character and government of God, it can be clearly ascer
tained, that all his administrations are, and ever will be, such as impartial truth and goodness require; no doubt it will appear sin, and a sin of no small aggravation, to harbor uneasiness or disaffection towards any of his dealings. However disastrous, or uncomfortable to ourselves, particular incidents may appear; yet if they do not imply a moral evil, nor any other kind of defect, in their efficient cause, they should not be considered as matter of regret, on the whole, and in a comprehensive point of view. If they are a genuine and legitimate expression of rectitude, we can have no good reason to deprecate their existence, or make them a subject of lamentation. If the overthrow of Sodom was a proper exhibition of the excellency and perfection of divine Providence, could Abraham, in the overflowing ardor of his piety, wish, on the whole, that it might not take place, as tenderly as he felt towards the unhappy victims? Nothing can be approbated as right, and, at the same time, disapprobated as wrong. And whatever is right will oblige all rational beings to unite in its commendation; and, on the other hand, whatever is manifestly wrong will as powerfully constrain all to tesify against it. Who will say, that he can justify himself, in withholding confidence from one, who, uniformly, and in all things, does to the utmost of what may be reasonably expected of him? or who will pretend, that it is in his power to confide in one, who evidently falls short of what is in
cumbent on him? A man will implicitly confide in his rulers, if he believes them to be, in all possible respects, fit to be entrusted with government: but if he has other views respecting them, his confidence will be diminished, in proportion to the greatness of their supposed defects. But if I cannot entirely confide in one as a ruler, as a manager of those high concerns, in which I am interested as a member of the great body public and politic, it does not hence follow, that I dare not repose myself, unreservedly, upon him, as a private friend and companion. One may be worthy of being entrusted with matters of inferior magnitude, who is by no means entitled to the same confidence, in regard to more weighty and important affairs. Placing confidence in any being, supposes him qualified for the station he fills, and for all that naturally and of right devolves upon him in that station. The confidence of a child in a parent, implies assurance, that the parent will invariably conform to all the dictates of parental affection; will ever act as a parent should. And so of all other relations, which subsist between beings of an intelligent social nature. Doing right is the basis of all confidence placed by one in another. To be wholly destitute of this character, is to forfeit all confidence, and to expose ourselves to universal distrust; and so, in proportion as our good qualities fall short of perfection, we deprive ourselves of the confidence of those who know us. The character of doC c
ing right, of being just and equal, is what supports the Deity himself in his claims upon the confidence of his creatures. To bring us into a frame of confident reliance upon him, we need only to be convinced that he will do right. In our endeavour to promote this conviction, we are not to enquire so much what it is for men or angels to do right, as what is right for God to do. That, which is perfectly right in one, may be totally wrong in another. The rights, prerogatives, and obligations of individuals, result, in a great measure, from the rank, circumstances, and condition they hold in the scale of being. It is right for parents to command their children, but it would be wrong, palpably and egregiously so, for children to exercise such authority over their parents, or others of the household, to which they be long. It is right for the officer of justice to lay restraints upon the violator of the public peace, to put him in hold, and order him to punishment; but for any private member of the community to assume such an authority would be wrong. It would be deemed a most indecent and inexcusable outrage upon good order. Hence we see, that in order to know whether we have ground of confidence in any one, we are to enquire what particular conduct befits him in the place he fills; and not whether he proceeds in the same way that others do, who are allowed to act with propriety. Though we may be never so consistent and well established in