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Things which afflict our Consciences in the Day of Adversity and Distress : Then we recollect how vainly and foolishly we have lived we are much troubled that we offended God in any great instance; and neglected the Duties and Institutions of his Religion. We must confess, to our Shame, that we seldom feel our Need of, and Dependance upon God, when all Things that our Hearts caii desire, are round about us, in great Affluence and Variety. When we are full, we are too prone to forget Göd; but in our Affli&tion we seek Hof. 5.15 bim early. Continual Eafe and Fulness, incline us to be proud, conceited, and humoursome. And if God should let us alone, we should cause great Vexations to our felves, out of the smallest Disappointments

. When Afflictions do happen, our Impatience under them is an Argument that we wanted them, to bring us to Wisdoin, and a good Temper ; to Submission and Resignation to the Divine Will, God's Trials foften, and take down our Haughtiness, and make us bear with Patience what we once could not endure to hear of. They correct the Intemperance of our Desires, and the Peevilhness of our Spirits : They bring our Contentment within a narrow Compass, and make it more easy to us : And therefore faith St. Paul, We Rom.sız glory in Tribulation ; knowing that Tribulation worketh Patience. Why then should we murmur, and take it ill from God, that he afflicts, since it is for our Good? Do we use to blame a wise Physitian, when he prescribes us a very Р

bitter

bitter Potion, in order to the prevention of a Disease, or for the Recovery of our Health ? God is our wise Physitian ; 'tis for the Health, and Improvement of our Souls, that he gives wholsom, though sharp Medicines. And thus much shall serve for the Second Head of Discourse. Proceed we now to the

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IJI. The Wisdom and Security of Resignation to the Divine Appointments, because the Good we enjoy, and the Evil we suffer are both from the Hand of God, Mall we receive Good at the Hand of God, and fall we not receive Evil. This World is such a confused Mixture of Good and Evil ; here we meet with such frequent Occasions of Dejection and Sorrow; so unconstant are tlie Enjoyments; fo deceitful the Interests; so flippery the Friendships of it, that were it not for the inward Supports of Faith and Conscience, į confess, I should not know how to apply my self to a Man, languishing under the affli&ing Hand of God: The Troubles of this Life

would be above the Power of Argument and Prov. 18. Perswalion, but the Spirit of a Man will suf

tain his Infirmities; and the Arguments of Religion, are at once, a safe Retreat, and a fufficient Consolation. Doubtless, there is a godly, and a fanctified Use to be made of the

feverest Providences which befall us. Tho' no Heb. 12. chastening for the present, seemeth to be Joyous,

but rather Grievous ; nevertheless, afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable Fruits of Righteous,

14.

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nėss to them that are exercised thereby. For

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I. That the patient bearing Afflictions will engage Almighty God to supply us with fuitable Strength; and to support us with Comforts of a better Kind, than those he takes from us. The Heathen Seneca could say, ---Ecce. par Deo dignum, Vir fortis cum malá Fortuna compositus. It is a Spectacle, worthy the Compassion of God; a good Man patient, and composed under his Misfortune. If he hereby makes us more conformable to his Will, and to the Image and Example of his Son ; if we hereby get more fanctified Passions, and a better Conscience than we had before

5 if by lessening our Love of this World, he increases our Faith and Hope of Heaven; in a Word ; if under the Distress of our outward Condition, he affords us more and more of the Afliftances of his good Spirit: Then although there are Worldly Evils to be born, yet there are allo spiritual Consolations to support us. The Apostle assures us, that God 1 Cor. 18 will not suffer us to be tempted above what 13. We are able, but will with the Temptation make a Way to escape, that we may be able to bear it. 'Tis true, the Apostle was there speaking of the Primitive Christians, who, doubtless were favoured with more than ordinary Affiftances of the Divine Spirit, or, as he elsewhere speaks) were strengthened with Might, by his Spirit in the inner Man. Yet it

is still the same Righteous and Gracious God, who will not forsake his Servants in Adversity : Who will administer Grace, suitable to the Trials he brings them under : Who declared concerning his antient People, (and surely he is not less coinpassionate under the merci

ful Terms of the Gospel) That in all their fa. 63. 9. Affli&tions be was affli&ted, and the Angel of

bis Presence saved them : In bis Love, and in
bis Pity be redeemed them, and carried them
all the Days of old.

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2dly, Consider we further, That it is very much for the Honour of God, and the Interest of Religion; if we bear our Afflictions with Christian Courage and Patience. How did Job outwit the Devil, and baffle him in his Master-piece of Policy, by': continuing unbroken under all his Aflictions ? What a glorious Testimony did he thereby bear to the Divine Providence? How great an Influence must his Example needs have upon all the Religious Men, that lived in those early Ages of the World? The fame Effect, the patient Sufferings of good Men have to this Day; this shews the Power and Sincerity of our Faith; that our Religion is not Mercenary and Counterfeit ; when no Worldly Loss, no outward Pain can beat uş - from it; Men will conclude, that we serve a good Master, when we will suffer so much in Obedience to his Command ; that we are in good Earnest fixt for Heaven, when we will submit to all the

Calamities of Earth, rather than destroy our | Hope of it. In a Word; hereby we declare to that without this Worlds Comforts, God | alone, and his favour is a sufficient Reward.

This the Primitive Christians were so far from looking upon as a Reproach, or a Judgment ; that they thought it a Mercy; and the greatest Honour they were called to. And they departed from the Presence of the Coun- das s. 47. cel, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer Shame for bis Name.

3dly, and Lastly, This does not only tend to the Glory of God, and the Advancement of Religion ; but also it conveys unto our

felves good Grounds of Comfort and Assu11 rance. For, though I grant, that without

these Trials, a good Man may have a reasonable, and satisfactory Assurance of his own Integrity: Though he that is careful to keep a good Conscience, and to discharge his Du. ty to God and Man, in all the Instances of it, need not question, but that he is in the Divine Favour, even when the World smiles upon him : Yet it can't be denied, but that he has a more coinfortable Assurance when he retains his Integrity ; and goes on to depend and confide in, to Love and wor

Ihip God, under the heaviest pressure of Afġ fidions : Upon this. Trial we can't doubt, but

that it was for God's Sake, that we laid a Restraint upon our Natures and Passions ;

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