« FöregåendeFortsätt »
lutions and penitential prayers, with returns to God and to sober counsels ?
And if this be true, that God sends forrow to cure fin,' and affliction be the handmaid to grace; it is also certain, that every sad contingency in nature is doubly recompensed with the advantages of religion, besides those intervening refreshments which cherish and support the spirit. I Thall need to instance but once more in this particular.
God hath sent no greater evil into the world, than that in the sweat of our brows we hall eat bread. But see how God hath outdone his own anger, and defeated the purposes of his wrath, by the overflowings of his mercy; for this labour and sweat of our brows is so far from being a curse, that without it our very bread would not be so great a blessing. It is labour that makes an humble fare to be relishing and pleasant. If it were not for labour, men could neither eat with so good an appetite, nor sleep so foundly, nor be so healthful nor so useful, so strong nor fo patient, so
noble nor so untempted. And as God hath made us beholden to labour, for the purchase of many good things; fo the thing itself owes to labour many degrees of its worth and value. And therefore I need not reckon, that, besides these advantages, the mercies of God have found out proper and natural remedies for labour ; nights to cure the sweat of the day, sleep to ease our watchfulness, reft to alleviate our burdens, and days of religion to procure our rest; and things are so ordered, that labour is become a duty, and an act of many virtues, and is not fo apt to turn into fin as the contrary to it, and is therefore nécessary, not only because we need it for mak, ing provision for our life, but even to ease (as it were) the labour of our rest; there being no greater tediousness of spirit in the world, than want of employment, and an unactive life: and the lazy man is not only unprofitable, but also accursed, and he groans under the load of his time; which yet passes over the active man, light as a dream; whilst the unemployed is a disease, and like a long feepless night unto himself,
and a load unto his country. And therefore although in this particular, God hath been so merciful in the infliction, that from the Tharpness of the curse a very great part of mankind are freed, and there are numbers of people, good and bad, who do not eat their bread in the sweat of their brows; yet this is but an over-running and an excess of the divine mercy. God did more for us than we did absolutely need; for he hath fo disposed of the circumstances of this curse, that man's affections are lo reconciled to it that they desire-it, and are delighted in it; and to the anger of God is ended in loving-kindness, and the drop of water is lost in the full cup of the wine, and the curse is gone out into a multiplied blessing:
- 4thly, Another instance of the divine mercy is, that not only in nature, but in contingency and emergent events of providence, God makes compensation to us for all the evils of chance and hostilities of accident, and bring's good out of evil; which is the triumph that mercy maketh gyer justice.
God God suffered Joseph to be sold a bondDave into Egypt; but it was to procure a greater blessing to himself and his family. David would have been miserable, upless he had been afficted: He understood it well, when he said, It is good for me that I bave been afflicted. . ..
They who love to recount the mercies of the Lord, cannot but have observed, that he delights to be described by fuch expressions, as relate to miserable and afficted persons : He is the father of the fatherless, and an avenger of the widow's cause'; he standeth at the right hand of the poor, to fave his Joul from unrighteous judges;, and be is with us in tribulation, And upon this ground, let us account whether mercy be not the greater ingredient in that death and deprivation, when we lofe a parent, and get God to be our father; and when our weak arın of flesh will not support us, God becomes our patron and guide, our advocate and defender. And if in our greatest misery, God's mercy is ro conspicuous; what can wę suppose him to be in the endearment of his lovingkindness?
In short; God intends every accident should minister to virtue, and every virtue is the parent and the nurse of joy, and both of them the offspring of the divine goodness. And therefore if our sorrows do not pass into comforts, it is besides God's intention ; it is because we will not comply with the act of that mercy which would save us by all means and by all varieties, by health and by fickness, by the Life and by the death of our dearest friends, by what we chule and by what we fear ; that as God's providence rules over all chances of things, and all deligns of men, so his mercy may rule over all his provi
Sthly, God having by these means secured us from the evils of nature and contingencies, and represented himself to be our father, which is the great endearment and expression of a natural, unalterable, and essential kindness; he next makes provision for us to supply all those necessities which himself bath made. Even to make those necessities and desires was a great inItance of mercy; for the relish is not in