« FöregåendeFortsätt »
himself in truth and faithfulness, he will most certainly answer and reward them.
And then, as for another fort of things, which men are wont to pray for, as HEALTH,' or 'sustenance, or SAFETY, or any other OUTWARD blessings; God expects in the gift of these also, as of the other, that they themselves should labour after them, and be diligent in the use of wise and due means to attain them; it not being his way, to grant health, or to feed, or secure men by miracle; but only, by blessing their own care and pains, in pursuit of these mercies.
And much more doth he expect, both in Spiritual and temporal blessings, that they should not take any courses, which are directly : contrary, to them. When they pray for deliverance from any fin, they must not put themselves in the way of temptations, which are still apt to make them to fall into it. When they pray to God for health, they must not put it away from themselves by intemperance. If we expect that he should hear and further our prayers, we must fhew firsts that we are
VOL. IV. Ee
in earnest with him, by furthering them ourselves; and not falling to such courses, as directly overthrow our own petitions.
And when we de thus wisely endeavour after any outward things ; God has no where promised to grant them, por may we hope to receive them, further than, in the wisdom of his all-seeing providence, he fees them fit for us, and conducing to the benefit and advantage of the world, and the good of others. So that whenfoever we alk them, it must be with this reserve, if in his wisdom he sees it fitting. In spiritual mercies, we are sure of the grace or virtue we defire, if we come duly prepared to receive them. But in temporal; the having, or not having of what we ask, is uncertain, and always depends on this,-if God, in his wisdom, sees it fit we should have them
Sometimes outward blessings, whether of health, or ease, or plenty, are not fit for us, but would turn in the end by far more to our hurt than to our advantage. They would cațnalize our fouls, and render us fensual and earthly minded, proud and insolent; they would make us forget
God, and fleight his service, affront those who are placed above, and oppress such as he hath set below us. Prosperity is a state of great danger to men's fouls; it exposes them to many vices, and puts them under a number of temptations to several instances of disobedience ; and it is the concern of every one, who has pious wisdom, and prudent care enough, to avoid being ensnared by it. The prosperity of fools, says Solomon, Shall destroy them *. There are but few minds, that can grapple with the temptations, which are still soliciting perfons in wealth and honours, pleasures, and affluence; but they are generally led away into several fins, and overcome by them. And there have been (doubtless) many perfons, whose souls have utterly miscarsied in a prosperous state, that might have done well, and gone to heaven, had it pleased God to have visited them more frequently with crosses, and to have kept them under the most gracious and wholesome discipline, of a troubled and afflicted date of things.
* Prov. i. 33. Ee 2
Outward mercies then, are not always fit for us, but would often prove a snare, and a most dangerous temptation to us. And when they would do fo, they are neither fit for us to ask, nor (so long as he retains any love and kindness for us) for God to grant to us. They are no fit matter in this case for God to promise; and so are no fit subject, wherein we are to hope he always should perform.
Again, at other times outward blessings are denied, though not so much for our own sakes, yet for the good of others, and the advantage of the world. Oftentimes God sees it necessary in the world, to set out fome examples of content, and instances of patience; that men may see, both what they ought to follow, and how they may be able to perform it; and so, never be difcouraged, with defponding thoughts, of their being unable to bear those things with patience, if they should be called to it, which they see are borne by others like themselves.
So that even when outward blessings and enjoyments might be trusted with us, and
would be no ways prejudicial to us in our own persons; yet doth God in his good providence, which is to take care, not only of us, but of all the world, see fit many times to deprive us of them, for the sake of others; that we may be examples to them, and that they may learn from our sufferings, and our meek carriage under the same, both to be thankful for their own blessings, whilst we want, and they enjoy them, and to be ready to part with them with patience at an evil day. .
And since God will not bestow upon us outward blessings, when either they are unfit for ourselves, or when he sees it proper to deprive us of them for the sake of others; whensoever these cases happen, we must not expect them. And because when this would be, God only knows, but we are ignorant; whensoever we ask any outward things, we must do it with submission, and under this conditional reserve, if he sees them fitting and convenient; and leave the determination, to the wisdom of his unerring judgement. Еe 3