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AFFLICTION has a tendency, especially if long continued, to generate a kind of despondency and ill-temper: and spiritual incapacity is closely connected with pain and sickness. The spirit of prayer does not necessarily come with affliction. If this be not poured out upon the man, he will, like a wounded beast, skulk to his den and growl there.
God has marked IMPLICITNESS AND SIMPLICITY OF FAITH with peculiar approbation. He has done this throughout the Scripture; and he is doing it daily in the Christian Life. An unsuspecting, unquestioning, unhesitating spirit he delights to honour. He does not delight in a credulous, weak, and unstable mind. He gives us full evidence, when he calls and leads; but be expects to find in us what he himself bestows an open ear and a disposed heart. Though he gives us not the evidence of sense ; yet he gives such evidence as will be heard by an open ear, and followed by a disposed heart: Thomas ! because thout hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they, that have not seen, and yet have believed. We are witnesses what an open ear and a disposed heart will do in men of the world. If wealth is in
pursuit—if a place presents itself before them-if their persons and families and affairs are the object--a whisper, a hint, a probability, a mere
chance, is a sufficient ground of action. It is this very state of mind with regard to religion, which God delights in and honours. He seems to put forth a hand, and to say—“ Put thy hand into mine. Follow all my leadings. Keep thyself attentive to every turn."
A SOUND heart is an excellent casuist. Men stand doubting what they shall do, while an evil heart is at the bottom. If, with St. Paul, they simply did one thing, the way would be plain. A miser, or an ambitious man, knows his points ; and he has such a simplicity in the pursuit of them, that you seldom find him at a loss about the steps which he should take to attain them. He has acquired a sort of iustinctive habit in his pursuit. Simplicity and rectitude would have prevented a thousand schisms in the Church; which have generally risen from men having some thing else in plan and prospect, and not the one thing.
WHAT I do, thou knowest not now; but thou. shalt know hereafter-is the unvaried language of God, in his providence. He will have CREDIT every step. He will not assign reasons, because be will exercise faith.
Pride urges men to enquire into the PHILOSOPHY of Divine Truth. They are not contented, for example, with the account which the Bible gives of the origin of evil, and its actual influence on mankind; but they would supply what God has left untold. They would explain the fitness and propriety of things. A mathematician may summon his scholars round his chair, and from selfevident principles deduce and demonstrate his conclusions: he has axioms; but concerning evil we have none. A Christian may say on this subject, as Sir Christopher Wren did concerning the roof of King's College Chapel—“ Shew me how to fix the first stone, and I will finish the building"
“ Explain the origin of evil, and I will explain every other difficulty respecting evil.”. We are placed in a disposition and constitution of things, under a Righteous Governor. If we will not rest satisfied with this, something is wrong in our state of mind. It is a solid satisfaction to every man who has been seduced into foolish enquiries, that it is utterly impossible to advance one inch by them. He must come back to rest in God's appointment. He must come back to sit patiently, meekly, and with docility at the feet of a teacher.
DUTIES are ours: events are God's. This removes an infinite burden from the shoulders of a
miserable, tempted, dying creature. On this 'consideration only, can he securely lay down his head and close his eyes.
The Christian often thinks, and schemes, and talks, like a practical Atheist. His eye is so conversant with Second Causes, that the Great Mover is little regarded. And yet those sentiments and that conduct of others, by which his affairs are influenced, are not formed by chance and at random. They are attracted toward the system of his affairs or repelled from them, by the Highest Power. We talk of attraction in the Universe; but there is no such thing, as we are accustomed to consider it. The natural and moral worlds are held together, in their respective operations, by an Incessant Administration. It is the mighty grasp of a controuling hand, which keeps every thing in its station. Were this controul suspended, there is nothing adequate to the preservation of harmony and affection between my mind and that of my dearest friend, for a single hour.
LORD Chesterfield tells his son, that, when he entered into the world and heard the conjectures and notions about public affairs, he was surprised at their folly; because he was in the secret, and knew what was passing in the Cabinet. We
negotiate. We make treaties. We make war. We cry for peace. We have public hopes and fears. We distrust one minister, and we repose on another. We recal one General or Admiral, because he has lost the national confidence, and we send out another with a full tide of hopes and expectations. We find something in men and measures, as the sufficient cause of all sufferings or anticipations.—But a religious man enters the Cabinet. He sees, in all public fears and difficulties, the pressure of God's hand. So long as this pressure continues, he knows that we may move heaven and earth in vain: every thing is bound up in icy fetters. But, when God removes his hand, the waters flow; measures avail, and hopes are accomplished.
We are too apt to forget our actual dependence on Providence, for the circumstances of every instant. The most trivial events may determine our state in the world. Turning up one street instead of another, may bring us into a person whom we should not otherwise have met; and this may lead to a train of other events, which may determine the happiness or misery of our lives.
Light may break in upon a man after he has taken a particular step; but he will not condemn himself for the step taken in a less degree of light: he may hereafter see still better than he now does, and have reason to alter his opinion again. It is