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of much trouble, in our frame and conftitution; and we cannot prevent a great deal of evil, that comes by the free-will of others, nor hinder the operations of providence, which governs all. “And therefore we should not suffer our affectionis, violently to run after any of the desireable things of this world; but take the world as it is, and then make the best of it; according to Solomon's advice in this chapter, who speaking of the turns and vicillitudes of things, I know (says he) there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice and do good in his life. For this is all the good of this life, this is our portion under tħe fun,- to use present comforts wisely and charitably; to do good to ourselves and others; to take reasonable pleasure in the gifts of God, and to admit all reasonable comfort under adverfity; and, in thort, to take in good part our mixture of good and evil as it falls out, but at no hand to expect more from the world than it will yield, nor lay a greater stress upon it, than it has been ever able to bear.
This - This undoubtely is one design of Solomon in this book, to-thew the vanity of this world, and thereby to lessen our fondness of it; and yet to teach us, how to make a wife and good use of the comforts it affords; remembering all along, that the greatest good of all is, to fear God and keep his commandments. ; . i lini?:':
And so I proceed to the latter branch of my text, That God requiretb that which is paft: that is, (as it is expressed in the foregoing verse), that men should fear before bim. For therefore doth God, in the variety of his providences, bring about the
same things ; because it is the same end, á which he designs, from first to last, name
ly, to teach us the fear of God, and to bring us to religion and virtue. This he hath required from the beginning of the world, and will do so to the end of it; and therefore it is no wonder, that from first to last he useth much the same variety of methods, by which men should learn to fear before him. ****
The main thing intended seems to be this, That we should be as far from being difpleased, with the duty that God requireth of us, as with the circumstances of our wordly condition in which he hath set us; and that, upon the same account: fince as he governs by steady rules of providence, so he governs', by steady rules of duty; and our condition in both respects, is very much the same, with theirs that have been before us.
And we cannot be in such circumstances, making our obedience hard to us, but others have been in the like. To forgive injuries, though they be great, is no new burden;, for no man perhaps hath lived in the world, but hath met with great provocations. To abstain from unlawful pleasures, though our appetites prompt us · never so violently to pursue them, is no strange duty; for those that have been before us, had the same natural passions and inclinations that we have. To live by cules, that are contrary to the customs and examples of the age we live in, may seem unieasonable to an inconsiderate man; but
this hath been the case of good men, in almost all ages of the world. Neither is our duty a new thing, whatever it be; nor the difficulty of performance new,' whatever that be; ftill God requireth that which is
Let therefore no man think, that ha would be a good Christian, if he had a good estate ; that he would be an honest man, if it were not the way to poverty; that he would be very humble, if he werç once great, and above contempt; that he could forgive wrongs, if his enemies were not very fpiteful and implacable; 'that he would serve God, if he would bless him with abundance; and observe the rules of religion, if he were not under unusual temptations to the contrary. Say not, that the age in which we live, and the circumstances in which we are, will not bear the practice of strict piety and true virtue. Say not, faith the wise man, what is the cause that the former days were better than thefe ; for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this thing
For if thefe pretences and excuses were allowed; there would be no end of them. Such things as these may always be said, and there will be always more or less oca cafion to plead them; and therefore they are never to be allowed. It seldom hapa pens that we conclude truly, when we compare our own circumstances with other men's, and conclude to our own disadvantage; as if God required easier things of them, than he doth of us. And therefore it is not wisely done; to begin with an inquiry; which is almost certain to end in a false judgement.
If it were allowable for men, thus to argue in excuse for themselves; how hard would it be for God to please man, and to keep him to his duty. Every man, being sensible of his own temptations, and of his own temper; and circumstances in the world, would think providence had been partial against him, and that the duties of religion pressed harder upon himself, than upon others. A poor man would think, his rich neighbour had more time, and greater obligations to serve God, than himP 2