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who, by the grace of God, have been instructed, from his word and their own experience, in the ceaseless providence of his government; who fully believe that his eyes are over all, “running to and fro throughout the earth;" are daily more and more disposed to resign into his hands all their ways, their dearest hopes and fondest wishes; fully persuaded that his wisdom and loving kindness will never fail them; and that he will find a way, even for the fulfilment of their earthly desires, if it be meet that they should be accomplished. Nor is it presumption to say, that an entire submission to the will of God, and a cheerful committal of all our concerns to the disposition of his good providence, is the course which true wisdom prescribes for the attainment of the best temporal blessings. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers." Those, on the other hand, who, though they may have a general belief in the promises of God, have not attained to that practical confidence which would enable them, with singleness of heart, to resign all things to his disposal, are apt to "go about to establish their" good, much as the Jews did to establish their righteous
They have too great confidence in their own wisdom; and so do not, as heartily and entirely as they ought, "submit themselves" to the wisdom of God. And what must be the issue? Their schemes, when most successful, want their best blessing; and, if they fail, are without consolation. The error is, indeed, far less fatal
than that of the unbelieving Jews, but it is scarcely less instructive.
This paper has insensibly grown to a considerable length; and the patience of my readers may perhaps be exhausted, though the subject is not. It would, however, be unpardonable to conclude without saying something of the spiritual blessings which God has ordained to accompany true submission, and of the heavenly delight which attends it.
Trials and afflictions might well have been appointed, by our great Creator, merely as a test of our allegiance; more especially to fallen man, the fit subject of chastisement. But God, who is rich in mercy, whose peculiar attribute it is to educe good out of evil, has not so ordained it. Our earthly parents may chasten us after their pleasure; but He" for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness."
How imperfectly do we estimate the true value of things! Did we rightly apprehend, or even duly consider, what it is to be “partakers of the holiness" of God, methinks it would be impossible for us to be sad, even in the midst of the bitterest afflictions. The privileges of a true Christian are, indeed, many. To know God, to trust in him, to love him; to have communion with the Father of spirits; to come to him as pardoned and beloved children in Christ Jesus: these, are high and heavenly blessings, in comparison of which, all that the world calls glory, vanishes away and is lost. Yet there is still a higher privilege, a better blessing, the fruit and the reward of suffering; "to be made partaker of his holiness.” This is the utmost point of exaltation: imagination can ascend no higher. If we may be partakers of the holiness of God, we shall undoubtedly be partakers also of his happiness; for holiness and happiness are one. Sin has separated the sister seraphs in this world; and while they roam around our vale of darkness, though, by a secret sympathy, continually tending to each other, some cloud still interposes to prevent their perfect union. But in heaven they shall be for ever united, one in nature and one in beauty.
Let us, then, act as beings worthy of our high destiny. Having these promises, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” “For we have need of patience, that after we have done the will of God, we may receive the promise." Now, “tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.” “Wherefore, lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees." “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people; and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” “The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion: and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away."
Lastly, consider the delight which accompanies a true resignation. God is not angry because he chastens us; or
if angry (alas, how many are our provocations!), his frowns are but the frowns of a parent; “ the graver coun. tenance of love.” “In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.” The true Christian can look up to God in the midst of afflictions, as to a tender Father. Strengthened by his Spirit, convinced of his wisdom, deeply touched with a sense of his abundant and unmerited mercies, he can rejoice that he is permitted in any manner to contribute to advance the glory of his God; and can pray with his whole heart, that his "will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When faint with pain or sorrow, he remembers that the “Captain of his salvation was made perfect through suffering.” To be made like him in affliction, is a sufficient honour in this world; he shall be made like to him in glory and happiness in a better. For his Saviour's sake, he is fully persuaded that, unworthy though he must be, the Father of light and life will vouchsafe to behold him with complacency; and in this blessed assurance, he is enabled, amid all the strange accidents and changes of this life, to lift an eye of joy and confidence upwards, and follow gladly whithersoever the hand of Heaven shall lead him. Like the patriarch of old, he rejoices to go out, not knowing whither he is going. It is enough for him that God is
Safe in the hand of one disposing Power,
Nor is this all. If the highest earthly gratification is to be found in pleasing those we love; if the humblest effort is delightful which can express an ardent and generous attection; can it be a mean satisfaction to testify, by ut.. docility and submission, that entire confidence, that heartfelt gratitude, and adoring love to our Almighty Father, which are the very elements that compose the temper and character of the true Christian? Holy and heavenly elements! which shall survive the lapse of ages, and triumph over the decays of nature. “The world passeth away, and the lusts thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”