Page images


on the contrary, he expects that we should acknow-SERM,

hicro CCXV. ledge his providence, and the justness of it, in his severest dealings with us; that we should be “hum“bled under his mighty hand, and turn to him that "smites us, and bear the indignation of the LORD “ patiently, because we have finned against him.” Whatever is a sign of God's difpleasure against us, is a just and reasonable cause of trouble to us.

But when our Saviour here forbids us to be troubled, he plainly intends to prohibit these three things.

1. Immoderate grief and sorrow for any present affliction or loss, without any restraint upon ourselves, so as to let grief loose, and to give full scope to it, to let the reins fall out of our hands, so that the considerations of reason and religion have no manner of power and command over us ; to sorrow, as Rachel did for her children, “ refusing to be comforted.” This is unreasonable, and usually of pernicious consequence : for no man knows, when he once abandons himself to melancholy, and gives way to grief, and lets it pierce his heart, and enter into his soul, how it may overwhelm his fpirit, and sink it pait recovery. And to this pitch the trouble of some men for worldly losses and disappointments, because it was not restrained and governed at first, hath brought them; and it often happens, as St. Paul hath observed, that “ the trou. " ble of the world worketh death,"

I think hardly any man did ever die of grief for his fins, and killed himself by laying them to heart. It is well if our sorrow for sin proceed to that degree, as to work real repentance and amendment. And the reason why our sorrow for fin is commonly moderate and within bounds, is because the forrow and trouble of repentance is always reasonable, and reason keeps our grief within bounds : but “ the forrow of H3

" the

SER M.“ the world,” that is, of covetous and worldlyCCXV.

-minded men, who have unreasonably set their affec

tions upon this world, hath nothing to set bounds
and give limits to it. and therefore by the just judg-
ment of God, it sometimes proceeds so far as “to
“ work death.” Many men's hearts have been bro-
ken for the loss of an estate, or some great cross and
disappointment in their worldly affairs and designs.
Thus Nabal, upon the very apprehension of the dan-
ger that he and his estate were in, and had so narrowly
escaped, was struck with grief to the degree of stu-
pidity, so that “ his heart died within him, and he
“ became as a stone;" and in a few days he died of
that grief.

2. We are not to be troubled for present afflictions
and sufferings to the degree of impatience and discon-
tent, so as to fret and murmur in our hearts against
God, and “ to charge him foolishly," as if he dealt
hardly with us, and had not a due regard for us, and
an equal consideration of our case. For we are all
finners, and always deserve to suffer, and therefore
whatever temporal evils befal the best men in this
world, they are always “ less than their iniquities have
« deserved :" and yet men are very prone to censure
and find fault with God, for the evils and calamities
which they draw down upon themselves. So Solo-
mon observes, Prov. xix. 3. “ the foolishness of man
“ perverteth his way; and his heart fretteth against
" the Lord." We suffer for our own sins and fol-
lies, and then are angry with God because we suffer.
God is angry with us for our sins, and when he is an-
gry with us, and « lifts up his hand against us,” it
becomes us “ to humble ourselves under his mighty.
“ hand;" for “ who can stand before him when once
he is angry?" But we have no cause to fret against

him, for the evils which we bring upon ourselves :SERM besides that frecting is not the way to relieve and ease. us, but to vex and gall us the more.

3. As to the fear and apprehension of future evils, though we ought to have a just sense of them, yet we ought not to be dejected and troubled for them to the degree of defpondency, so as to conclude ourselves miserable and forsaken, utterly lost and undone, and that our case is paft all help and remedy: we should not be so dejected, as if we were destitute of all comfort, and utterly without hope. Hope lies at the bottom of the worst condition ; for while we are not “ without God,” we can never be “ without hope ;" so long as the government of the world is in so good hands, our case can never be desperate ; and therefore we ought to rebuke the despondency of our spirits, as David did, Psal. xliii. 5. “ why art thou so caft “ down, O my soul ? and why art thou disquieted " within me? hope in God.” And we should support ourselves in the greatest dangers and sears, as he did, Pfal. iii. 1, 2, 3. “ Lord, how are they increas“ed that trouble me? How many are they that rise « up against me ? Many there be which say of my " soul, there is no help for him in Gop. But thou, “O LORD, art a shield for me, my glory, and the " lifter up of my head.”

And this cause of trouble upon the fear and apprehension of future evils, was the case of the disciples, who were mightily dejected and disturbed, upon the apprehension of the destitute condition they should be in upon our Saviour's departure from them; that they should be exposed to a malicious world, without all manner of protection from those innumerable evils and dangers which threatned them. And this I fall have most particular respect to in my following




SERM discourse, as being more particularly intended by our CCXV.

Saviour, and being one of the most common causes of trouble in this world. I proceed therefore in the

Second place to consider, what force there is in the remedy here prescribed by our Saviour, to mitigate and allay our troubles, both in respect of our present eviis and sufferings, and the danger and apprehension of future evils, and to support and comfort our minds under them. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye “ believe in God; believe also in me.” .

In which words our Saviour prescribes a double remedy against trouble.

First, faith in God, the great creator and wise governor of the world. " Ye believe in God,” or, believe ye in God, to which he adds, in the

Second place, faith likewise in himself, the Son of God, and the Saviour of men. “ Ye believe in " God; believe also in me.” Not as if faith in God were not a sufficient ground of consolation and support to our minds; but to acquaint us, that a firm faith in him who is the Son of God, and SAVIOUR of the world, would very much tend to confirm and strengthen our trust and confidence in God; as will clearly appear, when I come to shew, what peculiar considerations of comfort and support the christian religion offers to us, beyond what the common light and reason of mankind, from the consideration of the divine nature and perfections, does suggest to us. And to explain the full strength and force of these two considerations, I shall do these two things.

First, I shall endeavour to shew, what considerations of comfort and support, the belief of a God, and the natural notions and acknowledgments of mankind conçerning him, do afford to good men for the allaying and mitigating of their fears and troubles. And,


Secondly, what farther considerations faith in SER M,

CCXV, Christ, and the firm belief of the christian religion,

ons La do afford to this purpose. " Ye believe in God; “ belive also in me.”

First, to shew, what considerations of comfort and support, the belief of a God, and the natural notions and acknowledgments of mankind concerning him, do afford to good men for the allaying and mitigating of their fears and troubles; which I shall briefly deduce thus :

The firm belief and persuasion of a God does neceffarily infer the belief of his infinite power, and wisdom, and holiness, and goodness; for these are necessary and essential perfections of the divine nature, without which we cannot conceive such a being as God is. Now from these essential perfections of the divine nature, these two principles do naturally result.

I. That his providence governs the world, and administers the affairs of it, particularly of mankind, with great goodness and wisdom,

II. That his providence is more peculiarly concerned for good men, and that he hath a very tender and peculiar care of them, and regard to them.

Now these two principles, concerning which I have discoursed at large upon another occasion *, afford us this fourfold ground of comfort, under all the evils that we labour under and are afraid of.

I. If God govern the world, then we and all our interests and concernments are certainly in the best and safest hands; and where, if we knew how to wish well and wisely for ourselves, we should desire to have them; and therefore why should our heart be troubled at any thing that" doth or can befal us? +

* See vol. VIII. ferm. CXXXVII.
+ See this matter also handled at large in the same fermon.

II. Ano

« PreviousContinue »