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ful and ready compliance with the will of God, and not in a froward preference of our own will or choice. It was part of our Saviour's excellent prayer, for his disciples, . I pray notthat thou shouldst take them out of the world, " but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil1.
The business therefore of these papers is to let you see what are the helps to attain patience and Contentation in this world, that our passage through it may be safe and comfortable, and agreeable to the will of God, and to remedy that impatience and discontent which is ordinarily found among men; to teach men how to amend their lives, instead of being weary of them; and to make the worst conditions in the world easy and comfortable, by making the mind quiet, patient, and thankful. For 'tis the discontented and impatient mind that truly makes the world much more uneasy than it is in itself.
• John xvii. 15.
THE BEST PREPARATION FOR THEM,
AND IMPROVEMENT OF THEM,
JOB V. 6, 7. ALTHOUGH APPLICTION COMETH NOT FORTH OF
THE DUST, NEITHER DOTH TROUBLE SPRING OUT
OF THE GROUND: YET MAN IS BORN UNTO TROUBLE, AS THE SPARKS
FLY UPWARD. JOB's friends, though in the particular case of Job they were mistaken, yet they were certainly very wise, godly, and observing men; and many of their fentences were full of excellent and useful truths, and particularly this speech of Eliphaz, which importeth these two useful propositions :
1. That the general state of Man in this World, is a state of trouble and Affliction; and it is so common to him, so incident to all degrees and conditions of mankind, that it seems almost as universal, as that natural propension in the sparks to fly upwards; no person of whatsoever age, sex, condition, degree, quality, profession, but hath a part of this common state of mankind; and although some seem to have a greater portion of it than others, some seem to have greater and longer vicissitudes and intermissions and allays thereof than others, yet none are totally exempt from it; yea, it is rare to find any man, that hath had the ordinary extent of the age of man, but his troubles, crosses, calamities, afflictions, have overweighed and exceeded the measure of his comforts and contentments in this life.
2. That 2. That yet those Afflictions and troubles do neither grow up by a certain regular and constant course of nature, as plants and vegetables do out of the ground; neither are they mere accidental and casual, but they are sent, difposed, direEted, and managed by the conduct and guidance of the most wise Providence of Almighty God: and this he proveth in the fequel of the chapter. And as in all things in nature, the most wise God doth nothing at random, or at a venture, so in this part of his providential dispensation towards mankind, he doth exercise the same, with excellent wisdom, and for excellent ends; even for the very good and advantage of mankind in general, and particularly of those very persons that seem most to suffer and be afflicted by them; sometimes to punish, sometimes to correct, sometimes to prevent, sometimes to heal, sometimes to prepare, sometimes to humble, always to instruct, and teach, and better the children of men.
And indeed, if there were no other end but these that follow, this seeming harp Providence of Almighty God would be highly justified: namely, first, To keep men humble and disciplinable. Man is a proud, vain creature; and were that humour constantly fed with prosperity and success, it would strangely puff up this vain humour: Afflictions and troubles are the excellent and necessary correctives of it, and prick this fwelling impostumation of pride and haughtiness, which would otherwise render men intolerable in themselves and one to another. Secondly, To bring mankind to recognise Almighty God, to seek unto him, to depend upon him ; this is the most natural and special effect of Asilictions, 'In their AMictions
they will seek me earlyi! The rough and stubborn mariners in a storm, will cry every one to his God?. Thirdly, To tutor and discipline the children of men in this great lesson, that their happiness lies not in this world, but in a better; and by this means, even by the crosses and vexations and troubles of this world, • Hos. v. 15. .
. Jonah i..
and by these plain and sensible documents, to carry mankind up to the end of their beings. God knows those few and little comforts of this life, notwithstand. ing all the troubles and crosses with which they are interlarded, are apt to keep the hearts, even of good men, in too great love of this world. What would become of us, if our whole lives here should be altogether prosperous and contenting, without the intermixture of crofles and Afflictions ? But of these things more hereafter.
Now since the state of mankind in this world is for the most part thus cloudy and stormy, and that ordinarily we can expect it to be no otherwise, there are these confiderations which become every wise and good mind to acquaint himself with : 1. What preparation is fit to be made by every man
before they come. 2. How they are to be received, and entertained, and
improved, when they come, and while they are in
cumbent. 3. What is the best and safest temper of mind when any
of them are removed.
1. Touching the first of these, namely, preparation before they come ; and the best preparatives seem to be these :
1. A right and found conviction, and confideration of this most certain experimental truth; namely, That no man whatsoever, how good, just, pious, wise foever, can by any means expect to be exempt from them, but must be more or less subject to Affliction, of one kind or other, at one time or another, in one measure or another; for man is certainly born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward. And this certain truth will be evident, if we consider tbe several kinds of Aliction that are common to mankind : And herein I shall forbear the instances which concern our childhood and youth as such, which yet notwithstanding are subject to AMictions, that though they seem not such to men of
riper years, yet are as real and pungent, and deeply
1. Touching the former of these, namely, common