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strangely adverse and calamitous ; both which, one after another, by God's wife Providence, did befal him, for the more illustrious trial and manifestation of his fincere and disinterested Loyalty to God and Religion: and it is no easy matter to determine in which of these two States he met with the greater Temprations; whether he found it the more difficult task to keep a good Conscience in that splendid and plentiful Condition he was once in, or to hold fast his Righteousness in that deplorable Poverty and want of all things, which he was at last reduced unto. For, without doubt, Riches and Honours and high Places, and an uninterrupted Prosperity, are as great Snares, and as dangerous Temptations, and often prove as fatal; nay, I may say, are generally more apt to draw Men aside from the love of Goodness and the care of their Souls, than the severest Afflictions, or the most surprizing Calamities and outward Crosses. So that job perhaps was as much to be admired, and as hard to be imitated in his Virtue and Piety, when he was the greatest Man in the East; as in his Submission, Meekness, and Patience, when he became the most miserable Spectacle that Eyes ever beheld.
1. Job in his most prosperous Stare held fast his Righteousness, and would not let it go. Tho he enjoy'd all the Pleasures, Riches, and worldly Satisfactions that the most ambitious or covetous Mind could crave, yet he was so strictly religious and temperare, that when he
ty feemed to rejoice and triumph, that he had now found a Man, who could preserve himself innocent and upright, even amidst all the flattering Temptations that attend Riches, and Power, and" worldly Greatness. Hast thou considered (saith the Lord unto Satan, chap. 1. ver. 8. as it were in a boasting manner) my Servant Job, that there is none like him in the Earth; a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth Evil? But,
2. Behold the Scene of a sudden quite changed, and, extreme Poverty, Lofs, and Pain dwelling there, where Plenty and Honour and Riches formerly made their abode. The great Enemy to Mankind was at length fatisfied that this renowned Servant of God was not to be enticed by any of his Baits ; that he had a Soul too great to fall in love with the fading Beauties and perishing Glories of this World : and therefore when he saw he would not be moved from his Duty by fair means, he uses Force and Violence, and sets himself openly to assault that Virtue which would not be caught in any of his Snares, nor yield to any of his Temptations. And to this end, in one day he spirits away all his Wealth and Seryants, llays all his Children by the fall of a House, and exercises such Cruelties upon his Body, that there was nothing about him whole and entire and free from Sores, but only the skin of his Teeth: he arms his own Wife and his best Friends against him: his Brethren went far from him.; bis Acquaintance were
estran ed from him : his Kinsmen failed him, and his Familiars forgot him : the yoring, Children despised him; those that dwelt in his House counted him for a Stranger; and those whom he loved most were turned against him. But when he was thus abandoned and forsaken of all, he yet held fast his Rightcousness, and would not remove his Integrity from him; he still preserved a good Contcience, which neither the Sabeans, nor the Chaldeans, nor the Devil himself could rob him of. Notwithstanding all the violent Attacks of Satan, he bravely stood his Ground, and the greatness of his Sufferings served only to make his Courage and Constancy still more glorious and illuftrious. Under all these Amictions he ertertained not an unworthy Thought, never uttered one hard Word concerning God; but humbly kissed the Hand that struck him, and received evil things from him, with the same grateful Resentment he used to receive good things; and was as thankful for these fad Miffortunes and dire Calamities, as other Men are for the greatest Favours and Blessings. And whatever berided him in this World, yct he would never fall out with God, or do any thing that might displease him, or wound his own Mind and Conscience. Thus this Heavenly Champion came off with Success and Victory, and the tryal of his Faith and Patience was found unto Praise, and Honour, and Glory.
Now the Words thus understood, relating in particular to Job, as exercised with thele various Conflicts and Temptations, afford us these two plain, but useful Rules.
1. That we should so manage our selves in times of Prosperity, and so use and improve our worldly Advantages of Health, Riches, Honour, Authority, and the like, that whenever we come to be deprived of them, our Hearts may have nothing to reproach us for.
2. That we thould never, either to prevent, or to redeem our selves from any outward Evil and Calamity, do any thing which our own Minds and Consciences do disapprove and condemo.
1. We should so manage our felves in times of Prosperity, and so use and improve all worldly Advantages of Health, Riches, Honour, Authority, and the like, that whenever "we come to be deprived of them, our Hearts may have nothing to reproach us for.
It is certain, that so long as the World goes on our side, and we live in Ease and Plenty, and enjoy whatever our Hearts can wish for, we have not so quick and lively a fense of Good and Evil, nor do we ordinarily suffer our Consciences to speak so freely and plainly to us, as when we are under fome Affliction or Diftress. Whilst we enjoy an uninterrupted Profperity, the Noise and Tumult of the World, the Hurry and Multiplicity of Business and lecular Affairs, the Variety of sensual Pleasures and Delights, the Mirth and Jollity of Company, and the several temporal Projects and Designs we have in hand; do generally fo wholly engross and prepossess our Thoughts, as that they drown the softer Whispers of our Minds and Reason, and allow no time or opportunity to our Consciences to do their Office. But when once we meet with a sudden check and stop, and are brought into Straits and Difficulties; when we are crossed and disappointed, and all our fine Hopes and Expectations blasted and defeated, especially when Death and Judgment draw nigh; then doth Conscience take the advantage against us, and fly in our Faces, and set our Sins in order before us, and fill our Minds with galling Regrets, and misgiving Fears, and disquieting and uncomfortable Reflections upon our past Follies; and we soon begin to have quite other Notions and Apprehensions of things than we had formerly in the days of Sunlhine and Security Thus Joseph's Brethren, after they had fold him into Egypt, and thereby had afflicted their Father's Soul even unto Death, for a long time seemed pleased and satisfied with themselves that they had done no worse to their innocent Brother, that they had not sain him; but afterwards, when they found themselves Captives in a strange Land, they laid their Hands upon their Breasts, and thought more impartially on what they had done, and said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our Brother, in that we saw the Anguish of his