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SERMON XIII. .
1 PETER V. 7. Casting all your care upon him, for he careth
THERE is no truth which reason and religion more clearly evince, than the protecting care of the Almighty over the works of his hands. For, as he hath brought them into existence by his power, it is reasonable to suppose that he should uphold them by his providence. This is evident, with respect to the regulation of the laws of nature, which require the constant energy of the Deity to support and controul their operations. They cannot act of themselves; since they have no inherent power to produce any effects, but what is derived from the agency of their Creator, by whom they all consist. Therefore, every vicissitude which occurs in the system of the universe must be ascribed to Him, “ of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things.”_But while we are ready to acknowledge the supreme direction of the author of nature in the material world; we may perhaps be sceptical with regard to his controul over human affairs. Though we may admit the necessity of his constant exertion in maintaining the sun and the planets in their orbits, in refreshing the earth with rain from heaven, and sending the wind out of its treasures; yet we may conceive that he hath left mankind to act according to the counsel of their will, and arrange their fortune according to their own devices. This, however, is not the case ; for, as his kingdom ruleth over all, “ he doeth according to his pleasure in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.” This is a truth which revelation declares, and which is confirmed by the experience of mankind. Accordingly we find, that human wisdom often fails in accomplishing its purposes, from the intervention of some casual accidents, which could neither be foreseen nor prevented ; that “ the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”' We observe also, that many fortunate incidents occur, in the lives of individuals, which are brought about in the most unlikely manner; from which we are led to conclude, that " though the lot is cast into the lap, yet the whole disposing thereof is from the Lord."-Since it appears, then, that a providential interposition is exercised over human affairs; what cause of confidence and joy should this afford to those who commit their ways to the direction of the Almighty, since we are assured, that's he will direct our steps?” This is the disposition which religion teaches us to cultivate; a disposition, by which we should depend upon the interposition of our heavenly Father, to make all things work together for our good; by which we should cast all our care upon him, since he careth for us; and by which we should be “ careful for nothing ; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known unto him ; that he may do exceeding abundantly for us, above all that we are able to ask or think.”
But though this should be the conduct which we ought to maintain; yet how many of us live in the world, as if there were no Supreme Disposer of events; how many engage in prosecuting worldly schemes, without seeking unto God, and committing the success of their cause to his direction ; how many perplex themselves with the issue of their affairs, without considering that “the Lord maketh rich or maketh poor ; that riches and honour come from him, and in his hand it is to make great and give strength unto all.” This is a spirit which is unbecoming in those, who profess to believe in the superintending agency of providence; this is a spirit which should not be entertained by those, who are taught to confide in the supporting care of their heavenly Father. The spirit which religion inspires, directs us to say, “ if the Lord will we will do this or that;" it induces us “ to cast all our care upon him, since he careth for us, to repose our burthen upon him, that he may sustain us,”-assured that “ he will not suffer us to be moved, but will guide us by his counsel while we live, and afterwards receive us to glory.” Such being the temper of mind which Christianity enjoins, it may tend to our edification, if we illustrate it more particularly in the following discourse. It is therefore proposed to shew, in the prosecution of this subject,
1. The nature and extent of trust in divine providence, expressed in these words;-cast all your care upon God.
II. The proofs afforded by experience and scripture, that God careth for us.
III. The reasons which should induce us to comply with the duty enjoined in the text.
IV. The application of the whole, to practical purposes.
We are then to consider, I. Wherein the nature and extent of trust in divine providence, implied in the text, consists. It must appear evident, by the least reflection, that the précept here enjoined is not to be understood in the most unlimited sense; as if it were intended to supersede our own carefulness, for procuring the necessaries and comforts of life. No: this would be contrary to the divine ordination, that by the sweat of our brow we shall eat bread, and earn our subsistence. We are placed in a world, where much care is required to provide things honest in the sight of all men, and where we must support our families in the stations assigned us.
And our holy religion inculcates diligence in our callings as an indispensable duty ; by directing every man “ to labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” Nay, it expresses the most marked disapprobation of those who are
slothful in business, by declaring, that “ he who will not work, neither should he eat, and that the man who provideth not for his own household, hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." We must not therefore relax our industry under pretence of casting our care upon God; since that is indispensable on our part, and hath the promise of his blessing ; when it is exercised with moderation, and does not prevent us from promoting our salvation, which is the one thing needful.-But, the care which we should cast upon our heavenly Father is, that anxiety respecting our future condition, lest we should not attain any desirable good, or suffer any
impending evil, of which we are apprehensive. Such a care should never be allowed to interrupt our tranquillity, nor render us uneasy and faint in our minds. We should not be afraid that we may hereafter be reduced to poverty and want, or that our circumstances may be distressing and calamitous. We should not be fearful that misfortunes may befal us, that our health may decline, our family be unprosperous, and a thousand other accidents overwhelm us, at some future period. These events may indeed occur ; but let us not anticipate them, because they may never happen ; or if they do, we shall find, that “ sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” Our present duty is, to use such endeavours as may promote our prosperity, and take such precautions against adversity as are in our power; and leave the issue of our affairs and fortunes to the wise controul of divine providence.
This is the general import of the precept; but it may be exemplified in a few particular cases, which the experience of every one will lead him to apply for his own instruction. The greater part of mankind have all some cares about the attainment of certain objects, on which their hearts are set as the summit of their wishes. The young, whose imaginations are boundless and extravagant, often desire to be placed in such situations, as they deem the most enviable condition of human life. They think how happy they would be, if their good fortune should lead them to those distinguished stations, which afford those who enjoy them the means of gratifying
themselves with every pleasure which this world can sup
If indeed their rank enables them to arrive at that greatness which they covet, they may in due time acquire those honours which are now afar off. But meanwhile, they should submit patiently to the circumstances of their present condition, and act the part assigned them with prudence and propriety, and trust that providence will bring them forward to eminence, by opening up a way for their exaltation. Thus, let them cast all their caré upon God, since he careth for them.-Men in all ranks of life have the same wish for farther advancement in their professions, and hope that they will one day surmount the difficulties under which they labour, by being placed in a situation of life more dignified and comfortable. This feeling is allowable in itself, and a motive for diligent exertion in the sphere which they occupy, if they would rise to greater distinction. Meanwhile, it should not render them dissatisfied, though they do not attain the object of their wishes, so soon as their ardent imaginations suggested; but stimulate them to submit to the ordination of their lot, and confide in the superintendance of divine providence in all their ways. Let them commit their way unto God, and he will direct their steps ; let them cast all their care upon him, as he careth for them.-Again, it is the natural desire of almost every one, to be settled in the world in a domestic capacity, and this excites no small degree of anxious solicitude. Such a state of life is indeed the one which is most congenial to the hearts of men ; but often it is not attainable according to their wishes, or it is protracted so long, till “ hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” When this is the case, it is their duty to render themselves easy in that condition which providence hath allotted them; and when they are disencumbered with domestic concerns, to make greater progress in the cultivation of their minds, and in personal holiness. They should consider, besides, that God appoints their respective fortunes, and fixes the bounds of their habitation ; and that if he nerceives it will be for his glory and their