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purposes we formed ; and we are enabled to earn our subsistence, and find ourselves comfortable in our several occupations. Often, also, we may have been reduced to embarrassments, and our confidence in God has been well nigh extinguished; but by some unforeseen and unexpected incident, we have been suddenly relieved, and had reason to rejoice in so great a deliverance. At such times we have been ready to say, “ this cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working. He raiseth the poor out of the dust, and setteth his feet upon a rock, establishing his goings."
When we grow up, and begin to act our part in the world; divine providence interposes in procuring for us those relatives, with whom we may spend the remainder of our lives. There is perhaps nothing which contributes more to promote our earthly felicity, than the connexion we form with those who are bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. And there is often nothing more unaccountable, than the circumstances which occur, in determining the parties to unite in the sacred bond. And every one will acknowledge, that God is to be recognized as having in this respect fixed bounds for them which they could not pass ; nay, scripture asserts his direction, by declaring, that “ a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Aware of this, and sensible how much they required advice in this matter; holy men in every age of the world have applied for counsel from on high, and found it in time of need. Not less conspicuous is the care of providence, in supplying ourselves and our families with food convenient for us. From time to time, has a competent share of the good things of life been our portion. We may have been always placed in situations, where our bread has been given us, and our water has been sure; or if on some occasions, we have been reduced to extremities,—yet soon has a settled provision again occurred for supplying our and raiment to put on.” God has supplied all our wants out of his fulness; so that we have never lacked any thing that is needful for the body.
And not only is his providential disposal exhibited, in providing for our temporal wants; but also in ministering to our spiritual edification and growth in grace. For, when we have perhaps been living unmindful of him and of our duty, serving diverse lusts and pleasures; his grace has been manifested in recovering us from the error of our way, and inducing us to return to the obedience of the just. Accordingly our conversion has been effected by various methods which have been successful for that purpose. Sometimes the advice of a friend has engaged us to consider our ways; sometimes the chastisement of affliction has impelled us to think what we must do to be saved ; and sometimes the reading or the preaching of the word has pierced us to the heart, and inclined us to live more soberly, and righteously, and godly, in the world. In short, every circumstance attending either our temporal or spiritual condition is wisely adjusted by the counsel of the eternal, who doeth with us as seemeth good in his sight, and maketh all things work together for the welfare of his faithful people. In several of the particulars now mentioned, it is evident, that we have no power of ourselves, except it were given us from above; and in all these cases, we must be constrained to acknowledge the superintending direction of the Almighty, and perceive the truth of the doctrine in the text, that he careth for us. We may not indeed perceive the relation of many
circumstances in our lot, to promote his beneficent designs respecting us; but they are all arranged with infinite wisdom by that almighty being, who knows the end from the beginning; and doeth according to his will, in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth. The fortune of every individual is so allotted in the distributions of providence, as to contribute to the purposes of that moral government which the Deity exercises over the children of men. Prosperity or adversity, health or sickness, and all other incidental changes
which occur during the course of our lives, are appointed, either for reclaiming us if we are vicious; or building us up if we are righteous, in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation. From God cometh down “every good and perfect gift; he maketh poor and maketh rich; he bringeth low and lifteth up. He killeth and he maketh alive; he woundeth and he healeth; he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up. In his hands is the breath of every living thing, and the souls of all mankind.” These then, are sufficient reasons to induce us to put our trust and confidence in God; to cast all our care upon him, since he careth for us.
Having thus adduced some proofs for the doctrine of a particular providence, as reasons wherefore we should cast ail our care upon God, I proceed to shew,
III. The reasons which should induce us to comply with the duty in the text.
Since human affairs are subject to the controul of the preserver of men, is it not a source of satisfaction to commit our ways unto him, that he may direct our steps ? He manages the concerns of the world, and the fortunes of individuals, according to the counsel of his will : none .ean stay his hand from working, or say unto him, what doest thou? To whom then should we intrust ourselves and all our destinies, but to him who doeth with his creatures what seemeth good in his sight? If we do, then we shall be relieved from anxiety about the issue of every event which may befal us; since we believe, that nothing shall occur without his ordination or permission. If we acquaint ourselves with him, we shall be at peace; we shall not be afraid of any evil, since “ our heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.”-But if we do not acknowledge him in all our ways; if we think, that by our own power and wisdom, we may accomplish the devices which we form ; we shall be left to endure all the agitations of solicitude, and fret ourselves about the uncertainties of life, over which we have no controul. All our care
All our care will produce no good effect; it cannot insure success in any scheme which we contrive; it cannot make the course of things proceed according to our wishes. Nay, it cannot prevent any accidents of which we are apprehensive, nor alter the appointments which are destined to ensue. Which of us by taking thought, can add one cubit to our stature? which of us by taking thought, can promote the devices of our hearts? We may arrange our plans, and adopt the most prudent measures for their accomplishment, but we can do no more; the issue must depend upon the will of him who ruleth in the kingdom of men; we may use our best endeavours for effecting our purposes, but we cannot secure the event which must be directed by a higher hand than ours, and brought about according to the counsel of the Almighty. The way of man is not in himself; and it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
It requires the combination of many circumstances to produce such fortunate incidents as we would desire to come to pass. These are beyond our power to arrange; and therefore let us not disquiet ourselves in vain, about things which it is not permitted us to regulate according to our pleasure. We may indeed fondly wish for the attainment of certain objects and advantages, which are beyond our reach; but God alone can bestow them: he alone can fulfil the desires of our hearts, by arranging the course of his providence in such a manner as shall contribute to our good. Or, he can stir up means to counteract our designs, and frustrate our hopes, by the most trifling incidents, which may give a new direction to the fortune of our lives. Therefore, since the issues of futurity are not subject to our controul, let us not trust to our own understanding; since we cannot command success in any pursuits, let us moderate our care and anxiety ; since all events are at the disposal of divine providence, let us trust in the Lord with all our heart, let us commit our way unto him and he will direct our steps.--Then shall our minds be free from those tormenting cares, which so often
upon God ? how would their hearts be lightened by considering, that it does not belong to them to regulate events? and how would they rest contented, that whatever befals them is ordered by the unerring wisdom of the Most High, who hath promised “ to guide us by his counsel while we live, and afterwards receive us to glory."
This sentiment is most reasonable and becoming, since all our concerns are in the hands of a Being, who conducts them in the wisest and best manner for promoting the welfare of his faithful servants. We surely cannot wish, that they should be under better management than that of his,“ who maketh all things work together for our good.” He knows the end from the beginning, foresees all the occurrences which shall take place during the course of our lives, and arranges our fortune according to that plan, which will ultimately promote our interest. Under his guidance, nothing can befal us but what he either appoints or permits for the most beneficent purposes; and if we knew all the relations of those circumstances in which we are placed, to accomplish our happiness, we would be constrained to acknowledge, that “ he hath done all things well." We may, indeed, sometimes be ready to conclude, that our lot is not so prosperous, nor our condition so comfortable as we could desire. But who knoweth what is good or evil for us in this life? Perhaps those changes which we would reckon a favourable juncture, might produce vanity and vexation of spirit; and therefore God permits us to remain in our present situation, as more conducive to our advantage.Those who have lived any length of time in the world, and made observations on the various vicissitudes of life, have discovered, that what they once reckoned a most desirable acquisition would, if bestowed, have proved the most baneful and pernicious; and they have had reason to bless God for withholding what they eagerly wished to obtain. We may be assured, that this is the case in all other instances; and therefore we should cheerfully submit to be guided by the superior wisdom of our heavenly Father, who perceives what is good for us better than we do ourselves. We may be assured, that whatever condition