« PreviousContinue »
but by every word that proceedeth out of the SERM. mouth of God *.
VII. The Divine benediction and appointment is that which only can sustain us, and if that be but imparted, whether with or without the use of natural food, the end will be alike secured and with the same facility. It is with human bodies, if the will of God be so, as it was with the
garments of the Israelites, which wore not out, but lasted through the space of forty years in the wilderness, without recruit or reparation.
After all this enlargement concerning the Manna of the Israelites, and the ufe or deduction made by Moses in the Text, it cannot be difficult for me in the
III. THIRD and last place, to apply it under a few reflections to the ordinary conduct and economy of human life. As,
1. First, we learn from hence to whom our praise and thankfulness is due for the good things we enjoy, and whose benediction we should seek and implore in the use of them. We can neither depend upon the skill and industry of men to produce fruits out of the earth, nor upon the natural frame and texture of our bodies to convert them to our nourishment. If God withold his benediction, the force and vir
* Mat. iv. 3, 4.
Serm. tue of nature must be entirely superseded;
clouds, and fill us with the finest of the wheat;
the land, and destroy all the provision of
From hence we may perceive our duty to look up to God for the provision of our daily sustenance, as well as to receive it at his hands with praise and thankfulness, to beg the Divine blessing upon what we eat, and not fit down to it without prayer or thanksgiving, as persons who are insensible by whose bounty they receive it.
And so, in other occurrences of life, as well as in the matter of our food, we should learn to confess that the success of our endeavours depends upon the blessing and concurrence of Almighty God. Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it: Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
2. Secondly, When once we are justly sensible of this matter, we shall be in a great measure prepared for the next lesson' I would propose ; that, whether in poverty or plenty, we should rest satisfied with God's will and appointment, and improve it to its proper use and design. It was
observed of the Manna of the Israelites, Sermi that be that gathered much had nothing over, VII. and be that gathered. little bad no lack. There was neither, on the one hand, any superfluity, nor, on the other, any defect. So let us learn, if we abound, to use and apply our enjoyments in such manner, that we may not seem to have been entrusted with too large a stewardship: or, if we have but little, to receive it with such refignation and contentment, that even that little may suffice and satisfy. But more efpecially, they who abound should remember it to be one part of their duty, to affist and relieve the hardships of the indigent, and that it is one usual method by which Providence takes care to supply the poor with necessaries, to fend more than enough to others, thereby making that trial of the virtue and moderation of them both, which could not possibly have been if all were on a level. Again, · 3. Thirdly, we may learn from hence not to be over-careful for to-morrow, not to be anxious, or too deeply concern'd about the method of our future fubfiftence. The Manna of the Israelites supplied but the provision of one day at a time, to teach them that they ought not to be uneasy about the time to come, but trust that the same good Providence which had provided to-day, would extend its goodness thro' VOL. III.
SERM. the rest of their lives. We are taught in VII. like manner to put up our petitions only
for daily bread, and not to distract ourselves with anxious care concerning the method of our sustenance to-morrow. Our blessed Saviour has admonished us to look how the fowls of the air are fed without their care or contrivance; how the very grass and flowers of the field are clothed with such verdure and beauty, that even Solomon in all his glory was not array'd like one of these; that from hence we may perceive our duty to depend upon the bounty of our heavenly Father, whose watchful Providence will not overlook the meanest of his creatures, but provides for their fupport, in proportion to that rank and degree in which he places them. Only, left this remark be strain’d to an ill purpose, it must be added,
4. Fourthly, that we should be consci. entious and diligent in the use of all lawful endeavours and means for our support, and after That, without anxious and doubtful concern of mind, submit the issue and event to God.
We should, first of all, be conscientious, and use. none but honest and lawful methods for our support and subsistence, because, if we are sensible that that depends on the blessing and appointment of God, it must needs be preposterous to look for it in the 3
transgression of those rules he has prescribed Serm. us. And if at any time such methods VII. should be attended with an outward suces cess, yet that success itself, if it leads not to repentance, will in the end be hurtful
We should be also diligent in the use of such methods as are lawful and honest, fince otherwise we do but tempt, instead of trusting to, our heavenly Father, who has appointed an ordinary method and course of things, for the supply of our necessities, from which it is not fit he should rècede merely to indulge the sloth and negligence of men. And therefore, if any man will not work, or refuses to improve the opportunities which Providence has set before him, it is but just and equitable that neither pould be eat.
God was pleased by a miracle to make provision for his people in the wilderness, and supply the barrenness and infertility of the place that they were in. But, as soon as that exigence was over, as soon as they were got into the land of Canaan, immediately the manna ceased on the morrow *: they were left then to fubfift on the provisions of the country, and to raise fruits from the earth in the ordinary course of nature, by toil and cultivation. Which example may in
Josh. v. 12.