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For ye shall find, that the people of God have been id all ages, the most prudent, thoughtful and careful people in the world. Solomon informs us that, The prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth" himself, but the simple pass on, and are punished. And although our Lord commands us to take no thought for to-morrow, saying what shall we eat or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed, but to leave every thing of this sort in the hand of our hea venly father: Yet respecting various other things, we are taught of God to be exceeding careful. The apostle praises God that he had put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus, for the welfare of the church. And speaking of himself he saith with the deepest concern of mind, besides all his other trials, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. And he adds, Who is weak, and I am not weak, who is offended and I burn not?-And above all, how painfully was he concerned for the salvation of his countrymen the Jews, when he said, I could even wish myself accursed from Christ, for my brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh---For these he had continual heaviness and sorrow of beart. Hence it clearly appears, that those who fear the Lord are not exempted from all sorts of cares, but only from those which spring from unbelief, and therefore tend to the dishonour of God, such as a person may feel, when deeply concerned respecting that which the Lord intends to withhold from him, or is filled with painful fear, respecting that which shall never befall him.
In order to understand this subject more fully, it may be necessary to be a little more particular.
1. There are many things in which we are deeply interested, and yet by reason of our station in life, we are not called to act in, and were we ever so careful respecting theor
would not profit us. I instance in respect of peace and rar. Certainly we are deeply interested in both the one and the other; and yet at the same time, how exceeding Sttle is it that we can do in order to preserve the one, or vrevent the other. When ye hear of wars and rumours of sars (saith our Lord), see that ye be not troubled, for these things must needs come to pass. O such awsul occasions, we should endeavour to see as much of God, and as little of man, as we possibly can, ever remembering that he is the God of providence, and holds the reins of goveroment in his own hand; that he is even now, fulfilling the counsels · of his will, and that all shall finally terminate in his own glory. When he sees good to punish a nation for its ini
quity, he can never be at a loss for proper instruments to accomplish his design. But we should always remember, that the fate of nations, and churches, are matters of such importance, that the infinitely wise and gracious Go. vernor of the universe, does not leave them wholly in the hands of men; but he over-rules all the events of provia dence for the manifestation of his own eternal glory, and the everlasting happiness of his people.
In times of general distress, it is bappy for us, when we know our own place, and are careful to perform the duties thereof, ever remembering, that the affairs of Government are out of our line, we are not called to act in them, nor can we in reason suppose, that the Governors in the state, will be at all influenced by us, unless it should so happen, (as it sometimes has done,) that a private person may inform them of some hidden danger which may come to his knowledge, which they might not be apprized of before. Our duty at such times appears to be this; Having the welfare of the church and nation greatly at heart, to live peaceably and quietly under the government, to support it according to our ability, and above all, devoutly and perseveringly pray
that the Lord may direct our governors, to attend all their counsels and endeavours with his blessing, protect the church and the nation, and grant us truth and peace all our days. We may then commit ourselves and all our concerns, into the band of that God, who alone can support and protect us, relying upon his truth and faithfulness, who hath said for our comfort, Say ye to the righteous it shall be well with him.
Through the power of divine grace we may be free from all anxious care, and painful fear respecting what may happen to ourselves, being fully assured that our strength shall be according to our day, that the Lord will be present with us in a day of adversity, and that all things shall work together for our good : Yet at the same time, like the
weeping prophet, we may be deeply affected, by the consideration of approaching danger, and should that beavy affliction befall us, to see our beloved country a field of blood, notwithstanding our confidence in God, and our resignation to bis will, our eye would deeply and painfully affect our heart and we should scarcely forbear, like Jeremiah, to weep day and night for the murder and bloodshed, the ruin and destruction brought upon our nation,
Jeremiah was doubtless a deeply pious man, as well as a prophet of the Lord, but did he take no thought for to-mor
row in the sense some men understand the words ? Was he an unconcerned spectator of the dangerous state of the Jewish church and nation? Did he suffer nothing at all during the siege of the devoted city? Was he perfectly satisfied when he saw the ruin and destruction come upon them, wbich the Lord had so long threatened by him? It is need less for me to say how deeply his mind was affected, and how he wept over the extreme misery and distress which came upon
that sinful nation. We need only read his own account of his sufferings, both of body and mind, to be convinced how exceedingly he lamented the unhappy fate of that miserable people. In direct opposition to those who think and speak in that unscriptural manner, I scruple not to say, that the people of God have always, on such occasions, heen the most affected, and in different ages and nations have been very great sufferers, and yet they have been divinely supported, and mercifully preserved from anxious and sinful fears; and have manifested the greatest courage and resolution in the hour of trial. The more they have been oppressed, the more they have prospered, and even the blood of the martyrs has, through the infinite mercy of God, been thc seed of the church, and sudden death hath been sudden glory, to an innumerable multitude.
2. There are various afflictive events, which fall out in the order of providence, which, were we ever so careful, we neither could foresee nor prevent. Providence does not always smile either upon the church, or nation to which we belong; any more than upon particular persons. We are liable to be invaded by our enemies;-We may suffer considerable losses in trade;-We are often in danger from fire, from robbers, and from various other causes, and in very different ways; and with respect to all such things, we certainly ought to use all the understanding and prudence which the Lord hath given us, in order to prevent, as far as we are able, all such misfortunes. And at the same time we ought to commit ourselves, and all our concerns, into the hand of that gracious God, whose eyes are over the righteous, and whose ears are open to their prayers; and then we may divest ourselves of all anxious care, and distressing fear; firmly believing that the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them who fear him; and defendeth them. Were we s to be ever so thoughtful, we could not prevent that, which in the order of providence the Lord may permit, for the exercise of our faith and patience, but being satisfied that the bairs of our head are numbered, and that nothing can happeni to us by chance; we may in patience possess our
souls, enjoying that calm tranquillity of mind, which the holy Psalmist expresses, when he says, He shall not be afraid of any evil tidings, for his heart standeth fast, believing in the Lord. And as a good man once said, "Those who lock all up at night with the key of prayer, and give the key to God, have good reason to believe that he will keep all safe till the morning.
3. As we are variously circumstanced and situated, while in this present world, there are a great variety of affairs, which in the order of divine providence, we are called to act in, and wbich will require the constant exercise of all the understanding and prudence which we are possessed of, in order to conduct them properly. With respect to the common affairs of life, men are very differently circumstanced. There are some whose provision for themselves and their families, (as to their income) is fixed, and is as certain as any thing of a temporal nature can be. They have only to fulfil the duties of their station, so as to give satisfaction to those persons upon whom they depend, and they have nothing to fear with respect to poverty or want, such for instance as servants, who wholly depend upon their masters: These have no hazards to run, no losses in trade; no bad debts, no disappointments in business, and yet even these are liable to afflictions, and crosses, of various kinds, but as to the common concerns of life, we may say to them, Take no thought for to-morroto ; and why should they? seeing other persons are obliged to take care for them. These may give themselves wholly to the Lord, as they have nothing to care for, but how they may best answer the designs of providence, in placing them in such easy and happy circumstances.
Great numbers are obliged to earn their bread by their daily labour, in their various employments. These may in the general be intirely free from care, as they have only a day's work to do for a day's wages. While they are blest with health and strength, and constant employment; common prudence will teach them to live according to their income, and while thus circumstanced, they have little occasion to be thoughtful for to-morrow. Yet if it is in their power, would any prudent person blame them, if they were to lay up something against a rainy day? Afliction may come, trade may fail, and various other things may happen to themselves, or their families, and then they will find, the happiness of having it in their power, to provide things needful for themselves, or those who are dependant upon them ; without being under the painful necessity of seeking help from other people, who have been more prudent than theinselves; or if not from them, what is still more painful to a feeling mind; from the parish. We see but too many instances of persons, who while fully employed, and free from affliction ; regardless of what may happen, and living to the full extent of their income, no sooner are they visited by affliction, or out of employment; but they are in distress, and are obliged to go to their more prudent neighbours for help. Christian prudence will always be found exceedingly useful in every department in commou life ; and will teach us diligence, frugality and a proper degree of carefulness, respecting the time to come ; and our Lord no more forbids this, than he forbids us to be honest, and upright, in our dealings with one another.
There are many thousands now in England, among those
ho labour for their daily bread, who are in easy and happy circumstances, who had it not been, that religion has taught them industry, and good management, as well as brought down the blessing of God upon their honest endeavours, would have been in deep poverty and wretchedness. And would any wise man say to these people, You have no need to take any thought for to-morrow, you need not be careful for any thing, but caft all your care upon God, for he careth for you, therefore you have no need to fear. I would rather fay with the apostle to all such people, Be diligent in business, as well as fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, and en. deavour to owe no man'any thing, but provide things honest in the sight of all men, and if you are the head of a family, make the best provision for them you can; that your children may
have cause to bless you. For although you are not exa pressly commanded to lay up money for your children, fo as to make them what is called independent ; yet the apostle is So far from forbidding you to endeavour to put your chil. dren in easy circumstances, that he speaks of it with apparent approbation; For the children oughi not to lay up for their parents, but the parents for their children :---And how highly to be commended is that man, and what a credit to religion, who by the blessing of God upon his honest industry, has been enabled to put his children in a way to live decently in the world; and yet has not been backward in relieving the poor, nor in supporting the cause of God; but' has cheerfully as. sisted whenever there was a proper call for so doing, according to his
power. I have known some men who from a full conyiction, tha,