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at peace, and hereby good fhall come un❝to you." At prefent my text doth not speak to you at all. If you look back to the foregoing part of this epistle, you will fee the perfons described whom the Apostle had in his eye. He doth not write to all promifcuously, but "to the elect, according 66 to the foreknowledge of God the Father, "through fanctification of the Spirit unto "obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of "Chrift." He writes to thofe "who are "born again, not of corruptible feed, but "of incorruptible, by the word of God, ❝ which liveth and abideth for ever," He addreffeth his exhortation to believers in Chrift Jefus, "who loved him though unseen," having tasted of his grace; whom he distinguisheth by the honourable appellations of a chofen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people." Thefe are the objects of God's paternal care; and they only are qualified to east their care upon him.
I speak not thus to drive any, even the worst of you, away from Ged, or to dif courage your application to him when B03
trouble overtakes you. A time of distress is a very proper season for seeking acquaintance with God. His rod hath a voice as well as his word, and both speak the fame language, "Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye "die ?" All I afirm is, that you cannot cast your care upon God till your acquaintance with him be begun; and by telling you, that the faints are poffeffed of privileges. which at present do not belong to you, my fole aim is to provoke you to jealousy," as Paul expreffeth it, and to make you ambitious to caft in your lot with "these ex"cellent ones in the earth," that ye alfo may partake of their joy. "This is the "command of God," and the first in order under the gofpel-difpenfation," that we "believe on the name of his Son Jefus "Chrift;" and it is only in confequence of our obedience to this command, that we obtain an intereft in the bleffings he hath purchased. Chrift is that unfpeakable comprehensive gift, in which all other gifts are virtually included. It is our thankful acceptance of the Mediator of the covenant, that both manifefts our claim to the pro
nifes of the covenant, and qualifies us to perform the duties it requires.-From this account of the perfons who are invited to caft their care upon God, we fhall, with greater eafe and certainty, discover,
II. The nature and extent of the duty itself; which is the fecond thing I propofed to illuftrate.
It differs entirely in its nature from that careleffness and infenfibility which the bulk of mankind too generally indulge. Many indeed enjoy a fatal tranquillity, having no concern at all about their eternal interests. Their inquiries are abundantly anxious with regard to the things of a prefent life; faying, "What shall we eat, and what fhall "we drink, and wherewithal fhall we be
clothed?" But they were never brought in good earnest to ask the infinitely more interefting queftion, "What fhall we do to "be faved?" Or if at any time a serious thought, tending to this inquiry, force itfelf upon their minds, they immediately encounter it with a prefumptuous hope of the divine mercy, and endeavour to perB b 4 fuade
fuade themselves, by fome fallacious reafonings, that it may be well with them at laft, though they go on in their trespasses. Now the faith of fuch perfons is not only dead in itself, but likewife poisonous and killing to their fouls. They are perithing, and will not believe it, till the unquenchable fire awaken them from their fecurity, and put it out of their power to deceive themfelves any longer. We must not caft our work upon God, and prefume that he will fave us in the way of floth and carnal indulgence: on the contrary, we are commanded" to work out our own falvation "with fear and trembling." It is only "in well-doing" that we can regularly "commit the keeping of our fouls to God," as the Apostle hath taught us in the close of the preceding chapter. We are exhorted to caft our care upon him, not that we may enjoy the bafe reft of the fluggard, "who defireth and hath nothing, becaufe "his hands refufe to labour;" but that, having got our hearts enlarged, and freed from a load that preffed them down, we may quicken our pace, and run with greater
greater alacrity in the way of God's commandments.
The character of the perfons to whom this exhortation is addreffed, doth likewise ferve to limit the extent of the duty. It is not every fort of care that we are invited or permitted to caft upon God, but only the care of those things which the Christian dare avow in the prefence of his Father, and humbly ask of him by prayer and fupplication. We read, Matth. xviii. at the beginning, that the difciples of our Lord came to him in a body, inquiring which of them fhould be "greatest in the kingdom of "heaven." This was a vain felf-interested anxiety, to which our Lord gave a sharp and sudden check, by telling them in plain terms, that till they fhould lay aside that ambitious care, they were not fit to poffefs the lowest place in his kingdom. "called a little child unto him, and fet him in the midft of them, and faid, Verily, I fay unto you, that except ye be "converted, and become as little children, ye fhall not enter into the kingdom of "heaven.". We have an account of ano