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bemoan ourselves, though not complain of God; may express in our Devotions what he knows we cannot but feel, and lay before him our natural Cravings of Relief. For thus David, after the fullest, and undoubtedly fincerest, Profession of Resignation, made in the Text, immediately subjoins, Take away thy Stroke from me: I am even consumed by Means of thy beavy Hand *. Thus also good Persons in all Ages have fought and found Ease by fubmissive Applications to the Throne of Mercy. And if sometimes Expoftulations have escaped them, which seem not submisfiveenough, their cooler Thoughts have doubtless corrected them, and no Failure can be intitled to a more favourable Construction. But if our Condition be a tolerably comfortable one, or might be such, if we would let it; then we have much more Need to lower and suppress our Desires of further Advantages, than to inflame them by turning them into Prayers. Not that we fin, if we endeavour to raise ourselves into a still more agreeable Situation, or if we intreat God to bless our Endeavours, as far as he judges it convenient. Relignation is very different, not only from Despondence, * P.I. xxxix. 11.
which rather implies Dissatisfaction and Diftrust, but from Indolence, which may be totally destitute of any Şentiment of Piety. And though an indolent Person can perhaps be more easily resigned, yet an active one can be more certain, whether he is so in Reality, and from a Principle of Conscience. But the Activity exerted by us, when in good Circumstances, to improve them into better, should always be accompanied with peculiar Moderation of Desire : and if we may lawfully pray at all to be rich or great, or in any Respect eminent and admired ; we ought certainly to pray with far more Earnestness, that we may have Nothing that will endanger our Piety or Virtue ; but may always be humble and contented, and pleased with whatever the distributing Wisdom of the most High allots
Indulging ourselves in the contrary Disposition, is disputing with God the Government of his own World : and either denying him to be wise and good, or wishing that he were not, but would order Things ill for the Whole, that our Share might be more to our Mind. Now what a dreadful Sort of Spirit is this, and where can it end? Therefore let us be fa'tisfied with the Place which he hath assigned 'us, and bear quietly the Burthens which he hath laid upon us. We often submit with very little Reluctance to the Treatment which we receive from unjust Men : why should we not submit without any to the Pleasure of a perfectly just God? Could he ever be partial in our Favour, he might afterwards change his Mind, and be partial against us, and so we could never be secure of any Thing. But now his Righteousness ftandeth like the strong Mountains, which cannot be overturned ; at the fame Time that his Judgements are like the great Deep', which cannot be fathomed. Clouds and Darkness are round about him : but Righteousness and Judgement are the Habitation of his Throne".
Some Persons, it may be, are tempted to repine not so much at any Want of Happiness or Feeling of Misery, which they experience themselves; as at the general Quantity of Wretchedness and Prevalence of Wickedness, which they observe in the World. My Feet were almost gone, my Treadings bad well nigh flipt. And why? I was grieved at the wicked, I do also see the ungodly in such Prosperity Y P!. xxxvi. 6. z Pl. xcvii. 2.
a Pf. lxxiii. 2, 3.
Aid indeed Concern on this Account feems not only on many Occasions useful in human Circumstances, but inseparable in human Nature from Benevolence and Love of Virtue. But this is only because our Nature is imperfect. For God sees infinitely more bad Things than we do, and feels an infinitely stronger Disapprobation of them, confidered in themfelves. Yet they cause not the least Diminution of his Happiness. For he knows, that, through the Direction of his wise Providence, they will be the Means of the greatest Good : and therefore we ought to believe it ; and be influenced by that Faith, as far as we are able. But many pretend, and perhaps imagine, that they are deeply concerned at the Growth of Crimes, and the Discouragements and Decay of Goodness, when in Truth their chief, if not only, Sorrow is, that their Party is not uppermost, or their Friends have not succeeded or such as they dislike, have : and were but these Things otherwise, the World might be as bad or worse than it is, without their being in the least uneasy at it. Some, on the other Hand, care very little, whether right or wrong Behaviour prevails amongst Men, and dignify their blameable Indifference with the specious : Vol. V,
Name of Resignation. Now both these Faults must be avoided. The Cause, in which we are zealous, ought to be that of Piety and Virtue, and the Good of our Fellow-creatures: and for this we should have all the Zeal, that will excite us to such Behaviour in Support of it, as belongs to our Station. But we must neither attempt any Thing beyond proper Bounds; nor, if our justest Attempts prove unsuccessful, and Appearances in any particular Case, or in general, are ever so bad, must we either think ill of God; or worse of Men, than they deserve ; or give Way to Impatience, or Despair, or immoderate Grief; but meekly commit ourselves, and every Thing, to him that judgeth righteously. Before we perceive what the Event of our Endeavours will be, we may entertain Hopes; but they must be conditional, if the Lord will c, not absolute ; and moderate not vehement. When we are disappointed, if our Defires were such as we need not have formed, we may justly be expected to give them up more intirely: if they were founded in our Nature, some involuntary Concern will be felt; and instead of being terrified at it, as heinous Guilt, we should gently, yet studiously, check 1 Pet. ji. 23•
James iv. 15.