Page images

hide thy face, and I was troubled." The rich have been often stripped of their wealth; and the caressed of their honour. Many a fair morning has turned out a very stormy day.

Thirdly. The same considerations which should check presumption, should also prevent despair. Seeing we know not how it will go with us, why should we look only for evil? It may be far better than the foreboding of our fears. Our deliverance may be much nearer than we imagine:

"The Lord can clear the darkest skies,
Can give us day for night;
Make drops of sacred sorrow rise
To rivers of delight."

Indeed, our extremity is often his opportunity. It is often darkest just before break of day. And when the ebbing of the tide is lowest, the flowing is nearest.

Fourthly. Since we see not how it will go with us, let us draw off our attention from future events to present duties. We are to cast, not our work, but our care upon the Lord. Duty is ours, and means are ours-but events are entirely his. And he says to us, as the king did to his prime minister, "Attend you to my affairs, and I will attend to yours." Take, therefore, no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself; sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Such is the temper and the business of a Christian.

The child at school is not to lean his elbow on the table, and vex himself by thinking how he shall find raiment, how he shall get home, how the expense of his education is to be defrayed.He is a learner; he is to mind his book-the father requires no more of him—HE will provide. The farmer is not to muse from day to day about the weather: "Perhaps it may not be a fine season-it was not, such a year: there may be a blight-and all my labour may be lost." No: but he acts. "He goes forth bearing precious seed," commits it to the ground, and then pursues his other business-and what can his anxiety do afterwards? "So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep; and rise, night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." The soldier is to learn his exercise, to obey the word of command, to keep his arms bright, to be always at the post assigned him-but if he were to neglect all this, by busying himself in drawing plans of the campaign, and describing the duties of the general-he would be shot.

Finally. Our ignorance of what may befall us, should lead us to seek after a preparation for all events. Do you ask where shall we find it? I answer, in the blessed influence of divine grace. This drew prayer from Jacob, when he went forth with a staff; and praise, when he returned with a fortune. This preserved Daniel in the court of Darius, and in the lion's den. This enabled Paul to say, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where

and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” And seeing we have not the ordering of the weather, nor the choice of our food-happy is the man whose constitution enables him to bear any weather, and whose appetite enables him to relish any food.

This leads us, III. To inquire what there is to encourage us under all this darkness and uncertainty. You say, I see not how it will go with


And it is well you do not. You know as much as is good for you. For it is with the mind, as it is with the senses. A greater degree of hearing would incommode us: and a nicer degree of seeing would terrify us. If our eyes could see things microscopically, we should be afraid to move. Thus our knowledge is suited to our situation and circumstances. Were we informed before-hand of the good things prepared for us by Providence -from that moment we would cease to enjoy the blessings we possess, become indifferent to present duties, and be filled with restless impatience. Or suppose the thing fore-known, were gloomy and adverse-what dismay, and despondency would be the consequence of the discovery; and how many times should we suffer in imagination what we now only endure once in reality? Who would wish to draw back a veil that saves them from so many disquietudes? If some of you had formerly known the troubles through which you have since waded, you would have fainted under the prospect. You say, you see not how it will go with you

But God does. And he is your friend, and

[ocr errors]

your father, and loves you better than you love yourselves, and is far more concerned for your happiness, than you can be. "Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?" Nothing is hid from him. "He knows thy walking through this great wilderness; he knows thy soul in adversity;" he sees all thy dangers, and all thy wants. Nothing can surprise him, whose eyes are in every place: nothing can elude his notice, who numbers the hairs of thy head. When Abraham was called to leave his own country, and his father's house, he obeyed; and "He went out, not knowing whither he went," but though he knew not whither he went, he knew with whom he travelled; he knew that he followed a guide who could not lead him astray. And thus Job relieved his mind, under a pressure of perplexity. "Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive him; on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: but he knoweth the way that I take; when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." You But say, you see not how it will go with you. you know, "That it shall be well with them that fear God"-you know that if you are his, though your way may be thorny, "Your shoes shall be iron and brass:" and that "as your day is, so shall your strength be." You know that love is the spring of all your trials, as well as of your comforts. And that though "no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised

thereby." You know that "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." In a word, (and is it not enough to know this?) you know that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD "to them that love God; to them that are the called according to his purpose." You say you see not how it will go with you

But your ignorance only regards time: all in eternity is sure. Beyond this land of darkness dwells everlasting light. Your uncertainty only regards the roughness or smoothness of the way -for you know what stands at the end of it.-It is your Father's house, where are many mansions.

"See the kind angels at the gates,
Inviting us to come;

There Jesus the forerunner waits
To welcome trav'llers home."


Yes, you know how it will There you will enter into peace. of your mourning will be ended. be for ever with the Lord.

with you there. There the days There you will

"There-shall we see his face,
And never, never sin;
There, from the rivers of his grace,
Drink endless pleasures in."

"Ah! blessed privilege and happy they who can enjoy it! They have enough to relieve them in every distress. Their afflictions must be light and momentary indeed, when they are persuaded that they are working out for them a far more ex

« PreviousContinue »