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övery living creature and whose
The mercy of God is often goodness interposes no limits to more strikingly displayed in re. his power but what his wisdom fusing, than it would be in grautsuggests—who is ever more ing our requests. We may ask, ready to relieve our wants than but not receive, because the we to express them, who come things we request are such as it mands us to ask with the assur- would be improper for God to ance that it will be given us, to bestow, or injurious for us to seek for we shall find, and to obtain. knock and it will be opened We shall inquire what are unto us.
those good things which our By adverting to the habits Saviour assures us will be yieldand feelings which influence ed to our serious and earnest the conduct of men in respect solicitations by our heavenly to their own offspring, our Sav- Father. iour teaches us that the kindness As our condition and enjoy. and benevolence of God towards ments in this life are of subor. mankind is a stronger principle dinate importance in comparithan even natural affection. son with our condition in the
If, says he, a son oppressed life to come, that only can be by poverty, asks a father for considered on the whole as abbread to relieve his hunger, will solutely good which has a tenhe insult his distresses by give dency to improve our moral ing him a stone; or if he ask a characters, to secure the favour fish will he give him a serpent. of God and render us capable If then, ye who are evil, ye who of higher degrees of happiness are liable to the infirmities, the in the future world. Whatever perverse dispositions, the preju. has the greatest tendency to dices and the irritations of hu- produce these effects is unques man nature, know how to give tionably the greatest good of good gifts to your children, how So far as any thing is in much more shall your heavenly opposition to these, so far is it Father give good things to those evil and to be deprecated by who ask him !
every being that is capable of But who knoweth what is distinguishing between time and good for a man all his vain and eternity-between the
pains chequered life which he spend- and enjoyments of a life beyond eth as a shadow on earth ? So the grave. ignorant are we of our own tem- As there is no obvious conpers and dispositions, so limit. nexion between personal ease ed in our prospects, so dark and and moral improvement, beconfused are our views respect. tween the possessions of this ing the influence which an exter- world and the favour of God, nal condition may have on our and as it is often found that charaeters and feelings, that we prosperity, instead of forming know not what condition in life and strengthening those affecis best for us we know not tions and liabits without which what course of external events no man can see the Lord, renis best adapted to promote our ders us the slaves of passion ultimate good.
and produces criminal,
thoughtlessness and moral in- real worth and dignity of sensibility-it is obvious in the
man ? first place,
Will riches expose you to no That we should be neither par. danger from a selfishness of ticular nor importunate in our spirit, froin hardness of heart, prayers for temporal favours. or from that diseased and mor. We cannot be two cautious in bid sensibility, that recoils from placing proper restrictions to scenes of distress ? our petitions for objects of this Is there no danger that, when nature. For such is the condi- you are relieved from the necestio of every temporal enjoy. Rity of active and personal exerment, that it has no fixed, per- tious, you will be rendered in. manent character, but becomes dolent and lose all vigour of the occasion either of good or body or of mind ? Or, on the evil according to the peculiar other hand, that the pleasure of character or circumstances of acquiring may perpetually the receiver.
sharpen that avaricious spirit As the same influence of the which pressing towards its fa. sun, which at one season fertil vourite object, too often spurns izes the fields and covers the the control of prudence, integri. face of the vegetable world with ty and religion ? plenty and joy, might onder oth. Is a state of uninterrupted er circumstances, produce bar. ease and prosperity, of all othrenness, want and despair ; as ers, the most fitted to produce the same remedies which in and strengthen the feelings of sickness restore to health and piety ? God is often forgotten vigour, if administered in any because he is concealed by the other state of the system, would multitude of his gifts ; and we bring on disease and death, so are frequently rendered thoughtalso the same temporal posses. Jess and unthankful by the very sions, which in one state of the abundance of those things which feelings would be the means and should excite our gratitude. instruments of virtue, would, Possibly you may justify your under other circumstances, cor- desire to obtain riches on the rupt the passions and become ground that they may enable the greatest of evils.
you to become inore useful and Perhaps you are earnest in benevolent. It
much your desires that affluence may wiser, my friend. to be content le the fruit of your industry and to do all the good which God enterprise. But may not wealth hath now put in your power, produce in your a degree of ar- becanse in gaining the means rogance ani pride that will in- you may probably lose the disduce you to look down with position to become extensively contempt on those unassuming useful. souls who are content to walk Do you hope to rejoice the in the humble paths of life, hearts of those who shall inwhom God made vorragirals, herit your posuessions ? And and wl!o have rendered them. do you believe, that their gratiselves yonr superiors in every tude will make them always thing
that constitutes the rise up and call your memory
blessed. Forget not that those
We offer our prayers to be for whom you intend to provide delivered from affliction; but af. may murmur at your distribu- fiction is the only school in tion. Instead of preserving the which we can learn and pracdeep reverence and tender so- tice the passive virtues, which licitude for your
character are of all virtues the most subwhich you now anticipate, they lime and probably the most acmay rush to a public tribunal, ceptable to God." How hopeless to establish the proofs of your would be our condition, if ad. mental imbecility ; and thus versity did not sometimes bring proclaim to the world that al. home to us the conviction of our though you had sufficient pru- dependence and renew the imdence to accumulate wealth, you pressions of Deity. Even the had not that ordinary share of Psalmist could say, it is good intellect which entitled you to for me that I have been affictbe trusted with the distribution ed, for before I was afflicted I of it.
went astray; but now I have Again we may desire to be kept thy law. invested with power and author- İs it certain, that we ask what ity. But exalted stations are is good for us, when we pray not exempt from mortification God to establish us in the full and sorrow; and they have also enjoyment of health ? Will not their appropriate dangers. The high and unbroken health pride of authority may call into strengthen and inflame the pasaction the most corrupt passions sions ? Is there no danger that and the most detestable vices. a full and perpetual flow of an. The love of office may more imal spirits may produce a levthan counterbalance the love of ity of mind and lead on to virtue. It may tempt us to sac
habits of dissipation and exrifice our integrity and patriot- cess? And should we not have ism on the alter of party, as a occasion to praise God, if he propitiatory offering to a domi- interpose sickness to prevent or nant and unprincipled faction. check a guilty career ? If siekWe pray
that God would re- ness excite in us a train of sober move us from the shade of ob- reflection, if it bring home to us scurity; but in the shades of ob- the conviction of what we are scurity perhaps the virtues of and what we should be, if the patience and hamanity might conciousness of our uncertain Hourish, which in the sunshine of hold on life make us more solicgreatness might wither and die. itous to perform those great
We ask to be relieved from duties which life impose,-if it the pressure of poverty ; but tend to direct our ihonghts to perlaps poverty has been our God and detach our affections security against temptations, from the earth, and gradually has subdued our passions, has prepare us to resign our spirit produced in us all the orna- with composure into the hands ments of a meek, resigned and of bin who gave it, may we not quiet spirit; and to be deprived say, it is good to be sick ? of its discipline, might be the The love of life, for wise occasion of our ruin.
purposes, God hath deeply imVol. VI.No. 4.
pressed upon us. But why those good things which God should we earnestly desire or will not deny to our requests, pray that our existence may be cannot be the possessions of the prolonged to old age ? Perhaps present world, and of conseGod designs to take us away quence, we cannot be too guardfrom the evil that is to come ; ed in our petitions for temporal and therefore this very hour favours. Perhaps I may say, may be the fittest season for the we should never ask them un. soul to leave its earthly cares less with minds so chastised and enter on a durable inheri- and disciplined that we should tance. At best, life protracto submit with resignation and ed is protracted woe. Old composure if God should be age brings with it, a train pleased to refuse our desires. of new sorrows and new trials, Otherwise we may indulge a which might tarnish the lustre worldly mind, at a season when of former ages and darken the of all others, we should be most prospects of futurity.
free from its influence, and the From this induction of par- earnestness of our requests may ticulars it is evident that we are be the very reason why it is incapable of judging with any proper for God to deny them. degree of certainty what condi. The benefits which, from our tion of life is best calculated own observation, we perceive for our ultimate good. What to be most directly obtained by we deprecate as evils may be our prayers, and which must blessings in disguise, may be correspond with all the reprethe best proofs of God's love sentations of this duty, and with and mercy towards us—and all the exhortations and encourthose things which we most ear- agement to it which the gospel nestly desire as peculiar bles- has conveyed to us, relate to ihe sings of heaven might become improvement of our own charthe means of our misery and acters. perdition. If in connexion with I therefore observe in the our ignorance respecting the second place :influence of temporal blessings That with respect to spiritual on our character, we consider, blessings, to whatever may assist that it is the design of Chris- our progress in piety and ou tianity to render us superior to advancement in holiness, we canthe
present world, to cause us not be too earnest or too particto sit loosely to its enjoymeuts ular. With respect to these and possessions; that a worldly we are involved in no particumind is the grave of all good lar uncertainty, whether they affections and all genuine piety; will contribute to ultimate good. that the form of prayer which We know that for whatever our Saviour left his disciples pertains to the increase of contains one and only one peti good affections and virtuous tion for earthly possessions, and babits we cannot possibly ask that for the bare necessaries of amiss. life ;—from these considerations God has created and placed it must be evident, that those us in the present world that we objects promised to our prayers, might be formed to virtuc so as
to be capable of happiness, that our prayers into the presence of we might attain, as far as our that God in whom all the famnatures will permit, a conformi- ilies of the earth are blessed, ty to his character; and whilst let us not forget our brethren we strive and pray for the ac- according to the flesh. Let us complishments of his purpose, intercede with bim for the wel. for the possession of those mor- fare of those, with whom we al qualities which give us are peculiarly interested that nearer resemblance to him, and his favour may return on all render us more worthy his fav- those who have shown favour our, we may be assured that he to us—that God may forgivo will not be displeased with our and bless all those who have anxiety and solicitations, or per- been unforgiving and injurious mit our sincere prayer to return to us. We should express our unaccomplished. Whatever sympathy for all those who latends to our moral improve. bour under inental distress or ment, whatever may advance are bowed down with affliction, the kingdom of God and his remembering that we are also righteousness, is surely to be in the body
.. included among those good Let us not neglect a duty that things which prayer has a pat- contributes so much to our wel. ural tendency to produce, and fare and improvement in this which God has directed us to world and which is indispensaask with an explicit assurance ble to our preparation for bapthat if we are sincere we sball piness in the world to come. obtain.
For I know not how any man I observe in conclusion : can expect to enjoy the presence
That our petitions should not of God in beaven, who has not Jave an exclusive reference to had intercourse with him on ourselves. No man liveth to earth. But let not our prayers himself As we are connected be the effusion of a worldly by a community of wants, of in- mind, neither let our petitions terests and depeudeucies, we are
more closely to the bound to desire and promote the earth.
Let them evince our welfare of others.
trust in God, the ardour and Our Saviour inculcates this sincerity of our pious desires, diffusive benevolence which and the fulness of our kind and gives us an interest in the moral benevolent affections. improvement of the human fam- Let our most ardent prayers ily, by directing us to pray that be for minds enlightened by God's name may be universally heavenly wisdom-for passions reverenced that his kingdom disciplined and obedient-for inay be established over every kind and benevolent affectionsregion and in every heart-that for resignation, and patience, men may every where seek their and hope that God would forhappiness in the love and prac. give what is past and strengthen tice of goodness; and thus God's' and support us in the future will be done on earth as it is that our lives may be adorned in heaven.
with the beauties of holiness, Whenever then we come with and our temper and our feel