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condition, that such were His will, who knows best : nay, though that condition be not always explicitly in our thoughts, yet if we are habitually disposed never absolutely to desire that may be, which God sees fit should not be, we are still within the bounds of innocence. Indeed the further we suffer our fancies and inclinations to carry us in this road, the more slippery ground we continually tread upon : but thus far we may advance, and not fall. In cases of positive sufferings we may take yet another step : may 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 sincerest, professions of resignation, made in the text, immediately subjoins, take away thy stroke from me: I am even consumed by means of thy heavy hand *. Thus also good persons in all ages have sought and found ease by submissive applicacations to the throne of mercy. And if sometimes expostulations have escaped them, which seem not submissive enough, their cooler thoughts have doubtless corrected them, and no failure can be entitled 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 sin, 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. Resignation is very different, not only from despondence, which rather implies dissatisfaction and distrust, but from indolence, which may be


* Psalm xxxix. 11.


totally destitute of any sentiment 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 us.

Indulging ourselves in the contrary dispositions, 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 satisfied 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 never could be secure of any thing. But now his righteousness standeth like the strong mountains, which cannot be overturned ; at the same time that his judgments are like the great deep *, which cannot be fathomed. Clouds and darkness are round about him: but righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his thronet. Psalm xxxvi. 6.

+ Psalm xcvii. 2.


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 had well nigh slipt. And why? I was grieved at the wicked, I do also see the ungodly in such prosperity *. And indeed concern on this account seems 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, considered in themselves. 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 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

* Psalm lxxiii. 2, 3.

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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 t, not absolute; and moderate, not vehement. When we are disappointed, if our desires were such as we need not have formed, we may justly be expected to give them up 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 it, as mere weakness. But the notion, that we either ought or may allowably indulge ourselves in dissatisfaction or grief, is utterly to be rejected. And the sooner and the more completely we quiet every painful feeling, and bring our minds to a calm acquiescence in the good pleasure of God; the better we are, and the happier it will be for us.

Other motives to bear evil patiently and contentedly are to be sought for from different quarters, as the circumstances of the case require : are often hard to find: and when found, have often small weight and influence. But resignation to the will of our gracious heavenly Father, is one and the same inducement, that naturally presents itself to our thoughts; is equally suited to all occasions; and while it awes us * 1 Pet. ii. 23.

+ James iv, 15.

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with the consideration of his absolutely sovereign authority, soothes us with the assurance, that though he cause grief, yet he will have compassion, according to the multitude of his mercies * Again : resistance to the purposes of our fellow-creatures may fre, quently prevail : but reluctance against those of our Maker never can, Therefore sentiments of dutiful şubmission spare us the pain of unavailing inward struggles, lessen every suffering, prepare us for every trial. If we will not yield with meekness to the disposal of God, how shall we bear injuries from one another; how indeed shall we refrain from being injurious; when our interests and inclinations prompt us? The practice of self-denying duties, without leaning on Heaven for support, is too hard a task for human nature. But such as not only believe the precept, but have formed themselves to feel the impressions of resignation, are in proportion superior to all difficulties. Their spirits are calm; and instead of plunging rashly into deeper distresses and even guilt, as the impatient do, they find their way,


any one can be found, out of every perplexity. By excluding eager hopes and high desires of earthly good, this pious principle excludes also jealous envy, keen resentment, tormenting fears, bitter disappointments, and final dislike of every thing. He that gives himself up into the hands of God, with unfeigned approbation of the divine conduct in whatever may befall him, will act as he ought in all emergencies, with uprightness and alacrity, with courage and honour; will suffer with a composed and even temper; will thus give testimony to the efficacy of religion, and vindicate the dispensations of providence to mankind. Nor can it fail, but so dutiful a subject to the

* Lam. iii. 32.

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