« הקודםהמשך »
who was the happiest man on earth ? and met with a deserved disappointment in the reply. If we should put a question much more profitable, as well as much more eafily resolved, in what rank of life the most exquisite human misery has been found ? I have no doubt but it ought to be answered, upon a throne. Experience will always ratify the wise man's observation : Better is a dinner of berbs where love is, than a stalled ox and batred there. with. A sanctified lot is an inestimable treasure. The blessing of God on a cruise of oil, and a pot of meal, is better than inexhaustible mines of gold and silver. What cause of contentment and patience to the child of God!
In the last place, you may learn from what has been faid on the subject, what is the plainest, the shortest, and indeed the only sure way to deliverance from distress or calamity of whatever kind. It is to fly to the mercy of God through the blood of Christ, to renew the exercises of faith in him, and, in proportion as it pleases God to fill you with all joy and peace in believing, you will perceive every other covenant-blessing flow clear and unmixed from this inexhausted source. It will lead to repentance, humiliation and submission. The fanctified use of the af. fliction will be obtained, and this brings deliverance of it. felf; for no rod will be continued longer, than it hath an. fwered its end. At any rate, when suffering is necessary, grace, to fuffer with patience, shall not be withheld. Would you have any more, and is not this remedy always at hand? Can the poorest man fay it is not within the reach of his purse: It is, at once, effectual and universal. It was once said in contempt of a worthy and pious minifter, that he made so much of the blood of Christ, that he would apply it even to a broken bone. But bating what may be thought indecent in the expreffion, chofen on purpose to bring a good man into ridicule, the thing itself; I make bold to affirm, is a great and a precious truth. Faith in the blood of Christ makes a man superior to all sufferings. It softens their aspect--it abates their se. verity>nay, it changes their nature, When a man is under distress or calamity of any kind, and considers it enly in itfell, and independently of his relation to God,
it retains its old nature, and tastes with all the bitterness of the original curse; but when it is considered as limited in its nature-in its measure and its continuance by a kind Saviour, the believer submits to it with patience, as a part of his Creator's will; bears it with patience in his Redeemer's strength, and sometimes is enabled to embrace it with pleasure, as ferving to carry him to his father's presence. Is this going too far? No, my dear brethren; these are great realities to which the word of God, and the experience of his faints, bear united evidence. Many here present, I doubt not; have been witnesses of this truth in the carriage of their relations now with God; and not a few, I trust, will repeat the testimony to succeeding ages. I conclude all with that animated passage of the apostle Paul—2 Cor. iv. 16, 17. “ For which cause we faint not; " but though our outward man perish, yet the inward mani
is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which " is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceed
ing and eternal weight of glory."
ON THE PURITY OF THE HEART.
PROVERBS XXX. 7, 8, 9.
Two things have I required of thee, deny me them not before
I die : remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches ; feed me with food convenient for me, lest I be full and deny thee, and say, who is the Lord? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
UR dependent condition as creatures, and much
more our dangerous condition as finners, exposed to daily temptation, renders prayer a duty of the most absolute neceflity. You must all be sensible, how frequent and pressing the exhortations to it are in the holy fcriptures. - And, indeed, there cannot be a better evidence of a right temper of mind, than an habitual disposition to the exercise of this duty.
But as prayer is a necessary duty, we ought to give the greater attention to the manner in which it is performed. We ought to ask only for such things as are truly safe and useful. We ought also to offer up our prayers with im. portunity, or reserve, according to the nature and comparative importance of those blessings we desire to obtain. All our wants are perfectly known to God; he is also the best judge of what is fit for us, and therefore, our petitions should be well weighed, and expressed in such terms, as, at the same time that they intimate our desires, leave much to himself, as to the measure and manner of satisfying them.
We have an excellent example of this pious and pru. dent conduct, in the prayer of the prophet Agur, just read in your hearing. All his requests are summed up in two general heads. These he seems to insist upon, as absolute. ly necessary to ask, with that humble, holy confidence which is founded on the divine promise, that if we ask any thing agreeable to his will, he heareth us. He seems also to alk them, as what would fully satisfy him, and be fufficient for the comfort of the present life, and the happiness of the life to come. “ Two things,” says he, “ have I re. • quired of thee, deny me them not before," or, as it ought rather to be translated, “ until I die.”
These two requests are conceived in the following terms .“ Remove far from me vanity and lies, give me neither
poverty nor riches." The first, viz. “ remove far from “ me vanity and lies,” evidently relates to the temper of his mind, and the state of his soul. The second, viz, “ give me neither poyerty nor riches," relates to his outward condition or circumstances in the present life. There are two things in the general structure of this comprehen, five prayer, that merit you particular attention. First, The order of his request; beginning with what is of most importance, the temper of his mind, and his hope towards God; and then adding, as but deserving the second place, what related to his present accommodation.
Secondly, The connection of his requests. The choice he makes as to his temporal condition, is in immediate and direct fubferviency to his fanctifications. This is plain from the arguments with which he presses, or the reasons which lie assigns for his second petition. " Give me nei. “ther poverty nor riches, lest I be full and deny thee, “and say, who is the Lord ? or lest I be poor and steal,
and take the name of my God in vain.”