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this, in the greatness of their affliction, and in the bitterness of their foul, to question God's knowledge and care of human affairs.
Behold, (say they, y 12.), these are the ungodly, and yet they are the prosperous in the world, they increase in riches. To what purpose then is it for any man to be religious and virtuous ? y 13. Verily, I have cleansed my heart in osin, and washed my hands in innocency. In yain have I endeavoured after purity of heart and innocency of life, since fo little good comes of it: nay, so far from that, that I have been in continual trouble and affliction : ♡ 14. All the day long have I been plagued, and chaftened every morning.
Such thoughts as these often came into his mind, and gave him great trouble and disquiet : but he presently corrects himself : v. 15. If I say, I will speak thus ; I should offend against the generation of thy children : that is, I should go against the sense of all pious and good men, who have always believed the providence of God, notwithstanding this objection : which at last he tells us he had raised on purpose to try if he could find the solution of it: y. 16. I thought to know this, which was grievous in mine eyes : and then he resolves all into the unsearchable wisdom of the divine providence, which if we fully understood from first to laft, we should fee good reason to be satisfied with the equity of it: v. 17. 18. When I go into the sanctuary of God, then Shall I understand the end of these men; how thou didst set them in slippery places, &c. This satisfied him, that whenever the secret design of God's providence should be unfolded, whether in this world or the other, how strange and cross foever things might seem to be at present, yet in the issue and conclusion it would appear, that neither are bad men so happy, nor good men so miserable, as at present they may seem to be.
So that, upon a full debate of this matter, the Pfalmist concludes, that these objections against providence do spring from our ignorance, and short and imperfect view of things; whereas if we saw the whole design from beginning to end, it would appear to be very reasonable and regular : v. 21. 22. Thus my heart was grieved. So foolish was I, and ignorant ; and as a beast be
fore thee. And in regard to himself, he tells us, that he saw great reason to acknowledge God's tender care over him in particular, and that he could find no fecurity or comfort for himself but in God alone : ¥ 23. Nevertheless, I am continually with thee : thou hast holden me by thy right hand. Thou shalt guide me with ihy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory : As if he had faid, I am senlible of thy constant presence with me, and care of me; and do entirely depend upon thy guidance and direction, not doubting but that my present troubles and afflictions will have a happy and glorious issue. And, at last, he breaks out into a kind of exultation and triumph for the mighty consolation which he found in the firm belief of the being and providence of God, as the great stay and support of his soul in the worst condition that could befal him; in the words of the text, Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. If a man were to chuse a happiness for himself, and were to ransack heaven and earth for it; after all his search and inquiry, he would at lalt fix upon God as the chief happiness of man, and the true and only rest and centre of our souls. This then is the plain meaning of the text, that nothing in the world but God can make men happy: Whom have 1 in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.
That man of himself is not sufficient for his own happiness, is evident upon many accounts ; because he is liable to so many evils and calamities, which he can neither prevent nor remedy. He is full of wants, which he cannot supply; compassed about with infirmities, which he can only complain of, but is not able to redress : he is obnoxious to dangers, which he must always fear, because he can never fufficiently provide against them.
Consider man by himself, and from under the conduct and protection of a fuperior and more powerful being, and he is in a most difconfolate and forlorn condition : secure of nothing that he enjoys, and liable to be disappointed of every thing that he hopes for. He is apt to grieve for what he cannot help; and perhaps the justest cause of his grief is, that he cannot help it : for if he could, instead of grieving for it, he would help it.
He cannot refrain from desiring a great many things which he would fain have, but is never likely to obtain, because they are out of his power; and it troubles hiin both that they are so, and that he cannot help his being troubled at it.
Thus man walketh in a vain shew, and disquietetli himSelf in vain; courting happiness in a thousand shapes, and the faster he follows it, the swifter it flies from him. Alinost every thing promiseth happiness to us at a distance, such a step of honour, such a pitch of estate, such a fortune or match for a child : but when we come nearer to it, either we fall short of it, or it falls short of our expectation; and it is hard to say, which of these is the greatest disappointment. Our hopes are usually bigger than enjoyment can satisfy; and an evil long feared, besides that it may never come, is many times more painful and troublesome than the evil itself when it
In a word, man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards. He comes into the world naked and unarr
armed, and from himself more destitute of the natural means of his security and support than any other creature whatsoever, as it were on purpose to shew, that he is more peculiarly the care of a superior providence. And as man, of all the creatures of this lower world, is only made to own and acknowledge a Deity ; To God in great wisdom hath so ordered things, that none of the other creatures should have so much need of him, and so much reason to acknowledge their necessary dependence upon him. So that the words of David are the very sense and voice of nature, declaring to us, that mankind is born into the world upon terms of greater dependence upon the providence of God than other creatures, Psal. xxii.9. 10.11. Thou art he (says David there to God) ihat tookest me out of the womb; thou madeft me to hope, (or thou didst keep me in safety), when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb; thou art my God from my mother's belly. Be not far from me, for trouble is niear, Trouble is always near to us, and therefore it is happy for us that God is never far from any of us; For in him. we live, and move, and have our being. And when we are grown up, we are liable to a great VOL.II.
many mischiefs and dangers every moment of our lives; and without the providence of God, continually inseeure, not only of the good things of this life, but even of life itself: fo that, when we come to be men, we cannot but wonder how ever we arrived at that state, and how we have continued in it fo long, considering the infinite difficulties and dangers which have continually attended us; that in running the gantlope of a long life, when so many hands have been lifted up against us, and so many strokes levelled at us, we have escaped so free, and with so few marks and scars upon us ; that when we are besieged with so many dangers, and so many arrows of death are perpetually flying about us, to which we do so many ways lie open, we should yet hold out twenty, forty, fixty years, and some of us perhaps longer, and do still stand at the mark untouched, at least not dangerously wounded by any of them: and considering likewise this fearful and wonderful frame of a human body, this infinitely complicated engine; in which, to the due performance of the several functions and offices of life, so many strings and springs, so many receptacles and channels, are necessary, and all in their right frame and order; and in which, besides the infinite, imperceptible, and secret ways of mortality, there are so many sluices and floodgates to let death in, and life out, that it is next to a miracle, though we take but little notice of it, that every one of us did not die every day since we were born : I say, considering the nice and curious frame of our bodies, and the innumerable contingencies and hazards of human life, which is set in so slippery a place, that we still continue in the land of the living, we cannot afcribe to any thing but the watchful providence of almighty God, who holds our soul in life, and suffers not our foot to be moved.
To the fame merciful providence of God we owe, that, whilst we continue in life, we have any comfortable pofsellion and enjoyment of ourselves, and of that which makes us men; I mean our reason and understanding : that our imagination is not let loose upon us, to haunt and torment us with melancholick freaks and fears : that we are not delivered up to the horrors of a gloomy and guilty mind: that every day we do not fall into fren
zy and distraction, which, next to wickedness and vice, is the forelt calamity, and saddest disguise of human nature; I say, next to wickedness and vice, which is a wilful frenzy, a madness, not from misfortune, but from choice; whereas the other proceeds from natural and necessary causes, such as are in a great measure out of our power; so that we are perpetually liable to it, from any secret and sudden disorder of the brain, from the violence of a disease, or the vehcment transport of any passion.
Now, if things were under no government, what could hinder so many probable evils from breaking in upon us, and from treading upon the heels of one another; like the calamities of job, when the hedge which God had set about him and all that he had, was broken down and removed ?
So that if there were no God to take care of us, we could be secure of no fort, no degree of happiness in this world; no not for one moment: and there would be no other world for us to be happy in, and to make amends to us for all the fears and dangers, all the troubles and calamities of this present life ; for God and another world stand and fall together. Without him there can be no life after this; and if our hopes of happiness were only in this life, man of all other beings in this lower world would certainly be the most miserable.
I cannot say that all the evils which I have mentioned would happen to all, if the providence of God did not rule the world; but that every man would be in danger of them all, and have nothing to support and comfort him against the fear of that danger. For the nature of man, conlidered by itself, is plainly insufficient for its own happiness ; so that we must neceffarily look abroad, and seek for it soinewhere else : and who can shew us that good that is equal to all the wants and necessities, all the capacities and desires, all the fears and hopes of human nature? Whatsoever can answer all these, must have these following properties.
1. It must be an all-sufficient good.
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