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OF

SUBMISSION, PRAYER,

AND

THANKSGIVING.

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He that freely fubmits not to the Divine difpofition and providence, gains nothing by his contumacy; for fubmit he muft, whether he will or no.

But he gains this lofs and difadvantage thereby, that thofe providences that are not according to his defire, gall him more by the unquietnefs and impatience of his mind under them.

He that with an entire freeness of foul fubmits to the Divine Providences, gains thereby thefe advantages: namely, 1. That certainly fuch a refolved willing fubmiffion, never makes the providences the more harsh, or fevere. 2. That commonly they are even in themfelves more gentle and eafy, because the man needs. not a severity to bring him to a right temper of mind; namely, due fubjection to the Divine Will. 3. But be the providences never fo harsh and hard, they fit more eafy upon a quiet, patient, refigning foul,

A man never lofeth by prayer; for, if the thing be granted, it makes the bleffing both the fweeter and the fafer, being the humble victory and acqueft of his prayer: and it makes the man the better, the more thankful; for he looks upon it as a gift, and not a chance; the more dependent upon God, and the readier upon all occafions to call upon him, who honoured the prayer of his fervant with a conceffion.

And

And if it be denied, yet he lofeth not; for, it may be, the thing he asketh, might have done him harm, and been his prejudice. Again, though he be not gratified in the thing he defired, a thousand to one but he is gratified with what was fitter or better. But if not, yet the man receives infallibly this benefit by being denied, that he is made the better, the more humble, and patient, and to be content that Almighty God fhould be mafter of his own bounty, and not to be commanded by our prayers. Or, at leaft, it discovers unto him the diftemper of his heart; if he be not contented to be denied, his heart was proud, and his prayer hypocritical: he feemed to pray, but indeed meant to command, not to pray for what he defired, which makes him thus impatient of a denial.

Senfe of mifery, want or danger, when we find no other means of remedy or prevention, doth carry us to prayer, and invocation upon God. The failors did this in the storm, But commonly, though deliverance follows even upon our very prayers, we rarely, with that seriousness and intention of mind, return unto God the praife and acknowledgment of his goodness. Of the Ten Lepers that were cleanfed, we read only of One that returned thanks for the benefit; and commonly we either forget the benefit, and our benefactor, when our turn is served, and are content to attribute our deliverance to chance, to means, or to any thing, rather than to the goodness of God. And the reajons may be thefe: 1. The pride and naughtinefs of our hearts, that are unwilling to own our dependance upon God, when we think we ftand not in need of him. 2. Neceffity and fear, and the incumbent fenfe of evil, are more preffing and urgent; and, by a kind of force, oftentimes drive us to pray, when we cannot probably find help elsewhere; but when the neceffity, and fear, and incumbence of evil is removed, it is only a true judgment, and the grateful temper of our hearts, that do engage us to render thanks for the mercy received,

which is ordinarily more flat, and lefs active than evils felt or feared. Natural neceffity prompts a man to prayer oftentimes; but it is fincerity, and a right temper of the foul that prompts a man to gratitude and thankfulness.

He that in his neceflity prays for help, and obtains it, if his prayers were the fruit barely of his exigence, is feldom thankful; and if he be not thankful, it is an evidence, that his prayers did not move from a heart fincere, and truly principled; with a dependance upon God, and a habit of dutifulness to him. But if he be thankful for the mercy received, it is an evidence, that not only his gratitude, but his prayers fprang from the fame principle, namely, a good and fincere heart, principled with the fame habit of grace, piety, dependance upon God, and obedience to him.

There is an admirable economy of the Divine Goodnefs and Wisdom, to bring his creature Man both to his Duty and Happiness. Many times he invites us to come to him by perfuafions, and monitions, and fecret motions; and when we neglect that voice, he oftentimes fends upon us troubles, and afflictions, and dangers; and this he doth by a kind of moral force, to make us fly to him by prayer for help, and relief, and deliverance.

And it feldom miffeth its effect, if there be but any wisdom, or the common inftinct implanted generally in the human nature. When we know not which way to turn, we then fly to God, becaufe all other ways are most commonly obftructed and hedged up, and this paffage only left open to an efcape. In their affliction they will seek me early 2. Almighty God deals by us, as a wife artift, that hath a purpose to turn a ftream towards fonie defigned place, ftops all other egreffes but that which fits his defign; or as a father, that is minded to bring an extravagant fon to his duty and dependance, obftructs all fupplies but fuch as may be had from himself. So oftentimes God Almighty

12 Chron. xx. 12.

2 Hosea v. 15.

doth

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doth fo methodise his afflictions, that all ways of relief are obftructed, but fuch as may lead a man to him. It is true, many times in fuch cafes we will be fhifting and trying every avenue to get out at: but when we find every paffage hedged up with thorns, but that only which leads to him, our ftomachs come down, and we are glad to feek relief in that way where we find only it can be had. Like Jonas's mariners in the ftorm, we try all experiments and artifices to fave ourselves, throw out our anchors, take down the fails, ply the pump, throw over the goods to lighten the veffel, and when all will not do, then we begin to call upon God, Lord fave us, we perish.

But yet the method of the Divine Goodness refteth not here, but brings us a step forward: He is often graciously pleased to grant the deliverance we pray for, to let us fee that we call not upon his name in vain, and -to encourage us to depend upon him, to draw near unto him, to make him our confidence as well as our fear: And though fometimes he defers our deliverance, yet he doth it, partly to give unto ourselves an experiment of our own fincerity and patience; partly to discipline and tutor us to conftancy and patient waiting upon him; partly to carry us on to more importunity and continuance in prayer; and by this means our fouls are made the better, by drawing nearer and nearer to him that is the Fountain of Light and Goodness; for the repetition of prayers rectifies the foul, brings it nearer to God, lays more hold upon his ftrength and goodnefs, as the finking man draws himself nearer to the fhore by the repeated laying hold upon that cord that is from thence thrown out to fave him.

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Neither doth he reft here; for the deliverance he "fends, is not barely fent to deliver us from the affliction or danger, nor barely to gratify our prayers, but to bring us yet nearer to God, and to makeus active inftruments to give glory to that God that hath thus delivered us; whereby at once we are drawn nearer to the foun

tain

tain of our happiness, and Almighty God receives and attains the great end of his goodness, in the active glory and gratitude that he receives from his creature. And this is attained,

1. By a kind of natural instinct, ingenuity, and implanted tendency, as I may call it, of a good nature; whereby unless a man be a fool, or hath put off the common rudiments of humanity, he is carried out to thankfulness, gratitude, and an endeavour of complacency to him that is his benefactor; which, as it is the most rational confequence imaginable, fo it is a principle fo rivetted in the very constitution of humanity itself, that even without any antecedent ratiocination, or rational difcourfe, it doth presently, and at first view, and antecedently antevert any rational difcourfe of the mind. We are grateful, and study to be complacent to him that doth us good, without any ufing of topics or arguments, by a kind of natural inftinet or fympathy.

2. By a kind of ftipulation, or bargain made by Almighty God with his poor creature, to have this tribute of gratitude and benevolent affection from his creature, as the tribute and return of his goodness and beneficence. 'Call upon me in the day of trouble, ' and I will deliver thee, and thou fhalt glorify me 1.' And this retribution, as it is most admirably congenious 2 and connatural to the right conftitution of the human nature; fo it is the most reasonable, and the most noble, and the most eafy, and the most beneficial retribution in the world to him that makes it. For firft, whereas the creature in his prayer feeks, and in the returns thereof receives fomething from God; in his gratitude and glorification of God, he performs that which his Maker gracioufly accepts, as a return made to him from his creature. Secondly, by this means he attains the two great ends of his being; namely, the glorifying of God, and the improvement of his ⚫ congenial.

'Psa!. 1. 15.

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