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suasion of this truth. For how can we think of our kind and unwearied benefactor, who condescends to make us the objects of his care, who daily loads us with his benefits, though he is altogether independent of us, and can neither be enriched by our services, nor impoverished by the want of them; how can we think of him, I say, without the most fervent love and humble gratitude ?
3dly, To humility and gratitude, I add resignation to the will of God. This was the inference which holy Job drew from the doctrine I have been illustrating: “Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil also ? The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Surely if no wrong be done us, we have no right to complain. We ought rather to adore that goodness which at first bestowed the gift, gave us the comfortable enjoyment of it, and continued it with us so long; and to say with the saints of old, when our distress is greatest, “ I will bless the Lord at all times ; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”—“ Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins ?”
_ “ It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good ;” and, “ Good is the will of the Lord.”
4thly, Did we attend to this truth, we should not dare to employ any means that are unlawful for improving our circumstances, or acquiring the
good things that belong to a present world; and even in using the means that are lawful, we should constantly look up to God for success, and implore his blessing upon our honest endeavours; remembering, on the one hand, " that the getting of treasures by lying lips, is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death; and, on the Other hand, that the blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” Which leads me to observe,
5thly, The importance of enjoying the blessing of God, with all the gifts which his bounty bestows upon us. From this alone ariseth their value, and nothing else can impart to them that sweetness which renders the possession of them truly desirable. Happiness cannot be extracted from the creatures themselves : they are all broken cisterns that can hold no water: “ The eye is not satisfied with seeing, neither is the ear filled with hearing.”—“He that loveth silver, shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase." Solomon records it as one of the evils he had seen under the sun, namely, “ riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.” And he supposeth it a very possible case, that amidst the greatest abundance of earthly things, “ a man may all his days eat in darkness, and have much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.” How awful is that threatening, Mal. ii. 2. “ If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to
heart to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings ?” And when this threatening is executed upon any, then “ their table becomes a snare to them; and that which should have been for their welfare becomes a trap,” insomuch that their prosperity proves both the occasion and instrument of their destruction : " Whereas the Lord blesseth the habitation of the just;" in consequence whereof,“ the little that a righteous man hath, is better than the riches of many wicked.”
It is a significant saying of David, Psal. xxxvii. 22. “Such as be blessed of the Lord shall inherit the earth.” They hold their portion of it by a different tenure than other men; they possess it as the children of him who is Lord of all; and their Father, while he feeds them with food convenient for them, gives them at once the proper enjoyment, and the sanctified use of it. This is the peculiar privilege of believers in Christ Jesus ; for “as many as receive him, to them gives he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name.” And as the apostle Paul reasons, If children, then are they also heirs, beirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus ;" so that, in the most common bounties of providence, they can taste the sweetness of special love, and may lawfully consider every benefit conferred upon them as a token of their Father's affection, and a pledge of that fulness of joy that awaits
them in a future state. How much then doth it concern us, even as we regard our present comfort, “to give all diligence to make our calling and election sure,” that on every gift, whether small or great, reading the precious name of him who bestows it, we may have the true relish of the provision afforded us in the course of our journey through this strange country, till we arrive at our Father's house above, where we shall obtain possession of that glorious inheritance of the saints, which is incorruptible, and undefiled, and fadeth not away.
These are a few of the practical lessons, which, with ease and certainty, may be deduced from the doctrine of my text.
Permit me now to apply the subject to the particular occasion of our meeting together at this time.
Hitherto I have been speaking of the blessings we possess as gifts freely bestowed. But there is another important light in which we ought likewise to view them. They are talents committed to us for special ends and purposes; and it is both expected and required that we be diligent and faithful in improving them, as it becomes those who must one day give an account of their stewardship. There is an essential difference between God's giving to us, and our giving to our fellowWe renounce our interest in what we give
to another': it ceaseth to be ours, and becomes the property of the person upon whom we bestow it. But God giveth nothing away after this manner. His giving to his creatures doth not make the benefit conferred a whit the less his own than it originally was. God is the entire and absolute proprietor of all things: they are his, because he made them; and what is styled property among men, must necessarily be derived, limited, and dependant. This dominion is so essential to God, that he cannot divest himself of it. Earthly rulers may resign part of the jurisdiction that belongs to them. Thus Saul proclaimed, that whosoever should fight Goliah the Philistine, and kill him, “he and his house should be made free in Israel.” But no creature can be released from its obligation to serve God; for absolute dependance and unlimited subjection are so intimately connected, that they cannot exist separately. As we necessarily depend upon God, so we are necessarily bound to submit to his authority, and to serve him to the utmost extent of the powers he hath given us. No creature can say of any thing he possesseth, This is fully mine, to dispose of it as I please. The benefits conferred upon us are so far our property, with respect to our fellow-servants, that, unless they can produce an order from the great Master of the family, none of them may take them from us, neither can they righteously possess them without our own consent; but, with