« PreviousContinue »
stance, than that which has been the subject of this discourse, viz. that the gifts of God, in the course of his Providence, are so far from exciting our gratitude, in proportion to their number and value, that on the contrary, those who receive most are usually most profane. They make his favors instruments of rebellion against him, and return contempt for his indulgence, and hatred for his love.
Let us not take occasion from this to gratify our own endy, by particular or personal reproach against those who are great, or have become rich amongst ourselves; but let us act a far wiser and juster part, and be humbled for the sinfulness of our nature, and warned of the deceitful. ness of sin. We may feel the feeds of this disposition in us all. You find the wise man charging a similar ingratitude upon man in general. “Because sentence against
an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the "heart of the fons of men is fully set in them to do evil." And do you not observe every day, nay, has it is not turn. ed into a proverb, that we think light of our mercies, fpiritual and temporal, when they are common and abun. dant ? And what is the true and proper interpretation of this, but that the greater God's goodness is to us, com. monly the less is our gratitude to him?
2. Let me beseech you to make a wise improvement of the advantages you enjoy over one another. Let them excite in you a holy emulation to testify your sense of superior bleflings, by superior piety and usefulness. Do you excel others in any respect ? Are you successful in trade? Have you risen to reputation ? Are you exalted to offices of dignity? Are you endowed with capacity of mind ? Can you remember the time when those were your equals who are now your inferiors? Do not look with infolence upon others, making odious, and perhaps unjust comparifons. Do not swell in pride and self-complacence, as if by your own power you had made yourselves to differ, but rather look the other way, to God, who is the maker both of rich and poor, and pray that your thankfulness and duty to him may exceed that of the poor man, as much as his liberality to you exceeds what he has thought pro.
per to bestow upon him. This affords me an opportunity of relating a little piece of private history, that happened in Great Britain, and appears to me very worthy of re. membrance, and very conducive to the ends of edificati
A gentleman of very considerable fortune, but a firanger to either personal or family religion, one evening took a solitary walk through a part of his own grounds. He hap. pened to come near to a mean hut, where a poor man with a numerous family lived, who earned their bread by daily labor. He heard a voice pretty loud and continued. Not knowing what it was, curiolity prompted him to liften. The man, who was piously disposed, happened to be at prayer with his family, So foon as he could distin. guish the words, he heard him giving thanks with great affection to God, for the goodness of his providence, in giving them food to eat, and raiment to put on, and in fupplying them with what was necessary and comfortable in the present life. He was immediately, no doubt, by divine power, struck with astonishment and confusion, and said to himself, does this poor man, who has nothing but the meanest fare, and that purchased by severe labor, give thanks to God for his goodness to himself and family, and I, who enjoy ease and honor, and every thing that is grateful and desirable, haye hardly ever bent my knee, or made any acknowledgment to my Maker and preserver. It pleased God that this providential occurrence proved the mean of bringing him to a real and lasting sense of God and religion.
Let all persons in health, quiet and plentiful circumstances, learn from the preceding discourse, what it is they ought clearly to guard against.--Pride, fecurity, forgetfulness of God, are peculiarly incident to that liate. "Lo " this,” faith the Lord to Jerusalem, "vas the iniquity $ of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulneis of bread, and abun“ dance of idleness was in her, and in her daughters, * neither did the strengthen the hand of the poor and
needly.” A serious reflection on the obligation such lie under to God for what they have received in their continued dependance upon him, and the instability of all earthly things, would save them from the hurtful influence of worldly prosperity. To enforce this, I fliall only read the apostolic charge to Timothy. " Charge them that " are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, " nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who • giveth us all things richly to enjoy ; that they do good, " that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute,
willing to communicate; laying up in fore for them. fb felves a good foundation against the time to come, that " they may lay hold on eternal life.”
THE DANGER OF ADVERSITY.
PROVERBS XXX. 9.
Lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
PROCEED now to consider the argument by which
the prophet urges the second branch of his request, which, in connexion, runs thus-“ Give me not poverty, “ left I be poor and steal.” Having not only explained the general principle that runs through the whole of this subject, but also very particularly pointed out the dangers attending an opulent and wealthy state, I Mall endeavor to do the same thing with respect to a state of poverty and straitness. While I attempt this, I am fincerely sorry that there is so much propriety in the subject; and that it is so well suited to the circumstances of the inhabitants of this place. You see the prophet considers the great and general temptation to which the poor are exposed, to be dishonest, by using fraudulent means of relieving their wants, or bettering their condition. You see also, he confiders this temptation in its progress, not only inclining them to act unjustly, but sometimes proceeding to the terrible degree of concealing or supporting the fraud by falsehood, and perhaps at lait by perjury or false swearing; " lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God " in vain."