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an afflicted state, excepting one that hath this appearance, viz. Cicero, the Roman orator. His conduct in prosperity was full of dignity, and feemed wholly directed to the public good ; whereas in adversity, it was to the last degree mëan and abject. But probably the reason of this was, that pride, or rather vanity, was his ruling paffion, and the great motive to bis illustrious actions; and when he fell into adversity, this disposition had no scope for its exercise.
Christians, the Lord knoweth our frame, and is well acquainted with what we are able to bear, and consequently what state of life will be upon the whole most convenient for us. It is, therefore, our interest, as well as duty, to refer ourselves entirely to him, and leave him to chuse for us. This is not only the doctrine of Scripture, but fo agreable to reason and good fenfe, that it has been acknowledged by several of the Heathen philofophers, who have expressed themselves in terms perfectly similar to those of the inspired writings. The prayer which Socrates taught his pupil Alcibiades, is very remarkable; that he should beseech the Supreme God to give him what was good for him, though he should not ask it, and to withhold from him whatever would be hurtful, though he fhould be fo foolish as to
pray for it.
2. As God is certainly the best judge of what is good for us, fo refignation to him is a most acceptable expreffion, both of our worship and obedience. Single duties are particular acts ; resignation is the very habit of obedience. The wisdom and goodness of God are acknowledged in the most authentic manner, when his holy and sovereign Providence is humbly submitted to, and cordially approved. Every impatient complaint is an impeachment of Providence ; every irregular desire is an act of rebellion against God. Therefore a submissive temper must be highly pleasing to God, and is the way to glorify him in the most unexceptionable manner. The rather indeed, as it is impossible to attain this temper, but by sincerely laying hold of the covenant of peace, which is ordered in all things and sure. This teaches us the grounds of fubmission. This procures for us the grace of fubmission. This stains the pride of all human glory. This changes the nature of our possessions to us, and us to them. This spiritualizes a worldly mind, and makes us know, in our own experience, that all the paths of the Lord to his own people are mercy and peace.
3. Such a temper of mind will greatly contribute to our own inward peace. It will be an effectual preservative from all unrighteous courses and unlawful or even dishonourable means of increasing our worldly subftance, and consequently save us from the troubles or dangers to which men expose themselves by such practices. It will preserve us from perplexing anxiety, and many uneasy fears for futurity. It will bring us the near
and sure, way to the greatest of all earthly blessings, a contented mind.
Such will be the sweet and delightful effects of depending upon God, and leaving it to him to furnish our suplies as he sees most convenient for
Whoever can pray with the Prophet, • Give me neither poverty norriches, feed me with < food convenient for me, may be fully assured that his desire shall be gratified, as it is perfectly agreeable to the will of God.
I conclude with reading to you our Saviour's exhortation on this subject. Therefore, I say
unto you, take no thought for your life, what
ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink ; nor yet ' for your body, what ye shall put on.
Is not • the life more than meat, and the body than rai"ment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they
fow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye much better than they? But feek
first the kingdom of God, and his righteous'ness, and all these things shall be added unto
S E R M O N VI.
The Danger of Prosperity,
PROV. xxx. 9.
Left I be full and deny thee, and say, who is the
Lord ? Or, left I be po:r and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
PROCEED now to consider the arguments by
which the Prophet enforces his wife and well-conceived prayer. These, in connection with the two branches of the prayer, ftand thus : . Give me not riches, left I be full and deny
thee, and say, who is the Lord ? And give me
God in vain. If Agur's prayer is conceived in the most modest and humble terms, the reasons with which he fupports it are every way becoming a truly wise and good man. You fee in them a prevailing con-cern for the honour and glory of God, and his
own preservation in the paths of piety and virtue: You see in them a humble sense of his own weakness, and the danger of temptation; he, therefore, desires to be placed in such a state of life as will expose, him to the fewest trials. An excellent disposition this, and highly worthy of our imitation. How happy. would it be for us all, if a desire to please God and preserve our integrity, lay always nearest our hearts, and had a constant and commanding influence on every step we took in our journey through life!
Neither riches nor poverty are bad in themfelves. Neither of them is any recommendation or hindrance to the favour of God, who is no respecter of persons. There are good and bad in all ranks. Men may be rich, and yet pious; or poor, yet strictly just and honest. It is, I confefs, often done, yet it is highly criminal to look upon all that are rich in this world as profane ; and it would be equally fo to look upon all that are poor as deftitute of integrity. Yet it is undeniable, that, from the corruption of the human heart, these two extremes do often become strong temptations to the particular fins nientioned in the text; which we shall now consider separately, in the order in which they lie in the paffage before us.
• Give me not riches, left I be full and deny thee, and say, who is the Lord ?'
As to the fact, that riches do often lead to profanity and contempt of God, experience, and