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1st. A steadfast persuasion, that all events are order. ed and directed by God; that we and all our interests are continually in his hand; and that nothing can befall us without his appointment or permission. This was the foundation of David's confidence, when he said, “ Into thine hands I commit my spirit: thou bast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. I have heard the slander of many; fear was on every side; while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life. But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God, my times are in thy hand.”. Herein lies the difference betwixt the judgment of sanctified believers and that of worldly men: the last, confining their views to the objects of sense, place their whole dependance upon weak and mutable creatures like themselves. They court the smiles, and tremble at the frowns, of those who are rais. ed a little above them; and have no higher aim than to recommend themselves to the favour and protection of such persons as are most likely to gratify their ambition or covetousness; whereas the believer, knowing that God is supreme, and that the highest creatures are only instruments which he employs at his pleasure, keeps his eye continually fixed upon him, and bath no other concern than to be found walking in those ways which he hath appointed; being fully assured, that all events, of whatever kind, are ordered by his reconciled Father in Christ Jesus, and sball infallibly work together for his spiritual improvement in this state of discipline, and issue in his complete and everlasting felicity.
2dly. To cast our care upon God, is to make his will the guide and measure of ours. We may desire, we may ask, what appears to us good in its own nature, and con. ducive either to our comfort or usefulness in a present world; we may lawfully wish to be delivered from trou. ble, to enjoy bealth of body, composure and cheerful. ness of mind, the pleasures of virtuous friendship, and a competent portion of the good things of this life: but still we must desire and ask these blessings with due submission to the will of God, leaving it entirely to his unerring wisdom to give or to withhold them, as seemeth good unto himself. We have a lovely example of this temper in the bebaviour of David upon a very trying occasion. When the unsuspected rebellion of his uunatural son Absalom, which threatened him with the im. mediate loss, not of his crown only, but also of his life, obliged him to leave Jerusalem in haste; we are told, that among the few that accompanied him in his flight toward the wilderness, was Zadock the priest, and with him all the Levites, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. In this time of great distress, when his situation was so affecting, that, as we read (2 Sam. xv. 23.) “all the country wept with a loud voice” while they bebeld him passing over the brook Kidron, the sacred historian informs us, (ver. 25, 26.) that the king addressed Zadock in the following words: “Carry back the ark of God into the city; if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both it and his habitation. But if be thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.”—What shall be the issue of this for. midable conspiracy I know not; but I cast my care, my all, upon my God: in the mean time, let the ark of the covenant be carried back to its place. The presence of the God of Israel is not confined to this symbol of his grace; and that I trust shall encompass me wbithersoever I go, to support and cheer me in this melancholy flight. Whether or not I shall be restored to my house and tbrone, I cannot at present foresee; but this I know,
that in either case it shall be well with me. If I return to Jerusalem, I shall again behold this ark, and enjoy the Lord my God in bis ordinances; but if my God hath no farther service for me on this earth, I shall go to that place where there is no occasion for external means of correspondence and intercourse. Behold, here I lie at the disposal of my Father and my King, equally prepared to live or to die; to reign once more in the earthly Jerasalem, or to take up my eternal residence in the Jerusalem that is above. This unlimited resignation to the will of God makes an essential part of the duty which my text recommends. It further implies,
3dly. That we renounce all confidence in the cream ture, and place our trust in God alone. We are required, you see, to cast all our care upon him; not a part, but the whole. For thus it is written, (Jer. xvii. 5, 8.) - Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desart, and shall not see when good cometh, and shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not in habis ted.” Whereas, “ Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green, and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." A divided trust between God and the creature, is as foolish and unsafe, as to set one foot upon a rock and the other upon the quick-sand. We must, as I for. merly observed, be diligent in the use of means; for thus the commandment runs, “ Trust in the Lord, and do good;" but at the same time we must look beyond and above all means to God himself for success; saying, as David did, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge is on God.” Once more, in the
4th place, To cast all our care upon God, implies & full and unsuspecting dependance upon his wisdom and goodness; such a dependance as quiets the mind, disposing it to wait patiently upon God, and to accept with thankfulness whatsoever he is pleased to appoint. The Christian who hath learned this important lesson, not only brings his cares to the throne of grace, but there also he leaves them, and, like Hannah, returns with his countenance no more sad. Having, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, made his requests known to God,” his mind is at rest, “he is careful for nothing;" he hath put all bis interests into the best hands; he hath committed them to One, who is too wise to bestow what is hurtful, and too kind to withhold what is good. In consequence whereof, “ the peace of God, that passeth all understanding, keeps his heart and mind through Jesus Christ.” This gracious temper brings not only rest, but liberty to the soul. It breaks all those fetters in pieces, by which the covetous, the ambitious, the voluptuous, are chained to a present world, and dragged at the heels of those worse than Egyptian taskmasters, “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.” Whatever God willeth is pleasing to the sanctified believer; and the light of his Father's countenance, amidst the deepest and most complicated distress, puts greater gladness into his heart than the sensualist can feel, or is capable of conceiving, when bis corn and wine do most abound. It is this that gives the Christian the true enjoyment of life. No man can have the proper relish of any earthly comfort, who is not prepared to part with it. This looks like a paradox,
but will be found upon examination to be a weighty truth, Wbere fear is, there is torment; and nothing mars our joy so effectually as the prospect of being separated from what we greatly love. Talk to a carnal man of death, and the poor creature's spirit dies within him; the awful prospect of dissolution, like the band writing upon the wall which Belshazzar perceived while he was drinking wine with his princes, his wives, and his con. cubines, will, in the height of his gaiety, change his countenance, loosen the joints of his loins, and make his knees to smite against one another. Whereas the man who hath been taught to cast his care upon God, can sit eheerfully at the feast which Providence affords him, and think of his dying hour without diminishing the relish of his present enjoyment. Like David, (Psal. xxiii.) he can look forward without dismay, to bis walk through the valley and shadow of death; and, while the gloomy object is in his eye, he can say to his God with thankful praise, “ Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with
s oil, my cup runneth over: surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
Thus have I opened the meaning of the exhortation, and at the same time attempted to give you a general view of the dignity and excellence of the temper it recommends. But the most persuasive motive to the prac- . tice of this duty, is that wbich the Apostle himself mak. eth use of in the close of the verse, where he giveth full assurance to believers in Christ, that God, in a peculiar manner, careth for them. To this I shall proceed in my next discourse. May God lead us by his Spirit to the knowledge of our duty, and dispose us by his grace to the love and practice of it, for Christ's sake. Amen.