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I PETER V. 7.
Cafting all your care upon him, for he careth
XHORTATIONS of this kind, which frequently occur in the facred Scriptures, represent our holy religion in the most amiable light. It appears, in all refpects, fuited to our prefent neceffities, and friendly to our higheft, our most important. interests. How deplorable would be the ftate of men upon earth, were they left to ftruggle in their own ftrength with the trials and fufferings to which they are continually expofed? In profperity, when the mind is vigorous and undisturbed, Reafon may. discover a variety of arguments for bearing affliction with patience and fortitude; and may even fuggeft fome topics of confolation, which in the diftant view of adverfity, feem
to promise a seasonable and effectual relief; but these are rather fpecious than folid; and when brought to the teft, have always been complained of as feeble and unavailing. The best of them are those which lead our thoughts upwards to the Supreme Disposer of all events, the wife and righteous Governor of the world. But as it is impoffible for a creature, conscious of guilt, to separate the idea of punishment from fuffering, it is not eafy to conceive how the mere perfuafion, that our fufferings proceed from one who is incapable of doing wrong, fhould yield us any comfort, unless we were affured, that while he punisheth our fins, he is at the fame time willing to be reconciled to us; nay, that the correction itself is the fruit of his love, and graciously intended for the cure of our fouls. But here Reason, unaffifted, is unable to move one step upon firm ground; and though it could, yet as the mind itself is too commonly unhinged and broken by adverfity, any aid that depended upon a procefs of reafoning would come by far too flow to our relief. "The spirit of a man will fuf
"tain his infirmity; but a wounded fpirit "who can bear?"
In this distressed fituation, when every other refuge fails, divine revelation comes seasonably to our affiftance. So bright are the objects it prefents to our view, that they prevent the labour of a tedious inquiry: The mind fees them at once; and though greatly disturbed, can with ease discover both their nature and their ufe. The import of a striking fact is, much fooner comprehended than the force of an argument. Thus when we are told, that "God spared "not his own Son, but delivered him up "to the death for us," we no fooner hear and believe the fact, than we are fufficiently prepared to draw the fame conclufion from it that Paul did, "How fhall he not with "him alfo freely give us all things?" But the Scriptures do not stop here: they not only relate what God hath already done, and thereby furnish us with proofs of his mercy and grace; they likewife contain explicit declarations of what he hath purposed and determined to do. They abound with great and precious promifes, confirmed by VOL. II.
the oath of an unchangeable God, "that by two immutable things, in which it is "impoffible for God to lie, they may have
a ftrong confolation, who have fled for "refuge to lay hold on the hope fet before "them.
Of this kind is the argument with which the Apostle preffeth the exhortation in my text, Cafting all your care upon God, faith he, FOR be careth for you. Nothing can be more fimple; and, at the fame time, nothing can be more perfuafive. No acuteness is requifite for discovering the meaning of the argument. And then its strength is irresistible: "For if God be with us, who can be against
us ?" If the great Lord of heaven and earth vouchfafe to become our friend, nay, our guardian, then furely, with a cheerful and unreferved confidence, we may refign ourfelves wholly to his difpofal and government. The objects of his paternal care muft always be fafe; no real evil can befal them, neither fhall any thing that is truly good be with-held from them. But to whom doth the Apostle address his exhortation?
This question is of importance, and must be answered in the first place.
Secondly, I fhall lay open the nature and extent of the duty here enjoined, and show what is included in cafting all our care upon God
Thirdly, I fhall illuftrate the propriety and ftrength of the motive with which the exhortation is enforced, God careth for you.
And then direct you to the practical improvement of the subject.
NOTHING Would give me greater pleafure, than to fay to every one that hears me, Thou art the person who art invited to caft thy care upon God: but it is truth, and not inclination, that must dictate what I fay. The great Prophet of the church compares the office of a minister to that of a steward, whose business it is to feed those committed to his care, by giving unto each" his his por"tion of meat in due feafon." A promifcuous diftribution of the bread of life, is not merely unprofitable, but in many cafes hurtful, to the fouls of men: And give me leave to add, that in no cafe is it more likely to Bb 2