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WHEN We consider, in the next place, that our times, as I before illustrated, are in the hand of God as a sovereign Disposer, it is an obvious inference from this truth, that we should prepare ourselves to submit patiently to his pleasure, both as to the events which are to fill up our days, and as to the time of our continuing in this world. To contend with him we know to be fruitless. The word that is gone.out of his mouth must stand. In the path which he has marked out for us, whether it be short or long, rugged or smooth, we must walk, Is it not then the dictate of wisdom, that we should previously reconcile ourselves to this sovereign ordination, and bring our minds to harmonize with what is appointed to be our destiny? Let us mortify this temper, by recalling that reflection of the wise man; who knoweth what is good for man in this life; all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow * ?
To enjoy long life, and see many days, is the universal wish; and, as the wish is prompted by nature, it cannot be in At the same time, several
• Eccles. yi. 12,
circumstances concur to temper the eagerness of this wish; and to shew us that it should always be formed under due submission to the wiser judgment of Heaven. Who among us can tell whether, in wishing for the continuance of many years on earth, we may not be only wishing for a prolongation of distress and misery?— You might live, my friends, till you had undergone lingering rounds of severe pain, from which death would have proved a seasonable deliverance. You might live till your breasts were pierced with many a wound from public calamities or private sorrows, You might live till you beheld the death of all whom you had loved, till you survived all those who love you; till you were left as desolate strangers on earth in the midst of a new race, who neither knew you, nor cared for you, but who wished you off the stage. Of a nature so ambiguous are all the prospects which life sets before us, that in every wish we form relating to them, much reason we have to be satisfied that our times are in the hands of God, rather than our own.
THIS consideration is greatly strengthened, when, in the last place, we think of God acting, not as a Sovereign only, but as a guardian, in the disposal of our times. This is our great consolation in looking forward to futurity. To God as a wise Ruler, calm submission is due; but it is more than submission that belongs to him. as a merciful father; it is the spirit of cordial and affectionate consent to his will, Unknown to us as the times to come are, it should be sufficient to our full repose that they are known to God. The day and the hour which are fixed in his counsels for our dismission from life, we ought to be persuaded are fixed for the best; and that any longer we should not wish to remain.
When we see that last hour drawing nigh, though our spirits may be composed on our own account, yet, on account of our friends and families, no little anxiety and sorrow may be sometimes apt to take possession of the mind. Long we have enjoyed the comfort of their society, and been accustomed to consider them as parts of curselves. To be parted from them for
ever is, at any rate, a bitter thought; but SERMON to the bitterness of this, is over and above added the apprehension of their suffering much by our death. We leave many a relation, perhaps may leave young children, and a helpless family, behind us, to be exposed to various dangers, and thrown forth on an unfriendly world. Such virtuous anxieties often oppress the tender and feeling heart at the closing periods of life. My brethren, look up to that God, in whose hand the times of of your fathers were; in whose hand the times of your posterity shall be. Recollect, for your comfort, the experience of ages. When were the righteous utterly forsaken by God in times past? Why should they be forsaken by him in times to come? Well did he govern the world before you had a being in it: Well shall he continue to govern it after you are no more. No cause have you, therefore, to oppress your minds. with the load of unknown futurity. Commit your cares to a father in heaven. Surrender your life, your friends, and your family, to that God who hath said, The children of his servants shall continue, and
SERMON their seed shall be established before him *. Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me t.
I HAVE thus shewn what the import is, and what the improvement should be, of the doctrine of the text, that our times are in the hand of God. It asserts a fact, the truth of which can be called in question by none; a fact which, whether persons have any sentiments of religion or not, is calculated to make a serious impression on every mind; especially at seasons when the revolution of years gives us warning that our duration on earth is measured, and advances towards its period. To persons who are religiously disposed, who study to improve life to its proper purposes, to do their duty towards God and man, and through the merits of their Redeemer to obtain grace and favour from Heaven, the doctrine of the text is still more important. Among them it tends to awaken impressions which are not only serious, but, as I