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any great matter, i Cor. ix. Il. but the discharge of a plain and ne ceffary duty.
5. Inference. Let not your hearts be satisfied with all the success and increase of the world, except your souls thrive as well as your bodies, and your eternal concerns profper as well as your temporal. It was a pious wilh of St John for Gaius his hoft, “ That he might « profper, and be in health, even as his soul prospered,” 3 Epift. John, ver. 2. But it were to be wished, that your souls did but profper as your bodies and estates do. It is a poor comfort to have an increasing estate, and a dead and declining foul. When a confiderable present was sent to Luther, he earnestly protested, God should not put him off with these things. O friends! I beseech you take not up in these enjoyments !
6. Inférence. Lastly, If God be the author of all your success, how prodigious an evil is it to make your prosperity an instrument of difhonouring him that gave it ; to abuse the estates providence gives you, to rioting and drunkenness? Do you thus requite the Lord ! is this the thanks you give him for all his care over you! and kindness to you ! you would never be able to bear that from another, which God bears from you. If God do you good, O do not return him evil for it!
LUKE v. 5. : • Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing. THESE words are the reply made by Peter unto Christ, who,
I in the former verse, had commanded him to “ launch out in« to the deep, and let down the nets for a draught.” Peter is difcouraged as to any farther attempt at that time, having already taken so much pains to so little purpose : “ We have (faith he) toiled « all the night, and have taken nothing." In which reply we note these two things :
1. The great pains he and his company had taken in their honest calling and employment to get a livelihood ;.“ We have toiled all the " night.” No calling more lawful, no diligence in an honest employment could be greater ; not only to spend the night, when other law · Vol. V.
KOMPLETANTE Tere was they toiled, a fruitle
bourers take their rest, in watching, but in toiling. The * word XOTIWAYTES comes from a verb that fignifies wasting, tiring, spending, labour. Here was great diligence, even to the wearying and wasting of their spirits : « They toiled, and that all the night." .
2. The unsuccessfulness and fruitlessness of their labours, they caught nothing. Though their delign was hondít, and their industry great, yet it fucceeded not according to their desire and expectations: it proved but lost labour and pains to no purpose. Hence the note will be, Doct. That God sometimes frultrates and blafls the most diligent labours
of men, in their juft and lawful callings. What employment more honest, or laborious, than that of the husbandman, who eats his bread in the sweat of his brow, and fustains all that spending toil and labour, by an expectation of fruit in the feason? And yet sometimes it fo falls out, that after all his labours and hopes, 'he reaps nothing but name and disappointment. Joel i. 11. « Be astonished, 0 ye husbandmen: Howl, o ye vine$6 dressers, for the wheat, and for the barley, because the barvest of " the field is perished.”
The employment of the mariner is as lawful as it is beneficial; what he gets, is gotten with imminent hazard of life and liberty, 25 well as watchings and labours ; and yet it fo falls out, sometimes, that they labour but for the wind, and spend their strength for very vanity : God cuts off their expectations and lives together. There is a time when they return rich and prosperous, and a time when they either return empty, or return no more. So it was with Tyre, that renowned mart, and famous empory; the flourishing and fail of whose trade you have in Ezek. xxvii. 33. 34. “ When thy wares " went forth out of the seas, thou filledst many people; thou didit " enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches, and « of thy merchandise.” Here was their prosperity and success; but will this day always last ? Shall the fun of their prosperity never let ! No; the change was at hand; for in the next verse the scene alters. “ In the day when thou shalt be broken by the seas, in the depths “ of the waters, thy merchandise, and all thy company in the 56 midst of thee, shall fall."
Now if we search into the grounds and reasons of these disappointments by the hand of providence, we shall find them reducible to 2 threefold cause and reason.
1. The sovereign pleasure of God fo disposes it.
First, The sovereign pleafure of God fo difpofes it. He is the Rector of the universe, and as such will still affert his dominion. " is his pleasure to establish this order in the world, to exalt fome, and
of the peor men in their calline pofes it. Hens. It
* Konw lignifies when one lics down wearied at the end of his work.
depress others; to fet some above, and others below: all must not be rich and great, but fome must be poor and low, and to these ends providences are suited : On some it smiles, on others it frowns : 1 Sam. i. 7. “ The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich; he bring" eth low, and lifteth up.” And certainly there is much of Divine wisdom (hining forth in this ordination and disposition of persons and their conditions. It providence had alike prospered every man's designs, and set them upon a level, there had been no occafion to exs ercise the rich man's charity, or the poor man's patience. Nay, without frequent disappointments, providence itself would scarcely be own. ed in successes, nor these successes be half so sweet to them that receive them, as now they are. The very beauty of providence confifts much in these various and contrary effects : So that with respect to the infinite Wisdom which governs the world, it is necessary fome should be crossed, and others prosper in their designs.
Secondly, And if we consider the gracious ends and deligns of God towards his own people, it appears needful that all of them, in some things, and many of them in most things (relating to their outward condition in this world) should be fruttrated in their expectations and contrivances. For if all things here should succeed according to their with, and a constant 'tide of prosperity should attend them,
1. How foon would sensuality and earthlinet, invade their hearts and affections? Much prosperity, like the pouring in of much wine, intoxicates, and overcomes our weak heads and hearts*. Earthly, as well as heavenly, objects, have a transforming efficacy in them; there cannot but be much danger in those earthly things that give or promise us much delight. Can a Christian keep his heart as loose from the smiling, as from the frowning world? We little think how deeply it infinuates into our affections in the day of prosperity ; but when adversity comes, then we find it.
2. How soon would it estrange them from their God, and interrupt their communion with him? He is certainly a very mortified and heavenly Christian, whose walk with God suffers no interruption by the multitude of carthly affairs, especially when they are prosper. ous. When Israel was settled in the midst of the riches and delights of Canaan, then say they, (even to their Benefactor, the Author of all their prosperity) “ We are lords, we will come no more to thee," Jer. ii. 31. Or, if it do not wholly interrupt their communion, yet secretly destroys and wastes the vigour, life, and sweetness of it. So that Divine Wisdom sees it necessary to cross and disappoint them in the world, to prevent the mischievous influences that prosperity would have upon their duties. . He had rather you should miss your desired comforts in these things, than that he should miss that dem lightful fellowship with you, which he so defires.
3. How loth should we be to leave this world, if constant success and
• Luxuriant animi rebus plerumque fecundis. la prosperous times, our mind oft wanton growi.
prosperity should follow our affairs and designs here? we see that notwithstanding all the cares, fears, forrows, crosses, wants, and disappointments we meet with from year to year, and from day to day; yet we are apt to hug the world in our bofonis. As bitter as it is, we court it, admire it, and zealously profecute it. We cling to it, and are loth to leave it, though we have little rest or comfort in it. What could we do then, if it should answer our expectation and desires ? If we grasp with pleasure a thorn that pierces and wounds us; what would we do if it were a rose that had nothing but delight and pleasure in it?
Thirdly, And as disappointments fall out as the effects of sovereign pleasure, and are ordered as preventive means of such mischief, which prosperity would occasion to the people of God; so it comes as a righteous retribution and punishment of the many evils that are committed in our trading and dealings with men. It is a hard thing to have much business pass through our hands, and no iniquity cleave to thein and detile them. If God be provoked against us by our iniquities, wonder not that things go cross to our desires and hopes. God may suffer some men to prosper in their wickedness, and others to miscarry in their just and righteous "enterprizes"; but ordinarily we find that crying fins are remarkably punished, sooner or later, with visible judgments. So that if others do not, yet we ourselves may observe the relation that such a judgment bears to such a sin.
And, from among many, I will here select thefe following evils, which have destroyed the estates and hopes of many."
(1.) Irreligious and atheistical neglect and contempt of God and his worship, especially in those that have been enlightened, and made profeflion of religion.' This was the fin which brought that blasting judgment upon the estates and labours of the Jews, as the prophet Haggai tells them, chap. i. ver. 2; 4, 6, 9. compared ; « They neglected the house of God;" i. e, were careless and regardless of his worship, and, in the mean time, were wholly intent upon their own houses and interests, as he tells them in ver. 2, 4. And what was the issue of this ? Why, ruin to all their earthly comforts and designs. So he tells them, ver. 6, 9 “ Ye have fown much, « and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough ; ye drink, but I " ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none 1 " warm; and he that earneth wagos, doth it to put it into a bag with “ holes. Ye looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and when " ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why, faith the Lord of " hosts? Because of mine house that is waste ; and ye turn every
man unto his own house." Here are great and manifold disappointments of their hopes, a curse, a blast upon all they took in hand; and the procuring cause of all this was their eager profecution of the world, in a careless disregard of God and his fèrvice.
(2.) Injustice and fraud is a blasting lin. A little unjust gain mingled with a great estate, will consume it like a moth. The Spirit
of God bath used a very lively finilitude to represent to us the mischievous effects of this fin upon all human diligence and industry. Jer. xvii. 11. “ As the partridge fitteth upon eggs, and hatcheth them - not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave "them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.”
Unjust gain, how long foever men fit brooding upon it, shall after all their fedulity and expectation, turn to no other account than a fowl's fitting upon a neft of addle-eggs uses to do : if she fit till the have pined away herself to death, nothing is produced.
You think you consult the interest of your families herein, but the Lord tells you, « That you consult shame to your houses,” Hab. ii. 10. This is not the way to feather, but to fire your'nest. A quiet conscience is infinitely better than a full purse; one dish of wholefome, though coarser food, is better than an hundred delicate, but poisoned dishes. If a man have eaten the best food in the world, and afterwards fips but a little poison, he loseth not only the benefit and comfort of that which was good, but his life or health to boot. It may be, you have gotten much honestly; what pity is it all this good should be destroyed for the sake of a little gotten dishonestly? This is the reason why some men cannot prosper. . .
(3.) Oppression is a blasting sin to some men's estates and employments. It is a crying fin in the ears of the Lord, and ordinarily intails a visible curse upon men's estates; this, like a moth, will suddenly fret and consume the greatest estate. Jam. v. 2, 4. “ Your riches " are corrupted, and your garments moth-eaten;" i. e. The secret'curse of God wastes and destroys what you get. And what was the caufe? He tells us, ver. 4. « Behold the hire of the labourers that have reap« ed down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; “ and the cries of them which have reaped, are entered into the " ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”
The oppression of poor labourers doth more mischief to the oppreffors, than it doth to them that are oppressed. It is noted by * one upon this scripture, that it is twice repeated in this text, “ Which “ have reaped your fields ;” and then again, The cry of them which « have reaped :" and the reason is, because it is their life, and so an act of the greatest unmercifulness; and besides, they are disappointed of the folace of their labours. Deut. xxiv. 14, 15. “ He hath set “ his heart upon it ;" i. e. he comforts himself in the toils and labours of the day, by reckoning upon his wages at the end of the day.
I with those that are owners and employers of poor seamen, may seasonably consider this evil: what a woe is denounce 1 upon him “ that useth his neighbour's service without wages !” Jer. xxii. 13. Or that by crafty pretences defrauds them of any part thereof, or by tiresome delays wears out their patience, and casts them upon manifold sufferings and inconveniencies while they wait for it. God hath
* Manton in loc.