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and circumstances we are placed in in the world, is likewise to strive with our Maker. For,

If God be the great disposer of all things, and allots to every one his proper station, and dispenses of the good things of this life in such a measure as his divine wisdom sees expedient for every one; whoever is uneasy and dissatisfied with what he has received, and thinks himself hardly dealt by, and is full of envy and complaints, this man struggles with his Maker's providence, as if resolved not to cease his murmurings till he had wearied God into a compliance with his desires.

So that in this case we have a creature contending with his Creator about the share he should have in the distributions of his bounty.

Our great and good Creator (who, having made us what we are, may certainly be supposed to know best what will be most conducive to our happiness) does graciously assure us, that upon condition of our obedience and quiet submission to his will, we shall want no manner of thing that is good for us ; and we may depend upon it, that however cross and disagreeable things may appear to us at present, if we trust and rely upon him, all shall conspire together for our good : and in this persuasion he would have us be easy, and rest entirely satisfied with his conduct and disposals.

But we, on the contrary, as believing ourselves to be the best judges of what will make us happy, because things do not answer our expectations, and fall out otherwise than we would have them, dislike our portion, and charge God with a partial affection, and declare, that without such and such alterations in our circumstances we cannot be content.

So that we plainly see what discontent amounts to; namely, a most ungrateful and unbecoming dispute with our all-wise and good Creator, and most bountiful Benefactor, whether he deals well and kindly with us or no; and whether we or he knows best what state of life is most convenient for us; and a struggle and a strife between us, whose will shall be accomplished, ours or his.

Thirdly, to be impatient under what troubles and afflictions we meet with in the world is to strive and contend with our Maker, and, in effect, to throw very vile reflections upon him.

If we believe (as what Christian is there but does or should ?) that there is an invisible divine hand, that prepares and gives to us the bitter, but wholesome cup of affliction, and manages the rod which makes us smart; all impatience under it, and restless rolling of our thoughts, like the billows of a troubled sea, is no other than a direct charging of God, as if he found occasions against us, as Elihu expresses it in the Book of Job, and, as it were, singled us out as the unhappy objects of his unusual and unreasonable severity. It is in a rage to turn again, as if injuriously dealt by, and to upbraid God with a tyrannical exercise of his power over


It is true, there are very many troubles, and very great ones too, which we bring upon ourselves, and in which Providence has no other than a permissive hand ; and which, by consequence, can by no means be reasonably charged upon God: and therefore our impatience under these cannot be called a striving with our Maker, but is rather a just lashing of our own folly, by such reflections as are due to our

past ill conduct; and is a remorse very near of kin to that which wicked spirits feel in hell. But as for those afflictions which come from God, and which may easily be distinguished from all others, our murmurings and impatience under them is plainly, as was said, a falling foul upon the Author of our being, for barbarous, cruel treatment of us ; and is just like the strugglings of a rebellious child against his parent's kind corrections, and with clamorous outcries flying in his face at every stroke. .

Finally, to be regardless of the checks of our own consciences, and the good motions to a better life, which we often find within us, and stubborn and refractory to the guidance of the ministers of religion; this also is to contend and strive with our Maker.

For conscience is God's vicegerent in the soul, and by its inward chidings or applauses gives us to understand what is pleasing or displeasing to him; and therefore to be deaf to the reports of our consciences, and to endeavour to silence and stifle them when they would do their office, is, in effect, to resolve to be insensible to all religious obligations, and to remove far from us whatever would remind us of our duty to our Maker, as being fully purposed to go on without control, in a course of opposition against him.

And as for the impression of holy thoughts upon our minds by the good Spirit of God, those inward persuasives to a progressive piety which we often feel, and which are designed to excite and quicken up our sluggish religion, and enliven our dying devotion, and lead us on with spirit and vigour in the paths that will bring us to eternal life; it is plain, that whoever slights and disregards them, and does not rather make it his business to cherish and improve them, much more who endeavours to rid his mind of them with all the speed he can: it is plain, I say, that these men resist and grieve the holy Spirit of God, and refuse their hand to that divine guide, whom their Maker and their Saviour has sent to direct and conduct them to heaven; and with brutish obstinacy resolve to go on in the way they fancy best.

And for the same reason, to be stubborn and untractable to the pious advices of the ministers of religion, and to despise their admonitions and reproofs, is really no other than to slight and disregard the directions, and oppose ourselves to the government of God himself.

St. Paul assures us, that to them the merciful God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, hath committed the ministry of reconciliation ; so that they are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by them: they pray you in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to Godb.

Now the treatment of an ambassador is always looked upon as the treatment of the prince that sends him; and what slights, abuses, or neglects are put upon him, are resented as done to the majesty of the sovereign prince. So that lawful ministers of holy things, acting by virtue of an express commission from the King of heaven, to refuse compliance with, and an awful, obedient regard to, the messages they bring, the offers they make, and the duties they require in their great Master's name, is no other than to deal in the same manner by the great God himself: for he that despiseth you despiseth me, (says Christ to his apostles, and their successors in the work of the ministry,) and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

b 2 Cor. v. 18, &c.

And thus much for the first particular, which was to shew what it is to strive with our Maker, and who they are that do so. The next thing to be done is,

To shew the extreme vileness and folly of so doing. But before I proceed to this, I shall make this one remark upon what has been already said, viz. that besides the vileness of any kind of wickedness and vice, upon account of its own peculiar turpitude and unreasonableness, and ill tendency, and the like, there is this superadded as the highest aggravation of it, and which leaves it utterly without excuse, that it is a rebellious opposition to the Author of our being, a striving against and contending with our Maker, and refusing to submit to and obey his will. And what can be pretended in excuse for this ?

We are all very apt to palliate and lessen, what is ill in us, and ready enough of invention for that purpose: a man that is lewd and extravagant will plead heat of youth, the difficulties of religion, the strength of temptations, and will lay the blame, it may be, upon a careless education, or the ill example of those he has conversed and was brought up with; and, in conclusion, will make use of the common saying, “ that the worst is to himself, and he is “nobody's enemy but his own.” The discontented will urge the hardships they undergo, under which none can be easy that carry flesh and blood about

c Luke x. 16.

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