bear to be, in some respects, inferior to others? I might as well be discontented, because I am not made glorious as an angel, as because I am not in all respects equal to my neighbour. What I have is derived from GoD and all the privileges another enjoyeth are given by heaven. Shall my eye be evil, because that of GOD is good? To envy, is to grieve at his disposals, and to murmur at his appointments. It will be more devout to approve of what God hath done: it will be more generous to look with complacency, nay thankfulness, on the fuperior abilities and excellencies of others, as difplaying the divine benevolence, and conducive to the public good. This will turn the gifts which we do not actually poffefs into a fource of self-enjoyment: and, in the very instances wherein others have the advantage over us, it will make us, to a degree, partakers of their felicity.§

Thirdly. This fubject teacheth us a leffon of humility. Some understand our text as an

§ Since the above discourse was composed, the author has met with the like fentiment in a Roman Claffic. "Neque enim ego (ut multi) invideo aliis bonum quo ipfe careo: fed contra fenfum quendam voluptatemque percipio, fi ea quæ mihi denegantur, amicis video fupereffe."-Plinii Epift. 1. 1. Ep. 10.

apology, or reason, which John the Baptift offered to his difciples, why he did not affume higher claims, and enter into a competition with CHRIST. As if he had faid, "Ye are much mistaken, if ye think that I "aim at fuch honour and efteem, as not to "bear the glory, and submit to the authority, "of a fuperior. I cannot exceed my com"miffion, nor pretend to have more power and

authority than God hath given me.”* The words, certainly, indicate the juft fentiments which John had of his own character and miffion; and fhew that he was not difpofed to think of himself more highly than he ought to have thought, but foberly, as God had affigned to him the miniftry and powers of the Meffiah's forerunner. The words further express the principles upon which thefe right and just fentiments of himself were founded, viz. that all our powers and abilities are received from GoD, and our rank in life affigned by the fupreme providence of heaven.

These are principles which ought, and which, if imbibed in earnest, and felt, will keep us humble, and hide pride from us. We are

Dr. Clark's Paraphrafe.

[ocr errors]

only the creatures of the divine will. Whatever are our endowments, whatever are our stations, whatever honour and glory mark our walk in life, all must be traced to the original good-will, to the prefiding providence of GOD, to his continual energy and direction. We have nothing which we did not receive from Him. It is not owing to any independent powers that we become wife, rich, or great. The advantages of life once enjoyed, we cannot affure to ourselves the continuance of them. What ground is there then for boasting? What plea for our being elated with our own fuperiority and excellence? Though we cannot but perceive our fuperiority, if we be rich, over them that are poor; or, if we have made a proficiency in knowledge, over the illiterate; or, if we have made righteousness our purfuit, over the avowedly vicious; yet what just ground for pride, and a vain complacency in a man's own excellencies, doth this fuperiority minifter? For when they are referred to their proper and original fource, that, whatever have been our virtuous and laudable exertions, is not in ourselves, but in God; " of whom, through whom, and

[ocr errors]

to whom are all things." The only language which becometh us is fuch as the apostle Paul ufed. "By the grace of GOD I am what I "am: and his grace, which was bestowed ec upon me, was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, "but the grace of God, which was with me." This brings me to obferve,

Lastly, This subject teacheth us, to whom our gratitude is principally due; and on whom our chief dependence must rest. To that Being is our gratitude due, on Him fhould our dependence be placed, in whom "are all our fprings." From God the greatest receive their abilities for service, and by Him are fixed in the spheres of usefulness and influence in which they move. Whatever talents we poffefs, they are his gifts. It becometh us, then, to acknowledge Him as the author of all.

Reflect, Chriftians, and confider what you have received from the fountain of blifs, the great, bevevolent Difpenfer of all advantages and abilities; and let the furvey warm your hearts with gratitude, and fill your mouths

I Cor. xv. 10.

with his praife. Health, food, raiment, friends, fuccefs, capacities for fervice, every degree of usefulness and influence, reason, knowledge, and the gofpel; the bleffings of the present and those of the past moment, the goods of this life, and all spiritual blessings in heavenly things, in whatever proportion they are enjoyed, are fo many calls to gratitude, fo many incentives to joy and confidence in GOD. When you think on what you poffefs, and what you are taught to expect, from the riches of the divine goodness, can you help admiring the beneficence and condefcenfion of that Being, by whom you are what you are, and from whom you look for future felicity and glory? Can you live unmindful and regardless of the GOD of your lives, and your mercies, and your bleffings?



Your conftant dependance upon Him for every thing is a conftant obligation to trust and prayer. "If a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven ;' from whence should he seek the bleffings he wants, or the gifts which may render him worthy, useful, and refpectable, but from heaven? On that beneficent Power, with

« ForrigeFortsett »