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THE WISDOM OF GOD IN HIS PROVIDENCE.
Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.—1 Peter v. 7.
AMONGST the several duties which, towards the conclusion of this Epistle, the apostle exhorts Christians to, this is one not to be over-much solicitous and concerned about what may befal us, but to refer ourselves to the providence of God, which takes care of us. In speaking to this argument, I shall,
I. Consider the nature of the duty here required, which is, to cast our care upon God.
II. The argument used to persuade us to it: because he careth for us.
I. For the nature of the duty here required. The word μέριμνα signifies an anxious care about events, a care that is accompanied with trouble and disquiet of mind about what may befal us; about the good that we hope for and desire, or about the evil which we fear may come upon us. This the apostle exhorts us to throw off; and to leave to the providence of God, and his care, all those events which we are apt to be so solicitous and disquieted about. The expression seems to be taken out of Psal. lv. 22. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”
Now that we may not mistake our duty in this matter, I shall shew what is not here meant by 439casting all our care upon God; and then, what is meant by it.
The apostle cloth not here intend to take men off from a provident care and diligence about the concernments of this life; this is not only contrary to reason, but to many express precepts and passages of Scripture, wherein diligence is recommended to us, and the blessing of God, and the good success of our affairs promised thereto; wherein we are commanded to provide for those of our family, which cannot be done without some sort of care; and wherein slothfulness and negligence are condemned and threatened with poverty; so that this is not to cast our care upon God, to take no care of ourselves, to use no diligence and endeavour for the obtaining of the good which we desire, and the prevention of the evil we fear; this is to tempt the providence of God, and to cast that burthen upon him, which he expects we should bear ourselves.
But by casting our care upon God, the apostle intends these two things:
1. That after all prudent care and diligence have been used by us, we should not be farther solicitous, nor trouble ourselves about the event of things, which, when we have done all we can, will be out of our power. And this, certainly, is our Saviour’s meaning, when he bids us “take no care for the morrow.” When we have done what is fit for us for the present to do, we should not disquiet and torment ourselves about the issue and event of things.
2. Casting our care upon God, implies, that we should refer the issue of things to his providence, which is continually vigilant over us, and knows how to dispose all things to the best; entirely confiding in his wisdom and goodness, that he will order 440all things for our good, and in that confidence resolving to rest satisfied and contented with the disposals of his providence, whatever they be.
You see, then, the nature of the duty which the apostle here exhorts to; viz. That after all prudent care and diligence have been used on our parts, we should not be disquieted in our minds about the event of things, but leave them to God, who hath the care of us, and of all our concernments. Which is the
II. Second thing I proposed to speak to, and which I intend chiefly to insist upon; viz. The argument which the apostle here useth to persuade us to this duty, of casting all our care upon God, because it is he that careth for us: and this implies in it these two things:
1. In general, that the providence of God governs the world, and concerns itself in the affairs of men, and disposeth of all events that happen to us.
2. More particularly, that this providence is peculiarly concerned for good men, and that he takes a special care of them and their concerns; “He careth for you.” The apostle speaks this to them, not only as men, but as Christians. And thus the Psalmist, from whom these words seem to be taken, does apply and limit this promise; “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
1. That God taketh care of us, implies in general, that the providence of God governs the world, and concerns itself in the affairs of men, and disposeth of all events that happen to us. I shall not now enter upon a large proof of the providence of God; that is too large and intricate an argument for a short discourse, and hath a great 441deal of nicety and difficulty in it; and though it be a fundamental principle of religion, and hath been almost generally entertained and believed by mankind, and that upon very good reason; yet because the vindication of many particular appearances of Providence does, in a great measure, depend upon a full view and comprehension of the whole design, therefore we must necessarily refer ourselves for full satisfaction, as to several difficulties and objections, to the other world, when we shall see God’s works, together with the relation of every part to the whole design, and then many particular passages, which may now seem odd and crooked, as we look upon them by themselves, will, in relation to the whole, appear to have a great deal of reason and regularity in them.
Therefore I shall at present only briefly, and in the general shew that it is very credible, that there is a wise Providence that governs the world, and interests itself in the affairs of men, and disposeth of all events which happen to us.
And I desire it may be observed in the entrance upon this argument, that the handling of this question concerning Providence, doth suppose the being of God, and that he made the world, as principles already known and granted, before we come to dispute of his providence; for it would be vain to argue about the providence of God, with those who question his being, and whether the world was made by him: but supposing these two principles, I that God is, and that he made the world, it is very i credible that he should take care of the government of it, and especially of one of the noblest parts of it, the race of mankind. For we cannot believe, I that he, who employed so much power and wisdom 442in the raising of this great and magnificent pile, and furnishing every part of it with such variety of creatures, so exquisitely and so wisely fitted for the use and service of one another, should, so soon as he had perfected it, forsake his own workmanship, and take no further care of it; especially considering that it is no trouble and disquiet to him, either to take notice of what is done here below, or to interpose for the regulating of any disorders that may happen; for infinite knowledge, and wisdom, and power, can do this with all imaginable ease, knows all things, and can do all things, without any disturbance of its own happiness.
And this hath always been the common apprehension of mankind, that God knows all things, and observes every thing that is done in the world, and, when he pleaseth, interposes in the affairs of it. It is true, indeed, the Epicureans did deny that God either made the world or governs it; and, therefore, wise men always doubted whether they did indeed believe the being of God, or not; but being unwilling to incur the danger of so odious an opinion, they were content, for fashion sake, to own his being, provided they might take away the best and most substantial arguments for the proof of it. The rest of the philosophers owned a Providence, at least a general Providence, that took care of great and more important matters, but did not descend to a constant and particular care of every person, and every little event belonging to them: Interdum curiosus singulorum, says Tully; “Now and then, when he pleases, he takes care of particular persons, and their lesser concernments;” but many of them thought that God did generally neglect the smaller and more inconsiderable affairs of the world, Dii 443minora negligunt neque agellos singulorum et viticulas persequuntur, “The gods overlook smaller matters, and do not mind every man’s little field and vine.” Such imperfect apprehensions had they of the providence of God. And though they would seem hereby to consult the dignity and ease of the Deity, by exempting him from the care and trouble of lesser matters, yet, in truth and reality, they cast a dishonourable reflection upon him, as if it were a burthen to infinite knowledge, and power, and goodness, to take care of every thing.
But now, Divine revelation hath put this matter out of doubt, by assuring us of God’s particular care of all persons and events. Our Saviour tells us, that God’s providence extends to the least and most inconsiderable creatures; to the grass of the field, “which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven.” (Matt. vi. 30.) To the fowls of the air, and that to the least of them, even to the sparrows, two of which are “sold for a farthing, and yet not one of them falleth to the ground” without God. (Matt. x. 29.) Much more doth the providence of God extend to men, which are creatures far more considerable, and to the very least thing that belongs to us, to the very hairs of our head, “which are all numbered;” the lowest instance that can be thought on.
So that the light of nature owns a more general Providence; and Divine revelation hath rectified those imperfect apprehensions which men had about it, and hath satisfied us, that it extends itself to all particulars, and even to the least things and most inconsiderable. And this is no ways incredible, considering the infinite perfection of the Divine nature, in respect of which, God can with as much and 444greater ease take care of every thing, than we can do of any one thing; and the belief of this is the great foundation of religion. Men, therefore, pray to God for the good they want, and to be freed from the evils they fear, because they believe that he al ways regards and hears them. Men, therefore, make conscience of their duty, because they believe God observes them, and will reward and punish their good and evil deeds. So that, take away the providence of God, and we pull down one of the main pillars upon which religion stands; we rob ourselves of one of the greatest comforts and best refuges in the afflictions and calamities of this life, and of all our hopes of happiness in the next.
And though there be many disorders in the world, especially in the affairs of man, the most irregular and intractable piece of God’s creation; yet this is far from being a sufficient objection against the providence of God, if we consider that God made man a free creature, and capable of abusing his liberty, and intends this present life for a state of trial in order to another, where men shall receive the just recompence of their actions here; and then if we consider, that many of the evils and disorders which God permits to happen, are capable of being over-ruled by him to a greater good, and are made many times to serve wise and excellent purposes, and that the providence of God does sometimes visibly and remarkably interpose, for the prevention and remedy of great disorders and confusions; I say, considering all this, it is no blemish to the Divine Providence, to permit many of those irregularities which are in the world, and suffer the fates of good and bad men to be so cross and unequal in this life. For supposing another life after this, 445wherein men shall come to an account, and every man shall receive the just recompence of his actions, there will then be a proper season and full opportunity of setting all things straight, and no man shall have reason then, either to glory in his wickedness, or to complain of his sufferings in this world. This is the first, that God’s providence governs the world, and interests itself in the affairs of men, and disposeth of all events that happen to them; and this is a very good reason why we should cast our particular cares upon him, who hath undertaken the government of the whole.
2. The providence of God is more peculiarly concerned for good men, and he takes a more particular and especial care of them. The apostle speaks this to Christians, “Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” And this David limits in a more particular manner to good men: “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
The providence of God many times preserves good men from those evils which happen to others, and, by a peculiar and remarkable interposition, rescues them out of those calamities which it suffers others to fall into; and God many times blesseth good men with remarkable prosperity and success in their affairs. To which purpose there are innumerable declarations and promises in the Holy Scriptures, so well known, that I shall not trouble you with the recital of them.
Notwithstanding which, it cannot be denied, that good men fall into many evils, and are harassed with great afflictions in this world: but then the providence of God usually ordereth it so, that they are armed with great patience to bear them, and find 446great comfort and support under them, and make better use and improvement of them than others; so that one way or other they turn to their advantage. So the apostle assures us, (Rom. viii. 28.) “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” All the evils and afflictions which happen to good men, conspire one way or other to the promoting of their happiness, many times in this world, to be sure they make a great addition to it in the other. So the same apostle tells us, (2 Cor. iv. 17, 18.) “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, whilst we look not,” &c. And can we say God’s providence neglects us, when he rewards our temporal sufferings with eternal glory? when, through many hardships and tribulations, he at last brings us to a kingdom? Was Joseph neglected by God, when, by a great deal of hard usage and a long imprisonment, he was raised to the highest dignity in a great kingdom? Or rather, was not the providence of God very remarkable towards him, in making those sufferings so many steps to his glory, and the occasion of his advancement? And is not God’s providence towards good men as kind and as remarkable, in bringing them to an infinitely better and more glorious kingdom, by tribulation and sufferings; and making “our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, to work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory?”
Thus you see what is implied in God’s care of us in general; that he governs the world, and disposeth all events; and particularly, that he is peculiarly concerned for good men, and takes a more especial care of them. Let us now see of what force this 447consideration is, to persuade to the duty enjoined in the text, to cast all your care upon God; that is, after all prudent care and diligence hath been used on our part, not to he anxious and solicitous about the event of things, but to leave that to God. Now this consideration, that God cares for us, should be an argument to us, to cast all our care upon him, upon these two accounts:
1. Because if God cares for us, our concernments are in the best and safest hands.
2. Because all our anxiety and solicitude will do us no good.
1. Because if God cares for us, our concernments are in the best and safest hands, and where we should desire to have them; infinitely safer than under any care and conduct of our own. And this ought to be a great satisfaction to our minds, and to free us from all disquieting thoughts: for if God undertakes the care of us, then we are sure that nothing shall happen to us, but by the disposal or permission of infinite wisdom and goodness. There are many things, indeed, which to us seem chance and accident; but in respect of God, they are providence and design; they may appear to happen by chance, or may proceed from the ill-will and malicious intent of second causes, but they are all wisely designed; and as they are appointed or permitted by God, they are the result of the deepest counsel, and the greatest goodness. And can we wish that we and our concernments should be in better or safer hands, than of infinite power and wisdom, in conjunction with infinite love and goodness? And if we be careful to do our duty, and to demean ourselves towards God as we ought, we may rest assured of his love mid care of us; and if we do in 448good earnest believe the providence of God, we can not but think that he hath a peculiar regard to those that love and serve him, and that he will take a peculiar care of their concernments, and that he can and will dispose them better for us, than we could manage them ourselves, if we were left to ourselves, and our affairs were put into the hands of our own counsel.
Put the case we had the entire ordering and disposal of ourselves, what were reasonable for us to do in this case? We would surely, according to our best wisdom and judgment, do the best we could for ourselves; and when, upon experience of our own manifold ignorance and weakness, we had found our weightiest affairs and designs frequently to miscarry, for want of foresight, or power, or skill to obviate and prevent the infinite hazards and disappointments which human affairs are liable to, we should then look about us; and if we knew any person much wiser, and more powerful than ourselves, who we believed did heartily love us, and wish well to us, we would out of kindness to ourselves, ask his counsel in our affairs, and crave his assistance; and if we could prevail with him to undertake the care of our concernments, we would commit them all to his conduct and government, in confidence of his great wisdom and good-will to us.
Now God is such an one; he loves us as well as we do ourselves, and desires our happiness as much, and knows infinitely better than we do, what means are most conducing to it, and will most effectually secure it. And every man that believes thus of God (as every man must do, that believes there is a God, for these are the natural and essential notions which all men have of the Deity); I say, every man that 449believes thus of God, the first thing he would do (if he knew not already that God had voluntarily, and of his own accord, undertaken the care of him and of his affairs) would be to apply himself to God, and to beseech him with all earnestness and importunity, that he would permit him to refer his concernments to him, and be pleased to undertake the care of them; and he would, without any demur or difficulty, give up himself wholly to him, to guide and govern him, and to dispose of him as to him should seem best.
Now if God have prevented us herein, and with out our desire taken this care upon himself, we ought to rejoice in it, as the greatest happiness that could possibly have befallen us; and we should, without any farther care and anxiety, using our own best diligence, and studying to please him, cheer fully leave ourselves in his hands, with the greatest confidence and security, that he will do all that for us which is really best; and with a firm persuasion that that condition, and those circumstances of life which he shall choose for us, will be no other but the very same which we would choose for ourselves, if we were as wise as he.
And it is so natural for men to think thus of God, that the very heathen poet had the same idea of him, and upon that ground, adviseth us to commit all our concernments to him.
Permittes ipsis expemlere miminibus quid
Conveniat nobis, rebusqne sit utile nostris;
Nam pro jucundis, aptissima quaeque dabunt dii;
Charior est illis homo, quant sibi.
“Leave it (says he) to the wiser gods, to consider and determine what is fittest for thee, and most for 450thy advantage; and though they do not always give thee what thou desirest, and that which pleaseth thee best, yet they will give that which is most fit and convenient for thee; for man is more dear to the gods, than he is to himself.” Not much different from this, is the Divine counsel of Solomon: (Prov. iii. 5, 6.) “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” It is considerable who it is that gives this advice: the wisest of the sons of men; and yet he adviseth to trust in God for direction, and not to lean to our understandings.
If, therefore, we be fully persuaded of God’s infinitely wise and good providence, we ought certainly to refer ourselves to him, and perfectly to acquiesce in his disposal, and to rest satisfied in whatever he does; and whatever condition he assigns to us, we ought to be contented with it; if we be not, we find fault with his wisdom, and reproach his goodness, and wish the government of the world in better hands.
So that a firm belief of the providence of God, as it would take away all anxiety concerning future events, so would it likewise silence all those murmurings and discontents, which are apt to arise in us when things fall out cross to our desires, when disasters and disappointments happen to us, and the providence of God casts us into sickness, or poverty, or disgrace. This quieted David, when he was ready to break out into murmuring at the afflictions and calamities which befel him: “I held my peace, (says he) and spake not a word, because thou, Lord, didst it.” And this, likewise, should keep us from fretting and vexing at instruments and 451second causes; to consider that the wise providence of God over-ruleth and disposed) the actions of men, and that no harm can happen to us without his permission. This consideration restrained David’s anger, under that high provocation of Shimei, when he followed him, reproaching him, and cursing him; “Let him alone; the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David.” He considered that God’s providence permitted it; and looking upon it as coming from a higher hand, this calmed his passion, and made him hear it patiently. If a man be walking in the street, and one fling water upon him, it is apt to provoke him beyond all patience: but no man is in a passion for being wet ten times as much by rain from heaven. What calamity soever befalleth us, when we consider it as coming from heaven, and ordered and permitted there, this will still and hush our passion, and make us, with Eli, to hold our peace, or only to say, “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.”
We are, indeed, liable to many things in this world, which have a great deal of evil and affliction in them, to poverty, and pain, and reproach, and restraint, and the loss of our friends and near relations; and these are great afflictions, and very cross and distasteful to us; and, therefore, when we are in danger of any of these, and apprehend them to be making towards us, we are apt to be anxious, and full of trouble; and when they befal us, we are prone to censure the providence of God, and to judge rashly concerning it, as if all things were not ordered by it for the best. But we should consider, that we are very ignorant and short-sighted creatures, and see but a little way before us, are not able to penetrate into the designs of God, and to 452look to the end of his providence. We cannot (as Solomon expresseth it) see the work of God from the beginning to the end; whereas, if we saw the whole design of Providence together, we should strangely admire the beauty and proportion of it, and should see it to be very wise and good. And that which, upon the whole matter, and in the last issue and result of things, is most for our good, is certainly best, how grievous soever it may seem for the present. Sickness caused by physic, is, many times, more troublesome for the present, than the disease we take it for; but every wise man composeth himself to bear it as well as he can, because it is in order to his health; the evils and afflictions of this life are the physic and means of cure, which the providence of God is often necessitated to make use of; and if we did trust ourselves in the hands of this great Physician, we should quietly submit to all the severities of his providence, in confidence that they would all “work together for our good.”
When children are under the government of parents, or the discipline of their teachers, they are apt to murmur at them, and think it very hard to be denied so many things which they desire, and to be constrained by severities to a great many things which are grievous and tedious to them: but the parent and the master know very well, that it is their ignorance and inconsiderateness which makes them to think so, and that when they come to years, and to understand themselves better, then they will acknowledge, that all that which gave them so much discontent, was really for their good, and that it was their childishness and folly which made them to think otherwise, and that they had, in all probability, been undone, had they been indulged 453in their humour, and permitted in every thing to have their own will; they had not wit and consideration enough to trust the discretion of their parents and governors, and to believe that even those things which were so displeasing to them, would at last tend to their good.
There is a far greater distance between the wisdom of God and men, and we are infinitely more ignorant and childish in respect of God, than our children are in respect of us; and being persuaded of this, we ought to reckon, that while we are in this world, under God’s care and discipline, it is necessary for our good, that we be restrained in many things, which we eagerly desire: and suffer many things that are grievous to us; and that when we come to heaven, and are grown up to be men, and “have put away childish thoughts,” and are come to understand things as they truly are, and not “in a riddle,” and darkness, as we now do; then “the judgment of God will break forth as the light, and the righteousness of all his dealings as the noon day;” then all the riddles of providence will be clearly expounded to us, and we shall see a plain reason for all those dispensations which were so much stumbled at, and acknowledge the great wisdom and goodness of them.
You see, then, what reason there is to refer ourselves to the providence of God, and to “cast all our care upon him,” to trust him with the administration and disposal of our concernments, and firmly to believe, that if we love God, and be careful to please him, every thing in the issue will turn to the best for us; and therefore, we should not anxiously trouble ourselves about the events of things, but resign up ourselves to the good pleasure of Him, 454who disposeth all things “according to the counsel of his will,” entirely trusting in his goodness, and in his fatherly care of us, and affection to us; that he will order all things for us for the best, referring the success of all our concernments to him, “in whose hands are all the ways of the children of men,” cheer fully submitting to his determination, and the declarations of his providence, in every case.
And this is a proper expression of our confidence in God’s wisdom and goodness, to refer things to him before the event, and to say with the Christians, (Acts xxi. 14.) “The will of the Lord be done;” because this shews that we are persuaded that God will do better for us, than our own counsel and choice; and to submit to his will after the event, is likewise a great instance of our confidence in him, and that we believe that he hath done that which is best: for when God, by his providence, declares his will in any case, we should look upon it as the sentence of a wise and just judge, in which all parties concerned ought to acquiesce, and rest fully satisfied.
And this may well be expected from us Christians, who have much greater assurance of the particular providence of God, than the heathens had; and yet some of them were able to free themselves from all trouble and anxiety, from murmuring and discontent. Upon this consideration, Epictetus (as A man tells us) would express himself thus: “I had always rather have that which happens; because I esteem that better which God wills, than that which I should will.” And again, “Lift up thine eyes (says he) with confidence to God, and say, Henceforth, Lord, deal with me as thou pleasest; ὁμιογνωμονῶ σοι, ἴσος εἰμί· I am of the same opinion 455with thee, just of the same mind that them art I refuse nothing that seems good to thee; lead me where thou wilt; clothe me with what garments thou pleasest: set me in a public place, or keep me in a private condition; continue me in mine own country, or banish me from it; bestow wealth upon me, or leave me to conflict and struggle with poverty, which of these thou pleasest; ἐγώ σοι ὑπὲρ ἁπάντων τούτων πρὸς ἀνθρωπους ἀπολογήσομαι. If men shall censure this providence towards me, and say, Thou dealest hardly with me; I will apologize for thee, I will undertake and maintain thy cause, that what thou dost is best for me.” What could a Christian say more or better, by way of resignation of himself to the providence of God? It almost transports me to read such passages from a heathen, especially if we consider in what condition Epictetus was; he had a maimed and deformed body, was in the extremity of poverty, a slave, and cruelly and tyrannically used, so that we can hardly imagine a man in worse and more wretched circumstances; and yet he justifies the providence of God in all this, and not only submits to his condition, but is contented with it, and embraces it; and since God hath thought it fittest and best for him, he is of the same mind, and thinks so too. I confess, it doth not move me to hear Seneca, who flowed with wealth, and lived at ease, to talk magnificently, and to slight poverty and pain, as not worthy the name of evil and trouble: but to see this poor man, in the lowest condition, and worst circumstances of humanity, bear up so bravely, and with such a cheerfulness and serenity of mind to entertain his hard for tune; and this not out of stupidity, but from a wise sense of the providence of God, and a firm persuasion 456of the wisdom and goodness of all his dealings^ this, who can choose but be affected with it, as an admirable temper for a Christian, much more for a heathen! To which we may apply that saying of our Lord, concerning the heathen centurion, “Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel;” so wise, so equal, so firm a temper of mind is seldom to be found, no, not amongst Christians. And this is the first consideration, that if God cares for us, we and our concernments are in the best and safest hands, and therefore we should cast all our care upon God. The
Second is, Because all our anxiety and care will do us no good; on the contrary, it will certainly do us hurt. We may fret and vex our own spirits, and make them restless, in the contemplation of the evils and disappointments which we are afraid of, and may make our lives miserable, in the sad reflections of our own thoughts; but we cannot, by all our anxiety and care, control the course of things, and alter the designs of providence; we cannot^ by all our vexation and trouble, overrule events, and make things happen as we would have them. And this is the argument our Saviour useth to this very purpose: (Matt. vi. 27.) “Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature?” So that all this trouble is unreasonable, and to no purpose, because it hath no influence on the event, either to promote or hinder it. Things are governed and disposed by a higher hand, and placed out of our reach; we may deliberate, and contrive, and use our best endeavours for the effecting of our designs, but we cannot secure the event against a thousand interpositions of Divine providence, which we can neither foresee nor hinder; but yet, notwithstanding, 457these our endeavours are reasonable, because they are the ordinary means which God hath appointed for the procuring of good, and prevention of evil; and though they may miscarry, yet they are all we can do: but after this is done, trouble and anxiety about the event is the vainest thing in the world, because it is to no purpose, nor doth at all conduce to what we desire; “we disquiet ourselves in vain,” and we distrust God’s providence and care of us, and thereby provoke him to defeat and disappoint us.
Let us then, by these considerations, be persuaded to this duty, the practice whereof is of continual and universal use in the whole course of our lives; in all our affairs and concernments, after we have used our best endeavours, let us sit down and be satisfied, and refer the rest to God, whose providence governs the world, and takes care of all our interests, and of the interest of his church and religion, when they seem to be in greatest danger.
We cannot but be convinced that this is very reasonable, to leave the management of things to him who made them, and therefore understands best how to order them. The government of the world is a very curious and complicated thing, and not to be tampered with by every unskilful hand; and, therefore, as an unskilful man, after he hath tampered a great while with a watch, thinking to bring it into better order, and is at last convinced that he can do no good upon it, carries it to him that made it to mend it, and put it into order; so must we do, after all our care and anxiety about our own private concernments, or the public state of things; we must give over governing the world, as a business past our skill, as a province too hard, and 458“a knowledge too wonderful for us,” and leave it to him, who made the world, to govern it, and take care of it.
And if we be not thus affected and disposed, we do not believe the providence of God, whatever profession we make of it; if we did, it would have an influence upon our minds, to free us from anxious care and discontent. Were we firmly persuaded of the wisdom and goodness of the Divine providence, we should confidently rely upon it, and, according to the apostle’s advice here in the text, “cast all our care upon him, because he careth for us.”459
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