[ocr errors][ocr errors]

strangely adverse and calamitous; both which,
one after another, by God's wife Providence,
did befal him, for the more illuftrious trial
and manifestation of his fincere and difinte-
rested Loyalty to God and Religion: and it is
no easy matter to determine in which of these
two States he met with the greater Tempta-
whether he found it the more difficult
task to keep a good Confcience in that splendid
and plentiful Condition he was once in, or to
hold faft his Righteoufnefs in that deplorable
Poverty and want of all things, which he was
at laft reduced unto. For, without doubt,
Riches and Honours and high Places, and an
uninterrupted Profperity, are as great Snares,
and as dangerous Temptations, and often
prove as fatal; nay, I may fay, are generally
more apt to draw Men afide from the love of
Goodness and the care of their Souls, than the
feverest Afflictions, or the moft furprizing Ca-
lamities and outward Croffes. So that Job
perhaps was as much to be admired, and as
hard to be imitated in his Virtue and Piety,
when he was the greatest Man in the Eaft; as
in his Submiffion, Meeknefs, and Patience,
when he became the most miserable Spectacle
that Eyes ever beheld.

1. Job in his most profperous State held fast his Righteoufnefs, and would not let it go. Tho he enjoy'd all the Pleasures, Riches, and worldly Satisfactions that the most ambitious or covetous Mind could crave, yet he was fo ftrictly religious and temperate, that when he



ty feemed to rejoice and triumph, that he had now found a Man, who could preserve himself innocent and upright, even amidst all the flattering Temptations that attend Riches, and Power, and worldly Greatnefs. Haft thou confidered (faith the Lord unto Satan, chap.1. ver. 8. as it were in a boafting manner) my Servant Job, that there is none like him in the Earth; a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and efcheweth Evil? But,

2. Behold the Scene of a fudden quite changed, and extreme Poverty, Lofs, and Pain dwelling there, where Plenty and Honour and Riches formerly made their abode. The great Enemy to Mankind was at length fatisfied that this renowned Servant of God was not to be enticed by any of his Baits; that he had a Soul too great to fall in love with the fading Beauties and perifhing Glories of this World: and therefore when he faw he would not be moved from his Duty by fair means, he uses Force and Violence, and fets himself openly to affault that Virtue which would not be caught in any of his Snares, nor yield to any of his Temptations. And to this end, in one day he fpirits away all his Wealth and Servants, flays all his Children by the fall of a Houfe, and exercifes fuch Cruelties upon his Body, that there was nothing about him whole and entire and free from Sores, but only the skin of his Teeth: he arms his own Wife and his best Friends against him: his Brethren went far from him; bis Acquaintance were


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

eftran ed from him: his Kinfmen failed him, and his Familiars forgot him: the young Children defpifed him; thofe that dwelt in his Houfe counted him for a Stranger; and those whom he loved most were turned against him. But when he was thus abandoned and forfaken of all, he yet held fast his Righteoufnefs, and would not remove his Integrity from him; he ftill preferved a good Confcience, which neither the Sabeans, nor the Chaldeans, nor the Devil himself could rob him of. Notwithstanding all the violent Attacks of Satan, he bravely stood his Ground, and the greatness of his Sufferings ferved only to make his Courage and Conftancy ftill more glorious and illuftrious. Under all these Afflictions he ertertained not an unworthy Thought, never uttered one hard Word concerning God; but humbly kissed the Hand that struck him, and received evil things from him, with the fame grateful Refentment he used to receive good things; and was as thankful for these fad Miffortunes and dire Calamities, as other Men are for the greatest Favours and Blessings. And whatever betided him in this World, yct he would never fall out with God, or do any thing that might difpleafe him, or wound his own Mind and Conscience. Thus this Heavenly Champion came off with Success and Victory, and the tryal of his Faith and Patience was found unto Praife, and Honour, and Glory.

[blocks in formation]

Now the Words thus understood, relating in particular to Job, as exercifed with thefe various Conflicts and Temptations, afford us thefe two plain, but useful Rules.

1. That we fhould fo manage our felves in times of Profperity, and fo use and improve our worldly Advantages of Health, Riches, Honour, Authority, and the like, that whenever we come to be deprived of them, our Hearts may have nothing to reproach us for.

2. That we should never, either to prevent, or to redeem our felves from any outward Evil and Calamity, do any thing which our own Minds and Confciences do difapprove and condemn.

[ocr errors]

1. We fhould fo manage our felves in times of Profperity, and fo ufe and improve all worldly Advantages of Health, Riches, Honour, Authority, and the like, that whenever "we come to be deprived of them, our Hearts may have nothing to reproach us for.

It is certain, that fo long as the World goes on our fide, and we live in Eafe and Plenty, and enjoy whatever our Hearts can wish for, we have not fo quick and lively a sense of Good and Evil, nor do we ordinarily fuffer our Confciences to speak fo freely and plainly to us, as when we are under fome Affliction or Diftrefs. Whilft we enjoy an uninterrupted Profperity, the Noife and Tumult of the World, the Hurry and Multiplicity of Bufinefs and fecular Affairs, the Variety of fenfual Pleasures and Delights, the Mirth and Jollity of Com


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

pany, and the feveral temporal Projects and Defigns we have in hand; do generally fo wholly engrofs and prepoffefs our Thoughts, aș that they drown the fofter Whispers of our Minds and Reason, and allow no time or opportunity to our Consciences to do their Office. But when once we meet with a fudden check and stop, and are brought into Straits and Difficulties; when we are croffed and disappointed, and all our fine Hopes and Expectations blasted and defeated, efpecially when Death and Judgment draw nigh; then doth Confcience take the advantage against us, and fly in our Faces, and fet our Sins in order before us, and fill our Minds with galling Regrets, and mifgiving Fears, and difquieting and uncomfortable Reflections upon our past Follies; and we foon begin to have quite other Notions and Apprehenfions of things than we had formerly in the days of Sunshine and Security Thus Jofeph's Brethren, after they had fold him into Egypt, and thereby had afflicted their Father's Soul even unto Death, for a long time feemed pleased and satisfied with themselves that they had done no worse to their innocent Brother, that they had not flain him; but afterwards, when they found themselves Captives in a strange Land, they laid their Hands upon their Breafts, and thought more impartially on what they had done, and faid one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our Brother, in that we saw the Anguish of his Y 4.


[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »