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claim kindred with him, who is all love and benignity, all munificence and mercy ? there can be no affinity in relation, where there is such a dissimilitude in nature : God also cannot deal with us as children, cannot affect or like us, if we do not resemble him; he can only love good men, and the most certain xpurhpov (the most perfect rule, the most evident mark) by which we can discern or distinguish what goodness is, is conformity to God's nature, discovered by his actions; for that cannot otherwise than be very good, wise and reasonable, comely and commendable, convenient and beneficial to us, wherein we resemble God; God's example cannot misguide us, his law and his practice ever consent, his will and nature cannot disagree; nothing therefore can more please him than what is like him; as even Plato could observe : « What practice,' saith he, is acceptable and suitable to God? One; even that, which the old saying implies, Like is ever a friend to like.'* Nothing likewise is more certainly bad, or more displeasing to God, than that which rendereth us in our complexion of mind, or in our behavior, unlike to God: we by being such, or doing so, must necessarily fall from this high dignity, must ipso facto forfeit this excellent privilege of being thus related to God; we thereby become exiles and aliens from his name and family; we prove rebels and foes, instead of sons and friends, unto him.

3. This consideration may raise us to a just regard, esteem, and valuation of ourselves; may consequently inspire noble thoughts, and breed generous inclinations in us; may withdraw us from mean, base, and unworthy designs or practices; may excite and encourage us to handsome, brave, worthy resolutions and undertakings, suitable to the dignity of our nature, the nobleness of our descent, the eminency of so high a relation, of so near an alliance to God : even natural light dictateth this use of the notion, and heathen philosophers do apply it: 'If any one,' saith Epictetus, ' could be affected with this opinion, that we are all originally descended from God, and that God is both the Father of men and gods, he would not, I suppose, conceive any thing ignoble or mean concerning himself; If Cæsar should

• Plato de Leg. 4.

adopt thee, none could endure thy superciliousness; and if thou knowest that thou art God's son, shall it not elevate thy mind ?' So that great philosopher discourseth. And St. Austin relateth this discourse of Varro, the most learned Roman of his time: • It is,' said he, useful for cities, that valiant men should (although it be false) believe themselves born of the gods, that their minds thence bearing a confidence of their divine extraction, may more boldly undertake great enterprises, pursue them more earnestly, and hence accomplish them more happily, from the security this conceit produceth. Shall we then, who in so many respects are so highly born, and of so illustrious an extraction, (we that are allied to God by our intelligent nature, that are by the heavenly seed of Christian regeneration more deeply implanted into his stock,) so far debase ourselves as to affect and pursue trivial, abject, dishonorable things ? Are we not ashamed of so vile a degeneracy? Can we dare so to disparage our high relations? God our heavenly Father; Christ our elder Brother; the holy angels and blessed saints, our kindred in nature, our brethren in grace ? Shall we not be afraid for such unworthiness to be degraded, to be rejected, to be disinherited by our holy Father, who is jealous of his honor, who cannot brook to have his blood so stained and defiled, or that such blots and disgraces should stick to his lineage; that his image impressed on us should be so deformed and disfigured ; that such disorders and misbehaviors should be committed in his family? If we do not behave ourselves as children, he hath declared that he will disavow and cast us off from being 80; Every plant, our Saviour telleth us, that beareth not good fruit, he loppeth it from his stock, and casteth it away.

4. This consideration is an especial motive to humility, apt to depress vain conceit and confidence in ourselves : for, if we are God's children, so as to have received our beings, all our powers and abilities, all our goods and wealth, both internal and external, both natural and spiritual, from his free disposal, so as to be continually preserved and maintained by his providence, to depend for all our subsistence on his care and bounty; what

• De Civ. D. ii. 4.

reason can we have to assume or ascribe any thing to ourselves? How yain is it to rely on any strength or wisdom, any possession or endowment we have, or seem to have ? How extremely fond are we if we be raised in our conceit, or are ambitious of reputation, on the score of any such things ? for, Who,' as the Apostle invincibly discourseth, 'made thee to differ? what hast thou that thou didst not receive ? and if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory, as if thou badst not received it ? To him alone, who is the Author and Donor of all good things; to the Fountain of all power, all joy, all blessings; to the Father of lights, from whom every good and perfect gift descendeth ;' all praise and glory is due.

5. This consideration showeth us the reason we have to sub, mit intirely to the providence of God, with contentedness and acquiescence in every condition; for seeing we are God's possessions, (Ocoj ktu para, as Plato calleth us,) he having made us whatever we are, according to all accounts and capacities, whether as men by his common providence, or as Christians by his especial grace ; he surely hath the best right and title that can be on us; he may justly dispose of us and use us as he thinks good; we may well thence be obliged, according to the apostolical precept, to glorify God in our body, and in our spirit, which are God's ;' if we repine at or complain of God's dealing with us, may he not justly return to us that answer in the gospel, • Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?' Shall we not suffer God to order his own family according to his discretion and pleasure ; to assign what station, to allow what portion he pleaseth to his own children, without our offence or displeasure ? Shall we pretend to know better than he what is fit to be done ? shall we claim a right to dispense his goods, or desire to be carvers for ourselves ? If it be unjust and unreasouable to do thus, then in all reason we ought to be content in every state that he disposeth us into, and to undergo patiently whatever he imposeth on us; yea we have reason to be more than content with every thing incident, not only as justly proceeding from him, but as presumable to be good and convenient for us; for is it not fit that we should think that God will order things for the best good of his own children? Can we conceive that he willingly will hurt, or will not rather help them; that

he will design them any mischief, yea that he will easily suffer it ? . Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may,'God telleth us, “forget; yet he will not forget us :' sooner indeed may the most tender parents become unnaturally regardless, spiteful, and cruel toward their children, than the immutable God (who in his nature is unexpressibly benign and compassionate) shall neglect the good of his offspring : good reason therefore have we to be satisfied with all that befalleth us.

6. Particularly this consideration obligeth us to be patient and cheerful in the sorest afflictions, as deeming them to come from a paternal hand, inflicted with great affection and compassion, designed for, and tending to, our good : • Thou shalt,' saith God to the Israelites, “consider iu thy heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee :' and, · We,' saith the Apostle, bave had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live ? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure ; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of of his holiness.' The punishments inflicted on us by men may perhaps proceed from passion ; but God assuredly never inflicts any thing grievous on us, but out of pure good-will: and what sweeter consolation can there be, than to know that the most cross and distasteful accidents befalling us do (according to the intention of him that bringeth them on us, and manageth them) conduce to our profit, and shall in the event, if we do patiently receive them, and by our untowardness do not hinder their effect, prove wholesome and advantageous to us?

7. This consideration doth also show the reason we have to obey those precepts, wbich injoin us to rely on God's providence; to cast all our burden and care on God;' to be solicitous and anxious about nothing which concerneth our sustenance: for children commonly (especially such as have able and kind parents) do live altogether void of care concerning their maintenance, being assured that their parents will concern themselves to provide whatever is necessary or convenient for them: and how much more have we reason to live free of solicitude in such respects, who have a Father so infinitely sufficient to supply all our wants, and so tenderly affected toward us ; so ever present with us, and always vigilant over us; who cannot but see and know our needs; and can most easily satisfy them, and is no less willing and ready, if we trust in him, to do it? · Do not,' saith our Lord, ' take care, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink ? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed ?-for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.' The like reason did even natural light suggest to a philosopher :* If,' saith he, kindred with Cæsar, or with any other great man in Rome, is sufficient to make a man live securely, without contempt, and without fear, will not the having God our Maker and Father and Guardian, free us from griefs and fears ? It is extreme infidelity concerning either the providence of God, or his power, or his goodness, (that is, the practical disbelief of this point, or in our hearts disavowing God to be our Father,) which causeth all that carking and distraction of mind, that fear of wants, that grief for losses and disappointments, which do commonly possess men, together with those covetous desires and unjust practices, with which the world aboundeth : he can hardly be guilty of them, who believeth and considereth that God doth thus stand related and affected toward him.

8. This consideration doth more generally in all regards serve to breed and cherish our faith, to raise our hope, to quicken our devotion : for whom shall we confide in, if not in such a Father ? from whom can we expect good, if not from him who hath already given us so much, even all that we have? to whom can we have recourse freely and cheerfully, on any occasion, if not to him, who so kindly inviteth and calleth us to him, in so endearing terms, with so obliging an appellation ? If we in any need, corporal or spiritual, request succor or supply from bim, can we suspect that such a father (so infinitely wise, so able, so good) will refuse us, or can fail us ? No; • What man is there of us, that if his son ask him bread, will give him a stone ? or if he ask a fish, will give him a serpent? If we then, who are evil, know how to give good

* Epict. Arr. i. 9.

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