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We may pray also for our friends and rela. tions; for our families in particular.
Prayers for mankind in general, and for the governments we live under, though touched on in the Lord's Prayer, belong rather to public than private devotion. : Thanksgiving, however, is a branch of prayer that belongs to both. We have all numberless reasons to thank God for his blessings. Our life, health, preservation, and all the benefits we daily enjoy, afford constant renewals of thank. fulness. But the great blessing of the gospel, and our Saviour's atonement for fin, should never be forgotten.
Time and chance happeneth to all.
Ecclesiastes, ix. 11.
THIS was the observation of one of the wifest of men. But he did not mean to consider it as a truth. He knew better: he knew that time and chance happen to none; but that all things are under the direction of a wise and good Providence. This he sufficiently testifies in other parts of his discourse. --But why should he make a remark so foreign to the truth ?-He speaks merely to the common opinion of the world. Though time and chance happen to none, yet everything has the appearance of time and chance happening to all. But still how comes it, that in a world of order, every thing bears the appearance of disorder? and that time and chance should have the appearance of governing, what is, in fact, under the most exact mode of government?
This question is not very difficult to decide. A state of trial must be a state of uncertainty. If every thing happened in order—if the battle was always to the strong, riches the reward of virtue, and poverty the punishment of vice, this world would be a state of retribution, not of trial. Uncertainty, therefore, is one mean of making it a state of trial : it throws out to us this grand leffon, in our passage through life, that we must depend on God not on ourselves, nor on any thing which the world presents to us. Besides, a state of uncertainty puts the whole world in motion. If every one was confined in his expectation, the life of man would stagnate. But the uncertainty of things fets all adventurers at work, calls up a variety of exertions, and opens a field for various virtues and vices, in which human nature is put to many a severe trial.-Industry, prudence, and other virtues, are often encouraged; and are indeed the best means of infuring success: but they often fail, while the vices in opposition to them fucceed. So that the idea of uncertainty in all worldly affairs is still kept up; and of course this world is considered not as a state of retribution, but 29 a Itate of trial.
I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.
1 Cor. ix. 17.
This is a mode of expression very usual in fpeaking of that compound being, called Man. It divides him naturally into two parts : -I keep under my body. I is supposed to be one part of the man; the body, the other. This mode of speaking plainly and properly points out the rational and the sensitive parts, and gives the former the superiority. I, the rational part, keep under the body, which is the sensitive.
Having thus settled the dramatis persona of the text, if I may fo fpeak, let us now consider its contents. The great reason, we fee, for keeping the body under, is to bring it into subjection, that all its functions may co-operate with reason. The great mean of obtaining this subjection, is self-denial. If we make it our business to indulge ourselves in eating and drinking, in amusements, and other things pleasing to the senses,
we plainly give the inferior part of our nature the superiority-we bring the man into subjection to the brute. God Almighty hath added a pleasure to the indulgence of all the appetites, necessary for the preservation of life. If eating, for instance, were attended with no pleasure, fasting might be dangerous. This stimulus is common both to man and beast; only there is this difference : the beast never goes beyond its allotted limit; the man turns all his pleasure, beyond the allotted limit, which should be the object of self-denial, into mischief and wicked. ness. When that is the case, we, instead of our bodies, are brought into subjection.