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And it is rebellious pride in you so far to contradict the wisdom of God, as to think most highly of that condition, which he hath judged worst for you; and to fall in love with that which he denieth you.
Tempt. 11. The poor will also be tempted to overmuch care about their wants and worldly matters"; they will think that necessity requireth it in them, and will excuse them. So much care is your duty, as is needful to the right doing of your work. Take care how to discharge your own duties; but be not too careful about the event, which belongs to God. If you will care what you should be and do, God will care sufficiently what you shall have. And so be it you faithfully do your business, your other care will add nothing to the success, nor make you any richer, but only vex and disquiet your minds. It is the poor as well as the rich, that God hath commanded to be careful for nothing, and to cast all their care on him.
Tempt. 111. Poverty also will tempt you to repining, impatience and discontent, and to fall out with others; which because it is one of the chief temptations, I will speak to by itself anon.
Tempt. iv. 'Also you will be tempted to be coveting after more; satan maketh poverty a snare to draw many needy creatures, to greater covetousness than many of the rich are guilty of; none thirst more eagerly after more ; and yet their poverty blindeth them, so that they cannot see that they are covetous, or else excuse it as a justifiable thing. They think that they desire no more but necessaries, and that it is not covetousness, if they desire not superfluities. But do you not covet more than God allotteth you? And are you not discontent with his allowance ? And doth not he know best what is necessary for you, and what superfluous? What then is covetousness, if this be not?
Tempt. v. Also you will be tempted to envy the rich, and to censure them in matters where you are incompetent judges. It is usual with the poor to speak of the rich with envy and censoriousness; they call them covetous, merely because they are rich, especially if they give them nothing; when they know not what ways of necessary expence they have, nor how many others they are liberal to,
* Matt. vi. 1 Pet. v. 7. Pbil. iv. 6.
r Luke x. 41.
that they are unacquainted with. Till you see their accounts you are unfit to censure them.
Tempt. vi. The poor also will be tempted to use unlawful means to supply their wants. How many by the temptation of necessity have been tempted to comply with sinners, and wound their consciences, and lie and flatter for favour or preferment, or to cheat, or steal, or overreach! A dear price! to buy the food that perisheth, with the loss or hazard of everlasting life; and lose their souls to provide for their flesh!
Tempt. vir. Also you will be tempted to neglect your souls, and omit your spiritual duties, and as Martha to be troubled about many things, while the one thing needful is forgotten; and you will think that necessity will excuse all this; yea, some think to be saved, because they are poor, and say, God will not punish them in this life and another too. But alas, you are more inexcusable than the rich, if you are ungodly and mindless of the life to come. For he that will love a life of poverty and misery better than heaven, deserveth indeed to go without it much more than he that preferreth a life of plenty and prosperity before it. God hath taught you by his providence to know, that you must either be happy in heaven, or no where;—if you would be worldlings, and part with heaven for your part on earth, how poor a bargain are you like to make? To love rags, and toil, and want, and sorrow, better than eternal joy and happiness, is the most unreasonable kind of ungodliness in the world. It is true, that you are not called to spend so many hours of the week-days, in reading and meditation, as some that have greater leisure are; but you have reason to seek heaven, and set your hearts upon it, as much as they; and you must think of it when you are about your labour, and take those opportunities for your spiritual duties, which are allowed you. Poverty will excuse ungodliness in none! Nothing is so necessary as the service of God and your salvation;
and therefore no necessity can excuse you from it". Read the case of Mary and Martha: one would think that your hearts should be wholly set upon heaven, who have nothing else but it to trust to. The poor have fewer hindrances than the rich, in the way to life eternal! And God [PART U. will save no man because he is poor; but condemn poor and rich that are ungodly.
+ Prov. xxx. 8, 9. John vi. 27.
a Luke x. 41, 42.
Tempt. viii. Another great temptation of the poor, is to neglect the holy education of their children; so that in most places, there are none so ignorant, and rude, and heathenish, and unwilling to learn, as the poorest people and their children; they never teach them to read, nor teach them any thing for the saving of their souls ; and they think that their poverty will be an excuse for all. When reason telleth them, that none should be more careful to help their children to heaven, than they that can give them nothing
Direct. ix. Be acquainted with the special duties of the poor; and carefully perform them.' They are these,
1. Let your sufferings teach you to contemn the world; it will be a happy poverty if it do but help to wean your affections from all things below; that you set as little by the world as it deserveth.
2. Be eminently heavenlyminded; the less you have or hope for in this life, the more fervently seek a better *. You are at least as capable of the heavenly treasures as the greatest princes; God purposely straiteneth your condition in the world, that he may force up your hearts unto himself, and teach you to seek first for that which indeed is worth your seeking
3. Learn to live upon God alone; study his goodness, and faithfulness, and all-sufficiency; when you have not a place nor a friend in the world, that you can comfortably betake yourselves to for relief, retire unto God, and trust him, and dwell the more with him. If your poverty have but this effect, it will be better to you than all the riches in the world,
4. Be laborious and diligent in your callings; both precept and necessity call you unto this; and if you cheerfully -serve him in the labour of your hands, with a heavenly and obedient mind, it will be as acceptable to him, as if you had spent all that time in more spiritual exercises, for he had rather have obedience than sacrifice; and all things, are
x Phil. iii. 18. 20, 21. 2 Cor. v. 7, 8.
pure and sanctified to the pure; if you cheerfully serve God in the meanest work, it is the more acceptable to him, bly how much the more subjection and submission there is in your obedience a
5. Be humble and submissive unto all. A poor man proud is doubly hateful: and if poverty cure your pride, and help you to be truly humble, it will be no small mercy to you
6. You are specially obliged to mortify the flesh, and keep your senses and appetites in subjection; because you have greater helps for it than the rich : you have not so many baits of lust, and wantonness, and gluttony, and voluptuousness as they
7. Your corporal wants must make you more sensibly remember your spiritual wants ; and teach you to value spiritual blessings ; think with yourselves, if a hungry, cold and naked body, be so great à calamity, how much greater is a guilty, graceless soul! a dead or a diseased heart? If bodily food and necessaries are so desirable, O how desirable is Christ, and his Spirit, and the love of God and life eternal ?
8. You must above all mien be careful redeemers of your time; especially of the Lord's day; your labours take up so much of your time, that you must be the more careful to catch every opportunity for your souls! Rise earlier to get half an hour for holy duty; and meditate on holy things in your labours, and spend the Lord's day in special diligence, and be glad of such seasons; and let scarcity preserve your appetites.
9. Be willing to die; seeing the world giveth you so cold entertainment, be the more content to let it go, when God shall call you; for what is here to detain your hearts?
10. Above all men, you should be most fearless of sufferings from men, and therefore true to God and conscience: for yon have no great matter of honour, or riches, or pleasure to lose : as you fear not a thief, when you have nothing for him to rob you of.
11. Be specially careful to fit your children also for hea* Ephes.iv. 28. Provi xxi. 25. 1 Sam. xv. 22. 2 Thess. iii. 8. 10. b Prov. xviii. 23.
ven: provide them a portion which is better than a kingdom ; for you can provide but little for them in the world.
12. Be exemplary in patience and contentedness with your state: for that grace should be the strongest in us, which is most exercised; and poverty calleth you to the frequent exercise of this.
Direct. x. 'Be specially furnished with those reasons which should keep you in a cheerful contentedness with your state; and may suppress every thought of anxiety and discontent. As 1. Consider as aforesaid, that that is the best condition for you which helpeth you best to heaven; and God best knoweth what will do you good, or hurt. 2. That it is rebellion to grudge at the will of God; which must dispose
and should be our rest. 3. Look over the life of Christ, who chose a life of poverty for your sakes; and had not a place to lay his head. He was not one of the rich and voluptuous in the world; and are you grieved to be conformed to him. 4. Look to all his apostles, and most holy servants and martyrs. Were not they as great sufferers as you? 5. Consider that the rich will shortly be all as poor as you. Naked they came into the world, and naked they must go out; and a little time makes little differ
6. It is no more comfort to die rich than poor; but usually much less: because the more pleasant the world is to them, the more it grieveth them to leave it. 7. All men cry out, that the world is vanity at last. How little is it valued by a dying man? And how sadly will it cast him off! 8. The time is very short and uncertain, in which you must enjoy it: we have but a few days more to walk about, and we are gone. Alas, of how small concernment is it, whether a man be rich or poor, that is ready to step into another world? 9. The love of this world drawing the heart from God, is the common cause of men's damnation : and is not the world more likely to be over-loved, when it entertaineth you with prosperity, than when it useth you like an enemy? Are you displeased, that God thus helpeth to save you from the most damning sin? And that he maketh not your way to heaven more dangerous ? 10. You little know the troubles of the rich. He that hath much, hath much to do with it, and much to care for ; and many persons to deal with,
c Phil. iji. 7-9.