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Submission To Divine Providence In The Death Of Children by Philip Doddridge

4. THE Providence before us may have a special Tendency to improve our Resignation to the Divine Will; and if it does so, it will indeed be well.

THERE is surely no imaginable Situation of Mind so sweet and so reasonable, as that which we feel, when we humbly refer ourselves in all Things to the Divine Disposal, in an intire Suspension of our own Will, seeing and owning the Hand of GOD, and bowing before it with a filial Acquiescence. This is chiefly to be learn'd from suffering; and perhaps there is no Suffering which is fitter to teach it, than this. In many other Afflictions there is such a Mixture of human Interposition, that we are ready to imagine, we may be allowed to complain, and to chide a little. Indignation mingles itself with our Grief; and when it does so, it warms the Mind, tho' with a feverish Kind of Heat, and in an unnatural Flow of Spirits, leads the Heart into a Forgetfulness of GOD. But here it is so apparently his Hand, that we must refer it to him, and it will appear bold Impiety to quarrel at what is done. In other Instances we can at least flatter ourselves with Hope, that the Calamity may be diverted, or the Enjoyment recovered; but here alas! there is no Hope. |Tears will not,| as [*]Sir William Temple finely expresses it, |water the lovely Plant so as to cause it to grow again; Sighs will not give it new Breath, nor can we furnish it with Life and Spirits by the Waste of our own.| The Sentence is finally gone forth, and the last fatal Stroke irrecoverably given. Opposition is vain; a forced Submission gives but little Rest to the Mind; a cordial Acquiescence in the Divine Will is the only thing in the whole World that can ease the labouring Heart, and restore true Serenity. Remaining Corruption will work on such an Occasion, and a painful Struggle will convince the Christian how imperfect his present Attainments are: And this will probably lead him to an attentive Review of the great Reasons for Submission; it will lead him to urge them on his own Soul, and to plead them with GOD in Prayer; till at length the Storm is laid, and Tribulation worketh Patience, and Patience Experience, and Experience a Hope which maketh not ashamed, while the Love of God is so shed abroad in the Heart[n], as to humble it for every preceding Opposition, and to bring it even to a real Approbation of all that so wise and good a Friend hath done; resigning every other Interest and Enjoyment to his Disposal, and fitting do with the sweet Resolution of the Prophet, Tho' the Fig-tree do not blossom, and there be no Fruit in the Vine, &c. yet will I rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my Salvation[o]. And when we are brought to this, the whole Horizon clears, and the Sun breaks forth in its Strength.

NOW I appeal to every sincere Christian in the Assembly, whether there will not be Reason indeed to say it is well, if by this painful Affliction we more sensibly learn the Vanity of the Creature and we are awakened to serious Thoughts of our own latter End; if by it we are quickned in the Duties of Life, and formed to a more intire Resignation of Soul, and Acquiescence in the Divine Will. I shall only add once more, and 'tis a Thought of delightful Importance,

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