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On Self-procured Evils.

On Self-procured Evils.

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Proverbs xix. 3.

The foolishness of man perverteth his way ; and his heart fretteth
agaiiist the Lord.

Proverbs xix. 3.

The foolishness of man perverteth his way ; and his heart fretteth
agaiiist the Lord.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 19, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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O SELF-PROCURED EVILS.BY JOB ORTO Proverbs xix. 3. The foolishness of man perverteth his way ; and his heart fretteth agaiiist the Lord. That our times are in God's hand, and the various circumstances and events of our lives under his direction, will be allowed by every serious mind to be most evident, comfortable, and in- structive truths. But so perverse and ungrateful are many, that they abuse these truths, and reflect upon the blessed God, by ascribing to him, and charging upon him, all the afflictions which befall them. Whereas a little more thought and reflection would convince them that they have brought many, if not most, of these afflictions upon themselves ; and that God is no further accessary to them, than as in the nature of things, and the course of his wise providence, he hath established a connexion between folly and suffering, between sin and misery. This is so bad a temper, and withal, it is to be feared, so common, that I am very desirous to convince you of its sinfulness, and dispose and assist you to guard against it. It was a sin as old as So- lomon's time, according to his observation in the text, that " the foolishness of man perverteth his way ; and his heart fretteth against the Lord." It was the case in Greece as well as in Judea : for Homer, who lived soon after the time of Solomon, observed that " men lay those evils upon tlie gods, which they have incurred through their own folly and perverseness." It is the case likewise in Britain, notwithstanding our great advan- tages by the gospel of Christ. We may express the meaning and design of the text in this obsei-vation, that it is a common thing for men to charge those evils upon Providence which they have brought upon them- selves. "The foolishness of man" signifieth his want of thought and reflection ; his indiscretion and rashness ; or his sin and wickedness, as the word " foolishness" often signifies sin
in Solomon's writings. It " perverts his way," leads him aside from the path of wisdom and prudence, safety and happiness. By this means he brings himself into trouble; is reduced to necessity, perplexed with difficulties, or oppressed with sorrow. Then he committeth this grand error after all the rest, that DIS. XXIII.] O SELF-PROCURED EVILS. 191 " his heart fretteth against the Lord." He is vexed, not at himself, but at Providence; and complains that God dealeth unjustly or unkindly by him. The word here rendered " fret- teth" is very emphatical. It is generally translated to " be angry," or " full of indignation." It is, in the prophecy of Jonah, used concerning the raging of the sea ; and so beauti- fully expresseth the tossing and tumult, the commotion and uneasiness, which there is in a discontented, ungoverned mind. It is like " a troubled sea when it cannot rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt ;" there is no composure and peace in it. So that such a person makes himself miserable, while he com- plaineth of his Creator and censureth his providence. For the illustration of Solomon's remark in our text, we may observe that the general principle on which men act in this case is right and just ; but the conclusion they draw from it is wrong ; and that the temper which they manifest herein is very foolish and wicked. I. The general principle on which men act in this case is right and just. When they fret against the Lord they suppose that there is a God ; that he observes and interests himself in the affairs of his creatures ; that he not only directs and manages the events which relate to kingdoms, nations, and other large communi- ties, but the events which relate to every particular person; that evil in general, as well as good, proceedefh from the hand of the most High ; and that it is a considerable part of his pro- vidential government to try, exercise, and promote the virtues of his rational creatures by the discipline of affliction. These
principles they take for granted ; and they are quite agreeable to the light of nature and the word of God. But then, II. The conclusion they draw from hence, namely, that they have not brought their afflictions upon themselves, is generally wrong, and their charge upon the providence of God groundless and unjust. I apprehend that the best method of illustrating and con- firming the truth of Solomon's remark, and guarding you against this error, is by laying before you some instances of it, taken from the practice and conduct of mankind ; instances that we see or hear of almost every day. Therefore I would observe, that it is often the case with regard to men's health ; their worldly circumstances; their relations in life; and the state of their minds and religious concerns. L It is often the case with regard to men's health. Here they " pervert their way," and yet " fret against God." It is common to hear some persons complaining that they are always sick or in pain, never well; that they have no enjoy- 192 orton's practical works. ment of life, and cannot do as otheis do. They can scarce open their mouths but it is with a complaint, or the very tone and accent of their voices betrayeth the fretfulness of their hearts. They complain that God denies them the health and spirits which he hath given to others. They envy every one that is more strong and lively than themselves ; and are some- times ready peevishly to say, that God hath given them life upon very ill terms ; that it is not a gift worth having, unless they were better able to perform the business and enjoy the comforts of it. ow with regard to many, perhaps most of these complainants, they have perverted their own way. Their intemperance and excesses have injured their constitutions. Or if they are not chargeable with excesses that are reckoned cri- minal, they may have been fond of indulging and pampering

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