WHO MAKETH THEE TO DIFFER? BY JOH STYLES, D.D.

" For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou, that thou didst not receive ?" — 1 Cor. iv. 7. The persons, the characters, and the conditions of men, are infinitely diversified. Variety individualizes the entire species. There have never been two persons who have been precisely similar, even in those qualities which are essential to the possession of one common nature. Things the most exactly assimilated, yet greatly differ in very important particulars. In the most part this variety is strongly marked, and strikingly apparent. We may employ the interrogations in the text for the purpose of correcting some of the worst evils that infect the social principle, and are the most destructive of social happiness. I. To abase pride : II. To shame ingratitude : III. To remove selfishness : and, IV. To banish discontent. I. To SHAME PRIDE. Distinctions, whether personal or relative, nourish pride. Superiority, whether it be in talent, wealth, station, or influence, awakens our self-importance, and we are apt to treat our God with indifference, to regard ourselves with complacency, and to look upon all that are beneath us with contempt. We are proud of what we have received, as if it were our own, the creature of our own power: and in proportion as it raises us above our

WHO MAKETH THEE TO DIFFER? 219 fellow-creatures, in that proportion we consider that we are entitled to their homage and vassalage. We are, perhaps, not prepared to avow this

m so many words, but we declare it by our spirit and our general deportment. How is this pride abased by the consideration suggested in the text ? 1. We have nothing which we have not received. 2. God bestowed it upon us irrespective of any claim or merit of our ozvn. 3. He has withheld these very distinctions from his greatest favourites and most devoted servants. 4. They accumulate upon us an awful aggregate of responsibility. II. To SILE CE I GRATITUDE. The most favoured and the most distinguished of the sons of men are the most ungrateful, the least sensible of what they owe to their bountiful Creator and benefactor. The same causes that invigorate pride, foster ingratitude ; but remember, the original bestowment, and the perpetual continuance, are both from God — the arrangement of his providence, his special design, the result of his incessant and peculiar care. The more we are distinguished, the greater is our dependence ; the greater your stake in the Divine government, the greater, of course, is your obligation to the Divine mercy. Our gratitude should regard the peculiar and specific distinctions which confer superiority : it should rise with the proportion of that superiority, and take its measure of obligation from the lowest of our inferiors in those respects in which we are placed above them. There is no sufferer

220 WHO MAKETH THEE TO DIFFER? in this vale of tears, no creature, however insignificant he may be, among the infinite varieties of our species, that does not owe a debt of gratitude to the Almighty. How great, then, must be yours ! III. To REPROVE SELFISH ESS, OR TO STIMULATE TO BE EVOLE T EXERTIO .

Why does the great Ruler of the universe confer distinctions upon any of his creatures ? 1. TJiat they may be consecrated to his own glory ¦, and that, in pursuance of this great object, they should be completely developed and wholly occupied. But how can his glory be advanced by these distinctions ? 2. By incessantly employing them, according to their degree of superiority, to the good of society ; by diffusing Divine truth, upholding the interests of holiness, and advancing the cause of universal happiness. Pride and ingratitude engender selfishness, or are the fruit of it. They are all and each at war with piety and humanity. IV. To BA ISH DISCO TE T. We have been speaking hitherto of those distinctions and possessions which confer superiority, and place men on an elevation above their fellows ; but the doctrine of the text is equally applicable to all the varieties and differences which exist. When we contrast our meanness, poverty, afflictions, and disappointments with the greatness, prosperity, and success of others, we are often apt to murmur and to express our discontent with the allotments of Providence; but reflect for a moment — " Who hath made thee to differ ?" God, the righteous governor of the universe ; God, the gracious Father of all that trust in him ; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who sent his Son to be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief ; a God in covenant, who has arranged that all things shall work together for your good, and that your light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. But before you can receive the comfort of all this, you must know your demerit as sinners, your glorious privileges as believers, and be living in hope of the glory of God. 1. 68 FREE BOOKS

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