Wednesday, April 12, 2017

God often affords the richest habitations and the greatest earthly plenty to the greatest sinners

.....With what admirable wisdom has God ordered that there should be such
variety of places for man's habitation!  Sodom and Gomorrha were seated in the
fruitful valley, the country near it was more barren and mountainous.  Some countries
are high, and thirsty, and barren; others low, and watered, and fruitful.  God could have
made the whole earth to have been alike in all places, and not so variously ordered; but
this singular diversity excellently praises the wisdom of his providence.  They who live in
barren mountains, which are only watered by the showers of heaven, are compelled
to acknowledge that they owe all their increase to a blessing from above.  They who
inhabit the fruitful valleys enriched with fountains and rivers, are admonished of the
bounty of God's providence to them above others, in the plenty of their supplies.  They
who live in mountainous and barren places, show the goodness of God in sustaining
them even in such places of scarcity, and that it is not necessary for man's presentation
to live delicately; those who fare more hardly often living more healthfully than those
who swim in great abundance.  In a word, by this rariety, places are made helpful
and beneficial one to another; some places abound with the blessings of one kind,
some with those of another; the mountains with health, the valleys with wealth; the
mountain wants the valley for supply of food, the valley is beholden to the mountain
for strength and defence.  Every place enjoys not every comfort, but is necessitated
to crave supply from a neighbouring country.  The city cannot live without the food of
the country, nor the country without the coin and commodities of the city; the poor
wants the rich, and the rich the poor:  the one is helpful by his labours, the other by
his rewards:  the one by work, the other by wages,  True is that of Solomon, The
rich and the poor meet together, and the Lord is the Maker of them all, Prov. 22:2;
who by this variety both advances the honour of his own wisdom, and provides
for the good of human society,
     God often affords the richest habitations and the greatest earthly plenty to the
greatest sinners.  Sodom for wealth and fertility is compared to the garden of God,
and yet God bestows it upon the worst of men.  Egypt and Babylon, abounding with
waters and plenty, are given, not only to those who are without the church, but who
are enemies of the church.  In these countries God made his people slaves and captives;
and truly it is safest for Israel to meet with most woe in places of most wealth. 
God gives his enemies their heaven, portion, their all in this life, Psalms 17:14; they
here receive their good things; and have all in hand, nothing in hope; all in possession,
nothing in future reversion.  By this distribution of earthly plenty, God would have us
see how slightly and meanly he esteems it.  He throws the best things that this world
affords upon the worst and, as Daniel speaks, the basest of men.  Who but the Nimrods,
the Nebuchadnezzars, the Alexanders, the Caesars, have ordinarily been the lords of the
world?  These have fleeted off the cream of earthly enjoyments, when the portion of saints
has been thin, and lean, and poor.  Some observe, that Daniel expresses the monarchies
of the world by sundry sorts of cruel beasts; to show, that as they were gotten by beastly
cruelty, so enjoyed with brutish sensuality.  The great Turkish empire, said Luther, is but
as a crust which God throws to a hungry dog.  God sometimes indeed, lest riches should
be accounted in themselves evil, gives them to the good; but ordinarily, lest they should be
accounted the chief good, he bestows them upon the bad:  oftener making them the
portion of foes than of sons.  What is it to receive, and not to be received; to have
nothing from God but what he may give in hatred; to have, with Sodomites, a garden of
God upon earth, with the loss of the true Paradise! in a word, to have no other dews of
blessing but such as may be followed with showers of fire!
.....Rich cities have ever been the stoves of luxury.  Men have natural inclinations according
to the genius of their country; and it is rare to see religion flourish in a rich soil.  In the
scantiness of earthly enjoyments, want restrains and stints our appetites; but where there
is abundance, and the measure is left to our own discretion, we seldom know what
moderation means..... we had need of special grace at every turn, and of that watchfulness
whereby in the midst of abundance we may not want temperance.  How hard is it, with
holy Paul, to know how to be full, and to abound!  How holy is that man who can be
chaste, temperate, heavenly in Sodom!  Let us not only be content to want, but even
pray against those riches which may occasion us, full, to deny God, Prov. 30:8-9.  It
is a most unwise choice, with Lot, to leave Abraham to inhabit Sodom....
                                                                                      William Jenkyn  

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