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in the furnace of affliction. “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.” The Shunammite felt and expressed the same spirit, under the bereaving hand of God. When she was interrogated, " Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child ?" she replied, " It is well.” She was willing to bear the burden which God had laid upon her, even while she was seeking relief. And the afflicted always feel this spirit, before they cast their burdens upon the Lord. For,

4. This farther implies casting themselves upon the Lord, which is the essence of the duty enjoined in the text. Men cannot lay the burdens which they feel, upon God; nor can God take to himself the burdens which he lays upon them. He can, indeed, take calamities from one person, or one people, and lay the same sort of calamities upon another person, or another people; but he cannot take upon himself the natural evils which he inflicts upon any person, or people; and, therefore, no person nor people can literally cast their burdens

upon God. But they can cast themselves upon the Lord, which will afford them immediate support and relief under their burdens. When the general of an army lays a heavy burden upon an obedient soldier, he may cast himself, and consequently his burden, upon the general, by saying, “ Sir, this appears a burden too heavy for me to carry. But you know what is proper to lay upon me. I am your soldier; my strength and my life are at your disposal. It is your concern to improve my strength and my life for the public good. And if it be best that my strength should be exhausted, or my life sacrificed, at this time, by bearing this burden, I have nothing to say; I cheerfully submit.” The soldier now casts his burden

his

general, to whom it wholly belongs to continue, or to lighten, or to remove, the burden. Just so the child of sorrow may go to his heavenly Father and say, “ My burden is great, and it seems I must sink under it. But thou knowest what is best. I am in thy hand as the clay is in the hand of the potter. My strength and my life are entirely thine. It belongs to thee to do what thou wilt with thine own. If thy glory requires my strength to be exhausted, and my life to be sacrificed by suffering affliction, not my will, but thine be done.” When the afflicted feel this spirit, and thus carry themselves with all their sorrows to God, they do in the most becoming manner cast their burdens upon him. Thus Eli cast himself and his burdens upon the Lord. When Samuel told him what evils were coming upon him and upon his house, he said, “ It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good.” Let God glorify himself by me, either in life, or in death, and I am satisfied. In the same manner Da66 O my

upon

vid cast his burdens upon the Lord. « Behold, here am I, let
him do to me as seemeth good to him.” I refer it entirely to
God, to continue, or to lighten, or to remove, my burdens.
Christ taught this duty to all his disciples in a state of suffering.
“ Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take
thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the
evil thereof." And in the view of his own tremendous suffer-
ings, he cast himself and his sorrows upon his Father.
Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; neverthe-
less, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” The apostle Peter directs
suffering christians to feel and conduct in the same manner.
“ Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon
him ; for he careth for you.” And the apostle Paul not only
enjoins this duty upon christians, but describes the manner of
performing it. “Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by
prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests
be made known unto God.” When the afflicted thus go to
God, and wholly resign themselves up to his care and disposal,
they then cast their cares and burdens upon him, in the man-
ner he requires.

It only remains to show,
III. What evidence there is that he will sustain them.
Here it may be observed,

1. There is ground to believe that God will sustain those who cast their burdens upon him, because he laid their burdens upon them to show their weakness, and make them take hold of his strength. It is only if need be, that he afflicts any of mankind; and when the afflictions he sends have answered their purpose, he is ready to relieve the afflicted. He told his ancient people that he would afflict them, on purpose to bring them to a due sense of their dependence upon him. “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face : in their affliction they will seek me early.” This end, which God proposed in afflicting his people, the prophet tells us was completely answered, by bringing them to cast their burdens upon him. “ Come, say they, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.” As soon as the afflicted cast their burdens upon God, he is always ready to sustain them. As soon as Peter, when sinking in the waves, lifted up his eyes and his heart to Christ, and cried for mercy, the compassionate Saviour granted him immediate support. As soon as Abraham had completely bowed his will to the will of God, and in his heart had offered up his son, God appeared for his relief, and removed his heavy burden. God is always ready to sustain the weak and distressed, when they are willing to take hold of his supporting hand. He always knows when the afflicted really desire his gracious support, and then he is always willing to sustain them, by lightening their burdens, or giving them strength according to the weight and duration of their trials.

2. Those who cast their burdens upon the Lord are properly prepared to receive divine support and consolation. While they carry their own burdens, they murmur and repine, which renders them incapable of deriving support from God. They refuse to be comforted. They contend with their Maker, who is stronger than they, and provoke him to continue and increase their burdens. Pharaoh was obstinate and incorrigible under divine corrections. He chose to bear his own burdens, and refused to submit to the hand that chastised him. This provoked God to increase his burdens, until they sunk him in perdition. While the afflicted feel and act like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke, or a wild bull in a net, they are in a situation which forbids God to appear for them, and puts them out of the reach of his aid and support. They cannot, at the same time, trust in themselves and lean upon God. But when they cease to contend with the Almighty, and cast their burdens upon him, then they are suitably prepared to receive divine consolation. When they feel weak, and weary, and heavy laden, and really lean upon the Lord, they immediately find rest and peace. All the perfections of God are a ground of support to those who cast their burdens upon him ; and so long as they renounce all self-dependence, and trust in the Lord Jehovah, in whom there is everlasting strength, they will feel themselves strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might

3. The glory of God requires him to support those who look to him for strength or relief under their burdens. He always glorifies himself by displaying his perfections in supporting, relieving, or defending his friends, who place their hopes and cast their burdens upon him. The scriptures abound with instances of his signal interpositions in favor of suffering saints. He appeared for Jacob when sinking in despondency, and turned his sorrows into joys. He strengthened and animated Elijah, in a season of peculiar darkness and distress. He gave faith and fortitude to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, which enabled them to maintain their religion and integrity, in opposition to all the power and malice of their enemies. He exerted his power and displayed his justice in favor of Daniel, and gave him a complete victory and triumph over those who sought his life. And the apostle gives us a long catalogue of

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the ancient patriarchs whom God supported in affliction, protected in danger, and relieved in distress. In these and all other instances of the kind, God glorified himself by sustaining and comforting those who confided in his power and goodness. His past is a pledge of his future conduct. As he always has, so he always will, sustain the weak, the weary, and the afflicted, who cast their burdens upon him. I may add,

4. That God has promised to afford all proper support and relief to those who come to him with their cares and burdens, and place an unshaken confidence in his faithfulness. This is promised in the text. “ Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.” The prophet says, “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” The apostle James says, “ Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” And the apostle Peter says, “ Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." There is a multitude of similar promises, scattered all over the Bible. These particular promises are made upon particular conditions, and whenever the conditions are performed, the promises will certainly be performed. If the bereaved and afflicted only comply with the duty God has enjoined on them in particular, it is certain they shall find divine consolation and support. The faithfulness of God never did and never can fail. “ Hath he said, and shall he not do it?” Indeed, a firm faith in the divine promises is one of the means, by which God immediately comforts and supports those who trust in him and cast their burdens upon him. Hence it is absolutely certain that, if the bereaved and burdened perform the condition in the text, they shall eventually be sustained and comforted.

IMPROVEMENT.

1. If God will sustain those who cast their burdens upon him, then burdens may become the means of great good. Men are naturally prone, in prosperity, to forget and forsake God; to imagine they are rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; to trust in their own hearts and lean to their own understanding; and to say unto God, depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. While they are in such a state of self-sufficiency and independence, they are deaf to the calls, and warnings, and admonitions, of the word and providence of God, and stand exposed to all the snares and temptations of this present evil world. There is nothing, therefore, better adapted to prevent these fatal effects of prosperity than adversity, which is calculated to make men feel the necessity and importance of returning to God, from whom they have unwisely and sinfully departed. And though bereavements and afflictions of every kind are marks of the divine displeasure, yet they are the means which God often uses to promote the spiritual and eternal good of the children of men. By laying heavy burdens upon sinners, he has, in a great many instances, prepared them for his special grace. And, by laying heavy burdens upon his own children, he has often promoted their spiritual benefit and growth in grace. Indeed, the apostle tells us that he treats all his children in this manner, to express his tender regard for their highest welfare. “ Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons : for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Farthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live ? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, but he, for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now, no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous : nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby.” Afflictions always produce these salutary effects, when they bring the children of God to feel their dependence upon him, and to cast themselves upon his mercy. And hence they have often seen and acknowledged the goodness of God to them, in calling them to endure afflictions and fiery trials. David says, “ It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." And again he says, “ Before I was afflicted, I went astray: but now I have kept thy word.” When afflictions make good men feel their dependence upon God, and bring them to stay themselves upon him, they ought to consider them as the fruits of his fatherly love.

2. If God will sustain those who cast their burdens upon him, then the greatest burdens may become the most beneficial. The greatest burdens have the greatest tendency to draw men to God, and make them feel the necessity of looking to him for support and relief. None will go to God for support, so long as they feel able to support themselves. And they commonly feel sufficient to endure light and momentary afllictions, and therefore despise such chastenings of the Lord. But when he lays his hand heavily upon them, and takes away a friend or relative in whom their hearts were bound up, or calls them to suffer any other heavy and distressing calamity, then they feel their own weakness, and are ready to cry to God for

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