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A fond, and foolish conceit this is, Ecclef.6. 12. Who knows what is good for himself in this life? The words are fpoken questionwise, and we are to understand them negatively. That is only good for us in this life, which is improved in order to our Eter
al life, Now God can carry on that course to bring us to Eternal happiness, which he hath chosen his people to, by adversity, as well as prosperity. Therefore this is the duty, and wisdom of the people of God, to leave it with God, as it is Pfàl. 47. 4. Thou Jhalt choose our inheritance for us. Wisdom is required to make a good choice in any thing. God is the only wise God, he will choose well.
Note this farther. In three things God hath set ‘us bounds: Bounds to our Faith, what to believe. Bounds to our Actions, what to do : And bounds to our Prayers, what to desire, and what to ask. And why should our Wishes be unbounded, since they are like Prayers ? Idle wilhes are, at least, as bad, as idle words, which no man can give account of, Matth. 12. 36. Many have gotten their death, and destruction, by getting what they wisht for. They wished, they might dye in the Wilderness, and they did
Farther, John here wilheth, That Gaius might prosper ; John's wish was a prayer to
so. Nam. 14.
God for him. From hence we may take this note.
Note. The well-being, and prosperity of everj man's outward condition, is wholly at God's
disposing. Pfal.127.1. Except the Lord build 1. the house, &c. It is neither the care of the
Master, nor the faithfulness of the Servants, nor any thing else, that can do any thing at all, if God say Nay. If God doth not make the house to grow ( as David useth the expression 2 Sam. 23. 5. ) certainly, it will wither. The Estate, the Houfe, the Family will decay; and, in time, come to nothing. I note this, that we may be all stirred up, to acknowledge God, to be the Fountain, and Spring of all outward Bleffings whatsoever. And accordingly.
(1.) As we defire any thing fhould fucceed, that we take in hand, relating to our worldly affairs, engage God in all, that he may work with us therein. We have Warrant, in every thing to make known our requests to God. Phil. 4.6. In every thing, be it never fo small, engage God to be with us therein ; and say as Abraham's Servant did, Gen. 24. 11. Lord send me good speed every day.
(2.) As we desire to prosper, fo serve the Providence of God; wait upon him, and keep his ways, and believe his promises. David gives his Son this counsel; Keep the
charge of the Lord, that thou mayest prosper, and bave good success, 1 Kings. 2. 3. And he had so, while he did so. It is spoken of such a person, Pfal. 1,3. Whatsoever be doth, shall profper : It shall turn to good, in order to the furtherance of the Soul's prosperity.
(3.) When the Lord is plealed to bless the labour of our hands, to make our going out, and our coming in, the beginning, and ending of what we go about successful, give God the praise. Sacrifice not to your own Net, as that worldly person, Psal. 49. 18. who bless'd himself: No, give God the glory, though the matter be never so small. Ruth. 2, 18, 19, 20. Naomi being brought into a low condition (though she had been a woman of fashion ) when her daughter-inlaw had sped well in gleaning; o blessed be the Lord, faith she. Truly, this would be well thought of, Pfal. 73. 4. Delight thy self in the Lord, and he shall give thee thy hearts defire. When God hath given us our hearts desire, we should delight our felves in the Lord: And the Mercy of God, should raise us up to rejoyce in the God of our Mercies: This would make every days Mercies to reach our Souls.
( 4.) I wish, that thou mayest prosper, &c.] It was well with Gaius already ; He profpered with the best prosperity ; but John wish-'. eth, that he might be royally blessed. That.
mercy might compass him about on every side. Hence,
Observe, That though it be a just, and measured truth, That that Man is a blessed Man, whose Soul profpers, in what outward condition foever he be, yet outward prosperity (Soulprosperity going before ) is a fuperadded blesfing, and may be fought for at the hands of God, with submisfion to the will of God for our felves, and in the behalf of others.
It is without all controversie, Though a Man's outward condition were as low as Job's in the Old Testament, and as Lazarus's in the New Testament, yet he is blessed, whose Soul prospers. For as it is said, of eve. ry Man in his civil capacity : In his best estate he is altogether vanity, Pfal.39. 5. He is subject to changes, none can tell what a day may bring forth: Here we have no continuing City, Heb. 13. 14. So it may truly be faid of a person, whose Soul prospers, whatever his outward condition be, he is altogether blessed. Psal. 94. 12. Blessed is the Man whom thou chaltenest, O Lord, and teacheft him out of thy Law. When inftruction hearkened to, goes with correction, the Soul prospers ;- he is a blessed Man. In Job. 1. we have a description of Job's prosperous estate : First, it is said, That he was a Man fearing God. But we have farther, as it were, an Inventory given in, of his outward
condition: He had so many Sheep, so many Oxen, so
many Alles, so many Camells,&c. These were a superadded blessing to Job. This is set down, to shew the praise of Job's patience, who bare such a change so as he did: 'Tis very true, a Man may easily overrate and over-value his worldly estate. Verily, if Soul-prosperity do not go before outward prosperity, outward prosperity is but like a Cypher, and signifies nothing, if a figure don't
before it: A Man may write a sheet of Paper full of Cyphers, but all do not make One: When Soul-prosperity goes before, God hath done much for such
perfons. They have the Earth, they shall have Heaven. They have the Nether Springs, they shall have the Upper Springs ; so that if it were asked them, as Christ did his Dilciples, Luk. 22. 35.
ye any thing3 They must answer (if they will speak, as the matter is) as the Disciples did, They want nothing. God hath not dealt so with all thoft, that have shot the gulph, and are past danger for Eternity. Many of them are cut fort ; yea, they may say many times, as Peter did, Luk.5.5. We have fifhed all night, and caught nothing ; Laboured hard , and caught not so much as a Sprat for their breakfast. Many a Man that - labours all the week; hath
very much ado to bring both ends together, his Gettings, and his Expen