Imatges de pÓgina

easily obtain: That it may not be thus, but we may highly value and duly improve so inestimable a blessing, as the full renewal of the soul in righteousn ss, he may suffer' us so to feel the plague of our own heart, as that great heaviness, and bitter sorrow may be the consequence.

Let triflers with God and religion, say what they please : To a truly pious soul it will be a very humbling consideration to find, rotwithstanding the Lord' has been abundantly gracious, yet so much self will, pride, anger, peevishness, fretfulness, impatience, 'unholy desires, and the like, should still remain. And when a larger measure of divine light is communicated these evils will

appear more hateful, because they so greatly resemble the devil from whom they originally proceeded. But'the Lord will not suffer faithful souls to continue long in this situation ; he will not only shew them the ample provision which he hath made through Christ Jesus for their full and complete salvation ; but will speedily and powerfully deliver them.

That this was the design of our Lord, in all that he did and suffered on our account, we cannot doubt, because the Apostle assures us, “ he came to redeem us from all iniqui. ty ;” and he himself said, “ Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Therefore, if we seriously and intensely desire to be filled with divine grace; or to experience the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit to such a degree, that sin may be destroyed, root and branch ; then the promise of the Lord will be accomplished ; we shall be saved according to the desire which God bath wrought in us. How great will this deliverance be ? and how happy are they who are thus brought out of darkness into light.

Fourthly, What ground such persons have to trust in the Lord, and to stay themselves upon their God? · I. With regard to those who are seeking salvation through Christ, and yet walk in darkness; They certainly have all the encouragement that God himself can give them, to come and partake of the riches of his mercy and love in Christ Jesus. Is it possible to afford greater encouragement to returning sinners to trust in the Lord, than to assure them, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, pot imputing their trespasses unto them." Or, that Christ qur Redeemer," was made a sin-offering for us, that we might bo made the righteousness of God through him." In

consequence of this, God himself declares,' “ I will be mer. ciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Many such gracious declarations as these, we shall find in the word of God, which he will certainly make good to all who seek his face. It is well kgown, that Satan will use all his art, to distress, discourage, and cast down those who are coming to Christ ; and many doubts and painful fears will that enemy throw into their minds. But these are all fully answered in the great and precious promises, and the kind and gracious invitations made to those who seek the Lord. Let them only believe the words of Christ, and their doubts will be dispelled : “ Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find ; knock and it shall be opened unto you." And as if this was not enough, he adds, “Every one who asketh receiveth, and he who seeketh findeth." If any one should say, “But I bave asked, and have not received : I have sought the Lord, and have not found him :" That person would do well to consider the words of the Psalmist, If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. Iniquity must be put away, and the one desire of our heart must be to be saved from the accursed thing. Again, we should remember the word of the prophet, " Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye sball search for ine with all your heart.” If we are in earnest, if our whole soul is athirst for God, if we really desire to be saved in God's own way, and upon his own terms, there is no ground at all, for any one to doubt or fear; no not although we may think ourselves to be the very worst of sinners, seeing that our Lord saith, “ Whosoever cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast him out."

If the Lord is pleased to try the believer with distressing providences, and he walks in that kind of darkness before described, let him not be discouraged, but remember the Lord hath taken him and all he hath, under his protection, The enemy knows, and has been obliged to confess it too, " Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side ?" Yea; and the Lord hath set the same hedge about you also ; and therefore remember, Satan must ask leave of God, before he can hurt either you or yours.

Remember again, the hand of an infinitely wise and gracious God, is in all the events of his providence; the hairs of your head are numbered ; and a sparrow falleth not to the ground without the notice of your beavenly Father. As nothing can happen to you by chance, the Lord whom you serve, must have a wise and gracious

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design in permitting those distressing trials to befal you, you will learn this from his own word, for it declares, that

All things shall work together for good to them that love God.”.

It may be said to us on such occasions, “ What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." Therefore we should patiently wait the openings of providence, “ He that believeth maketh not haste," Doth not charge God foolishly, but commits himself and all his con: cerns into the hand of the Lord, whose truth and faithfulness can never fail.

If our kind and gracious God should lay his chastening hand upon us, and we should walk in darkness on that account, nearly the same observations may be made. The Lord hath given us his holy word to comfort us on such occasions, and if we attend to it as we ought, we shall not be cast down: 66 We have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence : shall we not 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 be for our profit, that we might be the partakers of his holiness." Hence we see every affliction is designed to bring us nearer to God, to make us wiser and better, and to fit us for the enjoyment of our everlasting inheritance: yea, to heighten our happiness in heaven itself. These light afflictions which are but for a moment, worketh for us, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” It is not improbable but the time will come, when we shall see, some of the heaviest afflictions we ever met with, have been the greatest blessings, and we shall have eternal cause to praise the Lord for them.

Should violent temptation be our portion, still we are encouraged to trust in the Lord: His ways may appear exceedingly mysterious for the present. God hath his way in the mighty waters, and his footsteps are not always seen. Yet nevertheless he speaks in the most encouraging manner to us, therefore we need not be cast down, or confounded. It is not his design we should be overcome by temptation at any time ; no, nor does he intend our spiritual prosperity should be interrupted thereby. There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man: and God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able ; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." From these

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words it appears the Lord will give us strength according to our day, and will not leave us under the power of our ene my. Many are the scriptures which might be produced, which confirm the words of the Apostle, but time would fail to quote one half of them. " No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper ; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.". Again, “ Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that cootendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And all fesh shall know that I the Lord am Saviour and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." " When thou passeth through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee : when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For 'l am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.' Here we see, what abundant encouragement the Lord girės to his tempted followers, to cast their care upon him and 10 put their whole trust and confidence in bim ; so shall they be supported and comforted, and brought safely through all their trials into the wealthy place, where afflictions and temptations shall be no more.

While we continue in the path of duty, we have nothing to fear; for our help standeth in the naine of the Lord, who made both heaven and earth. :

How encouraging are the words of Eliphaz to Job; " Bebold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty. For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death : and in war, from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue, nether shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth; For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field; and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. And thou shalt koow thy tabernacle shall be in peice: and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin." Lo, thus shall the wan be blessed who lives in the fear of the Lord, and steadily walks in his righteous wars.

Who that duly consider these things, but would be of the same mind with Moses, of whom the Apostle says; That when he came of age, he refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter ; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season ; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasnres of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompence of the reiward. “Be not then weary in well doing, for in due time we shall reap, if we faint not. Yet a little while and all qur 'conflicts will be for erer over, and we shall rest in a peaceable and quiet habitation, and live in the full enjoyment of God for ever.

If any should say, “But seeing the troubles and crosses which the righteous meet with, are so many and great, will it not be the best way to enjoy the world for the present, and have nothing to do with religion till a little before death? To such unwise persons it is sufficient to answer, “Is your life in your own power? Or rather, is it not in the band of God?" And will you sin against him who can take away your breath whenever be pleaseth? Can you enjoy the world, or any solid happiness in it, till you enjoy God himself, and the riches of his grace? If the scriptures declare “ Many are the troubles of the righteous," does it not also affirm, Many are the troubles of the wicked? But where shall they find a deliverer ? Let the concluding words of tbis chapter be considered by all such persons: “Behold,

ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye

shall lie down in sorrow.' How well would it be then, for all such to “ Seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near;" and so improve the day of their visitation, that they also may be happy with God for ever.

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