Imatges de pÓgina

enough to give delight to all of their number. In it there is balm to heal, treasures to enrich, food to nourish, cordials to refresh, provifion for our being cleansed and fanctified now, and perfectly faved at laft. In diftreffes inward and outward, under whatever evils we feel or are liable to, when nothing elfe can comfort us, the word can do it.

III. How is it that it does this ;

I answer,

1. As believed, confidered, and applied by the faints. I had fainted, faith the Pfalmift, unless I had believed, &c. Pfal. xxvii. 13. He who delights in the law of the Lord, meditateth in that law day and night, Pfal. i. 2.

2. As impreffed and fet home by the fpirit. Whatever comfort we have in the word, it is from it as made efficacious by the Spirit: who therefore is called the Comforter, because from the word alone without his gracious influence co-operating with it, nothing of this could be found.

IV. When may a child of God find comfort from God's word?

I answer in general: At all times, and in every state and condition: but particularly, under the times of fore trial and affliction which God may fee fit to appoint him while he lives, and under his laft trial, when he is called to go through the valley of the fhadow of death.

1. The word of God may be the comfort of his people in the times of great and fore affiction, which they fall into while they live. They are not exempted from fuch times, nor


left deftitute of what may support them in them. David, thought himself ready to perish, and that he should really have done fo in the afflictive time referred to in the text, had not the law of God been his delight. This not only faves from perifhing, but is a spring of confolation in time of need. And it is fo,

(1.) As it acquaints the fuffering faint, that these have been the lot of fome of God's choiceft favourites in their way to heaven. How evil foever may be the time, and whatever be. his cafe, yet looking into the bible, he may be fatisfied he is not dealt with in a manner unufual. Even the Captain of our falvation lived in an evil day, and went through fufferings to glory: And under whatever of these we meet with, how great comfort may it yield to us, that they are no more, nay unconceivably lefs than our bleffed Lord endured before us?

(2.) As the fame word affures the faint, that afflictions are confiftent with God's special love to his people, and their covenant relation to him. Having loved his own, he loveth them unto the end; and he would not be thought to have rejected or caft those off, whom he may have seen fit to caft down. He may vifit the iniquities of his own people with a rod, and their tranfgreffions with ftripes but he has declared, nevertheless, his loving-kindness he will not utterly take from them, nor fuffer his faithfulness to fail, Pf. lxxxix. 32,33. Whatever he takes from his people or lays upon them, he continues their God ftill; which is ground enough for their ufing the prophets words, in their moft diftreffed cafes.


Hab. iii. 17, 18. 19. Although the fig-tree fall not bloffom, neither fhall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive fhall fail, and the field fhall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there fhall be no herd in the ftalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my falvation. The Lord is my ftrength, &c.

(3.) As the word teaches the children of God, that afflictions are not only confistent with the love of God, but often the inftances of it: For whom the Lord loveth be chafteneth, and fcourgeth every fon whom he receiveth. If ye endure chaftening, God dealeth with you, as with fons: for what fon is he whom the father chasteneth not? Heb. xii. 6, 7.

(4.) As it farther acquaints them, that though afflictions are deferved by fin, they are laid upon the people of God with a defign to cure it. Ifa. xxvii. 9. By this therefore fhall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away his fins. We are chaftened of the Lord, that we may be partakers of his holiness. We are in heaviness when need is: and whether we think so, or not, our heavenly Father knows our need of being afflicted.

If we belong to his house in general, and are each of us houfes of his fpirit in particular, our heavenly Father knoweth we have need of affliction. As an houfe wants to be repaired or cleanfed, fo do we. It is known, a house neglected will grow out of order, and vifibly decay; and fo too often do the people of God, when left to themselves for a while. It may be said of many of us, as we well know, Here is one who


was once zealous and fervent, laborious and diligent, ferious and watchful, whofe love was flaming, his defires after God and Chrift vigorous, his faith ftrong, his mortification to the present world remarkable, and his mind, difcourfe and converfation favouring of a better, and fhewing an evident tendency to it: How fervently would he pray? How diligently hear? How exactly walk? But alas! how fad a change is there now visible in him? How cold and formal, secure and indifferent, carnal and earthly is the man become? And where would these things iffue, did not God reclaim him by fome awakening affliction, which fufficiently proves its neceffity and usefulnefs. Before I was afflicted, fays David, I went aftray; but now have I kept thy word.

In ease and profperity faints themselves are too apt to go backward, and fuffer decays; abate of their watchfulness against fin, and diligence in duty, and fo of their advances towards heaven; and inftead thereof, to indulge the flesh, pursue the world, and fink in a great measure into the temper of it. And in this cafe, what need is there of fome fore affliction to bring them back to themselves and God, and repair the disorders they were running into?

By these we all are led to remember from whence we are fallen, and excited to repent and do our first works, to strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die; and fo our ruin is prevented, and we are reduced to a better frame.

A house will gather duft and foil, and so needs to be cleansed: and corruption is as apt to grow


even in faints themfelves, to purge away which, affliction is neceffary.

The troubles wherewith God fees fit to vifit his people, have a tendency to this, by discovering corruption, and withdrawing the feuel that fed it, and putting us upon earneft prayer for the Spirit's aid, to mortify and fubdue it. And thus, though no chaftening is for the prefent joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness, unto them that are exercijed thereby, Heb. xii. 11.

If God has put us among his children, this character fpeaks our need of affliction. For,

(1.) Children in a family are prone to grow proud and vain, rebellious and stubborn, and stand in need of correction to keep them in their places, and hold them to their duty: and the children of God have equal need of affliction to keep them in fubjection to him, and to reduce them from their wandrings. And when it works kindly, this will be their language. Hofea vi. 1. Come and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will beal us, he bath fmitten, and he will bind us up. Surely it is meet to be faid unto God, I have born chaftisement, I will not offend any more.


which I fee not, teach thou me, and if I have done iniquity, I will do fo no more. Thus, to yield to God, is a temper very becoming his children; to bring them to which, it is often neceffary they should first be melted down in the furnace of affliction,

(2.) Children have many things to learn, in which they need to be inftructed: And the children of God have equal need to be instructed by


him ;

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