Imatges de pÓgina

him; and in order to it, he brings them into the fchool of affliction.

Here he fenfibly acquaints thèm with the vanity and emptiness of all this world to help to wean them from it, and fhews them, they are never to find their reft in it, and that it is in vain there to expect it.

This leffon they need an affliction to set home, as being fo apt to say in profperity, It is good to be here. But with an afflicted faint, the world has loft its charms, and appears, as indeed it is, full of vanity and vexation, a place where he cannot live always, and does not defire it; looking upon their cafe as miferable who have nothing to expect or enjoy beyond it. In this fchool God teaches them the evil of fin, that has let in fo much mifery upon the world, and is the procuring caufe of all they fuffer, and the worth of an intereft in Chrift, and a title to heaven; and how much they are concerned to make sure of both, as nothing elfe can ftand them in ftead, and keep them from fainting and perishing in their affliction. Upon fuch accounts David cries out, Blefjed is the man whom thou chafteneft, O Lord, and teaches him out of thy law, Pfalm xciv. 12.

5. The Word of God tends to the comfort of his people in affliction, as acquainting them, that though for wife ends God brings them under the rod, he confiders their frame, and remembers that they are but duft, and will not increase the tryal, either as to degree, or continuance, beyond what he will enable them to bear.

In measure will he debate with them; he stayeth his rough wind in the day of his eaftwind, Ifa. xxvii. 8.

6. Lastly,


6. Lastly, It is greatly reviving to learn from the word, that under times of affliction God has chofen to let out his love more freely to his ple, than at other feafons. And who would not be reconciled to the rod, to know and tafte more of his promise to the church, Hofea ii. 14. Iwill allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and Speak comfortably unto her?

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Thus the word of God is a ftore-house of comfort to his people, under their various afflictions while they live.

2. It is fitted to delight them when they are called to die and to do this, as teaching them two things, viz.

(1.) That as dying God will be with them.
(2.) That immediately after death they shall
be with him.

(1.) They are taught from the word, that as dying God will be with them. In this he goes farther in his declaration to his people, than Ruth did to Naomi, her mother. Ruth, when entreated by her to go back, answered, whither thou goeft, I will go; and where thou lodgeft, I will lodge: thy people fhall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou dieft, will I die, and there will I be buried: The Lord do fo to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. If nothing in life can do it, death will separate the dearest friends among mankind. But God having guided his people even unto death, will not then take leave of them, not when flesh and heart are failing them, but as he lives ftill, he will be with them still.

Though father and mother, physicians and friends forfake God's people as going off the stage


of the world, and they are left alone as to any of thefe, they are not altogether alone; for the Father is with them. He thus befpeaks every one of his children, Ifa. xliii. 2. When thou paffeft through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they fhall not overflow thee. And this does not only extend to them under all the evils they meet with whilft in the world, but when going out of it. Thus the Pfalmift encourageth himself in God, yea though I walk through the valley of the fhadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.

(2.) They are taught from the word, that after death they fhall be with God, that he having guided them by his counsel fo far, will afterwards receive them to glory. When their earthly tabernacle is diffolved, they have a building of God, an house not made with hands, where they fhall dwell in that prefence of his, where there is fulness of joy, and at whose right-hand are pleasures for evermore.

There is one thing more under the doctrinal part, viz.

V. The nature of the delight or confolation derived from the word. And

1. The delight or confolation derived from the word is truly divine, and the confolation of God.

It has the word of God for its ground, and the Spirit of God for its author. It comes from heaven, is the beginning of it, and leads to it; and it is no wonder then that it carrries the foul with fa much triumph through all the trials it may meet with upon the way. When God puts gladness




into the heart, it is fuch as the whole creation befide is unable to give.

2. The confolation and delight, which the people of God have in his word, as being divine, is certainly real and folid: Not a name only, or fancied or imaginary; though it is better felt by the happy fouls themselves in which it is, than it can be made known to others.

Such expreffions as thofe have a firm ground to fupport them, Pfalm cxix. 14. I have rejoiced in the way of thy teftimonies, as much as in all riches. Thy ftatutes have been my fongs in the house of my pilgrimage, ver. 54. Thy teftimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart, ver. 111.

The caufes of it are not imaginary, and the effects of this delight are diftinguishing, even readinefs for any duty, and fubmiffion to the will of God in any trial. The joy of the Lord is the ftrength of his people.

3. It is rational and juftifiable. If any delight in the world hath a juft ground, it is that which the people of God have in and from his word: they have juft reason therefore, to believe the fcriptures to be the word of God. And upon a ferious fearch, they find upon themfelves the marks by which the children of God are there defcribed Hence they are enabled to infer their intereft, in the privileges of fuch; and applying them to themfelves, to fee abundant reafon for peace and comfort; which how much foever fcorned or difvalued by others, they find to be real, and would hold faft as the most defirable thing in all the world.


4. The

4. The delight which the people of God have in his law, is holy. It is built upon an holy word, wrought in them, by the fanctifying Spirit, and leads to greater holiness, and fo to more raised degrees of itself. It is acompanied with forrow for fin, contempt of the world, defire of heaven, and an earnest endeavour to become more and more meet for it.


It is a delight that is fometimes vigorous and strong.

God is willing that it fhould be fo in all the heirs of promise: But there are degrees in this, as well as in grace. Some can fing in the way to Zion; others go mourning like the dove, fo as to give room for that queftion of Eliphaz, Are the confolations of God fmall with thee? Job xv. 11. i. e. Are thy forrows fo many and grievous, as to be more powerful to fink, than the confolations of God to help thee up ? Is it a work too hard for God to put an end to thy afflictions, scatter the clouds, and turn thy forrow into joy? Can any thing be too hard for the Almighty? And is not his goodness infinite and unmeasurable? His promifes exceeding great and precious? Hath he not balm enough in ftore to heal thy wounds? and treasure enough in stock to repair thy loffes? Say, thy cafe is as dark and diftreffed as ever any ones was, thy fufferings as fore as thy will, they are but the fufferings of a creature; but the comforts before thee are the confolations of God. Are the confolations of God fmall with thee? But let the most dejected among the righteous know, that light is fown for them, and joy and gladness for the upright in heart.

L 2

6. Lastly,

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