Imatges de pÓgina

the death and life of Christ are liable to no change, as is our obedience. (4.) Upon the coming in of words to their minds. Hence, when a promise comes in, they are comforted; when a threatening, all is gone. I do believe that the Spirit comforts his people by the word, and that he makes words come in with an impression on the soul; John xiv. 26, “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said.” But then these words lead the soul direct to Christ, and to build our comfort on him; but it is not of God to build it on the bare impression of a comfortable word. The coming in of a word should guide us to Christ; and though the impression, the guide go, yet we may keep our hold of him.—Here we are presented with an objection, “ But I fear I have nothing to do with these consolations." Answ. Are you this day willing to take Christ? Then give your consent, and he is yours, and all is yours : " Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely,” Rev. xxii. 17. OBJECT." But I fear I am not sincere, in that I am actuated from fear of hell, and hope of reward.” Answ.

fear not God's wrath, so as to endeavour to escape it, ye are despisers of God ; if ye desire not salvation, so as to labour for it, ye are monstrous murderers of your own souls. Let your selflove only be regular, and it is commendable; and then it is regular got the next, he liveth in the court of heaven as a public person and treasury of strength ; “Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace,” John i. 16.

If ye

desires of happiness are carried towards it through Christ and the way of holiness ; so that your soul longs for Christ as well as salvation, and ye desire to be holy as well as happy. It is regular, when it is subordinate to the will of God; and that is, when the man justifies God, though he should cast him off, and yet, come what will, is resolved to cleave to the Lord and his way.

A word to other two sources of the saint's fears.

1. Weakness and spiritual inability for the duties of religion. The soul taking a view of the great work it has to do, what strong Justs are to be mortified, temptations resisted, duties performed ; and then, considering how weak and unable it is for any of these things, it is even ready to sink. But fear not: Christ died, &c. Heb. xii. 12, “ Wherefore, lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” Christ died, and therefore strength for duty is purchased. In the first Adam, the influences of the Spirit were forfeited ; in the second Adam, they are bought back again. The well-ordered covenant is sealed and confirmed. There is a fulness in the covenant for all your wants. There are promises in it that will answer all your needs. Now, the covenant is confirmed, for the testator is dead. Christ liveth ; he arose from death, and lives evermore; therefore, he that has the believer's stock of strength is alive. Adam got our first stock, but he became insolvent; Christ

when your

The believer's Surety to the Father stands good; and what need they fear as long as their Cautioner holds foot ? Christ is the believer’s cautioner for sanctification and perseverance, John 8. 28, and chap. xvii, 12, “ While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name : those that thon gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” Therefore he is called “the surety of a better testament,” Heb. vii. 22. Now, he will not see his people in want of what is necessary for their through-bearing. He lives for that end, to dispense the benefits of the covenant. He holds the keys, therefore they shall not want. The Spirit is given by virtue of his ascension, John xvi. 7,“ Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” For what purpose was Joseph sent to Egypt, and exalted there, but to provide for his father's family, being therein a notable type of Christ? Well, then, fear not; wiles help weak folk. Though ye want strength, yet you have wisdom afforded you, even in betaking yourselves to Christ. I may allude to that, Prov. xxx. 24-29, “ There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise. The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer ; the conies are but a feeble flock, yet make they their houses in the rocks; the locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; the spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in king's palaces.” Ye have the wisdom of the ants, to provide your meat in summer ; of the conies, to build in the Rock Christ; of the locusts, vot to set out alone; and of the spiders, to be in the palace of the great King, holding by the promises. 2 Cor. xii. 9, “ My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength made perfect in weakness."

2. The danger of an evil time is another source of fear. Psalm xlix. 5, “Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about ? Two things there look ghastly upon them. (1.) The hazard of sinning. An evil time is a time of many snares.

The soul is afraid that he will never stand out, but one day will fall. Fear not :-Christ died, and it was an evil time, a time of many snares, yet he came safe off. This he did as a public person, and so it is a pledge that ye shall also be carried through; see Heb. iv. 14.-16. Christ lives evermore, therefore yo may say, as David, Psalm xviii. 46, 48,“ The Lerd liveth, and blessed

Vol. IX.


be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted. He delivereth me from mine enemies,” &c. He lives to intercede, which was Peter's security: “I have," says he," prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." He is busy for his people, when they have most need. (2.) There is hazard of suffering, and that is frightful to flesh and blood. Fear not :-Christ died, and therefore the bitter dregs of the cup are drunken off. He was forsaken in his sufferings, that you might be supported in your sufferings. Your sufferings will but conform you to Christ your head. Christ liveth, and therefore ye shall be supported in suffering, that the world may know that he who was dead is alive. Remarkable is that word, 2 Cor. iv. 10, “ Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also might be made manifest in our body." A suffering time is a special season in which Christ uses to appear. We read thrice of Christ's hour, John xiii. 1, “Now, before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come, that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." Chap. xvii. 1, " These words spake Jesus,-Father, the hour is come," &c. That was an hour of darkness. Jolin ii. 4,“ Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” That was an hour wherein the wine was done, and the pots were filled with water; you know what followed.

Here it may be objected, “ But what if ordinances be taken away?" Answ. If they be, the God of ordinances endures for ever. Christ liveth, "and he shall be for a sanctuary," Isa. viii. 14. And says God, by Ezekiel, concerning his scattered people, " Yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come,” chap. xi. 16. When there was no ordinary food to be got in the wilderness, it was sent down from heaven. Though our kirk doors should be shut, heaven's door shall be open as long as Christ liveth. OBJECT.“ But I think I am very unfruitful under ordinances.” Answ. It is the greater shame! But if this be thy trouble, know that Christ liveth ; and therefore, if there be sap in the root, there is always hope of the branches. There is enough there, draw it out. But as Christ first died, then arose, so the believer grows downward as well as upward. If ye lave a heart-memory, though ye want a head-memory, it is well.—OBJECT. “ But what shall those do, when they are seized with fear and discouragement, and cannot tell wherefore ?" Answ. The Lord may sometimes exercise his people so, to shew them their own weakness and nothingness. But possibly it may be the majesty of God that so affects thee, and the reason why it is not discerned to be so, may be an intimation of the Lord's love just going before it. See Dan. x. 10–12, “ And behold, a hand touched me, which set me upon my knees, and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, o Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent: and when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling." But however it be, the only cure is believing, Psalm xxvii. 13," I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” The sooner you believe, the better; for in this case a man is like one that is going to ride a great water that is increasing; the longer he delays, the water grows still the greater.

Now, the way to make use of these things, so as to draw comfort from them, is to believe. There is, in the first place, a firm assent to the truths revealed, 1 John v. 5, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ?" then, an act of faith, realizing these things, Heb. xi. 1, “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” To which may be added, an act of assurance, Gal. ii. 20,“ I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” If yo cannot reach to all this extent, yet you may reach an act of adherence. A trembling hand may draw the water of consolation out of the wells of salvation. Amen.



Isaiah lis. 2, But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and

your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

WHEN we look abroad through the world, many sad sights may be seen; but amongst the most lamentable is man, who was by the Lord planted a noble vine, wholly a right seed, but now turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine. Some are lying mouldering in the grave of a graceless state, noisome to God and to good men ; some are in a withered state, their former beauty gone, and death

• Delivered Nov. 3, 1706.

has settled down on their faces, because God, the life and soul of their souls, is gone. If they inquire, with Rebekal, Why am I thus ? the answer is in the text: “Your iniquities,” &c.

In these words, we have, 1st, A dreadful evil that this people was under, separation from God. 2dly, The party at whose door the blame lies, they who have made the breach. 3dly, The procuring cause of this evil, “ your iniquities."

As to the 1st, Separation is either good or bad, according to the quality of the term from which men are separated. But the separation here is held forth as an evil, and that the greatest evil; for it is a separation from God, an evil which is so heavy, that, when felt, it is enough to make a Cain groan, and say, “ It is greater than I can bear," Gen. ir. 13. Sin makes many separations. It separates the nearest relations, it separates the soul from the body. But all these are inconsiderable in respect of this, the separation of the soul from God. It is an evil still greater, for it is a separation from a covenanted God. Your God. Free love had separated Israel from all other people on the earth, and made them the Lord's by a peculiar relation; but sin separates betwixt them and that God to wliom they were thus joined. That there should be a separation betwixt God and the Gentile world, who had professedly joined themselves to other gods, is not to be wondered at; but how dreadful is this, to be separated from our God! No fall is like a fall to hell from off heaven's threshold. The higher persons are raised up, the lower do they sink when they fall.

2. Who are to blame? Why, men are ready to say, God is an austere master, and forgetful of the children of men; and from our first father we have it as hereditary, rather to lay the blame on God, than to take it to ourselves. Therefore, he clears himself of it, ver. 1, shewing he wants neither power nor will to help them, on due application; and accordingly, he lays the blame where it should be, even on themselves. They made the breach ; they may thank themselves for what they lie under, for they have drawn it on with their own hands.

3. How biżve they done it? Has God, who is exalted above the heavens, withdrawn from them, because they are on the earth as nothing before him? Cannot infinite majesty lodge with the soul in a cottage of clay? Has he separated from them, because they are inean, hated and despised by their neighbours round about them? No, no; none of these are the causes. Their iniquities are the only cause of all. Nothing but sin could part them. Sia is the only make-bate betwixt God and you. This subject affords us this

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