Imatges de pàgina
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

on Sodom that very day on which it was destroyed; all Israel followed Absalom; Jonah fled from the presence of the Lord; Haman finds all things going to his wish. But see the end of all these things.

8. Astonishing strokes lighting on those that are most dear to God. Eccl. viii. 14, “ There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked.” Eli's sons are slain, his daughter-in-law dies, and himself breaks his neck. The two sons of Aaron die at the altar. How numerous were the afflictions that came upon Job. But where is the fault here? Christ's cross, to a child of God, is better than the world's crown, 2 Cor. xii. 9. 10.

9. Great afflictions meeting the Lord's people in the way of duty. This was Jacob's case in many instances. He was in the way God bade him go, yet he met with many trials and aflictions. It hath been so also with many of the Lord's people in all ages. But the Lord has his holy ends in these things; he shews thom that they are sinful creatures; though they are in his way, tries their faith and patience, and makes way for higher experiences. I am,

II. To shew in what respects the way of God is perfect.

1. All the dispensations of providence are exactly according to the pattern shown in the word. If you would know wherein a man has exactly built a house, look to the draught given him. Meet with what we will, all may be reduced to, and explained by, scripture doctrines, prophecies, promises, threatenings, or examples.

2. They are exactly suited to the necessities of his people, and to the designs of them. God weighs every grain of sand which he puts in our glasses; he will never put in too little, nor too much; nothing wanting, nothing superfluous. Deut. xxxii. 4, “ He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity; just and right is he.”

3. In respect of the times of them. Nothing too soon done, nor too late; all fall out in their proper season, determined in the uncbangeable council of God.

4. In respect of its stability. Our ways are unstable, and that is a great fault; but God's ways are not so. That which is crooked cannot be made straight. There will always be a crook in our lot. That is sure, and we could not walk even without it.--I shall,

III. Confirm the point. Consider,

1. That the saints in their experience see this. They readily and fully acknowledge it, IIos. xiv. 9, “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things ? prudent, and he shall know them ? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them, but the

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

transgressors shall fall therein.” This is their unanimous vote when
in a right mood, and will be so in heaven, when the web is out.
Then will they say, “ He bath done all things well.”

2. That they are all the product of infinite holiness, which can do
nothing wrong.

3. That they are all directed, as well as contrived, by infinito wisdom, which knows best how to frame matters.--It remains that,

IV. I make some practical improvement, in

1. A use of information. Are the dispensations of providence all right? Then, (1.) If any thing be wrong with us, we may see where the fault lies, not in God, but in ourselves, Job x.

The oar he rolls his vessel with is in the waters of affliction, and therefore we think the oar is crooked; but that is our misjudging of God. (2.) That we should justify God in the harshest dispensations, give him the glory, even when we walk on the mountains of darkness. Providence will abide a look of the most piercing impartial eye. But when the eye is infected, it will take up things in their wrong colours.

2. Of comfort to the people of God, whatever providences they meet. Be they never so dark, be they never so little understood by them, yet they are all right and faultless. God does not distribute favours to them by guess, but by measure and weight.

3. Of reproof to those who censure, murmur, and quarrel with the dispensations of providence. This is, (1.) to accuse God of folly, as if he were not wise enough to govern the world that he has made. O how often fall we into this, as if we could have ordered better than providence has done. Murmuring will step up, and correct the escapes of infinite wisdom. (2.) Of injustice, as if he were too hard upon his creatures, that deserve better at his hand. For why would people murmur at their right and due ? (3.) Of impotency, as if he could not take away our crosses as easily as he brings them on, or could not make them work for our good.

Lastly, of exhortation. Let all of us, especially the Lord's people, be exhorted to submit and stoop to sovereignty, be our lot in the world what it will. There is none want their own crosses. Every one has soine burden or another to bear; and if we would in truth come after Christ, we are enjoined “to take up our cross, and follow him.”

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

It is ked


2nd 10

che he



PSALM cxlvii. 11, The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his


THERE are times of danger in which the event is very doubtful, but even then the safety and success will always be on the side the Lord casts them. In consequence, it is an important question, How may we engage him on our side ? Certain it is, his pleasure lies not in created strength. Horse and foot, courage and strength, may be on the side which God will disown, and which shall be worsted : “By strength,” says he," shall no man prevail,” 1 Sam. ii. 9. His pleasure is in the strength of grace : “He will keep the feet of his saints;" or, as it is expressed in the text, “The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in bis mercy.”—In which words we have,

1. The character of those whose part the Lord will take in all their trials and troubles, and in all their encounters with their enemies. The first part of their character is, they are fearers of God. They have the awe of his majesty upon their spirits. The second is that they hope in, or rather for his mercy. They, in a becoming manner, wait and patiently seek for relief from God, and that in the way of mercy through Christ, not for any thing in themselves. -Observe next the mixture of these parts of their character: They do not only fear God but hope in him; for fear without hope will sink into raging despair. They not only hope, but fear, for hope without fear will turn into presumption. These two God hath joined together, let not us put them asunder.

2. The privileges of these persons, whoover may be displeased with them, and however much they may be displeased with themselves, God takes pleasure in them. He accepts their persons, and their services, and he will show himself to be on their side. They shall not hope in vain; however hapless their case be in itself, they shall get a merciful relief in due time.

From these words, observe this

Doct. The Lord takes pleasure in those, who, whatever case they be in, entertain a holy fear of him, with a kindly hope in his mercy.

• Delivered July 27, 1718.

In discouring which, it is intended,

I. Shortly to describe this holy fear, that in all cases ought to be entertained, with a hope of the Lord's mercy.

II. To describe that kindly hope of his mercy, to be entertained in all cases, along with this holy fear.

III. To show the necessity of keeping up this holy fear and kindly hope in all cases together in the soul.

IV. To shew what is that pleasure the Lord takes in such.
V. To confirm the doctrine of the text.

VI. To make a practical improvement of the different parts of the subject.

I am, then,

I. Shortly to describe this holy fear, that in all cases ought to be entertained, with a hope of the Lord's mercy. This fear of God is,

1. An awe and dread of his majesty and transcendent greatness : Psalm lxxxix. 6, 7,“For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord ? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence of all them that are about him." With this the lightness and vanity of the heart is to be repressed. The soul must entertain high and honourable thoughts of God, as a sovereign of independent being, in whom all perfections do concentre, must look up to the clouds, and behold him on his throne in heaven, and so bring itself thereby to a profound reverence of his greatness.

2. A reverence of his absolute, his unlimited authority and power: “ Fear him," said Jesus, “who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him,” Luke xii. 5; he can command us whatsoever he will, and dispose of us as he pleaseth. Let us have a reverential regard to the uncontrolable sceptre he sways over all creatures. Since he doth in heaven and in earth what seemeth good unto him, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou? we should silently submit to his disposals.

3. A fear of offending him in any thing: Psalm iv. 4, “ Stand in awe, and sin not.” This is a fear, and caution, and circumspection, which we should always carry about and never lay aside. We walk amidst many snares ; Satan and a corrupt heart are ready to entangle us; but God cannot away with sin; it is the only offence we can give him. He is well pleased to see us afraid of offending him, to see the poor sioner affrighted at every thing that is provoking to him, and keeping up a holy tenderness this way.

4. A fear of imputing iniquity to him, or harbouring hard and unbecoming thoughts of his majesty, Job i. 22, “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." The proud heart casting off the fear of God, arraigns and condemns the conduct of holy Providence as rigorous and unrighteous; and so murmers against the Lord. But holy fear silenceth the mutiny of these unruly passions, and says, “ He does all things well, is holy and righteous in all his ways and works.”

5. A dread of going out of his way for help, however hard the case be : Isa. viii. 13, 14, " Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread; and he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence, to both the houses of Israel ; for a gin and for a snare, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem ; and many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be taken.” Holy fear takes off the wheels of the chariot of impatience and unsanctified haste, which drives furiously to get out of that case in which infinite wisdom has placed us. The soul dare not adventure to shake off the yoke, till the Lord put to his own hand and take it off.

Lastly, A dread of his holy hand in his judgments : Amos iii. 8, “ The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophecy ?" This fear keeps the heart from slight thoughts of them, and furnishes awful thoughts of a smiting God, the weight of whose hand no man is able to bear. And there is here a dread of the hand of the Lord lying on their person for the past : Heb. xii. 5, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.” The man noticeth the stroke, and what impressions of anger are engraven on it, and so he putteth his mouth in the dust, if so there may be hope, Lam. iii. 29. Whatever he meets with, he takes it as from the Lord, and reverenceth the hand that smiteth.—There is, (2.) A dread of what the Lord may inflict upon him : Psalm cxix. 120,“ My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments.” The fearer of the Lord sees, that whatever be bis stroke, it is less than his deserving. They say as Ezra, chap. ix. 13,“ Thou, our God, bas punished less than our iniquities deserve ;" and therefore submit themselves, lest the Lord make the stroke greater, and punish us seven times more.—Let us now,

II. Describe that kindly hope of his mercy, to be entertained in all cases along with this holy fear. It is,

1. A firm persuasion of the good, gracious, and bountiful nature of God, who delights not in the misery of his creatures; Psalm xxv. 8," Good and upright is the Lord, therefore will he teach sinners in the way."

Ezek. xviii. 23, “ Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ? saith the Lord God; and not that he should re


« AnteriorContinua »