Imatges de pÓgina
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6. The experience of being enabled to go far upon a meal, 1 Kings xix. 8, but where now is such experiences, while there is so little strength in the meals to which we now sit down ? This is a time wherein there is much peed of such an experience; the Lord seems to be saying to his people, "Rise and eat, for the journey is long ;" and what a hard journey some may have, ere they get another meal, who knows?

Lastly, The experience of the Lord's removing difficulties out of his way, when he himself could do nothing at them; Jordan divided; so Peter had the iron gate opened to him of its own accord : for when the Lord takes the work iu hand, were it never so desperate as to us, it will succeed well with him. Sure we have need of his experience this day. How is the case of many souls so embarrassed at this day, that they cannot extricate themselves, by reason of long and continued departures from God! so that all they can do is, that they are fighting and going backward. Ah! " where is the God of Elijah,” to dry up those devouring deeps! Enemies have surrounded the church, and brought her to the brow of the hill, ready to cast her over; " where is the God of Elijah,” to make a ;

a way for her escape ?-I shall next consider,

II. How we should come to God for the same entertainment, if we would come speed. There were two things Elisha did, for the presence of God to be with him, as he had been with Elijah.

1. He prayed for it, sent his prayer to heaven for it; and if we would have the experience of God's presence as in former days, we must ply the throne of grace for it this night. And there are three things in his prayer, which must be in ours.

(1.) A most pressing sense of need, wliere he saw he could not venture into Elijal's post without Elijah's God. Sense of need makes earnest prayers.

What is the reason we see not the glory the Lord as formerly? we reign as kings without it; men have found out ways of their own, to get comfort without communion with God; they have the creatures' breasts to suck at, when the Lord's consolations are not dropping into them. But if ever the Lord return to this generation, there will be a hunger raised in thein, that all the world will not be able to satisfy. (2.) A most vehement desire of his presence ;

“ Where is the God of Elijah ?" There was a flame of desire after the Lord, that could not be satisfied without him. Some have observed in nature, that the tongue is tied by a double string to the heart in man. If so, it seems it has been designed that the tongue should be a stringed instrument, to sound out only the language of the heart. Were the heart more eager for the divine communications, we would wrestle with God in earnest, and not let him go till he bless us ; but, alas ! our coldrife prayers do but beg a denial.

(3.) There was great faith in his prayers : “ Where is the God of Elijah ?” Faithless prayers will be inefficacious prayers to the end; but the hand of faith will pierce through the cloud wherewith the Lord covereth himself. 1st, He believed God could do wliat he sought, therefore he calls him Jehovah, and the God of Elijah, who had discovered his power in dividing the waters before. 2dly, He believed God would do it, he had God's call to the work; Elijah was taken away from him, but he had Elijah's mantle in his hand, for a token God would be with him, as with Elijah before ; and he was not faithless, but believing. So we must believe also, if we would see the glory of God; not only the power, but the good-will of God; Jer. xvii. 6, 7, " Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whoso hope the Lord is."

2. He used the means Elijah before him did, for attaining God's appearance and manifestation of himself. He smote the waters ; no matter though the means be unlikely to produce the effect, if they be of God's appointment; and in faith we must stretch out the withered hand, if we would have it restored, and venture on the work upon the credit of the promise.

As a conclusion to this discourse, let me exhort you to go to the Lord Jesus this night, and wrestle for his presence as in former times; and let the consideration of God's presence with his people in former times, take you to the same God for the same entertainment.

To prevail with you, I would offer the following motives.

1. Consider it is too evident the Lord has forsaken this generation in great measure. He is writing bitter things against this church and land. Her beauty is marred upon all her assemblies; where the cloud of glory some time rested, we may write Ichabod ! Hence it is so few are converted in our day; and the Lord's own children, though they get some food, yet they fare not so well as in former times. Why? because the Lord is withdrawn in his anger. The sun of the gospel in Scotland is as a winter sun, and looks as if near the setting, at least getting under a dark cloud : Isa. Ixiv. 7,“ There is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold on thee, for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities."

2. This would be the way to get a blessing; importunity prevails much in heaven. Were we thus exercised, we might get a blessing to this church, a blessing to this communion : Cant. iii. 4, "I found hiin whom my soul loveth ; I held him, and would not let him go,

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until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chambers of her that conceived me :" a blessing we should seek from him to ourselves. Though the Lord is sometimes so angry with a generation, that there is no turning away of his wrath, yet the serious seekers of his face will always get the blessing : Isa. iii. 10, “Say ye to the righteous, it shall be well with bim, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.”

3. The door we set you to is a door where many have been liberally helped before yon, and the Lord's arm is not shortened. The saints that were richest in experience got them all there, and all the fair ones now in glory, he was their God, that was with them in life, death, and now after death. Let the good report of his house, then, make you flock about his door, for there is no ground for that temptation, Job v. 1, “ Call now, if there be any that will answer thee, and to which of the saints wilt thou turn ?"!

4. It is a door where there is nothing given for personal worth. All that ever was given there to any of the children of fallen Adam, was given with that protestation, Ezek. xxxvi. 32, “Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, 0 house of Israel !" That the most unworthy in all succeeding generations might see they were welcome, it is for his own sake; and that cannot change.

Lastly, What will ordinances avail without his presence ? Nay, they will do ill, instead of doing us good; they will bring on us a curse instead of a blessing; and therefore wrestle with him, and protest, Exod. xxxiii. 15, “If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence.” The sermons will be to you as an empty sound, the Lord's table as an empty chair of state, when the King is away. If his presence be not given you, you will get no spiritual feast; and one had better be at a common table, than at the Lord's table, when they do not feed : 1 Cor. xi. 29, “ For he that eateth unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.” If the king be away, then there will be no furniture for trials, none for the evil day, that seems to be approaching quickly; none for a dying day that is awaiting all of us. Now, if ye would find him, seek him in Christ, look for him in the several means of his appointment, streets, courts, &c. Put away every thing that mars his presence

with you.

THE SAVE SUBJECT CONTINUED."

SERMON XII.

2 Kings ii. 14, And he took the mantle of Elijah, that fell from him, and smote the

waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah ?

ences.

I SHALL now,

III. Give the reasons of the doctrine, or shew, that the consideration of God's presence with his people in former days, should bring the succeeding generation to the same God for the same entertainment.

This consideration may and ought to work upon us in two ways.

1. By way of simple excitation and upstirring. When Elisha considered what God had done for Elijah, it set his soul on fire, inflamed his desires, set his heart a-longing after the Lord, that he might deal the same way with him. Thus the consideration of God's gracious appearances to and for his people in former times, should be a powerful motive to labour for the same or like experi

It should inflame our hearts with a holy emulation, and earnest desire of the blessed entertainment others have got before us at God's door; for the following reasons :

(1.) Because, so far as we come short of it, it is a sign we are so far off the way where the footsteps of the flock are to be seen, Cant. i. 8; and that is so dangerous, that it may well strike a nail to our heart to think of it. What is the reason we fare not so well about the Lord's hand as others before us? Have we not the sanie God to go to, the same covenant-promises ? We have the same breasts of divine consolations, as full as ever, but it seems we have much lost the art of sucking them, that sometimes has been our experience.

(2.) Because, so far as we come short, it is a sign of God's anger against us, that he hath some quarrel with us he had not with his people in former days of the right hand of the Most High ; and may not this prick us to the heart, and set us to our knees ? Isa. lix. 12, “For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us.” What is it but the sins of the generation, that stops the communication of the divine goodness? Does the Spirit of the Lord depart till he be grieved, or the holy fire go out till it

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* Delivered August 16, 1713; afternoon.

be quenched ? Does the Lord close his distributing hand till his people close their mouths ? or does not the oil run while there are empty vessels to receive it? While the furious wind of persecution blew on God's people in Scotland, and the sweeping rains fell, sweeping away their earth from about them, the fountain of the divine goodness to them ran freely; but now, alas ! through long ease, we have got the springs stopt with our mud and earth.

(3.) Because we have as much need as they had : Luke xv. 17, And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's house have bread enough, and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise, and go,” &c. If we be less at God's door than other's before us, it is not, I am sure, for any wealth we have at home, more than they had ; it is not that we do not stand in need, but tbat we are not so sensible of our' need. Many of the Lord's people have taken little rest, when they had more than wo can pretend to; they have been very anxious to increase their stock, when it was far above ours; and when we consider how fast they ran, when they had reached far above our small measure, should not that stir us up to mend our pace ? Phil. iii. 13, 14, “ Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things that are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

(4.) Because these glorious examples should not be without due influence upon us. Example is a most efficacions incitement; Cæsar grieved when he saw the statue of Alexander, and considered how he, at the age of thirty, had conquered the world, and himself, being older, had done nothing; Heb. xii. 1, " Wherefore, seeing we also are com passed about with such a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” How may we blush when we consider the stature of those before us, that have been as the palm-tree, while we, growing in the same soil, are liko pitiful shrubs ! Surely if our spirits were not mightily sunk and degenerate, the glorious example of the Lord's people in former days would set our whole soul a-going after the God of Elijah.

2. It should work on us by way of encouragement. Elijah's example gave Elisha hopes he might find God the same to him he had been to his predecessor. Encouragement is a notable spur to diligence, and is that which is most likely to take with men. What is it which makes us that we wrestle not for God's presence, as in former days? even unbelief, that tells us we need not be at the pains, for it will not do. But the report of the godly in former days con

Vol. IX.

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