Imatges de pÓgina

voice of a maid. It is a heavenly fire that needs continual supply, or else it will go out; if the Spirit of God cease to pour in oil, that lamp will soon be extinguished.

(6.) He dare not trust to babitual grace. Paul had a good stock of it, but he durst not venture to live on it : 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.” The grace within the saints is a well, the streams of which are often dry, but to the grace without them in Christ ; they can never come wrong, for it is an overflowing fountain. How quickly would the branch wither, if it were left to the sap within itself, but the sap in the stock keeps the branch green: “He that eateth me,” saith Jesas, “even he shall live by me," John vi. 7.'

3. There is the weak soul turning to a strong God for strength, in the way of believing, 2 Chron. xx. 12,"0 our God ! wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us, neither know we what to do; but our eyes are towards thee.” When the strong man goes into himself, and musters up all the forces and powers of his soul, for the duty, or against the temptation, the weak man, that lies fair for strength, goes out of himself to muster up the forces of heaven by faith.—I may take up this in three things.

(1.) The weak man that becomes strong, truly believes that God has treasured up in Christ the strength and furniture of all the heirs of glory, for their work, 1 Cor. i. 30, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto as wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace," Johu i. 16. Since Adam fell, he

sted any of the saints with their own stock, but has made the Mediator the great Trustee of divine grace, that if they would be supplied, they must go to him for it.

(2.) Jesus Christ with all his salvation, being offered in the way of the everlasting covenant, the weak soul by faith lays hold on that covenant, and Christ therein, for sanotification, as well as justification. Thus the weak creature is joined to a strong God, the empty soul is joined to him in whom all fulness dwells; so that in this sense, though he have nothing, yet he possesseth all things, viz, in Christ bis head; they are complete in hiin, Col. ii. 10.

(3.) He believes the promises of the covenant, and, on the credit of them, ventures on duty against sin, and takes up the cross : 2 Chron. xiv. 11, “Help us, Lord, our God, for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude." Though resolutions, engage




ments, and vows, be not to be trusted, yet a man may safely trast the promise ; it is the blessed contrivance of the second covenant, that all our duties are there wrapt up in promises ; and whenever we are called to do or suffer, the covenant has a promise of strength for it, and the Christian, sensible of his weakness, trusts it.- I am,

II. To confirm this point.—For this purpose, I offer these remarks.

1. The Christian, when he closeth his own eyes, sees best; when he trusts least to his own understanding, he is best directed, according to the promise: Prov. iii. 5, 6, “ Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine understauding: in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Carnal wisdom is an ill judge betwixt sin and duty; and if men renounce it not, and singly give themselves up to the divine conduct, they will be ready to stumble at noon-day: 1 Cor. iii. 20, “ The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” Lot lifted up his eyes, Abraham: closed his, and left his choice to the Lord, Gon. xiii. 9, 10. This is the reason why godly simplicity oftentimes carries men well through, while carnal policy leads men into the ditch; and weak shrubs stand, while lofty cedars are blown over, that God may stain the pride of all glory.

2. When he ventures on the difficulties in the way of duty, not knowing how to remove them, he gets best through. This was the case with Abraham, when called to offer up his son, Gen. xxii; but when he went down to Egypt, there was a difficulty in the way, which he would not leave to the Lord to remove, but fell on ways and means of his own, and came off shamefully, Gen. xxii; overfast, overloose in this respect, 1 Cor. iii. 16, “ For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, for it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” A little faith is more valuable than much carnal foresight. Leave difficulties in the way of duty on the Lord, if ever you would get safe through them: Psalm xxxvii. 5, " Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass."

3. The Christian soldier fights best when the violence of the enemy sets him to his knees. Paul experienced this, when he besought the Lord thrice, and got a gracious answer; and so he recommends it to others, 2 Cor. xii, 8, “ Praying always (says he) with all prayer," Eph. vi. 18. It was in this last posture that Jacob got the notable victory, Gen. xxxii. 24. Hence it is said of him, Hos. xii. 4, “ Yea, he had power over the angel and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto him : he found him in Bethel, and there he spoke with us." Did temptations and troubles set us to our knees, the

deyil would be outshot. Did the threats of the enemies at this time, but cast professors out of their beds of slotb down to their knees, the Lord's work would quickly triumph over the enemies of it.

4. The lower the soul lies, it is the nearer the throne above : Isa. lvii. 15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” A man will get a better view of the stars from the bottom of a deep pit than from the top of a mountain. The soul is never nearer the divine communications, than when shame and blushing make him stand affar off with the publican, smiting on bis breast. The soul in that case will get the kindly invitation, “ Come up hither;" when the self-conceited presumptuous sinner will hear, “Go down yonder."

5. The duty a Christian is called to, and sees himself most unable for, he performs-best. Peter, when he thought himself well buckled for a confession for Christ, denied him at the voice of a silly maid; but when he had better learned the duty of self-denial, lje boldly stood upon defence, Acts iv. 13. A man had better be in the dark, than walk in the light of his own sparks. A Christian never goes so actively through a duty, as when he leaves his own furniture for it behind him, throws it down in point of confidence, and takes up the promise.

6. The temptation that to a man is most contemptible, is most dangerous : Prov. xxviii. 14, “Happy is the man that feareth always; but he that hardeneth his heart, shall fall into mischief." Many times the devil's wounded men do more execution than his formidable army set in battle array. Lot kept his ground in Sodom, when among a company of incarnate devils, but fell foully when he thought himself in no hazard in the cave. If ye would stand, ye must never despise the meanest, nor think the greatest temptation insuperable. The meanest is too hard for you, the strongest too weak for the strength that you may have in your God.

7. The Christian that stands before the Lord with trembling legs, is the meetest to take up Christ's cross, and will bear it best. He that dare say least, is the man that will do most : Isa. xl. 30, 31, “ Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but they that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." He that ventures on the hour of trial, merely with a Roman courage or natural briskness of spirit, has but a weak reed to lean to. There is none more likely to be a disgrace to religion, than the presumptuous self-confident professor, that wants nothing to support the cause of God, in the time of trial, but only other professors' hearts like his heart. The best and surest backing Christ will have, will be from those that tremble when he shall roar like a lion, Hos. xi. 10, see also Isa. xxxv. 4–6.

8. The Lord's people thrive best, when they have nothing but from hand to mouth. The most enriching time they have, is when felt needs are always driving them to God's door, and making them hang on about his hand : Rom. v. 3, 4, “Knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope.” The Christian that has most trials, has most experiences. Many battles afford variety of spoil to the Christian soldier; and a tract of smoothness in a man's lot, is ordinarily a dead time with the Christian, as to trading with heaven; he has not much outgiving, and has as little income. When David going against Goliath, got on Saul's armour and dress, 1 Sam. xvii. 38, he could not go with them; but when he had nothing but the staff, and the bag of stones out of the brook, he went freely, and succeeded.

As the fire burns most vigorously in a koen frost, so faith acts most vigorously when it has nothing to animate it but the naked word of promise. But when all is laid to a person's hand as they would wish, faith is so clogged that it cannot readily go with them.



2 Cor. xii. 10,
For when I am weak, then am I strong.

We now proceed,

III. To give some reasons of the doctrine, or shew, That when the Christian is weak, then he is strong; weak in his own eyes, strong in Christ.

Among other reasons which might be assigned, we shall mention the following.

I. Because he who is thus weak will not enter on difficulty but when he is called to it; and God's call to his people for any piece of work implies a promise of strength : Psalm xci. 11, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." Self-confidence is venturous, thinks nothing too high for the man. Hence, he does not stay till he be led, but runs into temptation; no wonder than he comes foul off, like Peter in the devil's ground, the high-priest's hall. But the first thing the weak man does, is to be sure of his call, knowing there can be no ground for confidence without it. And he will not be over soon satisfied with it, but ponders the path of his feet, Prov. iv. 26.

2. He is driven out of himself to the Lord Christ, the fountain of strength : "Blessed is the man whose strength is in the Lord,” says the Psalmist, Psalm lxxxiv. 5, "I will go in the strength of the Lord God," Psalm lxxi. 16. He leaves the rotten ground of selfconfidence, and trusts in him that raiseth the dead, and calleth things that are not as though they were, and out of the mouths of babes perfects praise. The power of heaven is engaged in his favour; he believes, therefore is not left to be ashamed. This is a sure way for strength : for,

(1.) It lies on the honour of God, to strengthen the soul that depends upon him alone, according to his word, and that in point of his veracity; God's word of honour is good security; also in point of his goodness and gracious nature. Trust reposed in a generous man is a strong tie upon him in favour of the party trasting him. And I think there is much in that word, Jer. xxxix. 18, “For I will surely deliver thee, because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the Lord.” Lot would rather that any evil that was to come should have fallen on himself and family, than on his guests; the reason is in these words : "For therefore came they under my roof,” Gen. xix. 8. Humanity teaches people to preserve the life of a litle bird, that flies into their bosom to be preserved from a ravenous bird. And they that take Ruth's way may be sure of the blessing she got: Rath ii. 12, “ The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”

(2.) Because it sweetly answers to the grand device of God touching the sanctification of sinners. For, (1.) The treasures of sanctifying grace are all laid up in Christ," who of God is made unto us sanctification," 1 Cor. i. 30, and from him all gracious influences are to be derived : “Out of his fulness we are to receive, and grace for grace," John i. 16. Accordingly the sinner comes to him, as the famished Egyptians to Joseph. (2.) They are to be derived from him by faith according to our needs; this is the appointed mean for conveyance of grace and strength from Christ, Gal. ii. 20. Accordingly the soul believes, that is, trusts in him for supply. Now, when the soul takes God's own way for strength, how can it miss it.

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