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a set time in his own counsels for all his children to continue in death. IV. The lively view of a bappy resurrection, and a well-groumded hope of this blessed change, is a solid and divine comfort to the saints of God, under all trials of every kind both in life and death. V. The saints of God who are resting in their beds of dust will arise joyfully at the call of their heavenly Father. VI. God takes delight in his works of nature, but much more when they are dignified and adorned by te operations of divipe grace. VII. How much are, we inclebted to God for the revelation of the New Testament, which teaches us to find out the blessings which are contained in the Old, and to fetch out the glories and treasures which are concealed there?
Let us dwell a while upon each of these, and endeavour to improve them by a particular application.
Observation 1. “ This world is a place whereio good men are exposed to great calamities, and they are ready to think the anger or wrath of God appears in them.” This mortal life, and this present state of things, as surrounded with crosses and disappoiutments, the loss of our dearest friends, as well as our own pains and sicknesses, have so much anguish and misery attending them, that they seem to be the seasons of divine wrath, and they grieve and pain the spirit of many a pious mpan, under a sense of the anger of his God. It must be confessed in general that misery is the effect of sin, for sin and sorrow came into the world together. It is granted also, that God sometimes afflicts his people in anger, and corrects them in his hot displeasure, when they have sinned against him in a remarkable manner : but tbis is not always the case.
The great God was not really angry with Job when he suffered him to fall into such complicated distresses; for it is plain, iliat while he delivered hiin up into the hands of Satan' to be aflicted, he vindicates and honours him with a divine testimony concerning his piety; Job i. 8. There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and aroideth evil. Nor was he angry with his Son Jesus Christ, when it pleased the Father to bruise him and put him to grief, when he made his soul un offering for sin, and he was stricken, smilien nf God and afflicted; Is. lii. 4, 10. To these we may add Paul the best of the apostles, and the greatest of christians, who was abundant in labours and sufferings above all the rest. See a dismal catalogue of his calamities; 2 Cor. xi. 23—27. What variety of wretchedgess, whiat terrible persecutions from anen, what repeated strokes of distress came upon him by the providence of God, sybich appeared like the effects of divine wrath uranger! But they were plainly designed for more diviuu and blessed purposes, built with regard to God, with regard to himself, and to all the succeeding ages of the christian church.
God does not always smite his own people to punish sin and shew his anger ; but these sufferings are often appointed for the trial of their christian virtues and graces, for the exercise of their humility and their patience, for the proof of their stedfastness in religion, for the honour of the grace of God in them, and for the increase of their own future weight of glory. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love him ; James i. 12.-The devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may tried ; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life; Rev. ii. 10. Our light afflictions which are but for a moment, are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory ; 2 Cor. iv. 17. However, upon the whole, this world is a very painful and troublesome place to the children of God: They are subject here to many weaknesses and sins, temptations and follies; they are in danger of new defilements; they go through many threatening perils and many real sorrows, which either are the effects of the displeasure of God, or at least carry an appearance of divine anger in them : But there is a time when these shall be finished, and sorrow shall have its last period : There is a time when these caluinities will be overpassed, and shall return no more for ever,
Reflection. “ Why then, O my soul, why shouldst thou be 80 food of dwelling in this present world? Why sbouldst thou be desirous of a long continuance in it? Hast thou never found sorrows and afflictious enough among the scenes of life, to make thee weary of them? And when sorrow and sin have joined together, have they not grievously imbittered this life unto thee? Wilt thou never be weaned from these sensible scenes of flesh and blood ? Hast thou such a love to the darknesses, the defilements, and the uneasinesses which are found in such a prison as this is, as to make thee unwilling to depart when God shall call ? Hast thou dwelt so long in this tabernacle of clay, and dost thou not groan, being burdened? Hast thou no desire to a release into that upper and better world, where sorrows, sins and temptations bave no place, and where there shall never be the least appearance or suspicion of the displeasure of thy God towards thee?"
Observation II. “ The grave is God's known hiding-place for his people :” It is his appointed shelter and retreat for his favourites, when he finds them over-preşsed either with present dangers or calamities, or when he foresees huge calamities and dangers, like storms and billows, ready to overtake them; Is. vü. 1. The righteous is taken away from the evil to come. God
our heavenly Father beholds this evil advancing forward througla all the pleasant smiles of nature, and all the peaceful circumstances that surround us. He bides his children in the grave from a thousand sins, and sorrows, and distresses of this life, which they foresaw not: And even when they are actually beset behind and before, so that there seeins to be no natural way for their escape, God calls them aside into the chainbers of death, in the same sort of language as be uses in another case ; Is. xxvi. 20. Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee, hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpassed.
And yet perhaps it is possible that this very language of the Lord in Ísaiah may refer to the grave, as God's hiding place, for the verse before promises a resurrection. Thy dead men shall live ; together with my dead body shall they arise : Awake and sing ye that dwell in the dust : For thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. And if we may suppose this last verse to have been transposed by any ancient transcribers, so as to have followed originally verse 20, or 21, it is very natural then to interpret the whole paragrapli concerning death, as God's biding place for his people, and their rising again through the virtue of the resurrection of Christ as their joyful release. Many a time God is pleased to shorten the labours, and travels, and fatigues of good men in this wilderness, and he opens a door of rest to them where he pleases, and perhaps surprizes them into a state of safety and peace, where the weary are at rest, and the wicked cease from troubling; and holy Job seems to desire this favour from his Maker here; Job. ïïi. 17.
Sometimes indeed, in the history of this book, he seems to break out into these desires in too rude and angry a maoner of expression; and in a fit of criminal impatience le murmurs against God for upholding him in the land of the living : Bat at other times, as in this lext, he represents his desires with more decency and submission. Every desire to die is not to be construed sinful and criminal. Nature may ask of God, a relief from its agonies and a period to its sorrows, nor does grace ntterly forbid it, if there be also a humble snbmission and resigNation to the will of God, such as we find exemplified by our blessed Saviour, Father, if it be thy will, let this cup pass from me; yet nof us I will, but as thou wilt ; Mat. xxvi 39, 42. On this second observation I desire to make these three re. flections :
Reflection I. Though a good man knows that death was ori. ginally appointed as a curse for sin, yet lis faith can trust God to turn that curse into a blessing: He can humbly ask his Maker to release him from the painful bonde of life, to lasten the slow approaches of death, and to hide him in the grave from some overwhelming sorrows. This is the glory of God in bis covepant of grace with the children of men, that he turns curses into blessings; Deut. xxiii. 5. And the grave which was designed as a prison for sinners, is become a place of shelter to the saints, where they are bidden and secured from rising sorrows and calamities. It is God's known hidiog-place for his own chil. dren from the envy and the rage of meu, from all the knowo and unknown agonies of nature, the diseases of the flesh, and the distresses of huinan life, which perhaps might be overbearing and intolerable.
“ Why, O my fearful soul, why shouldst thou be afraid of dying? Why shouldst thou be frighted at the durk shadows of the grave, when thou art weary with the toils and crosses of the day? Hast thou not often desired the shadow of the evening, and longed for the bed of natural sleep, where thy fatigues and thy sorrows may be forgotten for a season ? Aod is not the grave itself a sweet sleeping-place for the saints, wherein they lie down and forget their distresses, and feel none of the miseries of human life, and especially since it is softened and sanctified by the Son of God lying down there? Why shouldst thou be afraid to lay thy head in the dust? It is but entering into God's hiding place, into his chambers of rest and repose: It is but committing thy flesh, the meaner part of thy composition, to his care in the dark for a short season : He will hide thee there, and keep three in safety from the dreadful trials which perhaps would overwhelm thy spirit. Sometimes in the course of his providence he may find it necessary, that some spreading calamity should overtake the place where thou dwellest, or some distressing stroke fall upon thy family, or thy friends, but he will hide thee under ground before it comes, and thus disappoint all thy fears, and lay every perplexing thought into rest and silence.
II. Let it be ever remembered, chat the grave is God's hiding place, and not our own : We are to venture into it without terror when he calls 18 ; but he does not suffer us to break into it our own way without his call. Death and life are in the bands of God, and he never gave the keys of them to mortal men to let themselves out of this world when they please, nor to enter into his hiding-place without his leave,
11.63* Bear up then, O my soul, under all the sorrows and trials of this present state till God himself shall say, It is finish ed John xix. 90: till our blessed Jesus, who has the keys into his hands, shall open the door of death, and give thee an entrance into that dark and peaceful retreat. It is a safe and silent refage from the bustle and the noise, the labours and the troubles of life : but he that forces it open with his own hands, how will he dare to appear before God in the world of spirits?
What will he answer, when with a dreadful frown the great God shall demand of him, Friend, how camest thou hither ? Mat. xii. 12. Who sent for thee, or garc thee leave to come? Such a wretch must venture upon so raslı an action at the peril of the wrath of God, and his own eternal destruction. “Our blessed Jesus, who has all the vast scheme of divine counsels before his eyes, by having the books of his Father's decrees put into his hands, he knows how long it is proper for thee, O Christian, to fight and labour, to wrestle and strive with sins, temptations and difficulties in the present life: He knows best in what moment to put a period to them, and to pronounce thee conqueror. Fly not from the field of battle for want of holy fortitude, though thy enemies and thy dangers be never so many, nor dare to dismiss thyself from thy appointed post, till the Lord of life pronounce the word of thy dismission,
“ Sometimes I have been ready to say within myself, Why is my life prolonged in sorrow? Why are my days lengthened ont io see further wretchedness ? Methinks the grade should be ready for me, and the house appointed for all the living ; Job xvii. 1. xxx. 23. What can I do further for God or for jnen here on earth, since my nature pines away with painful sickness, my nerves are unstrung, my spirits dissipated, and my best powers of acting are enfeebled and almost lost? Peace, peace, O thou complaining spirit ! Dost thou know the coupsels of the Almighty, and the secret designs of thy God and thy Saviour? He has many deep and unknown purposes in continuing his children amidst heavy sorrows, which they can never penetrate or learn io this world. Silence and submission becomes thee at all times. Futher, not my will but thy will be done ; Luke xxii. 42.
" And let it be hinted to thee, O my soul, that it is much more honourable to be weary of this life, because of the sins and temptatious of it, than because of the toils and sorrows that attend it. If we must groan in this tabernacle being burdened; 2 Cor. v. 4. let the snares, and the dangers, and the defilements of it be the chief springs of thy groaning and the warmest motives to request a release. God loves to see his people more afraid of sin than of sorrow. If thy corruptions are so strong, and the temptations of life so unhappily surround thee, that thou art daily crying out, Who shall deliver thee from the body of sin and death; Rom. vii. 24. then thou mayest more honourably send up a wish to heaven, O that I had the wings of a dove, that I might fly away and be at rest! Ps. Iv. 6.0 ihat God would hide me in the grave from my prevailing iniquities, and from the rufiling and disquieting influence of my own follies and my (laily temptations ! But never be thou quite weary of doing or suffering the will of thy heavenly Father, though he should