« ForrigeFortsæt »
despair; and may be ready to say with the Church of old, "The Lord hath forsaken and forgotten us":" but he will ere long force us to acknowledge that such fears were the fruit only of" our own infirmity ;" and that the very things which we complained of as against us," were no other than his appointed means for accomplishing all his gracious designs towards usd. Our dangers may be as imminent as those of Israel at the Red Sea; but that shall be the time for Him to open for us a way to escape from them. Our wants may be as urgent as those of Israel afterwards in the wilderness; but that shall be the time for giving us manna from heaven, and water from the rock. The time for any interposition may seem to have actually elapsed; but still" in the mount the Lord shall be seen," precisely as he was when he arrested the uplifted arm of Abraham, and restored his Isaac to his embrace. "The vision may tarry; but never beyond the appointed and the fittest time."]
2. By the communications of his grace
[These are necessary for us, and must be renewed to us day by day: and if for one moment they be suspended, we must inevitably fall. But God will not withdraw from his waiting and praying people. He may indeed suffer temptations to arise, such as shall threaten to plunge us into irremediable ruin; and he may even permit Satan for a time to prevail against us; but still he will not utterly forsake us; but will restore our souls, and make our very falls subservient to the augmenting of our humility and watchfulness throughout the remainder of our lives, and to the qualifying of us for warning, and exhorting, and comforting others with increased effect. So also he may permit our trials to abide; and, though entreated by us ever so much, may not see fit to remove them. But "his grace shall be sufficient for us," and shall be the more magnified in us, in proportion as our conflicts are severe, and our victories conspicuous. He may, for wise and gracious purposes, hide his face from us; but it shall be only for a little moment, that the riches of his grace may be the more abundantly displayed in the subsequent manifestations of his love and favourh. If it be asked, why he will thus continue his loving-kindness to them? We answer, "For his own sake," and because "he changeth not1;" as it is said, "He will not forsake his people; because it hath pleased him to make you his people."]
b Isai. xlix. 14. e Hab. ii. 3.
h Isai. liv. 7-10. k 1 Sam. xii. 22.
c Ps. lxxvii. 7-10.
f Luke xxii. 31, 32.
d Gen. xlii. 36.
That this promise may produce its due effects, let us consider,
II. The use we should make of it
Innumerable are the benefits to be derived from it: but we shall specify only two: it should encourage us to discard, as unworthy of us,
1. All inordinate desires
["Our whole conversation should be without covetousness or discontent." We should desire nothing which God has not seen fit to give us, nor murmur at any thing which he has ordained for us. For, what can we want, or what can we have to complain of, whilst he is with us? Could any worldly good add to our happiness, or give any security to us for its continuance? Would treasures, however great, be a richer portion than he? or would the loss of them be felt, if it led us to seek more entirely our happiness in him?" When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble'?" If we have but the light of his countenance lifted up upon us, nothing can augment, nor can any thing diminish, our bliss. Many of these Hebrews had taken joyfully the spoiling of their goods:" and thousands in every age have been able to testify from their own blessed experience, that as their afflictions have abounded, so also have their consolations abounded by Christm." Let us only possess "the Lord for the portion of our inheritance and of our cup; and have that lot maintained to us;" and however small our portion be as it respects this world, we shall have reason to say, "The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places, and I have a goodly heritage"."]
2. All anxious fears
[The ungodly imagine that they can prevail against the Lord's people: but they are no more than an axe or saw in the hands of him that useth it: they can do more than our God and Father is pleased to do by them. Now who will tremble at a sword that is in his father's hands? If indeed our God were ever weary, or absent, or disinclined to interpose for us, or if the creature could effect any thing without his special permission, there were some reason for fear: but when he is as our shade upon our right hand;" when he is as "a wall of fire round about us, and the glory in the midst of us?;" whom shall we fear? "Who can have access to harm us," if
we be hid under the shadow of His wings? "If He be for us, who can be against us?" Whatever confederacies then may
1 Job xxxiv. 29. 。 Isai. x. 15.
Rom. viii. 31. VOL. XIX.
m 2 Cor. i. 5.
n Ps. xvi. 5, 6.
be against us, whether of men or devils, we need not fear: in Him, as our sanctuary, we may deride their efforts, and defy their malices. What should be the state of our minds, the holy Psalmist has shewn us; "Be merciful unto me, O God; for man would swallow me up: he fighting daily oppresseth me. Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou Most High. But, what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God will I praise his word: in God I have put my trust: I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. In God will I praise his word; in the Lord will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid what man can do unto met."]
SEE then from hence,
1. Of what importance it is to treasure up the promises in our minds—
[The promises of God are our great support under trials, and at the same time our great encouragements to fulfil our duty; since they assure us of all needful aid, both for the sustaining of the one, and the performance of the other. It is by them that we are enabled to cleanse ourselves from sin "; and by them to attain the image of God upon our souls. Let us then lay hold of them; and, to whomsoever they may have been spoken in the first instance, appropriate them to ourselves. Let us rest upon them, and plead them before God, as Jacob did': and know that "in Christ they are all yea, and amen," as unchangeable as God himself. O what a treasure does that man possess who has laid up in his mind the most comprehensive promises of his God! He can be in no trouble, wherein he has not abundant consolation; and in no want, wherein he has not an adequate supply. O beloved, let the word of Christ, and the promises of your God, "dwell in you richly in all wisdom." Mark the emphatic manner in which they are pronounced. Look at that before us in particular: as recorded in our translation, it is strong: but as it is in the original, its force exceeds the powers of our language to express: there are no less than five negatives to confirm the negation. When will God violate that promise-" Heaven and earth shall pass away; but not one jot or tittle of that promise shall ever fail?”]
2. How truly blessed is a life of faith
[What a source of misery to mankind is a covetous and discontented spirit! and what a prey are they to trouble, who have
no refuge from the cares and fears which agitate the ungodly world! But faith in God is a perfect antidote to them all. It assures us of a God ever nigh at hand to help and succour his believing people. See how the promise in our text is introduced: it is there suggested as sufficient to counterbalance the loss of every thing, however desirable, or the apprehension of every thing, however formidable. It is suggested, in order to inspire us with a confidence which nothing can intimidate: "We may boldly say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.' Think of an angel sent down to sojourn here: what would either the acquisition or loss of riches affect him? or would any confederacies either of men or devils concern him? He would feel as satisfied and as secure as if he were in heaven itself. This then is the tranquillity which we also, according to the measure of our faith, are privileged to enjoy, Let us then "know in whom we have believed." Let us 66 cast all our care on him who careth for us." And let us so realize the promises of our God, as to know that nothing ever shall, or ever can separate us from his loved.]
c 1 Pet. v. 7.
d Ps. xlvi. 1-3. Rom. viii. 38, 39.
THE GLORY OF CHRIST.
Heb. xiii. 8. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for evera.
IN this present state, wherein the affairs both of individuals and of nations are liable to continual
a This was preached on occasion of the death of the Hon. and Rev. William Bromley Cadogan, late Vicar of St. Giles', Reading, on Jan. 29, 1797. But it may well be treated as a general subject:-thus, The creature is frail and changeable But the Lord Jesus
Christ is from eternity to eternity the same.
I. The immutability of Christ
(This may be treated under the five several heads here specified.) II. Our duty in relation to him
1. Seek above all things the knowledge of him—
The preaching of Christ is all our duty, Acts iii. 20. and viii. 5. and ix. 20; and to acquire the knowledge of him is yours, John xvii. 3. Phil. iii. 7, 8.
2. Guard against every thing that may divert you from himHold fast the instructions which have led you to Christ, ver. 7; but on no account listen to "strange doctrines" that would lead you
fluctuation, the mind needs some principle capable of supporting it under every adverse circumstance that may occur. Philosophy proffers its aid in vain: the light of unassisted reason is unable to impart any effectual relief: but revelation points to God; to God, as reconciled to us in the Son of his love it directs our views to him who "changeth not;" and who, under all the troubles of life, invites us to rely on his paternal care. Every page of the inspired writings instructs us to say with David, "When I am in trouble I will think upon God." Are we alarmed with tidings of a projected invasion, and apprehensive of national calamities? God speaks to us as to his people of old", "Say ye not, A confederacy, to all to whom this people shall say, A confederacy, neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid; but sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread; and he shall be to you for a sanctuary." Are we agitated by a sense of personal danger? that same almighty Friend expostulates with us, "Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man that shall be as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker?" Are we, as in the present instance, afflicted for the Church of God? has God taken away the pastor, who "fed you with knowledge and understanding?" and is there reason to fear, that now, your "Shepherd being removed, the sheep may be scattered," and " grievous wolves may enter in among you, not sparing the flock; yea, that even of your own selves some may arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them?" Behold!
from him, ver. 9. Whoever be taken from you, Christ remains; and you must "cleave unto himn with full purpose of heart." But beware of false teachers, such as there are and ever have been in the Church : for, whatever they may press upon you, there is nothing that deserves your attention but Christ crucified, 1 Cor. ii. 2.
3. Improve to the uttermost your interest in him—
Seek to realize every thing that is spoken of Christ, and to make him your all in all. John i. 16. Gal. ii. 20. Col. iii. 1—4.
b Isai. viii. 12-14. e Isai. li. 12, 13. d Acts xx. 29, 30.