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CHA P. IV.
Confirming the third propofition. viz. That God hath a special and peculiar care of his own people in the days of his indig
Sect. I. PROPRIETY and relation engages care and follicitude in times of danger; we fee God hath put fuch a ftorge, and inclination into the very creatures, that they will expose themselves to preferve their young; and it cannot be imagined that the Fountain of pity which dropt this tendernefs into the bowels of the creatures, should not abound with it himself; is there fuch strong inclination in the very birds of the air, that they will hazard their own lives to fave their young; much more is God follicitous for his people, Ifa. xxxi. 5. As birds flying, &c. to their neft when their young are in danger: So will the Lord of Hofts defend Jerufalem. No mother is more follicitous for her dearest child in danger and distress, than
the Lord is for his people. Ifa. xl. 15. "Čan a woman forget "her fucking child, that she should not have compaffion on the "fon of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." A woman [the more affectionate fex] forget her child, a piece of herself, her fucking child, which together with milk from her breast, draws love from the heart! This may rather be supposed, than that the Lord fhould forget his people.
Two things must here be cleared. 1. That it is fo. 2. Why it is fo.
1. That it is fo, will appear from,
1. Scripture emblems.
2. Scripture promises.
1. Scripture emblems; and among many, I will, upon this occafion, fingle out two or three principal ones. in Ezek. v. 1, 2, 3. "And thou Son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee 8 barber's razor, and cause it to pass upon thing head, and upon thy beard, then take thee balances to weigh and divide "the hair; thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst "of the city, when the days of the fiege are fulfilled; and "thou shalt take a third part, and fmite about it with a knife; " and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind, and I will draw out a fword after them: thou shalt alfo take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy fkirts." You find this truth
fhadowed out in this excellent emblem; Jerufalem, the capital city, is the head; the numerous inhabitants are the hair; the king of Babylon the razor; the weighing it in balances is the exactness of God's procedure in judgment with them; the fire, knife, and wind, are the various judgments to which the people were appointed; the hiding of a few in the prophet's kirt, is the care of God for the prefervation of his own remnant in the common calamity. This is one emblem clearing this point. And then Ezek. ix. 3, 4. the fame truth is prefented to us in another emblem, as lively and fignificant as the former. "And behold, fix men came from the way of the higher gate, "which lieth toward the north, and every man a flaughter86 weapon in his hand, and one among them was cloathed in li64 nen, with a writer's inkhorn by his fide, and they went in, "and stood before the brazen altar; and the glory of the "God of Ifrael was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he 86 was to the threshold of the house, and he called to the man "cloathed in linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his fide; "and the Lord faid unto him, Go through the midst of the "city, through the midft of Jerufalem, and fet a mark upon "the foreheads of the men that figh, and cry for all the abomi"nations that be done in the midst thereof." The men that had the charge of the city are the angels appointed for that fervice; fome with flaughter-weapons, whofe work it was to deftroy; but one among them had a writer's inkhorn by his fide, and he was employed to take the names, and mark the perfons of God's faithful ones among them, whom the Lord intended to preferve and hide in that common overthrow and defolation of the city, and these were to be all marked, man by man, before the destroying angel was to begin his bloody work. Oh! see the tender care of God over his upright mourning fervants! Once more, the fame truth is reprefented in a third emblem, Mal. iii. 17. "And they fhall be mine, faith the Lord, in the day "that I make up my jewels, and I will fpare them as a "man fpareth his own fon that ferveth him :" where the world is compared to an house on fire; God to the mafter and father of the family, the wicked to the tufelefs lumber therein; the faints to the children and jewels in the house; about thefe his first and principal care of prefervation is exercifed, thefe he will be fure to fave, whatever become of the rest. Thus you have the chofen emblems that illuftrate this comfort. able truth.
2. As these fcripture-emblems illuftrate it, fo there as many excellent fcripture-promifes to confirm it, Ifa. xxxii. 2. “A
"man shall be for an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert "from the tempeft: as rivers of water in a dry place." This man is the man Chrift Jefus; the tempefts spoken of, are the miferies and calamities of war, which make the land on which it falls, an hot, dry, and weary land; in the midst and rage whereof, Chrift fhall be to his faithful ones a covert for protection, a river of water for supply, and a fhadow for refreshment; that is to fay, whatsoever shall be neceffary either for their fafety or comfort. Chrift is not only a fhadow to his people from the wrath of God, but alfo from the rage of men. Again, Zech. ii. 5. "I will be a wall of fire round about: alluding to travellers in the defart, who, to prevent danger from wild beasts in the night, ufe to make a circular fire round about the place where they ly down to reft, and this fire was as a wall to fecure them. You have the like gracious promise alfo made to the poor captivated church, in Ezek. xi. 16. "Although "I have caft them far off among the Heathen, and scattered "them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little "fanctuary in the countries where they shall come."
A little fanctuary. The word is variously rendered and expounded; fome adverbially, and render it paulifper, a fanctuary for a little while, viz. during their danger, at the shortnefs of which this adverb points: fo Junius. Others adjectively, as we tranflate it, templum paucorum, as Vatablus. There was but an handful of them, and God would be as a fanctuary to fecure and protect that remnant.
3. And all these promifes have in all ages been faithfully fulfilled to the faints. You have an excellent fcripture for this, 2 Pet. ii. 4, 5, 6. when the flood was brought upon the old world, there was one Noah a righteous man in it, and for him God provided an ark. When Sodom was overthrown, there was one Lot in it, a juft man, and God fecured him out of danger; upon which that comfortable conclufion is built, ver. 9. "The Lord "knows how to deliver the godly." When Jerufalem was deftroyed, a Pella was provided as a refuge for the godly there. Remarkable is that place to this purpose, Ifa. xxv. 4. "Thou "haft been a strength to the poor, a ftrength to the needy in "his diftrefs, a refuge from the storm, a fhadow from the heat, "when the blast of the terrible one is as a form against the "wall." And this hath God been not only once or twice, but in all ages, Pfal. xc. 1. "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place
" in all generations; " or as the Hebrew, in generations and generations. What he hath been in former generations to his diftreffed people, that he is, and will be without alteration in all generations.
Section II. Yet we must remember, that all who are preserved in common calamities, are not the people of God; nor are all that are indeed his people preferved: he hath people enough to divide into two ranks, as the husbandman his corn, fome for the mill, and fome to reserve for feed. There be stars enough in the heaven to shine in both hemifpheres, and there are faints enough in the world, fome to fhine in heaven, and fome to preferve the church on earth.
1. All that are preferved are not the people of God. In the ark a wicked Ham was preserved, and those that were preserved in Egypt, many of them were afterwards deftroyed for their unbelief, Jude 5. So Ezekiel's vision, a part even of thofe hairs which were spared were afterwards cast into the fire, Ezek. v. 4. Prefervation from the dominion of fin, and the wrath to come, is peculiar to God's own people; but as for temporal deliverances, we cannot infer that conclufion.
2. Nor yet can we fay that all God's people fhall be preserved; that promise, Zeph. ii. 3. leaves it upon a may-be; many a precious Chriftian hath falien in the common calamity; they have been preferved in, but not from trouble.
But it is ufual with God to preferve fome in the foreft judgments and the grounds of it are,
1. Because some must be left as a feed to propagate and pre ferve the church, which is perpetual, and can never fail; he never fo overthrows nations as Sodom was overthrown, Ifa. i.
This was the ground of that promife, Jer. xxx. 11. "For I am with thee, faith the Lord, to fave thee, though I make a fuil end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will "I not make a full end of thee." And of that plea, Amoś vii. 2. "O Lord God, forgive, I befeech thee; by whom shall Jacob rife? "for he is fmall." Except the Lord had left a fmall remnant, we had been as Sodom. Remarkable to this purpofe is that fcripture, Ifa. vi. 13. "But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and thall be eaten as the teil-tree, and as an oak, "whose substance is in them when they caft their leaves; (o "the holy feed fhall be the fubftance thereof." This preferved remnant is the holy feed by which the church is propagated and continued, Pfal. cii. 28.
2. Because God will, even in this world, own and reward the fears and forrows of his people for the fins of the times, and
fufferings of the church, with the joy and comfort of better times, and a participation of Sion's confolation; fo Ifa. lxvi. 10. Rejoice ye with Jerufalem, ye that have mourned for her. They that have fown in tears, do fometimes live to reap in joy, Pfal. cxxv. 6. They shall fay as Ifa. xxv. 9. Lo this is our God, we have waited for him, and he is come to fave us." And those that live not to reap down in this world the harvest of their own prayers and tears, fhall be no lofers: a full and better reward shall be given them in heaven, Ifa. lvii. 22.
3. Because the preferved remnant of faints are they that must actually give unto God the glory of all his providential adminiftrations in the world, both of judgments and mercies upon others, and towards themselves: "They that go down to the "pit do not celebrate his praise; the living, the living, they "praise him," Ifa. xxxviii. 18, 19. Thus when God turned back Zion's captivity, the remnant of the faints that were preferved were they that recorded his praife, Pfal. cxxvi. 1, 2. "Then was our mouth filled with laughter." And fully to this fenfe is that fcripture, Pfal. cii. 19, 20, 21. " He delivers "those that are appointed to death," i, e. that men had doomed to death," that they may declare the name of the Lord in "Zion, and his praife in Jerufalem."
4. The hiding of the faints in the evil days is the greatest difcovery of the hand of God in the world; when he hides them, he fhews himself, and that both to the faints, and to their enemies.
It is one of the most glorious myfteries of providence that ever the world beheld, viz. the ftrange and wonderful protection of poor helpless Chriftians from the rage and fury of their mighty and malicious enemies; though they walk vifibly among them, yet they are, as it were, hid from their hands, but not from their eyes: So, Jer. i. 18. you find God made that prophet among the envious princes, and against an enraged and mighty king, as a defenced city, and as an iron pillar, and as a brazen wall. And indeed it was easier for them to conquer and take the strongest fort or garrison, than that fingle perfon, who yet walked day by day naked among them. So Luther, a poor monk, was made invincible, all the papal power could not touch him, for God hid him. All the world against one Athanafius, and yet not able to destroy him, for God hid him. This is the difplay of the glorious power of God in the world, and he hath much honour by it.
Well then, if there be a God that takes care of his own in