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"and I come to thee: Holy Father, keep through thine own name thofe whom thou haft given me." q. d. While I have been perfonally prefent with them, I took the fame care of them, as a fhepherd doth of his flock, or a tender father of his children: but now I must leave them in the world, and in the midft, of a world of dangers, fears, and troubles, against which they can make no provifion or defence, themselves. Father, remember them, look after them, when I shall be removed from them, they are thine as well as mine; and I recommend them, with my last breath, to thy care and protection. This is a special ground alfo of God's care for them.
5. Believers daily caft themselves upon the care of God, and refign themselves unto it in their daily prayers, and by their often renewed acts of faith, than which no act is found more en gaging from the creature upon its God; though there be nothing of merit, yet there is much engaging efficacy in it, Ifa, xxvi. 3. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whofe mind is stayed on thee; because he trufteth in thee." We find it fo among ourselves, the more firmly and entirely any one trufteth in us, and dependeth upon us, the more he engageth us to protect and relieve him. Now this is the daily work of Chriftians to truft God over all, and put all their concernments into his hand, which very truft and dependance draws forth the care of God for them.
6. In a word, the many promifes God hath made to his people, to preferve, fupport and fupply them, in all the times of need, engageth the care of God for them, as often as fuch wants or dangers befal them; for, indeed, herein, he at once takes care for their neceffity, and for his own honour and glory. They truft to his word, and rely upon his promises, which therefore he will be careful to make good. This was the argument which the church pleaded in the time of imminent danger, to engage the care of God for them, Pf. lxxiv. 20. Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty, q. d. O Lord, thy people are in the midst of cruel enemies, take care for their protection, and though there be no worth in them, to which thou shouldest have refpect, yet have refpect unto thine own covenant: let the glory of thy name draw forth thy care to thy people.
Sect. II. We have feen the grounds and reasons of God's care over his people, let us next view (2.) The extent and compafs of this divine care; and here methinks the Lord faith to his people, as he faid to Abraham, Gen. xiii. 14, 15. Lift up now thine eyes from the place where thou art, northward, and
Fouthward, and eastward, and westward, for all the land which thou feeft, to thee will I give it, and to thy feed for ever. So here, poor timorous, dejected believer, lift up thine eyes from the place where thou art, and take a view of all the promises in the fcriptures of truth; promises of fupports under all burthens, fupplies of all wants, deliverances out of all dangers, affiftances in all diftreffes; to thee have I given them all as a portion for ever. This care of God walks around, and encompaffeth the fouls and bodies of them that fear him, day and night. There is no intereft or concern of either found with out the line of his all-furrounding care, and every one of his children are enfolded in his fatherly arms, Deut. xxxiii. 3. All his faints are in thy hand. All, and every one of their wants and ftraits are obferved by this care, in order to their fupply, Phil. iv. 19. My God fball fupply all your needs.
1. Great is the care of God over the bodies of his people, and all the dangers and neceffities of them as they daily grow; your~ meat and drink are daily provided for you by your father's care, Pfal. cxi. 5. He bath given meat unto them that fear him; he will be ever mindful of his covenant. It is from this care of thy heavenly Father, that neceffary provifions have been made for thee, of which, it may be, thou haft had no forefight: this is the God that hath fed thee all thy life long, Gen. xlviii. 15. It is from the fame care thy body hath been cloathed, Mat. vi. 28. How much more fball he cloath you, O ye of little faith? It is through this care, you fleep in peace, and your reft is made fweet unto you, Prov. iii. 24. "When thou lieft down, thou shalt "not be afraid; yea, thou fhalt lie down, and thy fleep shall "be fweet." In a word; thou oweft all thy recoveries from dangerous difeafes, and narrow efcapes from the grave, to this care of thy God over thee, He is the Lord that healeth thee, Exod. xv. 26. That the incenfed humours of thy body had not overflowed their banks, like an inundation of the fea, when they raged in thy dangerous difeafes, is only because thy God took the care of thee, and fet them their bounds.
2. Divine care extends itself to the fouls of all that fear God, and to all the concernments of their fouls; and manifeftly dif covers itself in all the gracious provifions it hath made for them. More particularly, it is from this tender, fatherly care 'that,
1. A Saviour was provided to redeem them, when they were ruined and loft by fin, John iii. 16. Rom. viii. 32.
2. That fpiritual cordials are provided to refresh them, in all 'their finking forrows and inward diftreffes, Pfal. xciv. 19.
3. That a door of deliverance is opened to them, when they are forely preffed upon by temptations, and ready to be overwhelmed, Cor. x. 13.
4. That a strength above their own comes feasonably to fupport them, when they are almoft over-weighed with inward troubles, when great weights are upon them, the everlasting arms are underneath them, Pfal. cxxxviii. 3. Ifa. Ivii. 16.
5. That their ruin is prevented, when they are upon the dan gerous and flippery brink of temptations, and their feet almost gone, Pfal. lxxiii. 42. Hof. ii. 6. 2 Cor. xii. 7.
6. That they are recovered again after dangerous falls by fin, and not left as a prey and trophy to their enemy, Hof, xiv. 4.
7. That they are guided and directed in the right way, when they are at a lofs, and know not what course to take, Pfal. xvi. 11. Pfal. lxxiii. 24.
8. That they are established, and confirmed in Chrift, in the moft shaking and overturning times of trouble and perfecution;, fo that neither their hearts turn back, nor their steps decline from his ways, Jer. xxxii. 40. John iv. 14.
9. That they are upheld under fpiritual defertions, and fecovered again out of that difmal darkness, into the chearful light of God's countenance, Ifa. Ivii. 16.
10. That they are at last brought safe to heaven, through the innumerable hazards and dangers all along their way thither, Heb. xi. 19. In all these things the care of their God eminently difcovers itself for their fouls.
(3.) Once more let us confider the care of God for his people in the lovely properties thereof. As,
1. It is a fatherly care, than which none is greater or more tender, Mat. vi. 8. "Your father knoweth that you have need of "all these things." And indeed the greatest and tenderest care of an earthly father is but a faint fhadow of that tender care which is in the heart of God over his children; for to that end we find them compared, Mat. vii. 11. "If ye then, being evil, "know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much "more fhall your Father which is in heaven, give good things "to them which ask him." The care of parents is carelessness itself, compared with that care which God takes of his.
2. The care of God is an univerfal care, watching over all his people, in all ages, places, and dangers, 2 Chron. xvi. 9. "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro thro' the whole earth, "to fhew himself strong in behalf of them whofe heart is per"fect towards him." This was applied by way of reproof to
Afa, who out of a finful distrust of the care of God, relied upon the help of Syria, as if there had not been a God in heaven to take care of him and the people.,
3. God's care over his, is affiduous and continual; "his mer"cies are new every morning, great is his faithfulness," Lam. iii. 22, 23. "He keeps his people night and day,” Isa. xxvii. 3. Could Satan, or his inftruments find fuch an hour, wherein the feven eyes of providence fhould be all asleep, that would be the fatal hour to our fouls and bodies; but he that keepeth Ifrael flumbereth not.
4. God's care over his, is exceeding tender, far beyond the tenderness that the most affectionate mother ever felt in her heart towards the child that hanged on her breaft, Ifa. xlix. 15. "Can a mother forget her fucking child, &c. they may, yet will not I forget thee." The birds of the air are not so tender of their young in the neft, as God is of his people in the world, Ifa. xxxi. 5. Mercy fills the heart of God, yea, tender mercy, yea, multitudes of tender mercies, Pfal. li. 1.
5. The care of God is seasonable care, which is always fure to take the opportunity and proper season of relieving his people; in the mount of the Lord it fhall be feen; the beauty of providence is much feen in this thing, wherever you feel a want, this care finds a fupply; and thus much briefly of the care of God abfolutely confidered in itself.
Sect. III. It remains that we also confider the care of God in its twofold respect, viz.
1. To his promifes.
2. To his providences.
(1.) There are multitudes of promises found in the scriptures, exactly fitted as fo many keys to open the door of this comfortable chamber, to receive, and fecure all that fear God, whatever their wants, fears, or diftreffes are. These are reducible into two claffes, or ranks, viz.
1. More general and comprehenfive.
The general and more comprehenfive promises are found in the general expreffion of the covenant, as that to Abraham, Gen. xvii. 1. "I am God Almighty, walk thou before me, and "be perfect." q. d. Let it be thy care to walk exactly in the paths of obedience before me, and I will take care to supply all thy wants from the never-failing fountain of my all-fufficiency; and of the fame tenour is that, 2 Cor. vi. 18. I will be to them a Father, and they shall be my fons and daughters, i. e. Expect VOL. IV.
your provifions and protections from my care, as children do from their father. More particularly, there fix forts of promifes, herein the care of God is particularly made over to his people in the greatest hazards and difficulties in this life, viz.
1. It is affigned and made over to them to fupply all their needs, fo far as the glory of God and advancement of their fpiritual and eternal good fhall require it, Pfal. xxxiv. 9. They that fear the Lord, fhall not want any good thing." All your livelihood is in that promife; thence comes your daily bread; your own and your family's meat is contained therein.
2. It is made over to the church and people of God for their defence against all dangers, Ifa. liv. 17. No weapon that is "formed against thee fhall profper." This promife wards off all the deadly blows, and puts by all the mortal thrufts that are made at you; here the care of God forms itself into a fhield for your defence.
3. The care of God is engaged by promife for the modera tion and mitigation of your afflictions, that they may not exceed your abilities to bear them, Ifa. xxvii. 8, 9. "In mea"fure when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it; he stay"ed the rough wind in the day of the eaft wind." If the wind blow from a cold corner, this promife moderates it, that it blow not a form; all the fparing mercies and (weetening circum. ftances, which gracious fouls thankfully note, in the sharpeft trials, come from this promife, wherein the care of God is engaged for that purpose.
4. Divine care is put under the bond of a promise, for the direction and guidance of all their troubles and trials to an happy iffue, Rom. viii. 28. "All things fhall work together for good." From what quarter foever the wind bloweth, God will take care that it fhall be useful to drive you to your port; the very providences that caft you down, by virtue of this promife, prove as ferviceable and beneficial as thofe that lift you up.
5. The care of God stands engaged, in the promise, for the help and aid of his people in all the extremities and exigencies of their lives, Pfal. xlvi. 1. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Never is the care of God more vifible and confpicuous, than in fuch times of need.
6. Lastly, The care of God is engaged to carry his people fafe through all the dangers of the way, and bring them all home to glory at laft, John x. 28. "I give unto them eternal life, and they fhall never perish, neither fhall any man them out of my hand." This care of God, thus engaged for