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as other Chriftians, yet when Chrift puts the question home to him, John xxi. 15. "Simon, fon of Jonas, loveft thou me 66 more than these;" he was able to return a clear positive anfwer," Yea, Lord, thou knoweft that I love thee." Study thy heart, Chriftian, and ftudy the fcriptures; if thou canst find the fincere love of God in thy heart, that fcripture will clear the love of God to thy foul, John iv. 19. "We love him, "because he first loved us." If thou lay thine hand upon a ftone-wall, and feel it warm, thou mayeft conclude the funbeams have shone upon it; for warmth is not naturally in dead ftones. Our love to God is but a reflex beam of his love to us; and we know there can be no reflex without a direct beam. Thousands of Chriftians do, at this day, actually poffefs the ravishing fenfe of divine love, whofe fears and complaints have been the fame that thine now are; that God who indulged this favour to them, can do as much for thee.
Motive 3. Think how well thou wilt be provided for the worst and difficultest times, when the love of God shall be well fecured to thy foul; when the love of God, i. e. the sense of his love, is once shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, which for that end, among others, is given unto us; we shall then be able to glory in tribulation, Rom. v. 3, 5. We may then bid defiance to all the adverfe powers of hell and earth, and fay, now do your worft; we are out of your reach, and above all your terrors and affrights. Be advised then to fit clofe to this work; clear but this point once, and the worst is paft. O lie at the feet of God night and day, give him no reft, take no denial from him, fill thy mouth with pleas and arguments: Tell him, Lord, it is neither for corn, nor wine, that 1 feek thee, but only for thy love; bestow thy other gifts upon whom thou wilt, only feal up thy love to my foul.
And lastly, I advise thee, reader, to be exceeding careful, when God admits thee into the fense of his love, to fhut the door behind thee, left thy foul be foon expelled thence by the fubtilty of Satan, who envies nothing more, than fuch an happinefs as this: That envious spirit totally defpairs of the least drop of fuch a mercy, and therefore fwells with envy at thy enjoyment of it. But if ever thou fasten thy hand of faith upon this mercy, loose not thy hold by every objection with which he will rap thy fingers.
1. If he object the many fharp afflictions, and manifold rods of God upon thee, call not the love of God in question for that; but remember what he faith, Heb. xii. 6. “Whom the "Lord loveth he chasteneth, and fcourgeth every fon whom
he receiveth." Fatherly corrections are fo far from being inconfiftent with the love of God, that his love is rather queftionable without them, than for them; they are love tokens, not marks of hatred.
2. Yield not up thy claim and title to the love of God, because he fometimes hides his face from thee; thou knowest the fun is up, and going on in its regular courfe, in the darkest and clofeft day. My God, my God, faith Chrift himself, Why haft thou forfaken me? Believe he is ftill thy God, and his love immutable, when the fenfe and manifeftations thereof do fail.
3. Call not the love of God in question, because of thy great vileness and unworthiness. Say not, when thou molt loatheft thyself, God must needs loath thee too; he can love where thou loatheft. "Return, return, O Shulamite, return, return, that we may look upon thee: What will ye fee in "the Shulamite? as it were the company of two armies." The spouse was exceeding beautiful in the eyes of others, when most base and vile in her own: What would you fee in the Shulamite? Alas, there is nothing in me, at the best, but conflicts and wars, betwixt grace and corruption, as it were betwixt two armies, Cant. vi. 13.
4. Quit not thy claim to the love of God, because he seems to shut out thy prayers, and delays to anfwer thy long continued defires and importunities of thy foul in fome cafes. David would neither cenfure his God, no, nor call in queftion his intereft in him, because of fuch a delay and filence, Pfal. xxii. 1, 2. My God, my God. The claim is doubled, ver. 1. and yet in the next breath he faith, "I cry in the day-time, but thou “hearest not; and in the night-seafon, and am not filent."
Thus I have offered you fome advice and affistance, how to fecure yourselves in thefe divine attributes, viz. The power, wisdom, faithfulness, unchangeableness, care, and love of God, as in fo many fanctuaries, and comfortable refuges in the days, of common calamity. It is noted, even of the Egyptians, when the storm of hail was coming upon the land, Exod. ix. 20. "He that feared the word of the Lord among the fervants of "Pharaoh, made his fervants and his cattle flee into the "houses." Let not an Egyptian take more care of his beasts than Chriftians of their fouls. Stormy days are coming, God hath provided you a refuge, and given you seasonable prémoni tions, and calls from heaven, to haften into them before the times of defolations come. The Lord help us to hear his calls, and comply with them, which will be as much our privilege, as it is Y
our duty. And fo much for the fifth propofition, viz. That God's attributes, promifes, and providences, are prepared for the fecurity of his people in the greatest diftreffes that befal them in the world.
That none but God's own people are taken into these chambers of fecurity, or can expect his special protection in evil times.
privilege. God's own
*Sect. I. HIS propofition describes and clears the qualified and none but fuch, can warrantably claim fpecial protection in evil times, and this is confonant to the current account of fcripture, Ifa. iii. 10, 11. "Say ye unto the righteous, it shall be "well with him. Wo to the wicked, it fhall be ill with him.” He speaks concerning the day of Jerufalem's ruin, and Judah's fall, as appears, ver. 8. So great a difference will God make, even in this world, betwixt the righteous and the wicked. In Nah i. you have alfo a terrible day defcribed, wherein Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon, the most pleasant and fruitful places of the land fhall languish, ver. 4. The mountains fhall quake, the hills melt, the earth, and thofe that dwell therein, burnt up, ver. 5. The indignation and fury of God poured out like fire, ver. 6. The privileged people in this terrible day are God's own people, they only are taken into fecurity, ver. 7. The Lord is good, a ftrong-hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that truft in him, i. e. he fo knoweth them, as to care and provide for them in that evil day; and fo, throughout the whole fcripture, you fhall find the promises of protection ftill: made to the people of God. When the Chaldean army, like a devouring fire, was ready to feize upon the land, the finners in Sion were afraid, fearfulness furprized the hypocrites; for who among us (fay they) fhall dwell with devouring fire, and everJafting burnings? Yes, faith God, fome there are that shall abide that day, viz. "He that walketh righteoufly, and speaketh up"rightly; he fhall dwell on high, his place of defence fhall
be the munition of rocks;" i. e. God will be a fanctuary to them, when others fhall be as ftubble before the flames, Ifa. xxxiii. 14, 15, 16.
But for the right ftating of this propofition, three things muft be heedfully regarded.
1. That all good men are not aways exempted from the stroke
of outward calamities. In that fenfe the righteous may perish, and merciful men be taken away; yea, they may perish in love, and be taken away in mercy from the evil to come, Ifa. Ivii. 1, 2. Micah vii. 1, 2.
2. That all wicked men are not always exposed to external miferies; but," a just man may perish in his righteousness, and "a wicked man prolong his life in his wickednefs," Ecclef. vii. 15.
3. But in this fense we are to understand the propofition, That none but the people of God have right, by promife, to his fpecial protection in evil days, that all fuch fhall either be preferved from the stroke of calamities, or from the deadly fting, namely eternal ruin, by them: though they fhould fall by the hands of enemies, yet they die, as Jofiah did, in peace, 2 Kings. xxii. 19, 20. If they be taken away, it is but out of the way, of greater mischiefs: Death doth but lay the faints in their beds of reft, when it hurries away others into everlasting miferies: If they be not excufed from troubles, yet their troubles are fure to be fanctified to their eternal good, Rom. viii. 28. And the Lord will be with them in their troubles, Pfal. xci. 15. Ifa. xli. 10.
Two things remain to be confidered, before we finish this laft propofition: viz.
1. Who the people of God are?
2. Why this privilege is peculiar to them?
1. Who are the people of God? the fcripture describes them
two ways: negatively, and pofitively. Negatively, in oppofition to those who are not the people of God, but are (1.) The fervants of fin, obeying it in the luft of it, which the people of God neither are, nor dare to do, Rom. vi. 11, 12, &c. (2.) The men of this world, who have their portion in this life, favouring and minding the things of the world only; whereas the people of God are called out of the world, John xvii. 16. and principally study and labour after the higher concernments of the world to come, Rom. viii. 5. (3.) The vassals of Satan, doing his lufts, and in subjection to his power, Acts xxvi. 18. Eph. ii. 2. from which bondage the people of God are made free. (4) Nor yet are they their own, living wholly to themselves, and feeking only their own ends, as others do, I Cor. vi. 19, 20. Thefe, all these are not the people of God, God will not own them for fuch; they but deceive themselves in thinking, and calling themselves fo. But then pofitively, they are (1.) A people regenerated, and born again, John i. 13. Their regeneration
gives them both the effence and denomination of the people of God: It is as impoffible to be the children of God, without rege neration, as it is to be the children of men without generation. (2.) They are a people in covenant with God, Ezek. xvi. 8. "f "entered into a covenant with thee, and thou becameft mine." For in this covenant they give themselves to the Lord, 2 Cor. viii 5. They avouch the Lord to be their God, and make over themselves to him to be his people, Jer. xxxi. 33 devoting unto God all that they are, their fouls and bodies, with every faculty and member inclufively, Rom. xii. 1. Luke x. 27. All that they have, Rom. xi. 36. all is dedicated and devoted to the Lord's ule and fervice, and thefe only are the people of God.
2. The last thing to be cleared is, Why the people of God, and none befide them, have this peculiar privilege of an hiding. place in the day of trouble? and the grounds of it are,
1. Because they only have special intereft in God, and propriety is the ground on which they claim and expect protection: I am thine, fave me, Pfal. cxix. 94. Upon this very ground it was, that David encouraged himfelf in one of his greateft plunges and diftreffes of his whole life, 1 Sam. xxx. 6. “ But David "encouraged himself in the Lord his God."
2. The people of God only are at peace with God; and where there is no peace, there can be no protection: The har bours and garrifons of one kingdom never receive into their pro tection the subjects of another kingdom, that are in open hosti lity against them. Now there is open war betwixt God and the wicked, Pfal. vii. 11. Zech. xi. 8. Till they have peace with God, they can claim no protection from God.
3. The promises of protection are made only to God's people; and where there is no promife, there can be no warrantable claim to protection, 2 Cor. i. 20. 2 Pet. i. 4. Common providence may fhelter them for a time, but the faints only have the keys of the promifes, which open the chambers or attributes of God to them.
4. None but the people of God walk in the ways of God, and none but thofe that walk in his way can, groundedly, expect his protection; for fo runs the promife, 2 Chron. xv. 2. "I am with you, whilft you are with me," i. e. I am with you, by way of protection, direction, fupport, and falvation, whilst you are with me in the duties of obedience, and exercises of your graces; fee that you love, fear and obey me, and then, depend upon it, I will look after, and take care of you.
5. To conclude, The people of God only flee to God for fanctuary, and caft themselves upon him for protection, Pfah