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When Hezekiah was ordered to set his house, himself seems to be fighting against us; it is in order, he turned his face to the wall, and not every Job that can say, “ 'Though he slay wept sore, and prayed for recovery. And me, yet will I trust in him.” In these cases if you take a man better acquainted with the our diffidence often extends to the power of way of salvation and a world of glory, yet God, as well as his goodness. People, inhis evidences of a personal interest are not deed, think that they only question his will; always satisfactory-And can he be willing but if they did not doubt his all-sufficiency to go in a state of uncertainty? He may too, why does their faith waver as difficulties also have peculiar attractions, and detentions, multiply? Does Gou know any thing about in his connexions: the benefactor may feel difficulties ? Why are they disheartened as these in his dependents; the father in his means fail ? Cannot God furnish means if children; the minister in his people. It was he does not find them? What was the lanthis that placed Paul in a strait between two: guage of the Israelites ?-Will he? No-But he longed to depart to be with Christ, which can he furnish a table in the wilderness ! was far better; but to abide in the flesh was Can he give bread to his people? What is more needful for those among whom he la- the commendation of Abraham's faith?—That boured. - David had a father and a mother he believed God's goodness! No—but his who fled with him, and depended upon him power: “ He staggered not at the promise of for support.
God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, But David was in no danger of perishing giving glory to God—being fully persuaded by the hand of Saul. Saul was indeed a ma- that what he had promised he was able also licious and powerful enemy; but he was to perform.". chained, and could do nothing against him You would, therefore, do well to take the except it was given him from above. And advice of an old writer. “ Never," says he, the Lord was on David's side. And he had “converse with your difficulties alone.” How the promise of the throne, which implied his is it when you suspect that a man wishes to preservation. And the holy oil had been entangle you in your talk, or to take advanpoured upon his head. And he had already tage of your weakness? Fearing that he experienced many wonderful deliverances. will prove too much for you, and induce you And he should have reasoned from the past to commit yourself, you take with you a to the future, as he had done before The third person, a wise and an able friend. Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the When your difficulties wish to parley with lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will you, let God be present; God in promise, a deliver me out of the hand of this Philis- God in experience then they may tell you tine.”. But here we see how hard it is to any thing. “God is our refuge and strength, trust in God in the hour of difficulty. a very present help in trouble: therefore will
I am far from thinking that it is an easy not we fear, though the earth be removed, thing to trust in God at any time. Some, I and though the mountains be carried into the know, are accustomed to say, “O, it is easy midst of the sea. The Lord of hosts is with enough to trust in God in prosperous scenes. us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." —But we But they are mistaken; and mistaken because are, they probably never made the trial; or, at II. Reminded of David's POLLY. “There least, never made it in earnest. In such is nothing better for me than that I shoald scenes it is difficult to see God, and realize speedily escape into the land of the Philishim. When we have health, and peace, and tines." But nothing could have been worse. affluence, and friends, it is difficult to deter- For by this step-he would alienate the afmine whether we are relying on these, or on fections of the Israelites from him-he would God. When they are removed, then our de justify the reproaches of the enemy-he pendence is obvious. If God was the strength would deprive himself of the means of grace of our souls, he will be our support: if the and the ordinances of religion-he would creature was our portion, we shall faint in grieve his soul with the vice and idolatry of the day of adversity. The nests appear in the heathen he would put himself out of the trees and hedges when stripped of their the warrant of Divine protection and lay leaves ; the winter discovering what was himself under peculiar obligation to those done in the summer, but hid before by the whom he could not serve without betraying foliage. And thus it is with us: adversity the cause of God. betrays the resting-places we had in pros- I cannot enlarge on these : but I would reperity.
mark two or three of the evil consequences But to return.-It is hard to repose, and naturally arising from this measure. For maintain a becoming confidence in God in how could he expect to gather grapes from the hour of difficulty. When means fail - thorns, or figs from thistles ? and we are forbidden to look for miracles; First. The king of Achish gave him Zikwhen our way is hedged up with thorns, and lag for his residence. Thence he invaded we dare not break through the fence; when the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Providence opposes the promise, and God Amalekites; “ David smote the land, and left
neither man nor woman alive, and took away | ing to our mind, should we not have been the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and cursed by many an indulgence ? and should the camels, and the apparel, and returned, we not have shunned those trials which enaand came to Achish.” But when questioned ble us now to say, “ It is good for me that I concerning this business by the king, he used have been afflicted? Who knoweth what is a dissimulation unworthy his character; in- good for a man in this life?" We cannot ducing him to believe that he had destroyed distinguish between reality and appearance; Israelites only, and gaining his confidence by between the present and the future.
We falsehood. “ Achish said, Whither have ye look forward into new and untried conditions made a road to-day? And David said, with our actual views and feelings; not conAgainst the south of Judah, and against the sidering that new and untried conditions will south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the draw forth new views and feelings; and that, south of the Kenites. And Achish believed like Hazael, we may become the very chaDavid, saying, He hath made his people Is- racters we abhor. Lot thought he could do rael utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall nothing better than choose the land of the be my servant for ever."
plain, the vale of Sodom, well watered as the Another embarrassment attends him. War garden of the Lord. But in doing so, he sebreaks out between the Philistines and Israel; parated himself from intercourse with his unand Achish orders David and his men to ac- cle Abraham—his soul was vexed from day company him to the battle. Now if, when the to day with the filthy conversation of the armies engaged, he should retire, or betray ungodly-he was taken a prisoner by the his post, he would be chargeable with cow- confederate kings—he was driven out of the ardice, and treason, and ingratitude towards place by fire and brimstone-his wife became the king, who had been his friend, and ho- a pillar of salt-his daughters plunged him noured him with the command of his life- into unheard-of infamy. guards.—On the other hand, if he should Take care, therefore, how you say, “ There fight against his own people, under the ban- is nothing better for me,” than to do this, or ners of the uncircumcised, he would be justly that. Venture on nothing rashly. Move considered an enemy to the Israel of God, a with all your moral senses alive and awake. betrayer of his country, and would render his In your connexions for life ; in removing your ascension to the throne more difficult. Out residence; in giving up, or changing your of this strait, God, who does not deal with us employment, “ponder the path of your feet, after our desert, delivers him. The lords of that your goings may be established.” Let the Philistines are dissatisfied with David's your eyes look on, and your eyelids straight going along with them, and insist upon his before you. Pray, as you are directed, “ Lead dismission.
us not into temptation, but deliver us from But behold a third result of this wrong evil.” “Trust in the Lord with all thine
He returns ; but little does he heart ; and lean not unto thine own underimagine what had befallen him at home. By standing. In all thy ways acknowledge him, accompanying Achish he had left Ziklag, and he shall direct thy paths.” We may where his substance and his relations were acknowledge God in words, while we deny defenceless. The Amalekites took advan- him in works. But it is a practical acknowtage of his absence, and burned the town, ledgment that is required of us; and it conafter carrying away the spoil, and making his sists in three things. First : in our taking no friends and his wives captives. Informed of step without asking counsel of the Lord. all this, David was greatly distressed ; and the Secondly: in refusing to take one, when he anguish of loss was embittered by self-accu- calls us. Thirdly: in not charging him foolsation, and the reproaches of the people : for ishly, when having taken a step, in compli" the people spake of stoning him, because ance with his command, it proves unanswerthe soul of all the people was grieved, every able to our wishes and expectation : for we man for his sons and for his daughters.” may be in the will of God, and meet with
See, First : How much depends on one very painful exercises ; but we must justify improper step. The effects may be remedi- him in all that befalls us. less, and give a complexion to all our future To conclude. See the dangers and misdays. Our reputation, our comfort, our use-chiefs of unbelief, or the want of confidence fulness, our religion, our very salvation may in God. It is the worst counsellor we can hinge upon it.
ever consult: the most perilous guide we can Secondly. Let us learn how incompetent ever follow. What did Moses and Aaron we are to judge for ourselves. “ The way lose ? " Because,” says God, “ye believed me of man is not in himself; it is not in man that not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children walketh, to direct his steps.” Who has not of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this found this to be true, in his own experience! congregation into the land which I have Who can look back upon life, and not see given them :" and no entreaty could induce how often he has been mistaken, both in his God to revoke the sentence. From how many hopes and fears! If things had been accord- gratifications, and advantages, does unbelief
eut us off, even when it does not destroy! | DUCTIVE OF SUITABLE INFLUENCE AND EFIt robs the mind of stability—“ If ye will not FECTS. believe, surely ye shall not be established.” I. I may address you, my dear brethren, It withholds from it peace—" Thou wilt keep in the language of the apostle to the Corinhim in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed thians, “ Ye know THE GRACE OF OUR LORD on thee, because he trusteth in thee." Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet
Without faith, the soul is like a ship, de- for your sakes he became poor, that ye through prived of the rudder, driven of the winds, and his poverty might be rich.” tossed. By believing in God, we shall find It was this that led him to remember you that our strength is to sit still; instead of in your low estate; to interpose on your berunning from one creature to another. “It halt; to assume your nature, and to give his is good for a man, both to hope, and quietly life a ransom for many: “Surely he hath wait for the salvation of the Lord;" instead borne our grief and carried our sorrow. He of conferring with flesh and blood, and adopt- was wounded for our transgressions, he was ing unhallowed expedients for relief. Them bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement that honour God he will honour; but they of our peace was upon him; and with his that despise him shall be lightly esteemed. stripes we are healed.”. “ For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One Behold, how he loved him, said the spectaof Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be tors around the grave of Lazarus, when they saved ; in quietness and in confidence shall saw only his tears. Behold, how he loved be your strength: and ye would not. But ye them, was surely the exclamation of angels, said, No; for we will flee upon horses; there when, at his cross, they beheld his blood. fore shall ye fee: and, We will ride upon Here is a love which passeth knowledge.the swift; therefore shall they that pursue For was he compelled to submit to this underyou be swift
. One thousand shall flee at the taking ? No.-Did we deserve it! "When rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye we were yet without strength, in due time flee; till ye be left as a beacon upon the top Christ died for the ungodly. Scarcely for a of a mountain, and as an ensign on a hill.” righteous man will one die; yet peradven
“ Now, the God of hope fill you with all ture for a good man some would even dare joy and peace in believing, that ye may to die. But God cominendeth his love toabound in hope, through the power of the ward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Holy Ghost.”
Christ died for us." —Did we desire it! It was accomplished ages befo our existence.
And therefore, when we were awakened, and DISCOURSE C.
began to seek after these things, we found
them already provided: we had them not to THE SAVIOUR'S GRACE IN ITS
procure, but to enjoy; and the voice cried,
• Behold redemption for the enslaved, pardon FREENESS AND EFFECTS.
for the guilty, sanctification for the unboly, And the grace of our Lord was exceeding strength for the weak, health for the sick,
abundant with faith and love which is in and consolation for the miserable—Come, for Christ Jesus.1 Tim. i. 14.
all things are now ready!" PERHAPS some of you are come from mo- In the application, as well as the procuring tives of curiosity, and expect to hear some of our salvation, the grace of the Lord Jesus thing new. But have nothing new to appears. Means were used; but they decommunicate. There is only one way of rived all their efficacy, and their very being, salvation, and this is older than Adam: for from him. Go as far back as you please, you “ he hath saved us, and called us with an will find him there before you; predisposing holy calling, not according to our works, but instruments, awakening and encouraging according to his own purpose and grace, your application, preventing you with the which was given us in Christ Jesus before blessings of his goodness. A friend, by his the world began."
conversation, enlightened your mind—but You will therefore, probably, be disap- who made this friend? Who placed him in pointed; but this will be of little importance your way? Who inclined him to seek your if you are benefited. It is at your profit I welfare! You hunger and thirst after rightaim; and nothing is more likely to secure it eousness: you wait for the Lord more than than the subject we have chosen ; God they that watch for the morning. But whence only gives testimony to the word of his grace. sprang this desire ? From conviction. What
And as for those who have tasted that the produced this conviction ? Reflection. And Lord is gracious, they are saying, Evermore what produced this reflection? A train of give us this bread. Let us,
events. And what are events? Proridence. I. CONSIDER THE GRACE OF our LORD And what is providence ? God in action : and JESUS Christ. II. Show HOW EMINENTLY God, acting for the welfare of the unworthy, IT WAS DISPLAYED IN THE CONVERSION OF is grace. “Of him, and through him, and to Paul III. PROVE THAT IT IS ALWAYS PRO- him are all things; to whom be glory. We love him, because he first loved us. I am such language may be insufferable affectasought of them that asked not for me; I am tion; and is sometimes used by persons who found of them that sought me not: I said, give ample evidence of their not believing it. Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was When show is a substitute for reality, it is called by my name.”
generally excessive. Many fish for praise The progress is equally from the same with the bait of humility; and say things source. He who quickens us, when dead in against themselves in hopes that you will trespasses and sins, renews us day by day; contradict them—but be sure never to gratify and enables us to hold on our way, and wax them. It is otherwise with a real Christian: stronger and stronger. Which of you, what- he speaks according to his real views and ever be his attainments, would ever reach the feelings. He does not, however, mean that end of his faith, the salvation of his soul, he has been the greatest profligate : but he were he to discontinue the supply of his own knows that sin is to be estimated by its guilt, Spirit? But he does not. We live in the not by its grossness; and he knows more of Spirit and walk in the Spirit. His grace is himself than he can know of others. He can sufficient for us; and in this grace we are only see the actions of others, and not the commanded to be strong. As this laid the greater part even of them; but he can look foundation, so it will raise the superstructure; into his own heart. He knows not but the and he shall bring forth the top-stone there- sins of others will admit of extenuation; and of, with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace, he ought to be willing, as far as possible, to unto it!
excuse; but he knows against what light, and And on his head were many crowns. The advantages, his own transgressions have been expression refers to the universality of his committed. empire : for he is King of kings, and Lord of But, even without this justification of his lords. But it will be also exemplified in the language, Paul may well refer to himself as praises of all the redeemed from the earth. a very signal display of the riches of the SaFor if those, who are called under the preach- viour's grace. To see the exceeding abuning of the word, are said to be the joy and dance of it, observe crown of the ministers, who are only the in- What he once was. He tells Timothy that struinents of their conversion ; how much he was a persecutor, a blasphemer, and inmore will they be so to him, who is the Au-jurious. The first time he appears in the thor! O what a multitude of praises will sacred history is in connexion with the muradorn his head-since every believer ascribes der of Stephen ; when, it is said, the witnessto him the undivided glory of his own salva- es laid down their clothes at a young man's tion; when he shall come to be glorified in feet, whose name was Saul. He, probably, his saints, and to be admired in all them that reproved their slackness, and said, “Strip, believe! and from every tongue he will hear and stone him-I'll take care of your raithe exclamation—“Unto him that loved us, ment.” How did this circumstance pain his and washed us from our sins in his own blood, mind, in review; and how feelingly does he and hath made us kings and priests unto God mention it : “When the blood of the martyr and his Father; to him be glory and domi- Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and nion for ever and ever. Amen.'
consenting unto his death, and kept the raiBut, though all are saved by this grace, ment of them that slew him!” In this cause some individuals seem to be, in a peculiar he continued: “ Many of the saints did I shut manner, the trophies of it: and were it ne- up in prison, having received authority from cessary, we could make, even from the re- the chief priests; and when they were put cords of Scripture, a marvellous selection of to death, I gave my voice against them. And instances. We could mention Manasseh ; I punished them oft in every synagogue, and the dying thief; the murderers of the Son of compelled them to blaspheme : and being exGod; the Corinthian converts : but it is need- ceedingly mad against them, I persecuted less to go beyond our subject.-We are re- them even unto strange cities.” And could minded,
he have dismissed their souls to hell as easily II. THAT THIS GRACE IS EMINENTLY DIS- as he deprived them of property, liberty, and PLAYED IN THE CONVERSION OF PAUL; “And life, he would have done it gladly. So unthe grace of our Lord,” says he, “ was exceed- paralleled was his ferocity, that he seemed ing abundant.” Never did his heart pity a beyond the possibility of reclaim. They who more undeserving wretch; or his hand un- knew the extent of the Saviour's grace seemdertake a more desperate case.
ed unanimously to despair of him; and when Perhaps you say, this made the Apostle so he assayed to join himself to them, they were humble. It did. But humility is not igno- afraid of him, and drew back, like sheep from rance and folly. Christians are often ridi- the wolf. culed for speaking of themselves in depreci- Again. Observe how he was engaged at ating terms; especially when they call them- the very time of his conversion. Perhaps he selves the vilest of the vile, or the chief of has repented, and reformed : perhaps he is sinners. It is admitted and lamented that begging forgiveness; and is thus preparing himself for the Divine regards. Some have lice. He thus resembled the blind man rebeen called under the preaching of the Word, covered, in the Gospel: "immediately he rewhen they were far from expecting it. They ceived his sight, and followed Jesus in the have been apprehended under a minister, way." whose doctrine they came to insult, and whose And First. Divine grace produces faith. person they came to injure. The word has Faith is the belief of the Gospel; a firm and reached the heart, and turned the stone to lively persuasion of the truth of the record flesh: they have thrown down the weapons that God has given of his Son, accompanied of their rebellion; and weeping over them, with acquiescence, dependence, and applicaacknowledged the presence of all-conquering tion. It will lead me to have recourse to grace.—Paul was now in a journey of iniqui- him for all I want. It will induce me to ty: he was engaged in open defiance of the make use of him for every purpose he is reSon of God, crucifying him afresh, and put- vealed to accomplish: to enter him as my ting him to an open shame, at the very mo- refuge, to build on him as my foundation, to ment, when the Lord took knowledge of him! follow him as my guide; to regard him as
Observe, also, The manner of his call. He my prophet, to teach me; my high priest, to is not saved in an ordinary way; but his con- put away my sin, by the sacrifice of himself; version is illustrated with marvellous and my king, to rule me; my shepherd, to feed. miraculous circumstances. Jesus personally This representation will hardly satisfy those comes down from heaven for the purpose. whose minds are speculative; but it is Scrip But how? Flashing the lightning and roll- tural. The sacred writers describe faith, ra. ing the thunder? No. He comes down low ther than define it. They hold it forth, not enough to be visible—but no terror clothes in the nakedness of abstraction, but in attrihis brow. He approaches near enough to be butes and actings, by which it is more subject heard-he speaks-in wrath surely ?—“O to apprehension. It is, in their language, thou child of the devil-I have found thee, looking to Christ; coming to him; commitmine enemy.”. No.- Nothing but the ten- ting the soul into his hands against that day. der expostulation, “Saul, Saul, why perse- Secondly, Divine grace will equally procutest thou me? For three-and-thirty years duce love. To whom? To the Saviour himI lived in thy nation—I went abont doing self; his name, his word, his day, bis sergood-I opened the eyes of the blind—to pa- vice, his ways.—To whom? To all his per rents I gave back their children from the ple; as branches of the same household of grave-I healed all manner of sickness and faith; as parts of the same body, having comdiseases among the people. I am Jesus munion with each other, so that, if one memwhom thou persecutest-the Saviour of ber suffers, all the inembers suffer; and if one others--and of THEE!"
member be honoured, all the members rejoice. Trace, finally, what followed. He trembles --To whom? All mankind, so as to desire their and is astonished; but this is not all. His welfare, and to do them good as opportunity heart is changed. He had fallen to the ground offers-determining the exercise of this affer
- but he now kneels. Behold, he prayeth! tion by their necessities; instructing them if and to the very Being he had so often blas- ignorant; reproving them if vicious; feeding phemed—“Lord, what wilt thou have me to and clothing them if destitute ; always redo !" He consecrates his life to his service. membering that we are to love, not in word
The lion is turned into a lamb; and a little and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. child leads it. The persecutor is an apostle. “ Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth He is straightway in the synagogue, and his brother have need, and shutteth up his preaches the faith that once he destroyed. bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth Consider the journeys he took ; the sufferings the love of God in him?" he endured; the sermons he delivered; the Thirdly. Divine grace will produce both epistles he wrote; the churches he planted these in the same subjects. In five other and watered: see him, at the close of a life places, as well as in the passage before us, the most laborious and unexampled, the wild we find faith and love in Christ Jesus conling martyr—" I am now ready to be offered, nected together. This must be more than and the time of my departure is at hand.” sufficient to show, that the combination is not Contemplate all this, and see, whether “the accidental. In fact, there cannot be a more grace of our Lord was not exceeding abun- natural, or a more noble union. dant:" and also if we are not authorized, Faith, according to the Apostle's order of
III. To observe, that this GRACE IS AL- statement, goes before love: for faith preWAYS PRODUCTIVE OF SUITABLE INFLUENCES cedes every thing in religion: it is an original
“ In faith and love," says the principle; it is the spring from which flow apostle, “which are in Christ Jesus.” Many all the streams of pious temper and practice: effects followed; but nothing appeared more it is the root, from which grow all the fruits certainly and powerfully than these: faith— of Christian obedience and affection. C'sing in opposition to his former unbelief; and love another metaphor, it is considered a founda-in opposition to his former hatred and ma- tion; and we are required to " build up our.