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afford in the management of the work itself. The gum of what was provided beforehand, and no otherwise, without the least addition, is here presented unto you, with hearty desires, that the vision of the truth herein considered may be to them that love you, and the accomplishment thereof be found in the midst of you.

So prays

Your humblest servant
In our dear Lord Jesus,

John Owen.

Nov. 17.

SERMON XIII.

And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and

all Judah and Benjamin ; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him: and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.—2 CHRON. XV. 2. It will not, I am sure, seem strange to any, that I have taken a text to preach on in a day of humiliation, out of a thanksgiving sermon, such as this discourse of Azariah seems to be; if they shall but consider the suitableness of the instruction given therein, to any great and solemn occasion, whether of humiliation or rejoicing. The words indeed are the sum of all directions that in such cases can be given ; the standard of all rules, and exhortations, wherein any nation or people, in any condition, are or may be concerned; so plainly measuring out our fate and lot, the event and issue of our affairs, with all the great undertaking of the people of God in this nation, that of themselves I hope they will make some passage to the hearts of them, to whom the inferences from them shall this day be applied.

In the foregoing chapter we have an account of a great victory, that Asa and the people of Judah, fighting in faith, and with prayer, obtained against the huge host of the Ethiopians, with the abundant spoils which they took, and carried away thereupon. In their triumphant return to Jerusalem the Spirit of God stirs up a prophet to go out and meet them, to give them an account of the rise and cause of their success, and direction for their future deportment, under the enjoyment of such mercies and deliverances. The Lord knows how apt even the best of men are to forget the spring of their mercies; how negligent in making suitable returns, by a due improvement of the advantages put into their hands, unto the Lord of all mercies; therefore are they in all seasons to be minded of their proper interest and duty.

This is done in my text to Asa and Judah by Oded; and I desire in my sermon that it may with the same spirit, and the same success, be done by me unto you. The words I intend principally to insist on, having the same thing for substance three times repeated in them, the opening of the first clause, with the general tendency of the whole, will suffice as to their exposition, and the grounding of that general proposition which I shall improve. Two things are then principally to be inquired into :

First. What it is for God to be with any people.

Secondly. What it is for a people to be, or abide with, God.

And according to the analogy of these two, the following assertions of seeking the Lord, and forsaking him, will be easily understood. For though the words differ in expression, yet they are all of the same way of assertion. They are three hypothetical propositions, or promissory assertions on supposition : 'if you abide with the Lord, he will be with you;' if you seek the Lord, he will be found of you;' 'if you forsake the Lord, he will forsake you:' the same matter is trebled, for the fuller and surer confirmation of the thing asserted. Only whereas the last proposition supposeth a thing possible, namely, that they might forsake the Lord; the first supposes a thing present, and therefore it is so expressed, “whilst you are with bim,' because they had abode with God in their late war and trial.

Before I enter upon the opening of the words themselves, I cannot pass by the earnest preface of the prophet; Hear ye me, 0 Asa.' He saw the people upon their success taken up with many thoughts, thinking of many businesses, full of many contrivances; one imagining one thing, another an, other; all of them, it may be, how they should use and im. prove their peace and success to their advantage, interest, profit, or security. Or the princes and rulers, as it is probable and usual in such cases, might be considering how to carry on their victory, how to make the best advantage of it, in their dealing with neighbouring princes and nations, in making peace, or war. In the midst of these thoughts, the prophet meets them, and diverts them with all earnestness to things quite of another nature, and of unspeakable greater importance and concernment'to them. 'Hear ye me,' saith he; it is not your own counsel, nor your own valour, that hath brought about this great work, this mighty victory; the Lord himself hath done it, by his presence with you. It is not of any concernment unto you, what other nations do, or may do, but the presence of God concerns you alone to look after. The great concernment of any people or nation, is to know, that all their prosperity is from the presence of God amongst them, and to attend to that which will give continuance thereunto. You

You may tire yourselves in the imaginations and contrivances of your own hearts, and lay out your thoughts and time about things that will not profit nor advantage you; this is your interest, this is your concernment: Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah, and Benjamin.'

For the words themselves, the first thing proposed to be inquired into for their explanation is this :

First, What is it for God to be with a people?

God may be said to be with men, or present with them in sundry respects.

1. He may be said to be with them in respect of the’omnipresence of his essence. So he is naturally and necessarily present with all creatures, indistant from them, present with them. The ubiquity and immensity of his essence will not allow that he should be distant from any thing to which he hath given a being. The heavens, even the heaven of heavens cannot contain him ;', 1 Kings viii. 27. Doth he not fill heaven and earth? Is he a God at hand only, and not afar off, as to the ends of the earth? This presence of God with all things David emphatically declares, Psal. cxxxix. 7–12. But it is not that, that is here intended ; that is universal to all creatures, natural, and necessary, this especial to some, voluntary, and of mercy: that of nature and essence, this of will and operation.

2. God may be said to be with one in respect of personal union. So he was with, and only with the man Jesus Christ; Acts x. 38. Oos hv uer' aŭroū, God was with him :' that is, in personal union, the human nature being taken into subsistence with the Son of God.

3. God is present, or with any, in respect of the covenant of grace. He is with them to be their God in covenant; the tenor whereof is, that he will not leave them, nor shall they forsake him, he will be for them, and they shall be for him, and' not for another. He is with them for all the ends of mercy, love, kindness, pardon, salvation, that are 'proposed

and exhibited in it. But neither is this the presence of God here intended; though this be something that flows from it, and does attend it. For,

(1.) That presence of God with his people hath not such a conditional establishment, as this here mentioned ; 'it stands on other terms, and better security, than that here proposed; it hath received an eternal ratification in the blood of Christ, is founded in the immutable purpose of grace, and is not left to the conditionality here expressed, as we shall see afterward. . (2.) The presence here mentioned respects the whole body of the people, all Judah and Benjamin in their national state, and consideration, unto whom, as such, the effectual covenant of grace was never extended : for they were not all Israel who were of Israel.

(3.) The presence here promised respects immediately the peculiar end of blessing the whole people with success in their wars and undertakings, so the occasion of the words, and the context, with regard to the following discourse do undeniably evince. It is not then this presence of God only that is intended, though, as it will afterward appear, it is not to be separated from it.

4. There is a presence of God in respect of providential dispensations. And this is twofold:

(1.) General; ordering, disposing, guiding, ruling all things, according to his own wisdom, by his own power, unto his own glory. Thus he is also present with all the world ; he disposes of all the affairs of all the sons of men as he pleaseth ; sets up one, and pulls down another ; changes times, seasons, kingdoms, bounds of nations, as seems good to him. The help that is given to any, he doth it himself. The shields of the earth belong unto God, he works deliverance in the earth, even among them that know him not. And the evils, desolations, and destruction, that the earth is full of, are but the effects of his wrath and indignation, revealing itself against the ungodliness of men. He is thus present with every person in the world, holds his breath, and all his ways in his hand; disposes of his life, death, and all his concernments, as he pleaseth. He is present in all nations, to set them up, pluck them down, alter, turn, change, weaken, establish, strengthen, enlarge their

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