صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
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men, when they will adhere unto them? How does he make
it his glory to turn all their consultations into folly, and to
make them err in their ways, like a drunken man? How
doth he bid them take counsel together, when he intends to
destroy them? What instances may be given of all good and
prosperous rulers of old, of their seeking direction from God?
What promises of a success, and a blessed issue in so doing
are there? The words of my text will suffice, as an instance
in every kind.

But you will say, How shall we inquire of God?

The nations had their oracles, whereby they deluded themselves. The people of God had their Urim and Thummim, their prophets and oracle. Bring hither the ephod, and inquire of God, was the word with them. But alas, what is all this to the advantage we have of seeking counsel of God, and taking direction from him? We have a high priest always present with us, by whom we may inquire. Our High Priest is the angel of God's presence, the mighty Counsellor, the power, and eterual wisdom of God himself. And where is he? he appears in the presence of God for us, in the holy place, not made with hands, having made a new and living way for us to come within the vail, to inquire of the oracle. What would we have more? He is our captain, our leader, our High Priest, Urim and Thummim, our oracle, our ark, on whom the cloud of direction rests and abides for ever. Would you then be with God? Take direction from him by Christ in all your undertakings; so do in deed, and not in word, or profession only.

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I hope, I need not stay to give you directions how this duty is to be performed. The unction will teach it you, and your fellowship,' I hope, is with the Father, and with his Son Christ Jesus.' Only now take these few words with you.

(1st.) Captivate all your desires to his glory. Set your hearts on nothing, with but this express reserve, if it is consistent with, and expedient unto the glory of Christ, and his kingdom. Be not sick of your own violent desires; but lay all your aims and designs at his feet always, becoming as weaned children before him.

(2dly.) Bear before him a real sense of your own weak

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ness and folly, both severally and jointly, if not directed by him, that in his pity and compassion he may relieve you.

(3dly.) Keep you hearts in that integrity, that you may always press and urge him with his own concernment in all your affairs. This is a thing that none but upright hearts can do uprightly.

(4thly.) Actually inquire by faith and prayer, what is his will and mind; do it severally and jointly; do it privately, publicly; do it every day, and in days set apart for that purpose: he will assuredly be found of you. You know how easy it were to exemplify all these things by testimonies and instances; but time will not permit.

If, instead of these things, you bear yourselves up on the wings of your own wisdom, and contrivances; though you may seem for a season to have attained a fair pitch and flight, you will be entangled, and brought down in the midst of your course with shame and sorrow: for the Lord will not be with you.

2dly. Another thing, wherein we are to be with God, is by trusting in him for protection. O, trust in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength. This man made the Lord his refuge. He that trusteth in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, that shall never be removed. Commit your ways to the Lord, roll your burden on him, stand still and see his salvation.' What glorious things are spoken of this trusting to the Lord for protection, you all know. It were endless to insist on commands and promises to this purpose; and to single out one or two, were but to weaken the cause in hand, seeing hereunto the whole Scriptures bear witness. I shall only shew you what it is so to do, in some few particulars.

(1st.) It is to strengthen and encourage your hearts in difficult affairs, a comfortable issue whereof you cannot on visible causes conjecture, on the account of God's engagement for your good. To omit the instances of Asa, Jehosaphat, and many others; take that signal one of David in his great distress at Ziklag, 1 Sam. xxx. You know the story his habitation was burnt and spoiled, his wives and children captived, his people consulting to stone him, so that he was greatly distressed, the enemy numerous, and

without his reach; all means of relieving his condition, and bringing it to a comfortable issue, far removed. But what course did he now take? did he despond? did he give over? did he rest on his own counsel and strength? No, saith the Holy Ghost: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.' Have you any affair that lies before you that is good and honest; but yet dreadful, difficult, entangled? Your hearts are ready to faint whenever you think of it; it is almost beyond your imaginations to contrive a comfortable issue. In such a season if you will be with God, he will be with you: if you so trust him, as to encourage your hearts on the account of his wisdom, goodness, power, that he can find out, and bring about a comfortable glorious end; this is to trust him for protection. Psal. xlvi. is this doctrine delivered to the full.

(2dly.) To trust God for protection, is to wait under discouragements and disappointments for a desired issue of the affairs we commit to him. 'He that believeth will not make haste;' Isa. xxviii. 16. Hab. ii. 3, 4.

This the Lord pleads for,

Men will have their desires precisely accomplished this year, this month, this week, or they will wait no longer these, says God, are proud men, their hearts are lifted up in them, they trust not to me for protection. Men love to trust God (as they profess) for what they have in their hands, in possession, or what lies in an easy view; place their desires afar off, carry their accomplishment behind the clouds, out of their sight, interpose difficulties and perplexities, their hearts are instantly sick, they cannot wait for God; they do not trust him, nor ever did. Would you have the presence of God with you? Learn to wait quietly for the salvation you expect from him. Then indeed is he glorified, when he is trusted in a storm, when he is waited for under long perplexities and distresses. Want of this ruined the Israelites in the wilderness; their work was long, their difficulties and entanglements many; they would have had an immediate end of their troubles. What! more diffi

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culties, more hardships! Nay then let us and go down again into Egypt;' we know the worst of that; where this will end we know not. This laid their carcases in the wilderness, and deprived them of enjoying the good


(3dly.) It is to commit your affairs to the Lord with submission to his will, as to their issue and accomplishment. Trust respects protection, but it prescribes not, as to particular events. It is to commit our affairs to God with thoughts of his infinite wisdom, sovereignty, and goodness; with resolutions thereupon, that the product of his will is that which will be good, be best for us, though it should not at all fall in with our present desires. It is true, the psalmist says: Commit your ways unto the Lord; trust also in him; he shall bring it to pass;' Psal. xxxvii. 5. And so he shall, and will in all such cases, as that there particularly insisted on by the psalmist, wherein his own glory is particularly engaged. But this prescribes not as to all cases, that we should cry, 'Give me this child, or I die.' The rule is known; abide in this frame, and we shall have that we desire, or that which is better for us: but I must not abide in these things. See Psal. xxxvii. 3—5. lxxiii. 23-26.

And these are some of those ways wherewith we abide with God, as to our trusting of him in reference to special protection.

[3.] A third thing I should fix upon is, a people's universal owning of God's concernments in the world. His presence with them is, his owning their concernments; and certainly he expects that they abide with him in the owning of his. God's concernment in the world is his people, as invested with the privileges purchased for them by Christ; Deut. xxxii. 9. The Lord's portion is his people. This is that which the Lord has particularly kept to himself; the vineyard that he has chosen out of all the forests of the world; the handful that he hath taken to himself, his sons, and daughters, his family; these he expects that you should abide by, if you would have him abide by you: yea, it is most certain, as your respect and regard shall be to them and their interest, as his people; so will his respect, and regard be to you, and your interest, as the people of this nation. But I have formerly spoken hereof unto you, and therefore, though it be a matter of the greatest importance, I shall not farther insist upon it.

And these are some of the conditions of God's special presence with you. Pleasant conditions! their performance

is your glory, your rest, your blessedness; not your bondage, not your burden. Not one duty doth God on this account require of you, but it is also your reward. O blessed terms of peace and agreement! Blessed be the great Peacemaker; cursed be the breakers of this blessed agreement. Is this all indeed that is required, that we may have the special presence of God with us for ever? O how inexcusable shall we be, if we neglect these terms! how just will be our ruin! Behold, I have set before you life and death this day; the life or death of these nations. O choose life, seeing it may be had on such easy, such blessed terms; terms wherein in doing good to others, you will also do good to your own souls; you will give peace to the nation, and have peace and rest in your own souls.

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There are many that Lord, lift thou up the

Use 2. Look on this presence of God as your cernment. This is that which the prophet calls for in the words of the text. So the psalmist: say, Who will shew us any good? light of thy countenance upon us ;' Psal. iv. Let other men make what inquiries they please, look for good, for rest, for peace in what they best fancy; acquiesce you in this, that the light of God's countenance, a pledge of his presence with you, is that alone which you are to inquire after. I remember since the beginning of these last wonderful days, how often we have thought ourselves utterly ruined: if such alterations come, we are undone; if such men die, fall off, oppose, there is little hope of carrying on the work wherein we are engaged; if such shakings, such divisions befall us, our ruin is at hand. If we break with such and such foreign nations, what hope remaineth? But, alas! we have found by experience, that our affairs have turned on none of these things; our prosperity hath been built on none of those principles such desertions, as we feared, have happened; such alterations, such divisions have befallen us; we have been sometimes almost reduced to Gideon's number; such breaches with foreign nations have ensued: one party that was with us have gone off, and asked, what will ye now do? and then another party hath gone off, and asked us, what will ye do now? And no sooner do any fall off, but instantly they expect, and foretel destruction to them that do abide; as though they were God, and not man; or as though God


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