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now withdrawing from them the light of his countepance, and leaving them disconsolate and mournful; now causing their hearts to bleed by tearing their dearest friends and relatives from them; now laying them on the bed of sickness, or reducing them to poverty and want; when he might enable them always to rejoice in the Lord, and to live to a happy old age in the bosom of their family and connexions, surrounded by those enjoyments which he can so easily bestow?
Why does he carry to an early grave the child that promised so much usefulness; or cut off in the midst of his days him who was so beneficial to society; or remove the pillars of the house of God; while the profane and the impenitent are guarded by his providence ?
In these, and ten thousand similar instances, we must cry with the apostle, “ O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are thy judgments, and thy ways are past finding out.” And with the prophet, “ Verily thou art he that hidest thyself; O God of Israel, the Saviour !"
Yes! he is a Saviour God to Israel, that is, to all his real people; and he hides himself for this very end, that he may bring them to immortal glory. This is to be shown in the
IId. Division of our discourse.
Listen to the brief illustration of this cheering truth, ye children of affliction, who are also the children of Jesus, who are crying, “ My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God,” that your tears may be dried, and your griefs composed; that you may look up to your Father, not with an eye overflowing with sorrow, and a heart agitated with apprehension, but with composure and trust.
Though the dispensations of Providence towards you are inscrutable, believers, they have a certain connexion with your salvation.' Can you doubt of this when you consider,
1. The attributes of God ? His love you surely cannot question, when you recollect the numberless blessings he has bestowed upon you; when you remember that he gave the Son of his bosom to die for you, and his Spirit to renew you ;
look back to the precious communications of his grace which you have received from him, or forward to that crown of immortality which he reserves for you. His power you know is unlimited: he could have averted those strokes under which you groan. His guardian care is incessant: the “ wakeful Shepherd of Israel" did not slumber, when those events were produced which are dark and inscrutable to you. And are you not satisfied that his wisdom is infinite; that none “ can be his counsellor;" that he always uses the properest ends for the attainment of his designs ? « Oh! thou of little faith, wherefore then dost thou doubt?"
2. Remember too his precious promises. Do they not call upon you to trust in him in seasons when his dealings with you are mysterious, as well as when they are more plain? Do they not engage his
support and love to you at those times when he says to you,
66 What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter," as well as when the reasons of his conduct are more manifest? Are you in a situation in which that comprehensive declaration cannot be applied to you, “ All things shall work together for good to them that love God ?"
3. If still unconvinced that God hides himself in order to become your Saviour, look to experience : the experience of others and of yourselves. Peruse the history of those holy men whose lives are recorded in the Old Testament and the New. See the dangers and afflictions of the patriarchs, the thousand events which appeared absolutely to prevent the accomplishment of the promises made to them; God then hid himself. But these afflictions ceased, this darkness vanished, events were so arranged and combined, that those very circumstances which seemed to prohibit all hope, proved the means of the fulfilment of the promises ; here was manifested the Saviour God. And thus it has been in all ages : thus it has been with you. Speak, believers ; testify to the faithfulness of your God. This one will say, God removed from me my
• children, my friends, those on whom my heart leaned with fondest love; I thought as he had hid himself from me; but my soul was thus attracted to him; I was thus taught the vanity of earth; and desolate and bereaved of earthly joys, I looked up
and found a Saviour God.' That one will cry, God appeared hidden from
, • me; his ways were mysterious ; when he deprived me of those worldly possessions for which I had laboured for so many years; when he visited me with affliction or with sickness; but he is a Saviour God: I was thus led to seek durable, eternal riches; to look forward to that world where sorrow, or sighing, or sickness, will never come.
Let all thus review their past lives: and there are few believers who will not find scenes on which to pause, and repeat the language of the prophet.
blessed inhabitants of heaven, who once were groaning upon earth, while from the heights of bliss ye look back upon your pilgrimage on earth, and by the light of eternity see their connexion with your present felicity; with what holy wonder do you adore the depths of divine wisdom! with what rapture do you shout, “ He has led us by a right way to the city of everlasting habitation!”
This subject is full of practical instructions; I can however only hint at a few of them.
1. It teaches us the guilt and the ingratitude of believers, when they 'murmur or repine at the dispensations of Providence; when they would prescribe to the Lord methods of acting, and as if they were wiser than he, direct him what mercies to give, and in what manner; and are impatient, instead of humbly adoring, if they cannot tell why they have been visited by this affliction, or deprived of that comfort. Yet, alas! this disposition is but too com
mon; there are few who do not sometimes feel, eyen e if they dare not say, “ I do well to be angry.” Let
1 such remember the solemn words of Job, “ Behold, he taketh away, and who can hinder him? Or who shall say unto him, What doest thou ? Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.” To him
you have committed the everlasting interests of your souls, can you not trust him with your property, your friends, your children? Often after seasons of darkness have you found him interposing for you, and then you acknowledged that he had been leading you to felicity “ by a way you knew not;" why will you not still confide in him, though he hideth himself?
2. Let this subject make us long for heaven. Here there will ever be darkness; but there in God's light we shall see light. Then all the mysteries of his providence shall be explained; then the Lord will no longer hide himself from us; but we shall ever bless him as the Saviour God.
VISION OF ISAIAH,
ISAIAH vi. 1-8.
1 In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord
sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his
train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims : each one had six wings ;
with twain he covered his face, and with twain he co
'vered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy,
is the Lord of hosts : the whole earth is full of his
glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that
cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Wo is me! for I am undone ; because I
am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of.