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to all that come to him for it in the way that others received it. From these words, I take this
DOCTRINE, That the consideration of God's pre
fence with his people in former days, should
bring the succeeding generation to the same .: God for the same entertainment.
In speaking to which, I shall, · I. Instance a few of these experiences of God's people in former days.
II. Show how we should come to God for the same entertainment
III. Give the reasons of the doctrine.- And, -
I. I shall instance a few of the sweet and defirable experiences of the Lord's people, which should bring us to the gracious Giver for the same, and such like ; and I shall instance none but these of Elijah, who, you must remember, was a man subject to like passions as we are, James, v. 17. and to these I think the text leads me. Some instances of sweet entertainment this holy man had.; such as,
1. The God of Elijah gave him the sweet experience of keeping warm and lively in a very cold and dead generation ; so that he was best when others were worst. His zeal for God burnt most vigorously when the generation was turned most coldrife, halting betwixt God and Baal, like true fire that burns moft keenly in the winterfrost, when a chill and cold air was the only air about him. By the warm blowings of the Spirit from above upon him, he was kept warm within. When nothing but deadness was on every hand, the Spirit of life from above kept him lively. So it was with Noah in the old world : Gen. vi. .. “ Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation.” And Lot, 2 Pet. ii. 8. “ For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous foul from day to day with their unlawful deeds."
But where is the Lord God of Elijah in these dregs of time, wherein profeffors generally are carried away with the stream of impiety from all their liveliness and tenderness that sometimes have been among them, when the more wickedness fets. up its head, piety is made to hide its head the more? a fad evidence that God is gone from us, when the standard of wickedness makes such ada vances, and that of shining holiness is retreating, and can hardly get hands to hold it up. I will tell you two fad experiences, common at this day.
(1.) The fulfilling of that scripture, Matth. xxiv. 12. « And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” It is a time when atheism, deism, and immorality, make prodigious ad.. vances, and practical godliness is under a deep decay. I doubt if ever Satan had more hands at work to overthrow revealed religion, and to raze the foundations of it, than at this day; and this effort of Satan's 'against the church, has joined with it a most lamentable decay of the vitals of practical religion in those that are called by the Lord's name ; so that we are like to be exposed to this furious attack, wanting the best piece of our armour against it ; that is, an experience and feeling of the power of truth on our own souls : Ah! where is the Lord God of Elijah ? . . . (2.) What heat there is, strikes all outward, while in the mean time folks are key-cold within ; a sad sign of a distempered body. It is not hard
to discern feverals shewing a great deal of concern in the lamentable occurrences of our day; but how hard is it to find a man that is truly awakened to the exercise of godliness by all the alarming dispensations of our day, that is moved with fear, and busy preparing an ark for the evil day, labouring to get the particular controversy between God and his soul removed, putting out of his way the stumbling-block of his iniquity, and setting mat, ters in order for the day of the Lord ? Nay, Sirs, though some talk in their feep, it seems we will all sleep together, till God's heavy hand give us a fearful awakening : Where is the Lord God of Elijah ?
2. The God of Elijah gave him the sweet experience of the power of prayer : James, v. 17. “ Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months ; and he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." He was mighty in prayer ; by his prayers the bottles of heaven were opened, the key of the clouds turned, nay, the bands of death loosed, 1 Kings, xvii. He was a great favdurite of Heaven, whose cries pierced the clouds, got in to the throne, and returned, like Noah's dove, with an olive-branch of peace in his mouth. Such experience of the power of prayer had Jacob : Hos. xii. 4. “ Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed,” Gen. xxxii. Many times the Lord's people, when closed up on every side, have found a sweet outgate, their souls flying upward in prayer. The prayers of the saints have been the great ordinance of the church, have frustrated the plans of enemies, and turned them back on their own heads.