« PreviousContinue »
wardrbut I cannot perceive him." But sear not, Christian; it has been, and it will be, better with you: Good news to you in your low state, Christ died, and in his death he was forsaken of God; and yet he now enjoys the bosom of the Father, and the light of his countenance. Who would not be content to follow Christ, even through the valley of the shadow of death? Ye pray, and it seems ye are not heard; so it was with Chrii*: "O my God," said he, " thou hearest not," P.-:. xxii. 2. But though your Husband be far oft', though you cannot see him, yet he is not dead, he is alive l and if alive, he will come again, for he hateth putting away. Though ye seem to be out of sight, yet ye are not out of mind ; he liveth evermore. Zion's account of Christ under a sit of desertion, is not canonical, it is not orthodox, Isa. xlix. 14.—16. " But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me."
To this the objection may be proposed, " But how can I endure to want the joys I have sometimes had, and these blessed consolations?" Answer, Trust in God, and have respect to the recompence of the reward of grace. Will you disquiet yourselves because there is not a second summer in one year? Bless God that helps you to the sight in any measure; wait patiently for his comforts, and be constantly at your work.—Again, say others, " Were there no more in my case, I might keep heart; but I am under dreadsul apprehensions of wrath, and there are positive outgoings of God's anger against my soul, as Job vi. 4. u The
Vol. I. C arrows arrows of the Almighty are within me." Here, I consess, it is hard to stand, and not to fall down at his seet as dead. Yet we must fay, Fear not; for Christ was dead, and the wrath of God was poured out into his foul, which melted his heart like wax in the midst of his bowels: Yet he swam through this ocean. Now, that he is alive, is a pledge that ye shall not drown: For, says he, "because I live, ye shall live also."
It was one of the ends of Christ's death, to deliver you and the like of you, Heb. ii. 15. " And deliver them who through sear of death were all their lisetime subject to bondage. You are mistaken, if you think the arrows are dipped in deadly poison; for Christ was dead, and is alive, and the poison of these arrows entered into his foul in sull measure, and he drank it up, Gal. Hi. 13. " Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." They will wound very sore, though there be no poison, no curse in them. Your cloud has a white side, if ye could discern it; only believe, and ye shall be established. This is the heat of the battle with you. Keep hold of the death of Christ as your shield that will desend you. Look not on God, but through the veil of the flesh of Jesus. Dry stubble may be sase, if there be a strong crystalwall between it and the sire. Does God appear as a consuming sire? Christ is the crystal-wall: set him betwixt you and an angry God. The light of that sire will shine through him to refresh you, but it will not burn through him. It has been often tried; he is still alive, and ye shall live also.
. 4. Temptaiions are a source of sears. Sometimes Satan gets leave to dog saints at their heels.
With what horrid temptations poor fouls may be
harassed, Jiarasscd, some know by sad experience: Fiery darts that they tremble to think of, and that they dare not name! This sills them with sear: But to such I say, Fear not. Christ died, and is alive evermore. He that thus lives evermore gave a deadly wound to the tempter. When Jesus was in the world, Satan set on him with the most severe temptations; but Jesus overcame him, and at his death triumphed over him. He spoiled principalities and powers, Col. ii. 15. " And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it." You see, then, that the enemy with whom you sight is already vanquished, and the victory of Jesus over him is a sure pledge of yours. Yea, as in the sirst Adam we were all tempted and sell, so in the second Adam we were tempted and stood; and so have overcome already in our Head. We have no more to do but cry to our Lord, who, from his own temptations, well knows how to succour his tempted people. We must give the alarm, and handle our weapons. Though the sight may last a while, yet it will come to an end, and we shall be more than conquerors. Jvsus is in heaven, waiting till his enemies be made his footstool; and he will bruise Satan under our seet shortly.
5. Death is the cause of much sear. O how hard is it to look on it with a stayed countenance! Death is terrible, in that it is a dissolution of nature, parts foul and body; and therefore we are so apt to shudder at the thoughts of it. Bat/ear not; for Christ died. His precious foul and body were parted: So he orders us to travel no path but such as he hath trode before us. By his death he has destroyed death; he has unstinged it to the believer. Then, sear it not, it can do you no harm. "But death is terrible, in that it takes us C 2 out out of this world from all our enjoyments, from our dearest relations and friends, and sends us into another world, where we know not a foot of ground, where we never saw a face. Were a child born with that judgement that men have, the sirst sight of this world might be terrible to them; so must the unseen world be to us." But fear not: He that was dead is alive; and when ye are carried off, you shall be with him who is insinitely. better than all earthly relations. Here is your comfort. Jesus hath the keys of hell and death. He is Lord supreme of that other world to which you are travelling. He sends you such word as Joseph sent his father, Gen. xlv. 9. saying, " God hath made me Lord of all Egypt; come down unto me, tarry not." O to believe it sirmly!
6. And lastly, Hell is a fountain of sears. Sometimes the godly are above, sometimes under the sears of hell. It is terrible, the thought of being excluded for ever the presence of God!" Who can abide with everlasting burnings?" When we lo>ik down to the pit, it seems hard to escape it; when we look up to heaven, our souls faint lest we never get there. But fear not .• For Christ died; and if so, he suffered the torments thou shouldst have suffered in hell, as to the essentials of them. He was under the punishment of loss; God forsook him, Psal. xxii. 1. He endured the punishment of sense, even to drops of blood, and the wrath of God poured into his foul: Then God will not require two payments for one debt. Christ lives, he rose, and entered heaven as a public person; and therefore, believer, thou shalt as surely go to heaven as if thou wert there already. Yea, the apostle fays we are there already, Eph. ii. 6. " We are raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," as our Head. Jesus sus lives for evermore; and therefore, thou shalt be for ever with the Lord. He has the keys of hell and death. Suppose your father or best friend on earth had these keys, would you be asraid? But we may have more considence in Jesus than in ten thousand fathers, or even the mothers that bare us. They may forsake us, and a mother may be found that will not have compassion on the son of her womb; but, O believer, Jesus hath said, "I will not forget thee," Isa. xlix. 15. 16. " Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me." Though Satan be the jailor of hell, yet he keeps not the keys; they hang, believer, at the girdle of your best friend. III. We shall conclude with some improvement.
1. From this subject, we may inser the comfortless state of them that are out of Christ. Are the truths in the text grounds of consolation to the saints? How, then, can they bear up who have no interest in Christ? Nay, we might turn the black side of this white cloud upon unbelievers, and tell them, that if Jesus died, how can they escape? If he be alive, he will avenge their contempt of him, and their neglect of his salvation. -If he lives for evermore, then they will have an eternal enemy. If he has the keys of hell, then they cannot escape that prison; or be rescued out of it.
2. That it is the duty of Christians to improve these things for their actual comfort. Christian, sit down at his table, and suck the breasts of consolation. Build your comforts on these truths. Alas! our comforts are often short lived, because we do not found them sure enough. I will give you but a sew notes concerning this. (1.) The grie
C 3 ving