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trembling." But however it be, the only cure is believing, Psal. xxvii. 13. "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." The sooner you believe, the better; for in this case a man is like one that is going to ride a great water that is increasing; the longer he delays, the water grows still the greater.
Now, the way to make use of these things, so as to draw comfort from them, is to believe. There is, in the sirst place, a sirm assent to the truths revealed, 1 John? v. 5. "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God i" then, an act of faith, realising these things, Heb. xi. 1. "Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." To which may be added, an act of assurance, Gal. ii. 20. "I am crucisied with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the lise which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." If ye cannot reach to all this extent, yet you may reach an act of adherence. A trembling hand may draw the water of consolation out of the wells of salvation. Amen.
SIN SIN THAT WHICH SEPARATES GOD
AND MEN. *
Isa. lix. 2.—But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and yourstns have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
WHEN we look abroad through the world, many sad sights may be seen; but amongst the most lamentable is man, who was by the Lord planted a noble vine, wholly a right seed, but now turned into the .degenerate plant of a strange vine. Some are lying mouldering in the grave of a graceless state, noisome to God and to good men; some are in a withered state, their former beautygone, and death has settled down on their faces, because God, the lise and soul of their souls, is gone. If they inquire, with Rebekah, Why am I thus? the answer is in the text: Tour iniquities, &c.
In these words, we have, i/?, a dreadsul evil
* Delivered Nov. 3. 170s.
that this people was under, separation from God. 2d/y, The party at whose door the blame lies, they who have made the breach. idly,The procuring cause of this evil, your iniquities.
As to the 1/?, Separation is either good or bad, according to the quality of the term from which men are separated. But the separation here is held forth as an evil, and that the greatest evil , for it is a separation from God, an evil which is so heavy, that, when selt, it is enough to make a Cain groan, and fay, "It is greater than I can bear," Gen. iv. 13. Sin makes many separations. It separates the nearest relations; it separates the foul from the body. But all these are inconsiderable in respect of this, the separation of the soul from God.—It is. an evil still greater, for it is a separation from a covenanted God, Your God. Free love had separated Israel from all other people on the earth, and made them the Lord's by a peculiar relation; but sin separates betwixt them and that God to whom they were thus joined. That there should be a separation betwixt God and the Gentile world, who had prosessedly joined themselves to other gods, is not to be wondered at; but how dreadsul is this, to be separated from our God! No fail is like a fall to hell from offheaven's threshold. The higher persons are raised up, the lower do they sink when they sail.
2. Who are to blame? Why, men are ready te say, God is an austere master, and forgetsul of the children of men; and from our sirst father we have it as hereditary5 rather to lay the blame on God, than to take it to ourselves. Therefore, he clears himself of it, ver. 1. shewing he wants neither power nor will to help them, on due application; and accordingly, he lays the blame where it should be, even" on themselves. They made the breach;
Vol. I. D they they may thank themselves for what they lie under, for they have drawn it on with their own hands.
3. How have they done it? Has God, who is exalted above the heavens, withdrawn from them, because they are on the earth as nothing before him? Cannot Insinite Majesty lodge with the foul in a cottage of clay? Has he separated from them, because they are mean, hated and despised by their neighbours round about them? No, no; none of these are the causes. Their iniquities are the only cause of all. Nothing but sin could part them. Sin is the only make-bate betwixt God and you. This subject asfords us this
Doctrine, viz. However light people think of sin, yet it is that which is of so dreadsul efsicacy, as to make a separation betwixt God and the sinner. Sin separates between God and a foul.
In discoursing which, I shall shew,
I. What is that separation which sin makes betwixt God and fouls.
II. I shall evince the greatness of the evil of separation from God, which many go so lightly under.
III. Inquire how sin makes this separation betwixt God and the soul.
IV. Make some practical improvement I am
I. What is that separation which sin makes betwixt God and a foul. It is not a local separation; for "he is not far from every one of us, for in him we live, move, and have our being." Acts xvii. 27. 28. The wicked would fain be at a local separation, and therefore, in their vain imaginations, they shut up God in heaven, that he
may not see what is done on earth. But the immensity and omnipresence of God make this simply impossible ; for as he is God, he is intimately present with us, even in the very centre of our fouls; so that, unless our sins could undeify him, (if the expression may be used), they can make no local separation betwixt him and us. Hence it is remarkable, that even in hell the wicked shall be punished from the presence of the Lord, 2 ThesT. i. 9. He will not send his strokes upon them from heaven, or from asar, though he could preserve the force of them by the way, but he will erect his throne of justice among them: "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there: If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right-hand shall hold me," Psal. cxxxix. 7.—10. But it is a relative separation, inserring a distance of opposition betwixt God and the soul, and affecting the man's state, or case, or both. It makes such a separation as is made by whisperers betwixt friends: "A whisperer," faith Solomon, "separateth chief friends." This being the case, the Lord's countenance is not towards the sinner as it was before the breach was made. And as by sin there is an alienating of the sinner's affection from God, so in God there is something equivalent to the alienation of affections from the sinner, for affections are not properly ascribed to God. Thus, concerning every one that separateth himself from the Lord, and setteth up his idols in his heart, God faith, Ezek. xiv. 8. "I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the D % midst