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ening it. In the last part of the verse, he animates his own faith, and enforces his request, by calling to remem. brance past transactions, and former displays of the power and grace of an unchangeable God. By Rahab and the dragon we are to understand Egypt and her king, as appears by comparing other passages of Scripture, particularly by Ps. Ixxxvi. 4. and Ezek. xxix. 3. the last of which runs thus: “ Thus faith the Lord, Behold, I am against “thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth “ in the midst of his rivers: which hath said, my river is “ mine own, and I have made it for myself.”
In discoursing on this subject, what I propose, through the affiftance of divine grace, is,
1. To point out to you the import of this prayer in the first part of this passage, “ Awake, awake, put on strength, " O arm of the Lord.”
II. To consider the encouragement included in the last part of it, “ Awake as in ancient days, in the generations “ of old: art not thou it that hath cut Rahab, and wound“ed the dragon ?"
III. To apply the subject to our present situation.
And we are to consider,
“ Awake, " awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord.” And in this I have no hope either of instructing or persuading any but those who have some measure of real religion, who do. unfeignedly believe, and will, when called upon, recollect the constant superintendency of Divine Providence. These only will be sensible that, as every event is directed and over-ruled by the Almighty, so there are righteous, wise and gracious purposes to be served by them. All men it is true, are ready to complain under distress. The most wicked and profligate, “ when the waters are gone into “ their foul,” when they feel their misery, will cry for relief. And, as they will turn them on every hand, and lay hold on every twig that may afford the leali prospect of
saving them from finking, so the terror of divine power, with which public calamity is fometimes accompanied, will even make them cry unto God. But there is a great difference, between this complaint of the miserable, and the prayer of faith, which proceeds upon just views of the nature and government of God, and is assured of success. It may sometimes please God to make use of desolating judgments or alarming public strokes to awaken a secure thoughtless generation; but dutiful, acceptable and fuccessful prayer for their removal, can only be the work of his own children.
Perhaps it may be thought unnecessary to direct persons of this character to the proper object of their prayers, as they must be supposed habitually to flow from right principles, and to point at just and warrantable ends. But it is certain, that, when wickedness and profaneness greatly and universally prevail in any nation, the real servants of God are not only few in number, but even this little flock, always receives fome degree of infection. This we are taught to expect by our blessed Saviour, who says, And "s because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall “ wax cold.” They may both be negligent and defective in their duty, restraining prayer before God, and may be in a great measure unmindful of the great and principal views with which they ought to offer up their intercessory requests. But, hoping that all such among you as are justly liable to this charge, will discern the light, and feel the force of divine truth, it is my desire to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.
And, in general, such a petition as this,'" Awake, “ awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord,” suggests to us, that our prayers for divine interposition and deliverance from public calamities should be supremely directed tothe glory of God. This, as it is, upon the whole, the leading purpose of every real believer, fo it ought to hallow every fingle action, and purify every particular desire. Therefore our prayers must be conceived in such a manner, and our defires after deliverance must be so qualified, that the supreme honor dueto God may be preserved inviolate, that duty may
maintain its precedency before interest, and sin may be Itill more feared and avoided than suffering. The great end both of personal alliction, and national correction, is to weaken our attachment to present and temporal enjoyinent, by staining its glory, and convincing us of its vani.
If then our chief or only aim, in alking deliverance from outward calamity, is that we may again recover the ease and quiet of security, and the pleasure of plenty, though we may seem to honor God by imploring his aid, yet is our hoinage really given to a sensual idol.
That this is neither impossible nor unfrequent, is plain from the history of the children of Israel. They often plied to God in their straits : “ When he flew them, then
they fought him, they returned and enquired early after God."* But this fort of seeking, merely for present relief, or teinporal mercies, was far from being acceptable to him. We are told, that it was tempting God, thus “ to ask meat for ticir lust.”+ In opposition to this, let us look into the grounds assigned in Scripture for God's granting deliverance and thence learn with what views we ought to implore it. The Pfalmist says, “ Nevertheless " he faved them for his name's fake, that he might make “ his mighty power to be known.”† And the prophet Ezekiel, “ But I wrought for my name's fake, that it “ should not be polluted before the Heathen among whom
they were, in whose sight I made myself known to them, w in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.”
But, in order to illustrate this a little further, observe, . that a just regard to the glory of God, in our prayers, inplies the two following things. In the first place, That we expect deliverance from God alone, desire that it may be attended with such circumstances as his hand and may be seen in it, and are willing to acknowledge him as the supreme and only Author of it. This is plainly included in the words of the prophet, “ Awake, awake, put * on strength, O arm of the Lord.” As if he had said, In thee alone is our hope;
“ cursed be the man that maketh 6 flesh his arm.” A prophane irreligious people are al
* Psal. Ixxviii. 34.
† Pfal, lxxviii. 18.
Psal. cvi. 8.
ways prone, in , undertaking any enterprize, to put their trust in human prowess, to glory and boast in the greatness of their strength. And when they are disappointed in their expectations, they are ready to dwell so much uponi second causes, that they entirely overlook, or are with great difficulty brought to acknowledge the supreme agency of God. We may, however be sensible, by his taking to himself fo often, in Scripture, the title of the Lord of hofts, “ great in might and strong in battle,” that such conduct is robbing him of the glory that is justly his due. Many are the warnings we have in the word of God not to place too much confidence in any human means of safety. “ Put not your trust in Princes (says the Plalmist).
nor in the son of man in whom there is no help.* There “is no king saved by the multitude of an hoft: a mighty " man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a “ vain thing for safety, neither can he deliver any by his “ great strength.”+ And there is no Scripture truth more frequently, or more sensibly confirmed in the course of providence. How often do we find, both in former and in later ages, the events of war diametrically opposite to the greatest human probability, and the most confident human expectation?
Now prayer for divine interposition should always be made under a deep impression of this truth. And indeed we shall never come to importunity and fervency in prayer for such a mercy, till we are somewhat affected with it. All the honor that is given to man is taken from God. All trust and dependance on human means as such, or on their own account, divides and weakens our reli. ance on God. But when he is considered as the single and only source of relief, we apply with that ardor and earneftness which neceflity and extremity suggest. This doth not hinder the diligent use and application of outward means, but keeps them-in their proper place, induces us to ask the divine blefling upon them, and prevents us from provoking the divine jealousy by idolizing and trusting in them.
* Pl. cxlvi. 3
+ Pr. xsati, 16, 179
It ought also to be our desire, that the glory of divine power may visibly fine in our deliverance; not only that his hand may do it, but that his hand may be seen in it, and, if possible, to the conviction of all. Nothing is more impious, and nothing more provoking to God, than when men arrogate to themselves the honor of what they have done by his help, or acquired by the bounty of his providence. Hear the language of the proud monarch of the east, “ Is not this great Babylon that I have built, for " the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, “ and for the honor of my majesty ?”* But mark the unexpected change by the more powerful word of the King of Kings.
" When the word was in the king's “ mouth there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O King “ Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken, the kingdom is “ departed from thee.”+ How often in Scripture is the destruction and punishment of kings and princes ascribed to their self-sufficiency, insolence and pride? Thus in that remarkable prophecy against the king of Babylon : “ For thou hast said in thine heart, I will afcend into “ heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: " I will fit also upon the mount of the congregation in “ the sides of the north. I will afcend above the heights “ of the clouds. I will be like the most High. Yet thou « Ihalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
They that see thee, fhall narrowly look upon thee and “ consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the “ earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms? That made " the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities there“ of; that opened not the house of his prisoners?"I How strongly does this prove, that in order to pray acceptably for the interposition of divine Providence, we should be willing that God alone should have the honor entire anal undivided. “ That the lofty looks of man should be “ humbled, and the haughtiness of man should be bowed “ down, and the Lord alone exalted in that day.”ll Was it not thus that the ancient warriors of the holy nation fought and prospered ? In confidence of divine aid, or
Dan. iv. 30.
+ Ver. 31:
| Il. xiv. 13, 17.
# If. ii. ii.