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will fupport and bear them up through all the difficulties with which they may be furrounded. Tho' hell and earth fhould confpire against them, they have an almighty fhield for their defence, an infinite Saviour for their fecurity. He hath promifee, that when they go through the fire, it shall not hurt them, and through the waters they fhall not overflow them. In fix troubles he will be with them, and in feven he will not forfake them. God hath confirmed his promife by an oath, and ratified it in the blood of his Son, that by two immutable things in which it was impoffible for God to lie, they might have strong confolation, who have fled for refuge to lay on the hope fet before them.
Laftly, let all communicants approach this table to day, in brokenness of heart for your fins, in a firm faith in the blood of the covenant, and a fervent love to your precious Saviour. Behold the promises and the wonders of divine grace. Here is enough to heal all your maladies. Give yourselves to the Lord Jefus without reservation, and seal the gift in this holy ordinance. Remember there is a fuperabundance in the cove. nant of grace to fupply all your wants and fatisfy all your de fires. Take the cup of falvation and fing praises to the LordEat, O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
The nature of fainting in afflictions, and cautions against it.
Heb. xii. 5. Nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.
THE most proper light in which we can confider the prefent world, is that of a state of trial and difcipline in respect to a future one. This is an idea that ought conftantly to be retained in our minds. There are few reflections in our prefent fituation, better calculated to direct our conduct, or regulate our pursuits and views in life. If our minds are not habitually awake to this fenfe of our condition, it is probable our present conduct will be a series of capital and fatal errors.
As this is a state of trial, and intended as fuch, the whole administration of providence is adjufted to this view and defign; adjusted with fuch wisdom and exactness as to give it the proper perfection of fuch a fate. So univerfally is it adapted in all its branches and periods to this defign, that not only fome more fignal and sminent events are to be confidered in this view, but every occurence and incident of our
lives is formed to answer this purpofe. The intention of them is to discipline, inftru&t, and try us; to prove what is in our hearts, to fhow us to ourfelves, and exhibit the divine character and government in a juft and proper light. All this is done with an exprefs regard to the folemnities of a future ftate, and the unchangeable decifions of a judgment to come; with the express design of being a mean of curing the vicioufnefs of our natures, or prove that we are incurable veffels fitted to destruction.
When we confider our flate in this view, and ourfelves under an adminstrataion of this fort, the prefent life muft cer tainly appear to be a ftate of existence of the highest importance and every condition, circumftance and event in it, extremely interesting. Living is a delicate and momentous business; with regard to which the utmost attention, the utmost wisdom and vigilence are neceffary to act with propriety and fuccefs in reference to our future condition. To conduct in all fituations in fuch a manner, as not to defeat the falutary end of our prefent exiftence, and render ourselves unmeet for eternal life. If thefe confiderations lay with due weight on our minds, what different creatures fhould we be? How holy, how circumfpect in all our converfation? But alas! how far are the moft from looking on the prefent ftate in this folemn manner? How far from governing themfelves in all their conduct and purfaits by these most important views? How inconfiderately, how much at random do they act, as if life was of no confequence, but was really a ftate in which they might act as they pleafed, without any hazard to their eternal intereft? But my brethren, God forbid that we fhould act this foolish and unhappy part. Let thofe conduct themselves in fuch a form, and purfue carnal and present pleasures, who have made a covenant with death, and are at an agreement with hell. But let us choofe a wifer conduct, and feriously confider the nature of our prefent life, and its relation to one that is eternal.
The above state of difcipline and trial is in a great measure and in an eminent degree, administered by afflictive dispensatiens in a thousand varient forms, Such difpenfations therefore merit a fpecial attention, and the nature and defign of them ought to be continually realized and kept in view. This ought to be done in respect to the fufferings and afflictions of others. They are documents to us of a very striking nature, tho' we are not the immediate fubjects of them. But when we ourselves are the fubjects of afflictions, the call to this duty is then loud and folemn. Our reflections on their nature, ten"In dency and end, ought to be very thorough and serious. "a day of adverfity, fays the wife man, confider." Our fituation in this cafe calls our attention and folicitude, that these difpenfations should have their proper effect, that by them and the bleffing of God upon them, we may be formed and adapted to the divine will and pleasure. We ought to imbibe fuch impreffions by them, to exercife fuch fenfations and feelings, as they are defigned to produce, fo that they may be fuitably improved for the glory of God and our own advancement in the christian life. We ought especially to guard and watch with the utmost care against every temper, feeling, and difpofition of heart in afflictions, or any effects of them, as tend to defeat or pervert their falutary purpose, and render them not only unavailing and ufelefs, but even pernicious and fatal.
In afflictions there are two extremes which have this tendency, and too often produce most dangerous effects, both of which are mentioned in this verfe. "Despise not thou the "chaftening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of "him." This latter will be more than fufficient for a single difcourfe.
Fainting under rebukes, is a common evil with the afflicted and ought to be confidered, well understood and duly guarded against. The caution is not to faint when we are rebuked of
the Lord. The word rebuke in the facred oracles is ufed to exprefs various ideas. It is used to exprefs reproof. "Thou "shalt in any wife rebuke thy neighbour, and not fuffer fin "upon him." For reftraint, when God is prayed to, to restrain Satan, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord "that hath chosen Jerufalem rebuke thee." For to filence perfons, or order them to hold their peace. "When the whole "multitude began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice, "the Pharifees faid to Chrift, Mafter, rebuke thy difciples." For convictions of fin and bringing perfons to repentance, hence it was prophefied of Jefus, "That he fhould rebuke many "people." For healing difeafes; our Lord ftands over Simon's wife's mother, "And rebuked the fever;" and it is frequently employed to exprefs chastisement and affliction, as in the words of our text, comprehending in it every species of trouble, pain, distress, difeafe and calamity.
The word faint is ufed likewife to exprefs different things. That failure of the functions of animal life, which brings on the appearance of death-when "Efau returned from the field "he was faint." For timidity and fear, "All the inhabitants "of the land faint because of you." For ceafing from a bufinefs, "Faint not in well doing." For doubts and fears, and misgivings of mind, "Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed "them not." For defponding apprchenfions, and dejecting thoughts refpecting the favour of God, and our own gracious ftate. In these two latter fenfes, we are cautioned against fainting in our text. "Nor faint when thou art rebuked of him."
In confidering this divine exhortation, you will please to attend to the following obfervations.
Firft, that the exhortation in the text is addressed to true chriftians. To fuch who are in friendfhip with God, and