« PreviousContinue »
taught me to place no confidence in man, and not to be inordinately affected to any thing on earth; for I was forsaken by none of them, but those few that I excessively valued and overloved. My relations have been confortable to me, contrary to my deserts, and much beyond my expectations. My servants have been faithful: my neighbors have been kind : my enemies have been impotent, harmless, or profitable : my superiors have honored me by their respectful words; and while they have afflicted me, as supposing me a remora to their designs, they have not destroyed but protected me. To my inferiors, God hath made me, in my low capacity, somewhat helpful. I have been protected in ordinary health and safety, when the raging pestilence came near my habitation, and consumed a hundred tho
a sand citizens : my dwelling hath been safe when I have seen the glory of the land in flames, and after beheld the dismal ruins. When violence separated me from my too much beloved library, and drove me into a poor and smoky house, I never had more help of God, nor did more difficult work than there. What pleasant retirements and quietness in the country have been the fruits of persecuting wrath ? And I must not forget, when I had more public liberty, how he saved me and all my hearers, even by a wonder, from being buried in the ruins of the fabric where we were; and others, from the calamities, scandal, and lamentations, which would else bave followed; and it is not a mercy to be extenuated, that when the tongues and pens of all sects among us, and of proud self-exalters, and of some worthy, pious, differing brethren, have been long and vehemently bent against me, when my infamy hath been endeavored, by abundance of volumes, by the backbiting of angry dividers of all sorts, and by the calumniating accusations of some that were too high to be gainsayed, and would not endure me to answer them, and vindicate my innocency; yet, all these together were never able to fasten their accusations, and procure any common belief, nor to bring me under the designed contempt, much less to break my comforts, encouragements, or labors.
These, all these, and very many more than these, are my experiences of that wondrous mercy which hath measured my pilgrimage, and filled up my days. Never did God break his promise with me ;
never did he fail me, nor forsake me. Had I not provoked him by rash and willul sinning, how little interruption of my peace and comsorts had I ever been likely to have had! And shall I now distrust him at the last? Shall I not trust, and quietly trust, that infinite wisdom, love, and power, whom I have so long trusted and found so good?
Nature teacheth man to love best those animals that are tame and tractable, that trust us and love us, that will come to our hands, and love our company, that will be familiar with us, and follow us, be it horse or dog, beasts or birds : but those that are wild and live in woods, and fly from the face of man, are taken to be the game and prey of any one that can catch and kill them. And shall
And shall my foolish soul thus wildly fly from the face of God? Shall his children be like the fearsul hare, or like a guilty Cain, or like an unbelieving Sadducee, that either believeth not, or hopeth not for, the forgiveness of sin, and the life everlasting? Doth not the spirit of adoption incline us to love our Father's presence, and to be loath to be long from home? To distrust all creatures, even thyself, is not unreasonable ; but to distrust God hath no just excuse. Fly from sin, from Satan, , from temptations, from the world, from sinful flesh and idol self; but fly not from him that is goodness, love, and joy itself. Fear thine enemy, but trust thy Father. If thy heart be reconciled to him and his service, by the Spirit, he is certainly reconciled to thee through Christ: and if he be for thee, and justify and love thee, who shall be against thee, or condemn thee, or separate thee from his love? If thy unreconciled will do make thee doubt of his reconciliation, it is time to abhor and lay by thy enmity. Consent, and be sure that he consenteth. Be willing to be his, and in holiness to serve him, and to be united in joyful glory to him; and then be sure that he is willing to accept thee, and receive thee to that glory. O dark and sinful soul! how little dost thou know thy friend, thyself, or God, if thou canst more easily and quietly trust thy life, thy soul, and hopes to the will of thy friend, or of thyself, if thou hadst power, than to the will of God. Every dog would be at home, and with his master; much more every ingenuous child with his father : and though enemies distrust us, wife and children will not do so, while they believe us just.
And hath God ever showed himself either unfaithful or unmerciful to me?
To thee, O Lord, as to a faithful Creator, I commit my soul. (1 Pet. iv. 19.) I know that thou art the faithful God, who keepest covenant and mercy with them that love thee and keep thy commandments. (Deut. vii. 9.) Thou art faithful who hast called me to the communion of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. i. 9.) Thy faithfulness hath saved me in and from temptation; (1 Cor. x. 13 ;) it hath stablished me, and kept me from prevailing evil; (2 Thess. in. 3;) and it will keep my spirit, soul, and body to the coming of Christ. (1 Thess. v. 23, 24.) It is in faithfulness that thou hast aflicted me; (Psalm cxix. 75;) and shall I not trust thee, then, to save me? It is thy faithful word, that all thine elect shall obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory; and if we be dead with him, shall live with him, and if we suffer, we shall also reign with him. (2 Tim. ii. 11, 12.)
To thee, O my Savior, I commit my soul: it is thine own by redemption; it is thine own by covenant; it is marked and sealed by thy Spirit as thine own, and thou hast promised not to lose it. (John vi. 39.) Thou wast made like us thy brethren, that thou mightest be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for our sins. By thy blood we have boldness to enter into the holiest, even by the new and living consecrated way. Cause me to draw near with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith, by thee that art the High Priest over the house of God; for he is faithful that has promised life through thee. (Heb. x. 20—23.) Thy name is faithful and true, (Rev. xix. 11,) and faithful and true are all thy promises. (Rev. xxii. 6, and xxi. 5.) Thou hast promised rest to weary souls that come to thee. (Matt. xi. 28; 2 Thess. i. 7.) I am weary of suffering, and weary of sin; weary of my flesh, and weary of my darkness, and dulness, and distance, and of this wicked, blind, unrighteous, and confounded world: and whither should I look for rest but home to my heavenly Father and to thee? I am but a bruised reed, but thou wilt not break me; I am but a smoaking flax, but thou wilt not quench what thy grace hath kindled; but thou, in whose name the nations trust, wilt bring forth judgment unto vic
tory. (Matt. xii. 20, 21.) The Lord redeemeth the souls of his servants, and none of them that trust in thee shall be desolate. (Psalm xxxiv. 22.) Therefore will I wait on thy name, for it is good, and will trust in the mercy of God for ever. (Psalm lii. 8, 9.) The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble, and he knowelh them that trust in him. (Nahum i. 7.) Sinful fear is a snare; but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be set on high. (Prov. xxix. 25.) Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord liis trust, and respecteth not the proud, and such as turn aside to lies. (Psalm xl. 4.) Thou art my hope, O Lord God, thou art my trust from my youth. By thee have I been holden up from the womb, and my praise shall be continually of thee. Cast me not off now in the time of age. Forsake me not when my strength faileth ; O God, thou hast taught me from my youth, and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now, also, when I am old and grey, O God, forsake me not. (Psalm xvii. 5, 6, 9, 17, 18.) Leave not my soul destitute; for mine eyes are toward thee, and my trust is in thee. (Psalm xiv. 8.) I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living; even where they that live shall die no more.
The sun may cease to shine on man, and the earth to bear us; but God will never cease to be love, nor to be faithful in his promises. Blessed be the Lord, who hath commanded me so safe and quieting a duty as to trust him, and cast all my cares on him, as on one that has promised to care for me!
II. And blessed be God, who hath made it my duty to hope for his salvation. Hope is the ease, yea, the life of our hearts, that else would break, yea, die within us : despair is no small part of hell: God cherisheth hope as he is the lover of souls. Satan, our enemy, cherisheth despair, when his way of blind presumption faileth. As fear is a foretaste of evil, before it is felt: so hope doth anticipate, and foretaste salvation, before it is possessed. It is then worldly hypocrites' hope that perisheth; for all that hope for true or durable happiness on the earth, in the pleasures of this perishing flesh, must needs be deceived. But happy is he who hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, which made heaven and earth, which keepeth truth for ever. (Psalm cxlvi. 5, 6.) Wo to
me, were my hope only in the time and matters of this fleshly life; (1 Cor. xv. 19;) but the righteous hath hope in his death; (Prov. xiv. 32;) and hope maketh not ashamed. (Rom. v. 5.) Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, whose hope the Lord is. (Jer. xvii. 7.) Lay hold then, O my soul, upon the hope which is set before thee; (Heb. vi. 18;) it is thy firm and steadfast anchor, (ver. 19,) without it thou wilt be as a shipwrecked vessel. Thy foundation is sure; it is God himself; our faith and hope are both in God. (1 Pet. i. 21.) It is Jesus our Lord who is risen from the dead, and reigneth in glory, Lord of all. (1 Tim. i. 1.) Yea, it is the Christ, who by faith doth dwell within us, who is our hope of glory. (Eph. ii. 17; Col. i. 27.) In this hope, which is better than the law that Moses gave, it is that we draw nigh to God; (Heb. vii. 19;) it is the Holy Ghost, that is both our evidence, and the efficient of our hope. (Gal. v. 5; Rom. viii. 16, 23.) By him we hope for that which we see not, and therefore wait in patience for it; (ver. 24, 25;) by hope are we saved. It is an encouraging grace which will make us stir, when as despair doth kill endeavors; it cureth sloth, and makes us diligent and constant to the end, and by this doth help us to full as
(Heb. vi. 11, 12.) It is a desiring grace, and would fain obtain the glory hoped for. It is a quieting and comforting grace. (Rom. xv. 4.) The God of hope doth fill us with joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
(Ver. 13.) Shake off despondency, O my soul, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Rom. v. 2.) Believe in hope, though dying flesh would tell thee that it is against hope. (Rom.
God, that cannot lie, hath confirmed his covenant by his immutable oath, that we might have strong consolation who are fled for refuge to the hope which is set before us. (Heb. vi. 18.) What
. . blessed preparations are made for our hope ; and shall we now let the tempter shake it, or discourage it? The abundant mercy of God the Father hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection or Christ, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us. (1 Pet. i. 3.) Grace teacheth us to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this world, as looking for that blessed hope,