« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers ofoil ? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin my
soul ? He hath shewed thee, Oman, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall know thy name; hear ye the rod, and him that hath appointed it.” What! will a flood of errors, heresies, and scandals, ruining the church work for good ? Yea, " There must be heresies, that they that are approved may be made manifest,” i Cor. xi. 19. Storms shall manifest who are built upon the rock. Will blasphemies vented against the glorious Godhead of Christ, work for any good ? Yea, his glory shall shine the more brightly, through the dark cloud; his friends shall be the more stirred up to put the crown upon his head, when enemies would trample on it. O the wisdom of God! that can make divisions, discords, and confusions in a church, to work for the good of a hidden remnant; even as he made the treason of Judas, the rage of the Jews and Gentiles, and the malice of the devil, to work for the redemption of the world, and salvation of sinners.
2. See the cause why God many times denies the outward blessing of peace, to these on whom he has conferred the inward blessing of grace ; and why he orders adversity, instead of prosperity; why, he designs, their good. And it is upon necessity, in some cases, that they must be given up to the hand of their enemies, because, when he gives them rest, they do evil again before him, Neh. xi. 28.--He designs to convince the wicked, that God's children do not serve him for outward things, as the devil reproached Job, when he said, “ Doth Job serve God for nought?" He designs bis servants should not bear a mercenary mind, in making gain of his service, and turning Christian patience into carnal covetousness, making gain of godliness. He designs his people should see need of more faith, and more wisdom; for, in fair weather, little skill in the mariner is required; but when storms arise, and the sea swells and grows troublesome, then he is put to it. He designs to convince them that this is their inn, and not their home; the wilderness, and not Canaan, a place of refining ; whereof yet he says, “ I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction,” Ísa. xlviii. 10. They are chastened of the Lord, that they may not be condemned with the world, 1 Cor. xi. 31. Outward and bodily prosperity is not always attended with inward soulprosperity ; no, no; many have fat bodies and lean souls.
3. See hence the misery of the wicked, who are enemies and haters of God, and live and die in that enmily. Ah! dreadful case ! all things work together for evil unto such. To the godly, evil things work for good; but to the wicked, good things work for evil: “ Their prosperity destroys them; their table is a snare to them.” The ministry of the word, which is a savour of life to some, is a savour of death to them. O sirs, what is this, that the same word, the same breath, the same wind that blows some to heaven doth blow them to hell! The sacramental supper, which is an ordinance that works for the believer's consolation, works for the unbeliever's damnation : « He eats and drinks damnation to himself !" Yea, Christ himself, the greatest good that ever was sent to the world, works for their hurt: for, he is to them a stumbling-block, and rock of offence, Rom. ix. 33. i Peter ii. 7. Oh! may not this make a wicked soul to tremble! O mocker of God and godliness! is it nothing to you to understand that God is angry at you, as he is angry with the wicked every day; and every day you are treasuring up wrath to yourself against the day of wrath! O man, woman, if you put not in to be among those that love God, and are the called according to his purpose; and if the gospel-call never work in you an effectual purpose of turning from sin to God, through Christ by faith; if it never work in you an effectual purpose to come out of yourself, and in to Christ; to die unto sin, and live unto God : then, O tremble at it; it is a sign that God hath a purpose to destroy you. Alas! “ Will
Alas! “ Will you not tremble at the presence of God ?” Jer. v. 22. The half of this dreadful news hath made some of God's chil. dren to be distracted with the terrors of God, Psalm 1xxxviii. 15. If your stout conscience doth not tremble now, yet the day of wrath and trembling is a-coming.
4. Hence, on the other hand, see the happiness of God's friends and lovers; and what confort this carries to them, that all things, the worst as well as the best, will work together for their good, whatever be their suffering lot, or afflicted condition : even when you seem to be lost, yet you are in your Father's eye : when in the dark night of afflietion, temptation, desertion, you can see nothing, yet, if you look up to heaven, you will see thousands of stars looking on you; so is God's eye ever on you. The child may lose the Father, but the Father will not lose the child : you are in the hand of Christ, and none can pluck you out of God's hand : and you are in that very hand that works for you, and makes all things work for your good. What though the policy of hell be against you, when the wisdom of heaven is working for you; “ The Lord brings the counsel of the heatheu to nought; he makes the devices of the people of none effect; but the counsel of the Lord that shall stand, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations, Psalm xxxiii. 10, 11.-Blessed then is the nation whose God is the Lord : and the people, whom he hath chosen for his inheritance."
What are multitudes of oppositions froin men and devils ? Millions of hosts of men are millions of hosts of vanities and nothings to this infinite wisdom; “ All nations before him are as nothing: and they are counted unto him less than nothing and vanity, Isa. iv. 17. I, even 1 am he that comforteth you : who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of man that shall die ? and of the son of man, that shall be made as grass ?" chap. li. 12. You have a wonder-working friend who cannot die, and that will never fail you: riches and worldly ho. nours deal not plainly with us; we know not when we have them, and when we want them; hut, amidst all changes, God is your unchangeable friend, in whom you are to rejoice. A certain prince, when he heard of
the death of many friends in war; yet comforted himself with this, Vivit imperator, sat habeo ; . It is enough
to me that the emperor lives. O believer! should it not be enough to you that the Lord lives ? “ As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me. The Lord liyeth, and blessed be my rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted, Psalm xviii. 44. 46. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands; they shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old as a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be establisbed before thee," Psal. cii. 25.-28. What though your trials be very long, God's delays are the seed of greater mercies. The goldsmith holds his metal in the fire till it be melted and refined : “ But the needy shall not always be forgotten ; nor the expectation of the poor perish for ever.” Psal. ix. 18. God's time is better than ours; and he knows when you are ripe for deliverance ; he will let the fire burn till the dross come away from the metal : “ The vison is for an appointed time.” Obeliey. er, bless God for this pillar of hope and consolation, that all things shall work together for your good. And whatever state you are brought into, in providence, be content, be cheerful; all things are working together to bring you to that state, wherein you shall be no more tossed and troubled; wherein you will be above these regions that make changes of weather, and have no more any thick foggy days. Many times all your fe, licity here, is to know that your misery shall end; and sin, the root of all misery, be plucked up. If he make all things work together for good to his people, then
Truly, God is good to Israel ;” whatever befals them, Yet he is good; as the word may be read.
OBJECT. “ If it was only trouble and affliction that “ I was trysted with, perhaps I might take the comfort “ of this doctrine, that all things shall work together “ for good : but, alas! sin lies at the door: corruption
well say, we may
prevails over me; and my spiritual enemies tread me
under foot : and this makes me think all will work “ for my RUIN."
Answ. This may be the case, and yet the dominion is on the children of God's side ; because yictory is not measured by one blow, but by the issue of the battle: “ A bruised reed shall he not break, a smoking flax will he not quench, till he bring forth judgment unto victory,” Mat. xii. 20. You may, with Paul, be led captive by the law of sin, Rom. vii. 23.; and yet the gospel at length be victorious in the heart. Consider, that the Spirit keeps the field, even in that same soul wherein the flesh hath a great power: “ The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these two are contrary,” Gal. iii. 17. In a carnal man, the Spirit is not on the field at all, and therefore he is a servant to sin, and not a captive: but when God's children sin, they are captives to it, and not servants; and when they sin, it is but with half of the will, and so the flesh hath but half a vote; and there is a protestation made on the contrary, by that supernatural instinct of the Spirit, that is given them. Again, the falls and foils of God's children are the seed of hu. mility; and watchfulness, the seed of hunger and thirst after a fuller measure of grace, and of a more strict and circumspect walk : and thus sin, by the grace of God, helps to mortify itself. We read of David, 2 Sam. xxiii. 15, 16, 17. that he longed for a drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, that was in the midst of the Philistines' host; and when three valiant men brought it to him at the peril of their lives, ne would not drink it, saying, “Is not this the blood of these men, that went in jeopardy of their lives?” Hence we may learn, he that before shed innocent blood, is now troubled in conscience for hazarding the blood of these men, in this rash enterprize; and he that before defiled another man's wife, does now repent for desiring to drink of the 'water of another man's well. But, passing other Inferences, I go on to an Use of Examination.
Try, therefore, O man, woman, whether you be the subjects to whom this privilege belongs, of having all