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This term implies an immense portion of comfort for the children of God; because it represents them, in its radical sense, as observed, defended, protected, shut up, and saved in Christ, like a precious depositum in a strong tower or city, which omnipotence itself is pledged to guard and support.
They are preserved in body by their Lord and Saviour, who orders all their times and circumstances, and who makes every thing, even contrary things, work together for their good. Their faculties, opportunities, and affairs, are all measured out by him, and all employed in that situation of life, which he knows to be the safest and the best for them. Their sorrows, mistakes, sicknesses, and lastly death itself, which are evils that consume the heart (as it were) of worldly men, he enables them to sustain or improve to their real and most lasting advantage.
They are preserved in soul by their gracious Redeemer. He bought them with his own blood for salvation; he regenerated them by his own Spirit to prepare them for the reception of his love and mercy; and, by the same Spirit, he trains them up and sanctifies them for the full and everlasting enjoyment of his heavenly kingdom. They are the holy people, the redeemed of JEHOVAH;
and are called, Sought out, a city not forsaken: and thus do they become the true Nazarenes, through Christ the 183, the Nazarene, the branch, the keeper ; and, according to their name, are kept, or defended, by him through faith unto salvation.* They are preserved, because (as the Psalmist speaks) they are holy; i. e. made sacred or consecrated to God by the blood of the Lamb.
Thus they are preserved and spiritually shut up, as å garden inclosed, as a field recovered from the waste, as an holy and impregnable fortification, as the sacred peculium of God, which he will suffer no enemy to touch but as the apple of his eye.
When Noah had entered into the ark, by God's command, we are told immediately, that the LORD shut him in.t He was under the divine guidance and protection, during the time of a most tremendous desolation: and though he seemed, as it were, put out of sight and shut up as in a prison, the Lord had his eye continually upon him and his, and made them a new seed to come forth in due time and replenish the world.
When the children of Israel, as the figure of the chosen remnant, were to be signally preserved, while the Lord poured forth his destruction upon the first-born of Egypt; it was expressly enjoined, that none of them should go
* Isa. xxvii. 3. 1 Pet. i. 5. They are also the real Nazarites, who drink no wine or strong drink, in the sense of Rev. xviii. 3. but are kept sober, unintoricated, and unspotted, in the world. f Gen, vii. 16,
out of the door of his house till the morning. They were hidden or shut up, till the indignation was overpast, typifying this great spiritual truth to the children of God, who are his preserved for ever, that they are kept separate from the world, under the propitiation of Christ, and shall be delivered by him, when the great morning shall appear, and the Sun of righteousness shine forth in all his glory. The history of the deliverance of Rahab and her family, by the scarlet thread and by confinement to the house, preached the same important doctrine of salvation in and by the future Redeemer.
The same idea was also exhibited by the ark of the covenant, into which God's people entered by faith, like David, as into the secret of his tabernacle, which not even David, nor any other man while in the flesh, could corporally enter; where they were hidden, and protected under the wingst of the cherubim, covering them and the mercy-seat over them, with infinite love ard complacency.
The prophet Isaiah was directed to hold, in the Lord's name, the same language. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee : hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast : for behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity : the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more
Exod. xii. 22, 23. The same idea is intended by the Lord's encamping, or being a wall of fire, around his people. Their security is in his defence. This was signified to Jačob, at a trying time, in Gen. xxxii. 2. See also Zech. ix. 8. ii. 5. Ps. cxxv. 2.
+ See Ps, xvii. 8. lvii, 1, Ixi. 4. xci, 4.
cover her slain.* What this safe refuge is, the same prophet tells us in another place: Thou (Jehovah) hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall..t
This is the blessed privilege of those, who are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Christ Jesus, and called. OF ALL, Which the Father HATH GIVEN HIM, it will be known for an everlasting truth, that HE HATH LOST NOTHING, but that he hath kept them through his own name or power, that they might be made perfect in one for glory and salvation. The Father's love hath separated them and shut them up from the world by his own eternal purpose; the Son's grace protects them in himself, to whom they are united by his glorious humanity; and the Spirit effectually calls them to this salvation. This is the method, and these are the means, of all their happiness and glory. They are neither wiser, nor better, nor stronger, nor lovelier, by nature than others; but they are made, they know not why further than God's word hath explained it, the chosen and saved of the Lord; while the rest of the world, with all the angels who kept not their first estate, are passed over and left in their sins. Our Lord himself, even in an address to the Father, where an explanation might have been expected if any where, gives no reason but this; Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. The preserved of the Lord are satisfied with this explanation: the people of the world,
Isa, xxvi, 20, 21. + Isa. XXV, 4.
the vain reasoners of mankind, could never upon this point be satisfied with any.
It is evident, then, that this whole matter is entirely of grace. Noah found favor, that is, as the Hebrew word means, free grace; and Abraham; and Jacob above his brother; and the children of Israel; and Rahab; and the Virgin Mary; and the redeemed in all ages; or they would have remained vile, helpless, miserable sinners. It was God, who made them to differ; and, if we could hear them all speak, every one would confess with the apostle; By the grace of God, I am what I am.
And this, Obeliever, I am very sure, is thy heartfelt confession. Thou hast nothing to say for thyself, but, “thus it hath pleased the Lord;" it is all "his doing;” and “it is marvellous in my eyes.”
Thus grace begins the good work in the soul, carries it on, and completes it for the day of the Lord Jesus. Not one of all the redeemed stands, by his own strength, or upon his own foundation. Left to themselves, the most fervent and lively would soon grow cold and dead : but united to Christ, the bruised reed receives omnipotent might, and the lowest and the least are eternally safe.
What inexpressible consolation, then, doth not this title afford to the afflicted Christian? Brother, thou mayest be, though not very likely, as outwardly wretched as Lazarus ; thou mayest, thougla not very probably, be brought for Christ's sake to the trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment. Nay, suppose thou wert called, as many blessed ones have been, to be stoned, or sawn asunder, or tempted or slain with the sword; to wander about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented : A a2