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the contrary," he will hear the voice of our weeping;” tears, when flowing from a contrite soul, have an eloquence which he cannot resist. · He will speak peace to the soul: he will blot out its transgressions as a morning cloud. He will cause the light of his countenance to shine upon it; and will give unto it a spirit of adoption, whereby it shall cry with confidence, Abba, Father.m. And will not such a harvest recompense an hundred years of weeping? Look but at the state of the prodigal, and see him, after his short seed-time of weeping, welcomed to his father's house, and feasting with him on the fatted calf; was he not well repaid? had he any reason to regret his tears of penitence? Thus then shall it be with us in this world, provided we be content to sow in tears: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy shall come in the morning.”n] 2. We shall reap also in the world to come
[All that the penitent soul enjoys in this world is but an earnest of what it shall hereafter possess. There is “a full reward," an “everlasting life,”p which shall be reaped as the fruit of what we now sow. The tears we shed are all treasured up with care in the vial of our heavenly Father: every sigh, and
every groan, shall be remembered before him; and shall add to that abundant and eternal weight of glory which we shall then receive. And who can estimate those “sheaves which we shall then bring with us?” How will all our sorrows vanish in an instant, and be turned into unutterable joy! Let us then look forward to that time, and “not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."'] ADDRESS
1. To those who have never known any seed-time like this
[Is there not occasion enough for you to weep? Think how you have neglected your God and Father; how you have trampled on the blood of Christ your Saviour; and how you have resisted the motions of the Holy Spirit on your hearts! Think too, how you have made the very consideration of God's mercy and forbearance an occasion of more boldness in transgressing against him! This, independent of any gross acts of sin, is sufficient to make your head a fountain of tears to run down day and night for your iniquities. “Be afflicted then, and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into heaviness; humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."r]
! Luke vii. 47, 48, 50. 1 John i. 9. n Ps. XXX. 5.
0 2 John viii. 9 Isai. xxx. 10. Jam. iv. 9, 10,
m Jer. xxxi. 9, 30. p Gal. vi. 8.
2. To those who are daily sowing in tears
[Possibly, some may be discouraged, because they do not reap so soon as they expected. But, if this be the case, let them examine, whether they do indeed“ sorrow after a godly, sort:” and, if they have the testimony of a good conscience in this respect, let them wait patiently, as the husbandman, for "doubtless they shall come again with rejoicing:" joy and gladness are sown for them, and shall spring up in due season." Let them be contented to " go on their way” weeping, even though the way be ever so long; for tears are a seed * cious" unto God, and they shall bring a glorious harvest at the last.
s James v. 7.
+ Ps. xcvii. 11.
DXXIII. THE BLESSEDNESS OF FEARING COD.
Eccl. viii 12. Surely I know that it shall be well with them
that fear God.
NOTHING certain can be determined respecting God's favour from the outward dispensations of his providence
The wicked seem on the whole to prosper more than others
Nevertheless the godly are by farthe happier persons —
It is of them only that the assertion in the text can be. made
We propose to shew 1. Who they are that fear God
This, we may suppose, would be a point easy to be determined
But, through self-love and Satan's devices, many mistake respecting it
The characters described in the text may be distinguished by the following marks
1. They stand in awe of God's judgments [Once they disregarded the displeasure of the almighty
2 Eccl. ix. ).
- Ps. Ixxiii. 15. VOL. V.
b Ps. Ixxii. 5, 12.
d Ps. A. 5. Аа
They would not believe that his threatenings would be executed
But now they have learned to tremble at his word Awakened by his Spirit, they exclaim with the prophet The scriptures uniformly represent them in this lights-] 2. They embrace the salvation offered them
[In their natural state they felt no need of a physician They saw no suitableness in the remedy which the gospel offered them
Their pride would not suffer them to submit to its humiliating terms
But now they gladly embrace Christ as their only Saviour They flee to him, as the murderers did to a city of refuge
This is the description given of them in the inspired volume! ] 3. They endeavour to keep all the commandments
[If ever they obeyed God at all, they served him only to the extent the world would approvem
Where the lax habits of mankind forbad their compliance with the divine command, they were afraid to be singular
But they dare not any longer halt between God and Baal
They have determined, through grace, to follow the Lord fully
The language of their hearts is like that of Davidm__
This was the very ground on which God concluded that Abraham feared him"-] - These marks clearly distinguish those who fear God from all others
[The formal Pharisee has never felt his desert of condemnationo
The merely awakened sinner has never truly embraced the gospelP
The hypocritical professor has never mortified his besetting sin
It is the person alone, who fears God, that unites in his experience a dread of God's wrath, an affiance in Christ, and a love to the commandments--]
Such persons, notwithstanding appearances, are truly blessed
e Isai. lxvi. 2.
Rev. iii. 17.
f Isai. xxxiii. 14.
& Acts xvi. 29. and
Ps. cxix. 120. m Ps.cxix. 5, 6. p Acts xxiv.25. and
II. In what respects it shall be well with them
They are not exempt from the common afflictions of life
They have in addition to them many trials peculiar to themselves
Yet it goes well with them
[They have a peculiar enjoyment of prosperity The ungodly find an emptiness in all their possessions,
But the godly have not such gall mixed with their comforts
They have also peculiar supports in a season of adversity
The wicked are for the most part miserable in their affiction!
If kept from murmuring, it is the summit of their attainmentsBut the righteous are enabled to glory in tribulation
And cordially to approve of God's dispensations towards them) 2. In respect of spiritual good
[They possess a peace that passeth all understanding-They are filled with a joy utterly unknown to others
The work of sanctification is gradually carried on within them?
As they approach towards death they grow in a meetness for heaven
And are serene and happy in the near prospect of eternity) 3. In respect to eternal good
[Who can set forth their felicity in the eternal world? Who can even conceive the weight of glory preparing for them?-
How will their faith be lost in sight, and their hope in enjoyment! Then indeed will that truth be seen and felt by themkm)
These things are far from being “çunningly devised fables."
s Job xx. 22.
Prov. x. 22. 1 Tim. vi. 17.
* 2 Kings xx. 19. 12 Cor. iv, 16. a Ps.xxxvii. 37.
III. What assurance we have that it shall be thus well
with them No truth whatever is capable of clearer demonstration
The topics from whence it might be proved are innumerable
We shall, however confine ourselves to three 1. The fitness of things requires it
[No man can seriously think that there is one portion to the righteous and the wicked
There is no well-ordered government on earth where this is the case
Much less can we suppose it possible in the divine government
To imagine such a thing, is to strip the Deity of all regard to his own honour
We may be sure that there shall be a distinction made in favour of his servants-] 2. The promises of God insure it
[All temporal good is expressly promised to those who fear God”_
All spiritual good also is given them as their portion
Yea, all eternal good is laid up for them as their unalienable inheritance
All the promises are made over to them in one words Can any one doubt a truth so fully established?-] 3. The experience of all that ever feared God attests it
[Who ever found it unprofitable to serve the Lord? What truly devoted soul was ever forsaken by him?
Who ever complained that the means, by which he was brought to fear God, were too severe?
Or that any affliction, that increased and confirmed that fear, was too heavy?-
David indeed! did at one time question the position in the texte
But on recollection he condemned himself for his rashness and ignorance
And acknowledged that his vile suspicions contradicted the experience of God's children in all agesk-]
On these grounds we "assuredly know” the truth declared in the text
c Mal. iii. 18.
d Ps. xxxiv. 9.
• Ps. xxv. 12, 13. El Tim. iv. 8.
h Jer. ii. 31. k Ps. Ixxiü. 12-15, 22.