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him--He particularly sees these perfections harmonizing, and . glorified, in the person of Jesus—Or, if he be not perfectly clear in his views of these things, he at least is sensible that the divine mercy flows only in one channel, and can be imparted only through the atoning blood of Jesus-) They so know him as to “set their love upon him”
[It is not a mere speculative knowledge that Christians possess, (in this the ungodly may far surpass them) but such a practical knowledge as influences their heart and lifeThey feel an interest in every perfection of the Deity-The justice and holiness of God are as amiable in their eyes as his love and mercy-From what they know of him they are constrained to love him, yea, to “set their love upon him," with intenseness of desire and fixedness of affectionThey wait upon him in continual prayer
[Others may keep up an outward form of devotion, or even be exceedingly earnest in prayer on some particular occasion--But they alone can maintain a real intercourse with the Deity, who have been taught by the Holy Spirit both to know and love him~When they have been thus enlightened and renewed, they will feel the necessity, and taste the sweetness, of secret prayer, and will account it their highest honour and happiness to have access unto their God at the throne of grace-Nos will they ever be satisfied with the worship they offer, if they do not “ worship him in spirit and in truth”-]
In perfect correspondence with their character will be found II. Their privileges
There is nothing good which shall be withheld from them in time or eternity-God will vouchsafe to them 1. Answers to prayer
[They who offer their petitions only in a formal manner, never expect an answer to them—They conceive that all testimonies from God respecting the acceptance of our prayers are chimerical and enthusiastic in the extreme-But God is at no loss to impart to his people a clear and lively sense of his approbation-He most assuredly will answer them, though not by tokens that may be heard or seen, yet by sensible communications, and effectual interpositions-Are they laden with guilt? their burthen shall be removed, and they shall be filled with peace and joy-Are they bowed down under trials and temptations? they shall be strengthened by his grace, and be made more than conquerors over all-And though they cannot infallibly conclude from any feelings of their mind that God has answered their prayers, yet their feelings, in conjunction
with the effects produced by them, will enable them to ascertain it, at least sufficiently for their own encouragement ---] 2. Deliverances from trouble
[The people of God are exposed to trouble no less than others—But they are supported under them by the presence of their God--As the Son of man walked with the Hebrew youths in the furnace, so will he with all his afflicted people; nor shall a hair of their head be singed-As a refiner he will carefully watch over every vessel, moderating the heat that would injure it, and bringing out the vessel as soon as his purposes in submitting it to the fire have been fully answered This is twice declared in the text; and in due season shall it be experienced by every believer-] 3. Present honour
[The saints are for the most part loaded with contempt and ignominy-Yet the very persons who persecute them most, have frequently, like Herod, an inward reverence for them in their hearts-But, however they be treated by the ungodly, they are universally respected by the saints--The very angels account it their honour and happiness to minister unto them-And even “God himself is not ashamed to be called their God”-They are already exalted to the rank and dignity of God's children; they are made “ heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ”-]
4. Everlasting glory
[How far length of days is to be expected as the reward of piety under the gospel dispensation, we cannot absolutely determine-But the true Christian will be " satisfied with his life,” whether it be long or short-He does not wish for the termination of it merely because he is dissatisfied with his present state, but because he longs for his inheritance-As soon as he has finished his appointed course, God will shew him his full salvation--He will cause him to behold all its glory and enjoy all its blessedness-He will give him a life which will fully satisfy his most enlarged desires---He will say to him, See the kingdom that was prepared for thee from eternity; take possession of it as thine own, and inherit it for ever.INFER
1. In how pitiable a state are the ignorant and ungodly world!
(Being ignorant of God, and destitute of any real love to him, they have no part or lot in his salvation—They are strangers to all those sublime pleasures, which are communicated to God's peculiar people-The witness of the Spirit, and many other unspeakably precious tokens of the divine favour, are withheld from them-If they be in trouble, they have no heavenly consolations to support them- They may have the wealth of this world, and the honour which cometh of men; but they can expect no salvation, from God, nor any thing but shame and everlasting contempte- that they were wise and would consider these things!-] 2. How plain and simple is the duty of God's people!
e Ps. cxxxviii. 3.
Matt. xxv. 34.
['The privileges before mentioned, are all bestowed on us because we love and seek the Lord-Not that our services are meritorious and can claim a “reward of debt;" but God has appointed these as means, in the use of which we shall attain the end-Would we then have more abundant tokens of God's favour here, and secure a still richer inheritance hereafter? Let us study to “grow in the knowledge of him," and in a more fervent and fixed love towards him-Let us wait upon him more earnestly and with greater constancy in prayer Thus shall his blessings infinitely exceed our highest expectations, and be enjoyed by us when the filtering vanities of time shall be no more
e Dan. xii. 2.
DXXVI. THE PRIVILEGE OF THOSE WHO LIVE
NEAR TO GOD.
Deut. xxxiii. 12. Of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the
Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long.
AS God was pleased to communicate to some in former ages the knowledge of future events, so he frequently imparted to them the spirit of prophecy in a more abundant measure, about the time of their death. Thus Isaac and Jacob were peculiarly inspired at that season to foretel the things which should befal their children. Thus Moses also, when about to be gathered to his fathers, was commissioned to declare the states and cir. cumstances of all the different tribesafter their entrance into Canaan. Of Benjamin he foretold, that his tribe should be situated close to the place which God had chosen for himself;~ and that his proximity to the Lord's immediate residence should be to him a source and occasion of the richest benefits..
If it be considered how comprehensive many of the prophecies are, and how the apostles themselves continually apply them to the general circumstances of the church of Christ, we shall not be thought to put a force upon the text, while we take occasion from it to set forth I. The state of God's people
The situation of the tribe of Benjamin may serve at least as an emblem to represent the state of “God's beloved.”. They are “a people near unto God:"b 1. They maintain a sense of the divine presence
[They not only cannot, like the generality, live “ with. out God in the world," or rest, as many professors of religion do, in a round of formal duties. They are sensible that “God searcheth the heart and trieth the reins.” They long to have a conviction of this fastened upon their minds, and to see, as it were, on every place this inscription written, “Thou God seest me.” They do not harbour secret sin because it is invisible to man; but, assured that “the darkness is no darkness with God," and that he beholds the very counsels of the heart, they strive to
set him ever before them;" and to " walk in his fear all the day long."] 2. They walk in dependence on the divine aid
[They are scarcely more conscious of their own existence, than they are of their utter insufficiency for any thing that is good. They have so often failed through their reliance on their own strength, and they feel such a proneness to every species of iniquity, if left one moment to themselves, that they are compelled to cry to their God for help. And, if they were not sure that “the grace of Christ is sufficiene" for all who trust in it, they would utterly despair of holding out unto the end. Hence their continual prayer is, “ Hold thou
a This was remarkably fulfilled: for Mount Zion, whereon the temple was built, belonged to Judah: but the remainder of Jeru. salem, and almost the whole of Mount Moriah (of which Mount Zion was a part) belonged 10 Benjamin: so literally true was it, that God, the head of all the tribes, “dwelt between the shoulders of Benjamin.” And this very circumstance occasioned the tribe of Benjamin to adhere to Judah, when the other ten tribes, under Jeroboam, apostatized from the worship of Jehovah.
Ps. cxlviii. 14.
me up, and I shall be safe:” and God imparts to them his promised assistance.'] 3. They delight in doing the divine will
[The "commandments of God are not grievous" to them. Their only grief is, that they do not obey them with greater readiness and joy. Not but that they often find the workings of an evil principle, that would bring them back again into captivity to sin and Satan: but, through the operation of the blessed Spirit, they are enabled to get the victory over their corrupt nature, and both to obey the law outwardly, and to
delight in it after their inward man."d They would gladly do the will of God on earth, as it is done in heaven, without reluctance, without weariness, and without reserve.]
There doubtless is a great difference between the attainments of different saints: yet this is, on the whole, the state of all; and that they are blessed in it will appear by considering II. The privileges they enjoy by means of it
While the saints thus live nigh to God, God “keeps them in safety,” and covers them 1. From the curse of the law
[We might speak of their deliverance even from temporal evils; since they have none which are not sanctified to their souls, and made blessings in disguise. But respecting spiritual evils we are warranted to speak with the fullest confidence. The saints may, it is true, be left to dread the wrath of God: but it shall never come upon them. While they are endeavouring to walk in communion with God, and in dependence on him, and obedience to him, they have nothing to fear. God has pledged himself, that they shall never perish."] 2. From the assaults of Satan
[Satan will indeed exert all his power to destroy them; but he shall not finally prevail against them. He may “ buffet them,” and cast “his fiery darts” at them; but he is a vanquished enemy; and shall, ere long, be bruised under the feet of even the weakest saints. Like the Kings whom Joshua subdued, all the powers of hell shall one day be brought out of their dungeons, to receive, from the very lips of those whom now they persecute, the sentence they so justly merit.k]
c Zech. x. 12, Isai. xxvi. 3. d Rom. vii. 14-25.. e Job. v. 19-24.
f Ps. Ixxvii. 7-9. & Rom. viii. 1.
b Isai. lv. 7. John. x. 27, 28. i Ps. xci. 1-3. Jam. iy. 7. Rom. xyi. 20. k ] Cor. vi. 3.