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heart into believing, Why art thou cast down, O my soul? why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him". Though I am all out of tune for the present, never a right string in my soul, yet he will put to his hand and redress all: and I shall yet once again praise ; and therefore, even now, I will hope.
It is true, will the humble soul reply, God is a safe shelter and refuge, but he is holy, and holy men may find admittance and protection; but can so vile a sinner as I look to be protected and taken in under his safeguard ? Go try. Knock at his door, and (take it not on our word, but on his own) it shall be opened to thee'; and if that be once done, thou shalt have a happy life on it in the worst times. Faith hath this privilege, never to be ashamed; it takes sanctuary in God, and sits and sings under the shadow of his wings, as David speaks'.
Whence the unsettledness of mens minds in trouble, or when it is near, but because they are far off from God? The heart is shaken as the leaves of the tree with the wind", there is no stability of spirit; God is not sanctified in it, and no wonder, for he is not known. Strange! the ignorance of God, and the precious promises of his word! the most living and dying strangers to him! When trouble comes they have not him a known refuge, but are to begin to seek after him, and to inquire the way to him; they cannot go to him as acquainted, and engaged by his own covenant with them.
Others have einpty knowledge, and can discourse of scripture, and sermons, and spiritual comforts, and yet have none of that fear and trust that quiets the soul: notions of God in their heads, but God not sanctified in their hearts.
If you will be advised, this is the way to have a high and strong spirit indeed, and to be above troubles and fears. Seek for a more lively and divine knowledge of God than most as yet have, and rest not till Psal. xliii. 5. * Matt. vii. 7.
t Psal. lxiji.7. u Isa, vii. 2.
you bring him into your hearts, and then you shall rest indeed on him.
Sanctify him by fearing him; Let him be your fear and your dread*; fear not only outward gross offences, do not only fear an oath, and the profanation of the Lord's holy day, but fear all irregular earthly desires : fear the distempered affecting any thing, entertaining any thing in the secret of your hearts that may give distaste to your beloved. Take heed, respect the great person you have in your company, who lodges within you, the Holy Spirit. Grieve him not, for it will turn to your own grief if you do; for all your comfort is in his hand, and flows from him. If you be but in heart dallying with sin, it will unfit you for suffering outward troubles, and make your spirit low and base in the day of trial: yea, it will fill you with inward trouble, and disturb that peace, which, I am sure, you that know it, esteem more than all the peace and flourishing of this world. Outward troubles do not molest nor stir inward peace, but an unholy unsanctified affection doth. All the winds without, cause not an earthquake, but that within its own bowels doth. Christians are much their own enemies in unwary walking; hereby they deprive themselves of those comforts they might have in God; and so are often al most as perplexed and full of fears, upon small occasions, as worldlings are.
Sanctify him by believing. Study the main question, your reconcilement with him ; labour to bring that to some point, and then in all other occurrences faith will uphold you, by relying on God as now on yours; for those three things make up the soul's peace: 1st. To have right apprehensions of God, looking on him in Christ, and according to that covenant that holds in him. And, 2dly, a particular apprehension, that is, laying hold on himn in that covenant, as gracious and merciful, as satisfied and appeased in Christ, smelling, in his sacrifice, (which was himself), a savour of rest, and setting himself
* Isa. viii. 13.
before me, that I may rely on him in that notion. 3dly. A persuasion, that by so relying on him my soul is at one, yea, is one with him. Yet, while this is wanting, as to a believer it may be, the other is our duty, to sanctify the Lord in believing the word of grace, and believing on him; reposing on his word; and this even severed from the other doth deliver, in a good measure, from distracting fears and troubles, and sets the soul at safety.
Whence is it, that, in times of persecution or trouble, men are troubled within and racked with fears, but because instead of God, their hearts are glued to those things that are in hazard by those troubles without, their estates, or their ease, or their lives? The soul destitute of God esteems so highly of such things, that it cannot but exceedingly feel when they are in danger, and fear their loss most, gaping after some imagined good, and saying, Oh! if I had but this, I were well. But then, such or such a thing may step in and break all my projects: and this troubles the poor spirit of man that hath no higher designs, but such as are so easily blasted, and still as any thing in man lifts up his soul to vanity, it must needs fall down again into vexation. There is a word or two in the Hebrew for idols, that signify withal troubles', and terrors", and so it is certainly. All our idols prove so to us; they fill us with nothing but anguish and troubles, with unprofitable cares and fears, that are good for nothing, but to be fit punishments of that folly out of which they arise. The ardent love or obstinate desire of prosperity, or wealth, or credit in the world, carries with it, as inseparably tied to it, a bundle of fears and inward troubles: They that will be rich, says the apostle“, fall into a snare, and many noisome and hurtful lusts, and, as he adds in the next verse, they pierce themselves through with many sorrows. He that hath set his heart upon an estate, or a commodious dwelling and lands, or upon an healthful and long life, cannot but be in continued alarms of renewed fears concerning them; especially in troublous times, the least rumour of any thing that threateneth his deprivement of those advantages strikes him to the heart; because his heart is in them. I am well seated, thinks he, and I am of a sound strong constitution, and may have many a good day. Oh! but besides the arrows of pestilence that are flying round about, the sword of a cruel enemy is not far off. This will affright and trouble a heart void of God; but, if thou wouldst readily answer and dispel all these, and such like fears, sanctify the Lord God in thy. heart. The soul that eyes God renounces these things, looks on them at a great distance, as things far from the heart, and therefore that cannot easily trouble it, but it looks, on God as within the heart, sanctifies him in it, and rests on him.
y [Tigirim], Isa. xlv. 16. from [Tszus), arctavit, hostiliter egit.
z [Miphletzeth], 1 Kings xv. 13. from [Phalatz], contremiscere, et [Emim], Job xv. 25. from [Aim), formidabilis, terrificus.
a 1 Tim. vi, 9.
The word of God cures the many foolish hopes and fears that we are naturally sick of, by representing to us hopes and fears of a far higher nature, which swallow up and drown the other: as inundations and land-floods do the little ditches in those meadows that they overflow. Fear not, says our Saviour, him that can kill the body, what then? Fear must have some work, he adds, but fear Him, that can kill both soul and body. Thus in the passage cited here, Fear not their fear, but sanctify the Lord, and let him be your fear and your dread. And so for the hopes of the world, care not though you
lose them for God; there is a hope in you (as it follows here) that is far above them.
Be ready always to give an answer.] The real christian is all for Christ, hath given up all right of himself to his Lord and master; to be all his, to do and suffer for him; and therefore sure will not fail in this which is least, to speak for him upon all occa. , sions. If he sanctify him in his heart, the tongue
b Matt. x, 28.
will follow, and be ready [arçès avonoríar] to give an answer, a defence or apology. Of this here are four things to be noted.
Ist. The need of it, Men will ask an account.
2dly. The matter or subject of it, the hope in you.
3dly. The manner, with meekness and fear. 4thly. The faculty for it, Be ready.
1. For the first, the need of a defence or apology. Religion is always the thing in the world that hath the greatest calumnies and prejudices cast upon it; and this engages those that love it to endeavour to clear and disburthen it of them. This they do chiefly by the tract of their lives. The saints, by their blameless actions and patient sufferings, do write most real and convincing apologies ; yet sometimes it is expedient, yea, necessary to add verbal defences, and to vindicate not so much themselves, as their Lord and his truth, suffering in the reproaches cast upon them. Did they rest in their own persons, a regardless contempt of them were usually the fittest answer"; but where the holy profession of christians is likely to receive either the main or the indirect blow, and a word of defence may do any thing to ward it off, there we ought not to spare to do it.
Christian prudence goes a great way in the regulating of this ; for holy things are not to be cast to dogs. Some are not capable of rational answers, especially in divine things; they were not only lost upon them, but religion indignified by contesting. But we are to answer every one that inquires a reuson or an account; which supposes something receptive of it. We ought to judge ourselves engaged to give it, be it an enemy, if he will hear: if it gain him not, it may in part convince and cool him; much more be it one that ingenuously inquires for satisfaction, and possibly inclines to receive the truth, but is prejudiced against it by false misrepresentations of it: as satan and the profane world are very inventive of such shapes and colours, as may. - Spreta vilcscerent.
d Matt. vii. 6.