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detected and reproved his ignorance and face, and lo! God hath showed me thy pride, by answering him, " Thou couldst children also." "When the apostles had have no power at all against me, except it the sentence of death in themselves,” God were given thee from above." And as dispelled their fears, and preserved their the power of God is supreme, so is it like- lives, in spite of all the rage and cunning wise everlasting. “The Lord, the Creator of their persecutors. And thus, “in the of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, mount of the Lord" it hath often "been neither is weary.'
His arm is never seen :" deliverance came when death was shortened that it cannot save; neither expected; or, according to the prophetic age nor exercise can impair its vigor; style of Zechariah, (chap. xiv. 7.) " at evenwhat he did yesterday he can do to-day, ing time:" when, according to the course and repeat it as often as his people have of nature, nothing was looked for but occasion for it. This was the foundation deepening shades and increasing darkness, of that expostulatory address, (Isaiah li. "light" hath suddenly sprung up, and 9.) “ Awake, awake, put on strength, the thick clouds have fled and vanished arm of the Lord; awake as in the ancient away. Here then is a solid ground of days, in the generations of old. Art not confidence and hope: He that careth for thou it that hath cut Rahab, and wound- us, not only knoweth all things, but can ed the dragon ?" To which God replied, do all things. He giveth power to the “ I, even I, am he that comforteth you : faint, and to them that have no might he who art thou then that thou shouldst be increaseth strength. “Fear not,” saith he, afraid of a man that shall die, and of the " for I am with thee: be not dismayed, son of man which shall be made as grass ? for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that yea I will help thee, yea I will uphold hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid thee, with the right hand of my rightthe foundations of the earth ? and hast eousness. Have we not then the most feared continually every day, because of powerful encouragement to cast our care, the fury of the oppressor, as if he were our whole care, upon God? And still ready to destroy ? And where is the fury more, when I add, of the oppressor? I am the Lord thy 3dly. That he who is so wise in heart, God, that divided the sea, whose waters and mighty in strength; so wonderful in roared: the Lord of Hosts is my name.” counsel, and excellent in working; is His power reacheth to the heart of man, likewise possessed of infinite goodness. to which no creature can have immediate Like as a father pitieth his children, so
even the hearts of kings are in the Lord pitieth them that fear_him. his hand, and he turneth them as the “God is love," said the apostle John; rivers of water. Thus he promised to and well might he say so, who was one of Jeremiah," that he would cause the the heralds of that joyful proclamation, enemy to entreat him well in the day of “God was in Christ reconciling the world evil." Who but the Lord of man's heart unto himself, not imputing their trespasses could have said unto Moab, and said it unto them.' Here their is a foundation with efficacy, “Let mine outcasts dwell that is able to carry all the weight a bewith thee, Moab; be thou a covert to liever can lay upon it; for “if God spared them from the face of the spoiler ?” | Dot his own Son, but delivered him up for Thus, when it pleaseth him, he can open us all, how shall he not with him also a sanctuary for his people in the midst of freely give us all things?” What can he their foes, and make these very foes the withhold from those upon whom he hath protectors of his people. In short, “ with already bestowed his own dear Son, and God all things are possible.” He is able enabled, by his Spirit, thankfully to reto do exceeding abundantly above all that ceive him as the sunspeakable gift” of we can ask or think. This good old Ja- God to men. How firm then are the cob gratefully acknowledged, when he grounds of the believer's hope? With met with his darling son Joseph, whose what humble, but triumphant confidence, supposed death he had long and bitterly may he cast his care upon God, whose lamented: “I had not thought to see thyl wisdom knoweth all things, whose power can do all things, and whose unbounded hearts, and even fight against him with the goodlness doth constantly incline him to be fruits of his bounty? If you think coolly stow every needful blessing upon his people? upon the matter, I am almost persuaded
As I have made it my business, in every you will blush to ask it. branch of the subject, to keep the persons How then are you to dispose of your in your eye to whom the exhortation is ad- cares ?-What shall I say? I might tell dressed, it is almost unnecessary to remind you, that your anxiety will do you no you, in the conclusion, that the comfort of good; and therefore it were best to lay all I have said must be confined to those it aside, and take things as they happen, who are Christians indeed. None else are without murmuring. But this were only the objects of that peculiar care which the to amuse you; for the burden would still apostle speaks of; and therefore to them press you with its weight, and all my reaonly the privilege belongs of casting all soning would amount to nothing more than their care upon God. Permit me now to a cold, unavailing advice to struggle with add, that as it is their privilege, so it is it as you can. But if your cares be very likewise their duty; and they dishonor painful, though I cannot encourage you to themselves, and reproach their Father, go directly to God with them in your prewhen they give way to anxious, disquieting sent state, yet I shall suggest a hint which cares upon any account whatsoever. We by the blessing of God may be of use to may justly say to such, as Jonadab said you. It hath often been observed, that one to Amnon, “Why art thou, being the great care will swallow up many others of king's son, lean from day to day ?" Carry smaller importance, and even banish them all your grievances to him who is both from the mind altogether. Thus, in a able and willing to redress them. Make storm at sea, the most covetous worldlings use of thy birth-right, O Christian! and have been known to throw their most cast thy cares upon him that careth for precious goods overboard with their own thee. Your very reliance upon him, in the hands, when no other means could be way of duty, your leaning upon his arm, if found to keep the ship above water. This I may so express it, while you are using points out a remedy; and it is the only the appointed means, insures his protection remedy that occurs to me. according to that gracious promise, (Isaiah awakened to a proper concern about the xxyi. 3.) " Thou wilt keep him in perfect life of your souls, this would have a powerpeace, whose mind is stayed upon thee, be ful influence to cure your anxiety about cause he trusteth in thee."
lesser things. Were you brought to cry But what shall those do who are of an out with the jailor, “What shall I do to opposite character ? May not they too cast be saved ?” you would find neither leisure their care upon God, as the God of nature, nor inclination to ask these disquieting, the Father of their spirits, and the former anxious questions, "What shall I eat? of their bodies, in whom they live and and what shall I drink? and wherewithal move? Doth not his providence extend shall I be clothed ?” All these would be to all the creatures he hath made ? Doth swallowed up in your concern for“ the one he not clothe the lilies, and feed the thing needful.” And give me leave to add, ravens, and hear the lions when they cry that when this becomes your care, I shall to him for food? All this is true; and, in then be at full liberty to invite you to cast one sense, all men without exception are it upon God; nay, I shall be able to assure the objects of his care. But this can yield you, that he will not only accept the charge, no comfort to impenitent, unbelieving sin- but likewise give you what yon care for, ners; for the same God who sustains them even a complete and everlasting salvation. in life, and gives them what they possess, O then“ seek the Lord while he is to be and most ungratefully abuse, hath express found; call upon him while he is near. ly declared, " that though hand join in May God determine and enable you to hand, the wicked shall not pass unpunish- take this course, and make your worldly ed.” I appeal to yourselves, is it reasonable cares the means of leading your hearts to expect, that God shall take the burden beyond and above this world, to seek rest of your cares, while you deny him your and happiness in himself. Amen.
is sufficient for thee."
rial for us to know. The words plainly SERMON XXXV.
import, that it was both violent and pain.
ful; and the effects it produced as eviSUFFICIENCY OF GOD'S GRACE.
dently show, that it was appointed in
mercy, and wisely calculated for his spir2 CORIN. XII. 9.-—" He said unto me, my grace
itual advantage. This eminent saint, who but a little before was caught up into
paradise, now humbles himself as low as In the foregoing verses of this chapter, the dust. He falls down upon his knees, the apostle relates an extraordinary reve and earnestly implores deliverance from lation he had been favored with, above four this trial. Once and again he repeats his teen years before the date of this epistle. supplication, but gets no answer. This He informs us, that "he was caught up could not fail to heighten his distress. A into paradise," or “the third heaven messenger of Satan is sent to buffet him; (whether in the body, or out of the body, and God, by his silence, seems deaf to his he could not tell), where he heard un- entreaties. But still this is made to work speakable words, which it is not lawful,” for his good: He becomes more and more or possible, “ for a man to utter." This sensible of his own weakness; he draws probably happened soon after his conver- nearer to a throne of grace, and renews sion; and was graciously intended, either his suit with increasing fervor and importo remove those doubts and fears which tunity. “For this thing,” says he, (verse the resemblance of his former conduct 8.) “I besought the Lord thrice, that it might naturally occasion, or rather to for- might depart from me.” At length the tify his mind against the trials and suffer- answer comes in the words of my text: ings he was afterwards to meet with in And he said unto me, My grace is suffithe course of his ministry. One should cient for thee. imagine, that such a glorious manifestation You will observe, that, after all his encould not be liable to any abuse. When treaties, the Lord did not grant him the Satan would have tempted our Lord to precise thing he had asked; but he gave worship him, it was by giving him a sight him what was better, and more suited to and offer of all the kingdoms of this world; his condition. Paul needed an antidote and we readily admit, that such a tempta- against spiritual pride; and as the thorn tion might prove very fatal to us. Earth in the flesh was necessary for that end, it ly objects have indeed too powerful a ten- would have been no act of kindness to dency to inflame our sensual appetites, and have taken it away: and therefore our to alienate our hearts from God; but sure- Lord, who knew his servant better than ly no danger can be apprehended from a he knew himself, prolongs the trial, but view of heaven. The glories of the up- at the same time assures him of grace to per world, a display of those things above support him under it. This messenger of upon which God himself hath commanded Satan must not be sent away, lest thou us to set our affection, cannot be supposed shouldst forget thy dependence upon me; to have any bad effect.
but I will stand by thee, and strengthen And no doubt this will be the case, thee to bear his assaults and buffetings; when we shall be perfectly freed from all that, feeling thine own weakness, and the remainders of corruption. But we learn, power of my grace, thy soul may be kept from what follows, that in our present at an equal distance from presumption on state of weakness and depravity, even a the one hand, and from distrust on the view of heaven might prove a snare to our other; both which extremes are utterly souls. Holy Paul, as we read (verse 7.) inconsistent with the duties of my service, was in danger of being “exalted above and the happiness of my people. measure through the abundance of the According to this view of the words, revelations; for which cause there was I propose, in dependence upon divine aid, given to him a thorn in the flesh, the mes- I. To guard you against pride and selfsenger of Satan to buffet him.” What confidence, by giving you a true representthis particular exercise was is not mate. Iation of that weak and impotent state into
which we are fallen by our apostasy from to do of his good pleasure ?" Surely, God; and,
my brethren, if we judge of the Scriptures II. For your encouragement, I shall by the same rules that we judge of any lead your thoughts to that all-sufficient other books; nay, unless we suppose that grace which is treasured up in Christ, they were artfully contrived to mislead whereby the weakest of his people are en- us; we must be sensible, that the absolute abled to endure the buffetings of Satan, necessity of supernatural grace, is not and shall finally prevail against all their only clearly asserted in Scripture, but that spiritual enemies.
this doctrine is so intimately connected I. That I may guard you against pride with all the other parts of divine revelation, and self-confidence, I shall lay before you a that the whole must stand or fall with it. plain and scriptural account of that weak This is further confirmed by the con. and impotent state into which we are fall. curring testimony of all the saints of whose en by our apostasy from God.
experiences, in the spiritual life, we have It were easy to quote a variety of pas- any accounts recorded in Scripture. They sages which expressly assert the corrup- all join in the most humiliating acknowl tion of human nature, and man's utter in- edgments of their guilt, pollution, and ability to do any thing that can be effec- weakness; disclaiming the praise of any tual for his own recovery: but I need only good thing that was in them, and ascribappeal to every man who reads the sacred ing the undivided glory of all that they oracles with seriousness and impartiality, possessed, or hoped to enjoy, to the free whether this doth not appear to be a unmerited grace of God. How pathetical. Scriptural doctrine from the very face of ly did David bewail the corruption of his the revelation, and the uniform strain of nature, (Psal
. li. 5.) “Behold, I was the word of God.
shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my moDoth not the method of salvation by ther conceive me.” And what a deep Jesus Christ necessarily suppose the whole sense did he express of his inability to human race to be in a state of guilt, pol- cleanse or purify himself, when he addresslution, and weakness? Do not the pro-ed God in such terms as these, (verse 10.) mises of taking away the heart of stone, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and and giving a heart of flesh, plainly imply, renew a right spirit within me." But lest that these works are peculiar to God, and any should be so injurious as to suspect that man is unable to do such great things that David might have spoken after this for himself? Would God command us to manner, to apologize for his criminal conpray to him for these inestimable bless- duct in the matter of Uriah, which gave ings, if we were able to procure them by occasion to that psalm ; let us hear what our own wisdom and strength ? nay, would the apostle Paul saith of himself, whose it not be a mocking of God to apply to character is not liable to any such objechim for that which we are already pos- tion, (Rom. vii. 18. et seq.) “I know, that sessed of, or may acquire when we choose, in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no without his interposition or aid ? Besides, good thing; for to will is present with me; are we not told, that every good and but how to perform that which is good, Í perfect gift is from above, and cometh find not.--I find then a law, that when I down from the Father of lights ? Is would do good, evil is present with me. not our sanctification every where attri- For I delight in the law of God, after the buted to the Spirit of God ? and are not inward inan. But I see another law in my the saints denominated “God's workman members, warring against the law of my ship, created in Christ Jesus unto good mind, and bringing me into captivity to works, which God hath before ordained, the law of sin, which is in my
members.” that they should walk in them ? " Are Upon which he cries out,
10 wretched not "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gen. man that I am, who shall deliver me from tleness, goodness, faith, meekness, tem- the body of this death !" Here then is perance," expressly said to be “the fruits one who was not behind the very chief of the Spirit ?” nay, are we not told, that apostles; who, before his conversion, it is God who worketh in us “to will and lived a Pharisee, and afterwards could say at the bar of the Jewish Sanhedrim, “I put in remembrance of these things, though have lived in all good conscience before God they know them, and be established in the unto this day;" who, conscious of the grace present truth.” Have you experienced the he had received, expressed himself thus in power of divine grace ? have you tasted the presence of Agrippa," I would to God, and seen that the Lord is good ? then that not only thou, but all that hear me this surely it is meet that your souls should day, were both almost and altogether such as bless him. But, o be humble! and give I am, except these bonds." Yet this chosen check to any self-exalting thoughts. Convessel ingenuously confesseth his natural sider both where and what you are. You depravity, mourns over the remainders of are still upon earth, part of the wilderness a body of sin, and ascribes those eminent lieth before you, and you must pass through gifts and graces with which his soul was the valley and shadow of death before you so remarkably enriched, to God, and to can enter into the promised land. Many him alone, saying, (1 Cor. xv. 10.) “By seeds of corruption still lodge in your nathe
grace of God I am what I am : and his ture; many enemies beset you, both withgrace which was bestowed upon me, was in and without; the fiery darts of the not in vain; but I labored more abun- wicked one fly thick on every side : and dantly than they all : yet not I, but the nothing less than Omnipotence can protect grace of God which was with me.” Now and sustain
Now and sustain you, and carry you forward in what should have induced Paul to speak safety to the end of your journey. If you after this manner if it had not been true ? trust in any measure to yourselves, if you Surely this was not the way to make a depend upon the grace you have already figure in the world. Had that been his received, as if that would be sufficient for aim, it would have answered his purpose the time to come, you shall soon get a far better to have represented his high at- proof of your ignorance and folly. You tainments as the fruit of his own labor need daily grace as much as daily bread; and diligence, rather than a mere alms to for, separated from Christ, you can do which he had no previous title. Surely nothing. Beware, O Christians ! of unnothing but a regard to truth could have dertaking any thing in your own strength; drawn from him such humble, repeated ac- for that which is begun in self-confidence knowledgments; and therefore his testimo- will most assuredly end in shame and ny is altogether beyond exception. And disappointment. Go forth in the name when I add, that he wrote under the of the Lord of hosts, saying, with good immediate direction and influence of the king Jehoshaphat, (2 Chron. xx. 21.)“ 0 Spirit of God, we are furnished with the Lord, we know not what to do, but our most convincing evidence of the absolute eyes are towards thee.” And for your ennecessity of divine grace, for beginning couragement, I shall now, and carrying forward a work of sanctifica- II. In the second place, Lead your tion in the
soul of an apostate creature. thoughts to that all-sufficient grace which is They whose religion lies wholly in spec- treasured up in Christ; whereby the weakest ulation, who have acquired a refined of his people are enabled to endure the bufsystem of opinions, but never tried in good fetings of Satan, and shall finally be made earnest to reduce them to practice, may to triumph over all their spiritual enemies. dispute against this doctrine, and flatter This is a most comfortable doctrine, and themselves into a vain conceit of the vigor cannot fail to beget joy and confidence in and sufficiency of the natural powers they every believing soul. How completely possess. But all who are exercised to wretched would the discovery of our weakgodliness, who have put their strength to ness make us, had we no knowledge where the trial, and they only are competent help is to be found, or no hope that help judges in a question of this nature) know would be granted to us! But, blessed be the truth of what I have been proving, and God, neither of these is the case. For, will be ready to attest it from their own 1st. An overflowing fountain of grace experience. Nevertheless, as pride is the is set open to our view.
6. The Word was last part of the old man that dies, it will made flesh,” saith the apostle John," and be profitable even for such persons to “ be dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory,