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creature does not deserve the name of a man, that in reality he is far worse than a beast, and thac he might properly enough be called an incarnate devil? And shall we so dreadfully dishonour the blessed God, as to think thus of him? .O no: The God whom we serve hath said, "In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and by the angel of his presence he saved them." Therefore we may chearfully sing,
"Since all the downward tracts of time,
"God's watchful eye surveys,
"Or regulate our ways?
"Nor less when he denies, .'
"Even crosses from his gracious hand,
"Are blessings in disguise."
It is true, that the dealings of God, even with his own children, are sometimes exceedingly mysterious: we do not, and we cannot, at present, understand his designs; "he hath his way in the whirlwind, and his path in the mighty waters;" we can only say, O the depth of his counsels! but we cannot fathom them: yet we may still say, The will of the Lord be done: I am a poor short-sighted creature; I cannot choose, and he cannot err; I will therefore leave my cause in his hand, it can never miscarry there. But the dispensations of Divine Providence towards us, may not only be exceedingly mysterious, like the wheels in Ezekiel's vision; there is a wheel within a wheel, so that we do not see which way they will -turn; but they may also be exceedingly painful and distressing; yet still we must sanctify the Lord God in our hearts: He does not, even now, vary from his grand design; he still intends, that even these heavy trials shall work together for our good; therefore we may say with holy Job, " He knoweth the way that I take; when he hath tried me I shall come forth as gold:" And we may sing with Dr. Byrom,
"With steady pace, thy course of duty run;
"God nothing does, or suffers to be done,
44 But thou wouldest do thyself, could st thou but see
." The end of all events, as well as he."
But alas! we cannot see the end of all events, and therefore we are very apt to make the same mistake that good old Jacob did, in a fit of unbelief, and say, "All these things are against me;" when at the same time, the Lord is intending, only to fulfil his own wise and gracious designs, in us and by us. The fime will come when .we shall see, that some of the heavies and most distressing trials that we ever met with, were some of the greatest blessings that ever the Lord bestowed upon us. Hence our own poet sings,
"How happy the sorrowful man,
"Whose sorrow is sent from above, "Indulg'd with a visit of pain,
"Chastiz'd by omnipotent love; "The Author of all his distress,
"He comes by affliction to know, "And God he in heaven shall bless, "That ever he suffer'd below."
And this must be so, if these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are designed to work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. We have only one point to secure, and then all will be well with us, to live in the constant exercise of that grace which the Lord hath given us, to walk uprightly before him, and to sanctify him in our hearts, on all occasions; and then it shall certainly follow, that " out of the eater shall come forth meat, and out of the strong shall come forth sweetness;" and we shall see and be fully satisfied, that pur gracious God hath nothing but goodness and mercy to bestow upon us; and therefore though he may sometimes put us to pain, we must still say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."
3. To sanctify the Lord God in pur hearts also implies, that we have an entire confidence in him, considered as an infinitely gracious God. Now this is by far the most comfortable consideration of the three: For although it would be difficult enough to reconcile it to the infinite wisdom of God, if he were to deal in any other way with those \yho fear and honour his sacred Name, than that which has been observed: Yet if he was not infinitely good and gracious, as w ell as infinitely wise and powerful, unbelief would find a place in our hearts, and we should be apt enough to say, " Will the Lord exer,cise either his wisdom or his power for the good of such a poor creature as I am?" But when we see, that in every part of his holy word he hath revealed himself to us, as a God infinitely gracious, then there is no place left for unbelief, or any degree of evil reasoning. Arid hath he not declared his own infinitely graciov;s Name to us himself? 4* The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin." And hath he not said, that "he hath pleasure in the prosperity of them that fear him?" Do not all the precious promise?, and all the gracious declarations of his holy word, with one voice declare to us, that he is ever waiting to communicate all the unsearchable riches of his grace to those who walk'in his way ?" Behold, as a father pitieth his own children, so hath the Lord pity and compassion upon them that fear him." Again, "The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing \yill he withhold from them that walk uprightly." And as if this was not enough, he bath also said, " The Lord shall guide thee continually, and make fat thy bones, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and thy soul shall be as a watered garden, and as a spring of water, whose waters fail not." And if possible, he speaks to us in a more tender and affectionate manner still: "But Sion said, God hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me." Here we see Sion, or the church of God, in distress and all beclouded with unbelief; "God hath forsaken me, yea, my God hath forgotten me:" But what is the answer of God? '^Cana woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion upon the son of her womb? They may forget, yet will I never forget thee; for I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, and thy walls are continually before me. With what astonishing tenderness, with what pity and love, does the Lord speak to us here: "Can a woman forget her child, nay, her sucking child, that she should not have compassion upon the son of her womb? She may forget," saith the Lord; it is possible! There have been such instances as this in the world, such brutes in human shape, as a wom'an to have no compassion on the son of her womb; "yet will I never forget thee; for I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." The words are strongly figurative: We are not to suppose the Lord hath a hand of flesh and bones like us; but that he hath us as much in remembrance, at all times and on all occasions, as we should have any particular friend, whose name we might have wrote upon the palms of our hand; yea, and abundantly more so: " For he that keepeth Israel never slumbers, and his eye-lids never sleep."
We are called to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, not only by acknowledging all this to be true, but by embracing and relying upon it; by chearfully and believingly giving up ourselves into the hand of this infinitely gracious God, so that he may accomplish all his wise and gracious designs in us and by us; that he may fulfil all his precious promises ' to us, so that we may experience all the riches of his mercy and love in Christ Jesus, and being sanctified and saved to the uttermost, may bring forth fruit abundantly to his glory.
Secondly, To sanctify the Lord God in our hearts implies farther, a fixed determination to give unto the Lord the glory
that is his just due, for the manifold mercies which we receive at his hand.
It makes no small part of our happiness, while we ate in the present world, to know and feel that we are i Features wholly dependant upon God, both for our bei, g and blessedness, that we receive all oul- good things from him, and to be truly grateful and unfeignedly thankful, for all his mercies, whether temporal or spiritual. Yet although we confess this, there is nothing more natural than for us to ascribe that to ourselves, or to some other creature, which we ought to ascribe wholly to the blessed God. There is in the human mind a natural propensity to atheisin, to deny the hand of God in the events of his providence, to account for all things from the consideration of second causes, and to reason God out of the world. We vainly and presumptuously "sacrifice to c ur pyvn net, and burn incense to puf own drag," as the Prophet speaks; but by doing so we greatly dishonour the Lord: And he is a jealous God, and would not that his honour should be given to another, or his praise to graven images. That it is a very grievous crime in the sight of the Lord, thus to dishonour him, will clearly appear from the exemplary manner in which lie has punished this sin in some particular persons.
Take notice of the conduct of God tdwards Moses and Aaron, while the children of Israel sojourned in the wilder, ness. At a certain time they murmured against Moses, because they had no water to drink; the Lord heard their complaints, and he commanded Moses to gather the heads of the people together, unto a rock which he promised to shew him: "- And thou shalt speak unto the rock," said God, " in the presence of the elders of the people, and I will cause water to flow from thence, that they may drink." Moses did so; he gathered the rulers of the people together unto the rock, but instead of speaking to the rock, as the Lord commanded him, he spake unto the people and said, " Shall we bring you water out of this rock, ye rebels. And he struck the rock with the rod which he had in his hand." Shall we? npt pod? that is, Aaron and I? But the Lord reproved them, and said., u Because ye sanctified me not, to give glory to my Name, in the presence of the elders of the people: neither thou nor Aaron shall go in and possess that good land, which I promised to your fathers." And although Moses earnestly entreated the Lord to reverse this sentence, in this he was not heard; for although the Lord pardoned their sin, yet he executed the sentence, for both Moses and Aaron died in the wilderness, and never entered into the land of promise.
2. We learn the same thing from the conduct of God toWards a person «f a very different character, namely, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He being highly exalted in his own mind, and walking upon the top of his magnificent palace, and taking a view of that prodigious city, then the queea of the known world, he vainly and presumptuously said, *' Is not this great Babylon which I have built, for the glory of my majesty, and for the house of my kingdom?" But the words no sooner dropped from his lips than a voice came from heaven to him, and he was driven out from among men, and .had his abode -with the beasts of the field, until he was made sensible that the Most High God reigneth in the kingdoms of men, and giveth them to whomsoever he will.
3. The same thing appears from the conduct of God towards a person of the same stamp with the former, namely, Herod, king of the Jews: He being clothed in royal apparel on his birthday, made an oration to the people, a vain-glorious speech, "and they gave a shout, and said, It is the voice of a God, and not of a man." And because he rebuked them not, but received this vain-glory to himself, the angel of the Lord smote him, and he was eaten with worms, and died in a miserable manner.
From all these examples we learn, how foul a crime it. is to withhold that glory from the blessed God, which is his just due, for the innumerable mercies which we receive at his hand: We ought to be deeply sensible, that we are entirely dependant upon God every moment, for the continuance of our being, for our life, and breath, and every thing belonging thereto: We ought therefore, with hearts full of gratitude and love, to devote our life, our all, to him, and to live wholly to his glory. Are we not indebted to God for the use of our reason, our understanding, and memory; Do we not sometimes see some of our fellow-creatures deprived of these great mercies? And do we not know that the Lord can withdraw any, or all of them from us, whensoever he will? But while he continues them to us, should we not be deeply sensible of his goodness, and should we not improve them all for the honour of that God, whose gifts they are? Are we not indebted lo him also, for our health and strength, our food and raiment, and all the blessings of this life? And ought we not to sanctify him in our hearts, on account of them, by improving them all to the very best of purposes, to the honour of that blessed God, who deals so bountifully with us-?
But more especially, do we experience the light of the Holy Spirit, shining in our understanding, so that We are made acquainted with the things belonging to our everlasting, peace? O how ought we to praise the Lord for his goodness, herein extended unto us! How completely wretched and to what