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calls you to lose your houses and liberties, that is your weaning time; and though there be some frowardness more than ordinary, yet your God and Father will bear with it: yet be humbled for it, for it is your weaning time.
Oh, but that time when a man is driven from house and habitation, is a time wherein a man is exposed to great temptations; exposed to poverty, to reproach, many miseries and sad temptations; and I shall never be able to stand out those.
True, that time indeed is exposed to sad temptations. And we read of David, that when he came to the king of Achish, he changed his behaviour, and let fall his spittle upon his beard. Take heed that you do not see some that are good people, before such a condition as this come, when they are thus tried, do change their behaviour, and their spittle falls on their beards. Oh, take heed that you do not change your behaviour in this condition; which, that you may not do, fear, fear always. Fear is the keeper of innocency.* He is to be feared most, that doth fear least; and he is to be feared least, that doth fear most.
Oh, but I am afraid my children, my charge, should miscarry in that condition.
I will tell you what Chrysostom ť saith upon his return out of his banishment, wherein he compares the church that he had left unto Sarah in the hands of Pharaoh. Pharaoh, saith he, seeing Sarah to be a beautiful fair woman, desired her, Gen. xii.; she was fain to leave her husband, and her husband her. She was in the hands of Pharaoh; yet Pharaoh perceiving afterward that she was another man's wife, she returned again to her own husband untouched and chaste. So, saith he, though my charge hath been taken from me, and hath been as it were in the hands of Pharaoh ; yet God hath preserved you untouched and chaste, you have watched though I have slept. Surely if God calls for our liberties, and scattereth us from our charge, he will keep our charge; if you keep the charge of God's house, he will keep the charge of your houses. Did not David preserve Mephibosheth, when the other sons of Saul were slain; and why Mephibosheth preserved, a lame and deformed man? but because there was entire love between Jonathan and David, and so for Jonathan's sake he did
And so if * Timor innocentiæ custos est.
† Chrysostom. tom iv.
there be any entire love between you and Jesus Christ, though your children and charge be Mephibosheths, that even grow awry, the Lord Jesus Christ will take care of them and preserve them. If you can say that there is as much love in your heart towards Christ, as there was in Jonathan towards David ; I can say, that there shall be as much care in Christ towards your children and posterity and charge, as there was in David towards Jonathan's. Wherefore, my beloved, either you do trust God with your souls for your eternal mansions, or you do not: if you do not, why say you that you do trust God for your eternities, and for your souls? and if you do trust God with your souls for an eternal mansion, why should you not trust him with your children for a temporal mansion ? Certainly, if God's charge be your charge, your charge shall be his charge; and being so, you have his bond that they shall never want their daily bread. Wherefore think on all these things; think of them for the present, and in the future, if such a condition fall, and the Lord give us understanding in all things.
PREACHED AT ST. MARGARET's, New Fish STREET, MARCH 23, 1645.
In every thing give thanks : for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”—1 Thess. v. 18.
What is written to the Thessalonians, is written for our instruction. What they are commanded as christians, we are commanded as christians.
In the latter part of this chapter, several exhortations were given to them. Among the rest this is one; in which ye have,
The exhortation itself: “ In every thing give thanks.”
And, the reason enforcing that exhortation : “ For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
“ In every thing give thanks :" in prosperity and in adversity, whether things go well or whether they go ill; in every thing give thanks. He had said before, verses 16, 17, “ Rejoice evermore, pray continually.” Unto those exhortations he adds no such reason
Because it may seem strange that a man should give thanks in every thing, he adds also, “ For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” So that plainly here lies this observation, or truth, upon the words:
It is the will of God, even our Father, that we should be thankful to him in every thing.
When we are full, it will be granted that then we are to give thanks to God. Deut. viii. 10. But ye are not only to give thanks when ye are full, but when ye are empty; not only when ye are strong, but when ye are weak; not only when ye are delivered from the hands of your enemy, but when you are delivered into the hands of your enemy. Therefore Job says, i. 21., “ The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be his name.” Job was plundered by the enemy, and yet he does bless the Lord; Job was emptied
of a full estate, and yet he does bless the Lord; Job had lost his dear children, and yet he does bless the Lord; Job was in a great measure given up into the hands of Satan, and yet he blesses the Lord : for which he is commended.
So then, it is our duty, and the will of God our Father, that we should not only be thankful, but we should be thankful in every thing.
For, there is always excellency enough in God and Christ, to entertain your thankfulness, to draw out your thankfulness and praises. Indeed, there is a formal or notional difference, between praising God, and giving thanks to God. Praises respect the excellencies of God himself; thankfulness respects the benefits we receive from God. I praise God, when I honour him for the excellency that is in him; I am thankful to God, when I bless him for those benefits I receive from him. But now in Scripture, these are put one for the other ordinarily: and whatsoever our condition be, whether high or low, rich or poor, full or empty, there is enough excellency in Christ for to draw out our praises : and therefore in every thing we are to be thankful.
There is no condition so sad, but somewhat is good that is mingled with it; no darkness so dark, but some light withal ; no misery so miserable, but some mercy withal. Heaven is all mercy, and hell is all misery : but this life is made up of both, it is a twilight, some good in every condition; and therefore, in every thing we are to give thanks unto God.
It is the duty of a christian to be like unto Jesus Christ : he was thankful in every thing. When he had not whereon to lay his head, “Father, I thank thee,” Matt. xi. 25. When he was to go to his agony, and sweat drops of blood; they sung a hymn, says the text, a psalm of praise. So, when a christian is to go to his agony: whatever agony he meets withal, there is rise enough yet for his thankfulness: in every thing be thankful. As the apostle hath it in Eph. v. 20,
Giving thanks always, for all things unto God, even the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
You will say, Suppose that a christian meet with some long, heavy, and sharp affliction : is he to be thankful then ; to be thankful in that condition ?
Yes; look I pray into Isa, xxiv. 15,“Wherefore,” says he, glorify ye the Lord in the fires, even the name of the Lord
of Israel in the isles of the sea.” Glorify ye the Lord in the fires ; so ye read it. Some rather translate it thus: “Glorify ye
the Lord in doctrines ;" Urim, the same word that we translate, Urim, for the Urim and Thummim: but I would rather translate it vallies ; so Calvin : for doctrines does not suit with that which follows : “Glorify ye the Lord in the vallies, even the name of the Lord God of Israel in the isles of the sea.” A valley is a low place, and dark; now, says he, though ye be in a dark condition, removed from light; Glorify the Lord in the vallies, glorify the Lord there. And good reason why the saints should do so; as ye will see, if ye will look into Zech. i. 8: " I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle-trees that were in the bottom, and behind him were there red horses, speckled and white.” This man upon a red horse plainly must be meant Christ: who is here attended with red horses, speckled and white, to send forth and dispatch into the several parts of the world upon his design. These other red horses, they are behind him, waiting upon him : now where is Christ ? he is among the myrtle-trees : and where are the myrtle-trees? they are in the bottom. The saints and people of God for their fruitfulness they are called myrtle-trees, and sometimes their condition is as a valley; they are in the bottom; but yet they are myrtle-trees in the bottom, and Jesus Christ is among these myrtle-trees, though they be in a bottom, though they be in a valley; and therefore no wonder that we should praise, and glorify God in this condition. - Beloved, what we may rejoice in, that we may praise God for. Now, says the apostle, “ Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted; and let the brother of high degree rejoice in that he is made low," James i. 9, 10: “ Rejoice in tribulation,” Rom. v. 3. A man is to rejoice more for the opportunity of exercising grace, than in all prosperity: there are some graces that cannot be exercised but in tribulation, cannot be exercised in heaven; patience, and the like. Now then, when tribulation comes, a christian should thus look upon it: I have hereby an opportunity of exercising that grace, that I had not before, and then he will bless God, and then he will be thankful in that condition : when God takes away one mercy, he gives another : if he take away Moses, he will give a Joshua : if he take away