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in them,” &c. yet there is a generation whom the Lord will preserve and deliver in such a general desolation as this. But who are these? This Psalm tells us, “they are sueh as do trust in the Lord,” those that trust in the Lord in the time of a plague.
But why is there such a promise of protection entailed upon those that trust in the Lord in the time of a plague? Why, first of all, God will be all that to us which we make him, and build upon him for: as in Psalm xxxi. 2, 3, “Be thou my rock, for thou art my rock, be thou my defence, for thou art my fortress :" in the latter end of the second verse, “Be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress.” Lord, be that unto me, which I build upon thee for. Thou art my rock, therefore be my rock : this is his argument. Now, by faith and trusting in the Lord, we do make God our protector, and therefore he will be a protector to those that trust unto him in time of a plague.
Those that honour providence, shall be kept by providence. Jacob, what a wonderful great estate he attained unto! he presented Esau with a present fit for a king to give. How came he by this great estate? There was a controversy betwixt Laban and him, and he puts the business upon providence, and providence made him rich : those that honour providence, shall be kept by providence. Faith and trusting in God in the time of a plague, honours providence; therefore they that trust in God in such a day shall be kept.
Thereby God is engaged to help and deliver. In Psalm xxxvii. last verse, “ The Lord shall help them and deliver them, he shall save them because they trust in him ; because they trust in him, God is engaged to help and deliver, if men trust in him. So in Isaiah xxvi. 3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." Our very trusting in the Lord for deliverance and protection, doth engage God to deliver and protect.
When did God do ever any great thing, but it was put upon faith? Ye read of great victories in the time of the Old Testament, and these were put upon faith: ye read of great cures in the time of the New Testament, and those were put upon faith. When did God do any great
thing, but it was put upon faith? Now to be preserved and protected in the time of a plague, when thousands fall on the right hand and on our left, it is a great matter, next unto a miracle; therefore it must be put upon faith.
Again: God will honour those persons, and those graces most, that honour him most: of all graces faith honours God most, therefore God will honour that most; no wonder, then, that this protection is put upon faith and trusting in the Lord.
One thing more: there lies a blessing in course for all those that put themselves under the wing of the Lord in trusting him. In the second of Ruth, verse 12th, says Boaz to Ruth, “The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust;" under whose wings thou hast put thyself. It is faith, and faith only, that puts us under the wings of God. Psalm lvii. at the 1st verse, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me, for my soul trusteth in thee; yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast:" it is faith that doth put a man under the wing of God. In Psalm xxxvi. 7, “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wing.” Faith, of all other graces, puts a man under the shadow of God's wing, and there lies a blessing in course, I say, for all those that put themselves under God's wing; therefore no wonder that this great promise of protection and deliverance in the time of a plague is entailed upon trusting in God.
Well, but then, thirdly, what faith is this, what trust is that which God hath promised protection and deliverance to in the time of a plague? what act of faith is it? what faith is it? I answer, first, there is a faith of persuasion, called faith, whereby men are persuaded and verily believe that they shall not die, nor fall by the hand of the plague. This is well; but I do not find in the scist Psalm, that this protection is entailed upon this persuasion, neither do I find this faith here mentioned.
There is also a faith of reliance, whereby a man doth rely upon God for salvation; this is a justifying faith, true justifying faith ; this is true faith indeed: but I do not find in this Psalm, that this promise of protection and deliverance
in the time of a plague is entailed upon this, nor that this is here mentioned.
But again, there is a faith, I may call it a faith of recourse unto God, whereby a man doth betake himself unto God for shelter, for protection, as to his habitation : when other men do run, one this way, another that way, to their hiding-places : in the time of a plague, for a man then to betake himself to God as to his habitation, I think this is the faith that is here spoken of, in this xcist Psalm : for do but mark the words of the Psalm ; at the 1st verse, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High," in the hidingplace of the Most High; as if he should say, When others run from the plague and pestilence, and run to their hidingplaces, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High,” that betakes himself to God as his hiding-place and his habitation, he shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, shall be protected. And so at the 9th verse, “Because thou hast made the Lord which is my refuge, even the Most High thy habitation, there shall no evil befal thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling;" as if he should say to us, In time of a plague, men are running and looking out for habitations and hiding-places; but because thou hast made the Lord thy habitation, and hast recourse to him as thy habitation, “no evil shall befal thee, neither shall the plague come nigh thy dwelling:” and again, at the 11th verse it is said, “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways," the ways of thy calling; as if he should say, In the time of a plague, men will be very apt to leave station and calling, and so run away from the plague and pestilence; but, saith he, “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways,” th ways of thy calling and place; that is, look when a man in the time of a plague shall conscientiously keep his station and place, and betake himself to God as his habitation : this is the faith that is here spoken of, and this is the faith that God hath promised protection to, here in this scist Psalm.
But you will say then, Is it not lawful to fly in the time of persecution ? Yes, without all doubt it is, so you carry God along with you for your habitation, so you make God your habitation still; a man may lawfully seek the preservation of his life and the life of his family.
But stay, the plague is called the hand of God; and can a man flee from the hand of God ? Mark a little for answer : the hand of God is either mediate or immediate: suppose that the plague or pestilence were the immediate hand of God, and nothing of nature or infection in it; yet it is lawful to fly; it is lawful to go out of that place where the immediate hand of God rests. In the xvith of Numbers there was an immediate hand of God upon Korah, Dathan and Abiram, for the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up; here was an immediate hand of God: yet the Lord speaks unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, in the 21st verse, “ Separate yourselves from amongst this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment;" and at the 24th verse, “Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get ye up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan and Abiram;" which was the immediate hand of God, and yet notwithstanding they were to go from among them that the hand of God fell upon, though it were an immediate hand. And in the following part of the chapter the same expression is used for the plague: in the 44th verse, “ They murmured, and the Lord struck them with the plague.” Well, the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, in the 45th verse, “Get you up from amongst this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment : the same that is said before is said here concerning the plague. So that I say, although the plague were the immediate hand of God, and there were nothing of nature or infection in it, yet it were lawful to fly.
But, again, the plague or pestilence is not so much the hand of God, as if there were no infection in it; for if there were no infection in it, if there were not something of nature in it, it could not be cured by remedies, nothing would do good; therefore it is not so the hand of God as if there were nothing of infection in it; but is called the hand of God, because God's providence hath a special hand in the sending and ordering of it. So now the famine may be called God's hand; God sends it: “I will call for a famine upon the land,” says God: a famine is of God's sending, and therefore may I not fly from a famine? Abraham, when there was a famine in the land, went down to Abimelech. Isaac, when there was a famine in the land, went down: and Jacob, when there was a famine in the land, went down to Egypt. And
is it lawful to fly in the time of famine, and is it not lawful to fly in the time of a plague ? Certainly the one as well as the other.
But then, you will say, if the Lord hath promised protection and deliverance to those that trust in him in the time of a plague, whether is it possible for a believer to die by a plague, seeing the whole Psalm is made to those; and promise such protection to those that trust in the Lord, whether may a believer die of the plague? Without all doubt he may. Seventy thousand died in David's time; do you think there was not a good man among them? It is recorded of several good men, that they died of the plague; but you know what is said, “ All things fall alike to good and bad :" if a good man may not die of the plague, how can all things fall alike to good and bad ?
But how then is the promise fulfilled, if that a believer may die by the hand of a plague? Yes, very well; for possibly a believer may be out of his way, as good Josiah was, and died, though God promised him that he should die in peace. No disparagement to the promise, for he was out of his way; and this promise of protection in the time of a plague is made to those believers that are in God's way; “ He will give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways;" therefore if a believer be out of God's way and die, it is no disparagement to this promise.
But, again, you must know that this promise of protection and deliverance is not made to a believer as a believer, but as acting and exercising faith ; for though a man be a believer, if he do not act and exercise his faith, this promise will not reach him; therefore if a believer die, not exercising faith and trusting in God, no disparagement to the promise.
Again, you must know that this promise is not made to a believer barely exercising and acting faith; but such an act of faith and such an act of trust as you have heard of: therefore, though a believer die, and die exercising some faith, yet this promise is fulfilled, for it is made to such an act of faith as you have heard of.
But then again, further, you must know this promise is not made to a believer absolutely, but in opposition to the wicked; therefore it is said, the Lord having promised this to a believer," that no evil should befal him, though a thou