« AnteriorContinuar »
misery, just as he thinks them, they are altered, debased, and straitened as soon as ever they come xaro our thoughts. See an excellent instance in Gen. xlviiL. 11. " I had not thought to see "thy face, and lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed." A surprizing providence; and thus the divine power works in a sphere above all the thoughts, prayers, and expectations of men.
3. It works beyond ail probabilities, and rational conjectures pf men; this Almighty power hath created deliverances for the people of God, when things have been brought to the lowest ebb, and all the means of salvation have been hid from their eyes. We have divers famous instances of this in scripture, wherein we may observe a remarkable gradation in the working of this Almighty power: 'Tis said, in 2 Kings xv. 2(5, 47. "The Lord faw the affliction of Israel, that it was very "bitter, for there was not any shut up, or any left, nor any V helper for Israel." A deplorable state! How inevitable was their ruin to the eye of fense? Well might it be called a bitter affliction; yet from this immediate power arose for them a sweet and unexpected salvation: And, if we look into 2 Cor. i. 9, ia ,we shall find the apostles and choicest Christians of those times, giving up themselves as lost men; all ways of escaping being .quite out of sight, for so much those words signify, We had the sentence of death in ourselves; i.e. We yielded ourselves for dead men. But though they were sentenced to death, yea, ..though they sentenced themselves, this power, whish wrought above all their thoughts, and rational conjectures, reprived them. And yet one step farther, in Ezek, xxxvii. 4, 5,6,7. .The people of God arc there represented as actually dead, yea, as \a their graves, yea,, as rotted in their graves, aud their very bones dry, like those that are dead of old; fa utterly improbable was their recovery: ».¥et by the work, ing of this Almighty power, which fubdueth all things to itself, their graves in Babylon were opened, the breath of lise Came into them, bone came to bone, and there stood up a very .great army; it was the working of hi* power above the thoughts of man's heart, which gave the ground of that famous proverb, Gen, xxii. 14. " In the mount of the Lord it "shall be seen." And the ground of that famous promise, Zech. xiv. 7. " At evening time it shall be light;" i. e. Light .shall unexpectedly spring up, When all men according to the course and order of nature, expect nothing but increasing darkness. , How extensive is the power of God in its glorious operations! ,
Seel. III. Let us view the power of God in its relation te the promises, for so it becomes our fanctuary in the day of troubl:; if the power of God be the chamber, it is the proraise of God which is that golden key that opens it. And if we will consult the scriptures in this matter, we fhall find the almighty power of God made over to his people by promise, for many excellent ends and uses in the day of their trouble As,
1. To uphold and support them, when their own strength fails, ifa.xli. 10. '* Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not "dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee, yea, I "will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee, with the right-hand "of my righteousness." And which of the faints have not sensibly felt these everlasting arms underneath their spirits, when afflictions have pressed them above their own strength! So runs the promise to Paul in 2 Cor. xii. 9. " My grace is "sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weak"ness;" ;'. e. It is made known in thy weakness. Our weakness adds nothing to God's power, it doth not make his power perfect, but it hath the better advantage of its discovery, and puts forth itself more signally and conspicuously in our weakness; as the stars which never shine so gloriously, as in the darkest night.
2. To preserve them in all their dangers, to which they lie exposed in soul and body, 1 Pet. i. 5. "You are kept (faith the "apostle) by the mighty power of God." Kept as in a garrison; this is their arm every morning, as it is Ifa. xxxiii. 2. " O "Lord be gracious unto us, we have waited for thee, be thou "their arm every morning, our falvation also in the time of "trouble." The arm is that member which is fitted for the defence of the body, and for that end so placed by the God of nature, that it may guard every part above and below it; but »s good they were bound behind our backs, for any help they can give us in some cases: It is God's arm that defends us and not our own. This invisible power of God makes the faints the world's wonder. Pfal. Ixxi. 7. "I am as a wonder to many, but "thou art my strong refuge." To fee the poor defenceless creatures preserved in the midst of furious enemies, that is just matter of wonder; but God being their invisible refuge that solves the wonder; to this end the power of God is by promise engaged to bis people, Ifa. xxvii. 3. " I the Lord do keep it, I "will water it every moment, lest any hurt it, I will keep it, "night and day." And thus they subsist in the midst of dangers and troubles; as the burning bush (the emblem of the church) did amidst the devouring flames, Exod. iii 3.
3. To deliver them out of their distresses, so runs the promise, Psal. xci. 14, 15. "Because he hath set his love upon tBe'y "therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because "he hath known my name; he shall call upon me, and I will * answer him, I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him "and honour him." And Jer. xxx. 7. "Alas for that day is "great, so that none is like it: It is even the time of Jacob's "trouble, but ye shall be fared out of it." And surely there can be no distress so great, no cafe of believers so forlon; bflt,
1. It is easy with God to save them out of it. Are they to the eye of sense lost, as hopeless as men in the grave? Yet see Ezek. xxxvii. 12. "O my people, I will open your graves, and "cause you to come out of your graves, and bring you into the *' land of Israel." And he doth whatever he doth easily, with a word, Psal. xliv. 4. "Thou art my king, O God, command "deliverances for Jacob." And it requireth no more violent motion to do it, than he that swimmeth in the water uses, Isa. xxv. 11. A gentle easy motion of the hand doth it.
2. And as the power ot God can deliver them easily, so speedily. Their deliverance is often wrought by way of sorprizal, Isa. xvii. 14. " Behold, at evening-tide trouble, and in the <* morning he is~ not." So the church prays, in Psal. cxxxvi. 14. "Turn again our captivity, as the streams in the south." The southern countries are dry, the streams there come not in a gentle and stow current, but being occasioned by violent sudden spouti of rain, they presently overflow the country, and as soon retire: So speedily can the power of God free his people from their dangers and fears.
3. Yea, such is the excellency of his delivering power, that he can save alone, without any contribution of creature-aids. So Isa. lix. 16. "He wondered that there was no intercessor; there"fore his hand brought falvation unto him, and his righteous"ness sustained him." We read indeed Judg. v. 23. of helping the Lord, but that is not to express his need, but their duty; we have continual need of God, but he hath no need of us: he uses instruments, but not out of necessity, his arm alone can save us, be the danger never so great, or the visible means of deliverance never so remote.
4. Once more let us view this chamber of divine power, as it is continually opened by the hand of providence, to receive and secure the people of God in all their dangers. It is said, 2 Chron. xvi. 9. "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout "the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them '* whose heart is perfect towards him." Where you have an excellent account of the immediacy, univerfality, and efficacy of DivinC Provideuce, as it uses and applies this Divine power for theguard and defence of that people, who are its charge; he doth not only set angels to watch for them, but his own eyes gaard them, even those seven eyes of providence mentioned, Zech. iii. 9. which never jkep nor/lumber; for they are faid to run continually to and fro, and that not in this or that particular ptace only, for the service of some more eminent and excellent persons; but through the whole earth. It is an encompassing and surrounding providence which hath its eye upon all whole hearts are upright; all the faints are within the line of its care and protection; the eye of providence discovereth all their dangers, and its arm defends them, for he shews himself strong in their behalf.
The secret, but the almighty efficacy of providence is also excellently described to us in Ezek. i. 8. where the angels are said to have their hands under their wings, working secretly and tJndilcernibly, but very effectually for the faints committed to their charge. Like unto which is that in Hab. iii. 4. where it is faid of God, that "he had horns coming out of his hands, and there "was the hiding of his power." The hand is the instrument of action, denoting God's active power, and the horns coming out of them are the glorious rays and beams of that power shining forth in the falvation of his people. O that we could fun ourselves in those clears ul and reviving beams of divine power, by considering how gloriously they have broken forth, and shone out for the falvation of his people in all ages. So it did for Israel at tbe red-sea, Exod. xv. 6. So for Johoshaphat in that great strait, 2 Chron. xx. 12, 15. And so in the time of Htzekiah, 2 Kings xix. 3, 7. Yea, in all ages from the beginning of the world the faints have been sheltered under these wings of Divine power, Isa. li. 9, 1 o. Thus providence hath hanged and adorned this chamber of Divine Power with the delightful histories of the church's manifold preservations by it. . SetlionW. Having taken a short view of this glorious chamber of God's power, absolutely in itself, and also in relation to his promises attd providences, it remains now, that I press and persuade all the people of God, under their fears and dangers, according to God's gracious invitation, to enter into it, shut their doors, and to behold with delight this glorious attribute working for them in all their exigencies and distresses.
1. Enter into this chamber of divine power, all ye that fear the Lord, and hide yourselves there in those dangerous and distressful days; let me fay to you as the prophet did to th« poor . Vol. IV. Q_
distressed Jews, Zcch. ix. i %. "Turn ye to yoar strong hold, ye "prisoners of hope." Strong holds might they fay: why, where are they? The walls of Jei ufalem are in the dust, the temple burnt with fire, Sion an heap, what meanest thou in telling ns of our strong holds? Why, admit all this, yet there is satis praejidii in uno Deo, refuge enough for you in God alone, as Calvin excellently notes upon that place. Christian, rtrt not thou able to fetch a good subsistence for thy loul by faith, out of the almighty power of God? The renowned faints of old did so. Abraham, Ifaac, and Jacob met with as many difficulties and plunges ef trouble in their time, as ever you did, dr fhall meet with i yet, by the exercise of then- faith upon thia attribute, they lived comfortably, and why cannot you? Exod. vi. 3 " I appeared (faith God) unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by the name of God Almighty." They kept house, and: feasted by faith upon this name of mine; O that we could do as Abraham did, Rom. iv. 21. We have the fame attribute-, but, alas, we have not such a faith as his was, to improve it. It is easy to believe the almighty power of God in a calm, but hot so easy to resign ourselves to it, and securely rest upon it in a storm of adversity; butoh what peace and rest would our faith procure us by the free use and exercise of it this way ! to assist 5 our faith in this difficulty wherein we find the faith of a Mose9 sometimes staggered, let me briefly offer you these four following encouragements.
1. Consider how your gracious God hath engaged this bil almighty power, by promise and covenant for the security of his people- God pawned it, as it were, to Abraham, in that famous promise, Gen. xvii. 1. "lam the almighty God, walk *' thou before me, aud be thou perfect." And Gen. xv. 1. " Fear *' not, Abraham, I am thy shield." Say not, this was Abraham's peculiar privilege, for if thou consult Hos xii. 4. and Heb> xiii. 5, 6. you will find that believers in these days have as good a title to the promises made in those days, as those worthies had to whom they were immedtaiely made.
2. If you be believers, your relation to God strdngly engaReth his power for you, as well as his own promises, "Surety, "(faith God) they are my people, children that will not lie; fb» "be became their Saviour," Ifa. lxiii. 8. We fay relations have the least of entity, but the greatest efficacy; you find it fo in your own experience, let a wife child, or friend be in imminent clanger, and it fhall engage all the power you have to succour and deliver them.
3. This glorious power of God is engaged for you by the