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very malice and wickedness of your enemies, who will be apt
to impute the ruin of the faints, to the defect of power in
Cod; from whence those excellent arguments are drawn, Num.
xiv. i 5. 16. "Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man,
"then the nations which have heard the fame of thee, will speak,
"saying, Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into
"the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain
"them in the wilderness." And again, Deut. xxxii. 26, 27. you
will find the Lord improving this argument for them himself; if
they do not plead it for themselves, he will. "I would scatter
* them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them
* to cease from among men, were it not that I feared the wrath "of the enemy, lest their adverfaries should behave them"selves strangely, aud lest they shouid fay, Our hand is high, "and the Lord hath not done all this" O see how much you ire beholden to the very rage of your enemies, for your deliverances from them!
4. To conclude, the-very reliance of ycrar souls by faith upon the power of God, your very leaning upon his arm engages it for your protection, Ifa. xxvi. 3. "Thou wilt keep him ia "perfect peace, whose mind is stayed oa thee, because he trust"eth in thee." Puzzle not yourselves therefore any longer about qualifications; but know that the very acting of your faith on God, the recumbency of your fouls upon him, is that which will engage him for your defence, how weak and defective soever thou art in other respects.
2. Having thus entered by faith into this chamber of divine power, the next counsel the text gives you, is, to shut the door behind you, i. e. after the acting of your faith, and the quiet repose of your souls upon God's almighty power; thea take heed lest unbelieving fears and jealousies creep in again, and disturb the rest of your fouls in God; you find a fad instance of this in Moses, Numb Xt. 21, 23. After so many glorious acts and triumphs of his faith, how were his heels tripped up by diffidence which crept in afterwards 1 Good mea may be posed with difficult providences, and made to stagger. The Israelites had lived upon miracles many years, yet Pfal. lxxviii. 20. "Can he give bread also?" Good Martha objects difficulty to Christ, John xi 39. " By this time he stiuk"eth." Oh! it is a glorious thing to give God the glory of his almighty power in difficult cases that we cannot comprehend. See Zech. viii. 6. "If it be marvellous in the eyes of the rem'* mit of this people ia th esc dayS, should it be as mar"vellous In mine eyes? faith the Lord of hosts." Difficulties are for men, but not for God: because it is marvellous in your eyes, must it be so in God's 1 Various objections will be apt to arise in your hearts to drive you out of this your refuge. As,
Object, 1. Oh! but the long continuance of our troubles and distresses will sink our Very hearts, Isa. xl. 27. "Why sayest "thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, my way is hid from "the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God."
Sol. But, oh! wait upon God without fainting, Heb. ii.3. "The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it "shall speak and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because "it will surfly come, it will not tarry."
Object. 2. Oh, but our former hopes and expectations of deliverance are frustrated, Jer viii. 15. " We looked for peace, "but no good came: and for a time of heakh, and behold *' trouble."
Sol. Oh, but yet be not discouraged: see how the Psalmist begins the Ixixth psalm with trembling, and ends it with triumph; the husbandman waiteth, and so must you.
Object. 3. But there is no sign or appearance of our deliverance.
Sol. What then, this is no new thing, Psal. Ixxiv. 9. " We "see not our signs, there is no more any prophet, neither is "there any among us that knoweth how long."
Object. 4. But all things work contrary to our hope.
Sol, Why, so did things with Abraham; yet fee, Rom. iv. 18. " Against hope, he believed in hope."
3. Observe further with delight, the outgoings and glorious workings of divine Power for you, and for the church in times of trouble; this is sweet entertainment for your souls, it is food for faith, Psal. Ixxiv. 14. "Thou brakest the heads of Leviathan "in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhahit"ing the wilderness." And here 1 beseech you behold and admire,
1. Its mysterious and admirable protection of the saints in all their dangers. They feed as sheep in the midst of wolves, Luke x. 3. They lie among them that are set on fire, Psal. Jvii. 4. " Their habitation is in the midst of deceit," Jer. ix. 6. Yet they are kept in safety by the mighty power of God.
2. Behold and admire it in casting the bonds of restraint upon your enemies, that though they would, yet they cannot hurt you; our dangers are visible, and our fears great, but our security and safety admirable, Ifa.Ii. 13, Thou hast feared con"tinnally every day, because of the fury of the oppressor, as "if he were ready to destroy; and where is the fury of the "oppressor?"
3. Behold its opening unexpected and unlikely refuges and securities for the faints, in their distresses; Isa. xvi. 4. •' Let * mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab, be thou a covert to "them from the face of the spoiler; for the extortioner is at an "end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of "the land." Rev. xii. 16. *' The earth hslped the woman, "and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood "which the dragon cast out of his mouth,"
4. Behold it frustrating all the designs of our enemies against us, Isa. liv. 17. " No weapon that is formed against thee shall "prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judg"meat thou shalt condemn. Behold, I have created the smith," Isa. liv. 16. q. d. He that created the smith, can order, as he pleaseth, the weapon made by him; hence our eaemies are not masters of their own designs.
Oh then depend upon this power of God, for it is your security; there is a twofold dependence, the one natural and necessary, the other elective.
1. Natural dependence, so all do, and must depend upon him.
2 Elective and voluntary, and so we all ought to depend upon him; and for your encouragement take this scripture, Psal. ix. 9, 10. "The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, "a refuge in times of trouble, and they that know thy name "will put their trust in thee, for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken "them that seek thee." And thus of the first attribute of God, prepared for the safety of his people in times of trouble.
Opening that glorious attribute of Divine Wisdom, as a second chamber of security to the faints in difficult times.
SeS.1. rpHE next chamber of divine protection, into j|. which I shall lead you, is the insinite wisdom of C)dS I call it the next, because I so find it placed in scripture, Job xxxvi. 5. " He is mighty in power and wisdom." Dan. ii. 20. " 'Wisdom and might are his." This attribute may be fitly called the council-chamber of heaven, where all things ar; contrived in the deepest wisdom, which are afterwards wrought in the world by power, Eph. i. n. *' He wurketh all things after the counsel of his own will.'! Counsel in the creature, implies weakness and defect; we are not able at one thought to fathom the depth of a* business, and therefore must deliberate and spend many thoughts about it, and when we have spent all our own thoughts, we are oft-times at a loss, and must, borrow help, and ask counsel of others; but in God it notes ihe perfection of his understanding, for as those acts of the creature which are the results of deliberation and couolel, are the height and top of all rational contrivement; so in its accommodation to God, it notes the excellent results of bis infinite and most perfect understanding.
Now this wisdom of God is to be considered either as abfo, lute, or relatively.
1. Absolutely in itself, and so it is, That 'whereby he mejl petfetlly and cxatlly knows himself, and all things -without himself, ordering and disposing them, in the most convenient manner, ti the glory of his own name.
Wi.dom comprehends two things, 1. Knowledge of the na- j ture of things, which, in the creature, is called science. a. Knowledge how to govern, order and dispose them, which, in the creature, is called prudence; these things in a man are but faint shadows of that which is in God, in the most absolute perfection; he fully knows himself, for his understanding is infinite, Psal. cxivti. 5. and the thoughts fie thinks towards us, Jer. xxix. t1. And as he perfectly understands himself, fe likewise all things that are without himself, Acts xv. 18. " Known .'' unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." Together with all the secret designs, thoughts, and purposes which lie hid from all others, in the inmost tecdTcs lof mens hearts, Pfal. cxxxix. 2.
And as be perfectly knows all things, so be fully understands how to govern and direct them to the best end, even the exalting of his own praise, Psal. civ. 24. Rom. xi. 36. " For of him, *' and through him, and to him are all things:" of him, as the efficient cause; through him, as the conserving cause: and to him, as the final cause. And in this wife disposition of all things, he hath a gracious respect to the good of his chosen, Rom. viii. 28. "All things shall werk together for good to *' them that love God." More particularly, the wisdom of God is to be considered by us, in its excellent properties, 1mongst which, these four following are eminently conspicuous as It is the
!. Original, 3. Perfect, and
2. Essential, 4. Only wisdom.
1. The wisdom of God is the original wisdom, from which lit the wisdom found in angeis or men is derived, and into that fountain we are directed to go, for supplies of wisdom, James15. " If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God." There is indeed a spirit in man, but it is the inspiration of the Almighty that giveift understanding, Job xxxii. 8. The natural faculty isoars, but the Illumination thereof is God's, the understanding, of the creature is the dial, which signifies nothing till the suo shine upon it.
a. God's wisdom is essential wisdom. Wisdom in the creature is but a quality separable from the subject; but in God it is his nature, hit very essence, he can as soon cease to be God, as to be most wise',
3. The wisdom of God is perfect wisdom, futt of itself, and exclusive of its contrary; the wisest of men are not wise at all times; the greatest wits are not without some mixture of madness; it is an high attainment in hum in wisdom to understand oar own weakness and folly; the deepest heads are but shallows, but the wisdom of God is an unsearchable depth, Rom. Xi. 33. "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and "knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, "and his ways past finding out!"
4. To conclude, the wisdom of God is the only wisdam; there is no wisdom without him, none against him, he is the only wise God, Jude verse 2c.
2. The wisdom of God must be considered relatively, and that in a double respect:
1. To his promises. 2. To his providences.
Se5!. II. Let us view it in its relation to the promises, where you shall find it made over by God to his people, for divers excellent uses and purposes in times of distress and danger. As,
1. It was made over to them in promises, for their direction and guidance when they knew not what to do, or which way to take. SoPfal. xxv. 9. " The meek will he guide in judgment, "and the meek will he teach his way;" and Ifa. Iviii. 11. " The "Lord shall guide thee continually;"' and Pfal. xxxiii. 8. "I will guide thee with mine eye." And with this the Pfalmist encourages himself, Pfal. lxxiii. 24. "Thou shalt guide "me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory." 0 what an invaluable mercy is this! we should make shipwreck hoth of our temporal and eternal mercies quickly, were it not for the guidance of divine wisdom.