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500, is your convoy to accompany and secure you, till it see Job sase into your harbour of eternal rest.
(2.) You have heard how the, care of God is engaged for you bypromise; now fee how it actuates, and exerts itself for the people of God in the various methods of providence; and here, oh here is the sweetest pleasure of the Christian life, a delight far transcending all the delights of this life- Sit down Christian in this chamber also, and make but such observations upon the care of thy God as follow; and then tell me whether the world, with all its pleasures and delights, can give thee such another entertainment.
1. Reflect upon the constant, sweet, and suitable provisions, that from time to time have been prepared for thee, and thine, by this care of thy God; from whencesoever thy wants did come, I am sure from hence came thy supplies, it hath enabled thee to return the fame answer the disciples did to that question, Luke xxii. 35. "Lacked ye any thing, and they said nothing."
2. Reflect with admiration upon the various difficulties of your lives, wherein, your thoughts have been entangled, and out of which you have been extricated and delivered by the care of God over you; how oft have your thoughts been like a ravelled skeyn of silk, sbentangled and perplexed with the difficulties and fears before you, that you could find no end, but the longer you thought, the more you were puzzied, till you have left thinking, and fell to praying; and there you have found the right end to wind up all your thoughts upon the bottom of peace and sweet contentment, according to that direction, Psal. xxxvii. 5. " Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust allo in "him, and he shall bring it to pass."
3. Observe, with a melting heart; how the care os thy God hath disposed and directed thy way to unforeseen advantages: Had he not ordered thy steps when, and as he did, thou hadst not been in possession of those temporal and spiritual mercies that sweeten thy life at this day. Surely the steps of good men are ordered by the Lord: and as for thee, Christian, what reason hast thou, with an heart overflowing with love and thankfulness, to look up and fay, My Father, thou ar't the guide of my youth? It is sweet to live by faith upon divine care. Oh what a serene life might we live, careful for nothing, but making known our requests unto God in every thing, Phil. iv. 6. calling all our care on him that careth for us, 1 Pet. v. 7. perplexing our thoughts about nothing, but rolling every burden Upon godly faith. Thus lived holy Museulus, when reduced to extreme poverty and danger at the same time; then it w» that he solaced his foul with that comfortable distich, a good lesson for others;
Eft Deus in caelis, qui providus omnia curat,
Credentes nujqam deferuijfe potest. i, e. There is a God above, who, as he provides for, and takes care of all, can never forsake those that believe in him.
The provident care of his heavenly Father, made his heart as quiet as the child at the breast. Christian, thou knowest not what distressful days are coming upon the earth, nor what personal trials shall befal thee in this world; but I advise thee, as thou valuest the tranquiliry and comfort of thy life, shut op thyself by faith in this chamber of divine care; it is thy best security in this world: Reflect frequently, and thankfully, n> pon the manifold supports, supplies, and salvations thou hast already had from this fountain of mercies, and be not discouraged at pew difficulties. ' When an eminent Christian was told of some that way-laid him, to destroy him, his answer was, Si Deus mei cur am non habet, quid vivo? In like manner thou mayst fay, if God had not taken care for thee, how couldst thou have lived till now? how couldst thou have-r* ver-lived so many troubles, fears, and dangers as thou hast done r*
Opening the sixth and last chamber, viz. The love of God, as a refi.ing-place to believing fouls in evil times.
Set!. I. H O U G H all the attributes in the name or cliamX bers of this house of God are glorious and excellent, yet this of love is tranfcendently glorious: Of this room Jt may be faid as it was of Solomon's royal chariot, Cant. iii. 10. "The midst thereof is paved with love." In this attribute the glory of God is signally and eminently manifested, r John iv. y, 10. And upon this foundation the hopes and comforts of all believers are built, and founded, Rom. viii. 35. "Who shall "separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or dif"tress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or •' sword?" He defies and despises them all, because neither of them alone, nor altogether by their united strength, can unclasp the arms of divine love, in which believers are safely enfolded. Jp this attribute God's people,- by faith, entrench themleJwSj and of it a believer faith, Hie murus aheneus eflo, this (ball be my strong-hold and fortress in the day of trouble. And well may we 16 esteem and reckon it, if we consider,
i. That wherever the special love of God goes, there the special presence of God goes also, John xiv. 23. "He shall "be loved of ray Father, and we will come unto him, and make "our abode with him." And O how secure and fafe must those be (however times govern) with whom God himself maketh his abode? For as the Pfalmist speaks, Pfal. xci. 1. " He that "dwells in th£ secret place of the Most High, shall abide under "the shadow of the Almighty," And he that is over-shadowed by an almighty power, need not fear how many mighty enemies combine against him.
2. Wherever the special love of God is placed, that person becomes precious and highly valuable in the eyes of God; he appretiates and estimates such a man as his peculiar treasure, which naturally and necessarily draws and spreads the wing of divine care over him for his protection, Deut. xxxiii. 12. "The "beloved of the Lord shall dwell in fafety by him, and the Lord "shall cover him all the day long." Things of greatest value are always kept in fafest custody.
3. Upon whomsoever the special love of God is set, there all events and issues of troubles are sure to be ovet-ruled to the eternal advantage of that soul, Rom. viii. 28. Which consideration alone is sufficient to unsting all the troubles in the world, and make the beloved of the Lord shout and triumph in the midst of tribulations.
But let us enter yet farther into this glorious chamber of divine love, and more particularly view the admirable properties thereof; though, when all is done, it will be found a love passing knowledge; our thoughts may admire, but can never measure it.
1. And first, you will find it an ancient love, whose spring is in eternity itself. Believer, God is thine ancient friend, who forefaw and loved thee before thou, yea, before this world was in being; the fruits and effects thereof thou gatherest in time, but the root that produces them was before all times, Prov. viii. 22, 23. "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, "before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from "the beginning, or ever the earth was." Thus was the love of God contriving, and providing the best of mercies in Christ for us; while, as yet, there were no such creatures in the world, por a world prepared to receive us.
J. The |ove of Cod to his people is a free, and altogether undeserved love. It must needs be so, feeing it preceedel our very being; which had it not done, yet no motives bad been found iu us, to allure it to us more than others, Deut, vii. j. " The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor chuse ** you, because ye were more in number than any people (for "ye were the fewest of all people) but because the Lord loved ** you." So that we cannot find one stone of our merit in the foundation of this love; for thole whom it embraces in its arms, are immerentes, i£r male merentes, ill-deserving, as well as undeserving. We were loved of God, before we were lovely io ourselves; it is freely pitched upon us, not purchased by os, Isa. xliii. 24.
3. The love of God to believers is a bountiful love, streaming forth continually mercies both innumerable and invaluable to their souls and bodies, 2 Pet. i. 3. Christian, it would quietly weary thine arm, yea, let me fay, the arm of an angel, hat to write down the thousandth part of the mercies which have already flowed out of this precious fountain to thee; though all thou hast received, or shalt receive in this world, are but the beginnings of mercy, and first-fruits of the love of God to thee; 'tis the love of God which daily loads thee with benefits, as the expression is, Psal. lxviii. 19. And if thou art daily loaded with mercies, what an heap of mercies will the mercies of thy whole life be?
4. The love of God to believers is a distinguishing love; not the portion of all, no, nor yet of many besides thee, 1 Cor. i. 26. The generality of the world dwell in the room of common providence, not ia the chamber of special love, into which God hath admitted thee: this consideration should make thee break out in admiration, as it is, John xix. 2.2. "Lord, how "is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to me, and not to the "world?"
5. The love of God to believers is a love transcendent to all creature-love; it moves in an higher sphere than the love of any creature doth, Rom, v. 6, 7, 8. We read of Jacob's love to llachel, which is so celebrated in the sacred story for the servour of it; and yet all that it enabled him to suffer, was but the summer's beat and the winter's cold; a trifle to what the love of Christ engaged, and enabled him to soffer for thy sake. We read also of the love of David to Absalom, which made him wish, would God 1 had died for thee, O Absalom, my soo, my son! This love was only manifested in a with, which, haply, might have been retracted to, had there been an exchaDgs to be made indeed: but the life of Christ, worth millions of his life, was actually and willirrgly slaked down for thy foul. We read of .the love of one dilciple manifested to another disciple in a cup of cold water; but Christ hath manifested his love to thee in pouring out his warmest heart blood for thy redemption. O what a transcendent love is the divine love .'
6. To conclude, (though alas, little is faid of the love of God,) it is an everlasting and unchangeable love. Hills and mountains shall sooner start from their bales, than his lovingkindness depart from his people, Ifa. liv. 10. Though he afflict: us, still he loves us, Pfal. lxxxix. 32, 33. Nay, though we grieve him, yet still he loves us, Mark xvi, 7. Tell the disciples, and tell Peter. Peter had grieved Christ, denied Christ, yet will he not renounce nor cast off Peter.
Sect. II. Well then, if God hath opened to your fouls such a chamber of love, where your souls may be ravished with daily delights, as well as secured from danger and ruin; O that you would enter into it'by faith, and dwell for ever in the love of God! I mean, clear up your interest in it, and then solace your souls in the delights of it. Need I to use an argument, or spend one motive to prese you to enter into such an heaven upon earth? If the deadncss of thy heart doth need it, take into consideration, reader, these few that follow.
Motive 1. Ponder with thyself how fad and miserable the case "will be with thee in the days of calamity and distress, if the love of God shall then be clouded to thy foul. In those days, such as love thee, will either be absent from thee, or impotent to help thee; all thy friends and familiars may be removed far off, aud whither then wilt thou turn, should God* be far off too? This was that evil which Jeremiah so vehemently deprecated, chap. xvii. ver. 17. Be not a terror unto me-y thou art my hope in the day of evil; q. d O Lord, my soul depends upon refreshment and comfort from thee, when all the springs of earthly comfort are dried up Shouldst thoti be a terror to me in the day of evil, it will be the most terrible disappointment that ever befel my soul; if thou be kind, I care not who be cruel; if I have the love of God, I value not the hatred of men; but if God be a terror, who, or what caa be a comforter? The love of God is the alone refuge to which; the gracious soul retreats, upon all creature difappointments, and failings, This, therefore, is the main thing to be feared against the evil day.
Motive 2. The knowledge and assurance of the love of God » a mercy attainable by a gracious foul, notwithstanding the imperfections of grace. Peter had his falls and failings as well