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Exeter, a stone came and made my forehead bleed; I found at that very time the word came with double power to a laborer that was gazing at me, who was wounded at the same time by another stone; I felt for the lad more than for myself, went to a friend, and the lad came to me, “Sir," says he," the man gave me a wound, but Jesus healed me; I never had my bonds broke till I had my head broke.” I appeal to you whether you were not better when it was colder than now, because your nerves were braced up; you have a day like a dog day, now you are weak, and are obliged to fan yourselves: thus it is prosperity lulls the soul, and I fear christians are spoiled by it.
Whatever your trials are, let this be your prayer, Lord, though the bush is burning, let it not be consumed. I think that is too low, let it be thus: Lord, when the bush is burning, let it not burn lower as the fire does, but let me burn higher and higher : I thank thee, my God, for trouble; I thank thee, my God, for putting me into these afflictions one after another; I thoughi I could sing a requiem to myself, that I should have a little rest, but trouble came from that very quarter where I might reasonably expect the greatest comfort: I thank thee for knocking my hands off from the creature; Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. Thus you will go on blessing God to all eternity: by and by the bush shall be translated to the paradise of God; no burning bush in heaven, except the fire of love, wonder, and gratitude ; no trials there : troubles are limited to this earth; above, our enemies cannot reach us.
Perhaps some of you here are saying, burning bush, a bush burnt and not consumed! I do not know what to make of this nonsense. Come, come, go on, I am used to it, and I guess what are the thoughts of your heart. I pray God, that every one of you here may be afraid of comfort, lest they should be tossed about by the devil. What is it I have said ? How have I talked in such an unintelligible manner? Why, say you, what do you mean by a burning bush? Why, thou art the very man. How so? Why, you are burning with the devil in your hearts; you are burning with foppery, with nonsense, with the lust of the flesh, with the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; and if you do not get out of this state, as Lot said to his sons-in-law, ere long you shall be burning in hell, and not consumed : the same angel of the covenant who spake to Moses out of the bush, he shall ere long descend, surrounded with millions of the heavenly host, and sentence you to everlasting burnings. O you frighten me! Did you think I did not intend to frighten you? Would to God I might frighten
you enough! I believe it will be no harm for you to be frightened out of hell, to be frightened out of an unconverted state. O go and tell your companions that the madman said, that wicked men are as fire-brands of hell. God pluck you as brands out of that burning. Blessed be God, that there is yet a day of grace. Oh! that this might prove the accepted time. Oh! that this might prove the day of salvation. Oh! angel of the everlasting covenant, come down; thou blessed, dear comforter, have mercy, mercy, mercy upon the unconverted, upon our unconverted friends, upon the unconverted part of this auditory; speak, and it shall be done ; command, O Lord, and it shall come to pass : turn the burning bushes of the devil into burning bushes of the Son of God. Who knows but God may hear our prayer—who knows but God may hear this cry, I have seen, I have seen the afflictions of my people : the cry of the children of Israel is come up to me, and I am come down to deliver them. God grant this may be his word to you under all your trouble; God grant he may be your comforter. The Lord awaken you that are dead in sin, and though on the precipice of hell, God keep you
from tumbling in: and you that are God's burning bushes, God help you to stand to keep this coat of arms, to say when you go home, blessed be God, the bush is burning but not consumed. Amen! Even so, Lord Jesus. Amen.
THE LORD OUR LIGHT.
Isaiah lx. 19, 20.
The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness
shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down ; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
Upon reading these words, I cannot help thinking of what the royal Psalmist said, “ Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.” I am afraid, my dear hearers, that even believers themselves, who have tasted of the grace of God, reflect not and meditate as they ought, on the glorious
and amazing felicity they are called by the Spirit of God to experience in this life. We content ourselves too much with our hopes, and if we attain to a good hope through grace, we are ready to think we have arrived at the last step of the gospel ladder, and have nothing more to do but to rest in that hope, without ever attaining to an abiding, full assurance of faith. If we would examine the scriptures, and not choose to bring them down to us, but beg of God to raise our hearts up to them, we shall find the believer is made partaker of the grace of life, as well as an heir of it; the one is on earth, the other in heaven, and one is only a prelibation of the other. This blessed prophet Isaiah, speaking of the privileges of the children of God, saith, " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things that God hath prepared (and that even here below) for those that love him.” God grant we may be of that happy number! Hence, like an evangelist, the prophet draws aside the veil, and as one inspired by the Spirit of God, and filled with the rays of divine light, gives us a transporting view of the gospel state, and the glory which the church militant enjoys below, before its triumphant state above.
The text, probably, refers to the great change that should be made in the affairs of the Jews after their captivity, how wonderfully God would appear for them, after their harps had been long hanging on the willows, and they could make no other answer to their insulting foes than this mournful one, “How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land ?" The gospel is, doubtless, glad tidings of great joy; and however the people of God might be encouraged to hope that the time would come, when they should tread on the necks of their enemies, the prophet teaches them to look further, and lets them know that their happiness was not to consist in any external, created good, but in a larger possession of the graces and comforts of the Holy Ghost. So that this chapter speaks not only of a temporal deliverance and rest, which they should enjoy after their trouble, but a spiritual rest, which by faith, they should enter into here, as the earnest and pledge of the rest and enjoyment of the better world hereafter. As we know no more of heaven than is discovered by the eye of faith, for even St. Paul acknowledges, that the things he saw were unutterable, it is observable that heaven in scripture is described to us more by what it is not, than by what it is. So in the words of the text, Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself, for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Here are three negatives, and but one positive, namely, the Lord
shall be thy everlasting light, which is a beautiful allusion to the sun, that should teach us to spiritualize natural things; and if we feared God, and lived as near to him as we ought, there is no object of our bodily eyes but might improve our spiritual sight. You cannot suppose the prophet meant a time should come, when the sun should not literally go down, that there should not be night and day as now. God indeed permitted a man once to say, sun, stand thou still, and it was done: but, perhaps, there never will be any such thing again, till the sun is removed from its station, and the moon forsake her orbit, and be turned into blood. The word must therefore be understood in a figurative sense; and then comparing spiritual things with spiritual, it must certainly import, that Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shall be what the sun is to the visible world, that is, the light and life of all his people; I say, all the people of God. You see now, the sun shines on us all: I never heard that the sun said, Lord, I will not shine on the Presbyterians, I will not shine on the Independents, I will not shine on the people called Methodists, those great enthusiasts ; the sun never said yet, I will not shine on the Papists, the sun shines on all, which shows that Jesus Christ's love is open to all that are made willing by the Holy Ghost to accept of him; and therefore it is said, “the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings.” If you were all up this morning before the sun arose at five o'clock, how beautiful was his first appearance ! how pleasant to behold the flowers opening to the rising sun! I appeal to you yourselves, when you were looking out at the window, or walking about, or opening your shop, if in a spiritual frame, whether you did not say, arise thou Sun of Righteousness with healing under thy wings, on me. All that the natural sun is to the world, Jesus Christ is, and more, to his people; without the sun we should have no corn, or fruit of any kind : what a dark place would the world be without the sun, and how dark would the world be without Jesus Christ; and as the sun does really communicate its rays to the earth, the plants and all this lower creation, so the Son of God does really communicate his life and power to every new created soul, otherwise Christ is but a painted sun; and is Christ nothing but a painted Christ to us, while we receive heat and benefit by the Holy Ghost, on account of the virtue of his blood ? Sometimes the sun shines brighter than at other times, and does not always appear alike; clouds intervene and interrupt its rays : so it is between a renewed soul and the Lord Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness. O my brethren, I believe you know it by fatal experience: hold but your hand now, when the sun shines in its meridian, between it and you, and
if by the breadth of that you can keep the sun from you, ah! how very little earth will keep off thy heart from Jesus Christ. It was a very excellent saying of one of the ancients, that God never leaves a person till he first leaves him. Some people think God does so of his sovereignty, but I am apt to think when the sun shines, we shall find some people have taken up with something short of the Sun of Righteousness. I believe there are times, when the poor believer thinks his sun will quite go down, and rise no more; he loses his relish, his taste and evidence of divine things; not only are the rays intercepted for a while, but doubts and fears, a dreadful cloud of them, come on. Though I hold with a full assurance of faith, yet I am of opinion that it is not always in a like exercise and therefore pray that doubting people will not take hold of that, and say, blessed be God, I am in a doubting state, and I am content. The Lord deliver you from a mind to stay in prison, and prevent the devil from locking the door upon you, and keeping you there as long as he can. The Lord help you to come: come, come, and break out-of prison, that you may know how pleasant it is to behold the sun, and praise his name.
Sometimes, instead of the sun, there is only moon light, which shows the difference a believer feels in his soul, both in relation to grace and comfort. Both sun and moon give light, but O how far superior is the one to the other; the moon gives a very faint, uncertain light, waxes and wanes, and at best is almost nothing when compared with the light, and the blessed reviving heat of the sun. Hence, my brethren, this world sometimes is a world of mourners. It is said, that the days of our mourning shall be ended; for if the text refers to the future state, as no doubt it does, it means that the days of believers here below are very often mournful, trying and afflicting, though they end in joy, as our Lord intimates in his opening his gospel sermon almost with these very words, Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Some, perhaps, may think it is an odd kind of blessing; and though worldly people are fond of the fifth of Matthew, and wonder that Methodists and gospel ministers do not preach oftener on that chapter, I believe, when you come to preach and open that word, they will not like that chapter any more than any other, because they are for a joyful Christ, and not for any mourning at all. Do you know God in Christ? Let me tell you the more you are acquainted with him, the more your souls will be kept in a mourning state. A mournful state !0, say you, people will mourn before they are converted. Ah, that they will, -1 do not love to hear of conversions without any secret mourning;