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2. Consider, that as your case is circumstanced, it is absa lutely impossible for you ever to find any other resting place but God, or ever take any satisfying comfort of your life, but in a way of devotedness to God and communion with him. The case is not with you, O believer, as it is with other men.You, only, have I known of all the families of the earth ; therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities, said God to his ancient people....Mic. iii. 2. But the other nations of the earth might worship idols, and serve wood and stone, and go on and prosper, without being called to a present account ; and so it is as to particular persons : Bastards, who have no parents to own them and bring them up, may, as for any restraints from parental authority, do what they will : They that do not belong to God's family, may live from home as long as they please, and, because they have no interest in his house, may, in respect of divine permission, go and live where they please....may continue to lie out from God: but whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth ; and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.... Heb. xii. 6. Hypocrites may lose their religion, and lie dead whole months and years together, and return, with the dog to his vomit, and take as much comfort in the world and their lusts as ever ; but it is impossible that you should : you can never get your conscience asleep as other men's are, or your heart content to lie out from God, or wring yourself out of your father's hand, or get out of the reach of his rod.
Solomon once seemed resolved to find another resting place for his heart besides God, and something else to take comfort in, and he was under the best outward advantages to make a thorough trial that ever man was ; but he never did, and never could : but was always like a bone out of joint, or like the needle of a compass turned aside from its beloved star. Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, all is vanity and vexation of spirit ; And poor David, how was he pained with anguish of spirit for the sin whereby he provoked the Lord ? Psalm xxxii. 3, &c.... While I kept silence, (i. e. before Nathan came, who brought me to an open confession-see ver. 5.) my bones waxed old through
my roaring all the day long : For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me : My moisture is turned into the drought of summer : And never did a believer depart from God to seek another resting place, or go away from the fountain of living waters to get something else to take comfort in ; but God hedged up his way with thorns, and made a wall, that he could not find his paths : So that, although he followed after his lovers, he never overtook them and though he sought them, he never found them; but, at last, has been constrained to say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now..... Hos. ii. 6,7. His backslidings have reproved him, and his wickedness has corrected him, and made him know, to the breaking of his heart, that it is an evil and bitter thing to forsake the Lord ....Jer. ii. 19: For as God thus dealt with the Jewish church of old, so he does with every believer ; for all God's dealings with them were for ensamples ; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come...I. Cor. x. 11.
And this now being the case, O believer, and you having al. ways by your own experience found it so, will you, notwithstanding, forsake the Lord ? What fault....what iniquity do you find in God, that you should forsake him? Has he been a wila derness unto you, or a land of darkness ? Or has he not been your father, ever since the day he took you by the hand to lead you, even ever since the day you first knew him? Or are you weary of lightsome, of sweet and happy days, and impatient to plunge yourself into darkness, distress, and anguish? May you not expect, if you forsake him and go away from him, to seek another resting place, and something else to take comfort in as your portion, that he will strip you naked as in the day that you was born, and make you desolate, and a terror to yourself, and that his anger will smoke against you, and his hand lie heavy upon you? And then will you mourn like the dove in the valley, and be troubled, and go bowed down greatly, and roar by reason of the disquietness of your heart, and wish a thousand and thousand times that
had never forsaken the Lord.... Read Psalm Xxxvii.-Jer. 2d and 3d Chapters--and Hos. ii. Will you
not, therefore, bid adieu to all other lords and lovers, and cleave unto the Lord with all your heart forever? for this is your wisdom, and this is your life : Which brings me to add,
Consider, if you will have done with every thing else, and give up yourself to the Lord, to love him, and live to him, and be wholly his, then God will be your God sensibly, and you will, in spiritual respects,be one of the happiest creatures in this world a hundred times happier than you could possibly be in the ways of sin ; you shall have an hundred fold in this present world, besides eternal life in the world to come. If any man love me, says Christ, and keep my commandments, I will love him and manifest myself unto him: and I and my father will come and make our abode with him....John xiv. 21, 23. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.... Psalm xci. 1 : And God will be your dwelling-place forever.... Psalm xc. 1. While the nations dash themselves in pieces, and all the world is in confusion, and while you pass through the fire and through the water, God will be with youand he will always be your light, life, peace, joy, glory, and blessedness, in this undone, dreadful world—and your heart will be firm and fixed like Mount Zion, that cannot be removed, but abideth forever--and nothing shall ever separate you from the love of God, neither things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor life, nor death, nor any other thing : And God will certainly give you every thing in this world that is best for you, and most for his glory, and you will not desire any more; and all the evil things you may pass through will sensibly work together for your good.... Mat. vi. 33-Rom. viii. 28–39– Psalm lxxiii. 25, 26.
And thus you have, by experience, always found that God has dealt with you. I appeal, o believer, to your own conscience, that thus it has always been, whenever you have sensibly from the heart renounced all other things, and given up yourself to the Lord, to love him, and to live to him, and to take content in him, God has sensibly been a God, and father, and portion unto you, and has given you all things, which (every
thing considered) you could desire, and sensibly made all things work together for your good ; whence you have been many a time ready to say, That not a word of all his promises has ever fallen to the ground: And you have actually enjoyed a hundred times more comfort in the service of God....in devotedness to God, and communion with him, than could have been had in the service of sin; And will you not now, therefore, be entirely and forever the Lord's? O how happy you might be! And what blessed days you might enjoy!
4. And that which cannot but touch a filial heart, consider, that if you will thus be wholly the Lord's, to love him, and live to him, and delight in him, and to do his will, God will be glow rified thereby....it will be to his honor in the world.... John xv, Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear nuch fruit : But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a pe: culiar people ; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light....I. Pet. ii. 9. God has bút few friends in the world. Many that pretend to be his friends, are a great dishonor to him, and disgrace to religion ; By their means his name is blasphemed, and his ways are evilly spoken of ; and, in general, his honor is every where trodden down in the dust, And can you stand by unconcerned ?...yea, can you look on without your heart bleeding within you? O, therefore, be serious...be humble...be meek, ho. ly, and heavenly...be peace-makers, and merciful...be kind and tender-hearted, condescending and obliging, and abound in eve ery good work; for you are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world: O, therefore, live so, as that your father, which is in heaven, may be glorified.... Mat. v. 13-16.
To conclude, will you not now, therefore, determine, from this day forward, to be wholly the Lord's, and from this day be. gin to live to God in better earnest than ever? God is ready to help you. You will, as to present comfort, be undone, if you do not live to God; and peace, and glory, and blessedness is before you, if you do s and God, even your God, will be glorified: And if you are now ready, by the grace of
God, to hearken unto this advice, then take these two directions :
1. Lay aside every weight, and the sins which more easily beset you....Heb. xii. 1. In a serious and sweet hour, when you get alone, and mourn, and pray, and give up yourself to God, and think and resolve you will now be forever the Lord's, you are wont, upon self-examination, and a review of past times, to see and say, “ This, that, and the other thing, has been the sin“ ful occasion, time after time, of my losing a serious, gracious “ frame of heart-and by such and such sinful means I have
gradually lost a sense of divine and eternal things, and so have “ wandered from God, and laid a foundation for darkness and
sorrow. O my carelessness ! O that I had prayed more in “secret! O that I had spent precious time better, &c. &c."These now are the weights, and these the sins which easily beset you—and these you must lay aside forever, if you design to be the Lord's indeed, and to make a business of religion to pur. pose : But perhaps you will say, “ My worldly business....my “necessary cares, and the common duties of life, are sometimes “the very things, and these I ought not to lay aside; and what « shall I do in this case ?”—I answer, that, at another time, the necessary cares, business, and duties of life, you find to be no hinderances at all even at such times when you do all out of love to God, and for God, with singleness of heart. If you will, therefore, but always go about the common duties of life in such a manner, they will never be any clog to you. What you have, therefore, to do in the case, is not to lay aside that which is your duty, but to lay aside your wrong ends and aims : and thus you must lay aside every weight: But,
2. If you design to be religious in good earnest, then be careful to use all proper means, and do every proper thing that has a tendency to promote your spiritual life: Every proper thing, I say, to guard against those anti-scriptural methods which enthusiasts are wont to take, and by which, above all things, their false affections are promoted, but which have a direct tendency to kill the divine life. In a serious hour of sweet retirement,