Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

- they shall lift up their voice ;” what to cry? no, they have done with prayers, they have done with fasting; they have litted up their voice, and often exhorted their neighbours to “ flee from the wrath to come;" but now they shall sing for the majesty of God; when all people are mourning, they shall rejoice. And at the great day, when Jesus Christ pronounces the wicked damned, depart ye cursed, God's people will then lift up their voices with majesty and triumph, which made a good man say to his son, just before he died, I am afraid I shall never see thee any more till I hear Jesus Christ say unto thee, depart thou curs. ed! Some years ago, being present at the trial of a very vile person at the Old-Bailey, and being in suspense whether he would be brought in guilty or no, when the word guilty came, and the people heard of it, they did in effect give an eclat to it ; whether just or unjust, I thought it was an emblem of that awful day, when all the angels of God, and his saints, shall say Amen ; when God consigns the wicked to hell : God grant this may not be any of your case. Says the prophet,“ they shall

cry aloud from the sea :” some of them may de on the other side of the water, gone abroad, while others stay at home ; but whether at home or abroad, though they have been banished by persecution, though they have been driven to the other side of the water, which has been the case of many persons

before
now,

yet they shall cry aloud;" they shall find the same God abroad they did at home. A judge said to a good old christian that was persecuted in Charles the Second's time, I will banish you to America: says she, Very well, you cannot send me out of my Father's country. They shall cry aloud from the

as

sea, “wherefore glorify ye the Lord in the fires :" if this is the case, the prophet draws the inference: what must they do under these circumstances? why, they must study how to glorify God in the fires, not how to escape or run away from him, but how to glorify him; “ wherefore, (saith he) glorify me,' glorify me the Lord, “ in the fires :" not the fire, in the singular number, but in the plural number, fires. We are, my brethren, very much mistaken, if we think we have but one fire to go through.

The words imply, in order to bring them home to ourselves, that all God's people must be put into : the fires. Fire sometimes denotes the love of

God, sometimes the work of the Holy Ghost, and very often it denotes affliction ; therefore the

apostle talks of a fiery trial; and let it be of whatever kind it will, let it be upon mind, body, or estate ; whether it comes from friend or foe, or whether it comes immediately from the hand of God himself upon the soul, it may well be compared to fire, for you all know that fire scortches ; God expects when he strikes, that we should feel. Of all things in the world to be avoided, a stony heart, or a stupidity under God's afflicting hand, is most to be (leprecated. I suppose you have heard of the stoics,* with whom the apostle Paul disputed in the place of public traffic in Athens. - Paul did not take a walk to Change to talk on

trade, he went to talk about Jesus Christ, if he . could meet with one to talk with : I wish the clergy took no other walks but these. Every thing is to be tried by fire ; we may talk what we please, but we shall never know what metal we are made

* They taught that a wise man should be free from all affections and passions whatever.

*

of, till God puts us into the fire. It is very easy talking what we can bear, and what we can do, but let God lay his hand on us, and we shall see what we are. We are apt to find fault, and to be peevish with our friends and relations under such circumstances; they are apt to say, you should be patient, and patient, and patient; ah! put these reprovers into the same furnace, and see how patient they will be: they say, there is no putting old mens heads upon young mens shoulders ; and there is no putting old heads upon souls young in experience. The devil knew very well how it was when he said, “ Hast thou not made an hedge about Job, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side ; thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land; but put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face ;” so we should all do if God was to leave us to ourselves, and our faith is not of the right sort.

How shall we know if our faith is good? we often pray, Lord, give us Abraham's faith, but never pray, give us Abraham's trial at the same time. I was once in Scotland, at a great man's house, where several rich people were that knew Jesus Christ; God having blessed my labours at a former visit, I was desired by the nobleman to pray; and I remember I prayed the Lord to give us great faith and patience ;-O said Satan, as strong as if he had spoke to me, don't pray for that, for thou shalt have great trials. 0, said I, if that be the case, I will turn the devil's prayer against himself; and I prayed, “ O Lord, give us great grace, and never mind what trials.” Often when we are under temptations, God takes us at our words: 0, says one, what a prayer I had, I

prayed for faith and patience ; I was upon the mount, and never thought of coming down, and feeling a storm again.

Fire my brethren, not only burns and purges, but you know it separates one thing from another, and is made use of in chymistry and mechanical businesses. What could we do without fire? it tries metal to purge it: God Almighty knows, we are often purged more in one hour by a good sound trial, than by a thousand manifestations of his love. It it a fine thing to come purified, to come pardoned out ed to purge us, to separate the precious from the vile, the chaff from the wheat : and God, in order to do this, is pleased to put us into one fire after another, which makes me love to see a good man under afflictions, because it teaches something of the work of God in the heart. I remember some years ago, when I first preached in the north of England, at Shields near Newcastle, I went into a glass-house, and standing very atttentive, I saw several masses of burning glass of various forms: the workman took one piece of glass, and put it into one furnace, then he put it into a second, and then into a third: when I asked him, why do you put this into so many fires? he answered, 0, sir, the first was not hot enough, nor the second, and therefore we put it into the third, and that will make it transparent. Taking leave of him in a proper manner, it occured to me, this would make a good sermon : 0, thought I, does this man put this glass into one furnace after another, that we may see through it; O may God put me into one furnace after another, that may be transparent; that I may see God as he is, My brethren, we need to be purged; how apt are we to want to go to heaven upon a feather-bed ; many go lying upon beds of pain and languishing, which is the King's highway thither, You know there are some ways in London called the King's road, and they are finely gravelled, but the King's road to heaven is strowed with crosses and afflictions. We are all apt to think well of being christians : it is very pretty talking of being christians, till we are put into one furnace after another; think it not strange, saith the apostle, concerning the fiery trial which is to try you. What must I do? why, since I must be in the fire, I must thank my corruptions for it; God will not put you or me into the fire if there was not something to be purged away; the grand thing is to learn to glorify

my soul

God in the fire. Wherefore glorify ye the the Lord in the firesa

When do we glorify him? when we endeavour to get such grace

from the Lord, that we may not dishonor him when we are under the cross, and therefore we glorify God in the fire when we quietly endure it as a chastisement for our sins: If you keep watch now and live near to God, jou will never find that you are put into a fire, but you first brought yourselves into it; and I do verily believe from my heart, that our sin is always to be seen in our punishment. If any of you part from a child that he loves dearly, upon examination he will say, I find now the creature's gone, that the ivy twined too much about the oak; and then he turns off; ah! says he, God has met with

And you will find in all the Old and New Testament, that the afflictions of God's people were suitable to their faults : Jacob was over persuaded by his mother to get the blessing by a lie; but he was a simple-hearted poor creature. Some persons think pothing of a lie ; if they

me now

« VorigeDoorgaan »