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FAITH'S RECOGNITION OF TAKING GOD FOR A REFUGE AND
Psalm cxlii. 5. I cried unto thee, O Lord, I said, Thou art my refuge, and my portion,
in the land of the living.
Last Lord's day I opened the nature of the refuge for poor sinners, pressed you to flee into it, and to say each of you for yourselves, Thou art my refuge, and shewed how ye should say it. I now propose another doctrine, viz.
Doct. That those who have said to God in Christ, Thou art my refuge and portion, should recognize, reflect upon, and call to mind their so saying. Or, Those who have taken God in Christ for their refuge and portion, should recognize their so doing. I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion. David said this in the cave, and afterwards he comes over it again.
In handling this doctrine, I shall proceed as follows,
I. I shall shew what is imported in this recognisance of that deed or saying of the soul.
II. Why they should recognise it.
1. I am to shew what is imported in this recognisance of that deed or saying of the soul; I said it. It imports,
1. A remembrance of the solemn transaction, Psal. ciii, 18. This is a deed never to be forgotten, but always to be kept in remembrance. It was God's quarrel with Tyre, that they remembered not the brotherly covenant with Edom, Amos i. 9. How much more if we remember not the covenant with God himself ? But it fares with many in effect, as with men in other cases, they say the word, but afterwards they never mind they said it: for alas ! they remember it as waters that pass away, which is in effect, it slips out of their mind, Job vi. 16. But, 0 ye who have said this, remember,
(1.) What you said. You said that God in Christ should be your refuge, that under the shade of his wings you hid yourselves, and that, renouncing all other refuges, as refuges of lies, you did betake yourselves to the covert of Christ's righteousness, and that there yo would abide for your portion ; which was a formal acceptance of and laying hold on the covenant.
(2.) To whom you said it. To God in Christ speaking to you in the gospel-offer, and inviting you into the refuge. What men
This second sermon was preached at Ettrick, August 26, 1721.
say to their superiors, they think themselves specially concerned to mind. And surely what ye have said to God, ye onght in a peculiar manner to remember, and awe your hearts with the consideration of the majesty of the party to whom ye said it, Psal. xvi. 2.“ O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord.” For he is not one with whom we may deal faleely.
(3.) How ye said it. Did ye not say it in your hearts, while God . in Christ was held out as a refuge for you? And the language of the heart is plain language with a heart-searching God. Did not some of you say it with your mouths ? and did not all communicants say it solemnly before the world, angels, and men, by their receiving the elements of bread and wine?
(4.) Upon what grounds you said it. Did you not see a necessity of a refuge for you, and a necessity of taking God in Christ for your refuge? Ye had rational grounds for it, and lasting grounds that can never fail; so that ye can never have ground to retract, nor shift about for another refuge, Jer. ii. 31.
(5.) Where ye said it. Remember the spot of ground, where ye said it in prayer, where ye said it at the communion-table, Psal. xlii. 6. The stones of the place will be witnesses of your saying it, Joshua xxiv. 27.
2. A standing to it, without regretting that we said it, remembering what is said, John vi. 66–69. “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go ? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe, and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Men often repent what they have said and therefore will not own they have said it. But gracious souls will not repent their saying this, but will abide by it. If they were to make their choice a thousand times, having chosen God in Christ for their refuge and portion, they would not alter, but their first choice would be their last choice, Jer. iii. 19. “ I said, thou shalt call me, my Father, and shalt not turn away from me.” Many alterations may be in men's circumstances in the world, but there can never be one that will afford ground for retracting this saying.
3. An owning of the obligation of it, I said, and am obliged thereby to stand to it: For I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back, Jud. xi. 35. God in Christ is yours, and ye are his by your own consent; ye are no more your own; ye have said the word, and must own that it is binding on you; and ye must beware that after vows ye make not inquiry. Whoever may pretend they
have their choice yet to make of a refuge and portion to themselves ye cannot : ye are engaged already, and yet ye are not in safety to hearken to any other proposals, more than a woman who has already signed her contract with one man.
4. A professing of it confidently without being ashamed of it: q. d. “I own it before all men, and am not ashamed of my choice.” Antichrist allows some of his vassals to carry his mark in their right hand, Rev. xiii. 10. But all the followers of the Lamb have their mark on their forehead, where it will not hide, Rev. xiv. 1. The world would put the people of God to shame on the head of their refuge and portion, as if they had made a foolish bargain of it, Psal. xiv. 6. “ You have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge." But sincerity will make men despise that shame, as David said, " And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight.”
5. A satisfaction of heart in it: q. d.“ I said it, and O but I am well pleased that ever I said it; it was the best saying I could ever say,” Psal. xvi. 2, 5, 6, 7. And this is in effect to say it over again. And good reason there is for them who have sincerely said it, to be well satisfied in their refuge, and to rejoice in their portion. The reflecting upon it may afford solid delight and content of heart. Ye who have taken the Lord for your refuge, may with much satisfaction reflect on it; for ye have,
(1.) A safe refuge, Prov. xviii. 10. “ The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. Chap. xxix. 25. Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord, shall be safe.” Ye may sing the 91st psalm as your own charter for safety. Whatever storms blow, no plague shall come near thy dwelling while thou dwellest there. Revenging justice can do nothing against you there : the fiery law cannot throw the fire-balls of its curses within the border of your refuge: Rom. viii. 1, " There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." Gal. iii. 13,“ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” God, who without the refuge is a consuming fire to sinners, within it is refreshing, warming, enlightening fire to them. However heavy
. days of common calamity ye may see, ye may be very easy in your refuge, having such a covert above your head, Job v. 22. “ At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh,” like the child in the shipwreck, smiling at the motions of the broken board.
(2.) A well furnished refuge : Thou art my refuge and my portion, says David in the text. There will never be any need to leave it for want of provision, and to shift elsewhere. God in Christ is a full portion in the refuge, of which we may afterwards speak more
particularly. There is nothing the man wants and is really in need of, but he shall have it there, Psal. Ixxxiv. 11.“ For the Lord God is a sun and shield: The Lord will give grace and glory : no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." What is in the refuge? There is a fulness there, yea, all fulness, Col. i. 19, For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness duell. And where all fulness is, [1.] There is not any thing wanting to make the sinner happy; there is a variety of provision, yea, all manner of provision, Cant. vii. ult.“ At our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old.” Rev. xxi. 7. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things." [2.] There is plenty of every thing; no exhausting of any part of the provision ; nothing will ever run short there, Rev. xxii. 2, “ In the midst of the street of it, and of either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
(3.) The only refuge where men can be safe, Psal. xviii. 31, “ For who is God save the Lord ? or who is a rock save our God? There are other refuges indeed, but then they are all refuges of lies, and they will be all swept away, and those who lodge in them left naked, and open to all ruin, Isa. xxviii. 17.“ The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place.” All must come to your refuge or perish, Acts iv. 12.“ Neither is there salvation in any other : for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” So that your duty and interest both say to you in this case, Let them return unto you, but return not ye unto them.
(4.) A near-hand refuge, Jer. xxiii. 23. Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? God in Christ is every-where present; so be where ye will, ye are always within a step of your refuge, to be made by faith, Rom. x. 6, 7, 8. “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven ? (that is, to bring Christ down from above); or Who shall descend into the deep ? (that is, to bring up Christ from the dead); but what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach.” Hence the people of God have had the benefit of their refuge, when they were cast into prisons, dungeons, banished to remote parts of the world. The cities of refuge were so situated, that some of them were on this side Jordan, and some on that side, that they might be near to flee to. In a moment thou mayst flee into thy refuge by faith. Hence faith is called a looking, Isa. xlv. 22. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the carth.
(5.) A refugo none can stop your way to.
However the child of God be blocked up, like David in the cave, however he may be hampered, none in the world can stop his way thither : I said, Thou art my refuge. God himself has prepared the way; and there is no stop in it for any that mind it. Hence Christ says to the spouse, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone,” &c. Cant. ii. 10, 11. Enemies, may stand betwixt you and all created refuges, but nothing can hold you out of this refuge, who by faith go thither. “For, says the apostle, I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, Rom. viii. 38, 39.
(6.) A ready refuge. The gates stand open night and day to receive the refugees, Zech. xiii. 1.“ In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” None who flee thither are refused, or denied access; John vi. 37. Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out. The father meets the prodigal son while he was yet a great way off ; and no man can be more ready to enter the refuge, than the Refuge is to receive him.
(7.) A lasting refuge; a refuge for time, for all times, be they never so bad, Psal. Ixii. 8. Trust in him at all times :-God is a refuge for us. From the beginning to this day, throughout all generations, this refuge has lasted, Psal. xc. 1. and will last a refuge for sinners to the end. And it is a refuge for eternity too, when all other refuges shall be razed, Isa. xxv. 4. “ Thou hast been a refuge to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, &c. Heb. vii. 25. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
6. A pleading the benefit of it; q. d. “I have said it, and plead the benefit of God's refugees, safety and sanctification ; Lam. iii. 24. “ The Lord is my portion, saith my soul ; therefore will I hope in him.” God loves to have his people pleading their interest in him, Jer. iii. 4, “ Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth ?” The saints are very pointed and peremptory in it, Psal. cxvi. 6," Oh Lord, truly I am thy servant, I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid : thou hast loosed my bonds.” And this they do over the belly of discouragements, Isa. Ixiii. 16, “ Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O Lord, art