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betake yourselves to God in Christ for safety and preservation, as Paul did, Rom. vii. 24, 25, forecited. Ye are in this world as in a wilderness, where your souls' enemies are ready to attack you, and cause you to violate your fidelity to your Lord and Husband ; ye should then cry out to him, that ye suffer violence, and flee into the arms of his grace, where ye may be safe. Thus did Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 9, who being harassed with a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, besought the Lord, that it might depart from him ; and received this answer, “ My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Mens' grappling with temptation in their own strength, is the cause why so often they come foul off, Prov. xxviii. 26, He that trusteth in his own heart, is a fool.
(2.) With respect to the law as a covenant of works. There is no standing before it, but under this covert. Sometimes it invades the believer, and makes high demands of him for his salvation. [1.] Thou art a sinner, and justice must be satisfied for thy sin : then flee thou into thy refuge, and hide thyself in the wounds of the Redeemer; plead the satisfaction of his death and sufferings, and hold them betwixt you and the fiery law : so shall ye stop its mouth, Job xxxiii. 23, 24, “ If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness : then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.” [2.] Thou canst not have a right to heaven without working for it works perfectly good, and exactly agreeable to the law. For it is written, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them,” Gal. iii. 10. Then improve your refuge, and by faith laying hold on Christ's perfect obedience to all the ten commands, plead that as your security, and so you shall be safe, Rom. v. 5, “ To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” [3.] If the law yet insist and say, But thy nature is corrupt and stained; flee to thy refuge, and plead the holiness of Christ's birth and nature, by virtue of which imputed to thee, thou art without spot before the throne of God, Cant. iv. 7; Rom. iv. 8, both formerly cited. Here is your only safety in this case.
(3.) With respect to the evil day, Jer. xvii. 17. We have just ground to expect a day of trial, a day of common calamity, and this church and land, as well as each of us may lay our account with personal trials and afflictions. And we should improve our refuge in that case for our comfort and establishment.
[1.] Before it come. The prospect of trials is often very heavy, and unbelief taking a view of them, is ready to rack and torture the
heart with that, how one shall be carried through. But the man who has taken God for his refuge, should improve it, so as to establish his heart in the faith of through-bearing, come what will come, Hab. iii. 17, 18, “ Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines ; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the
; fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” There is good reason for it: for however great the trial be, our refuge is sufficient both against sin and danger: therefore says Paul, Phil. iv. 13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Jer. xv. 11. “Verily it shall be well with thy remnant, verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil, and in the time of affliction."
[2.] When it is come. Whatever storms blow, believers have such a cover over their heads, as may afford safety, comfort, and establishment: for if God be for us, who can be against us ? Rom. viii. 31. There is a kindly invitation given to all God's people, with respect to the evil day, Isa. xxvi. 20. “Come, my people, enter thon into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast." And the voice of faith in answer thereto is, “ My soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast,” Psal. lvii. 1. It is good news, that Zion's God reigneth, whatever the time brings forth.
(4.) With respect to death. Death is of all terribles the most terrible, and is therefore called the king of terrors. But those who have taken God in Christ for their refuge, have what may comfort and establish them, even in that case. Even from the last enemy God it a refuge. So that,
[1.] The fear of death ought not to perplex and terrify them. David could say, “ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
, shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me,” Psal. xxiii. 4. Death can do no harm to those whose refuge the Lord is. For,
[2.] The sting of death cannot reach them. They may sit within their refuge and sing, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ? The sting of death is sin ; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. xv. 55, 56, 57. The refuge was provided against sin and death in a peculiar manner, and they may expect all safety in it, under the covert of the wings of a crucified Redeemer. And it is the weakness of faith that makes them so fearful about it.
SECONDLY. Ye who cannot be brought to say unto God in Christ Thou art my refuge and my portion, to take God in Christ for your refuge ; I would have you,
1. To reflect on the folly of this your course. And you may see it, if you consider, that,
(1.) There is no safety for you without this refuge. Ye are guilty and the avenger is the justice of God, by which ye will undoubtedly fall, if ye get not within this refuge. Ye must either be in Christ, or God will pursue you as an enemy. And, [1.] He is a just God, and ye cannot escape by flattering him, Gen. xviii. 25. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right ? [2.] He is every where present and ye cannot flee from him, Psal. cxxxix. 7. [3.] He is omnipotent; and so ye cannot resist him and make head against him.
" Who hath hardened himself against him and hath prospered ?" Job ix. 4. [4.] He is eternal, and ye cannot outlive him. See 2 Thess. i. 6—9.
(2.) That however long ye delay, ye must draw to it at last, or perish. And who knows but ye may come too late ?
2. I would have you instantly to repent, and turn to this refuge, Zech. ix. 12. "Turn ye to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope.” .
, Though ye have sit many calls, and given Christ many refusals, yet there is room for your saying unto him, Thou art my refuge, and my portion ; he allows you to take your word again, and rue upon him. Jer. xiii. 27. 0 Jerusalem, wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be ? How peremptory were the people in their refusal, Jer. ii. 25. “ Thou saidst, There is no hope. No, for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.” Yet see chap. iii. 1. “But thou hast played the harlot with many lovers ; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.” Christ insists upon your saying to him, Thou art my refuge, and my portion; gives you one offer of himself after another: why so, but because he would have you yet to be wise, and turn to him. Come, then, sinners, while yet there is room.
GOD IN CHRIST THE BELIEVER'S PORTION."
Psalm cxlii. 5.
in the land of the living.
Having considered the nature of the refuge and portion mentioned in the text, especially that of the refuge, and shewn that those who have taken God in Christ for their refuge and portion, should recognise their so doing, I now proceed to another doctrine from the words, viz.
Doct. To those who have sincerely made God in Christ their refuge, the same God in Christ is their portion to live on in that refuge.
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall,
II. Shew in what respects he is the believer's portion, or the portion of those who have taken him for their refuge.
III. Confirm the doctrine,
I. I am to consider God in Christ as a portion to live on. For understanding this, consider,
First, Man needed and doth need a portion. Portions are given to supply wants, and answer the needs of those who get them. The need is twofold.
1. By necessity of nature, from the moment of his being, he needed a portion, something without himself to live upon. Innocent Adam did not need a refuge to flee to, guilt brought on that necessity. While he kept free from sin, none could do him harm. But he needed a portion as he was a creature, and therefore was not self-sufficient, which is an incommunicable property of God, Gen. xvii. 1. I am God all-sufficient. God was infinitely happy in himself before there was any creature ; but no creature can be happy in itself, having desires to be satisfied, that must be satisfied from another quarter.
2. By necessity of loss. God himself, without the intervention of a mediator, was man's portion at first, and the well-furnished world was but an addition to the bargain, Gen. i. 26, 27. It was never
This discourse, consisting of more sermons than one, was delivered in September, 1722.
given him for his portion; for it was what his innocent soul could never have subsisted on. But when he gave him every herb for the support of his earthly part, he gave him himself as his God for the support of his heavenly part. But man by sin lost his portion, God turning his enemy, and all access to the enjoyment of God being stopt. Thus mankind was left in a starving condition.
Secondly, The same way that God became a refuge to which guilty sinners might have access, he became a portion to which starving sinners might have access, namely, in Christ. The former drew with it the latter. 1. None less than a God could ever be a sufficient portion to
Indeed if a man had no nobler part than the body, the earth of which it was made, might be a sufficient portion to him, as it is to the beasts. But since he is endowed with a rational soul, which is capable of desires that all the creation cannot satisfy, and none but God himself can, it is evident, that only God himself can be a sufficient portion to man.
2. But an absolute God could never be enjoyed as a portion by a sinful creature. Justice stood in the way of it, which requires the sinner to die the death, according to the threatening, Gen. ii. 17, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;" and therefore forbade the enjoying of their portion, by which the sinner might live. What was the life promised in the covenant of works, but that complete happiness flowing from the full enjoyment of God in heaven, and the happiness flowing from the full enjoyment of him here? The covenant then being broken, the justice of God necessarily staved him off from this.
4. But God having clothed himself with our nature in the person of the Son, and so became a refuge to the guilty creature, he became also a portion for the starying creature, upon which it might live. As a refuge we find in him a covert from revenging wrath, and what fully answers the demands of the law on our account. Hence taking him for our refuge, and so sheltering ourselves under the shade of a crucified Redeemer, in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead, there is nothing to hinder our enjoyment of him as our portion, Psal. xvi. 5, 10.
Thirdly, God in Christ then is a portion, legally destined for, and offered to sinners in the gospel. He is a portion for them to live on, as well as a refuge for them to flee unto, John iii. 16,“ God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I take up this in these three things.
1. The soul of man may live on the enjoyment of God (Lam. iii. VOL. V.