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gloom of desertion, and when walking in darkness, believers should consider their relation to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. "I am the Lord thy God," and "I "will never leave thee nor forsake thee," are faithful assurances, and warrant them to say, under heaviness and darkness, "This God is our God, for ever and ever, and "will be our guide even unto death." The high and supernatural relation founded on the promises of the covenant, and acknowledged by the Promiser, stands firm in the extremities breaking out in his administration; nor is he acting inconsistent with it when he tries, and humbles, and chastens you with desertion.
Fifthly, Relations founded in the promises of the covenant, and acknowledged by the Promiser, may be claimed in desertion. When the anguish of desertion was felt, and the language of it uttered, the Lord Jesus claimed interest and expressed confidence in his Father: "My God, "my God," is the profession of his faith, and the claim of his interest. "Why hast thou forsaken me?" Is the language of desertion, and the description of his anguish. When we feel the anguish, and utter the language of desertion, we should beware of speaking it corruptly. This part of our dialect the Son of God used in purity, and without any base and corrupt mixture; but in our mouth it is for the most part faulty, and mixed with peevishness, impatience, diffidence, and unbelief, and deserves correction. "Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, "My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is pass"ed over from my God?" In desertion, expostulation is allowed to infirmity. "Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and "forgettest our affliction and oppression? I will say unto "God, my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I "mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" Our Saviour expostulated in the day of his infirmity without committing any fault; but when his brethren expostulate, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" they should, like him, claim interest, and express trust in the Object in whom they have believed.
Sixthly, The voice of expostulation, under the gloom and anguish of desertion, may be heard by Heaven with silence, and yet with good-will toward them who are deserted. In the day of his infirmity and anguish, the Lord our Righteousness cried with a mighty voice, and expos
tulated with great vehemence; but Heaven kept silence and withheld every external testimony of complacency. even when well-pleased in the Sufferer. Was the Beloved and only Begotten of the Father tried with silence in desertion-why should his brethren think themselves ill treated when the same bitter ingredient is infused into their cup? If God, even our Father, who hath loved us, uphold us with the right hand of his righteousness, should we yield to impatience, and charge him foolishly, because he spreads clouds and darkness over the face of his throne, and hears the voice of our expostulations in silence? On such trying and humbling occasions, we should observe and imitate the example of David: "I waited patiently for "the Lord, and he inclined unto me and heard my cry. He "brought me up also out of a horrible pit, and out of the "miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established "my goings. And he hath put a new song in mouth, even "praise unto our God.”
Seventhly, Faith walks in the light of the glory of God, when sense sits under an horror of darkness. When the Lord of glory was crucified, a thick gloom hung over Calvary. The beams of the sun were arrested, and darkness covered the earth at mid-day. Every pleasant object disappeared, and every sensible comfort retired.But through this heavy and mysterious gloom, he beheld God glorifying himself in his obedience, sorrow, and anguish, and believed that God would also straightway glorify him in himself. Gloominess may hang over your exercise, believers. In your own eyes, you may be forsaken by God, and disowned by men, and ready to expos tulate, "Wherefore is light given to him who is in misery, "and life to the bitter in soul?" Under this oppression and heaviness of spirit, remember that word, "We walk "by faith and not by sight." Call to mind another word, "Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldst believe thou "shouldst see the glory of God." Turn over the Bible, and observe the complaints and expostulations of desertion, recorded in that holy book. Seldom, if ever, will, you observe believers casting away their confidence in God, and denying their interest in his faithfulness and mercy; or if, in the moment of despondence, any of them slipped a foot, he instantly recovered himself, claimed and held fast the great and glorious Object in whom he believed and hoped.
Eighthly, Believers who die under a gloom, die, not withstanding, in the faith. Clouds and darkness were round about the Lord our Righteousness when he died on Calvary. But he died, notwithstanding, in the assurance of faith and hope, and, over every temptation to distrust and despair, obtained in his death a glorious victory. Some believers enjoy little comfort in their life, and, to appearance, none at all at their death. Convictions of the guilt and evil of sin, and of the deceitfulness and roving of their hearts, impressions of the holiness of God, and of their unmeetness to appear in his presence, together with the working of Satan, and the anguish of disease, sit down upon them like a thick cloud, hide the testimony of God concerning the person, and offices, and glory of Christ, and dash their hope of salvation through his name. But, notwithstanding these joyless and painful feelings, they die in the faith, adhering to the testimony of God, and "looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto "eternal life."
Finally, The Captain of Salvation, made perfect through suffering, is qualified to deal faithfully and mercifully with sons, tried and humbled by desertion in the way to glory. With all that is grievous in desertion, excepting sin, he is experimentally acquainted, and, from his bowels and mercies, is inclined to shew tenderness and compassion to his deserted brethren. At the mouth of the haven of light and glory, the gloom was thickest and heaviest over himself; but, though the day was dark, and the tempest violent, he entered triumphantly in the face of the enemy, without striking upon the rocks along the shores of the dead sea. Acquainted with the navigation of these dark waters, the Captain of Salvation beholds his people beating about the mouth of the channel, under apprehensions and terrors of shipwreck, and, by lights springing up in his word, and signals made from above, guides them safely into the haven which they desired to see. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of "flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the "same, that through death he might destroy him who had "the power of death, that is, the devil. And deliver them "who, through fear of death, were all their life-time sub"ject to bondage. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them who are tempted."
Unto these reproofs, corrections, instructions, and consolations, which we have addressed to believers in the Son of God, an exhortation shall be added to the disobedient and unbelieving. The testimony of God concerning his person and righteousness, his sufferings, death, and love, ye do not deny; but every thing recorded of him in it, ye read and hear with indifference. After hearing his expostulation on the cross explained, ye are about to rise and go away in the same thoughtless and careless temper of mind in which ye came here and sat down. Under the guilt and depravity of sin you feel no uneasiness. Of bodily pain you are sensible, and look pale at the appearance of death, the sight of a corpse, and the opening of a grave; but of the sores and diseases of the soul, of that bereditary leprosy which infects every faculty, and of the wrath revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, you have no feelings and impressions at all. How long will you continue in an insensible and thoughtless state, dead toward God, and, through blindness of mind and hardness of heart, alienated from the Saviour of the world?
"God sent not his son into the world to condemn the "world, but that the world through him might be saved."And we have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the "Son to be the Saviour of the world." This is the testimony of God, which the ministry of reconciliation preaches to the world, and which is worthy of all acceptation. Whosoever believes it, judges him faithful, and shall receive salvation with eternal glory. Whosoever rejects it, makes him a liar, and shall perish, and be destroyed with everlasting destruction. The deceitfulness in sin proves fatal and ruinous to multitudes.At one time, when the ministry of reconciliation calls sinners to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they may be saved, believing appears a work too hard and difficult to be seriously attempted. At another time it seems so easy, that it may be done well enough on their death-bed, or when they please and find it convenient. By tossing the minds of men to and fro about the hardness and easiness of believing, and overcharging their hearts with the cares of this world, the tempter blinds and hardens them in unbelief, until the season of believing be past, and the means of believing be removed.
But, "Now is the accepted time, Now is the day of sal❝vation. While it is said, To-day, if ye will hear the voice "of the Son of God, harden not your hearts as in the pro"vocation. And our desire and prayer to God for you is, "That ye may know the exceeding greatness of his power "to them ward who believe, according to the working of "his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead." Amen.