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or order some providence to bring you a token, or some message of love. Possibly he may order and appoint upholding mercy, to be a pledge to you of delivering mercy. And believe it, upholding mercy is always a pledge of delivering mercy. How is it therefore with you, are you deserted, is Christ gone; yet have you not had the upholding presence of God all this while ? then be of good comfort, Christ is not so gone but he will return again.

If your case and condition be such that although you cannot find Christ, Christ is gone: though Christ be gone and departed from you and you cannot find him, yet if you can direct others to the finding of him when you cannot find him, then certainly he is not gone, but he will return again unto you. The spouse in the Canticles seeks after Christ : saith she, “ He hath withdrawn himself and I cannot find him.” (chap. v.) The daughters of Jerusalem say, “ Whither is thy beloved turned aside, that we may seek him with thee? My beloved is gone down into his garden to the beds of spices.” Mark, she could not find him herself, and yet she can direct others to the finding of him. What doth this signify, but plainly teach us thus much, that though Christ be gone, and we cannot find him, yet if we can direct others to the finding of him, he is not quite gone, but he will return again. Now is it thus with you, when Christ is gone, cannot you direct others to the finding of him? If you can, then build upon it, he is not so gone but he will return again.

But then, suppose that the Lord be departed from this nation much; we are under a very great displeasure of the Lord this day: God is departed from us, how shall we know now in the time of God's departure, that he will return again to this nation?

You know how it is with a man that doth leave his house : though he go away, yet if his children be there, and his goods be there, his plate and his jewels there, he will either come again to them, or send for them to himself. Believe it christians, God hath a very great cupboard of plate in this nation, Christ hath much plate in England, as much as in any nation in the world, and he will not lose his plate. There are three things very precious in the eyes of God, his truth, his worship, his children: such plate the Lord hath much of here, and he will not lose his plate, therefore he will return again.

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Though he may afflict, and afflict sorely, yet he will return again.

God will never go while prayer stays. If there be a praying spirit, and a spirit of prayer be up in this nation, conclude that God is not quite gone, but he will return again.

You may know it by the providential pledges, that the Lord sends you. God was very much displeased with Jonah ; you know, he threw him overboard into the sea; but then he appointed a whale to receive him, to give him entertainment: to provide a chamber of preservation, even in the belly of destruction. What did this signify? It signified thus much, that God would deliver him afterwards ; this providence was a pledge for after deliverance. So David was hunted in the wilderness by Saul, but in the wilderness, God gave Saul into his hand.

What did that signify? That present deliverance did signify to David, an after deliverance. Now though God be gone and greatly departed from us here: have you not many providential pledges of his love? What think you of the house that should have been blown up with fire lately? What doth it signify, but thus much, that God doth mind to restrain the remnant of their rage : How many pledges, providential pledges, have we had of God's return; therefore let us say: yet God will return again. But,

If your estate and condition be such, upon which the Lord will deliver for his name's sake, and with a notwithstanding; then why should you not conclude that God will return again : friends, there is a time when God will deliver his people, for his name's sake; and with a notwithstanding all their sins, and notwithstanding all his own displeasures; “ Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake," Psalm. cvi. And when is that, that God will deliver a people for his name's sake and with a notwithstanding? Look into Psalm xliv., and you shall see when. Look, when a people do suffer for his name's sake, then God will deliver them for his name's sake. “ Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercy sake." Why? at verse 22. “ For thy sake we are killed all the day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Therefore, Lord, arise for thy name's sake. For thy sake are we killed. When a people suffer for God's name's sake, then God will deliver for his name's sake, then God will de



liver with a notwithstanding. How is it with you now? You are in a suffering day, but are not all your sufferings for the name of Christ? Be of good comfort then, though God may be departed, and your city destroyed, yet he is not quite gone but will return again. But then,

Fifthly, What shall we do that God may return again? In answer, I will still carry it on in answer to both the cases.

If this question do relate unto your own particular souls; if you say, God is now gone from me, what shall I do that God may return to my soul again?

I answer briefly, Be sure of this, that you keep your door open, the door of your hearts open for Christ's return. When the master is abroad, the servant sits up to keep the door open for his coming in.

Be sure of this, that now in the time of Christ's absence, you neglect no duty, though very unsavoury to you. The more unsavoury the duty now is unto you through the absence of Christ, the more acceptable unto Christ.

Be sure that you go and stand there where Christ uses to be. And let me tell you this, if you cannot find him where he uses to be, you shall find him where he uses not to be, as you read in Cant. ii.

Then be sure of this, that you be not foolish with other lovers in the time of his absence, lest he hear thereof and come home no more.

Be sure of this also, that you do gather in upon Christ by all those words and by all those things whereby he seems to put you away from him. As the woman of Canaan, " True, Lord, but the dogs eat of the crumbs.” Which made Christ turn in again, “Oh, woman, great is thy faith, be it unto

, thee even as thou wilt.” But then,

Be sure that you send unto him one way or other, and tell him that you are sick of love unto his person. Then he returns. And,

Now say, Lord, though thou killest me, yet will I trust in thee. Friends, it was faith that brought Christ and your souls together at the first; and it must be faith that must bring Christ and your souls together after a desertion. Whatsoever therefore the displeasure of the Lord be upon you, say, Lord, though thou killest me I will trust in thee;

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though I cannot see thee, yet I will trust in thee, and wait

upon thee.

But then, suppose it be the case of the nation.

God is departed in a great measure, who doth not see it? What shall we therefore now do that God may return unto us again?

Friends, truly it is not an easy thing to bring God back again, when he is in a way of displeasure towards a people. The Lord was angry, and sorely displeased with Jonah; the mariners prayed, Jonah confessed his sin, and yet the storm ceased not, yet God goes on. I say it is not an easy thing to bring God back to a nation, when he is once in a way of displeasure against a people.

And sometimes the Lord will never return unto a people again. The case of the Gaderenes in the matter of their hogs. The whole city came unto Christ, and “besought him to be gone.” And away he went, and we do not read that ever he came there again.

Sometimes he will return again, but with reserves of afterjudgments. In Exod. xxxii., Moses prayed, and the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people, verse 14. But, saith he, verse 34: “Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.” Nevertheless; for all I thus repent me, and for all I do thus return unto them, nevertheless in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them. Sometimes, I say, he doth return with reserves of after-judgments, yet if you look into Deut. iii., the thing is expressed : “ The Lord will judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left."

Well but then, what shall we do? It is too manifest, God is in a great measure gone from us, and departed from us, what shall we do now that God may return again unto this nation ?

Be sure that you make your peace with Christ. Christ is this day offended, his gospel and institutions trampled upon. A prophet will the Lord your God raise up among you, hear ye him ; if not, he will not pardon you ; that is Christ. He that sins against the great remedy, shall be judged without remedy. Christ is the great remedy; it is a dangerous thing to sin against Christ. “O Jerusalem,” saith Christ,“ how often would I have gathered you, and you would not be gathered; your house is left unto you desolate.” And in Matt. xxii., you read that after that great invitation to the supper, those that were invited refused, they made light of it, went their ways; and the remnant took his servants, and intreated them spitefully, and slew them; but when the king heard thereof, he was wroth, and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burnt


their city. It is a gospel quarrel. And therefore, I say, Is the Lord gone and departed from us? Oh, make your peace with Christ, it is Christ that is offended. Oh, make your peace with Christ, else never look the Father should return again. But then,

If you desire that God may return again unto you, then let us all return unto the Lord with all our hearts, Joel ii. 12, “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: who knoweth if he will return, and repent, and leave a blessing behind him ?” Who knows if you will turn unto him with all your heart, but he will return to you, and leave a blessing behind him?

But look into Hosea vi., “ Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up; after two days will be revive us, in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” God will return.

Well, but what assurance have we of it; are we certain God will return? Yes, verse 3, “ His going forth is prepared as the morning.” As sure as a morning is after night, so sure will God return; his going forth is prepared as the morning; as certain he will return as the morning doth.

Aye, but when will God return ?
In due season :

“ He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” That is, he will return in due season, his return of love shall be as the rain, as the former and the latter rain in their season. Would you now therefore that God should return to you, oh, now do you return unto God.

And that you may do so, only thus,

Be sure of this, that you pray and believe, believe and pray. Some pray, but do not believe; some say they believe,

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