« PoprzedniaDalej »
rest in the evidence, and add it as a new and valuable increase to our experience. The great end of
proving is to subdue unbelief, remove doubts, increase our faith, and encourage ourselves in the Lord.
Those who proved God, of whom we have an account in Scripture, nobly rested in the evidence which they obtained, that God was what he revealed himself to be, did as he said, and was never worse than his word. They put a mark on the decision for their own encouragement in all future straits, and for the consolation of tried believers in every succeeding age. Great was the benefit which accrued to them from resting in just evidence. On every future occasion they applied to God, as a God and friend whom they had proved and tried. When Abraham proved him, he rested in the evidence, as well he might, and put this motto on the place and interposition, JEHOVAHJIREH. Owing to Jacob's success and satisfaction in proving God, he called the place Bethel, and Peniel: and both God and Jacob afterward appealed to the proof then made. Long after, God said, I am the God of Bethel ; and Jacob not only allowed the title, but improved it and gloried in it. Once the Israelites, having proved God, called him Jehovah Nissi. At another time, when he had graciously healed them, they recorded his kindness, and called him Jehovah Rophi. David was favoured with signal interpositions. He remembered the proofs of God's power and goodness, and improved them in his future trials. His exercise on this head is often recorded. We have a beautiful instance, Psal. xlii. 6, “O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will
I remember from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.” Every believer of any standing has been distressed with outward fightings, or inward fears. He has proved God, and met with gracious interpositions. These, with all the circumstances of time, place, and wrestling, he ought carefully to keep in mind for the glory of God, and his own benefit in future distress.
5. In proving God, we are to do duty, and leave the event to him. God will do as he has said. His word cannot be broken. He will hear the cries of his people; but their faith and patience may be greatly tried. He will interpose; but he must neither be limited as to time or manner. Our season for gracious interposition is commonly much earlier than God's; and the blessing seldom comes in the way in which it was expected. We are to commit our way to God, and prove him, trusting that, in his time and way, he will bring it to pass. Pursued by Pharaoh, the Israelites ventured into the Red Sea without sensible evidence of safety, and left the event with an almighty God. Returning to Jerusalem with his companions, though greatly afraid, Ezra was ashamed to seek an armed defence from a heathen prince to whom he had said so much about the power and kindness of the God of Israel. He determined to prove the Lord, and fasted at the river Ahava. Having attempted duty, he set forward, leaving the event to God. By God's good hand upon him he was preserved from his enemies, and such as lay in wait by the way, Ezra viii. 21, 22, &c. When Jerusalem was closely besieged by Rabshakeh, Hezekiah followed
the same course, and was not disappointed. The saints should always act in this manner, and often do it. The proof which they make of God when they pour out their hearts in faith, never disappoints, but always exceeds, the most sanguine expectation. Could we rely on the Divine veracity pledged in the promise, God would see to the accomplishment. It is his part to perform, and ours to believe.
6. This exercise includes a high valuation of the blessing concerning which we prove God, and a waiting on him for it. Unless we value the blessing, see the want of it to be misery, and are sensible that we can have it nowhere but from God; we will never heartily engage in this exercise. The Jews by this time might have learnt that their own endeavours could never give them plenty, remove want, or rebuke the devourer. Every spiritual blessing is from God alone. Experience will soon convince all who are in earnest that they can do nothing of themselves for their own salvation; and faith, which alone brings any person to prove God, discovers that with him only there is mercy.
Valaing the blessing, believers are to wait for it. Though they may apprehend the time long, they are to wait till God send mercy, as they that watch for the morning. The night may be long and stormy, and waiting very irksome; but the morning will come. Nothing is more glorifying to God than to wait on him, and nothing more beneficial to the saint. Waiting on God is most comprehensive, and includes faith, hope, and prayer. He who waits will not be
idle. He walks on in the middle path between presumption and despair, and is constantly on the outlook for the blessing.
7. Having once begun the glorious exercise of proving God, we are to persevere in it to the end. As long as we stand in need of mercies and interpositions, as long as trials are measured out, while we have cruel and cunning enemies within or without, and have no strength of ourselves, proving God is our only resource. We are to prove him one year after another, and we are to come up through every part of this wilderness engaged in this exercise. We are to make the last great proof at Jordan. There we should collect all God's promises and interpositions, and all our own wants and experiences, and put God in mind of what he has said to us, and done for us. Above all, we should then fix the eye and heart upon the merit of Christ, grasp it by new and vigorous believing, and once for all bring God to the great touchstone of mercy and faithfulness, and importune him for salvation.
Proving in its present mode must end there. In heaven, having received complete salvation, we can no more hope for it. There we shall know as we are known, and see Christ as he is. That which is in part will be done away, and attainment and happiness will be perfect. We will then enjoy that God whom we have now proved, and cry out with unspeakable rapture, “ Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice
in his salvation.” The beatific vision of which we have often heard will be then fully enjoyed, and our Happiness will be as complete as endless !
In fine, faith must pervade the whole exercise. We must beware of proving God as we do persons of whose dispositions we are ignorant, or who may not have it in their power to help us, however much they might be inclined. Far less are we to prove God as some, in a time of extreme necessity, are obliged to apply to an enemy. No; we must believe that he is a rewarder of them that seek him, that he is rich in mercy to all who call on him, and that with him there is plenteous redemption. Some have been tried in human courts by their sworn enemies, and could not prevent it. The event was, as might have been expected. Unbelief is the sworn enemy of God and man, and if allowed to have place in proving God, has not a single good word to say of him. It speaks ill of his promises. It makes haste. It
urges the saint to apply to another quarter, and wait no longer. Faith alone discovers the object to be proved, the touchstone to which it should be brought; and it alone can compare them together. Faith only can draw a proper conclusion. Indeed this precious grace itself, as exerted in prayer, constitutes the glorious exercise of proving God. It takes encouragement from such words as these, “ What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them: If ye shall ask any thing in my name I will do it.” Relying on his faithfulness, it wrestles, and will have them accomplished.