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world of mankind as we find them—who are not struggling, like a shipwrecked mariner, for life, and amongst the broken fragments of his ruined prospects, his lost comforts, his dying friends, his expiring hopes? If there is no power above us, we are infinitely worse off than the beasts that perish! If there be no foothold for our hopes in a better and brighter world, happy had it been for us if we had never been born. If the pilot of the vessel and the ruler of the storm be not our friend, willing and able to stand by and succor us, better had it been if we had never launched forth on the ocean of life; most happy if we had long since been overwhelmed by its storms! Who is there that does not feel the need of a friend stronger than man; of fields of happiness brighter than earth displays; of hopes, stronger and surer than any which life affords? Who is there but would give worlds for that to trust in, which neither time, nor accident, nor human malice, nor death itself could, in the slightest degree, affect--far less destroy ?
It is the glory of the true religion, that it not only furnishes this anchorage ground, not only provides exceeding great and precious promises, but also inclines and teaches the heart to rely upon them. It enables, nay, constrains the sincere believer to look for his strength and consolatian to the care of the Father of the Universe; to the love and compassion of the Almighty Savior, and to the grace and help of the Holy Ghost. Thus faith, in all times of need, becomes reliance, trust, confidence. The eternal and unchangeable world seems like a reality: new freshness and power are imparted to the blessed promises. In the solitude of the closet ; in the solemnities of public worship; in the hour of impending calamity, at the moment of utter desolation and misery, this confidence in God is
an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast.” It entereth into that within the vail, whither the forerunner hath for us entered. And the heart which hath this hope is comforted; all its anxieties are assuaged; all its fears are gone; all its troubles are removed, and the blessed promise is proved to be true—“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is staid on thee, because he trusteth in thee.".
When we reflect upon the greatness of the privilege of reposing all our cares upon Gon, and then think of our own utter unworthi
ness and nothingness, the question naturally occurs, Will God fulfil these promises in the case of such guilty creatures as we are ? Are these great and precious promises for us? Have we any reasonable ground for hope, that in the time of our utmost need we shall find them true, and realize their divine support?
This is precisely the subject to which it is my purpose to call your attention at the present time. Numberless are the grounds of encouragement for putting our trust in God; we shall have time to enumerate but a few; and shall therefore attempt to select the strongest.
1. It is no slight ground that we are shut up to this one only hope ; for if, in the time of anxiety, in the day of adversity, and in the hour of death, the LORD of Heaven and earth either cannot, or will not help us, who can, or who will ? And as, on the other hand, this thought imparts to all our applications to Him, the energy of despair; so, on the other, it awakens the liveliest hope, inasmuch as no man can bring himself to believe that God hath formed him with unfailing resources of hope within, only that he may be forever disappointed.
2. The attributes of infinite power and boundless mercy which, we are taught to believe, reside in the LORD our God, in their utmost perfection, afford the most abundant encouragement for us to put our trust in him. No situation can be beset with such difficulties that His wisdom cannot easily devise a way for our escape: none can be threatened with such dangers, or oppressed with such positive calamities, but that his power and mercy can, if he pleases, bring instant relief. The attributes of JEHOVAH, are to the souls of the faithful, like a munition of rocks.
3. But, blessed be God, my brethren, we have a more sure word of promise, to which you will do well to give heed. To certain classes and descriptions of persons, He hath engaged, by an oath, that he would give them whatever they ask, in a certain name, and in a particular way. He hath expressly covenanted to give them far more than they are able to ask, or even to think. He hath sworn by Himself, that their “ light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall work out for them a far more ecceeding and eternal weight of glory”—nay, that “all things shall work together for" their good.” If we could be assured that we belonged to this highly favored class; that we did truly ask in the right way, through the all-prevailing name, I am quite sure that our imaginations could not conceive of language more appropriate, more rich, more eloquent, and every way more full of consolation, than the words of the promises of God in CHRIST JESUS. The Christians who first heard and received them, were often known, as well they might be, to sing songs of exultation and joy in their dungeons, whilst smarting under the terrible effects of scourging and chains; nay, they were sometimes heard to say that they always,- even in bonds, imprisonments, and deaths,—that they always triumphed in CHRIST; and in truth they were taught such an uncommon estimate of things that one of them has written, “To us it is given”_-speaking of it as the highest favor and privilege,"to us it is given in behalf of CHRIST, not only to believe on his name, but also to suffer for his sake."
4. If these are the feelings, the bursts of strong emotions from the hearts of those who have truly been taught to trust in God, we may expect a similar strain of wonderful and triumphant argumentation. That they could and did argue thus, our text is a blessed example and proof. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not, with him, also freely give us all things?” Here are astonishing promises indeed, the love of the Father of the Universe shown, by delivering up his own Son to shame, and suffering, and death, for us miserable sinners. And what a glorious inference this! "How will he not with him, freely give us all things.” If this is not divine and transcendently glorious reasoning, than I know not what is. After strictly examining it, must we not admit that God has been at infinite pains that we should have strong consolation, we, who “have fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us in the Gospel ?"
Very briefly, such my brethren, are a few of the strongest encouragements we have for trusting in God. Amid this changeful and dying world there is no other refuge for us; and we have in His character, and in the word of his oath and promise, the highest assurances that he is able and willing to help and to save to the uttermost. Nay, more, He bimself, puts petitions and arguments into our mouths, which carry along with them divine evidence of their truth and power, and will assuredly, if our hearts employ them, bring down the richest blessings from above.
But, with deepest solicitude may we ask, to whom these promises, and the privilege of trusting in the Most High God, truly belong? Do they belong to me? Do they belong to all of us ? Are they our birthright? Is there no crime--no course of life by which they can be forfeited ? Surely we cannot employ a few moments more profitably than by endeavoring to solve these questions.
It is evident then, I think, that the privilege of reposing un. doubted confidence in the promises of God, and applying them to our own case, does not belong, as a matter of course, to every son and daughter of affliction. For the idea inseparable from a privilege is, that it is not common to all; if it were, how could it be said that some enjoy a distinction or privilege above the rest ? It is equally evident that those who never think of the promises; who have no wish for those blessings to which they relate ; who never ask them of God, or look to them for comfort; can have no shadow of claim to them: such, most assuredly, have neither part nor lot in these things. It is perfectly evident, therefore, that some specification is necessary. And surely none can have so good a right to point out to whom the promises belong, as He who hath been pleased freely to make them. And the diligent student of the Bible will be struck, perhaps, with nothing more than that almost every specific promise--certainly the greatest and best of the promises—are immediately connected with some intimation, or some description or other, of the class of persons, the kind of characters, for whom the promise is meant. Of this the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount furnish a striking example ;-there being remarkable appropriateness in the promise, to the description of character to which it belongs. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy-Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” &c.
In the Epistles the same principle evidently prevails. Who are they for whom all things shall work together for good ? even those “who love God, and are called according to his purpose.” Who are they "whose light afflictions shall work out for them a far
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory?" even those "who look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen ?” Who are they who may humbly urge the argument of our text, and ask for "all things ?" None surely but believers in the sacrifice of Christ, and thankful receivers of the benefits of his cross and passion!
This course of argument and the whole tenor of the foregoing discourse, lead naturally to the following reflections:
1. The appropriate, the peculiarly precious promises of the Gospel, belong only to those who are truly sorry for their sins; who sincerely believe the promises of God in Christ Jesus; to those who daily repair to these promises as the main pillar and ground of their hope and comfort; to those who plead for the fulfilment of these promises, as far the greatest of all blessings; to those who are endeavoring to please God in newness of life, and whose most precious hopes and consolations, for time and eternity, are derived from a simple, child-like reliance upon the truth of God, in all his gracious promises.
2. If this be true, then the condition of the thoughtless gay, and of the prayerless rich and prosperous, is unspeakably miserable? For, what is youth; what is wealth ; what the flush of prosperity; what the spring-tide of life? They are but the sweetness of morning, before the darkness of night—the brilliancy of the cloud, before the bursting of the tempest—the calmness of an Italian evening, before the eruption of a volcano. One of their own prophets, a poet of their own, hath written
“What are the pleasures of this life, in sooth,
A torrent's smoothness ere it dash below."
Then who, if the promises of God are not theirs, who shall stand by them, when youth and health are exchanged for sickness and coming death-when prosperity shall, as shortly it must, be succeeded by adversity and sorrow? Who will stand by these wretched, deserted sufferers, when earth is receding from their grasp, and the promises of God are not theirs ? Imagination cannot conceive a victim of wretchedness more utterly desolate than a lover of the world, torn from all that his heart pants after and