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word of God shews his right in you, pleads his cause, and challenges your apoftasy. It is exceedingly rare that those who have fairly turned their backs upon God's inftituted worship, are disturbed in their security ; but are suffered to sleep on till they sleep the sleep of death. But it frequently happens, that those who attend ordinances, even from no higher principle than curiosity, custom, or form, find that the word of God is a fire and hammer, that breaketh the rock in pieces : " that it is quick and powerful, “ sharper than any two edged sword, piercing, even to “ the dividing alunder of foul and spirit, and joints and
marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents “ of the heart.”
3. In the last place. Let me beseech you, often to seat yourselves in the immediate presence of God, or rather, frequently to recollect, that you can no where go from his spirit, or fly from his presence. There is, if I may speak fo, a light and glory in the presence of God, that discerns, and discloses the works of darkness. We may often excuse, or palliate our conduct to men, and even hide its deformity from our own view, when we could not justify it to ourselves, if we reflected, that “it is open and manifest, " in the fight of God.”—If therefore there is any thing in your practice, which you are inclined to palliate, and apt to excuse-suppose you were standing at the judgment seat of Christ, where all of us shall shortly be; and think, whether your excuses will then stand the test of his impartial search.
“ If our hearts condemn us not, God is greater than our “ hearts, and knoweth all things.” It is therefore the duty and interest of every finner, to take shame and confusion of face to himself, and apply to the “blood of
sprinkling, which speaketh better things, than the blood “ of Abel."
Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the
voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and" hath no light let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.
T is said of every real believer, that he walks by faith
and not by sight. If this is true it will follow, that his faith must be exposed to a variety of trials, while he continues in a world of sense. These trials arise from the state of his own mind from his outward condition from the state of the world with which he stands connect. ed-and from the mutual influence of all these, one upon another. From this situation it is easy to fee, that there are few duties, for the exercise of which a good man will have greater or more frequent occafion than that of trust and reliance upon God. Trust is the duty and the refuge of the needy--of the dependant of the weak-of the tinorous, and the distressed. How many are included under one or more of these characters; or rather, who is it that can say he is altogether excluded ?
Agreeably to this, we need but open the sacred volume, to perceive how frequent the exhortations are to trust in God, and how many views are given us of his power, Vol. II.
wisdom, mercy and faithfulness, to encourage us to an unshaken reliance. At the same time, I am sorry to say, that there are few duties which are more imperfectly un. derstood by many profeffing Christians. Even pious per. sons often fin both on the right hand and on the left, that is to say, both by diffidence and presumption. I have, therefore, laid hold of this opportunity, and made choice of this passage of scripture, in order to open and illustrate a little this important duty of a servant of God. How seasonable it is you will easily perceive, for in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper we have set before us Christ Jesus the unspeakable gift of God—the great pledge of his love, and the great foundation of our reliance upon him, not only for his saving mercy in general, but for every necessary blessing in our way to eternal reft.
This passage of scripture is also well suited to the fub. ject. It was spoken to the Jews in a lax and dissolute age, when many had turned their backs upon the service of God had deserted his ordinances and despised his fervants, which is always an occafion both of affliction and temptation to his own children. This appears from the first words of the chapter. “ For thus faith the Lord, " where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I “have put away? And which of my creditors is it to “ whom I have fold you? Behold, for your iniquities you
have sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is “ your mother put away.” As also from the 3d and 4th verses. “I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make “ fackcloth their covering. The Lord God hath given “ me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how “ to speak a word in season to him that is weary.”
In discoursing further on this subject, it is proposed, through the aflistance of divine grace,
I. To open a little the character and state of those who are called upon and exhorted to trust in the name of the Lord.
II. To explain the duty of trust, and point out the foundation of it.
III. To apply the subject for your instruction and comfort.
In the First place then, I am to open a little the character and state of those who are here called upon and exhorted to trust in the name of the Lord.
Their description is as follows: “Who is among you " that feareth the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his ser. “ vant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light ? let « him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay himself
upon his God.” It will help us to enter into the spirit and meaning of the prophet's words, if we keep in view the state of the Jewish church, hinted at a little while ago. · Who is among you;" that is, if there is one or moreif there is a small select number in the midst of general corruption and depravity, who have kept their garments unpolluted, though iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxeth cold.
« That feareth the Lord ? » You know it is common in fcripture to describe religion in
general by some particular leading branch of it. The fear of God is often made use of for this purpose, as in that paffage, there shall be no want to them that fear bim.' It may, therefore, fignify those who have a fincere and un. feigned regard to the commandments of God, and have chosen him as their portion and hope. Those who de. fire and deserve to be distinguished from the profane de. spiser—the secure formalist, or the disguised hypocrite. Those, in a word, who are, and who desire to appear to use the strong language of seripture upon the Lord's fide in every struggle, and who resolve with Joshua, that whatever others do, for their part they will serve the Lord.
But I cannot help thinking, we may also, with great safety, explain the words in a closer and stricter sense, and fuppose, that by fearing the Lord is to be understood a due reverence for his infinite majesty, a humble veneration for his facred authority. This is a most excellent fence or guard to the conscience in an evil time, and a noble preservative from the spreading infection and insinuating poison of prevailing or fashionable fins. It is also the usual character of a difTolute age to have cast off fear, to treat the most sacred things with scorn, and to look upon that