« PreviousContinue »
sible should be made like one of theirs on the morrow about that time. (1 Kings xviii.—chap. xix. 2.) But the Lord took care of him, and fed him by an angel, and he went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights, unto Ilortb the mount of God. (chap. xix.) And after this Elijah done mighty wonders, and he was taken up into heaven by the chariot of love. (2 Kings ii. 11.) And I believe that his station and rank is high in heaven, and that he was revealed again according to the Gospel. (Mark ix.) Therefore know this that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself, and he will hear their prayer when they cry unto him. (Psalm iv. 3.) Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. (Psalm xxxiv. 19.) And again, we see what love and care the Lord had for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and how he stood in the midst of the fire with them, with healing in his wings, and he delivered them from the king's wrath, and his presence assuaged and cooled the burning flame, so that those men received no hurt. (;;an. iii.) Surely the Lord showed forth his loving-kindness to his people in a strange land, and in affliction, because his mercy endureth for ever.
And again, we see what love and care the Lord had for Daniel, in the midst of the devouring lions; and although Daniel's enemies were cruel, and full of subtilty to find out a way whereby they may destroy him by the devouring lions, and it is true that they had their desired end, by casting him into the den of lions; but his God was with him there, and sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, so that it appears that they became as harmless as lambs, and done him no hurt, because he was found innocent and faithful in this thing, and trusted in his God ; but his enemies being cast into the lions' den, for their wicked and subtile accusation that they had alleged against him, therefore the lions began., and had the mastery of them, and broke and tore their bones in pieces as soon as they were cast into the den ; and thus we see the Lord's care for his people, and how he plenteously rewardest the evil doers. (Dan. vi.) 0 praise the Lord, all ye saints of his, () how excellent is thy loving-kindness 0 God, therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. (Psalm xxxvi. 7.) And again, hear ye what the Lord saith to comfort his people, When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt: neither shall the flame'kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. (Isaiah xliii. 2.) O my blessed and heavenly Father, Lord, and Saviour, believing and seeing that ihy word is truth, surely then thy children shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thv pleasures, for with thee is the fountain of life, and at thy right hand there is pleasures for evermore. Amen.
But there may be some perhaps that may say that there are passages in the Scriptures to be found where the righteous have not always been delivered out of the hands of their enemies in this world, yes my reader, and it appears to be true, and what shall we say concerning these things: now in a temporal sense, observe the criminal, here, he is not always punished immediately after he hath committed the crime, but he is kept in confinement until the time of trial, and then he hath his sentence of judgment passed upon him, according to his crime; and so it is in a more spiritual sense; for all things are not finally settled here on the earth, for sometimes we see the innocent condemned, and the guilty go free, but this predicts that there is a judgment day to be. And again, the wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth, but the Lord shall laugh at him, for he seeth that his day is coming. (Psalm xxxvii. 12.) And again, we oftentimes see Almighty God's power and salvation displayed on the earth; but 0! How much more shall we see at that day in the heavens, and every thing will be discovered in that day, and we shall be all judged according to our works, whether they are good or bad; therefore fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. x. 28.)
END OF THE TWENTY-FIFTH BOOK,
BOOK THE TWENTY-SIXTH.
ui Description of the Righteous and the Wicked, and their End.
In this Book you have a description of the Trials of the Righteous, in reference to the wicked, in their lusts, pride, and prosperity, and also the victory over this temptation, and also the miserable end of the wicked, and the eternal glory of the righteous; it is chiejly taken from the 73rd Psalm, by chapter and verse, and explained throughout.
Now, if any of my readers are not sufficiently satisfied upon what I have written concerning the state, condition, and circumstances of the righteous and the wicked, I say to those, I would advise you to read this Book, because in it you may see a more full description of the righteous and the wicked, and their end. And now, by Divine Grace, the first subject that I intend to enter upon, you may find in the 73rd Psalm. Now this doth not appear to me to be a Psalm of David, but it is said to be a Psalm of Asaph, and it appears tnat he was one of the sweet Psalmists, and his children, in singing, set forth the praises of God. And now this high, proud, wicked, lustful, grand temptation of the devil which beset him, and that worked about his sinful nature, I am ready to think that he experienced it in the early part of his religious life, even when he was in full vigour and strength; and the sweet I salmist commences and begins this Psalm, and ascribes all to the goodness of God. (verse 1.) Truly God is good to Israel, saith he, even to such as are of a clean heart. And now this sore temptation seems to be overcome when he began to pen down this Psalm, therefore he sees and acknowledges the tender mercy of God towards his children; and now he begins to set forth the thoughts and feelings that harrassed his mind in the time of this temptation, and he confesseth (verse 2) that his feet were almost gone, and that his steps had wellnigh slipped; but bless the Lord that they were not quite gone; (verse 3) for I was envious at the foolish, saith he, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked, as much as to say, for at times my way seems hard, and their way seems easy ; and at . times I have a desire for a tnste of their happiness. (verse 4.) For there are no bands in their death; but their strength is firm, that is, they pay no regard nor no attention unto death, they have no union nor no connection in or with death, because the wickedness of their lust lifteth them up against God, and their strength is firm, lusty, and strong, (verse 5) they are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men; no, they are not, for things seem to go well with them in this world: therefore the Psalmist was grieved when he saw these things so, and on the other hand, oftentimes saw the people of God in great adversity. (verse 6.) Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain ; violence covereth them as a garment; and it is true, for instead of giving glory and praise to God for all their temporal blessings, they indulge themselves in lust and pride, so that it compasseth them as a chain, and violence and cruelty is their garment. (verse 7.) Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. And my brethren so it is seen in bur days, but read on and you will see their end; (verse 8) they are corrupt and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak softly: 0 how high are they lifted up by pride, lust, and riches, and they are lull of oppression, and grind th6 face of the poor. (Isaiah iii. 15, 9.) They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue vvalketh through the earth; ah! they despise heaven, and the goodness of God who feedest them day by day, and because of their pride and riches their tongue carrieth the sway through the world, (verse 9) therefore his people return hither, and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them; therefore because it is so, many let go the reins, and drink in the pleasures of sin, to the greatest extent, (verse 11) and they say how doth God know"? and is there knowledge in the Most High? Ah! their proud, lustful nature lifts them as it were above the God of heaven ; O how they grieve the spirit, and cast a contempt upon the Almighty, and disdain the most holy one of Israel. (See—Job an.—Jer. xii.—Hab. i. 4.) And there you will see how they correspond and tally with thi3 Psalm. (verse 12.) Behold these are the ungodly who prosper in the world, they increase in riches. (verse 13.) And when the Psalmist saw how the ungodly prospered in this world, and that they had riches in possession, he was almost astonished, and filled with great surprise, and said, Verily I have cleansed my heart in Vain,
and washed my hands in innocence. (verse 14.) For all the day long have I been plagued and chastened every morning. My beloved brethren, observe that word, verily I have cleansed my heart in vain: now for one to say, 1 have cleansed my heart in vain, it must be offensive to the children of God, and to the cause of God; for if we believe this, it will throw down the foundation of our faith altogether: but at the same time, we must not condemn the sweet Psalmist; for it appears to me to be what passed through his mind in the time of this sharp conflict of the world, flesh, and the devil; and it shows using, and our infirm weakness, and although this sore temptation beset him hard, and tried his precious soul, yet he did not utterly fall, but by grace he struggled through, and set forth the praises of his God again. (verse 15.) And if I say, I will speak thus: saith he then, behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. (verse 16.) When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me. Now it appears to me that he was ashamed and afraid to tell his people his state and condition in this trial, for fear that he should offend them, therefore when he thought to know this, it was too painful for him, or too hard for him, for he could not fully comprehend how these things were, (verse 17) until he went into the sanctuary of God, then understood he their end; behold it was in the sanctuary where the Lord gave him a fresh supply of grace, and there the Loid opened his understanding, that he might understand the mercy and justice of God; and when he rightly considered these things, then methinks, 0 how sweetly hjs heart. was tuned, to sing the first Psalm. (verse 18.) And in the sanctuary where it was given him to see the destruction of the wicked, he saith, Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. Observe, it is the abominable sins of the wicked, which is the cause of their being set in slippery places; for how can the most detestable sinner in the sight of God, expect to stand upon the beautiful stones of Zion. (verse. 19.) Then saith he again, how are they brought into desolation, as in a moment, they are utterly consumed with terrors; O how suddenly do they consume and perish, and come to a fearful end. (verse 20.) Even like as a dream when one awaketh, so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image, the day of judgment delays as it were to us, like one in a sleep, but the time will come when the Lord will awake to judgment, and then he will despise their image; but because