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"doth his promife fail for evermore?" Thefe jealoufies are apt to creep in upon the minds of men, efpecially when,
1. God delays to answer our prayers as foon as we expect the return of them; we are all in hafte for a speedy answer, forgetting that feasons of prayer are our feed-times; and when we have fown that precious feed, we must wait for the harvest, as the husbandman doth. Even a precious Heman may find faint qualm of unbelief and defpondency feizing him by the long fufpenfion of God's aufwers, Pfal. lxxxviii. 9, 10, 11.
2. It will be hard to fhut the door upon unbelief, when al things in the eyes of our fenfe and reafon feem to work against the promife; it will require an Abraham's faith at fuch a time to glorify God by believing in hope against hope, Rom. iv. 18. If ever thou hopeft to enjoy the fweet repofe and rest of a Christian in evil times, thou must resolve, whatever thine eyes do fee, or thy fenfes report, to hold fast this as a most sure conclufion; God is faithful, and his word is fure; and that although "clouds and darkness be round about him, yet righte"oufnefs and judgment are the habitation of his throne," Pal xcvii. 2.
Oh! that you would once learn firmly to depend on God's faithfulness, and fetch your daily reliefs and fupports thence, whenfoever you are oppreffed and affaulted, either,
1. By fpiritual troubles. When you walk in darkness, and have no light, then you are to live by acts of trust and recumbency upon the most faithful one, Ifa. l. 10. Or,
2. By temporal diftreffes; fo did the people of God of old, Heb. iii. 17, 18. He lived by faith on this attribute, when all vifible comforts and fupplies were out of fight.
But especially, let me warn and caution you against five principal enemies to your repofe upon the faithfulness of God,
1. Distracting cares, which divide the mind, and eat out the peace and comfort of the heart, and which is worst of all, they reflect very dishonourably upon God who hath pledged his faithfulness and truth for our fecurity; against which, I pray you bar the door by thofe two fcriptures, Phil. iv. 6. "Be careful "for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and fupplication "with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto "God." And that in 1 Pet. v. 7. "Casting all your care upon "him, for he careth for you.'
2. Bar the door against unchristian defpondency, another enemy to the sweet repofe of your fouls in this comfortable and quiet chamber of divine faithfulness: you will find this ́unbe
coming and uncomfortable distemper of mind infinuating and creeping in upon you, except you believe and reafon it out, as David did, Pfal. xlii. 11. "Why art thou caft down, O my foul? "and why art thou difquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I fhall yet praise him."
3. Bar the door of your heart against carnal policies and finful fhifts, which war against your own faith, and God's faithful. ness, as much as any other enemy whatsoever. This was the fault of good David in a day of trouble, 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. “ And "David faid in his heart, I fhall now perish one day by the "hand of Saul; there is nothing better for me than that I "fhould speedily escape into the land of the Philistines." Alas, poor David! nothing better than this? Time was when thou couldst think on a better way, when thou couldst say, at what time I am afraid I will trust in thee. How doft thou forget thyself in this ftrait! doth thy old refuge in God fail thee now, can the PhiJiftines fecure thee better than the promises? wilt thou fly from thy best friend to thy worst enemies? but what need we wonder at David, who find the fame diftemper almost unavoidable to ourfelves in like cafes?
4. Shut the door against difcontents at, and murmurings against, the difpofitions of providence, whatever you feel or fear I perfuade you not to a ftoical apathy, and fenfeleffaefs of the evils of the times, that would preclude the exercife of patience. If the martyrs had all had the dead palfy before they came to the fire, their faith and patience had not triumphed fo gloriously as they did; but on the contrary, beware of grudg ings against the ways and will of God, than which, nothing militates more against your faith, and the peace and quietnels of your hearts.
5. To conclude, fhut the door against all fufpicions and jealoufies of the firmness and stability of the promises, when you find all fenfible comforts fhaking and trembling under your feet; have a care of fuch dangerous queftions as that, Pfal. Ixxvii. 8. Doth his promife fail? Thefe are the things which undermine the foundation both of your faith and comfort.
6. In a word, having fheltered your fouls in this chamber of reft, and thus fhut the doors behind you, all that you have to do is to take your reft in God, and enjoy the pleasure of a foul refigned into the hands of a faithful Creator, by oppofing the faithfulness of God to all the fickleness and unfaithfulness you will daily find in men, Micah vii. 6, 7. yea, to the weakness and fading of your own natural strength and ability; Pfal. lxxiii. 26." My fleth and my heart faileth, but God is the ftrength
"of my heart, and my portion for ever." And fo much of the third chamber prepared for believers in the name of their God.
CHA P. IX.
Opening to believers the unchangeableness of God, as a fourth chamber of refuge and reft in times of trouble.
Sect. I. IT is faid, Prov. ix. 1. Wisdom hath builded her house. fhe hath hewn out her seven pillars, (i. e.) She hath raised her whole building upon folid and ftable foundations; for, indeed, the ftrength of every building is according to the ground work upon which it is erected. Debile fundamentum fallit opus. The wisdom and love of God have built an house for a refuge and fanctuary to believers in tempeftuous and evil times, containing many pleafant and comfortable chambers prepared for their lodgings, till the calamities be over-past; three of them have been already opened, viz. The power, wisdom, and faithfulness of God.
The last of which leads into a fourth, much like unto it, namely, the unchangeableness of God; wherein his people may find as much relt and comfort amidst the viciffitudes of this unftable world, as in any of the former. This world is compared, Rev. xv. 2. to a fea of glafs mingled with fire. A fea for its turbulency and initability; a fea of glafs for the brittleness and frailty of every thing in it; and a fea of glass mingled with fire, to represent the sharp fufferings and fiery trials, with which the faints are exercised here below. The only fupport and comfort we have against the fickleness and inftability of the creature, is the unchangeablenefs of God. There is a twofold changeablenefs in the creature;
1. Natural, the effect of fin.
2. Sinful in its own nature.
1. Natural, let in by the fall upon all the creation; by reafon whereof the sweetest creature is but a fading flower, Pfal. cii. 26. Time, like a moth, frets out the beft wrought garment with which we cloath and deck ourselves in this world, temporalia rapit tempus. Our most pleasant enjoyments, wives, children, eftates, like the gourd in which Jonas fo delighted himself, may wither in a night; fin rings thefe changes all the world
2. Sinful, from the falfenefs, inconftancy, and deceitfulness of the creature; Solomon puts a hard question which may pose the whole world to answer it, Prov. xx. 6. A faithful man who can find? The meaning is, a man of perfect and universal faithfulness is a phoenix, leldom or never to be found in this world; for when a queftion in fcripture is moved and let fall again without any anfwer, then the fenfe is negative; but tho' the believer defpair of finding an unchangeable man, it is his happiness and comfort to find an unchangeable God.
The unchangeableness of God will appear three ways. 1. By fcripture emblems.
2. By feripture affertions.
3. By convincing arguments.
1. By fcripture emblems. Remarkable to this purpose is that place, Jam. i. 17. where God is called “the Father of lights, "with whom is no variablenefs, neither fhadow of turning;" no variablenefs. The word is, wapan, an aftronomical term, commonly applied to the heavenly bodies, which have their parallaxes, i. e. their declinations, revolutions, viciffitudes, eclipfes, increases and decreases: but God is a Sun that never rifes nor fets, but is everlastingly and unchangeably one and the fame; with him is no variablenets nor hadow of turning, τροπῆς ἀποσκίασμα. The fun in its zenith cafts no fhadow, it is the tropic, or turning of its courfe, that causes the shadow; the very fubitance of turning is with man; but not the least fhadow of turning with God. And in Deut. xxxii. 4. Mofes tells us, God is a rock, and his work is perfect. And indeed perfect working neceffarily follows a perfect being. Now there is nothing found in nature more folid, fixed, and immutable than a rock; the firmest buildings will decay; a few ages will make them a ruinous heap; but though one age pafs away, and another comes, the rocks abide where and what they were; Our God is the rock of ages; and yet one-ftep higher, in Zech. vi. 1. his decrees and purposes are called mountains of brafs, that is, most firm, durable, and unchangeable purposes. Thus the immutability of God is thadowed forth to us in fcripture emblems.
2. The fame allo you will find in plain, pofitive fcripture affertions; fuch as these that follow, Mal. iii. 6. "I am the "Lord, I change not, therefore ye fons of Jacob are not con"fumed." And Job. xxiii. 13. "He is in one mind, and who * can turn him?" Men are in one mind to day, and another tớ morrow; the winds are not more variable, than the minds of men; but God is in one mind, the purposes of his heart never change. Thou art the same, or as fome tranflate, Thou art thy
felf for ever, Pfal. cii. 27. Thus when Mofes defired to know his name, that he might tell Pharoah from whom he came; the anfwer is, I AM hath fent me, Exod. iii. 14. not was, or I will be, but I AM THAT I AM, noting the abfolute un changeableness of his nature.
3. The unchangeableness of God is fully proved by convincing arguments which divines commonly draw from fuch topics as thefe, viz.
1. The perfection of his goodness.
2. The purity of his nature.
3. The glory of his name.
Arg. 1. From the perfection of his goodness and blessedness, God is optimus maximus, the best and chiefest good, and in that fenfe," There is none good but one, which is God," Mark x. 18. From whence it is thus argued, if there be any change in God, that change muft either be for the better, or for the worse, or into a ftate equal with that he poffeffed before.
But not for the better, for then he could not be the chief good; nor for the worse, for then he must cease to be God, the perfection of whole nature is perfectly exclufive of all defects; nor into an equal state of goodness with that he poffefled before; that notion would involve Polytheism, and fuppofe two first and equal beings, befides the vanity of fuch a change would be abfolutely repugnant to the wifdom of God.
Therefore with the Father of lights can be no variableness nor fhadow of turning.
Arg. 2. The unchangeableness of God may be evinced from the purity, fincerity, and uncompoundedness of his being, in which there neither is, nor can be the least mixture, he being a pure act. From whence it is thus argued;
If there be any change in God, that change must be made either by something without himself; or by fomething within himself, or by both together.
But it cannot be by any thing without himself; for in him all created dependent beings live and move, and enjoy the beings they bave; and all the changes that are among them, are from the pleasure of this unchangeable Being, he changeth them, but it is not poffible for him, upon whofe pleasure they fo entirely, and abfolutely depend, both as to their beings and workings, to fuffer any change himself from, or by them.
Nor can any fuch change be made upon God by any thing within himself; for that would suppose action and passion, movens et motum, a mixture and compofition in his nature,