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ftrength to the poor, a ftrength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a fhadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as the ftorm against the wall.” Neither is there any thing in your experience contradictory to, the encouraging reports others have made of God; you must acknowledge, that notwithstanding your own changeableness, who have hardly been able to maintain your hearts in any spiritual frame towards God for one day together, yet his mercies towards you have been new every morning, and great hath been his faithfulness. You have often turned afide from the way of your duty, and have not followed God in a fteddy courfe of obedience; and yet, for all that, his goodness and mercy have followed you all the days of your life, as it is Pfal. xxiii. 6.
2. Confider how often you have doubted and mistrusted the unchangeablenefs of God, and been forced, with fhame and forrow, to retract your folly therein; God hath many times con vinced you, that his love to you is an unchangeable love, how many changes foever, in the course of his providence, have paffed over you; confult Ifa. xlix. 14. and Pfal. lxxvii. 78. and fee how the cafes are parallel, both in refpect of God's conftancy to them and you, and the inconftancy of his people's faith then, and yours now; your fears and doubts are the fame with theirs ; though his goodness and love have been as unchangeable to you, as ever it was to them.
3. Confider the advocateship and interceffion of Jefus Chrift in heaven for you, by virtue whereof the favour and love of God becomes unalterable towards his people. If any thing can be supposed to cool or quench the love of God towards you, nothing in the world is more like to do it than your fin; and this, indeed, is that which you fear will eftrange and alienate the heart of your God from you. But, reader, if thou be one that fincerely mourneft for all the grief and dishonour of God by thy fin, appliest the blood of sprinkling to thy foul by faith, and makeft mortification and watchfulness thy daily business; comfort thyself against that fear from that fingular encouragement given thee in this cafe, 1 John ii. 1, 2. "My little children, "these things write I unto you, that ye fin not; and if any man "fin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jefus Chrift the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our fins." Look as the death of Chrift healed the great breach betwixt God and thy foul, by thy reconciliation at firft; fo the powerful interceffion of Chrift in heaven, effectually prevents all new breaches VOL. IV. U
betwixt God and thy foul afterwards, fo that he will never totally and finally caft thee off again.
(2.) Shut the door behind you against all objections, scruples, and queftionings of God's immutability, and, by a resolved and fteddy faith, maintain the honour of God in this point, by thy conftant adherence to it, and dependence upon it; and ef pecially fee that thou give him the glory of his unchangeableness.
1. When thou shalt fee the greatest alterations and changes made by his providence in the world. What though thou fhouldft live to fee all things turned upside down, the foundati ons out of courle, all things drawing into a fea of confufion and trouble? yet in the midst of thofe public distractions, and diftreis of nations, encourage thou thyfelf in this; thy God, and his love to his people, is the fame tor ever. Pfal. xlvi. 1, 2, 3. 4, 5. "God is our refuge and ftrength, a very present help in "trouble; therefore will we not fear, though the earth be mov"ed, and the mountains be caft into the midst of the sea, God "is in the midst of her, the fall not be moved."
2. Live by faith upon God's unchangeablenefs under the greatest changes of your own condition in this world, Providence may make great alterations upon all your outward comforts, it may caft you down, how dear foever you be to God, from riches into poverty, from health into fickness, from honour into reproach, from liberty into bondage; thou mayeft overlive all thy comfortable relations, and of a Naomi become a Marah, Thou haft lifted me up, and caft me down, faid as good a man as you, Pfal. cii. 10. Yet ftill it is your duty, and will be your great privilege in the midst of all thefe changes, to act your faith upon the never-changing God, as that holy man did, Hab. iii. "Although the fig-tree fhall not bloffom, neither fruit be in the vine; the labour of the olive fhall fail; and the fields "fhall yield no meat; the flocks fhall be cut off from the fold, "and there shall be no herd in the ftall; yet will I rejoice in "the Lord, I will joy in the God of my falvation;" q. d. Suppofe a thousand difappointments of my earthly hopes, yet will I maintain my hope in God. O Chriftian! with how many yets, notwithstandings, and nevertheleffes, muft thy faith bear up in times of trouble, or thou wilt fink.
3. See thou live upon God's unchangeableness, when age and Sicknefs fhall inform thee, that thy great change is at hand; though thy heart and thy flefh fail, comfort thyfelf with this, 'thy God will never fail thee, Pfal. lxxiii, 16. “O God (faith David) thou haft taught me from my youth, and hitherto “have I declared thy wondrous works, now also when I am
"old and gray-headed, forfake me not," Pfal, lxxi, 17, 18. 4. Live upon the unchangeableness of God under the greateft and faddeft changes of your fpiritual condition; God may cloud the light of his countenance over thy foul, he may fill thee with fears and troubles, and the Comforter that should relieve thee may feem to be far off; yet fill maintain thy faith in the unchangeablenefs of his loves; truft in the name of the Lord, ftay thyself upon thy God, when thou walkeft in dark. nefs, and haft no light, Ifa. 1. 10. Thus fhut thy door. (3.) Improve the unchangeablenefs of God to thy best advan tage in the worft times, by drawing thence fuch comfortable conclufions as thefe.
1. If God be an unchangeable God in his promises, and in his love to his people, what should hinder but the people of God may live happily and comfortably in the faddeft times, and greatest troubles upon earth. "As forrowful, yet always re
joicing, as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, "yet poffeffing all things," 2 Cor. vi. 10. "Certainly nothing "ought to quench a Chriftian's mirth, that is not able to fepa"rate him from the love of Chrift," Rom. viii. 35.
2. If God be an unchangeable God in his love to his people; then it becomes all that have special intereft in this God, to be unchangeable and immoveable in the ways of their obedience towards him: God will not caft you off, fee that you caft not off your duties, no, not when they are furrounded with difficulties; he loves you, though you often grieve him by fin; fee that you still love him, though he often grieve and burden you by affliction: he will own you for his people under the greatest contempts and reproaches of the world; fee that you own and honour his ways and truths, when you are under most reproach from a vile world,
Opening the care of God for his people in times of trouble, as the fifth chamber of rest to believers.
Sect. I. CARE, in the general notion of it, as it is applied to the creature, imports the ftudioufnefs and folicitoufnefs of our thoughts, for the fafety and welfare of ourselves, or those we love and highly value. Now, though there be 40 fuch thing properly in God, at whofe difpofe and pleasure
all events are, and to whofe counfels and appointments all difficulties must give way; yet he is pleafed to accommodate himself to our weakness, and exprefs his regard and love to his people, by fuch things as one creature doth to another, to which it is endeared by relation or affection. To this purpose we may find many fignificant fynonymous expreffions in scripture, all importing the care of God over his people, in a pleafant variety of notion and expreffion, as Nah. i. 7. "The Lord " is good, a ftrong hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that truft in him."
He knoweth them, i. e. he hath a special, tender, and careful eye upon them, to fee their wants fupplied, and to protect them in all their dangers; for in the common and general fenfe he knoweth them that truft not in him, as well as thofe that do; and farther to clear this fenfe of the place, it is faid, Pfal. xl. 17. "The Lord thinketh on them." Importing not only fimple cogitation, but the immoration or abiding of his thoughts upon them, as our thoughts are wont to do upon that which we highly esteem, especially when any danger is near it. And yet farther, to clear this fenfe, it is faid, Job xxxvi. 7. "He
withdraweth not his eye from the righteous." As when Mofes was expofed in the ark of bulrufhes, where his life was in imminent hazards by the waters of Nilus on one fide, and the Egyptian cut-throats on the other; his fifter Miriam kept watch at a distance, to fee what would be done to him. Her eye was never off that ark wherein her dear brother lay; fear and care engaged her eye to keep a true watch for him. Thus the Lord withdraweth not his eye from the righteous. To the fame purpose is that expreffion, Deut. xxxiii. 3. " Yea, he loved "the people; all his faints are in thy hand." That which we dearly love and prize above ordinary, we keep in our own hands for its fecurity, as not thinking it fafe enough in any other hand or place. And once more, Ifa. xlix. 16. God is faid to engrave them upon the palms of his hands, alluding to what is cuftomary among men, who, when they would charge their memories with fomething of fpecial concernment, ufe to change a ring, or bind a thread about the finger, to put them in mind of it. Thus is the care of our God expreffed to us in fcripturenotions. The amount of all which is given to us in that one proper and full expreffion of the apostle, 1 Pet. i. 7. He careth for To open this chamber of divine care, as a place of sweetelt you. reft, to our anxious and perplexed minds, in times of difficulty and hazard, it will be neceffary that you feriously ponder,
1. The grounds and reafons
2. The extent and compafs of the care of God.
(1.) The grounds and reafons of God's care for his people; which are,
1. The ftrict and dear relations in which he is pleased to own them. Believers are his children, and you know how naturally children engage and draw forth the father's care for them. This is the argument Chrift ufes, Mat. vi. 31, 32. "Therefore, take no thought, faying, what fhall we eat? Or
what fhall we drink? Or wherewithal fhall we be cloathed ? "For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all "those things." Children, efpecially when young, difquiet not themselves about provifions for back or belly, but leave that to the care of their parents, from whom, by the tye and bonds of nature and love, they expect provifion for all those wants: Every one takes care for his own; much more doth God for his own children, and, indeed, he expects his children fhould live upon his care; as our children in their minority, do upon
2. God's precious eftimation and value of them, engage his conftant care for them. Believers are his jewels, Mal. iii. 17. his peculiar people, 1 Pet. ii. 6. his fpecial portion or treasure in this world, Deut. xxxii. 9. and as fuch he prizes and esteems them above all the people of the earth, and accordingly exercifeth his fpecial care in all the dangers they are exposed to. Special love engageth peculiar care.
3. The dangers and fears of the people of God, in this world, are many and great; and were it not for the Lord's affiduous and tender care over them, they must neceffarily be ruined, both in foul and body by them. The church is God's vineyard, its enemies as fo many wild boars to root it up: Upon this account he faith, Ifa. xxvii. 3. "I the Lord do keep
it, left any hurt it, I will keep it night and day." And, indeed, it is well for Ifrael, that he that keepeth it, never flumbereth nor fleepeth, Pfal. cxxi. 4. that our houses are in peace, that we and our dear relations fall not as a prey into cruel and bloody hands fkilful to deftroy, that we find any reft, or comfort in fo evil and dangerous a world, it is wholly and only to be afcribed to the care of God over us and ours.
4. Jefus Chrift hath folemnly recommended all the people of God to his particular care. It was one of the laft expreffions of Chrift's love to them at the parting hour, John xvii. 11.“ And "pow I am no more in the world, but these are in the world;