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him will I trust. He will deliver me from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust. His truth shall be thy shield and thy buckler.”
They who dwell in the secret place of the most High will be defended from great and dangerous temptations.
Greater is he who is with them than all their enemies who are in the world. They are under the security of God's promise, that ihe wicked one shall not touch them, or if he should assail them, they shall be able to tread him under their feet; and when they resist him, he shall flee from them—that no temptation shall take them which is too mighty for them, but with every temptation, there shall be a way of escape, that they may be able to bear it.
They shall be secured from final apostacy. If they fall, God will raise them up, and keep them by his power, through faith, unto salvation-and none shall be able to pluck them out of his hands.
They shall be preserved from the dangers of the world. The common afflictions of life are incident to them as well as to others; but then they have the promise of God, that all things shall work for their good—that nothing shall separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, but that in all their tribulations they shall be more than conquerors through him that loved them.
Death is indeed appointed for them as well as for others. To exempt them from death was no part of the design of Christ's redemption, and no part of the privilege promised to them. But from the evil of death they shall be delivered. The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but to believers, God has given the victory through Jesus Christ. Death is to them a blessing; for it is their deliverance from this world of sin, temptation and sorrow, and their passage to a better world, where they shall be present with their Lord and enjoy the riches of the inheritance prepared for them there. They have nothing to fear from those dangers which alarm the guilty-for these will be prevented, as long as it is best for them that life should be continued
and if these should prove the means of death, death will be their gain.
2. To dwell under the shadow of the most High is not only a safe, but a comfortable situation. A shadow is a place of retreat from the sun, and of refreshment in weariness, and therefore is figuratively used in scripture to express a state of consolation in trouble. Hence it is foretold of the Messiah, that he should be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
There is great consolation in that nearness to God, which they enjoy who dwell in his secret place. They may freely open to him their wants and make known their requests. Whatever their troubles may be, whether inward or outward-whether from the corruptions of their hearts, or the temptations of the worldwhether frorn doubts of their own good state, or fears of surrounding enemies, they may immediately repair to God, and tell him their distresses. They may pour out their souls into his ear, and be assured that he will hear them. They may express in his presence all their feelings, such as they would not communicate to the nearest earthly friend. Thus they may cast their cares and burdens upon him.
We find it, in many cases, a great relief to communicate our troubles to earthly friends—much greater consolation must it be to spread them before that heavenly friend, who will judge for us with perfect wisdom, and can do for us more than we ask or think.
They who dwell near to God, receive from him grace to help in time of need, and such measures of grace as their case requires, either for support in affliction-succour in temptations—assistance in duty-defence in danger, and direction in darkness.
They have many promises to rely upon. The scripture abounds in promises of the most important blessings; and all these promises belong to good men. Whatever their condition may be, they may look into the word of God, and there find some promise exactly suited to it. Hence David says, Unless thy law had been my delight, I should have perished in mine afiliction. I will de
light myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. Remem ber thy word unto thy servant on which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for thy word hath quickened me.
They have comfort in their past experience of God's grace. They review with pleasure and gratitude the power of God's grace in awakening them from their stupidity-in renewing them to repentance-in defending them from temptations in supporting them under afflictions-in answering their prayers, and in giving them the tokens of his favour and love. This experience of God's mercy encourages their hearts to trust in him in all their fears and perplexities. If at any time, they are tempted to say, “God's mercy is gone, and he has forgotten to be gracious," they look back, and remember the years of the right hand of the most High and call to mind his wonders of old.
They have comfort in hope. They now dwell in the secret place of the most High. But they hope soon to dwell in the open place of his glory-in heaven itself, where there is fulness of joy and pleasure forevermore-where they shall see God as he is-serve him without sin, and enjoy him without interruption.
We have described the character, and illustrated the security of those who dwell in a state of nearness to God. And who of us does not wish to dwell in such a state ?
We see that the world is full of dangers. These dangers are at some times more apparent than at others. But they are more or less apparent at all times.
This is a time, when dangers threaten us on every side. A pestilence* is commissioned to spread death and mourning among us—especially among our children. So great a mortality has never been known in this place. Within the compass of about eighty families there have been fifteen deaths in about the same number of days—and the distemper still prevails-new cases almost daily appear—and several subjects are considered as in extreme danger. The power of medicine fails among the children in most cases, where the attack is violent. We know no effectual means of defence—no place of security against this awful malady.
• The dysentery, in the autumn of 1800.
If we hear of a physician who professes skill to remove it, we seek his aid. If we knew a place where we need not be afraid for the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor for the destruction which wasteth at noon day, thither we would repair, and thither we would carry our children. There is no such place on earth. But there is the secret place of the most High, in which we may dwell secure under the shadow of the Almighty. There no evil will reach us. If sickness there invade us, yet it will not hurt us—it will not separate us from God-if it should put an end to our mortal life, it will bring us to life eternal.
The warning of providence seems to be peculiarly directed to you who are young. If you wish to know where you shall find safety in this time of sickness and mortality, our text instructs you; go and dwell in the secret place of the most High; enter into God's covenant. This is the secret place where you may dwell securely.
The covenant of grace is framed for such as you—for helpless, unworthy, guilty creatures. It offers you pardon and life. You have been taught, what it is to enter into this covenant so as to obtain the security which it promises. You must renounce sin with sorrow of heart for it, and with a hatred of it, and resolution against it-you must commit yourselves to Jesus Christ by faith in his righteousness for justification, and devote yourselves to serve him in newness of life. By this faith, repentance and selfdedication you enter into God's covenant, and you abide in it by continued watchfulness against sin—by the renewal of your repentance for all known transgression, and by a steady obedience
you will be safe under the shadow of the Almighty. He will de
overrule it for your good-he will preserve you from death, or make it gain to you. Having thus entered into God's secret place, come forward and make an open declaration of your relation to God and of your faith in his promises. Take him to be your God by a sincere dedication of yourselves, and avouch him to be your God by a public profession of this dedication. Consider,
security. You are continually exposed to death with all its consequences to guilty souls. When you come into this place you are safe. Sickness and death cannot hurt you there. They who are far from God, perish. It will be good for you to draw near to him—to come and dwell with him. Delay no longer-make haste to get into this place of safety. It is now open for you to enter in-you are invited—arise, flee for refuge—God himself calls you. There is room for you, and it is his will that his house should be filled. He loves to see it filled with the young. Come, you know the way. There is nothing to hinder your obtaining security, but your own corrupt hearts. Indulge this corruption no longer. Give yourselves up now to God-take him for your God—improve his grace-trust in his mercy—submit to his government-cast yourselves on his care-forsake the foolish and live, and go in the way of understanding. Then shall no evil befall, nor any plague. Godwill keep you under his protection, guide you by his counsel and afterward receive you to glory.