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13. If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifia unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that auk him. They are blessed indeed, whose difficulties bring them to God's throne of grace, where they obtain mercy and find grace to help them in the time of need; bring them to wrestle with the angel of the covenant, and to get his blessing. In a word, if we would have comfortable experience of the removal of our difficulties, we are not to neglect any of the means of divine appointment, such as, fasting, the sacraments, covenanting, -Prov. viii. 34. Blessed is the man that hearcth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the ports of my doors.
In the last place, the Lord's people are concerned to wait on him patiently for the removal of their difficulties. Even though they should be as yet, no sensible prospect of the removal of them, they will hope in his word; utterly refusing to go to any other door for relief; Saying with the Disciples, Lord, to whom shall we go; thou hast the words of eternal life. They desire and purpose, through grace, to continue in prayer. It is the design of a great part of Christ's word to encourage his people to persevere in this exercise, See particularly, Luke xviii. 1 8.
We now proceed to speak a little on the second proposition, which we laid down, namely, that in setting forward in the Lord's way, at his call, his people often get a comfortable view of the removal of their difficulties: as these women, when they came to the sepulchre, saw, that the stone was rolled away.
Here we may speak, first, of setting forward in the Lord's way at his call, Secondly, of the view that his people get of the removal of their difficulties.
With regard to setting forward in the Load's way, we observe, that it includes these four things: First, a steady view of the Lord's command as our warrant. His authority ought to be both the rule and the reason of of what we do. To those that ask us why we do such things, we should have it to say, The Lord in his word hath bidden us; and we dare not, and will not neglect them.
Secondly, a steady view of our encouragement ift the word of grace and promise.
Thirdly, an humbling sense of difficulties both from within and from without.
Fourthly, a resolution to adhere to the direction of the Lord's command, and to the encouragement of his promise amidst all the sensible difficulties that arise. Christians should say with the Psalmist,
"Though I in midst of trouble walk,
"I life from thee shall have:
"Thy right hand shall me save.
'With regard to the experience which the Lord's people have, of their difficulties being removed; while they are setting forward in his way in obedience to his call, we observe two things. First, it is often the case that when they set forward in any duty in obedience to the Lord's call, and in dependance on his grace, they have a gracious experience of the actual removal of some particular difficulty with which they had been sorely opftressed; They found themselves so much distracted by some particular temptation, that they were ready to say, That it was vain for them to attempt such a duty. Yet, in actually setting about it from a regard to God's authority, their fears have been secretly disappointed; for they have found the temptation in a great measure, if not entirely, removed, as when the children of Israel were in a great strait. On the one side insuperable rocks; and on the other side and before them, the red sea. While they were in this situation, they were commanded to go forward* and, in doing so, a safe passage was opened to them, by the miraculous recess of the waters of the sea.
The Second thing we observe, is, that, even when the difficulty itself is not sensibly removed, the Christian, in setting forward at the Lord's call, finds such seasonable support afforded, as encourageth him to hold on in his way: So that, even in this case, the stone is in effect rolled away, Thus when Paul was
•Jfoirig forward in the exercise of prayer about a certainj temptation of Satan, the temptation itseli was not removed; but the Lord gave him a sweet assurance of support and through bearing under it, 2 Corinth. xii. 9. And he laid unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: Jf. r my strength is made perfect in weakness. This was, upon the matter, a rolling away of the stone: accordingly, he adds, Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
We conclude with a word of exhortation. Consider deliverance from the guilt and power of sin as yourgreat concern. Unless you get these stones rolled a»-w.iy, you can have no communion with God: you must perish for ever. Concerning this matter wc, in the Lord's name offer you the following cautions.
1. Beware of carelessness about the deliverance of your soul from the guilt and power of sin. Careless persons, inattentive to the concerns of their souls, in* different about the truths revealed and the duties enjoined in God's word, not knowing the plague of their own heart, neglectors of prayer, despisers of Divine ordinances, are manifestly in the broad way that leadeth to destruction.
2. Beware of thinking to roll away the stones by your own wisdom and strength. Jerem. ix. 23. Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches. But Let him glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord, who exercise loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth. Isai. xl. 30. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fail.
1 Sam. ii. 9. By strength shall no man prevail. The gospel way of salvation excludes boasting, and pours contempt on all the glory of man's own wisdom, righteousness, and strength. Here Christ is all, and free grace reigns through his righteousness unto eternal life. Coloss. iii. 11. Rom. v. 21.
3. Beware of the devices of Satan in this matter. One of these devices is,, to make you think the guilt and power of your sins which are the real bars to your attainment of communion with God, to be no bars at all, or so trivial, that you yourselves may remove them at any time. O remember, that they are Fools, who make a mock or make light, of sin; and that nothing can take away the guilt of sin but the infinitely precious blood of Christ; and nothing can overcome the power of it but the Almighty operation of the Holy Spirit. Another of his devices, is to make you take up with some false or pretended method of removing these real bars; such as that of trusting in the absolute mercy of God without a Mediator or that of going about to establish your own righteousness, either under the notion of its being formally your justifying nghteousness, or under the notion of its being a condition or qualification giving you a right and title to the righteousness wrought out by Immanuel. There are but two ways of justification before God: the one is that of an innocent person on account of his own righteousness: the other is that of a sinner on" account of the righteousness of Christ imputed to him. The one is attained by working: the other in the way of an immediate dependance on Him whose name is the Lord our Righteousness. A third device of Satan, which we warn you to beware of, is his raising a variety of false bars to prevent you from embracing the only effectual way of getting the real bars to your attainment of true blessedness removed, that is, the way revealed in the glorious gospel. One of these false bars is, that it is folly to think, that believing in Christ, or relying on his promise, is the way to get these difficulties removed, these stones rolled away. Thus Satan made the polite and learned Greeks account the preaching of Christ crucified foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 23. Another of these false bars is, the difficulty of the Christian life. Satan represents it as impracticable to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and follow Christ. But these false bars vanish, before the light of God's word and Spirit let into the mind and discovering Christ crucified to be the power of God and the wisdom of God unto our salvation j discovering Christ's yoke to be easy and his Bb 2