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to me? I am far from the crown. If it be in the heavens how shall 1 attain unto it? It is afar reach thither. But I say unto thee, yet by thy trusting in God it is most sure that it is in heaven for thee, and thou art kept safe by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, which, after thy patience, is prepared to be showed unto thee in the last times. It is sure enough, if thou trust in God: but thou must trust perfectly and attend the time.
Faith is the instrument by which we keep our hold of Christ; but this power of God, whereby we are kept from falling away, and by which we are assured to be enabled so to live as we may at the last possess this crown, is the chief stay of our trust. It is a fault in all of us, that, for the most part, we seek comfort from ourselves, and in our goodness, or from some inherent holiness and good works; we would gladly gather matter of this trust from ourselves. Yet, if we would be assured of true comfort, we must go out of ourselves, relying only upon the free mercies, and free promises of life in Christ. Then shall we indeed obtain sound and perfect comfort, for so long as we rely upon any thing in us, we are miserably deceived. Let our sanctity be never so great, let our holiness and pure life seem never so strict, yet if we rely thereupon, grounding on it our trust, the devil shall pick a number of holes, in the hour of tentation, even in our purest actions, to the least of which we shall not be able to answer; our own evidence shall rather serve to overthrow us, and bring us to confusion, not being able to answer one of a thousand. If yet, leaving ourselves we fly unto Christ, seeing our own imperfections and wickedness, laying hold of his righteousness and perfections, as our only stay, making this the ground of our assurance and trust, this indeed shall be a strong rock unto us against all Satan's tentations, and a shield which all the force of Satan shall never be able to pierce. This trusting in God must be that sure anchor, which must uphold us in all tempests whatsoever. As thereforeTM, when Paul and all his company were tossed to
and fro in the Adriatic Sea, being in danger of their lives, in the night time, yet they did cast forth anchors in the dark out of the stern, wishing for the day; so must all of us who would be assured of any settled comfort, whereupon to rely, we must learn to trust so in God betimes, that we may cast forth an anchor in the dark, waiting for the morning as they did. We must, when all other comforts fail, hold fast this trust.
If, therefore, when the comfort of the Spirit seemeth to have left thee, if, when thou art tossed up and down in raging waves of divers adversities, which come tumbling upon thee, as one wave upon another, yet thou knowest not whither to turn thee: nay, if when God seemeth to be thine enemy, and in thine own thinking to have forgotten to be merciful, thou walking in the shadow of death, here is the trial of thy trust. If then thou canst pick some comfort from these alarms, if then thou canst meditate on the nature of God, trust in his promises, and throw out an anchor in the dark, expecting the morning of deliverance, thou art in an happy and blessed estate, it is not possible that thou shouldest perish. Now our hope to us is a most sure anchor, if (as the apostle to the Hebrews speaketh) we pitch it upwards within the veil, into the holy of holies. Then are we in a safe estate, come life, or death, when by a lively faith, which hath burst through a world of tentations, by many combats, and strong cries, in assurance of the nature of God, we have once laid so sure hold of Christ, that we have now made him our own, that we have bound him perpetually to be ours, with the bonds of his own free promises, and cords of his preventing love, that unless he would now forfeit his bonds, and deny himself (which is impossible") we are sure of his love. Beloved, thus must our hope be pitched upwards within the veil, if we would attain to this trusting in God by degrees, (as Abraham crept, by little and little, nearer and nearer unto God in begging mercy for the Sodomites,) so must we by all means encroach and creep nearer and nearer unto
"2 Tim. chap. 2. ver. 13.
Christ, until at last, by pitching our anchor within the veil, we have learned in all extremities to trust in Christ. The wicked, they cast their anchors downwards, and therefore they in their troubles are like the raging waves of the sea tossed higher and higher, without any peace. But let us, who have not thus learned Christ, cast our anchors upwards within the veil. This must help us in the dark, when the testimonies of the spirit will fail us; and what shall we then do, if we have not learned to trust in God.
A further benefit also shall come unto us by our trusting in God. For by the same, we shall be marked and discerned from hypocrites.
For, first, if our trust in God be true and not feigned, we will not dare to dissemble with him; we will freely pour out our complaints unto him as our only refuge; yea, we will lay all open unto him in the foulest manner, and make the worst of every thing; because we know that he is faithful and just who hath promised, that if we acknowledge and confess our sins, he will cleanse us from all iniquities0. This is a true mark of our trust, not to dissemble with God, but to run unto him, unloading all our cares in his bosom; when thou art all alone, when no eye seeth thee but the Almighty's, then to fall down before him, to mourn and cry, and to make a true confession, making them as ugly as may be, particularly naming them, this is a sure sign that thou trustest in God. Contrarywise the hypocrite; he cannot for his life make a true confession: let him make what flourish he will at sometimes, yet when he is alone, and no creature present, there is no such matter; these things trouble not him. Or if he pray, yet he never cometh near to the cutting of the throat of his many corruptions, and darling sins; because he cannot trust so in God as the godly, who, resisting unto the blood, strive to keep all his commandments, being sure thereby that their portion is in all the free promises of mercy.
The second note of this trust, whereby God's children
0 1 John, chap. 1. ver. 9. . are discerned from hypocrites, is to try how outward things work upon them, what estimation they have of them. 1. To see what trust they have in riches, how they are affected in the loss of these outward things; for if thy treasure be in heaven, thou wilt not pass what cometh, so that thou mayest win Christ, thy riches being with him, where neither the moth can come to consume, nor the thief to steal. And let this be a sure rule to discern of this trust, that the trust which is truly reposed upon God is mingled with nothing else. So it is said, "Thep rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit." But, quite contrary, to the godly he saith, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth unto it, and is safe." If the faithful soul can but enjoy Christ, it is enough unto it, it cleaveth unto him, runneth unto him, trusteth in him, and nothing which can come dismayeth it, so long as it possesseth this strong tower. The young rich man, we knowq he had good beginnings, had gone a great way in Christianity; yet, hearing that he must now forego his idol wherein he trusted, now only to trust in God, this soundeth but harshly in his ears, his many possessions and riches made him go away sorrowful. By riches he lost this goodly inheritance of the saints.
Let our anchor therefore now be to try ourselves, and our estates, how we stand affected, and trust in these outward, perishing things; what trust we have in riches, how we are affected in losses. For if our anchor be pitched within the veil, these things will not so much as move us to any distrustful care, when the wicked (who are wedded to the god of this world) for every little cross and loss are ready to go out of their wits. To such worldlings, whatsoever they are, the Holy Ghost to Timothy, warneth them to forsake these riches, trusting in God. "Charger them," saith he, "that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy."
v Prov. chap. 18. ver. 10, 11. q Matt. chap. 19. ver. 21.
11 Tim. chap. fi. ver. 17.
Let us then strive to settle our trust from these earthly things upon the living God, and we shall then obtain a most blessed estate.
Thirdly, a sure mark of this trust is, to try how we are affected with outward dangers, whether then we will rely upon God, or run unto other helps. This is a sound trial, if in outward dangers we can fly unto God as unto our stronghold, trusting in him; but if again we will forsake him, and trust in any earthly helps, the Lord taketh it as an high indignity unto him. Example of both we have in king Asa8: for when Zerah, king of Ethiopia, with ten hundred thousand men, came out against him, yet (the text saith) he fainted not. But what doth he ?" Then Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee, to help whether with many or with them that have no power. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee." Thus Asa, trusting in God, found wonderful deliverance; for saith the text, "The Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled." So certainly shall all our enemies, if we trust in him, they shall all fly before us; only, let us trust in God with all our hearts, and then certainly these enemies, who already are begun to fall before us, even all the enemies of our salvation, shall at length be overthrown, because if we trust in God he fighteth for us. But like unto many of us, who begin well, but fainting by the way, this good king doth not continue constant. In place of this former trust, he now again distrusteth the Lord. When Baasha, king of Israel, not so potent an enemy, came against him a little after, then he sendeth the treasures of the house of God unto Benhadad, king of Aram, for a present, that he might come to his aid'; he now trusteth the king of Aram in place of God. Well, what followed this? Hanani the seer cometh unto him from God, saying, "Because thou hast rested upon the king of Aram,
• 2 Chron. chap. 14. ver. 11. 12 Chron. chap. 16. ver. 7.