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"hope," Rom. xv. 4. In other parts of the world, it is a fealed book; blefs God it is not fo to you. All creature-comforts have a double defect, they are neither fuitable nor durable; but the word is fo. Compare the arguments that have been urged from the covenant with fuch as thefe. It is in vain to trouble ourselves about what we cannot help: We are not alone in trouble, others have their loffes and afflictions as well as we. Alas! what dry and ineffectual comforts are thefe! they penetrate not the heart, as pardon of fin, peace with God, and fanctification of troubles to our falvation do.

And no lefs is the mercy of an able New-teftament ministry, to open, apply, and inculcate the confolations of the fcriptures, to be efteemed. It is no common favour to the afflicted foul, to have with or near him an "Interpreter, one among a thoufand, to fhew unto him his uprightnefs," Job xxxiii. 23. O England, prize and improve thefe mercies, and provoke not thy God to bercave thee of them.

I can find no fuch fettlement made of the gospel and miniftry upon any place or people, but that God may remove both upon their abuse of them; and if he do, fad will the cafe of fuch a people be, efpecially when a day of diftrefs and trouble fhall be upon them. It is fad to be in a storm at fea, without a compass or pilot to direct and advise the diftreffed paffengers. Much fo is the cafe of the afflicted, when deprived of the word and miniftry.

Let it therefore be your care to hide the word in your hearts, and get the teachings of the Spirit; that whatever changes of providence be upon the world, you may have the light and comfort of the fcriptures to direct and cheer your fouls. Sanctification is the writing of God's law in your hearts; and what is written there is fecure and fafe. The word within you is more fecure, fweet, and effectual, than the word without you. Jerom faith of Nepotianus, that by long and affiduous meditation of the fcriptures, his breaft was at laft become the library of Chrift. O that the breaft of every Christian were fo

too.

Corol. 3. How fad and deplorably miferable is their condition, who have no title to, nor comfort from the covenant of God, when a day of afflic tion and great diftrefs is upon them!

Unrelieved miferies are the most intolerable miferies. To be overweighed with troubles on earth, and want fupport and comfort from heaven, is a difmal state indeed; yet this is the cafe of multitudes in the world. If a believer be in trouble, his God bears his burden for him, yea, he bears up him and his burden too; but he that hath no covenant-interest in God, muft fay as it is, Jer. x. 19. "This is my "affliction, and I alone muft bear it."

There are but two ways they can take for relief, either to divert their trouble by that which will inflame them, or reft their burdened fpirits upon that which will fail them. To run to the tavern or ale-houfe, inftead of the clofet, is to quench the fire by pouring on

oil; and to run from one creature which is smitten and withered, to another which still continues with us, is to lean upon a broken reed, which not only deceives us, but wounds and pierceth us. What a miferable plight was Saul in, and how doleful was his cry and complaint to Samuel, 1 Sam. xxviii. i5. "I am fore diftreffed, for the Philiftines make war againft, me, and God is departed from me, "and anfwereth me no more." " Heaven and earth forfook him at

once.

Reader, if this be thy cafe, I advise thee to reft no longer in so miferable á condition. Thy very diftrefs feems by an happy neceffity to put thee upon God, and drive thee to him for refuge; and it seems to be the very aim and design of God in blasting all thy earthly comforts, to neceffitate thee to come to him, which thou wouldst never be perfuaded to do, whilft thou hadft any creature-prop to ftay and reft upon. And think not that thou fhalt be rejected, because thou art brought by a plain neceffity to him; come fincerely, and thou halt not be upbraided because a neceffity threw thee upon him.

Ufe II. Seeing then that the covenant of God is the great relief and fupport of all his afflicted people, let the afflicted foul go to this bleffed covenant; ftudy and apply it in all diftreffes. It is in itself a fovereign cordial, able to revive a gracious fpirit at the lowest ebb; but then it must be ftudied and applied, or it will never give forth its confolations to our refreshment. Extreme forrows are apt to deafen our ears to all voices of comfort. The loud cries of affliction too of ten drown the fweet ftill voice of fpiritual confolation; but either here or no where our redrefs is to be found. Why feek we the living among the dead? Comfort from things that cannot yield it? The covenant can difcover two things which are able to pacify the moft difcompofed heart, viz.

1. The good
2. The end

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of affliction.

t. It will difcover to us the good of affliction, and fo rectify our mistaken judgments about it. God is not undoing but confulting our intereft and happiness in all thefe difpenfations. It will fatisfy us, that in all these things he doth no more than what we ourselves allow and approve in other cafes. It is not merely from his pleasure, but for our profit, that these breaches are made upon our families and comforts, Heb. xii. 1o. Who blames the mariner for cafting the goods over-board to fave fhip and life in a ftorm? or the furgeon for lancing, yea, or cutting off a leg or arm to preferve the life of his patient? of foldiers for barning or beating down the suburbs to fave the city in a fiege! And why muft God only be cenfured, for cutting off thofe things from us which he knows will hazard us in the day of temptation? He fees the lefs we have of entanglement, the more promptnefs and fitnefs we fhall have to go through the trials that are coming upon us; and that all the comforts he cuts off from our bodies are for the profit and advantage of our fouls.

VOL. VI.

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2. Here you gain a fight not only of the good of affliction, but also of the comfortable end and iffue of affliction. This cloudy and ftormy morning will wind up in a ferene and pleafant evening. There is a vaft difference betwixt our meeting with afflictions, and our parting from them. "You have heard of the patience of Job, and have "feen the end of the Lord." O get but Job's fpirit under affliction, and you may fee as happy an end of them as he did.

Had Naomi feen the end of the Lord in taking away her husband, and starving her out of Moab, she would not have changed her name, or faid the Lord had dealt bitterly with her, in grafting her daughter by that providence into the noble line, out of which the Saviour of the world was to rife; and could you but fee that good in order to which all this train of troubles is laid, you would not murmur or defpond as you do.

Objection 1. O but this is a grievous ftroke; God hath fmitten me in the apple of mine eye, and written bitter things against me. No forrow is like my forrow; it is a mourning for an only fon; I have loft all in one.

Solution 1. You can never lofe all in one, except that one be Chrift; and he being your's in covenant, can never be loft. But your meaning is, you have loft all of that kind in one, no more fons to build up your houfe, and continue your name.

2. But yet religion will not allow you to fay that your dead children are a loft generation. Præmittuntur, non amittuntur: They are fent before, but not loft. For they are a covenant-feed, by you dedicated to the Lord: They were children of many prayers; a great ftock of prayers was laid up for them; in them alfo you, and all that knew them, difcerned a teachable fpirit, pious inclinations, and conscience of secret duties, fome good things towards the Lord God of Ifrael, as was faid of young Abijah, 1 Kings xiv. 13. So that you parted from them upon cafier terms than good David parted from his Amnon, Abfalom, or Adonijah, who died in their fins and open rebellions. There was a fting in his troubles which you feel not; and if he comforted himself, notwithstanding, in the covenant of his God, in this refpect you may much more.

Object. 2. O but my fon was cut off in the very bud, juft when the fruits of education were ready to disclose and open.

Sol. Let not that confideration fo incenfe your forrows; God knows the fittest time both to give and to take our comforts; and feeing you have good grounds to hope your child died interested in the covenant of God, you have the lefs reafon to infift upon that afAicing circumftance of an immature death. He that dies in Chrift hath lived long enough both for himself and us. 'That mariner hath

failed long enough that hath gained his port; and that foldier fought long enough that hath won the victory; and that child lived long enough that hath won heaven, how early foever he died.

Befide, the fooner he died, the less fin he hath committed, and the lefs mifery he faw and felt in this wretched world, which we are left to behold and feel. And it is but a vanity to imagine that the parting pull with him would have been eafier, if the enjoyment of him had been longer: For the long enjoyment of defirable comforts doth not use to weaken, but abundantly to ftrengthen and fasten the ties of affection.

Submit your reason therefore, as is meet, to the wifdom of God, who certainly chose the fittest feafon for this affliction.

O but,- -No more buts and objections, I befeech you. Enough hath been offered from the covenant of your God, to filence all your objections, and to give you the eafe and pleasure of a refigned will. And what are all your buts and objections, but a fpurning at Divine Sovereignty, and the thrufting in the affliction deeper into your own hearts, which are wounded but too deep already?

I perfuade you not to put off, but to regulate natural affections: To be without them would defervedly rank us among the worft of heathens but rightly to bound and manage them, would fet you among the best of Chriftians.

I cannot imagine what eafe or advantage holy.* Bafil gained by fuch a particular and heart-piercing account, as he gave of a like affliction with this; nor to what purpose it can be to you, to recal and recount those things which only incenfe and aggravate your trou bles: Doubtlefs, your better way were to turn your thoughts from fuch fubjects as thefe; to your God in covenant, as David in the text did, and to recount the many great and ineftimable mercies that are fecured to you therein; which death fhall never fmite, or cut off from you, as it doth your other enjoyments.

Queft. But yet unlefs we can in fome measure clear our covenantintereft, all thefe, excellent cordials prepared, will fignify no more to our relief, than water fpilt upon the ground: Help us therefore to do that, or elfe all that hath been faid is in vain? How may a perfon difcern his covenant-right and interest?

Anfw. This indeed is worthy of all confideration, and deserves a ferious anfwer, forafmuch as it is fundamental to your comfort, and all actual refreshment in times of trouble; and will bring us to the next ufe, which is for trial of our covenant-intereft.

USE III. The great queftion to be decided, is, whether God be our covenant-God, and we his people? A queftion of the most folemn nature, and fuch as requires awful attention.

We cannot expect fatisfaction in this matter by fuch an extraordinary way as David had it, but we may know it by,

First, Our covenant-engagements.

*I once had a fon (faid he), who was a young man, my only fucceffor, the folace of my age, the glory of his kind, the prop of my family, arrived to the endearing age, &c.

Secondly, Our covenant impreffions.

Thirdly, Our covenant-conversations.

First, By our covenant-engagements, or dedications of ourselves to God; fometimes called our joining ourselves to the Lord, Zech. ii, 11. our yielding ourfelves to him, Rom. vi. 19, our giving ourselves to him, 2 Cor viii. 5. The foul that freely and deliberately consents to take or chufe the Lord to be his God, may warrantably conclude the Lord hath taken or chofen him: for our choice of God is but the refult of his choice of us, John xv. 16. "You have not chofen me, but I have chofen you, i e you could never have chosen me, but in confequence to, and by virtue of my first choice of you.

Well then, let it be seriously confidered, whether you have duly confented to take the Lord for your God, and Chrift for your Redeemer. This includes two things in it.

1. Your relinquifhing of all things inconfiftent with him.

2. Your acceptation of all that promotes the glory and enjoyment of him.

1. Your relinquishing of all things that are inconsistent with an intereft in him. Except we let thefe go, God cannot be our God, nor Chrift our Redeemer. The things to be relinquished for Chrift are, in hort, both our finful, and our righteous felf. Sinful-felf muft be difclaimed and renounced: For we cannot be the fervants of fin, and the fervants of Christ too, Rom. vi. 14, 18. And righteous-felf must be renounced alfo, or we can have no part or intereft in his righteoufnefs, Rom. x. 3. Thefe are two difficult points of felf-denial, to part with every beloved luft, and to give up our own righte pufness. Thousands chufe rather to be damned for eyer, than to do either of these.

2. Your acceptance and embracing of all things that promote his glory, and further the enjoyment of him. As all the painful ways of duty, hearing, praying, meditating, and all this with the intention of the inner-man, and offering up of the foul to God in thefe duties; and the more painful ways of fuffering for God, and enduring all loffes, reproaches, torments, and death for him, if his glory requires it, and you may be thereunto called. All this is included in your chufing God to be your God. And upon our understanding and free confent, and fealing to thefe articles, we have right to call him our God. Matth. xxi. 24. "If any man will come after me, let him deny him

felf, and take up his crofs and follow me." Now, have you copfidered the terms of the covenant, weighed and balanced all the conveniencies and inconveniencies of godliness, and then determined for Chrift and holiness, let the coft be what it will; then you have cho fen him aright for your God. Many think they have chofen God for their God, that never underflood or deliberated these terms. But non confentit, qui non fentit: He that neither knows nor ponders them, is not capable of giving a due consent.

Secondly, We may difcern our covenant-intereft, in the covenant

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