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tented to tarry his time: “He that believeth shall not make haste” (Isa. xxviii. 16), will not outrun God.
2ndly, In fortifying the heart against the present difficulties, that, when all visible helps and interests are cut off, yet we may encourage ourselves in the Lord. When they were wandering in the wilderness, and had neither house nor home, then Moses, the man of God, pens that psalm, and how doth he begin it? “ Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations” (Psalm xc. 1). What was wanting in sense, they saw was made up in the all-sufficiency of God. And so here is the use of faith, when, in defiance of all difficulties, we can see an all-sufficiency in God to counterbalance that which is wanting in sense: so doth David, “ Thou, O Lord (saith he), art a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter up of mine head” (Psalm iii. 3). Look to that psalm, it was penned when David was driven from his palace royal by Absalom: when he was in danger, God was his shield; when his kingdom and honour were laid in the dust, God was his glory; when he was under sorrow and shame, and enemies insulting over him, when the people rose up against him and he was in great dejection of spirit, God was the lifter up of his head. This is getting under the covert of this shield, or compass of this hiding place.
3rdly, The use of faith is to quicken us to go on cheerfully in our duty, and with a quiet heart resting upon God's love, power, and truth; so David, “Into thine hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth” (Psalm xxxi. 5). David was then in great danger: the net was laid for him, as he saith in the former verse; and, when he was likely to perish, what doth he do? He casts all his cares upon God, and trusts him with his life: “Into thy hand I commit my spirit;" that is, his life, safety, &c.
Use I.-Admire the goodness of God, who will be all things to his people. If we want a house, he will be our dwelling place; if we want a covert, he will be our shield, our hiding place; whatever we want, God will supply it. There is a notable expression, “ Because thou hast made the Lord which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation” (Psalm xci. 9). Mark that double notion : a habitation is the place of our abode in time of peace; a refuge, the place of our retreat in a time of war. Be it in peace or in war, God will be all in all; he will be a fountain of blessing to us in a time of peace, he will be our habitation there where we have our sweetest comforts; and then, in time when dangers and difficulties are abroad, God will be a refuge and a place of retreat to our souls.
USE II.-To persuade us to contentation in a time of trouble. Though we have not a palace, yet if we have but a hiding place; though our condition be not so commodious as we do desire, yet if God will vouchsafe a little liberty in our service, we must be content; if he will give us a little safety, though not plenty; for here is not our full reward. And therefore it is well we can make this use of God, to be our shield and hiding place, though we have not that ample condition which a carnal heart would fancy. God never undertook in his covenant to maintain us at such a rate, nor thus to enlarge our portion; if he will vouchsafe a little security and safety to us during the time of our pilgrimage, we must be content.
USE III.—This should more encourage us against the evil of sin, since God assures us of protection and defence against the evil of trouble. If God did leave us to shift for ourselves, and never expressed himself in his VOL II.
word for our comfort, then we were more excusable if we did shift and turn aside to crooked paths, though not altogether, because we are under an obligation to obey, whatsoever it cost us. But when he hath offered himself to be our shield and our hiding place, to stand by us, be with us, carry us through fire and water, all dangers and difficulties, shall we warp now and turn aside from God? Gen. xvii. 1, saith the Lord, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect." There is enough in God; why should we trouble ourselves? or why should we run to any practices which God will not own?
Use IV.-It presseth us to depend upon God's protection. Shall I urge arguments to you?
1. This is one, every one must have a hiding place. Saith Solomon, the conies are a feeble folk, yet they have their burrows and holes. All creatures must depend upon somewhat, especially the children of God that are exposed to a thousand difficulties; you must expect to have your faith and patience tried, if ever you come to inherit the promises ; and, during that time, it is good to have a hiding place and a shield.
2. Your hearts will not be kept in safety, unless you make God your strong defence. When Phocas fortified cities to secure his illgotten goods, a voice was heard, “Sin within will soon batter down all those walls and fortifications. Unless God be our hiding place and shield, the strongest defences in the world are not enough to keep us from danger. All the shifts we run into will but entangle us the more, and drive us the more from God, and to greater inconvenience. As the king of Assyria to Ahaz, he distressed him, but helped him not (2 Chron. xxviii. 20); so many run away from God's protection, and seek out means of safety for themselves, and will not trust him, but seek to secure themselves by some shifts of their own: they do but plunge themselves into troubles so much the more, and draw greater inconveniences upon themselves. There is a great deal of sin and danger in departing from God, and he can soon blast our confi. dences. All those places of safety we fancy to ourselves, can soon be de. molished and battered down. God will blast our carnal shifts.
3. It is a thing that we owe to God by virtue of the fundamental article of the covenant. If you have chosen God for your God, then you have chosen him for your refuge. Every one in his straits runs to the God he hath chosen. Nature taught the Heathens in their distress to run to their gods. You may see the Pagan mariners, a sort of men usually not much haunted with religious thoughts; yet, when the storm arose, the sea wrought and was tempestuous, danger grew upon them, and they were afraid, they called every man unto his god ” (Jonah i. 5); they were sen. sible that some Divine power must give them protection. It immediately results from the owning of a god, that we must trust him with our safety; and so, if we have taken the true God for our god, we have taken him for our refuge and hiding place : “A full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust” (Ruth ii. 12). When Ruth came to profess the true God, by taking the God of Israel for her God, it is expressed thus; she did commit herself to his providence and protection; and therefore covetousness, because of its trust in riches, is called idolatry, it is a breach of the fundamental article of the covenant, taking God for our God.
4. This trust ever succeeds well. It will be of great use to you to still and calm your thoughts, and free you from many anxious cares, and in due
time it will bring deliverance according to his promise. How may we thus trust in God? Why, commit and submit your persons and all your conditions and affairs to his providence. This is to trust in God, to make him your hiding place and your shield. These notions are often used in Scripture (2 Tim. i. 12; Prov. xvi. 3 ; Psalm xxxvii. 5). If there be a thing to be brought about for you, commit it and submit it to God; he is able, wise, loving, and faithful; he will do what shall be for the best ; commit your comforts, your health, liberty, peace, your all, into God's hands; for he is the author of all; let the Lord do what he will. This is to trust in God, when you can thus without trouble or anxious care refer yourselves to the wise disposal of his providence.
(1.) No hurt can come to you without God's leave. No creature can move or stir, saving (not only by his permission, but) by his influence: others may have a will to hurt, but not power, unless given them from above, as Christ told Pilate. The Devil is a raging adversary against the people of God; but he is forced to ask leave to touch either Job's goods or his person: he could not touch his skin, or anything that belonged to him, without a commission from God (Job i.). Nay, he must ask leave to enter into the herd of swine (Matt. viii. 31). And Tertullian hath a notable gloss upon that, if God hath numbered the bristles of swine, certainly he hath numbered much more the hairs of the saints ; if he cannot enter into a herd of swine, he cannot worry a friend of Christ's, without God's leave.
(2.) Consider how much God hath expressed his singular affection, and his care and providence over his people. There are many emphatical expressions in Scripture: that is one : “ The very hairs of your head are numbered” (Matt. x. 30). Mark, he doth not speak of the heart, or hands, or feet, those that we call parts which are necessary to the conservation of life ; but he speaks of the excrementitious parts, which are rather for convenience and ornament, than necessity. What is more slight than the shedding a hair of the head? Thus he expresses the particular care of his people. Again, “He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye" (Zech. ii. 8). No part is more tender than the eye; and the apple of the eye, how hath nature guarded it, that it may receive no prejudice! So,“ Can a mother forget her sucking child ?" &c. (Isa. xlix. 15.) See how tender affection and yearning bowels are expressed ; passions in females are most vehement, therefore God alludes to mothers' affections. And mark, it is not to a child that can shift for itself, but a sucking child, that is wholly helpless, that was but newly given her to draw her love. Nature hath left tender affections on the hearts of parents to their tender infants ; yet, if a woman should be so unnatural, “ Yet will I not forget thee,” saith the Lord. Now, shall we not trust him, and make him our hiding place? “I, the Lord, do keep it; I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day” (Isa. xxvii. 3). God will keep his people by day, lest by force they break in upon his heritage ; and keep them by night, lest they steal in privily, and by secret machinations hurt them.
(3.) Again, consider how many arguments there are to work us to this trust. Sometimes the Scripture teacheth us to argue from the less to the greater: “If God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith ?" (Matt. vi. 30.) Sometimes the Scripture teacheth us to argue
on the contrary, from the greater to the less : if God hath given us his Christ, will he not with him freely give us all things ? Sometimes the Scripture teacheth us to argue from things past: God hath been your shield and helper, he hath delivered from the mouth of the lion and bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them (1 Sam. xvii. 37). Sometimes from things past and present to things to come: “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver ; in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us" (2 Cor. i. 10). Sometimes from things to come to things present : “ Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke xii. 32). Anne dabit regnum et non dabit viati. cum? If he give a kingdom, will he not give daily bread ? Will he not preserve you while he hath a mind to use you? Thus our unbelief is overpowered by divers arguments to press us to this trust. Well then, run to your security. How so?
(i.) In defiance of all difficulty, own God as your hiding place and shield. David, when he was driven from his palace royal, and wandered up and down for his life, and when his enemies began to say, 'Now, there is no help for him in God ;' all Israel were against him; many there be which say thus, ‘His son drives him from his palace; now there is no safety, nor defence ;' but saith he, “ Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me ; my glory, and the lifter up of my head” (Psalm iii. 3). This is the way to get under the covert of his wing, when in the face of all difficulties we will own God as our hiding place.
(ii.) Sue out your protection by earnest prayer. God hath given us promises as so many bonds upon himself, and we must put these bonds in suit. Our necessity leads us to the promises, and the promises lead us to the throne of grace : I fly to thee; hide me, O Lord : “ keep me from the snare which they have laid for me"' ' (Psalm cxli. 9). Plead with him, and say, “Lord, thou hast said thou wilt be my refuge and hiding place, whither should a child go but to its father and whither should I go but to thee, for thou art my God?' Challenge him upon his word. See how David expresseth himself: “Show thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee, &c. Keep me as the apple of the eye: hide me under the shadow of thy wings": (Psalm xvii. 7, 8). Go challenge God upon his word, 'Lord, thou bast said thou wilt save those that trust in thee, those that depend upon thee." The eye is offended with the least dust, and nature hath provided a fence and covert for it. Thus may we go to God, and challenge such kind of protection, Keep me as the apple of thine eye, hide me under thy wings.' As the dam is ready to flutter and spread her wings over the young brood whey then fly to her, so will God.
(ii.) Take notice whenever it is made good, give God his honour when he hath been a hiding place and protection to you, that you may observe his providence: “ As for God, his way is perfect : the word of the Lord is tried : he is a buckler to all those that trust in him” (Psalm xvii. 30). Well, I have waited upon God according to these promises ; and lo, it is come lo pass as the Lord hath said : “ The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped ” (Psalm xxviii. 7); “ The angel which redeemed me from all evil ” (Gen. xlviii. 16). He speaks of the faithfulness of God, and of the Mediator, in all those promises of protection.
(iv.) Constantly make use of God. You may think this discourse may be of no use to you, because you are out of fears and dangers: why, you are constantly to make use of God, be it well or ill, and to live upon God. All our comforts are from, as well as our support in trouble. Certainly, he that lives upon God in prosperity, will live upon him in adversity. Oh! when you are well at ease and abound in all things, you take these things out of the hand of God ; you will learn better, to make him your refuge. But he that lives upon the creature in his prosperity, when the creature fails, he will be in utter distress, and know not what to do.
SERMON CXXVI.. VERSE 115.- Depart from me, ye evil-doers ; for I will keep the
commandments of my God. Most of the passages of this psalm are directed to God himself; but now he speaks to carnal men, shaking them off, as Christ will at the last day. His speech is then, “ Depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. vii. 23); and so saith David, “ Depart from me, ye evil-doers.” Whether David speaks this for his own sake or for others' instruction, as he doth many things in this psalm, I will not now dispute. But certainly the drift of this verse is to show, that, if we intend to walk constantly with God, we should keep at a distance from wicked men. Separation from them is necessary for a conjunction with God. If they be not God's, they should be none of yours; for you are his : “ Depart from me, ye evil-doers; for I will keep the cornmandments of my God.”
Here, 1. Take notice of the persons to whom he speaks, “ Ye evil. doers.” 2. What is said ; he renounceth all commerce with them, “ Depart from me." 3. The reason of this renunciation, “ For I will keep the commandments of my God.” Where you may note, 1. The fixedness of his resolution, “I will." 2. The matter resolved upon, “ I will keep the commandments,” which they broke or made light of; and so their friend. ship and company was a hindrance to him. 3. The inducing consideration, “My God;" he is the comfort and refuge of my soul, more than all men are to me. Friends are dear, but God should be dearer : none is ours so much as he is; he is my God, therefore it is him that I will please ; my God's commands I will conform myself to.
All the business is to show, on what grounds David bids the evil-doers depart from him.
1. It is either because of his confidence in God, as verse 114, “ Thou art my hiding place and my shield,” therefore depart. He did not fear their disturbance or persecution, because God would protect him, so as he should peaceably and cheerfully attend his service. This form of speech is so used Psalm vi. 8, “Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping;” that is, Now I reckon not of your assaults and molestations, my God will carry me through his work. Or,
2. It is a renouncing of their aid and assistance offered upon ill terms; and so the meaning would be, that he would not stand by their interest, or cry up a confederacy with them, and admit of any other ways of safety but what were fully consistent with his duty to God: “Depart from me,” as repelling their temptations and carnal counsel. Christ saith to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan," when he came with carnal counsel ; 50