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the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.” (Phil. iii. 20.)—This gives a smile to the countenance, and joy to the heart, of a dying saint.
“ The Lord is my light and my salvation” (says he:) " whom shall I fear?” Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid ?” Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me." My flesh and my heart faileth ; but thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."
And here, as I thought, our subject should close, and I was beginning to look out for some other entertainment: but the world is so tempestuous, and the benefit of this Hiding-place hath been so sensibly and sweetly felt, that, now we are got in, one seems loth to come out again so soon. What say ye then to indulging ourselves a little longer in it, and contemplating some of its precious peculiarities; and wherein, and how much, it excels every other refuge which the generality betake them, selves to in their distress ? Suppose we consider it,
1. In point of safety.
How many are the instances of persons ruined by taking up with the first shelter that offered! They have found destruction lurking, where they expected deliverance; they have run into the jaws of an enemy, when they were flattering themselves they had escaped ; and the place which they thought would hide them so effectually that trouble could never find them out, hath proved, upon trial, to be either treacherous or insufficient. In opposi. tion to all these refuges of lies, the Lord Jesus
Christ is a strong hold,” where danger cannot come.--I presume I need not hesitate to apply to him the following scriptures :-" The word of the Lord is tried; he is a buckler to all those that trust in him : for who is God, save the Lord ? or who is a rock, save our God?” (Ps. xviii. 30 :) " Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befal thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” (Ps. xci. 9.)-Other securities are often suspicious: this David was aware of (see 1 Sam. xxiii. 7. & seq.): when news was brought him in Keilah, a fortified city, that Saul was coming with an army to besiege him, he began to suspect that the inhabitants would prove unfaithful; and, to make sure of the matter, he goes and inquires of the Lord: “ Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul ? And the Lord said, They will deliver thee up." But there is no room for any such jealousy or mistrust with respect to our divine Refuge. It is true, indeed, he may not always protect his people in the way and manner which they fondly wish, and peremptorily prescribe: he may suffer dangers to increase, and distress' to prevail, to a greater degree, and for a longer time, than we may think consistent with love and faithfulness: but if we are really his child dren, and have faith and patience enough to let him take his own time and way, we shall always find that “the name of the Lord is a strong tower," and thát “ blessed are all they that put their trust in him. 2. In point of of access.
y strong holds and fortified places,
here are many“strong
which in time of danger we should be glad to fly to, and where we should think ourselves quite safe ; but the difficulty is, how to get at them—they are so far off'; or the enemy lies between ; so that 'we despair of ever reaching them. Not so the Hiding-place that I am now recommending : be where you will, you can “ look unto Jesus ;” and I will add, be where you will, Jesus looks on you : “ for the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him.” (2 Chron. xvi. 9.)—David at one time so far forgot himself, as, in a fit of despondency or impatience, to cry out, “ Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I flee away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.” (Ps. lv. 6.) But he soon recollected himself, and found that he had a covert nearer home: “ As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me.”.(verse 16.) -- We are sometimes tempted to say so too: 'Oh that I could hide me in the grave !' or Oh that I could fly to such a private corner of the world : there I should laugh at danger : but, oh wretched man that I am ! my circumstances are such that I cannot stir a step from the place I am in ! and so we distress ourselves with the persuasion that now we must necessarily be overtaken and overwhelmed by the de. solating tempest; forgetting all the while, that we are as near to heaven at the spot we are now on, as we should be if removed to the most distant part of the earth. Nay, many Christians can tell you, that they have often stepped from their closets into
this blessed Hiding-place. No matter if bonds and afflictions abide you, and innumerable evils encompass you about: though they beset you behind and before, they cannot hinder the intercourse between Christ and your souls. Prayer will bring him to you, or you to him, at any time; and the believer, let him be driven never so far from home, and deprived of every earthly comfort, has always help at hand: and therefore, when the world is ready to pity him, as not merely afflicted, but destitute, you may hear him solacing himself in his security, and singing, “ God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
3. In point of universality.
I mean, it is a biding-place and a covert in every kind of distress.-As to creatures, some may be helpful in one grievance, and some in another ; but none are suited to all.
A strong castle, for instance, is looked upon as a good defence against an enemy; but what security are gates and walls against famine and pestilence? A large estate is looked upon as a good security against poverty ; but what will all the wealth of the Indies do for a wounded spirit and a distressed conscience? —Ah, there are a thousand cases in which we turn away from creatures as from broken cisterns, and, with heart-felt disappointment and vexation, cry,
“ Miserable comforters are ye all !”
all !” But there is no calamity that can befal us, whether respecting the outward or the inner man, but we may depend upon the seasonable and effectual assistance of “ the only wise God our Saviour.” If there are any of you at this time ready to sink under the weight of your guilt, and a dread of God's wrath ; afraid that you have
sinned beyond all forgiveness ; afraid that your heart is too hard to be softened, that your will is too stubborn to be bended, and that you have destroyed yourselves so entirely and effectually that salvation would come too late :- let me lead you to Jesus: he is mighty to save : he can give sight to the blind, strength to the lame, life to the dead, by that mighty power “ whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.” “ He is able, therefore, “ to save unto the uttermost all them that come unto God by him."--If any of you are wrestling with flesh and blood, or principalities and powers; and are grievously harassed with the artful devices or fiery darts of the wicked one; and are afraid that you must soon fall before such formidable adversaries :- let me lead you to Jesus :
“ He knows what sore temptations mean,
For he hath felt the same.” He will not suffer you to be tried above what you are able to bear; and, under the severest buffetings of Satan or his messengers, his grace shall be sufficient for you, and his strength shall be made perfect in your weakness. Or is it any worldly trouble that bows you down? Is the Lord's hand heavy upon your person, or your family, or the nation; and are you afraid that you never can hold up, and hold out, in such a great fight of affliction; and that you shall surely, and that you shall soon, perish in the day of adversity ?-let me lead you to Jesus: he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; and hath promised that he will not leave you comfortless ; believe him, and you shall find, that, where sufferings abound, your consolations so much more abound. And the same in every other trouble,