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ftines; and fometimes he makes the intended evil prove a real blessing; as in the cafe of Jofeph, in whose history we have one of the most beautiful draughts of Providence that is any where to be feen, and done with that union of majefty and fimplicity, which fo remarkably diftinguishes the facred writings. The whole hundred and twenty-fourth Pfalmis a celebration of divine power, and a hymn of praise for divine protection. If it had not been the Lord, who * was on our fide, now may Ifrael fay; if it had not ⚫ been the Lord, who was on our fide, when men rofe up against us, then they had fwallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: 'then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream
had gone over our foul: then the proud waters ⚫ had gone over our foul. Bleffed be the Lord, who ⚫ hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our foul
is escaped as a bird out of the fnare of the fowlers: the fnare is broken, and we are efcaped. Our · help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.'
I fhall only add, on this head, that a ferious perfon, when thinking or speaking of deliverance from danger, will always confider fin as the greatest danger: he will reflect, with the highest pleasure, on the inftances in which God has enabled him to discharge his duty with conftancy. Let me beg of you to remember, with what courage and refolution the young perfons, Shadrach, Mefhech, and Abednego fpoke to King Nebuchadnezzar, and refifted the threatenings of that powerful prince. It is worth while to obferve, that they and Daniel feem, in that
perilous time, to have given themfelves much to the exercise of prayer. Thus, running into the name of God as a strong tower, they obtained fecurity, while other very eminent perfons, by trusting in themfelves, or boasting of their own ftrength, fell before temptations of a very trifling kind, as Abraham and Ifaac in denying their wives, and the Apoftle Peter in denying his Master.
2. The fecurity of the righteous confifts in the promise of strength and fupport in the time of trial. Although God preferves his people from many dangers, yet he has no where promised them deliverance from all. On the contrary, we are told, that all ' that will live godly in Christ Jefus must suffer per'fecution; and that through much tribulation we
muft enter into the kingdom of God.' Yet, even in these circumftances, they are fafe, becaufe God is with them in their afflictions; his rod and his staff powerfully fupports them. Need I tell you, that here, in a particular manner, the text is exemplified: The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. Under a smarting rod, what can a child of God do, but enter into his fecret chambers, and fupplicate the affistance and prefence of his reconciled Father? and has he not promised to grant it? Ifa.'xliii. 1. But now, thus faith the Lord, that created thee, O Jacob! and he that formed thee, O Ifrael! fear not; for I have 'redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name; ⚫ thou art mine.' And has he not many times, in fact, granted it? The three children walking at liberty in the midst of the fire with the Son of God,
as their companion, was but one inftance of what has many times happened in every age. Who would not rather be in the place of Paul and Silas, finging praises to God in their chains, than be the master of the world, with all the danger and anxieties of a throne? Let me here make an obfervation, which I think is warranted both by fcripture and experience, that just as in point of duty, fo alfo in point of fuffering, the fecurity and comfort of the people of God depends upon their running into, and, if I may fo exprefs it, keeping within the bounds of their ftrong tower. If they keep clofe to God, no suffering will difconcert them; no enemy will terrify them: but, if they neglect this, they may be unhinged by a very flight trial. I hinted before, felf-dependence will make men fall before a very trifling temptation: but dependence on divine ftrength will make them fuprior to the greateft. In the very fame manner, it hath been often feen, that perfons, who have loft their temper, or loft their courage, in fufferings of no extraordinary kind, when more feverely tried have behaved infinitely better, and being conftrained to flee to God for protection, have found fuch benefit from it, that they have flept in peace and comfort in a loathfome prifon, have gone with an undaunted step to an ignominious fcaffold, nay, and embraced, with joy and tranfport, a halter or a stake.
3. In the laft place, The righteous is fafe under the divine protection, as they are fure of deliverance in the end, and complete victory over all fufferings. of every kind. Thus it is faid, Pfal. xxxiv. 17. to the end, The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and
"delivereth them out of all their troubles.
the righteous fhall be defolate.' This probably points at the great distinguishing fecurity of good men, that their falvation is fafe in the keeping of God, and quite beyond the reach of their most implacable enemies. Whatever straitening circumstances they may be reduced to, they have treafures in heaven, ⚫ which neither moth nor ruft can corrupt, nor 'thief break through and steal.' They may be driven from their habitations, or banished from their country; they may refemble thofe of whom we read, Heb xi. 36, 37, 38. And others had trials of cruel
mockings, and fcourgings; yea moreover of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were * fawn asunder, were tempted, were flain with the fword; they wandered about in fheep skins, and
'goat fkins; being deftitute, afflicted, tormented, (of whom the world was not worthy;) they wandered in defarts, and in mountains, and in dens, ⚫ and caves of the earth;' but they cannot be banished from the kingdom of heaven. No tyrant can fhut the gates of paradise against them; for they have been opened by him, who openeth, and no man fhutteth; and fhutteth, and no man openeth.' I have often read with admiration, both in the infpired writings and ecclefiaftical history, the patience and conftancy of the martyrs. How edifying is it to obferve, that by witneffing a good confeffion, together with the gracious influence of the spirit of God, they have become fuperior to the fear of death, and have been enabled to defpife or pity the weakness of perfecuting rage? Sometimes we may clearly fee, the unrighteous judges torn in pieces, with the fury of infernal paffions, vainly endeavouring to wreck their malice, by newly invented tortures, and the happy prifoners, as it were, already beyond their reach, while by faith and hope they are firmly affured of an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, referved in heaven ' above.'
Having thus confidered the nature of the good man's fecurity, I am now to confider the abfolute certainty of it.-On this I fhall be very fhort, it refts upon the divine perfection, the divine promife, and the experience of the faints. 1. The divine perfection. Is there any thing too hard for the Almighty? Is he not the Lord of nature? And are not all things obedient to his will? The great enemy of fouls, and