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pardoning mercy and gospel grace in the hearts and lives of the elect, who in effectual calling are made his willing subjects; he will, by his almighty power, defend and save them from all adverse powers which seek to spoil and ruin them. He will not only defend and protect them from all enemies and dangers, but he will carry it gently and tenderly towards them under all their weaknesses and infirmities. But towards the wicked, who refuse and reject his yoke, he will vanquish and subdue them; not by the sceptre of his special grace, as he deals with God's elect; but with that iron rod, which the Father hath put into his hand for this very end, he will break them to pieces, Psalm ii. 9. “ But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither, and slay them before me,” Luke xix. 27.
This is undoubtedly a high privilege and mercy, wherewith God's chosen are eternally blessed above the rest of the race of Adam, to be under the commanding power and 'everlasting successful conduct of such a king. The damned in hell would give ten thousand worlds, if they had them at command, to be under the conduct of this king: but, for their opposing and despising this precious and sweet Redeemer, they are judicially given up to the tyranny of such a king as knows no mercy; who, instead of saving, will continue to torment and destroy. Rev. ix. 11.
This Lord Jesus, he, and he alone, excluding
all others, is the head and king over the church of God's elect. None else will claim such a privilege but the man of sin, and such as are akin to his antichristian hierarchy. Christ is to the church of the living God a head of saving influence, as well as a head of commanding and protecting power; which none in heaven or earth can pretend to without horrid blasphemy.
Were this very point but rightly understood, and by faith applied as it should, it would make the weakest believer in England as bold as a lion in the ways of his holy profession; but, for want of this, even ministers themselves shamefully cowardize, when Christ's enemies appear rampant.
Secondly, There is not that creature in this providential kingdom which is not subjected to the power of Christ: “ The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom ruleth over all,” Psalm ciii. 19. “ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” Matt. xxviii. 18. “ Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet," Heb. ii. 8. “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death,” Rev. i. 18.
Thirdly, Not only the creatures, but even all their natural influences and motions, are subjected to the power of Christ; yea, the craft and subtlety of all the church's enemies are subjected to him. No fire can burn, no water can drown, no thieves can rob, no persecutor can hurt, without Christ.
It is a sure and an infallible rule in divinity,
When at any
that as no second cause can of itself do good to a man, so neither can it do him harm. Were this one rule but rightly understood, and practically improved, it would free the minds and spirits of true believers from many foolish and panic fears which frequently invade them, to not only a lessening, but also to a keeping out, that comfort to which, as believers, they have a right, and which they may ordinarily enjoy, were it not for their wretched neglectiveness herein. time, or in any case, I meet with a disappointment and abuse, a loss or a cross, from any creature whatever, I cease to complain or murmur in God's presence: that which strikes me into a profound silence is, the consideration and belief that such and such accidents could not fall out without the providence of God. · The hand of God, think I, “is in this rebuking providence. My soul, 'lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and cease quarrelling with second causes ; lest, by going too far that way, thou rob the Almighty of the attribute of his sovereignty, and give it to second causes, as if they could do any thing without him.'
On the other hand, when my meat comforts and relieves fainting nature; when the bed and sleep refresh the weary body; 'Oh!' think I, . how good is God! without whom my meat, my bed, my sleep, &c. would do me no good.?
When at any time I am in great straits, (as often God knows I am,) when this or that instrument steps in to' my succour, my faith, though weak, is as busy as a bee, calling on me to take notice of the hand of Providence in the present mercy. If 1, and other believers, did this more and oftener than we do, it would be better with us, in point of comfort, than it is. But we live more by sense than we do by faith; and that is the reason why we are such strangers to solid comfort in our own spirits.
Fourthly, There is not the most contingent accident which falls out in the world, but the providence of the Lord Jesus orders the same, whether it be for chastening or comforting poor mortals. “ Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?” Lam. iii. 37.
“Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?" Amos iii. 6.
What but the consideration and belief of this struck holy David dumb before God when under the afflicting rod of God? “ I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it,” Psalm xxxix. 9. As hath been already observed, there is neither good nor evil that can fall out without Christ. Neither doth it from hence follow, that those creatures which are active in the business of sin are therefore excusable; and that, because they act from a bad principle, and to an
a end vastly differing from what Christ designs in permitting it; or, that the praise and thanks which are due to God's instruments, in serving us, should not be given them in due time and place. Nei
ther will it hence follow, that a believer is to stand
a stock still, like a sheep, to be robbed or murdered, if he sees himself any way capable of making a lawful defence. The reason is, because self-defence is a natural principle; and that man or nation that would not stand up to resist an enemy who seeks their utter ruin, would not only herein fall short of the very brutes, but they would be accessary to their own murder, which is the worst sort of murder. In this case the true believer is to look on the doctrine of non-resistance as a doctrine which smells rank of Rome, and which was contrived and brought into these kingdoms by the Romish emissaries, on purpose to manacle Englishmen; that by that means, under colour and pretence of religious obedience to authority, England might become incapable of preserving itself from the ruin designed against it by Rome and France.
The Protestants in England, and in all the other nations about us, have cause to adore and praise the providence of Christ, for the entrance which it gave to the Jesuits into Magdalen College, and it's permitting the bishops to be sent to the Tower: for, had not these two things providentially fallen out when and as they did, passive obedience and non-resistance had ruined the kingdom before this time. But, glory to God on high, who hath pitched on one to rule and govern his providential kingdom here on earth, whose allseeing eye penetrates into all the dark and secret counsels of his people's enemies; and who knows