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an enemy. Regard it with caution. Walk as among snares. Be circumspect; be watchful ; and if you would pass through the world with safety, recollect,
IV. THAT THE DIVINE PROTECTION IS ESSENTIAL TO YOUR SECURITY. The more valuable things are, the more dependent will they be found. Sheep require more care than wolves ; vines than brambles; a garden demands more attention than a wilderness ; and children are reared with far greater solicitude than animal young. Nothing equals the dependence of the christian ; but herein lie all his spiritual resources; for when he “is weak, then he is strong." When in himself he can do nothing, he forms an al. liance with Omnipotence, and can do all things. · Be sensible of your inability to sustain and defend yourselves. Bring under your review all those, who pofseffing every advantage, have drawn back unto per, dition. They advanced far, and promised well; but like a stone urged up the side of a hill, which, when the impelling force is removed, rushes back with greater velocity, and bounds further into the plain below; fo these have entered again into the world, and are more distinguished by its vices and follies than be., fore. “For if after they have escaped the pollutions % of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord “ and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled “therein, and overcome; the latter end is worse than “ the beginning."
Mark the falls of good men themselves, who have been “recovered from the snare of the devil.” When they went forth, but not " in the strength of the
“Lord,” they were found unequal to the trial, and by bitter experience were convinced of their weakness. When our Saviour had informed the disciples, that, “ the Shepherd would be smitten, and the sheep scat« tered abroad;" Peter said, " though all men should “ be offended because of thee, I will never be of. “fended.” When our Lord gave him the premoni. tion “ before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me “ thrice;" he exclaimed, “ though I should die with “ thee, yet will I not deny thee.” He was fincere, but self-confident; and what was the consequence ? His resolution failed him ; and he denied his Lord with “ oaths and curses.” Weigh well the language of One, who knows what is in man, and who has said “ without me ye can do nothing :” compare your ex. perience with it ; and painful as it will be, call to your nemembrance the numerous variations, instabilities, declensions, backslidings of your lives.
Be equally persuaded also, that the divine power is as adequate, as it is necessary to your preservation. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the “young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait “ upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall “ mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and “ not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." It is his character, and his prerogative;" he is able to * keep you from falling, and to present you faultless “ before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." He preserved Abijah in the wicked family of Jeroboam. He secured “faints even in Cæsar's household." Behold yonder illustrious“ multitude standing before & the thronę, with palms in their hands." Full of
weakness, they passed through a world of danger ;
As the divine protection is necessary, and adequate to your defence, so it is attainable; and the last division of our subject shews us how it is to be obtained
BY PRAYER. “ Ask, and it shall be given you; . “ seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be open" ed unto you.” Hence the practice of the saints ; . “ Set a watch, O Lord, upon my lips, keep the door 6 of my mouth.” “Hold thou me up, and I shall be “ safe.” “ Order my steps in thy word : and let not “ any iniquity have dominion over me.” “Uphold “me according to thy word, that I may live; and let “me not be ashamed of my hope.” “Lead us not “ into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Christians however are sensible of the imperfections of their own performances. They can scarcely call their weak efforts, prayer; “ like a crane, or a swal“ low, so did I chatter. Could I see an inspired rec“ ord of all my prayers; could I see as God does the 5 manner in which I have always addressed him ; the
“ vain thoughts; the numberless distractions; how of: “ten I have asked amiss ; sometimes without ardour, “ sometimes without confidence.” Hence it is a pleasing relief to their minds, to know that their brethren pray for them ; that God is daily hearing from lips more devout than their own, “Do good, O Lord, un“to those that be good, and to them that are upright “ in their hearts.” “Let all those that seek thee, re“joice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salva“tion, say continually, the Lord be magnified.” . Is my character here defcribed ? How pleasing is it to reflect, that I am peculiarly interested in the daily supplications of all the people of God; and that “the ef- fectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth “ much !”
But their chief confolation is derived from a higher source. “And another angel came and stood at the “altar, having a golden censer; and there was given “ unto him much incense, that he should offer it with “the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which “ was before the throne. And the smoke of the in“ cenfe which came with the prayers of the saints, af“ cended up before God, out of the angel's hand.” Thus Jesus perfumes and presents our services; thus he obtains for our fupplications audience and acceptance. Whether the intercession of our High Priest in heaven be verbal, or mental only, it is not necessary for us to determine. We know it is real; we know that “he appears in the presence of God for 6 us ;' we know that having been “reconciled by his « death,” 6 we shall be saved by his life :” and that “he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that
come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to - make intercession for them.” It may be necessary however to caution you, not to mistake the nature and design of his intercession. It is not to inform God, as if he were ignorant ; to remind him, as if he were forgetful ; or to persuade him, as if he were unkind. The appointment is entirely his own; it sprang from his mercy, and exemplifies his wisdom. What a view does it give us of the majesty and holiness of God, that he will not suffer us to approach him without a Mediator! How powerfully does it remind us of our unworthiness and vileness! How loudly does it preach to us reverence and humility! What becomes of self-righteousness, if we can bring nothing deserving the divine regards; if our best duties need forgiveness, rather than recompense; if “the iniquity “ of our most holy things” would be sufficient to destroy all our confidence? But, o how it meets the fears of the returning finner, and the discouragements, of the dejected saint! “ We have boldness and access “ with confidence by the faith of Him.” If this dis-. pensation were not designedly typified, it is beautifully illustrated in the address of God “to Eliphaz, and “ his two friends.” “You have not spoken of me 6 the thing that is right; therefore take unto you “now seven bullocks, and seven rams, and go to my 6 fervant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt of “fering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for 6 him will I accept : lest I deal with you after your “ folly.”
We conclude by observing, what a view this gives us of our Lord and Saviour. What an infinitely im