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More particularly, Art thou perplexed and troubled in fpirit, because of the floods that are broken in upon the church of God, threatening ruin to the doctrine, discipline, worship, and government thereof? When you look to the pass that religion is brought unto, and take a view of the enemy that is come into the borders, and palaces, and assemblies of our Zia on, you are ready to cry out, “ By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.” Here is encouragement, Jacob shall arise by the mighty God of Jacob. I own, indeed, that I cannot give you any infallible ground of faith from the scriptures of truth, that the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up the standard for our church, more than for any particular church upon the face of the earth. We are indeed assured, that God will have a church on earth, and that “ the gates of hell shall never prevail,” so far as to raze and ruin her totally; but I know of no absolute promise in the word of God, that he will preserve a church to himself in any particular nation, or among any society of men whatsoever. We see the church of the Jews unchurched, the tabernacle of David is taken down, the natural feed and postea rity of Abraham are cut off, and cast out for many hundreds of years. The once famous churches of the Leffer Afia are turned Mahometan mosques. The church of Rome, whose faith was spoken of throughout the whole world, is now turned to the seat of Antichrist. So that, I say, no particular church has any absolute or infallible security, that the enemy shall not come in like a flood, and sweep away the very face of religion from among them. But yet, there are some things from which we may adventure to gather hope, that the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard, and drive back the enemy that is coming so far in upon the church of Scotland.
1. Is it not ground of hope, that there is a goodly number of mourners in our Zion, who are lighing and crying for all the abominations that are found in the midst of us? There are some who yet take pleasure in our Zion, and have a kindness for her stones and rubbish, and who are lifting up a prayer for the remnant that is left. God has a great regard to this remnant, to their prayers and tears; and he says, “ For the sighing of the poor, for the crying of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord.”
2. God is here and there raising up and sending forth some young men to the ministry, who are endowed with his Spirit, and whom he has polished as shafts for his work and service, in building up his own, and battering down Satan's kingdoin. God uses not to polith instruments for work and service, and then to lay them by as useless; he fendeth not forth labourers, where he has no harvest to reap.
the pod of Israel is religion Sehat the I purban
of Heaven lifted up against 3. There is a spring of young converts here and there through the land, in whom some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel is to be found; yea, a spring arisen even in fome places, where religion seems to be most borne down and opprefled: which says, that the Lord will maintain his ground; and that he is like the wise husbandman, who keeps a proper measure of feed to low his field, a little leaven to leaven the lump.
4. Many of the dear faints of God, who are now triumphing about the throne, ministers and others, have gone off the stage, in the faith and persuasion of it, that God would yet appear in his glory, for building up of his Zion in Scotland; and that there should yet be more glorious days feen in our land, than ever we or our fathers have feen. These, I say, are some grounds of hope, that the Lord will not altogether leave us to be carried down the flood, but that he will yet lift up the standard, and display his glory. I shall only add, that whatever defections there may be among us, yet there is not wanting some to give their honest testimony against them, and who through grace are resolved to cleave to the standard of the law and testimony, which the Spirit of the Lord has lifted up; and we desire to believe, that he will not forsake those who seek him, and desire to cleave to him.
But, after all thefe things, there is no security against some sweeping flood or other, for which we in this land seem to be ripening apace. But though floods of error, persecution, and public calamities should break loose; yet it is ground of comfort to the Lord's people, that even by these floods God is ftill advancing and promoting his own work; the wrath and corruptions of men thall praise him, and the remainder of his wrath he will restrain.
Quest. What good work of God can be advanced and promoteri, by letting the enemy come in like a flood upon his church?
I answer, 1. His discovering work is advanced. By letting foods run, hereby he frparates between the precious and the vile, between the chaff and the wheat. A food, as I was saying, in the doctrinal part, is of a sweeping nature, it sweeps away loose timber and itones, or any other thing that lies in its way, not weil faitened in the earth. Just so is it here, with respect to these floods of crror, defections, or tribulations ; loose ill-grounded profeflors are commonly carried down the fiream, while they that are rooted and grounded in Christ, and built upon the blesid foundation that God has laid in Zion, their house ílands, because it is built upon a rock. Now, God will have the one diftinguished or separate from the
other, other, that they who are approved of God, may be made manifest.
2. By letting the floods run a while, the Lord's purging work is advanced. By floods of trouble and persecution, he 56 washes away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purges the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof. By this Thall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away his fin." Yea, by letting the floods of superstition, er. ror, and corruption, prevail for a while in a church, he can bring about a reformation. You know, in the natural body, peccant humours they will wade through the body for a long while, and create a great deal of disorder, till they form in some disease, ulcer, or such like trouble; and when they come to a crise, they get a turn, and so contribute to after health. Just so it is with the church of God, the mystical body of Christ, errors and corruptions they will wade for a long time through the church, till they come to some head, and then the fkilful Physician of Gilead applies a proper remedy for purging or correcting these evils, which had been for a long time latent.
3. God's uniting work is frequently advanced, by suffering the enemy to come in like a flood. You know, that metal, though broken into many pieces, yet when caft into the furnace, will run together into a lump. Commonly, in a time of peace and prosperity, divisions, animofities, and heartburnings do prevail; but when the floods of error, trouble, and defections break out, they that love the Lord and his cause unite together against the common enemy. I have heard it to be the practice of some travellers in the northern parts of our own country, when they come to deep and strong waters in their way, though before they travelled in a straggling mana ner, yet when they come to the dangerous water, they join arm to arm, and in this posture their united strength stands more firm against the stream, than if every one were apart; so, when the floods of errors, defections, afflictions, or persecutions, are suffered to run, they who were much separate and divided through private contentions, will join hand in hand to make a stand against the common enemy.
4. God's elucidating or enlightening work is advanced, by Jetting the enemy come in like a flood; particularly, by the floods of error that break in upon the church, truth comes many a time to be set in a clearer light: and as we have heard, so have we seen this in the city of the living God. Not to ingst upon every thing, I believe the doctrine of the glorious Trinity, and of the supreme, independent, and self-existent Deity of the Son of God, was never set in a clearer light VOL. II.
since the reformation, than it has been since that damnable er. ror of Arianism was broached among us. And never does the faith, love, patience, zeal, and other militant graces of the saints of God, shine so bright, to the glory of God, and the credit of religion, as when floods of trouble and persecution are running in the church. And thus that promise is accomplished, of “ bringing forth truth unto victory;" and that, If. liv. 11. « Oh thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.”
5. God's enlarging work is many times promoted by the floods of trouble that break in upon the church. The spreading of the gospel, the ingathering of the rest of the elect, iş hereby promoted, as you see from Acts viii. 3. 4. 5. The goSpel, 'like the camomile, the more it is trode upon, the more does it spread; the more that the devil and his agents study to suppress it, and bear it down, the more does it prevail.
6. God's fructifying work is advanced by these floods. We are told, that the river Nilus at certain times fwells so high, as to overflow the land of Egypt; but by its overflowing, the ground is rendered exceeding fertile: so the Lord suffers the floods to break in upon his church, that he may promote her fertility in grace and holiness. It has been the observation of some, that religion was never in such a thriving condition in this land, as when Episcopal tyranny and arbitrary power were prevailing. Thus you see, that God promotes the defigns of his love and glory, even by letting the floods run for a time, before he lift the standard, and drive back the enemy. This may serve to comfort and encourage the hearts of the Lord's people at this day, against the melancholy aspect of things, with respect to the public cause and interest of Christ. ,
But now, some exercised soul may be ready to say, These things you have been speaking of, with relation to the church of God, the public interest of Christ, do not so much trouble me; I desire to believe that God will keep his hand about his own work in the land; but that which afflicts me, is indwelling fin. The enemy is not only come into our borders, our palaces, our judicatories, our dwellings; but, alas! he is come further ben, he is come in like a flood upon my heart and soul, and I know not what to do. O! will ever the Spirit of the Lord lift up a standard, and cast down his strong holds there? Well, poor believer, I tell thee for thy comfort, that though the flood has overflowed even to the neck, although the waters be come into thy soul, the Spirit of the Lord will. lift up a standard against him there. Allow me to ask, what is
the particular enemy that has come in like a flood upon thee? I think I am capable to assure thee from the word of God, that whatever be the enemy, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.
Perhaps one may be saying, Alas ! Satan has broke in upon me with a flood of temptations, and the food is so strong, that I am like to be carried off my feet. I am assaulted with temptations to blasphemous errors, felf-murder, and what not; yea, to such evils, as I am alhamed to let any of the world know of. Well, poor soul, is this thy cafe? I tell thee for thy comfort, a God of truth has said it, that his Spirit shall lift up the standard, and drive back the enemy that comes in like a flood upon thee : “ And has he said it, and will he not do it? has he spoken it, and shall it not come to pass ?” Take this promise in the text, in the hand of faith, hold it up to the enemy, and this word of truth shall be thy Thield and buckler. This was the way that Christ dealt with the enemy, when he came in upon him like a flood, Matth. iv. he lift up the banner of the word, the shield of God's faithfulness, saying, “ Thus and thus it is written ;” and thereby the enemy was driven back, and put to the worst. Follow the example of thy great General; tell the enemy, “ It is written, the Spirit of the Lord' Thall lift up the standard against thee: It is written, The feed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent, and tread thee under his feet :” and therefore I will believe and hope, believe and wait, till the Lord, according to his promise, come in for my relief. And if thou do so, depend upon it, the enemy will soon lose heart, and the strength of his temptations will fall.
Perhaps another may be saying, Alas! there is a flood of darkness broke in upon my soul, that I know not where I am, or what I am doing; though once in a-day I thought the Lord manifested himself to me, yet now “ the Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me; the Comforter that should relieve my soul, is far from me ; and I, whither shall I cause my forrow to go ?” I answer, This is no strange cale, for the children of light, to walk in darkness, yea, in such darkness that they can see no light; but be assured, that “unto the upright light Thall arise in darkness.” And therefore " trust in the name of the Lord, stay thyself upon thy God: his goings forth are prepared as the morning; he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” When the Spirit of the Lord displays his standard, reveals the glory of Christ, he will make light, even the light of the knowledge of his glory to thine through every corner of thy soul. Perhaps another may be saying. There is a whole flood of