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challenges that fill my bosom; I am indeed in darkness, the Lord is hiding; but that is not all, it is my own fins that hath done it, and God is saying to me, “ This is thy wickedness, because it is bitter. Haft thou not procured this unto thyself? Thine own iniquities separate between thee and thy God." I answer, All this may be true; and if true, thou hart indeed cause to mourn and weep in secret places; but yet I would not have thee to mourn like them that have no hope, but turn unto a God in Christ, reconciling the world to him. self, not imputing their trespasses to them; run into the blood of sprinkling, the fountain opened to the house of David, that washes from sin and uncleanness. The Spirit of the Lord has displayed the banner of his everlasting righteousness, and brought it near in the gospel offer and promise, that fo the guilty finner and discouraged believer, may come in under it, and find ground of hope and courage under all challenges, saying as the apostle does, Rom. viii. “ Who can lay any thing to the charge of God's elect ?" &c. Improve the promise of par. don, “ I, even I am he that blotteth out thy tranfgreffions for mine own name's fake." Improve the name of a reconciled God, “ The Lord pardoning iniquity.” Pray with David, “Pardon mine iniquity, for it is very great."
Alas! may another say, indwelling fin and corruption breaks in upon me like a flood, I have whole fwarms of hellith abominations within me. Well, here is comfort, When the enemy Mall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a sandard against him. A discovery of Christ in the light of the Spirit, wastes, weakens, and withers the body of lin. And therefore, O plead, and believe the promise, for the Spirit is promised for this very end, Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27. The Spi. iit takes the holiness of the head, and applies it to the members, whereby fin is weakened, and holiness is advanced. Has not the Lord said, “ Sin shall not have dominion over you; I wil subdue their iniquities?" Art thou oppressed with remaining ignorance? Well, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up the standard; for he is a Spirit of wisdom and revelation ; he is the anointing; whereby we are made to know all things. Art thou oppressed with unbelief, like a flood carrying thee away from the living God? Well, here is comfort, the Spirit of the Lord Shall lift up the standard against it; for he is a Spirit of faith, and he testifies of Christ, as “the Author and Finisher of faith, and will “ fulfil in thee all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.” Art thou op. preiled with remaining enmity against God, discovering itself in the works of the leth? Well, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up the ftandard ; for he is a Spirit of love, his banner is a banner of love, his peculiar work and province is to shed abroad the love of God upon the heart; and when he discovers the love and lovliness of our glorious Redeemer, enmity is driven dack: nothing so much kills enmity, as the discovery of the love of God in Christ. O! fays another, the vanity and carnality of my spirit comes in like a flood upon me; I no sooner fet myself to any spiritual work, but the world and the concerns thereof, come in like a flood, and divert my thoughts from the things of eternal concern. Well, here is comfort, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up the standard; for he is a Spirit of power, whereby we overcome the world. He it is that gives wings to the soul, whereby it mounts up, like the eagle, above things vibble and corporeal, where Christ is at the right hand of God. O! says another, I have so many errors in my heart, that I fear my heart fall in with the errors of the day, and so I be carried away with the food. “ Bleffed is the man that feareth always;" but do noe fear with a fear of diftrust, for the Spirit of the Lord will lift up the standard of truth, and he is given to lead his people into all truth; he is the Spirit of a found mind, to enable believers to distinguish between light and darkness, between truth and error; he it is that causeth the wayfaring man, though a fool, to walk in the way of truth, without erring. O! says another, grace is so weak, and corruption so strong, that I fear any little spark of grace that is in me be carried away, and ruined by the flood. 1 answer, Be encouraged, the Spirit of the Lord will carry on his own work, and lift a standard in its defence; “ he will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, till he hath brought forth judgement unto victory." O! says another, I can find no quiet or rest for the workings of Satan and corruption together, they are making perpetual inroads upon me by night and by day. Answ. Poor soul, here is comfort, the Spirit of the Lord tha!l lift up the standard, he will testify of Cbrist, and then thou shalt have rest in him, as “ under the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." ll. xi. 10. Christ is there set up by the Spirit of the Lord, “ as an enlign to the nations;" and then immediately it is added, “ Unto him shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious.” You have another sweet promise to this purpose, Il. lxii. 14. “ As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord causeth him to rest. It is the work of the Spirit, to thew to the weary soul the place where Christ causeth his flock to rest at noon.
Another perhaps may be saying, There is a terrible flood breaking in upon me, and that is a flood of divine terrors. I
may say with David, Pfal. lxxvii. “ I remembered God, and was troubled.” With God is terrible majetty indeed, and his terrors set themselves in array againit me. Anw. Here is comfort, the Spirit of the Lord tha’l lift up the standard, and drive away these terrors; for he is “the Comforter, and Christ has promised to send him in this capacity; “ I will fend the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghoit; and when he comes, thy heart shall rejoice, and thy joy thall no man take from thee. We have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” And it is his usual way, after he has wounded and broken, to bind up and heal, to make the bones which he hath broken to rejoice.
May another say, The fear of death breaks in upon me like a flood, the king of terrors keeps me in perpetual bondage, I am not able to look upon his grim countenance. Answ. The Spi. rit of the Lord shall lift up the standard, he shall discover the glory of Christ, and then thou shalt be put in case to say, “O death, where is thy fting? Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Chriít is the plague of death, and the destruction of the grave; he has wrung the keys of hell and death out of the devil's hand : and therefore “ lift up thy head, for the day of thy redemption draweth near.” So much for confolation.
A fifth use of this doctrine shall be by way of Exhortation, · Is it so, that by lifting up the standard, by displaying the glory of Christ, the enemy is repulsed that was coming in like a flood? then the exhortation is, Answer the design of the Spirit of the Lord in lifting up the standard. Take this exhortation in the two following branches.
First branch. You heard, in the doctrinal part, that the standard is a gathering ensign, whereby volunteers are listed, new soldiers taken into the army. Well, Sirs, Christ has set up his enîgn in the dispensation of the everlasting gospel; and it is prophesied concerning him, that“ unto him thall the gather.' ing of the people be; and therefore, O let finners gather unto him, and give up their names, as volunteers in his service. O that I knew what arguments to use with finners, to perfuade them to gather unto Christ, the blessed standard that is lifted up and displayed in the everlasting gospel!
1. Confider, that every thing in and about Christ invites you to gather and flock unto him.
ift, He has a gathering name. The very name of some re. nowned generals is enough to make volunteers to flock anto their standard. Well, Sirs, here is a General of the greatest name of any that ever was heard of; he hath “ a name above
every name;" is renowned in heaven and earth ;“his name shall endure for ever ; his name shall last like the sun';" his name is “ Emmanuel, God with us ;' his name is “ Redeemer ;" his name is “ Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.” O is not his name a gathering name?
zdly, He has a gathering arm: If. xl. 11.“ He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm.” His arms are everlasting arms; and these everlasting arms shall be underneath thee, if you engage in his service; and he stretches out his arms all the day long to finners, saying, “ Behold me, behold me.”
3dly, He has a gathering wing: Matth. xxiii. at the close, “ How often would I have gathered thee, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings !” He is even as fond of the sale vation of Gnners, as ever the hen was to gather her brood under her feathers, when the hovers over them with the greatest ten. derness; “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.”
4thly, He has a gathering voice; he spake but a word to Mary, calling her by name ; and immediately the answers, “Rabboni, my master.” His voice is the voice of the charmer, which charms never so wisely; the melody of his voice, when heard by the ear of faith, has such a powerful charm with it, that it quickens the dead : “ The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live," John v. 25. His voice makes the lame man to leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb to Ging.
5thly, He has a gathering trumpet, the sound of which goes to the end of the earth : Rom. x. 18. “ Have they not heard ? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth; and their words unto the ends of the world.” This gathering trumpet of the everlasting gospel you read of, If. xxvii. 13. " And it shall come to pass in that day that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerufalem.” This is a gathering trumpet indeed, and blessed are they that know the joyful sound of it, so as to be gathered thereby to the blessed Shiloh: for “they shall walk in the light of his countenance, and in his name shall they rejoice all ihe day long."
othly, He has a gathering ensign or standard, Il. xi. 10. But this leads to,
2. A second motive, to wit, the qualities of the standard which the Spirit of the Lord lifts up.
1f, It is an ancient standard. The most ancient standard of 'the army is always the most honourable. Well, Sirs, here is a standard for antiquity excels all other standards; for it is “ set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was ;' it was set up in the counsel of peace; it was set up in Paradise, and displayed against the old ferpent, for the injury he had done to the woman and her feed.
2dly, It is a victorious standard, it carries victory along with it where ever it goes; the very lifting up of the standard conquers : “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men after me.” It strikes terror to the heart of the dragon and his angels, Satan and his confederates. As the walls of Jericho fell down at the sound of the rams horns, so the strong-holds of Satan and his works fall down before the standard, 2 Cor. x. 4-6.
3dly, It is a lovely and beautiful standard : Cant. ii. 4. "His banner over me was love.” This standard is altogether lovely: and whenever it is displayed in its glory, in the view of a finner, immediately the bands of love fall upon the soul ; he is « drawn with cords of a man, and with bands of love." So lovely is this standard, that its lustre and glory reflects a lurtre upon all that behold it, or that list themselves under it. Balaam viewing the armies of Israel under the covert of this standard, he was so stricken, that he cries out, “ How goodly are thy tents, ( Jacob, and thy'tabernacles, O Israel! The people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned arnong the nations."
4thly, It is a durable and lasting standard. Other standards wear, and the moth shall eat them up; but this standard is ever the same : Heb. xiii. 8. “ Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” It is everlasting : Heb. i. Ic-12. there you have an account of the perpetuity of this standard, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning haft laid the foundation of the earth ; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a verture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”..
5thly, It is a very awful and terrible standard to hell and all its confederates ; the church, when under this standard, is said to be “terrible as an army with banners." Hence the devils, when they saw Christ upon earth, in the days of his flesh, they were struck with fuch terror, that they cried out, " What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the 2