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fear no evil, &c. Where we may notice the particulars fola lowing. :s. The present condition of the believer while in this world ; he is confidered under the notion of a traveller, for he is walka ing toward, his journey's end. 2. We have the supposed danger that may cast up in his way or walk; he may come to the valley of the shadow of death ; that is, he may meet with troables in his way, that carry the hew or appearance of the greatest dangers, yea, even of death in them. 3. We have the courage where with faith inspires the believer, upon this supposed event of being obliged to walk through the valley of the 1hadow of death ; I will fear no evil, says faith. 4. We have the ground of this courage and confidence, which is expressed two wayse (1.) More generally, Thou art with me. (2.) More par. ticularly, Tly rod and thy Ataff they comfort me. And thus we have the words resolved into their leveral parts. I shall not stay at present upon any critical explication ; what is needful will occur.
From them I notice the following doctrines.
OBSERVE, I. " That believers are not residenters in this world, but travelling through it to their own home.” Hence David here speaks of his present condition under the notion of a traveller walking through a valley. ... · Obs. 2. “ That believers in their journey must lay their account with melancholy, yea, death-like dispensations, trials that portend death and ruin. Hence David supposes that he may walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Obs. 3. “ That true faith inspires the soul with an undaunted courage to encounter all imaginable dangers in the way." See with what a heroic spirit David here expresses himself, under the influence of the Spirit of faith, I will fear no evil,
OBS. 4." That which gives so much courage to the believer is, that by faith he takes up a reconciled God as present with him in the midst of his greatest troubles.” I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.
OBS.-5.“ The consideration of God's pastoral care and providence toward his people is very comfortable in the midst of trouble.” For in this sense some understand the words, being, they think; an allusion unto a shepherd, who with his rod and staff protects and defends his flock against wolves and such ravenous beasts.
OBs. 6. " The faithfulness of a promising God is a comfortable rod or staff in the hand of faith, to bear up the believer in his travels through the wilderness." In this fense others VOL. II.
talye is behold
take the words; for by the rod and ftaff they underftand the divine promise, and the faithfulnefs of the Promiser, to which faith leans with confidence, in opposition to all ftaggerings through unbelief. Thus, you fee, the words cast up a large field of matter, which it is not posfible for me to overtake at prefent.
The doctrine I inlift upon at prefent is the third in order, viz. Doct. " That true faith is a courageous grace ; it inspires the
foul with a holy and undaunted boldness amidst the greatest of dangers. Or, you may take it thus: “ That true faith is à noble antidote against intimidating fears in a time of trouble.” This you fee plain in the words. David here, being under the influence of the fpirit of faith, cries out with a holy fortitude of spirit, Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of deuth, I will fear no evil, &c.
The method I propofe is, won i nc...j. 1. To notice some of these evils that are ready to intimidate the spirits of the Lord's people, when they look on them with the eye of fense and reafon.
II. Give some account of faith, and prove that it inspires the foul with courage and boldness amidst all these evils. Final
III. Give fome account of that Christian fortitude and bold. ness that is the fruit of faith.
IV. Inquire into the influence of faith upon this boldness and fortitude of spirit, and how it prevents intimidating fears amidst these evils.
V. Make some improvement of the whole by way of application.
I. 'The first thing in the method is, to notice some of these evils that are ready to intimidate and discourage the hearts of the Lord's people in a time of danger.
1. then, Sometimes their spirits are ready to be stricken with fear of their own weakness and insufficiency for the work that the Lord is calling them to engage with, whether it be salvation, or ftation and generation work. Jer. i. there the Lord tells the prophet, ver. 5. ^ Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet-un. to the nations." By this hint, Jeremiah is made to understand that the Lord was about to send him a very dangerous errand. Well, the prophet, through a sense of his inability in himself to manage such a hard work, cries out, ver. 6. “Ah, Lord God, behold, I cannot speak, for I am a child." His heart fails him in such an undertaking, and he is afraid to męddle with it. The same wę see in Moses, when the Lord called him to go unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, and require him to let the child. ren of Israel go out of his dominion : Exod. iv. 10. what an impertinent apology makes he for himself, through the prevalency of unbelief?“ O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou haft spoken unto thy servant, but I am flow of speech, and of a flow tongue.” Yea, after the Lord had chastifed him for his unbelief, and given him a special promise of aslistance, yet he adds, ver. 13. “O my Lord, fend, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send." From all which it is plain, that sense and reason foster unbelieving discouragements in the work of the Lord ; and no wonder, for they look only to the fund of created grace within, but not to the strength and grace that is in Jesus Christ, secured by a well-ordered covenant.
2. The spirits of the Lord's people are ready to be fright: ened with the might and multitude of their enemies they have to grapple with in their way through the wilderness. This world is a den of lions, and mountains of leopards, where the believer must engage with principalities and powers, &c. He is many times like a besieged city, surrounded with dangers from all airchs ; and in this case he is ready to cry with Jeñoshaphat, 2 Chron, XX. 12." We have no might against this great company that cometh up against us:" or, like the house of David, moyed like “ the trees of the wood,” because of great and dangerous enemies that pursued them. Sense and reason looks only to the power of the enemy, but overlooks the power of Gods and therefore cries, One day or other I shall fall by the hand of my enemies.
3. The spirits of believers are sometimes intimidated with a sense of guilt, and the awful terrors of vindictive anger and wrath pursuing them on the account of fin. Hence David cries out, Psal. xl. 12. “ Innumerable evils compass me about,” &c. So; Pfal. xxxviii. s. Job vi. 4. “ The arrows of the Almighty are within me,” &c. Heman, Psal. lxxxviii. 15.“ While I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted.” When in presents itself to the soul's view, and the Saviour is out of sight, it“ remembers God, and is troubled ;” and no wonder though in that case he cry out, “ If thou, Lord, mark iniquity : 0 Lord, who shall stand.” .
4. Sometimes they are struck with fear through the prevalency of indwelling fin, enmity, unbelief, ignorance, carnality, and the like ; swarms of heart-lufts, like an impetuous torrent, break in upon them ; in which case they fear leit they be car.
ried away to the dishonour of God, the ruin of the soul, and the wounding of religion. This made David to cry, Psal. xix. 12. “ Who can understand his errors ?” Psal. Ixv. 3. “ Iniqui. ties prevail against me,” &c. Paul, Rom. vii. “ I am led captive unto the law of fin. Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of fin and death ?”
5. Sometimes their hearts are intimidate with the black clouds of defertion, that overcast their sky, and interrupt the sweet manifestations of the love of God. In that case, they are like the disciples on mount Tabor ; when, after a light of the glory of Christ, the cloud overshadowed them, then they were afraid : or like David, Psal. xxx. 7. “ Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled;" immediately after he had been saya ing, “ Lord, by thy favour my mountain stands strong, I shall never be moved.”
6. Sometimes their hearts are intimidate with the noise of great waters, I mean, the shakings and reelings of this lower world. Sometimes providence hath such an awful aspect as if it were going about to shake heaven and earth; the * mountains are removed, and cast into the midst of the sea, and the “ waters thereof roar” and swell; the “ mountains melt," and the “ perpetual hills bow” at the presence of the Lord, when he appears in his terrible majesty. In such a case as this, the prophet Habakkuk, chap. jii. 16. cries out, “ When I heard, my belly trembled: my lips quivered at the voice': rottenness entered into my bones." And David, Psal. cxix. 120. says, “ My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgements.”
7. Sometimes they are afraid at the wrath of man, and the fury of the persecutor. Sometimes the Lord, for holy and wise ends, lets loose the feed of the serpent, the rage and fury of man, under the influence of natural enmity; and, in this case, they are ready to be stricken with a sinful and flavilh fear, If. li. 13. “ Thou haft feared every day, because of the fury of the oppreisor, as if he were ready to destroy."' ' .
8. The dangerous situation of the church and cause of Christ is sometimes matter of fear unto the faints of God. When the ark of God was in the open field, Eli's heart fell a trembling. When men are allowed to lift up their axes upon the carved work of the temple, when the “ boar out of the wood," and the “ wild beast of the forest is devouring” the Lord's vineyard, and the “ foxes fpoiling the tender vines ;" then, and in that case, the true children of Zion are ready to tay with the church, Lam. i. 10." The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things; for the Heathen hati . .
entered into her fanétuary, and her stones are poured out in the top of every streer."
9. Sometimes we find them stricken with fear at the thoughts of the awful approach of death the king of terrors ; as we see in the case of Hezekiah, when the sentence of death was passed upon him, Il. xxxviii. 10. &c. s I faid in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: [ am deprived of the residue of my years. I said, I shall not fee the Lord, even the Lord in the land of the living : I shall be. hold man no more with the inhabitants of the world. Like a crane or swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove; mine eyes fail with looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed, under. take for me.” Some are said to be held in bondage all their days through fear of death. Thus I have told you of some of these evils that are ready to intimidate the hearts of the Lord's people.
II. The second thing is, to give some account of that faith which fortifies the foul against the fear of these evils. I do not design at present to intilt upon the nature of faith, having not long ago infifted on this subject : only I offer you, 1. Some of its names. 2. Its ingredients. 3. Some of its concomitants. si
First, I offer a view of it in its scriptural names. Sometimes it is called a trusting in the Lord : “ What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee: Though he should kill me, yet will I trust in him." Sometimes it is called a looking to the Lord, “They looked unto him, and were lightened. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth. Let us run our race, looking unto Jesus.” Sometimes a saying ourselves on the Lord : Il. xxvi. 3. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee,” &c. Sometimes a casting of our burden on him : Pfal. lv. 22. “ Caft thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee,” &c. Sometimes it is called a fleeing to him as a refuge, as the manslayer Aled to the city of refuge when pursued for his life: Plal. cxliii. 9. “ Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies : 1 flee unto thee for help.” Faith is a fleeing in under the wings of Chrilt's mediation and intercession, as the birds under the wings of the dam.
Secondly, I would give you some of the ingredients of that faith which fortifies the foul against the fear of evil.
1. then, It has in it a knowledge and uptaking of a God in Chrift, revealing himself as reconciled, and making over himself to us in a well ordered covenant : for it is only a God in Christ that can be the object of our faith and love;