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The unbeliever is an utter stranger to peace
[He may be stupid and insensible as a beast; but he can know nothing of real peace: even his apathy vanishes when once he begins to think of death and judgment. As his serenity resembles that of the irrational creation; so it arises from a similar source, a want of foresight or reflection in reference to the concerns of his soul. If he thinks of God, he is troubled, and will gladly have recourse to any thing to banish such uneasy reflections from his mind. This is his state, even when in the midst of all that the world accounts good and great: but how utterly devoid of peace is he, when once he is awakened to a sense of his real condition! Then he is full of terror, like the three thousand on the day of Pentecost; and, if he do not think of suicide, like the affrighted Jailor, he would gladly exchange condition with the beasts, if only the dissolution of the animal life might put an eternal period to his existence.
We speak not of the tumultuous passions by which the ungodly are agitated; because there are some who by the mere force of philosophy are enabled in a very great degree to moderate their feelings. But none can reflect on an eternity beyond the grave, without being appalled at the thought of the doom that awaits them, if they are unprepared to meet their God: so true is that which is spoken by the prophet, “ The wicked are like the troubled sea, that cannot rest : there is no peace, saith my God, to the wickede."] But God promises this blessing to the believer
[" The man whose mind is stayed on God, shall be kept in perfect peace.” He shall have peace in relation to his pardon and acceptance with God. Often in the day of his flesh did our Lord assure persons that their sins, though numerous, were forgiven': and will he be less gracious to his people now? Though he will not give us that assurance by any audible voice, he will by the inward witness of his Spirits. As once he sent “ a Seraph to take a live coal from off his altar, and to touch with it the prophet's lips, and to say to him, Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged h," so will he now send his Holy Spirit, as a Spirit of promise, to apply the promises to our souls, and to be within us a pledge and earnest of our heavenly inheritance!
The Believer shall have peace also in relation to his perseverance in the divine life. He “knows in whom he has believed, and that he is able to keep that which has been committed to him k.” He knows that his Lord and Saviour is “ able to keep him from falling, and to present him faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joyl:" and whilst he contemplates heaven as an“ inheritance reserved for him, he has the comfort of reflecting that he also is kept for it, even by the power of God through faith unto everlasting salvation.” Persuaded as he is that "He is faithful who hath promised"," and "able also to perform” his word”, he is “ confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in him will perform it until the day of Christ P,” and “ will preserve him blameless unto his heavenly kingdom.”
e Isai. lvii. 20, 21.
f Matt. ix. 2. Luke vii. 47.
He shall have peace also in relation to every thing that may occur in his way to heaven. Numberless things arise of a temporal or spiritual nature to disturb the minds of those who are weak in faith: but when once “ the mind is stayed on God," all these distractions cease. God is acknowledged as the author of all that is done, whether good or evil: not a sparrow, or a hair of our heads, falls to the ground, but by his special permission: and from whatever quarter trials arise, whether from voluntary agents, or unconscious elements, he is regarded as their true and proper source", and that consideration reconciles the soul to the dispensation"; yea, he acquiesces in it, assured that “all things shall work together for his good t.” He is careful for nothing, because he casts all his care on Godu;” and in humble prayer commits every thing to his all-wise disposal: and thus in a measure enjoys as much tranquillity, in relation to future events, as the birds of the air, or the lilies of the field]
This blessing God will bestow upon him, “ because he putteth his trust in him”—
[There is nothing meritorious in faith, any more than in other graces : but there is in faith a power peculiar to itself: it engages the Most High God, and, if we might dare to use such an expression, we would almost say, binds him to exert himself in our behalf. When we lay hold on his word by faith, he feels his own honour pledged to fulfil our desire, and not to suffer us to be disappointed of our hope. Indeed, inasmuch as faith pre-eminently honours him, he delights to honour it: and to such a degree would he honour it, that, “ if we had faith only as a grain of mustard-seed," that figure should be realized in our experience; we should be rooted up from this world, as a sycamore-tree from the earth; and though liable in ourselves to be tossed about by every wave, we should be fixed immoveably amidst the most tempestuous billows. This is strongly i Jude, ver. 24.
m 1 Pet. i. 4, 5. n Heb. x. 23. o Rom. iv, 21. P Phil. i. 6.
9 2 Tim. iv. 18. r Job i. 14-21. $ Ps. xxxix. 9.
t. Rom. viii. 28. u 1 Pet. v. 7.
* Matt. vi. 25--34. y Luke xvii. 6.
intimated in the very words of our text, where the literal expression, as pointed out in the margin, is, “ Thou wilt keep him in peace, peace,” that is, in peace indubitably certain, uninterruptedly abiding, and richly abundant. If only we cherished an “earnest expectation and hope” in God, verily“ we should never be ashamed or confounded world without end?."]
Having thus shewn what God has prepared for them that love him, we would, II. Urge you to seek that blessedness in God's ap
pointed wayGod calls us all to trust in him : 1. Consider what a God we have to trust in
[Consider what " exceeding great and precious promises he has given to us." There is not a situation or a circumstance wherein we can be placed, but God has given us promises exactly suited to it. It would be a highly profitable employment to extract from the Scriptures for ourselves the various promises contained in them, and especially those which apply more particularly to our own case; and then to spread them from time to time before our God in prayer.
What sweet encouragement would this afford us, in all our addresses at the throne of grace; and what holy confidence would it create in us! If we have only a promise from a man like ourselves, it tends exceedingly to compose our minds : but how much more would this effect arise from apprehending the promises of a faithful God!
But consider also how able God is to perform all that he has promised to us. Truly “ with him is everlasting strength:” “ There is nothing impossible with him.” “ It is alike with him to save by many or by few." He can save with means, or without means, or against means.
As for our weakness, or the strength of our enemies, it makes no difference to him. In the words following our text, it is said, “ He will bring down them that dwell on high: the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground, he bringeth it even to the dust." Is it asked, By whom he will do this ? it is added, “ The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needya:" yes, “ He will strengthen the spoiler against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress b.” The weaker we are in our own apprehension, the more strong we are in reality; because “his power shall rest upon us,” and “his strength be perfected in our weakness."]
Let us trust in him with our whole hearts
z Phil. i. 20. Isai. xlv. 17. b Amos v. 9.
a ver. 5, 6. See also ch. xiv. 2. c 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10.
[There are persons who imagine they trust in God, when, in fact, they are trusting only in their own delusionsa. There must be an express renunciation of every other hope®, and an actual committing of our way to him in prayer'. There must be a direct exercise of faith in him, as able, and willing to effect whatsoever our necessities require; and a firm persuasion that he will do that which shall in the issue be best for us. This is implied in having “ the mind stayed on him.” We have a fine description of this state of mind contained in the prophecies of Isaiah: it is primarily indeed applicable to the Messiah; but is proper also to be realized in the experience of all the saints; since - all who fear the Lord” are exhorted in seasons of the deepest darkness and distress to set it before them as a model, and, after his example, to stay themselves upon their Gods
-- How important this duty is, may be inferred from the reiterated injunctions given us respecting ith. Let us then “ trust in God at all times." In times of ease and security, let us remember that we are in his hands, and not be saying with ourselves, “ My mountain standeth strong; I shall not be moved'.” In times of trouble and distress, let us " not stagger at the promises through unbelief, but be strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Let us, after the example of David, say, " My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation, and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in Godk.”
This is the kind of trust to which alone the promise is made. “ If our faith waver, we shall receive nothing of the Lord":" but if we commit our every concern to him, “our very thoughts,” the most fluctuating of all things, “shall be established m," and “the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep (the affections of) our hearts and (the imaginations of) our minds, through Christ Jesus"."] ADDRESS1. Those who know nothing of this blessedness
[Do not suppose that this peace is merely ideal; and that, because you do not experience it, it has no existence in the Believer's mind: for it is the legacy of Christ to all his people: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you°:" and it is indeed “a peace that passeth all understanding." It is not a mere absence of feeling, but a positive sense of reconciliation with God, a sweet consciousness of being under his protecting care, and a humble, yet confident, expectation, that he will order every thing for our eternal good. We cannot give a juster picture of it, than by referring you to the description given of it by the sweet singer of Israel P. Nothing alarms him, or disturbs his rest, because he knows that “ his God is for him, and that therefore none can, with any
d Isai. xlvii. 1, 2. e Prov. iii. 5, 6.
i Ps. lxii. 8.
effect, be against him." “His God gives him quietness; Who then can make troubler?"
And will you be content to continue ignorant of this happiness? Why should you do so ? Christ has purchased it for
those who are afar off, as well as those who are near®;" and he will confer it in rich abundance on all who call upon him!.]
2. Those who through the weakness of their faith do not yet partake of it
[How dishonourable is your conduct, and injurious to that God who redeemed you by the blood of his only dear Son! Whom has he ever deceived, that you cannot rely upon his promises? In what instance has he ever shewn himself deficient, either in faithfulness or power? What enemies also are you to your own happiness, at the time that you are so dishonouring him ! “ Has he not said to you, that, if you would believe, you should see the glory of God u ?” 6 Believe in the Lord, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosperX:" but, “if ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established y.") 3. Those who profess to enjoy that peace
[Well may we say with David, “O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in theez;" blessed is the man who with humble confidence can approach thee, saying, “O God, thou art my God.” And are any of you brought to this happy state? O “cast not away your confidence, which has such great recompence of reward":" for then, and then only, “are we partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end b." But, on the other hand, beware lest you abuse that confidence, and walk unworthy of your high calling : for," if God has spoken peace” unto your souls, he especially enjoins you never more to return to follyc." Let it be seen then what is the genuine effect of saving faith : and, if you call yourselves sons of God, and profess to have your portion with him in the world to come, then remember, that every one that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as He is pured."] P Ps. xxiii.
9 Rom. viii. 31, r Job xxxiv. 29. s Eph. ii. 17. t Rom. x. 11-13. u John xi. 40. * 2 Chron. xx. 20. y Isai. vii. 9.
2 Ps. lxxxiv. 12. a Heb. X. 35. b Heb. iii. 14.
c Ps. lxxxv, 8. di John iii. 2, 3.