O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
~ Psalm 115:9-11, Psalm 130:7
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
~ Psalm 146:5, Jeremiah 17:7-8
Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.
~ Isaiah 26:4, Psalm 115:18
A Sermon on Psalm 131:3, by Thomas Manton. Sermon V.
Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever.—Ps. cxxxi. 3.
This verse showeth the use of the whole psalm. David did not pen it to praise himself, or to extol and set forth his own humility, but to instruct the people of God, that they might learn the right way of trusting or hoping in God.
This way is intimated in the two former verses, wherein he representeth his humility and resignation to God.’
First, Humility, in the first verse, ‘My heart is not haughty, nor do I exercise myself in great matters,’ &c. He did not speak great things of himself, nor seek great things for himself. If we would learn to trust God, we must learn to have mean thoughts of ourselves, desiring nothing, attempting nothing, but what God approveth and inviteth us unto; for then we can best depend upon God’s grace and providence; for otherwise we depend upon our own strength, or look for such an assistance from heaven as shall gratify and serve our lusts.
Secondly, His resignation and quiet submission of all events to God, waiting for the issues of his providence without carking, without murmuring. This is to be observed in David, who was in himself a worthy man, provoked by Saul, and one that had assurance of the kingdom by God’s own promise; yet, though the accomplishment were delayed, he would not step one foot forward further than God directed him. This humble temper and abrenunciation of self-trust and secular confidence will stand you in more stead than all your shifts and contrivances; for God will never be wanting to such as do so submissively devolve themselves upon him. Therefore ‘let Israel hope in the Lord,’ &c.
In the words we have four things—
(1.) Who exhorteth, David, by his own example;
(2.) The persons who are exhorted, Israel;
(3.) The duty to which they are exhorted, trust or hope in the Lord;
(4.) The constancy and perseverance required in this duty, ‘From henceforth and for ever.’
From hence three points of doctrine.
Doct. 1. That those who have found peace, rest, and satisfaction in their own souls by trusting in God may best invite and encourage others to take the same course.
So doth David here, who had such comfort, quiet, and peace by submitting his affairs to God, that he could not but encourage others to follow that way with confidence. As if lie had said, If you can be but meek, humble, and trust the Lord, he will take care of you, and give you those things which belong to your peace and salvation. So elsewhere: Ps. xxxiv. 8, ‘Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.’ As God is very communicative of his goodness, so gracious souls do invite others to share with them in whatsoever grace the Lord doth bestow upon them. They would have others come and make the experiment, and by obedience to him and reliance on him they shall soon find that God is a gracious master.
1. Because they are instances both of the duty and the success.
(1.) Of the duty. Our words are of the more force when our actions correspond, and do not disprove and contradict them; as the Lord Jesus, that taught humility, was the great instance and example of it: ‘Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly;’ not only in his doctrine, but his practice: Mat. xi. 29; and his servant Paul, ‘Be followers of me, as I also am of Christ,’ 2 Cor. xi. 1; 2 Thes. iii. 7, ‘Yourselves know how ye ought to follow us; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you. Actions have a strange force to produce like practice in others, far more than words and exhortations. The doctrine showeth our duty, but the example showeth it is practicable, by men who have not divested themselves of the interests of flesh and blood, no more than we have.
2. The success: 2 Cor. i. 4, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.’ That is more warmly said which is spoken by experience. A report of a report is a cold thing. David did not thrust forth himself into the world, but waited the will of God, and it succeeded well. For the present it quieted his soul, and afterward obtained the thing promised. So in a case of comfort for pardon of sin: Ps. cxxx. 5-7, ‘I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, yea, more than they which wait for the morning. Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.’
2. This is one part of the communion of saints, to provoke and encourage others to trust in God by our example and experience, as we ourselves also should be excited by their experience and example to be more obedient to God, and patiently and comfortably to wait for his salvation: Rom. i. 12, That I may be comforted by the mutual faith both of you and me.’ We thus mutually strengthen one another. Good is diffusive, and seeketh to propagate itself, as fire turneth all about it into fire. Certainly it is the disposition of God’s people, when they have found any comfort and benefit by Christ themselves, they invite others to share with them. Thus, David penneth his Maschil, Ps. xxxii., the title. When he found the way of easing his own conscience, he is willing to instruct others. So in the first of John, Andrew calleth Peter when he had found Christ, ver. 41; and Philip calleth Nathaniel, ver. 45. Carnal things are possessed with envy; they that are rich and great in the world would shine alone; and when they are gotten at the top themselves, are loath to teach other’s how to climb up after them. And when any take up religion out of faction and carnal aims, they would enclose and impropriate the common salvation; therefore they envy the credit and hope of it to others, that they may shine alone, or be the better esteemed. Mules and creatures of a mixed and bastard production never procreate and beget after their kind. False and mongrel Christians are envious rather than communicate. But those that lave really taste of the Lord’s goodness are glad of company, and it is a great satisfaction to them when they can promote the good of others’ souls: 1 John i. 3, These things declare we unto you, that ye may have fellowship with us,’ &c.
3. Mercy, according to the covenant of grace, giveth the same grounds of faith and hope to every one within the church; so that whatever of favour is shown to one of God’s people, it is of a general use and profit to others: Ps. cxv. 9-13, O Israel, trust thou in the Lord; he is their help and shield. O house of Aaron, trust thou in the Lord; he is their help and shield. Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; he is their help and shield. The Lord hath been mindful of us; he will bless us: he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron: he will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great. The scripture showeth that as the duty of trusting in the Lord is common to all sorts of persons, so the blessing of trust is common, and doth belong to all sorts of believers, small and great. God’s Israel consists of several degrees of men. There are magistrates who have their peculiar service; there are ministers who intercede between God and man in things belonging to God; and there are the common sort of them that fear God, and are admitted to the honour of being his people. Now these have all the same privileges. If God be the help and shield of the one, lie will be the help and shield of the other; if he bless the one, he will bless the other. Every one that feareth God, and is in the number of true Israelites, may expect his blessing as well as public persons; the meanest peasant as well as the greatest prince, as they have leave to trust in God, so they may expect his blessing. And the reasons are, partly because they have all interest in the same God, who is a God of goodness and power, able and willing to relieve all those that trust in him. He is alike affected to all his children, and beareth them the same love. His saints are now as dear to him as ever: “This honour have all His saints,’ that he will beautify their faces with salvation, Ps. cxlix. 9. Partly because they have the same covenant as a common charter: Acts ii. 39, “ The promise is unto you and unto your children, and to all that are afar off.’ Partly because they have the same Redeemer: 1 Cor. i. 2, Jesus Christ, theirs and ours.’ ‘Rich and poor, he paid the same ransom for souls: Exod. xxx. 15, ‘Half a shekel.’ He is not a more worthy Christ to one than to another: Rom. iii. 22.
There is no difference. There may be in the degree of reception. A jewel may be held by a child and a man. Partly because the faith of one is as acceptable to God as the faith of the other, as to the kind, though not to the degree: 2 Peter i. 1, ‘To them who have obtained like precious faith with us,’ lo ótimov motiv. So that though there be some difference in God’s dealing with his saints as to arbitrary blessings, yet the universal promise belongeth to all; and the particular promises, which are but branches of that universal, will be made good to all in the same case. They are branches of the covenant made with all the faithful, &c.
Use 1. To show the reason of public thanksgiving for private mercies.
1. It is more for the honour of God that we should extend the fruit of our mercies as far as we can; not only for the increase of our own faith, but for the increase of the faith of others.
2. It is for their benefit; for every believer’s mercy is a sensible confirmation of the goodness of God, not only to themselves, but others. They may see what is to be expected from such a good God. As it is profitable to them to mourn with those that mourn, so to rejoice with those that rejoice.
Doct. 2. That God’s Israel must put their trust and hope in God.
Here are three things to be discussed
(1.) Who are God’s Israel;
(2.) What is this hope in God;
(3.) Why they are to hope in God, or the reasons.
First, Who are the Israel of God that are here invited to trust in the Lord? The scripture maketh mention of a double Israel —
1. Of Israel according to the flesh: 1 Cor. x. 18, ‘Behold Israel after the flesh.’
2. Israel according to the spirit, who are also called the Israel of God,’ Gal. vi. 16. Both together are mentioned in one place: Rom. is. 6. ‘All are not Israel who are of Israel.’ Now the present exhortation concerneth all men so far that they should be converted, and become the Israel of God, that they may hope in him. But directly and immediately the persons exhorted are the Israel described: Ps. Ixxiii. 1, ‘Surely God is good to Israel, to such as are of a clean heart.’ In their natural estate, men, as they are without God, so they are without hope, Epli. ii. 20; or they have only a dead hope if tliey have any. They that are renewed after the image of God, and are made like him in truth and holiness, are most easily persuaded to believe and trust in him. God doth neither allow the trust of wicked men, nor can they ever have any firm and sure hope and confidence towards God.
(1.) God alloweth not the trust of those that continue impenitently in their sins; as if the goodness, power, and wisdom of God should be employed for them to bear them out in their transgressions. He complaineth of them that were very naughty and wicked: Micah iii. 11.
Yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord amongst us? no evil can come upon us.’ No; God will shake off such as thus lean upon him, as Paul did the viper that fastened upon his hand. If security were hope and trust, then the hardest heart would make the best faith.
(2.) They cannot have a firm confidence towards God; for shame, and fear, and doubts do always follow sin, Gen. iii. Can a man trust him whom he doth continually wrong and provoke? None have a firm confidence but those that have a clear conscience: 1 John iii. 21. If our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God.’ Fear and shyness of God is the effect of sin, and dogs it at the heels, and follows it as close as smart doth a cut or wound: “The hearts of the wicked are subject to bondage,’ Heb. ii.
Secondly, The nature of this hope in God. We must distinguish before we can describe it to you. The hope of glory, or the hope of those things which are necessary for us during our pilgrimage; for though the state of glory be the principal, yet not the adequate or only object of Christian lope.
1. Let me speak a little of the first branch, though not chiefly intended in this place. The hope of glory is the certain and desirous expectation of the promised blessedness. Faith respects the promise; hope rather the thing promised. Faith considereth the thing promised as in a sort present, and set before us in the promise: Heb. xi. 1, “Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Hope considereth it as absent and yet to come; and therefore doth earnestly long, and look, and wait for it. Faith considereth the certainty of the thing promised; hope the goodness and excellency, so as to draw the heart after it, to quicken us to make preparation for it. Now this hope of eternal glory should be always cherished in us.
(1.) Because it is a special act of the new creature: 1 Peter i. 3, Begotten to a lively hope.’ As soon as we are children, we look for a child’s portion. The new nature presently discovereth itself by its tendency to its end and rest, which is the fruition of God in heaven.
(2.) Because it is the great end wherefore the scriptures were written, to beget and raise this hope in us: Rom. xv. 4, Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning; that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope, Id agit tota scriptura, it is the business and design of those holy books.
(3.) The keeping up of this hope with zeal and industry is the distinguishing character between the temporary and the sincere convert. The one loseth his taste and comfort, and so casteth off the profession of godliness, or neglects the powerful practice of it; the other is diligent and serious, patient and mortified, heavenly and holy, because he keepeth up that rejoicing of his hope: is end sweeteneth his for this grace doth quicken the whole spiritual life: Titus ii. 12, 13, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
(4.) We have nothing else to fortify us against the difficulties which intervene and fall out betwixt our first right to eternal life and our full possession of it. In our journey to heaven there are many sufferings and trials which must be undergone, and hope is our strength and support. He that sets his face heavenward will find difficulties that attend his service, temptations that assault his constancy, and troubles and calamities to which his religion exposeth him. It is hope carrieth us through, and therefore is compared to an anchor: Heb. vi. 19,. Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.’ To an helmet: 1 Thes. iv. 8; Eph. vi. 17, Take the helmet of salvation,’ &c. As we would not go to sea without an anchor, nor to war without an helmet, so we must not think of carrying on the spiritual life without hope. Nothing else will compose the mind, and keep it stable in the floods of temptation, or cause us to hold up the head in our conflicts and encounters; without this anchor our souls are in danger of spiritual shipwreck; without this helmet our heads are exposed to deadly blows from sin, Satan, and worldly discouragements.
55.) We shall have need of it, not only while we live, but most need of it when we come to die. They that are destitute of the hope of glory then are in a dangerous. woful, and most lamentable case: Job xxvii. 8, For what is the hope of the hypocrite, if he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?’ They may be full of presumption and blind confidence while they live, but what hope have they when they come to die? All their worldly advantages will afford them no solid comfort. They live in a presumptuous dream that all shall be well, but then they die stupid and senseless, or else despairing, and their hopes fail them when they have most need of them.
(6.) Think often of the happiness of the blessed, who are now enjoying what we expect, and are in possession of that supreme good which we hope for. They are entered into the joy of their Lord, and have neither miseries to fear nor blessings to desire beyond what they do enjoy. They possess all that they love. And though the time of our advancement to these privileges be not yet come, yet we should look and long for it. We are of the same family: Eph. iii. 15, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. It is but one household; some live in the upper room, some in the lower; some in heaven, some on earth. We are of the same society and community: Heb. xii. 23, “To the general assembly and church of the first-born,’ &c. We are said to be already come into this fellowship; only they have gotten the start of us, and are made perfect before us, that we should follow after. We are reconciled to the same God by the same Christ, Col. i. 20, and expect our portion from the bounty of the same Father. If he hath been so good to that part of the family which is now in heaven, will lie not be as good to the other part also? Therefore they that are working out their salvation with fear and trembling may encourage themselves, and look upon this felicity as prepared for them, though not enjoyed by them; it will one day be their portion as well as of those others who have passed the pikes, and are now triumphing with God.
(7.) Observe what God giveth you by way of earnest. Hope is not built upon promises alone, but also upon assurances and earnests. The promises are contained in the word of God, but the earnest is given into our hearts: 2 Cor. i. 22, ‘Who hath sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts; ‘ 2 Cor. v. 5, Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit;’ Eph. i. 13, 14, ‘ In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.’ Though God be truth itself, and promiseth nothing but what he meaneth to perform, yet he will give earnest of his promises and a pledge of his affection to us. As an earnest is a part of the sum which is promised, so is the earnest of the Spirit a part of the promised felicity. God would not altogether weary us, and burden us with expectation, but give us somewhat in hand. Surely he that giveth us earnest will give us the whole sum. The earnest of the Spirit consisteth in light, life, grace, joy; one drachm of these is more precious than all the world, and yet these are but an earnest. Now having such a confirmation in the midst of our doubts and fears, let us with more confidence look to receive the whole in due season. This, with much more that might be said (if it were proper in this place), should excite us to hope for glory.
2. There is another sort of hope of those supplies which are necessary for us during our pilgrimage; for God hath undertaken not only to give us heaven and happiness in the next world, but to carry us thither with comfort and peace, that we may serve him without fear all the days of our lives. His providence concerneth the inward and outward man; so do His promises. An whole believer is in covenant with God body and soul, and he will take care of both. Now this kind of hope and trust is such a dependence upon God and his promises, for whatever we stand in need of, as encourageth us to go on cheerfully in the ways wherein lie hath appointed us to walk. Where note—
(1.) The object of this trust and hope is God: Ps. Ixii. 5, ‘ My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him. Where else can we securely settle and fix our souls if not on God? Ps. cxlvi. 5, ‘Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God. This is the only sure hold, and never failing foundation of confidence.
(2.) The warrant of hope are the promises of God: Ps. cxxx. 5, I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.’ These are the holdfast which we have upon God, the sacred bands which he hath put upon himself, the rule and warrant of our faith. We must not make promises to ourselves and become false prophets to ourselves; but, so far as God hath promised, so far may we confidently expect relief from Him. Our necessities lead us to the promises, and the promises to Christ, and Christ to God as the fountain of grace; and at the throne of grace we put these bonds in suit, and turn promises into prayers; for we have free leave to challenge God upon his word: Ps. cxix. 49, ‘Remember thy word,’ &c. But now what hath God promised us? All the good things we want, and are truly for our good: Ps. lxxxiv. 11, The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. So Ps. xxxiv. 10, They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing;’ Rom. viii. 28, 32, · All things shall work together for good to them that love God. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? ‘ Mat. vi. 33, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added into you;’ and 1 Tim iv. 8, Godliness is profitable unto all things, and hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.’ These and suchlike are the promises. We must not imagine that God will do everything which cometh into our minds to ask, serve all our carnal turns. No; God will be challenged no further than he hath engaged himself. He hath promised eternal things absolutely; whatever falleth out, you may be sure of your final reward if qualified: Luke xii. 32, ‘Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Spiritual things, as to degrees, are neither given nor promised to all Christians alike absolutely. Necessary grace is secured; but for degrees, Eph. iv. 7, ‘ To every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ;’ 1 Cor. xii. 11, . All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. But now for things temporal, they are only promised conditionally, so far forth as may be for God’s glory and our good. We must not absolutely look for temporals, unless we had an absolute particular promise; such as David of the kingdom, and Hezekiah of fifteen years added to his life.
(3.) The nature of this hope is a dependence upon God for whatever we stand in need of. Where mark—
(1.) The necessity of the creature is the occasion of God’s interposing by his gracious providence, Mat. vi. 32. In the Lord’s prayer we are taught to ask bread, not dainties. If we set God a task to provide meat for our lusts, we do but dishonour God, as if his providence should wait upon our humours and vain fancies, and provide the trouble of a disappointment for ourselves. It is the ordinary practice of God’s free grace and fatherly care to provide things comfortable and necessary for his children; yet he never undertakes to maintain us at such a rate, to give us so much by the year, such portions for our children, and supplies for our families; we do but ensnare and perplex our thoughts, while we would reconcile the promises with our lusts.
(2.) On the other hand, we ought not to be faithless and distrustful about necessary supplies: Mat. vi. 25, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink,’ &c. Because if we had no promises, there is a common bounty and goodness of God which is over all his works, which watcheth to the preservation of the smallest worm, decketh the lilies, feedeth the ravens and fowls of the air; therefore certainly more noble creatures, such as man is, may expect their share in this common bounty. How much more when there is a covenant, wherein God hath promised to be a father to us? And temporal blessings are adopted and taken into the covenant as well as other blessings, so far forth as they conduce to God’s glory and our good; and upon other terms a mortified and weaned heart would not desire them. Will he not give to children that which he giveth to beasts, to fowls of the air, to enemies? You would count him an unnatural father that feedeth his dogs and hawks, and lets his children die of hunger.
(3.) The dependence we exercise about these things lieth in referring ourselves to God’s wisdom, power, and goodness, and to determine all events as it shall seem good in his eyes. He is so able that he can bear us out in his work; so good, that we have no reason to trouble ourselves about his will, but absolutely to submit it to him without hesitancy; so wise, that he will do what is best, all things considered. Now if we could bring our hearts to this, it would ease is of many troublesome thoughts and burdensome cares and fears: 1 Peter iv. 19, Commit yourselves (i.c., your lives) to him in well-doing;’ Prov. x. 3, ‘Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established;’ Ps. xxxvii. 5, ‘Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust him, and lie shall do what is good in his sight. But we would have the world governed by our fancies, our particular affairs at least, and expect a certain tenor of temporal happiness; and so lay ourselves open to Satan, who makes an advantage of our disappointments, and abuseth our rash confidence and the misbelief of other truths.
(4.) Such a dependence as encourageth us to go on cheerfully with our duty, whether of our general or particular calling—
(1.) General: 1 Tim. iv. 10, Therefore we both labour, and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God.’ Hope in God is not an idle expectation or a devout sloth, but such a dependence a is giveth life to our services, that we go on readily, without disquiet in our minds, notwithstanding all difficulties.
(2.) So in our particular calling; for when we hope in God, we must not neglect to use the means. God never undertook to protect us or provide for us in our sins, in our laziness, carelessness, luxury, and neglect of our affairs, that sin should not be our ruin. Then his providence would ruin directly contrary to His word. The diligent hand maketh rich, and the blessing of the Lord maketh rich: Prov. x. 4, He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand, but the blessing of tlıc Lord maketh rich,’ ver. 22.
Thirdly, The reasons why they are to hope in God.
1. Trust is naturally required in the fundamental article of the covenant, in the choice of God for your God. If you do not trust and hope in him, you (deny him to be God. It is natural worship, jure venit cullos ad sibi quisque Deos: Jonah i. 5, ‘Every one will seek unto his god.’ It immediately resulteth from the owning of a god that we should trust him with our all.
2. We cannot be true and faithful to God unless we rely upon him.
The soul will necessarily warp, and turn aside to crooked ways, unless we be persuaded that God taketh care of us, and will maintain us by honest and lawful means. The ground of uprightness is the persuasion of God’s all-sufficiency: Gen. xvii. 1, ‘I am God Almighty, walk before me, and be thou upright.’ As, on the other side, the ground of apostasy is unbelief: Heb. iii. 12, ‘Take heed lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.’ They that do not trust God cannot long be true to him, but will seek another paymaster.
3. To keep up a commerce between God and us. Therefore a continual hope and dependence is necessary for a Christian, to engage him to prayer and thanksgiving. That is only made conscience of by those who take all out of God’s hands: Ps. Ixii. 8, Trust in the Lord at all times; pour out your hearts before him;’ 2 Sam. xxii. 3, 4, God is my rock, in whom I trust; I will call on the Lord, so shall I be saved.’ We act our trust and hope at the throne of grace, encourage ourselves in God’s hearing.
4. To keep the heart fixed and quiet: Ps. cxii. 7, ‘He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. He looketh higher than the course of affairs in the world; not senseless, but established: Ps. xii. 5, ‘I have trusted in thy mercy, my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation;’ Ps. xlii. 5, ‘Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him.’ Vexation is the fruit of distrust: Ps. cvi. 24, “They believed not his word, and murmured in their tents. God is carrying on all things for our good, and we cannot trust him. Distracting cares are forbidden: Mat. vi. 25, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink,’ &c. It is a reproach to our heavenly Father’. Go to God, then be at peace: Phil. iv. 6, 7, Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds,’ &c.
5. The great benefit that resulteth thence; present support and final deliverance.
(1.) Support: Isa. xl. 31, They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.
(2.) Final deliverance: Ps. xxxvii. 3, Trust in the Lord, and do good, and thou shalt dwell in the land, verily, thou shalt be fed.’ Trust is the ready way to have success. Order thy affairs by God’s will and command, and thou mayest cheerfully wait for the event.
Doct. 3. That our hope and trust in God should be perpetual.
Israel is bidden to hope in God ‘from henceforth and for ever,’ Ps. cxxxi. 3.
First, It is not enough to hope in God for a while, but we must persevere in hope as long as life shall endure; not only to-day, or tomorrow, or for a time, or till our probabilities be spent. No; we must believe in hope against hope, Rom. iv. 19; probabilities or no probabilities.
Secondly, We must persevere to the end and in the end: Heb. vi. 11, ‘Show the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end;’ 1 Peter i. 13, ‘Be sober, and hope to the end;’ in life and in death. And Heb. iii. 6, ‘Keep the confidence and rejoicing of hope firm unto the end. We may repose our hearts on the fidelity of Christ; he will no ways fail and be unfaithful, but give eternal life, according to his promise.
Thirdly, In all estates and conditions. In prosperity and adversity: Ps. lxii. 8, Trust in the Lord at all times. It is a duty never out of season. In a time of fear, misery, and distress: Ps. lvi. 3, ‘At what time I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee.’ Then is a special season to consider the attributes of God and the promises of God. On the contrary, in a time of prosperity our hearts are secretly corrupted unless we think of God: Ps. XXX. 6, ‘I said in my prosperity, I shall never be mored.’ He saw a want of his trust then. We are to depend upon God, and make use of him, in all conditions: Ps. xci. 9,
Thou shalt make the Most High thy refuge, and my God thy habitation. A refuge is a place of retreat and safety in a time of war, and a habitation is the place of our residence and abode in a time of peace; so to ever our condition be, our dependence must be on God. If things be never so prosperous, he must be owned as the fountain of blessings, and all of then taken out of his hand; acknowledying that we hold all by his mercy and bountiful providence, because of our forfeiture by sin, and the uncertainty of these outward comforts, and the necessity of his providential influence. Trust is as necessary in prosperity as adversity, lest the heart be enticed into a neglect of God by carnal confidence. Our hearts are very prone to it. Good Paul was in danger: 2 Cor. i. 9, “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in him which raiseth the dead.’ But then in adversity, when kept bare and low, then is a time to show trust, how hard soever our condition be: Zeph. iii. 12, ‘I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and a poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.’ Then all things go well with us, we think trusting in God easy, because we make it but a notion, for we indeed trust in other things; we eat our own bread, drink our own drink, wear our own apparel, only God carrieth the name of it. But now, when we are cut short, kept hard and low, then to quiet our minds in God is the trial of trust. The creature is blasted that we may look for all in God. David, when he was left alone, refuge failed him: ‘No man cared for my soul; I cried unto thee, O Lord, and said, Thou art my refuge, and my portion in the land of the living,’ Ps. cxlii. 4,5. When means fail, God never faileth. When riches take wings and worldly friends forsake us, then is a time for trust, whether the mercy expected be hastened or delayed. Some can trust for a while, if the mercy be not kept off too long, but then their faith is spent. David’s actual possession of the kingdom was delayed, yet lie waited. So when God delayeth help, still must we wait. How contrary did that king, 2 Kings vi. 33, This evil is from the Lord, why should I wait any longer?’ Dust we always wait upon God? in a passion. Yes; wait and wait still: The needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the expectation of the poor perish for ever,’ Ps. ix. 18. Though God for a while permit his meek and obedient servants to be oppressed and triumphed over, and in the eye of the world to be forgotten, forsaken, and perish, yet if they constantly adhere to him, and contentedly wait his leisure, without relieving themselves by any unlawful means, he will at last return, and save them out of their enemies’ hands. Upon their daily attendance upon God, and living upon the hope of what is promised, they will at length overcome.
Lastly, No other means, or no means to accomplish the expected end. Supposing it be our duty to continue that course wherein we are engaged, if means, yet we must have recourse to God, acknowledging the event is in his hands: Ps. Ix. 11, with the title, ‘Give help from trouble, for vain is the help of man.’ His army was then victorious. ‘ In such a case it is harder to trust God with means than without means of a visible supply; so prone are we to look to what is present. If no means; when all was lost, David encouraged himself in the Lord his God, 1 Sam. xxx. 6; Jehoshaphat: 2 Chron. xx. 12, We have no might, but our eyes are unto thee.’ Thus trust must be continually and perpetually exercised.
1. Because we have continual need of hope while we are in the world. Partly because our whole being dependeth every minute on the will of God: Job vi. 9, “ If he loosen his hand, and cut us off.’ One beck of his will can turn us into nothing. Partly because of the frequent return of afflictions, necessities, and temptations: Ps. xxxiv. 19, Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth them out of all. God, that hath delivered, must deliver again. As our necessities return, so we must renew our confidence and humble addresses to God.
2. God is never weary of doing good. He is not exhausted by giving. I AM is his name. He is where he was at first; hath the same power, wisdom, and goodness. We seem to doubt of it if we discontinue our trust. Our condition may be altered, but God is not altered; and therefore, how hard soever the condition be that we fall into, the grounds of confidence are not lost, but must be still improved. As, for instance, God continueth a God of infinite power: Isa. xxvi. 4, trust in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.’ His wisdom continueth, for he is never at a loss: 2 Peter ï. 9, The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation.’ We are at a loss, but God is not, when his hand is in. A potter loseth not his skill, but increaseth it, if he make a thousand vessels-Basil. His goodness and grace is the same: James i. 5, ‘If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him;’ with Prov, xxv. 17. Our drop is soon spent, we are weary of doing good; it is hard to bring us to continue our favours. Ye have ministered, and do minister,’ was a great commendation to those saints, Heb. vi. 10.
3. The great promise is not yet come in hand; therefore there is room for hope till we come to eternity, and then we shall everlastingly enjoy the thing hoped for. Now we should train up ourselves in a way of faith; trust God and try God here by the way, that we may the better depend upon him at the end of the journey. As men learn to swim in the shallow brooks before they venture in the deep waters, so before we come to launch out into the gulf of eternity, and trust him with our everlasting estate, we should try how we can trust him for temporals. Trust him with your business, trust him with your lives, trust him for daily bread, that you may the better learn to trust him with your souls. Trust him every day with the affairs of the day; trust him every night when you go to bed with your names, estates. To go to an unknown God, with whose fidelity you were never before acquainted, will be very hard and difficult.
4. We lose our reward if we cease hoping: Ps. cxxii. 3, ‘Our eyes wait upon the Lord until he have mercy.’ Saul tarried a while for Samuel: 1 Sam. xiii. 8–13, ‘Seven days, the time appointed; I forced myself, and offered a burnt-offering;’ so he lost the kingdom. Our eternal reward: Heb. xiii. 6, ‘So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me;’ Heb. x. 35, ‘Cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.’
Use 2. Let me commend to you these things—
1. The adventure of faith: Luke v. 5, `Howbeit at thy command.’ When you cannot apply the promise, venture for the command’s sake. When we cannot see what God will do for us in ordinances and providences, see what believing will come to, and looking to God, when supplies are not in the view of sense.
2. The waiting of faith, when expectation is not answered, and you find not at first what you wait for. Do not despond or despair, or be hasty in your distresses, so as to turn aside to other remedies: Isa. xxviii, 76, ‘He that believeth doth not make laste.’ It is carnal affection that must have present satisfaction. Greedy and impatient longings argue a disease. Revenge must see its desire on its enemies presently; covetousness would wax rich in a day; ambition must presently mount; lusts are earnest, ravenous; like a diseased stomach, must have green fruit. But faith waiteth, and resolveth to keep the promise as a pawn till the blessing cometh. Hope is seen in waiting as well as looking, and patience is as necessary as believing: 1 Thes. i. 3, Work of faith, labour of love, patience of hope.’
3. The holy obstinacy and resolution of faith. Resolve to die holding the horns of the altar. You would not be put off from God; as the blind man, the more he was rebuked, cried much the more, Mark x. 48; or as the woman of Canaan turned discouragements into arguments, Mat. xv. 27. Faith is deaf to all discouragements: Job xiii. 15, ‘Though he kill me, yet will I trust in him. No rebukes of providence shall beat us away from the throne of grace.
4. The submission and resignation of faith in all temporal things. Especially your great work: Mat. vi. 33, Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Make sure of heaven, and for other things be at a point of indifferency; let God order that as he will.
5. The prudence of faith. Settle your mind against present necessities; and for future contingencies, leave them to God’s providence: Mat. vi. 34, ‘Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.’ Children, if, they have to allay present hunger, do not cark how to bring the year about, but leave that to their parents; so we should not anticipate future cares, but compose ourselves to bear our present burden as well as we can. Leave futurities to our heavenly Father. Manna fell daily; where it was kept till the morning, it putrified: ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’
6. The obedience of faith. Mind duty, and let God take care of success. Let God alone with the issues of things: 1 Chron. xix. 13, Let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people and for the cities of our God, and let the Lord do that which is good in his sight.’ Otherwise we take his work out of his hands. A Christian should more take care what he shall do than what shall become of him: ‘Be careful for nothing,’ Phil. iv. 6; 1 Peter v. 7, Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.’ God is more solicitous for you than you can be for yourselves.