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any soul to believe ; therefore, nothing should beat you off from this. In Psalm lxxxix. 34, 35, 36. the Lord engages himself by oath and covenant, that the throne of David should be established for ever; and presently he was rushed under such dispensations as did threaten the non-accomplishment of what was promised, ver. 38, 45.: But the Lord's design herein was not to lead him into contradictory apprehensions to his oath: but to give an opportunity to believe above, and against hope.
In a word, it tends to cherish the witness mightily, when a man, at all times, in his pleading with God, makes use of arguments drawn from God himself. Do not present the Lord with your prayers, or any preformance of yours; but urge his name, his nature, his word, his free promise, Isa. Ixiii. 15. “ Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness, and of thy glory; where is thy zeal, and strength, the sound. ing of thy bowels and of thy mercies towards me? are they restrained ?" Then follows assurance, ver. 16. “ Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting." See Num. xiv. 17, 18. 20.
Finally, It tends to this, that a man make much use of the scripture : “ Search the scripture :" for it is by the word that the Spirit doth witness. If a word, suitable to your case, be given, bless the Lord for it: if not, seek out one, take it and pray over it, till the Lord make a powerful application, by drawing you out after Christ by it; for, though you should get never so many words hinted into your heart, they will be of little advantage, unless your heart be thereby drawn out after Christ.
I shall yet add another thing, that may tend greatly to the cherishing of confidence about your state, who are believers, and that is, holding fast the doctrine of perseverance : the Lord hath promised that he will put his fear in your heart, that you shall not depart from him, Jer. xxxii. 40. Psal. Ixxxix. 30,-34. He will not cast off his people; if they sin, he will correct them, lsa. liv. 8, 9, 10. "A saint may fall into sin, but he cannot fall from his faith, Luke xxii. 32. with John xxvii. 20. Let go the doetrine of perseverance, and your peace will be like the morning dew, that passeth away; but retain this, and then you may rejoice in hope of the glory of God. If ever the Lord hath wrought this grace of faith in you, plead he may increase your faith; for, if he that believeth hath the witness in himself, then, the more faith, the more évi. dence; the more of believing, the more of the witness is discernible.
May the Lord himself give you to know from sweet experience, that “ Ale that believeth in the Son of God hath the witness in himself.
The Repose and Repast of FAITH, under the
Shady and Fruitful Tree of LIFE*.
Song ii. 3.
-I sat down under his shadow with great delight ; and his fruit was
sweet to iny taste.
My friends, though I do not determine that the forbidden fruit, of which our first parents did eat, and poisoned themselves and all their posterity, was the fruit of an apple-tree, yet I have ground, from this text, to make proclamation this day to you, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Apple-tree whose fruit is a blessed antidote against that poison. The tree of knowledge of good and evil proved, in the issue, a tree of death and destruction; but here is the tree of life, that grows in the heavenly paradise above; yea, in the gospel pa
* This Sermon was preached immediately before the celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper at Dunfermline, July 16th, 1749. To which is subjoined, the Discourses before and at the Service of the first table. VOL. IX,
radise below : and happy they who can, or shall have it to say on this occasion, « I sat down under his shadow with great delight; and his fruit was sweet to
These who are my ordinary hearers, know I have preached, for some time, on the verses preceding ; wherein we have these two things more generally.
1. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Bridegroom of the church, commending himself, ver. 1. saying, “ 1 am the rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the vallies ;" then commending his bride, as a sharer of his beauty, notwithstanding her afflicted lot in this world, ver. 2. “ As the lily among the thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”
2. We have the bride of Christ taking her turn in commendation of him, verse 3. Wherein I have observed,
(1.) The compellation she gives him, My Beloved. He had named her his love: and here she names him her Beloved ; his love to her fired her love to him.
(2.) The commendation she gives him, in the following comparison ; “ As the Apple-tree ainong the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons.” He had coinmended her as the fairest among women, the most beautiful among the daughters : and now she commends him as the most excellent among the sons ; as fairer than the sons of men; infinitely fairer than the most excellent creatures, men or angels; this she expresses metaphorically, taking a view of his comparative excellency, as the apple-tree in the garden among the barren trees of the wood, “ So is my Beloved among the sons.
(3.) We have here the confirmation of this from her experience, or the improvement she made of Christ under this view of him as the apple-tree; “ 1 sat down under his shadow with great delight; and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” Here is faith’s improvement of Christ as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood.
More particularly, you have here these five things following.
1. The subject of faith, namely, the believer, the
bride of Christ, supposed to be in a scorched, wandering, weary, toiled condition: “ I sat down.”
2. The object of faith, namely, Christ as a shadow ; or a shadow-tree for the scorched and weary soul.
3. The act of faith expressed under the notion of a sitting down; “ I sat down under his shadow."
4. The manner of faith's acting, I sat down under his shadow with great delight.”
5. The feast of faith that follows, or the consequent good that issues upon this acting of faith; “ His fruit was sweet to my taste.”
I shall endeavour the explication of each of these particulars in the prosecution of the following doctrinal proposition. Doct. That faith's improvement of Christ, as the
tree of life, in whatever sad case the soul was into before, is a sitting down under his shadow with
great delight, and feasting sweetly upon his fruits. Here we see the bride of Christ in her present scorched, sun-burnt, weather-beaten case, what she did in these circumstances; “I sat down under his shadow with great delight;" and then what she felt in that situation, * His fruit was sweet to my taste.” The doctrine be. ing so much the very words of the text, I shall essay the explication of the several branches thereof in the folJowing method.
I. Consider the case of the believer here supposed. II. Speak of the object of faith, Christ as a shadow
and shelter for him. III. Speak of the act of faith, as it is a sitting down
under that shadow. IV. Of the manner of faith's actings, sitting down
with great delight.
sweet to their taste.
I. The case of the believing soul, the bride of Christ, here supposed is, that she was scorched with heat, wearied with labour and toil, and disquieted, while here in the weary wilderness wherein she needs a shadow to protect her. She had said, Song i. 6. “The sun hath looked upon me,” so as I am sun-burnt; and my mo-> ther's children were angry with me: I am persecuted, reproached, and abused, and stand in need of a shadow from the heat, a refuge from the storm. There is a fourfold account on which the shadow is needed by his people.
1. Consider them in their state by nature, before conversion, they have no rest there, but are as the raging sea, casting forth mire and dirt. Here they may see their way vanity and folly; and yet their corruption carries them over all their convictions and resolutions, even to that which they see to be vain ; and this is the case of all by nature. In which state they are liable to the scorching wrath of God, and cannot be safe till they get under the shadow of the apple-tree.
2. Consider them after conversion : and both in the pangs of the new birth, and after they are born again, they need a sliadow from the fiery darts of temptation : “ Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked," Eph. vi. 16. They are ready to be scorched with this fire, that, for ordinary, flies upon them suddenly like a dart, and is hot and scorching like a fiery dart; ard ready to consume and destroy the soul, and make it cry out with Jonah, “ Better for me to die, than to live,” chap. iv. 3. In this case, how much do they need a shadow from the heat of temptation !
3. Consider them in their wandering case, even after they have been comfortably drawn to Christ, they are ready to run away from God, and forget their resting place: they will find, in the issue, that by their departures, through an evil heart of unbelief, that they have forsaken their own mercies, and turned again to folly, Psal. lviii. 8.; and that they have made but an ill bargain: the Lord hedges up their way with thorns, and makes them see it is best for them to return to their first husband. Indeed, God's people are the greatest fools imaginable, when they begin to think that apostasy will thrive in their hands; for a storm will meet them in the teeth, and make them see the need they have of returning to their nest, under the shadow of