« PreviousContinue »
1. “ That the true children of God may be brought under great fears and apprehensions that they are cast out of God's sight: Or, that gracious souls may sometimes be brought under prevailing fears that they are quite cast off, and that there is no mercy for them;" “ I said, I am cast out of thy sight.”
2. “ That the surest way of relief, from the saddest case the people of God can be in, is faith in the mer. cy of God, through Jesus Christ: Or, faith's looking anew unto God's holy temple;"_" Yet will I look again towards thy holy temple.”
It is the first of these observations we propose to open up at the time, viz. That a truly gracious soul may sometimes be brought
under desponding fears, lest thy be cast out of
God's sight. And the method we would lay down for handling it, through divine aid, shall be the following. I. Explain a little the term, “ I am cast out of thy
sight.” II. Offer a few' remarks concerning the fears that
the Lord's people may have, lest they be cast
away. 111. Lay down some of the grounds of these fears. IV. Deduce some inferences for the application.
1. We propose to explain a little the term, “ I am cast out of thy sight.” This we shall essay in the three following particulars.
1. “ I said, I am cast out of thy sight;" it is, as if Jonah had said, Now I am cast off from being a prophet unto God any more :--the Lord will not employ me henceforth. I am cast off from this office; and there is no more use for me in God's vineyard.
2. * I said, I am cast out of thy sight;" that is, I have no more hope that I shall see the glory of God in the sanctuary: 1 have seen it formerly, but I shall see it no more. I do not expect that God will ever give me a blink of his countenance again.
3. I said, through unbelief, when I am brought under sad circumstances, that cow there is no ground for hope; I see nothing but ground for despair. I apprehend there is no mercy for me with God. O sirs, it is a melancholy case with the soul, when the hope of God's pity is gone, and when it says, I am cast away ; God will never give me a look of his gracious face again.
11. We are to offer these three or four remarks coulcerning the fears the Lord's children may have.
1. Remark, That it is certain, that these that are in a state of union to Christ, they shall never be totally or finally lost. There is something that secures them : Christ will not cast them quite away.—The unchangeableness of the love of Christ secures them; “ Whom he loves, he loves unto the end.”—The immutability of his grace and covenant says they shall never be quite cast away. The promise of God says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, Heb. iii. 5. The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but the covenant of my peace shall not be removed, saith the Lord,” Isa. liv. 10.
2. Another remark is this, That though the Lord will never altogether cast off his people; yet they inay really be deserted for a time; and they may be so far cast out of his sight, as that they may really apprehend that they are quite cast away, that they are in a mistake, Psal. xxxi. 22. “ I said, in my haste, I am cast off.” He said it, but it was through unbelief, and in his haste, and hence he immediately corrects himself, “ Nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplication.” But although a child of grace may be in a mistake, and think they are cast off, when they are only deserted for a season ; yet they are in a mistake, in saying they are cast off altogether, Isa. liv. 17. “ For a small moment have I forsaken thee.” I say, this shews there may be real desertion : and we find this was the case with the glorious head of the body: he cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And so his people may be really deserted, and cast, as it were, out of his sight.
3. I remark, That there are degrees of God's deserting his people: he may be at a distance, and sometimes standing, as it were, behind our wall, not far off; and sometimes his comfortable presence may be further away. And, indeed, when they depart far from God, it is a sad evidence that the Lord is far away from them. There are many degrees of desertion : and it is hard to tell how far God may desert a child. This desertion is sometimes called his hiding his face. Sometimes his shutting them out of his presence; and shutt. ing out their prayers, as in Lam. iii. 44.
4. 1 remark, concerning the Lord's children, that there is nothing more afflicting to them than the Lord's deserting them : That is most heavy and afflicting unto them, that are the true children of God. And hence their cry is,
“ How long, O Lord, wilt thou hide thyself ?" and, - Will the Lord cast off for ever?". And this leads me to the next head of method.
Ill. The third thing we proposed, which was to notice some of the grounds whence these fears proceed, that God's children may have. And they may arise from such things as took place in Jonah's case.
1. Jonah was troubled with heavy dispensations of providence: So, when the Lord's people find that they are surrounded with awful providences, this augments their fears, and they cry out, “ I am cast out of thy sight.”
2. Jonah was brought into the greatest danger of death that a man could be brought into. Jonah could not now expect to be saved, but by a miracle ; and he could not expect that God was to work a miracle for him, that had rebelled against his command. The same is often the case of the people of God.
3. Jonah could see no way how he could be delivered from destruction : So the fears of the Lord's people, they many times flow from this, that they are under heavy circumstances, and they see no way of escape : They see no way how the promise of God can be accomplished.
4. Jonah's case was this, the Comforter was gone. The comfortable hopes of heaven was withdrawn from him. So, this often fills the Lord's people with fears, lest they be cast away. “ The comforter that should relieve their souls is far removed from them."
3. The case with Jonah was this, the wrath of God was pursuing him: and this is another reason why a child of God may fear, lest he be cast away. He sees one wave upon the back of another.
6. Another thing that was the cause of Jonah's fears was this, his conscience is now awakened, and bis sin is staring him in the face. I am, might he say, in the greatest danger; but it is my sin that has brought me into this case. My sin hath brought me to the gates of death. So it is this that makes the children of God apprehend that they are cast away. A consciousness of guilt flies in their faces; and therefore God is pursuing them, and they have raised the storm.-- These are some of the grounds why the Lord's people do fear they are cast away.
IV. The fourth general head, was the application ; from what I have said, we may infer.
1. How thankful any of the Lord's people ought to be, if they are delivered from such desperate thoughts, as to conclude they are cast away. It is a melancholy case, when a child of God fears he shall be cast away." God gathers the outcasts of Israel ; “ but unbelief may make them say with Jonah, I am cast out of thy sight.” Yet there is still ground of hope, when they go to God bimself.
2. Hence we may infer, what the Lord's people ought to be, lest they provoke God to cast them out of his sight for a time ; lest they provoke him to give them up to themselves.
3. We may see, that though doubts and fears be inconsistent with faith ; yet they may be where true faith is. Hence Jonah, who was a prophet and a believer, he is brought to these doubts, I said, I am cast out of thy sight.
4. Hence we may see, that these doubts and fears will prevail with God's children, until faith get in its word. Jonah thought he was cast out, until lie got a view of God in Christ.
Secondly, This doctrine may be improven in a way of trial, for all these that belong to our Lord Jesus Christ, and apprehend themselves to be under deser
tion. Let them examine themselves whether or not they be under real desertion. How shall I know that the desertion I am under is real desertion? I shall acquaint you with two things that were in Jonah's case.
1. It was bis continued rebellion, and giving way to sin and corruption, that proved that he was under real desertion : So, when the children of God are giving way to sin, way to rebellion, and yet going on froward ly in the way of their own heart; to be sure it is a sign of real desertion.
2. It is a sign of real desertion, when people can sleep easily under a guilty conscience, as Jonah did. The storm awakened the heathen mariners ; but it could not awaken Jonah. When persons are sleeping under guilt, it is a sad sign they are under real desertion. When the Lord's people have his presence with them, they are awake, and are ready to say with the church, “ I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the rues and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love till he please.” But at other times we find the church so fast asleep, that there was no rousing of her. When her Lord knocks at her door, she was unwilling to be awakened, and unwilling to be raised; “ I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on ? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them ?” When a child of God enjoys the presence of God, the least guilt upon the conscience makes him have an errand to the throne; but when he can sleep easily, with contracted guilt upon the conscience, that is a sign of real desertion.
On the other hand, I would have you to notice, if there be any thing hopeful in your case. I will tell you of two things that were hopeful in Jonah's case.
1. One thing was bopeful about him, he had honour. able thoughts of God in the midst of his desertion : he spake like the Psalmist, Thou art righteous in casting me into this heH of misery : “ Righteous art thou, Ö Lord. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? But thou art holy.” Thou hast forsaken me, yet thou art holy. So Jonah here justifies God in casting him into this tribulation. It is therefore some hopeful thing, when persons entertain honourable thoughts of God, and justify God in their trouble.