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me: but can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget : yet will I not forget thee, saith the Lord,” Isa. xlix. 15, 16. There may be unnatural mothers: but he cannot be an unnatural Father : “ Behold I have graven thee on the palins of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”
2. The Father is with them, and will not leave them alone, because this is the tenor of the new covenant, Heb. xiii. 5. “I will never, never, never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” The five negatives here in the original, import the strongest assurance given, that he will not leave them alone but will be with them. He hath mised to abide with them by his Spirit, the Comforter, to abide with them for ever; and will be not perform his promise, who hath faithfulness for the girdle of his loins ? Yea, “ The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but his kindness shall not depart from them, neither shall his covenant of peace be removed."
3. He is present with them, because he loves them : he loved them with an everlasting love, and therefore with loving-kindness hath he drawn thein. And will he leave them alone whom he loves with such an ancient, everlasting transcendent, superlative, and distinguishing love? He loves them as the birth of his eternal decree, the purchase of his Son's blood, and the subjects of his Spirit's saving operation, having called them out of darkness into his marvellous ligbt.
4. The Father is with them, because he is the Father of Christ, their Head and Husband ; so both the Father and the Son are intrusted with them. God the Father hath given them to Christ, and Christ hath given them back to the Father, John xvii. 10. “ All mine are thine, and thine are mine: Father, keep through thy name, these whom thou hast given me." As if he should say, Thou hast given them to me from eternity, to be redeemed by me; and now I give them back to thee, and commit them to thy care. Christ, like an indulgent Father, being to leave his people, as to his bodily presence, commits his fatherless orphans,
as it were, to the care of their Grand-father': and indeed, his Father's care is his, and his care is his Father's ; for he and his Father are one.
5. The Father is with them, hecause they seek him, and rely upon him for his presence and assistance : “ They that know thy name will put their trust in thee; for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee,” Psal. ix. 9. Yea, he is good to them that wait on him, and to the soul that seeketh him : for, « He never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain."
6. The Father is present with them, because they need his presence; especially when they are tempted and afflicted. There is a need of these trials, as the apostle saith, “If need be ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations :” and there is a need of his presence under them. When men and devils are on their top, they need his pity and presence; and he affords it, especially in such circumstances : because then, when they are left alone, his company and fellowship is most sweet and comfortable ; most welcome and acceptable : most useful and seasonable; most declarative of his name as a refuge for the oppressed; a refuge in time of trouble; and most evidential of his kindness, care, and compassion, when winds of temptation blow away other companies and comforts from them, and leave them alone; then he comes saying, as Elkanah to Hannah,, “ Am I not better to thee than ten sons ?" Better than ten thousand friends and familiars, as the rising sun is better than ten thousand stars that are withdrawn.
V. The fifth general head proposed, on the general method, was, To deduce some inferences for the application.-And,
1. Hence we may see the wonderful love of God the Father, in the concern he had about our redemption, manifested by the active support he gave to our Redeemer, in the whole of his redeeming work. He sent him to this work, and he was with him in it. The Father's good-will was the fountain-head of our redemption : and as Christ came cheerfully to do his will, saying, “ Lo I come; I delight to do thy will:" so, with heart and good-will, he attended Christ in the whole of his work, which was just a doing the Father's will ; by which will we are sanctified and saved; and by which will the covenant of promise was sealed with the blood of Christ; every promise whereof are so many expressions of his will : “ I will be your God: I will take away the heart of stone, &c. I will put my Spirit with in you." O see the wonderful love of God the Father, as well as of the Son, in the glass of the Redeemer's do. ing and sufferings ! The Father was engaged to uphold the Son therein. This he declared to the world, that he would be with him to assist him therein, Ps. Ixxxix. 16. 20, 21. “ I have laid help upon one that is mighty; with my oil have I anointed him; with whom my hand shall be established; mine arm also shall strengthen him. Isa, liji. 10. 12. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. I will divide bim a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong." God the Father promised to bear down all opposition that should be made to him in his undertaking, Psalm ii. where you see the strong combination of the princes of the earth against the Redeemer, and yet how he should break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. He promised that the enemy should not exact upon him, nor the son of mischief wrong him; that he would beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him, Psal. lxxxix. 22, 23. Hence he is called, the mighty Redeemer ; the man of God's right-hand. We find Christ solacing himself with the thoughts of this assisting presence of his Father, Isaiah xlix. 5. “ Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord; and my glory shall be my strength.” Yea, not only solacing himself with the thoughts of it, but bidding defiance to all his enemies on this very ground, Isa. 1.7, 8, 9. ^ The Lord God will help me, therefore I shall not be confounded : therefore have I set my face like a flint," &c. Here these promises were accomplished, “I am not alone, for the Father is with me."
2. Hence see, what need there was that our Redeemer should have his Father's presence. It does not imply any weakness or impotency in the Son; for, consi
dering Christ, as to his divine nature, he is one and the same God with the Father : but it implies, the joint concurrence of both Father and Son, in carrying on tbis glorious work. And besides, Christ is not here to be considered simply as God, but as Mediator; in which respect he is man, as well as God: and in this respect he stood in need not only of habitual grace, but of actual and renewed influences. To clear this we should consider,
(1.) That as man, he was a creature ; and being a creature, he could not but depend upon his Father, for influences and supplies of grace.
(2.) There were special promises of influences made to him; “ And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord,” Isa. xi. 1, 2.
(3.) We find him praying for actual support and renewed influences; it is said, Psal. Ixxxix. 26. “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation :” and accordingly, it is said, that in the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplication, with strong cries and tears, to him that was able to save him from death; and was heard in that he feared, Heb. v. 7.
(4.) Unless that his human nature had been supported by the actual influences of the Spirit, it would have been entirely overwhelmed, under the pressure of wrath that lay on him as our Surety ; for, he had that weight upon him which would have broken the backs of all the angels in heaven, cracked the axle-tree of the uni. verse, and sunk the whole creation to ruin. But, he was not alone, for the Father was with him.
3. Hence see the foundation upon which we may, with assured confidence, expect the presence of God with us, especially in all our sufferings and desolate cir. cumstances : why? because he was present with Christ, our Head and Surety, on our account, and when suffering in our nature, room, and stead, that this privilege of the divine nature might redound to the members of his mystical body. Because the Father was with him, we may be sure he will be with us.
Hence comes it, that the Father's word and Spirit is with us : and hence we have his spiritual presence and spiritual union ; for, “ He that is joined to the Lord, is one spirit :" and his Spirit is in the believer as a well of water springing up to everlasting life.--Hence comes his assimulating presence; turning these that were haters and slighters of God, to be lovers and seekers of God; and putting a stamp of God's image upon them, and turning them from darkness to light, from death to life, through Christ, who died, that he might live. Hence his accepting presence; being brought into favour with God, and accepted in the Beloved. Hence his assisting, sustaining, and supporting presence, by his everlasting arms underneath them, upholding them even when they want his sensible, comforting presence. Here is matter of joy and trust, even amidst all killing-like providences; and, amidst all changes, they have still the unchangeable God with them; who says, “ Fear not, I am with thee.”. Cast them into prison, yet he is with them: Lay them on a bed of languishing, yet he is with them: put them in the fire, or in the water, he is with them, Isa. xliii. 2. And even when we apprehend him to be an absent God in many respects, saying, “ Why hast thou forsaken me?" yet he is still the present object and ground of our faith and trust.
4. Hence see a solid foundation laid for our communion with God, both in grace here, and in glory here. after. It is laid in the Father's presence with the Son, our Redeemer. Why, the work of our redemption cannot but be now finished to the Father's contentment and satisfaction ; for, Christ was not alone therein, the Father was with him. It is not possible it could be a mismanaged work among such hands; and therefore, here is such ground for our faith and hope of communion with God this day, and of his being present with us, as well as of the hope of glory. This hope may be corroborated and strengthened with this consideration. that as God's presence with Christ, in his suffering state