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or glory is the blessed product of divine distinguishing love: grace and peace proceed from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus *-grace to make us good, and peace in the sense and feeling of this good ; grace to make our souls acceptable to God, peace whereby we may be comfortable in ourselves. See this fully in Psalm xxxvi. 8, 9, “ They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” Why so ? “ For with thee is the fountain of life.” Natural, spiritual, joyful, eternal life, all that is connected with our being or well-being is in God as in a fountain, whence the streams flow; for this fatness of God's house, and river of pleasure is nothing else but the sense of God's love, which depends on God as the author, * in whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore.”—Ps. xvi. 11.
2. God's face or favour is the object of life, and indeed thus becomes the cause; the sight of God in Christ is the soul's spiritual life. " And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent."-John xvii. 3. By faith a soul sees him that is invisible, and faith is the soul's life, the just live by faith.† All our present life of comfort consists in viewing the light of God's countenance. When God hides his face poor David is troubled, Psalm xxx. 7; but when God shews his reconciled face, the drooping soul, like the sun-flower, begins to open, cheer, and revive. O the comfort this sight of God's face and favour creates in the soul ! And indeed heaven is nothing else but the beatific vision, or the seeing of God's blessed countenance. When the heavenly courtiers get into the chamber of presence, and behold the King of Heaven's face, they * 1 Cor. i. 3.
+ Heb. xi. 27. Hab. ii. 4.
shall need no more to complete their happiness. So Scripture testifies, Psalm xvii. 15. 1 Cor. xiii. 12.
3. God's favour is the rule of life, especially of a Christian's life. * A real saint acts according to this, squares his joys, sorrows, cares, fears, desires, delights, according to the sense or manifestations of God's favour, or his withdrawing from the soul : if the King smile he is cheered, if he frown he is cast down. So David expresses himself,
“ He hideth his face, I am troubled :" but Acts ii. 28, “ Thou wilt make me full of joy with thy countenance.” This is the regulator of a Christian's actions, duties, and graces, for God's favour influences all, actuates all. Nay, further, God's providential favour is the rule and measure of the natural life of creatures, Psalm civ. 29, “ Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled, thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust.”
4. But especially God's favour is the end of life; the destined end of all creatures' lives and actions is God's pleasure, Rev. iv. 11. They are subordinate to his will: Rom. xi. 36, “For of him, and through him, and to him are all things.” All the creatures tend to God, as the lines to the centre; but as all a man's labours in his calling tend to uphold a frail natural life, so all a Christian's undertakings are for this, to maintain or obtain God's favour ; his attending on God's ordinances is for this, Psalm xxvii. 4, “ To behold the beauty of the Lord ; " to see his power and glory in the sanctuary,” Psalm lxiii. 1, 2. Why so ? why, ver. 3, he saith, “ Because thy loving-kindness is better than life :” my life is in it, but that is not all, for it is better than the life I live, my life would do me no good He dares do nothing but must have God's favour upon
him therein. See Exod. xxxiii. 13, 16. Psalm xc. 16, 17. So it is his rule.
without it, therefore I would travel far to gain it. When the church had lost the sense of God's favour, see what pains she takes, Cant. iii. 1-5. She seeks him upon her bed, then she riseth, goeth about the city in the streets and broad ways, public and private ordinances, then inquires of the watchmen, faithful ministers. At another time, her soul failed when the sense of his favour was withdrawn, and she bids them tell him, by earnest prayer for her, that she was sick of love, she was fainting away. * Oh! what would the gracious soul do, be, endure, or lose, in order to enjoy God's favour. Why doth he pray, read, obey, give, but that he may comply with God's mind, and please the Lord. He would rather have God's favour than the favour of all the world besides. But more of this hereafter.
THE DESCRIPTION OF PERSONS TO WHOM THE FA
VOUR OF GOD IS LIFE, AND THE SEASONS IN WHICH THEIR EXPERIENCE CONFIRMS THIS
III. To whom, and at what times and seasons is God's favour life? I may say as to the preservation of natural life, God's providential favour is necessary every moment; but here I speak of God's special favour to the souls of his people, and of the manifestation thereof. Now there are some special seasons wherein persons lie under a strong conviction and impression that in God's favour is life. It is true, a
* Cant. v. 6-8.
Christian ought to lie, and will lie under a conviction, that in God's favour is life, both in religious duties and solemn ordinances, in the enjoyment of creature comforts and friendly relations.
But I shall pass these, and pitch upon the following seasons, namely,
On first conversion,-in returning after backslidings,-in an afflicted state,-and on near approaches of death.
1. Young converts on the soul's first change and conversion to God, feel that his favour is life, and that in four respects.
(1.) In discovering God's way to the troubled soul. As soon as the secure sinner is pricked at the heart, and thoroughly awakened, he begins to cry out with the Jews and the jailor, “ Men and brethren, what shall we do? Sirs, what shall I do to be saved ?"* I want a friendly guide to set me into the right way, I have lost myself, and know not what to do, or which way to go; I have been so used to wander, that I know not which way to steer my course ; I am now set fast, and see that if I step forward in my old track I am undone, another way I must take, and which way I cannot tell; my soul with weeping inquires the way to Zion; to heaven I would go, but know not the path.f For God's sake, ye ministers of Christ, give me your best advice what I must do; and that God would favour me so much in this howling wilderness as to direct me in the right way to a city of habitation.I I have gone astray like a lost sheep upon the mountains of sin and error, and the way of peace I have not known; O that the Lord would make all his promises good to my soul for counsel and direction. Now God's favour in this work of guidance is expressed in such promises as these, which the bewildered soul must • Acts i. 37. xvi. 30.
+ Jer. 1. 4, 5. # Psal. cyii. 6, 7. VOL. III.
make grounds of encouragement and matter of prayer : Psal. xxxii. 8. Isa. xxx. 21. xxxv. 8. xlviii. 17. Psal. xxv. 12, 14. Isa. xlii. 16. Luke i. 79.
(2.) A convinced sinner wants God's favour, and esteems it his life. If the Lord would give him a penitent heart, a heart to turn from all sin to God, he would be thankful, knowing that repentance is God's
The poor soul is convinced of its necessity, difficulty, yea, its own inability to turn itself, and cries out, Lord, thou hast commanded me to turn myself, but that must be only to use the means wherein thou hast appointed me to obtain conversion, for thou art solely the proper efficient cause of this great work. Alas! I can no more convert myself than I can create myself; I cannot make one hair white or black, much less make my heart new or holy: this perfect gift comes from the Father of lights, and is a blessed effect of sovereign grace. Alas! though I see my way chalked out I cannot walk in it, I have a rebellious will; Lord, I fear thou hast not given me a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear unto this day. t Now Lord fully awake me, thoroughly change me, renew my soul. O what a favour would I take a mourning, a repenting heart to be. I see the word will not do it; the rod will not do it; I have been “as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke, turn thou me, and I shall be turned;"I and when I am savingly turned, I shall kindly repent : and I am the more encouraged to desire and ask this favour, because thou hast graciously made these precious promises—Deut. xxx. 6. Jer. xxiv. 7. Ezek. xi. 19. xxxvi. 25, 26.
(3.) He wants an interest in Jesus Christ. The poor convinced sinner sees nothing in the whole world that can do him any good; and as for his own righte+ 2 Tim. ii. 25. + Deut. xxix. 4.
Jer. xxxi. 18, 19.