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ke This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, faith the ** Lords because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in false“ hood, therefore will I difcovet thy skirts upon thy face, that “ thy shame may appear.
The turning up the skirt is a modest expression of exposing a person to the greateft shame in the day of trial: God, by dilcovering hypocrify, shames the hypocrite; and, sürely, many fuch discoveries are made of men at this day: We may see fin, that lurked close in the heart before; now laid open before all Ifrael, and before the fun.
Thirdly, Hereby the poor felf-cozening hypocrite Hath the greateft opportunity and advantage that ever was before him in all his life, to recover himself out of the fnare of the devil. Now all his pretences are gone s now that which like a shield was advanced against the arrows of reproof and conviction is gone ; now a poor creature ftands naked, and stripped out of all his pleas, as a fair and open mark to the world, and his own conscience, and happy will it be for kim, if now the Lord make convi&tion to enter pcint blank into his soul. All these are bieffed effects of the difcovery of hypocrisy:
Secondly, By these trials integrity is cleared up, and thit doubts and fears of many upright and holy ones allayed and quieted, resolved and satisfied.
Owhat would many a poor Christian give for satisfaction in that great point of încerity! How many tears have been shed to God in fecret upon that accoufit? How many hours have been spent in examination of his own heart about it, and still jealoufies and fears hang upon his heart? He doubts what he may prove at last. Well, faith God, let his fincerity then come to the test, kindle the fire, and cast in my gold.Trials are the high way to afluirarice; let my child see that he loves me more than these, that his heart is upright with me. I will try him by prosperity and by adversity, by persecutions and temptations, and he shall see his heart is better than he suspects it to be. This shall be the day of resolution to his fears and doubts:
The apostle, speaking of herelies, 1 Cor. xi. 7, 9. puts a necellity upon them: There must be herefjes, faith he, that they which are approved may be made manifeft. The same necessity there is (and for the same end) of all other trials of grace, that thelovely, beautiful, sweet face of fincerity may be opened sometimes to the world, to enamour them, and to the soul in whose it is, to satisfy it that it doth not perfónate a Christians but VOL. VII.
lives the very life of a Christian, and hath the very spirit and principles of a Christian in him.
3. Thirdly, By these trials, pride and self-confidence is destroyed and mortified in the saints, as much as by any thing in the world. We never see what poor weak creatures we are, until we come to the trial. It is said, Deut. viii. 2. « God “ led Ifrael through the defart, to prove them, and to humble “ them.” When we are proved, then we are humbled. Those that over-reckon their graces before the trial, see they must come to another account, and take new measures of themselves after they have been upon trial.
Ah! little did I think, faith one, that I had so much love for the world, and so little for God, until afflictions tried it. I could not have believed that ever the creature had got so deep into my heart, until providence either threatened or made a separation, and then I found it. I thought I had been rich in faith, until fuch a danger befel me, or such a want began to pinch hard ;, and then I saw how unable I was to trust God for protection, or provision. O it is a good thing that our 'hearts be kept humble and lowly, how rich foever they be in
4. Fourthly, By trials grace is kept in exercise, and the gracious foul preserved from security and spiritual nothfulness
. Trials are to grace what the estuations and continual agitations of the waters are to the fea, or what the racking of wines from the lees is to it: Were it not for our frequent trials and exercifes, we should quickly settle upon the lees, and our duties would be (as God complains of Ephraim) like soure or dead drink, Hofea iv. 18. flat and spiritless. “Moab hath been at ease “ from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not “ been emptied from veffel to vefsel ; neither hath he gone « into captivity; therefore his taste remained in him, and his “ fcent is not changed," Jer. xlviii. 11.
Much after that rate it would be with our hearts, did not the Lord frequently try and exercise them. Let the beft man be without fome trial or other but a few months, and you may find the want of it in his prayers and conferences quickly.
0 what a tang of formality will be found in them! And is' it for the honour of God, or profit of his people, that it should be .fo? No, nothe Lord knows it is not; but how shall their fpirits be reduced to their former zealous heavenly temper again? Why, faith the Lord, they must into the furnace again : “ I will melt them and try them ; for how shall I do for
« the daughter of my people,” Jer. ix. 7. I love them too well to lose them for want of a rod. 'Alas! if I should suffer things to go on at this rate, what will become of them in a little time? What delight can I take in their duties, when the faith, fervour, humility, and holy seriousness of their spirits is wanting in them? I will therefore “refine them as filver is " refined, and try them as gold is tried, and they shall call
upon my name, and I will hear them, and I will say, It is my “ people, and they shall say, The Lord is my God,” Zech, xiii. 9. and thus the Lord chides himself friend again with his people.
Thus he recovers them to their true temper, and thus his vifitations do preserve their spirits; and when the Lord fees these sweet effects of his trials upon them, it greatly pleaseth him. O now, saith God, I like it ; this providence hath done them good; this rod was well bestowed; the letting loose of this temptation, or that corruption upon them, hath made them find their knees again ; now I hear the voice of my child again.
Beloved, this is a blessed fruit and effect of our frequent trials; and how ungrateful foever they are to flesh and blood, that affects ease, and is loth to be disturbed, yet it is necessary to the preservation of our spirits.
5. Fifthly, By the trial of our graces Satan is defeated, and his accusation of the faints found to be mere flapders. It is a very common thing with the devil and wicked men, to accuse the people of God of hypocrisy, and to tell the world they are not thé' men and women they are taken to be ; and that if their infide were but turned out by fome thorough trial, or deep search, it would appear that religion did not indeed live in their souls, as they pretend, but that they only act a part, and perfonate heavenly and mortified persons upon the public stage of profeffion.'
Thus the accuser of the brethren suggests the hypoerisy of Job, chap. ii. 5. “ Put forth thine hand now, and touch' his « bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face ;" q.. d. Well might Job serve thee whilft thou haft been so bountiful a master to him; he hath been well rewarded for all the service he hath done thee; but if thou stop the current of his prosperity, thou shalt see how quickly he will stop the courte of his duty: A few lashes from thy hand will make him curse thee to thy face. But O what shame and disappointment was
it to that envious spirit? What a vindication of Job's integrity, when under the greateft trials of his faith and patience, he still held fast his integrity, and shews himself as great a pattern of patience under the cross, as he had been of piety in the days of his greatest prosperity ! Satan gets nothing by bringing forth the saints upon the ftage, to be made a spectacle to angels and men, as it is, 1 Cor. iv. 9.
6. Sixtbly, and lastly, The frequent trials of grace exhibit a full and living testimony against the atheism of the world. These provę beyond all words or arguments that religion is ng fancy, but the greatest reality in the world : Men would make şeligion but a fancy, and the zeal of its profeflors, but the in temperate heat of some crazy brains, over-heated with a fond potion.
They that never felt the real ipfluences of religion upor their own fouls, will not believe that others do feel them. Serious pięty is become the ludicrous subject with which the wanton wițs of this atheistical world sport themselves. Buf behold the wisdom and goodness of God exhibiting to the world the undeniable testimonies of the truth of religion, as often as the fincere professors thereof are brought to the teft by afflictions from the hand of God, or persecution from the hands of men: Lo! here. is the faith and patience of the faints here is their coprage, meekness, and self-denial, shining as gold in the fire; they have the real proofs of it before their eyes: instead of çasting them into hell, and convincing them by e. ternal fire, he is pleased to caft his own people into the fire of affi&tion, that they who scaff at them may be convinced at an easier and cheaper rate. It is no new thing to see the enemies of religion brought over to embrace it, by the constancy and faithfulness of the saints in their trials and sufferings for it. God grant that the .
atheism of this present generation do not occahon a more fiery trial to the people of God in it, than they have yet suffered!
Shewing that that grace only is to be reckoned sincere and realy
which can endure those trials which God appoints, or permits, for the difcovery of it.
truth, it will be neceflary to prevent fome mistakes that may be occasioned by misunderftanding of it.
Éaution 1. And, in the first place, we are not to think alfurance of our fincerity impollible to be had in this life, because as long as we live here, we are in a state of trial, and how many trials foever have been made upon us already, yet still there are more to come; and we know not what we thall prové in future trials, though God hath kept us upright in former trials : No, no, this is none of my meaning; nor doth such a conclufion neceffarily follow this affertiop: For a Christian chat hath rightly closed with Chrißt at first, and been faithful in the duties of active and passive obedience hitherto, may be affured, upon good grounds, of a victory before he come to the fire of his remaining trials. So was the apostle, Rom. viii. 35, Sc. “Who shall feparate us from the love of Chrift? * Shall tribulation, or diftrefs, or perfecution, or famine, or “ nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Nay, in all these we are more " than conquerors, thro' him that hath loved us." Here is an affured triumph before the combat. So Job xxiii. 10. “ But he 41 knoweth the way that I takes when he hath tried me, I shall
. come forth as gold.” He appeals to God for the fincerity of his heart so far as he had hitherto gone in the way of religion, and thence concludes, that whatever trials God should bring þim to for time to come, he should come forth as gold, i.e. he should not lose one grain of the fire. And this confidence of a gracious soul is built not only upon experience gained in for. mer trials, but upon faith in the power, promises, and faithfulness of God, which are engaged for him in the covenant of grace, to keep him in the greateit dangers that befal him in this world.
He believes the power of God is able to make him stand, though he hath no power nor might in himself to overcome the least temptation, i Pet. i. 5. “ You are kept, poep Bremnes (kept " as a garrison) by the power of God through faith unto fal