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"And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth." Repentance in us is a change of the mind, but in God a change of his dispensations; for otherwise he repenteth not, neither can he, because it standeth not with the perfection of his nature. “In him is no variableness,
nor shadow of turning.”
Wherefore it is man, not God, that turns. When men reject the mercy and ways of God, they cast themselves under his wrath and displeasure; which, because it is executed according to the nature of his justice and the severity of his law, they miss of the mercy promised before; which that we may know, those shall one day feel that shall continue in final impenitency. Therefore God, speaking to their capacity, tells them he hath repented of doing them good. It repented the Lord that he had made Saul king; and yet this repentance was only a change of the dispensation which Saul by his wickedness had put himself under; otherwise the Strength, the Eternity of Israel will not lie nor repent.
The sum is, therefore, that men had now by their wickedness put themselves under the justice and law of God; which justice, by reason of its perfection, could not endure they should abide on the earth any longer; and therefore now, as a just reward of their deed, they must be swept from the face thereof.
PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
We should tremblingly glory and rejoice when we see God in the world, though upon those that are the most terrible of his dispensations. God the Creator will sometimes mount himself and ride through the earth, in such majesty and glory that he will make all to stand in the tent-doors to behold him. O how he rode in his chariots of salvation, when he went to save his people out of the land of Egypt. How he shook the nations. Then his glory
covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. His brightness was as the light: he had horns coming out of his hand, and there was the hiding of his power.
These are glorious things, though shaking dispensations. God is worthy to be seen in his dispensations as well as in his word, though the nations tremble at his presence. "O that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down," saith the prophet, "that the mountains might flow down at thy presence.'
We know God, and he is our God, our own God; of whom or of what should we be afraid? When God roars out of Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, when the heavens and the earth do shake, the Lord shall be the hope of his people and the strength of the children of Israel.
He that knows the sea, knows the waves will toss themselves; he that knows a lion, will not much wonder to see his paw or to hear the voice of his roaring. And shall we that know our God, be stricken with a panic fear when he cometh out of his holy place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity? We should stand like those that are next to angels, and tell the blind world who it is that is thus mounted upon his steed, and that hath the clouds for the dust of his feet, and that thus rideth upon the wings of the wind: we should say unto them, “This God is our God for ever and ever, and he shall be our guide even unto death."
There are providences of two sorts, seemingly good and seemingly bad; and those do usually as Jacob did when he blessed the sons of Joseph, cross hands and lay the blessing where we would not. There are providences unto which we would have the blessing entailed; but they And these are providence that smile upon the flesh, such as cast into the lap health, wealth, plenty, ease, friends, and abundance of this world's good because these, as Manasseh's name doth signify, have in them an
aptness to make us forget our toil, our low estate, and from whence we were; but the great blessing is not in them.
There are providences again, that take away from us whatever is desirable to the flesh; such are sickness, losses, crosses, persecution, and affliction; and usually in these, though they shock us whenever they come upon us, blessing coucheth and is ready to help us. For God, as the name of Ephraim signifies, makes us fruitful in the land of affliction. He therefore, in blessing his people, lays his hands across, guiding them wittingly and laying the chiefest blessing on the head of Ephraim, or in that providence that sanctifies affliction. Abel-what to the reason of Eve was he, in comparison with Cain? Rachel called Benjamin the son of her sorrow; but Jacob knew how to give him a better name. Jabez, also, though his mother so called him because, as it seems, she brought him forth with more than ordinary sorrow, was yet more honorable, more godly, than his brethren.
He that has skill to judge of providences aright, has a great ability in him "to comprehend with other saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height;" but he that has no skill as to discerning them, is but a child in his judgment in those high and mysterious things. And hence it is that some shall suck honey out of that at which others tremble, for fear it should poison them. I have often been made to say, "Sorrow is better than laughter, and the house of mourning better than the house of mirth." And I have more often seen that the afflicted are always the best sort of Christians. There is a man never well, never prospering, never but under afflictions, disappointments, and sorrows; why, this man, if he be a Christian, is one of the best of men: "They that go down to the sea, that do business in great waters, they see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep."
I do not question but that there are some that are alive who have been able to say the days of affliction have been
the best unto them, and who could, if it were lawful, pray that they might always be in affliction, if God would but. do to them as he did when his hand was last upon them; for by them he caused his light to shine.
Oh how should we, and how would we were but our eyes awake, stand and wonder at the preservations, the deliverances, the salvations, and benefits with which we are surrounded daily, while so many mighty evils seek daily to swallow us up as the grave!
How many deaths have some been delivered from and saved out of before conversion. Some have fallen into rivers, some into wells, some into the sea, some into the hands of men; yea, they have been justly arraigned and condemned, as the thief upon the cross, but must not die before they were converted. They were preserved in Christ, and called.
II. THE TRINITY.
IF in the Godhead there be but one, not three, then the Father, the Son, or the Spirit must needs be that one, if any one only; so then the other two are nothing. Again, if the reality of a being be neither in the Father, Son, nor Spirit, as such, but in the eternal Deity, without consideration of Father Son and Spirit as three, then neither of the three are any thing but notions in us, or manifestations of the Godhead, or nominal distinctions, so related by the word; but if so, then when the Father sent the Son, and the Father and Son the Spirit, one notion sent another, one manifestation sent another. This being granted, it unavoidably follows there was no Father to beget a Son, no Son to be sent to save us, no Holy Ghost to be sent to comfort us and to guide us into all the truth of the Father
and Son. At most it amounts to but this: a notion sent a notion, a distinction sent a distinction, or one manifestation sent another. Of this error these are the consequences we are only to believe in notions and distinctions, when we believe in the Father and the Son; and so shall have no other heaven and glory than notions and nominal distinctions can furnish us withal.
If thou feel thy thoughts begin to wrestle about this truth, and to struggle concerning this, one against another, take heed of admitting such a question, "How can this be?" for here is no room for reason to make it out; here is only room to believe it is a truth. You find not one of the prophets propounding an argument to prove it, but asserting it; they let it lie for faith to take it up and embrace it.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."
In a word, if you would see it altogether, God's love was the cause why Christ was sent to bleed for sinners. Jesus Christ's bleeding stops the cries of divine justice. God looks upon them as complete in him, and gives them to him as by right of purchase. Jesus ever lives to pray for them that are thus given unto him. God sends his Holy Spirit into them to reveal this to them, sends his angels to minister for them, and all this by virtue of an everlasting covenant between the Father and the Son. "Happy the people that are in such a case." He hath made them brethren with Jesus Christ, members of his flesh and of his bones, the spouse of this Lord Jesus; and all show how dearly, really, and constantly he loveth us who by the faith of his operation have laid hold upon him.
The doctrine of the Trinity! that is the substance, that is the ground and fundamental of all, for by this doctrine and