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death, and to guide our feet in the way
peace. Lord, smile upon me a poor sinner through thy Son, O for one beam of the sun of righteousness ! Lord, grant that my soul may be accepted in the beloved ; cast one eye of pity upon a poor sinner ; let thy bowels of compassion yearn towards thy creature in misery, and give me some fruits of thy grace, make me amiable in thy sight, put thy comeliness upon me, and then take delight in me as thy child; and though thou canst see nothing in myself worthy acceptance, yet when thou hast adorned me with thy image and graces, thou wilt show favour to the work of thy hands; thou hast a love, not only of pity, but of complacency to some of thy creatures, and why not to me? Sun of righteousness, shine upon me, Lord, speak comfortably to thy servant; many are a terror to me, Satan affrights me, the world hates me, my conscience condemns me; but be not thou a terror to me, thou art my hope in the day of evil; † Lord, I am not fit to come into thy presence, for I am both polluted and guilty, yet have mercy upon me according to thy loving-kindness, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions, cast my sins behind thy back; but cast not me away from thy presence;for thy servant, the son of David's sake, turn not away the face of thine anointed ; || he is thy beloved Son in whom thou art well pleased, ġ be well pleased with me through him; O favour me with the favour which thou bearest to thy people; visit me with thy salvation ; look upon me, and be merciful unto me as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name, Psalm cxix. 132. • Luke i. 78, 79. + Jer. xvii. 17. # Psalm li. 1-11. || Psalm cxxxii. 10. & Matt. iii. 17. | Psalm cái. 4.
THE SUBJECT CONCLUDED UNDER THE ARTICLE
OF INSTRUCTION WITH AN ADDRESS TO THE OBJECTS OF DIVINE FAVOUR.
The second description of persons whom this doctrine instructs are saints, God's own people, the sincere professors of religion, that have a covenant title to, and interest in the favour of God, which indeed is the soul's life. Now concerning these, there are Christians of two sorts, for some want, and some enjoy a sense of divine favour.
I. Those that want God's favour, at least the sense of it; for as Davenant characterizes the favour of God, which he calls, “a bond of eternal good pleasure;"* this depends upon the discriminating grace of God: this bond is indissoluble, and cannot be weakened ; for whom he loves once, he loves to the end. But there is also a love of complacency, f which includes the sense, enjoyment, and comfort of divine love, this love of intimate friendship, intercourse and familiarity, may be lost, and often is wanting, which hath made pious souls cry out, as though God had forsaken them, hid his face, dealt with them as if he were their enemy, or had cast them off for ever.
Here I shall endeavour to answer first, some objections; and secondly, some cases of conscience.
The objections are such as these,
Obj. Can I be in God's favour that am so unworthy of it? none so unfit.
Answ. 1. There is a twofold favour of God.
* Vinculum æternæ benevolentiæ.
(1.) Of benevolence, a love of good-will, from which he inakes worthy.
(2.) A love of complacency and delight, whereby he owns, accepts and receives to his bosom, and embraces the soul that is so made worthy by sanctifying grace. All the world is unworthy of God's favour by nature; Rom. iii. 10, “ There is none righteous, no, not one." Nor doth God set his love upon any, for any worthiness in them, but because he will love them; he draws arguments from his own bosom to do them good: but then when he hath graciously renewed their hearts by his Spirit, then he accounts them worthy in a gospel sense, and so favours them, that “they shall walk with him in white, for they are worthy," Rev. iii. 4.
2. None are by the Lord judged so worthy of special favours, as those that judge themselves most unworthy. Who had more of God's special favour than Abraham, who is called the friend of God, yet he accounts himself dust and ashes ? Jacob was singularly regarded, as appears from visions of God, and answers of prayer which he had; yet looks on himself as less than the least of God's mercies. So David and Paul, that judged themselves as beasts, less than all saints, greatest of sinners; yet who had more revelations and mani. festations of God's favour? Look through the Bible, and you will find that God's favour descends still into valleys, and that he honours those most that honour themselves least; see Psal. xxv. 14. Matt. viii. 8, 10. Luke i. 52, 53. xiv. 10, 11. James iv. 6.
Obj. But I am a depraved, polluted, sinful creature, a compound of vanity and wickedness: can God have any favour for such a one as I am ?
Answ. 1. You must distinguish betwixt God's hav. ing respect to sin, and having respect to those in whom sin is. It is true, the righteous Lord loveth righteous
ness, and hateth iniquity; yea, he abhorreth the wicked, he is of purer eyes than to behold evil; yet if God should have no love where corruption is, he would have no objects of favour among the children of men. He can distinguish (though men cannot, or will not) betwixt sinners and sinners, penitent and impenitent; he knows and regards his own image, though he hates and rejects Satan's; he favours his children, though all defiled, he respects his jewels in the mire; Christ's spouse is at the same time both black and comely. Consider the poor soul deformed with the relics of sin, O how unsightly it is ! but look on the beginnings of grace in sincerity, O how desirable! Sin repented of, and abhorred, shall not hinder God's favour. Nay,
2. God hath greatest favour for him who has least favour for himself; he had most respect to penitent Job, who abhorred himself in dust and ashes. A selfloathing soul is a God-respected soul, Ezek. xvi. 63. God is most pacified, when the Christian's face is most ashamed, this self-confusion is both a fruit and evidence of God's favour; see Ezek. xx. 41, 43. xxxvi. 25—31. When thou hast least charity for thyself, God hath most for thee; when thou art most vile in thine own eyes, thou art most fair in his ; this is no small mystery, grace vilifies a man to himself, magnifies him to God; at the same time when a man thinks himself the worst, God owns him as the best of men, and yet neither misseth, nor mistaketh in judging, for the soul's eyes being open, he sees his own vileness; but God who searcheth the heart, knows that by him, which he can scarce discern in himself, and through dissatisfaction with his corrupt heart will not believe is in him, so “ He that shall humble himself, shall be exalted,” Matt. xxiii. 12.
Obj. How can I have God's favour that feel it not,
cannot experience it, know it not, believe it not ? surely, it is not possible a soul should be in God's favour, and not know it?
Answ. 1. You must distinguish betwixt God's favour to the soul, and a sense of it in the soul. David complains of broken bones, of God's hiding his face, withdrawing himself; so doth Job, Heman, yea, our Saviour. Divines distinguish betwixt salvation, and the joy of salvation. Psalm li. 12, “ Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation :” the having of grace, and the feeling of grace are different things; a man in a swoon hath life, but is not sensible of it in some cases ; God doth sometimes for wise ends suspend the manifestation of his favour from a gracious soul, as a father will do from his child, and as Joseph did from his brethren.
2. This variety of experience doth rather evidence God's favour, than the contrary ; sick fits are incident only to men alive; they have child-like dispositions who understand the nature of God's withdrawings ; it was a David that could say, “ Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.” Genuine love is accompanied with many jealousies; ebbings and flowings are the attendants of sea-faring men ; uphill and down is the road to heaven. Think not to be always dandled in God's arms, or laid in his bosom ; remember you are on earth, not in heaven; your sun may be often under a cloud, your appetites must not be always gratified with dainties. It is natural for God's children in some cases to question God's love: merely formal presumers will hardly be brought to question God's favour, are ordinarily in one uniform, settled state, and go on dreaming in a fool's paradise; or if they should question it, they silence a clamorous conscience with worldly salvos, or phantastic delusions.
Obj. But alas, how can I think that God favours VOL. III.