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from the ashes, he staggered not. Daniel too had the strongest persuasion both of the grace and almighty power of God, when he chose rather to be cast into the den of lions than either omit the worship of the true God, or give it to any other; and God shut the mouths of the lions, and preserved Daniel. The three children, believing that their God was able to deliver, preferred the hottest furnace to the greatest worldly enjoyments at the expense of sinning against God. Trusting to Christ's ability, Peter walked on the water; and many a believer, since that day, has ventured on the boisterous element of arduous duty, and severe difficulty, with nothing to carry him out, but-God is able-it may be he will be gracious-and who knows but he will return. He has argued thus, “I am weak, but God is strong; he calls, and I shall try; many who have entered on great duty, with vast discouragements, have been supported, and it will glorify his grace to support me."

It is impossible to name all that the saints adduce to add weight to their cause, when proving God. They urge the bad effects if they do not prevailthat enemies will reproach, friends hang down their heads, and the good ways of the Lord be evil spoken of. They insist on the good effects if God mercifully interpose: he will get a revenue of glory, they the benefit, and others great encouragement. But it is of the last importance to observe here, that, whatever they adduce to support their cause, and encourage their heart, when proving God, Christ is their

Alpha and Omega, the beginning, end, and amount of all their hope, and of every plea they urge at the throne of grace.

3. When proving is with a view to obtain something of which we stand in need, as it is always in this case, it consists in asking with importunity, and urging every possible argument that we may prevail. Proving God always includes an ardent desire that he may act like himself, and bestow the blessing. We cannot prove him without prayer. Some think it enough to sit still, and leave God to do or not do, give or not give, as he pleases. Not so the believer. He opens his heart wide in desire, and with his mouth cries to the Lord; and in this manner proves if he will pour out the blessing. God cannot be proved but as he is on a throne of grace. From the word of grace we have all our encouragement, and from the throne of grace every blessing.

The saints ask with great importunity. Not satisfied with faint wishes and languid desires, they cry with vehemency and fervency, and their souls follow hard after God. We well know what it is to prove a friend, or fellow-creature, if he will grant us some object we greatly need, or anxiously desire. Dissatisfied with barely asking it once, we make repeated application. Frequently and with importunity the Lord's people apply to him for salvation and deliverance from particular straits. Never did a man on the brink of destruction cry more vehemently for relief proving what others would do for him, than they with God for mercy.

While most importunate the believer urges his plea by every argument. To the praise of grace, he urges his petition for pardon both from the greatness of his sin, and the magnitude of divine mercy. The psalmist uses the former argument, Psal. xxv. 11, “ O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great:" and the latter, Psal. li. 1," Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions." The boundless nature of Christ's merit, and the infinite efficacy of his blood to cleanse from all sin, are urged as the strongest arguments for justification and sanctification. To obtain the blessing, like the spouse, the saint urges the greatness of his desire, saying, I am sick of love; and like the psalmist, the greatness of his necessity, saying, "Bow down thine ear, O Lord: hear me, for I am poor and needy." Not to name many other arguments adapted to particular situations, the wrestling saint urges plea from this consideration, that if he is pitied, God will get a revenue of glory, and heaven will resound with endless songs of praise.


4. Having proved God, we are to allow and rest in just evidence. Proving is always with a view to collect evidence, and come to some decision; and we should not in this case, more than in others, be ever learning without coming to the knowledge of the truth. When we have proved God by the touchstones already mentioned, and find satisfying evidence that he cannot be worse than his word (which faith will always do,) we are to consider the proof as made, the trial over

rest in the evidence, and add it as a new and valuable increase to our experience. The great end of ing is to subdue unbelief, remove doubts, increase our faith, and encourage ourselves in the Lord.


Those who proved God, of whom we have an account in Scripture, nobly rested in the evidence which they obtained, that God was what he revealed himself to be, did as he said, and was never worse than his word. They put a mark on the decision for their own encouragement in all future straits, and for the consolation of tried believers in every succeeding age. Great was the benefit which accrued to them from resting in just evidence. On every future occasion they applied to God, as a God and friend whom they had proved and tried. When Abraham proved him, he rested in the evidence, as well he might, and put this motto on the place and interposition, JEHOVAHJIREH. Owing to Jacob's success and satisfaction in proving God, he called the place Bethel, and Peniel: and both God and Jacob afterward appealed to the proof then made. Long after, God said, I am the God of Bethel; and Jacob not only allowed the title, but improved it and gloried in it. Once the Israelites, having proved God, called him Jehovah Nissi. At another time, when he had graciously healed them, they recorded his kindness, and called him Jehovah Rophi. David was favoured with signal interpositions. He remembered the proofs of God's power and goodness, and improved them in his future trials. His exercise on this head is often recorded. We have a beautiful instance, Psal. xlii. 6, "O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will

I remember from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar." Every believer of any standing has been distressed with outward fightings, or inward fears. He has proved God, and met with gracious interpositions. These, with all the circumstances of time, place, and wrestling, he ought carefully to keep in mind for the glory of God, and his own benefit in future distress.

5. In proving God, we are to do duty, and leave the event to him. God will do as he has said. His word cannot be broken. He will hear the cries of his people; but their faith and patience may be greatly tried. He will interpose; but he must neither be limited as to time or manner. Our season for gracious interposition is commonly much earlier than God's; and the blessing seldom comes in the way in which it was expected. We are to commit our way to God, and prove him, trusting that, in his time and way, he will bring it to pass. Pursued by Pharaoh, the Israelites ventured into the Red Sea without sensible evidence of safety, and left the event with an almighty God. Returning to Jerusalem with his companions, though greatly afraid, Ezra was ashamed to seek an armed defence from a heathen prince to whom he had said so much about the power and kindness of the God of Israel. He determined to prove the Lord, and fasted at the river Ahava. Having attempted duty, he set forward, leaving the event to God. By God's good hand upon him he was preserved from his enemies, and such as lay in wait by the way, Ezra viii. 21, 22, &c. When Jerusalem was closely besieged by Rabshakeh, Hezekiah followed

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