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to pass, and not one thing hath failed thereof." We go on to
IV. Make some observations concerning God, with the temptation, making a way to escape.
1. Often trials and temptations meet in such an assemblage, and come to such an height, that the poor believer is persuaded he can neither bear more nor longer, and he can neither see nor conceive any way of escape. Many trials are often measured out to him at the same time. There is nothing in which Satan takes more pleasure than to join with God in trying the saint; though their designs differ almost as widely as their natures. When both the outward and inward man are tried, and for a considerable length of time, it is little wonder the Christian thinks an escape almost impossible, and that God can scarcely interpose for him. In this situation he adopts the desponding language of Israel, Isai. xl. 27, “ My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God." Then the mind is filled with anxiety, and the heart overwhelmed and in perplexity. Then his sorrow and difficulty resemble those of the Redeemer, when, labouring under the weight of sin imputed to him, and bearing the wrath of God, he cried out, John xii. 27, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour." Were the experience of others as well known as David's, it would be found a common complaint with the saint, "I am sore vexed, but thou, O Lord, how long." Now his soul is cast down within
him, and he is often ready to faint. He roars out in the bitterness of his spirit. He attempts duties, and not finding the deliverance he expected, he thinks about giving them over, saying with Asaph, "I have washed my hands in vain." If he did not find comfort in duties, still less in giving them up; and he tries them anew. Now he can say, I looked to my right-hand observing duties; and to my left not caring for them; and all refuge failed me. God's billows pass over me, I fear matters will never be better, and that I shall never find a way to escape.
2. God can preserve his people under heavy trials, and keep them from sinking, much longer than they could have believed. When trials are very hard, and when the present feeling is aggravated by unbelieving conjectures about the future, the tried saint apprehends he can hold out no time. Present deliverance or death is with him the only alternative. He cries, Give me deliverance or I die. This is the believer's hour of darkness. His present sad feeling darkens his past experience, and makes him forget what God has done for his soul. Unbelieving and desponding apprehensions obscure the future, and hide from his view what God can or will do. If a promise occurs to his mind, he either discredits it, or claims no interest in it. Sometimes he is so tried that he hardly thinks there can be a worse situation, death and hell scarcely excepted. Then he is ready to conclude that he is as much past remedy, or nearly so, as those who are actually dead. He says, as in Ezekiel xxxvii. 11, "My bones are dried, and my hope is lost; I am cut off for my part:" or with Da
vid, Psal. cii. 3-5, "My days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burnt as an hearth. My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning, my bones cleave to my skin." Then he sees no possibility of escape.
God sees not as man. All this time his hand is about the believer secretly strengthening and supporting him. As it is the saint's hour of darkness, it is signally the hour of God's fatherly care. In this hot contest he is not unconcerned. His promise and grace are more at stake than the believer's credit and salvation. He has cast his jewels into the furnace to refine them, and he stands close by to see that nothing be consumed but rust and corruption. The saint thinks he shall perish, but God's thoughts are not like his. Had the tried believer, whose case we are describing, seen a bush all on fire, he would have thought it impossible that it could have been preserved. Every saint is a branch of that bush, and Christ is the root. Like the unruly tongue, though in a different sense, it is set on fire of hell. The world and the flesh increase the fuel, blow the fire, and do all they can to consume the bush: but neither the bush itself nor a single branch shall ever be consumed. What cannot He do, whose name and memorial is a wonder-working God!
3. However impossible deliverance may appear to the saint under his heavy pressures, God knows how to deliver, and will make a way to escape. The poor believer has long pored on his case, and con sidered it in every possible view, and deliverance
seems in his eye almost impossible. He cannot even apprehend how God can deliver. Nay, sometimes under the force of temptation he apprehends either that God does not know him, or that he takes no notice of him. He concludes, if God knew such an object of pity, his mercy would dispose him to grant deliverance. The Lord knoweth them that are his. He set them apart in his eternal purpose, and in time imprinted his image on their hearts. He knows their every pressure. His address to the church of Smyrna applies to every saint, "I know thy tribulation." No ingredient in their affliction is hid from his omniscient eye. The lion's den could not hide Daniel, nor the whale's belly conceal Jonah from his watchful eye. He visits the lonely cottage, and "will strengthen the believer on his bed of languishing, and will make all his bed," however coarse, "in his sickness." He is attentive to all the groans and sighs of his people under their trouble. He heard Ephraim bemoaning himself; and every saint may say, "Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee." Not a single sigh heaved from the believer's heart can escape Divine notice, though it should be crowded with the sighs of thousands, more than the woman's believing touch escaped the notice of Christ, "when a multitude thronged and pressed him." As he knows every ingredient in the trial, he also knows a way to escape. "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation." His infinite wisdom knows every possible way of escape, and always fixes on that which is best. What his wisdom contrives, his power can ac
complish, and his love renders absolutely sure. He knows the fittest season for deliverance; and when he wills it is done. "There is no wisdom or counsel against the Lord."
4. The way which the Lord makes to escape is commonly when the trial is at the greatest height. "With the temptation (in its greatest force) he makes a way to escape." There are chiefly two ways of outgate from very heavy trials: the one is, when the trial is removed from the person: the other, when the person is removed from the trial. Often when trials have come to the greatest pitch a merciful Lord has removed them, and said to them as to the waves of the sea, Hitherto shalt thou come and no farther, as in the case of Job and many others: on the other hand, in the extremity of trial he has taken the suffering saint to himself. Once, said a Christian in great distress, "I know not how I can endure this night!" The God of his mercy prevented him. His fears were disappointed. Death closed his eyes and ended his trials! When the storm and the wolf threaten the destruction of the sheep, the tenderhearted shepherd gathers them into the fold!
It is the universal doctrine of the Scriptures, that deliverance commonly comes when the trial is at the worst, and that the Lord delivers when there are none shut up or left. They contain many examples of remarkable interpositions in a time of extremity. A ram was caught in the thicket when Isaac was bound. Jacob wrestled, and the Lord changed his brother's heart. When Pharaoh pursued Israel, the Red Sea was dried up, and they marched through