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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 66 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. 66 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
the flood on foot. David's history is almost a constant succession of signal interpositions, when reduced to the greatest extremity. “ And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me, to tell of Gideon and Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthai, of Samuel also, and the prophets."
5. If either the greatness or continuance of trials would tend to overthrow the saint, before God's time of deliverance come, a secret support shall be given him that he may be able to bear.” God “ strengthens the fainting soul with strength inwardly.” The Lord has several ways of supporting his people under their trials till deliverance come, which are recorded in the Scriptures for their encouragement. Such is the fulness of the Scriptures, and the examples there mentioned so apposite, that we can scarcely suppose any saint can meet with a trial, or need a deliverance not exemplified in them: but should such a case happen, God's love and faithfulness would lead him to create a way sooner than any of his people should perish. As we have many miraculous deliverances recorded in the sacred volume, the Lord has often wonderfully interposed since the period when inspiration ceased. His love to, and care about, his people are unchanging. The true way for the tried saint is to fix his eye on God's promise of deliverance, his absolute faithfulness, and unchanging love; and to overlook those methods which seemed probable and rational in his own eye, and leave the manner and season of deliverance and escape wholly to God. The Divine declaration about deliverance should be considered by him as sufficient ground of faith and
consolation in the heaviest trial, even when he sees no way to escape. We shall now subjoin some application.
1. This subject sets before us the sure ground on which faith may and should rest concerning support under trials, and a way to escape from them. It has the testimony of the great and infallible Jehovah, that he will not suffer his people to be tempted above that they are able to bear. His testimony is more stable than mountains of brass. Every thing relating to it deserves credit, and is encouraging to faith. If God had not purposed that saints should never be tried above what they are able to bear, there was no obligation on him to say it. Now when he has said it, there is nothing to hinder the accomplishment, but every thing to secure and bring it about. He has every trial at his disposal; and to secure his own veracity, he may measure out more or fewer as they are able to bear. He has all store of grace, and he may, can, and will dispense more or less according to their trials. He is the same as when he made this declaration; and having made it, he is under superadded obligation to make it good. Faith stands on firm ground, and believers should not stagger.
2. We may infer the great evil of unbelief. God says, we shall not suffer above that we are able to bear; unbelief
says, I can neither bear nor endure any longer. He says, my grace is sufficient for thee; ; it says, grace may be sufficient for others, but not for
he does all things well; it replies, though he did his worst, I could be little worse. God says, all his ways are truth and mercy; unbelief
says, I am plagued and chastened every day, and his mercy seems clean gone. He says, wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; it replies, this evil is of the Lord, why should I wait for the Lord any longer. Thus it calls the God of truth a liar, and who can determine the quantity of evil included in this sin ?
3. We may see how unreasonable and criminal despondency is. How does it appear in the light of this text? It joins deliberate obstinacy to unbelief. It argues in its own behalf, justifies itself, and refuses consolation. In opposition to despondency we might ask, Has not God answered all his people's expectations in time past? Is there any reason to conclude, or even suppose, that he will not do the same in time coming? The following question deserves a serious consideration : When will despondency in the tried believer be justifiable? We might answer, Never while this text is in the Bible; or till God has forgot it; or is not able to accomplish it; or when any proof can be adduced that he has neglected it.
4. After all, we may see that the Lord's people have good reason cheerfully to leave this world, and die when God shall be pleased to call them. Vanity is wrote in legible characters on every sublunary object, and all below is vexation of spirit. This is a world of sorrows and miseries. Sin has embittered our best enjoyments. We should not be overfond of
When we go hence we shall leave them all behind. In the grave the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest. In heaven all our tears will be wiped away, and there will be