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THE SAINTS GOD'S SERVANTS AND HIS
ACTS, xxvii. 23. For there flood by me this night the angel of the Lord, whofe I am, and whom I ferve.
HERE are two questions, which may be pertinently propofed to every one of you after this communion; and he who can fatisfyingly answer them, as Paul here does, and every child of God may do, it will be a pass which will carry him fafely and comfortably through the world, by fea or by land, at home or abroad, among friends or enemies, and even at length into heaven.-The first question is,
Whofe are you? Man, woman, to whom do you belong? Are you Chrift's, or Satan's? Are you ftill your own, or are you the Lord's? Are you a child of God's family, or of the devil's? What countryman are you? Are you from above, and do you belong to the Lord of the better country?
* Delivered June 15. 1715, the Sabbath after the d penfation of the Sacrament.
or are you from below, and do you belong to the god of this world? What fay you to this queftion, Whofe are you?-The fecond queftion is,
What is your bufinefs? Certainly you have fome business or other, you are either well or ill employed. What is your occupation? What course of life do you follow? What is the great defign upon which you are fet? Are you ferving the devil, yourselves, your lufts? or are you ferving God? What fay you to this question, What is your bufi
Paul, in the text, and in á few words, anfwers these two questions. He told thofe whom he addreffed, that he was God's, and that God's fervice was his business; that his Lord and Mafter had sent him a very comfortable meffage in the dark hour which was now come upon them.-He was now in a fhip, with many others, failing for Rome; but a form rifes, continues many days, and all hope of being faved was taken away. Paul, notwithstanding, is easy and chearful; he brings good news to them, that there fhould not one life be loft in the cause. And, in the text, he fhews them on what ground he went, namely, that of divine revelation, by the miniftry of an angel.--You may here observe, that God's word of promife is fuffieicnt fecurity and encouragement in the darkest hour. The ftorm ftill continued, and was to continue, they were to make a narrow escape, the fhip was to be loft; but amidst all this, the word of promife kept up his heart; and he had good reafon for maintaining his confidence.
God is unchangeably true to his word. He cannot alter it, it fhall not fail: Numb. xxiii 19. "God is not a man that he fhould lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: Hath he faid, and fhall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and Cc 2 fhall
fhall he not make it good?" There is an impoffibility of his word failing: Titus, i. 12. "He is God that cannot lie." So that faith has the fureft bottom on which to ftand, when standing on the promise, namely, the unchangeable truth of God.-There is nothing fo difficult and hopeless, but God can bring it to pass: Luke, i. 37. " For with God nothing fhall be impoffible.' Therefore he is able to make good his promife, though all creatures fhould confpire to render his working ineffectual, and whatever difficulties may be in his way. In one word, the experience of the faints in all ages confirms this confidence: Pfal. xii. 6. "The words of the Lord are pure words; as filver tried in à furnace of earth, purified." Many and various have been the trials of the faints, but they all held by the promise, and have at length fet to their feal that God is true. -From this we may learn,
That their falvation is fecured, who have been graciously brought within the compass of the covenant and the promise of falvation. "This," David faid, "is all my falvation and all my defire," 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. Though they be in this world as on a boisterous fea, where the waves of indwelling corruption, temptation, affliction, desertion, are threatening to fwallow them up; yet they fhall. get fafe afhore; and though the body fall in pieces by death, the foul fhall arrive fafe in Immanuel's land. If it fhould be inquired, How may a perfon know that he is brought within the compaís of the covenant and promife? I anfwer, If you have truly and honestly come to Chrift, and laid hold of him in the covenant, taken him as he offers himself in the gofpel, if you have given up with all other lovers, and have taken up with him in all his offices, with a view to free you from the
guilt, from the power and pollution of fin, all is well; for he has faid, John, vi. 37. "All that the Father giveth me, fhall come unto me; and him that cometh unto me, I will in nowife cast out." Poffeffing him as the chief benefit of the covenant, you have all: 2 Cor. i. 20. "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God by us."- We may further learn,
That it is true wisdom to live by faith in the promise of God, whatever ftorm be blowing: 2 Cor. v. 7. "For we walk by faith, not by fight." You must lay your account with ftorms. Never was there one in a fhip, except the man Christ, whom the devil would more anxiously have drowned, than he would have done Paul at this time. But Paul is easy, even when on the boisterous fea, on the promife of God, while the reft were in a terrible alarm; Satan was not so much set against them. Unbelief and difcouragement can in no cafe be ufeful. It is good to believe, whether we be toffed with a ftorm of raging corruption, as in Pfal. lxv. 3.; - strong temptations, as in Luke, xxii. 31. 32. ;-heavy affliction, as in Pfal xxvii. 13.;-or defertion, as in Pfal. xxii. 1. Thus much for the connection.
In the text, Paul declares to the fhip's crew,« who for the most part were pagans, two things,
(1.) His intercourfe with heaven: There stood by me this night the angel of the Lord. (2.) His fpecial relation to the God of heaven: Whofe I am, and whom I ferve. The defign of this declaration was, not only to comfort them, but to commend his God unto them, that they might alfo chufe him for their God and mafter. No doubt, in these days, ver. 20. there been many prayers in the fhip. They had called to their gods, but in vain, Paul had cried to
his, and had got a comfortable answer. He thence takes occafion to represent him as the God of falvation, who was able to make them all fafe, notwithstanding the ftorm; as the Lord of angels; as one whofe fervant himself was, who was now fo chearful, when they were fo dejected. Proper methods these to commend his God to them. -I would accordingly take occafion to observe,. that it is the duty of those who are the Lord's, to commend their God to others, that they in confequence may be prevailed on alfo to be his. There are two ftrong bonds to bind this on those who are the Lord's.-There is,
1. The love and duty they owe to God, who has done fo much for them, and who would have · all men to be faved. It is the more for the honour of God in the world, the more there are who join themselves to his fervice. This is an acceptable thing which we can do for God, to express our thankfulness, namely, to make conscience of discharging our duty, to lay out ourselves in advancing the intereft of Chrift and of religion in the world; that fince he has brought us into his family, we exert our endeavours to bring others alfo into it. Another bond is,
2. The love and duty we owe to mankind: Rom. xiii. 9." If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this faying, namely, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyfelf." Those who are yet ftrangers to God, are our fellow-creatures, lying in the ditch of fin, fwimming to the ocean of wrath, in which condition we alfo were before we were the Lord's which requires from us a very ferious concern to help them out of that state, Titus, iii. 1. 2. 3. And this is as natural as it is for one that has narrow