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Eighteenth Sermon on 2 Thessalonians Chapter Two


by Thomas Manton


And stablish you in every good word and work.2 Thes. 2:17.
WE come now to the apostle's second request for them: 'And stablish you in every
good word and work.' By 'every good word' is meant sound doctrine; by 'every
good work,' holiness of life.

Doct. Establishment in faith and holiness is a needful blessing, and earnestly
to be sought of God.

1. What this establishment is.

2. How needful.

3. Why it is to be sought of God.

I. What this establishment is? Ans. Confirmation in the grace that we have
received. Now this confirmation must be distinguished.

1. With respect to the power wherewith we are assisted; there is habitual
confirmation, and actual confirmation.

[l.] The habitual confirmation is when the habits of grace are more settled and
increased: 1 Peter 5:10, 'The God of all grace strengthen, stablish, settle
you.' God hath effectually called and converted them, and he beggeth the
strengthening of the grace which they had received. Now thus we are established,
when faith, love and hope are increased in us; for these are the principles of
all spiritual operations; and when they have gotten good strength in us, a
Christian is more established. (1.) Faith is necessary, for we stand by faith:
Rom. 11:20, 'Because of unbelief they were broken off, but thou standest by
faith.' We do not only live by it, but stand by it, and are kept by it: 1 Peter
1:5, 'Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.' He is
strong that is strong in faith, as Abraham was, that believeth the gospel, and
can venture his all upon it, and trust himself in God's hands, whatever
befalleth him: Luke 22:32, 'I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not' That
was the grace likely to be assaulted, and would most keep him; had he been
persuaded that Jesus was the Son of God, would he have denied him with oaths and
execrations? (2.) Love is strong. We are told, Cant. 8:6,7, 'That love is as
strong as death; many waters cannot quench it: if a man would give all the
substance of his house, it would utterly be contemned.' It will not be bribed or
quenched. Our backsliding cometh from losing our complacency in or desire of
God: there is an averseness from sin and zeal against it; as long as we have a
sense of our obligations to God, and a value and esteem of his grace in Christ,
then we continue in delightful obedience to him, and level and direct our
actions to his glory. (3.) Hope is necessary to stablish the soul on the promise
of eternal life; for this is the sure and stedfast anchor of the soul: Heb 6:19,
'Which hope we have as an anchor of the pouf, both sure and stedfast.' If hope
be strong and lively, present things do not greatly move us.

[2.] Actual establishment, when these habits are fortified and quickened by the
actual influence of God. As God doth establish by these habitual principles, so
by the actual motions of his Spirit; for otherwise neither the stability of our
resolutions nor of gracious habits will support us. Not stability of
resolutions: Ps. 73:2,' As for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had
well-nigh slipped.' Not habit Rev. 3:2, 'Be watchful, and strengthen those
things which remain, that are ready to die.' It is true, God ordinarily worketh
most strongly with strongest graces, because their hearts are most prepared; yet
sometimes weak Christians have gone through great temptations when strong ones
have failed: Rev. 3:8, 'Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and
hast not denied my name.' Sometimes the strong Christian stumbleth and falleth
when the weak standeth. God may in an instant confirm a weak person in some
particular temptation, by his free assistance, but ordinarily concurreth with
the strongest grace. Thus with respect to the power wherewith we are assisted.

2. With respect to the object or matter about which it is conversant: stablished
in every good word and work; stability in the doctrine of faith and practice of
godliness.

[1.] In the doctrine of faith. It is a great advantage in the spiritual life to
have a sound judgment. Some men are never well grounded in the truth, and in the
nature and reasons of that religion which they do profess, and then are always
left to a wandering uncertainty, because they resolve not upon evidence; as men
ordinarily abide not in the place to which they are driven by a tempest, or the
current of the tides, rather than by aim and choice, though they take shelter
there or the present: 1 Thes. 5:21, 'Prove all things, hold fast that which is
good. Certainly religion in the general must be taken up by choice, and not by
chance; not because we know no other, but because we know no better: as Jer.
6:16, 'Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the
good way, and walk therein.' And the same is true of particular opinions and
controversies about religion, till we have idiov sthrigma, 'our own
stedfastness; 2 Peter 3:17. We stand by the stedfastness of others, when we
profess the truth merely because of company; and when the chain is broken, we
all fall to pieces. Now we ought to be well settled, lest we appear to the world
with a various face, which breedeth atheism in others, and shame to ourselves.
It is possible, in particular things, future light may disprove present
practice; but then we must be able to give a very sufficient account of it,
Luther, when he was charged with apostasy, Confitetur se esse apostatam, sed
beatum et sanctum, qui fidem Diabolo datam non servavit (He confessed himself an
apostate, but a blessed and holy one, who was not able to be saved by the faith
of the devil). While we cry up constancy, we must not cherish stubborn
prejudice, which shuts the door upon truth. However, to avoid the opinion of
lightness, before religious persons profess anything, their warrant need to be
very clear, both for the world's sake and their own, that they may not make
needless troubles, and afterwards change their mind, to the scandalising of
others: and their own sake: diyucoV anhr, James 1:8, 'A double-minded man is
unstable in all his ways.' And we had need to take care to be right; because
every error hath an influence upon the heart and practice upon the heart, as it
weakeneth faith and love; and practice: some opinions have no malignity in
themselves, yet the profession of them: may divide the church, and make us by
contentions enemies of the growth and progress of Christ's kingdom. Now, if we
would be established in the truth, we must see what influence every truth hath
upon, the new nature, either as it worketh towards God by faith, to keep up our
respects to him, or men by love, as it furthereth our duties to them. A man will
not easily let go truth that is wont to turn it into practice, and to live as he
believeth. Once more, we need to be established in the present truth; it is no
zeal to fight with ghosts and antiquated errors, but to take God's part in our
time; but usually the orthodoxy of the world is an age too short, men please
themselves in things received.

[2] In every good work, or in holiness of life. Here needeth the greatest
establishment, that we may hold on our course to heaven; and the usual apostasy
and backsliding that men, are guilty of is from the practice of religion. It is
ill when the mind is tainted, but worse when the heart is alienated from God;
and commonly it is the perverse inclination of the will that tainteth the mind.
Therefore the great establishment is to be settled in a course of godliness: I
Thes. 3:13, 'That he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before
God, even our Father, until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his
saints.' Now this establishment is very difficult.

First, Because of the contrariety of the principles that are within us: Oral.
5:17, 'For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the
flesh; and these are contrary one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things
that ye would.' The garrison is not free from danger that hath an enemy lodged
within. The love of the world and the flesh was in the heart before the love of
God and holiness, and these are not wholly rooted out. Yea, these are natural to
us, whereas grace is a plant planted in us contrary to nature;. and the ground
that bringeth forth weeds and thistles of its own accord, but the flowers and
good herbs with much tillage and cultivation, if it be neglected, the weeds will
soon overgrow the flowers.

Secondly, Because it is more hard to continue in conversion than to convert
ourselves at first. In our first conversion we are more passive; it is God that
converteth us, and draweth us to himself, and quickens and plants us into
Christ; but in perseverance and fulfilling our covenanting duty, we are more
active; it is our work, though we perform it by God's grace. An infant in the
mother's womb is nourished by the nourishment of the mother, but afterwards he
must suck and seek his own nourishment; and the older he groweth, the more care
of his life is devolved upon himself. Now, that which is more our work is more
difficult. It is true that God, that hath begun a good work, doth perfect it,
but not without our care, Phil. 1:6. When we are fitted and prepared unto good
works, God expecteth from us that we should walk in them. God stablisheth us in
the text, but it is in every good work. Besides, in conversion, we make covenant
with God, but by perseverance we keep covenant with him. Now it is easier to
consent to conditions than it is to fulfil them; the ceremonies, at first
consent of marriage, are not so difficult as to perform the duties of the
marriage covenant.. It is more easy to build a castle in a time of peace than to
keep it in a time of war. Peter more easily consented to come to Christ upon the
water; but when he began to try it, his feet were ready to sink, Mat. 14:29,30.
When winds and waves are against us, alas t how soon do we fail! Therefore, a
good spring doth not always foreshow a fruitful harvest, nor plenty of blossoms
store of fruit. We are carried on with great life and earnestness for a while in
the profession of religion, we consent to follow Christ; but when we meet with
difficulties not foreseen or allowed for, we faint and are discouraged.
3. With respect to the subject in which it is seated, which is the soul with its
faculties. The strength of the body is known by experience rather than by
description; but the strength of the soul must be determined by its right
constitution towards good and evil. The faculties of the soul are either the
understanding, wherein lieth the directive counsel, or the will, wherein lieth
the imperial power, or the affections, wherein lieth the executive power of the
soul.

[1.] The mind or understanding is established when we have a clear, certain, and
full apprehension of the truth of the gospel; it is called knowledge: the sure,
and sound, and certain apprehension of them is called faith, or intellectual
assent, or 'the full assurance of understanding,' Col. 2:2, when there is a due
knowledge of what God hath revealed, with a certain persuasion of the truth of
it, wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. Now, the more clearly, and orderly, and
certainly we know these things, the more powerfully do they affect the heart,
and the more we are established. He that hath little knowledge and little
certainty is called weak in the faith: Rom. 14:1, 'Him that is weak in the faith
receive, but not to doubtful disputations.' And those that have a clearer
understanding are called strong; as Rom. 15:1, 'We that are strong ought to bear
the infirmities of the weak;' meaning strong in knowledge. So also for certainty
of persuasion, it is said, Rom. 4:20, Abraham was' strong in faith, giving glory
to God;' when in all his trials he bore up himself upon the confidence of God's
word and promise. Well, then, the mind is confirmed and established when we have
a good stock of knowledge, and do firmly believe what we know of God and Christ
and eternal salvation. But alas! how few truths do many Christians know,
especially in their order, and as to their worth, and weight, and certainty, and
so that, if we know these things, we know them not as we ought to know them: 1
Cor. 8:2, 'If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as
he ought to know them.' If we know them speculatively, we know them not
practically. If we are able to discourse of these things, we do not live by
them. If we know them generally, we do not know them particularly, to direct us
in all cases wherein they concern us, but are blinded with temptations. If we
know them comprehensively, so as to look about the compass of them, yet not
certainly, John 17:8, 'And have known surely that I came out from thee' so as
to venture our interests upon them. If we know them darkly, and with a half
light, we do not know them clearly and with a full light. There is many times
conviction in the ore, which is not refined into a clear and distinct knowledge,
such as may awe the heart. If we know these things habitually, we know them not
actually; when we should remember them in their season; and oblivion is a sort
of ignorance. Hence come the many doubts we are assaulted with, and all the
unevenness and uncertainty of our lives, so that the mind needeth to be
established in grace.

[2] The will, which is the imperial power of the soul. Now, the will's
establishment is known by its firm and thorough resolution for God and against
sin. For God: as Acts 11:23, Barnabas, 'when he had seen the grace of God, was
very glad, and exhorted them all that, with full purpose of heart, they would
cleave to the Lord.' First choosing, then cleaving, and this with full purpose,
when the will is so fixed in the knowledge and faith of the gospel that they
resolve to abide by their choice: Ps. 27:4, 'One thing have I desired of the
Lord; this will I seek after.' When spiritual resolution carrieth the force and
authority of f a principle in the soul, and nothing can break it: 1 Peter 4:1
'Arm yourselves with the same mind.' As constantly as Christ persevered in the
work of mediation, so be you in the work of obedience, notwithstanding the
difficulties of it. This powerful will, that beareth down oppositions and
temptations, and the greatest impediments in the way to heaven, so that you
rather make advantage of opposition than are discouraged by it, when sensual or
carnal good is of little force to you, and you can despise the most pleasing
baits of sin.

[3.] The affections are the executive power, and do excite and stir us up to do
what the mind is convinced of and the will resolved upon as to the necessary
duties of the gospel in order to eternal happiness. There is a backwardness
within and many temptations without; but a holy delight overcometh the unwilling
backwardness within, and overbalanceth either worldly fear or worldly hope
without, that the soul is carried on powerfully towards God. We never work
better than when we work in the strength of some eminent affection, when the
heart is enlarged: Ps. 119:32, 'I will run the way of thy commandments when thou
shalt enlarge my heart.' Either love or hope. Love filleth us with delight,
overcoming our natural slackness and sluggishness in the ways of God: Ps. 40:8,
'I delight to do thy will, O my God, yea, thy love is within my heart;' 1 John
5:3, 'For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his
commandments are not grievous;' Ps. 112:1, 'Blessed is the man that feareth the
Lord, that, delighteth greatly in his commandments.' Hope beareth us up in
contempt of present delights and terrors of sense: Heb. 3:6, 'Whose house are
we, if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of hope firm unto the end;' so
that we serve God with vigour and alacrity. When our affections are damped,
grace falleth into a consumption; and if you lose your taste, your practice will
languish, your service of God will not be so uniform. It is a great part of our
establishment to keep up the vigour and fervency of our affections.
4. With respect to the uses for which it serveth, as to duties, sufferings,
conflicts.

[1.] Doing the will of God, or discharging our doings with delight,
cheerfulness, and constancy; for all strength is for work: Eph. 3:16, 'That he
would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with
might by his Spirit in the inner man.' That we may do our work with that
readiness of mind which becomes faith in Christ and love to God. This is often
spoken of in scripture: Phil. 2:13, 'For it is God that worketh in you, both to
will and to do, of his good pleasure,' to Jelein kai to energein; and Heb.
13:21, 'Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you what
is well pleasing in his sight.' It is of great use to our establishment that the
soul be kept doing; for as wells are the sweeter for draining, so are we the
more lively for exercise. Frequent omission of good duties, or seldom exercise
of grace, necessarily produceth a decay; as a key rusteth that is seldom turned
in the lock; thereby we lose the life and comfort of religion, and at length
cast it off as a needless and unprofitable thing.

[2.] For bearing afflictions, and passing through all conditions with honour to
God and safety to ourselves: Phil. 4:13, 'I can do all things through Christ,
which strengtheneth me;' Col. 1:11, 'Strengthened with all might, according to
his glorious power, with all patience.' The great use of establishment is to
fortify us against all the evils and inconveniences of the present life, that we
may hold on our course to heaven in fair way or foul, and not be greatly moved
by anything that befalleth us within time.

[3.] For conflicts with temptations from the devil, the world, and the flesh.
The world is round about us, and we are accustomed to these inveigling objects
whose importunity prevaileth at length. The devil seeketh to work upon our
affections and inclinations, and the flesh urgeth us to gratify them. How, then,
is a Christian safe? God establisheth him: Eph. 6:10, 'Finally, be strong in the
Lord, and in the power of his might.' A Christian here is in a military state,
and we of ourselves, left unto ourselves, are like reeds shaken with every wind;
we have need of establishment in regard of our own feebleness, and the force of
our enemies. We must be established against the devil soliciting; against the
world, the silent argument by which he soliciteth us and draweth us from God and
heaven; against the flesh, the rebelling principle which is apt to be wrought
upon by Satan. Well, then, this establishment is that grace which enableth us to
carry on the duties of religion with 'constancy, frequency, and delight; to bear
all the inconveniences of religion with patience and fortitude; to be more deaf
and resolute against all the suggestions of the devil, or the machinations of
the flesh, stirred up by the world.

5. With respect to the degree, it is such a strengthening of the soul as doth
prevent not only our fall, but our shaking. Before falling away, or our being
drawn to apostasy, there may be a shaking, a doubtfulness, and wavering of mind
with respect to the truth, and much inconstancy and unevenness of life with
respect to practice. Now, Christians, as they must not draw back to perdition,
so they must not be always fluctuating and unfixed, either in matters of
opinion, but settled in the truth, or in matters of practice; there must be a
strength and stability of holy inclinations and resolutions for God and the
world to come still kept up, or else there will be no evenness or uniformity in
the course of our lives. And though we avoid apostasy, yet we cannot avoid
scandal; though there be no falling back, there is a stepping out into bypaths:
1 Cor. 15:58, 'Be stedfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the
Lord;' and Eph. 3:17, 'That ye being rooted and grounded in love,' &c.; and Col.
1:23, 'If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away
from the hope of the gospel.' If we do not look to the degree, our weakness and
instability groweth upon us; as in matters of opinion, some have an unsettled
head of a vertiginous spirit: Eph. 4:14, 'Carried about with every wind of
doctrine.' They never were well grounded in the truth, nor took up the ways they
are engaged in upon sufficient evidence; and therefore, by their own weakness,
and the cunning and diligence of the seducers, are drawn into error. Light chaff
is blown up and down by every wind, when solid grain hitcheth in, and resteth in
the floor where it is winnowed. A half light maketh us uncertain in our course.
For matter of practice, if we allow ourselves in our first declinings, the evil
will grow upon us; when the judgment reasoneth more remissly against sin than it
did before, and the will doth oppose it with less resolution, or with greater
faintness and indifferency, or when opposition doth more discourage us. No;
there must be a resolved conquest of temptations that would pervert you; this
will only serve our turn: Heb. 12:3, 'Consider him that endured such
contradictions, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds: Weariness is a lesser
degree of deficiency. Many a man is weary that is not faint or quite spent; so
with the practice of godliness, when the heart begins to be alienated and
estranged from God, and the life of duty doth decay. When our first love is
gone, our first works will in a great measure cease: Rev. 2:4,5, 'Nevertheless I
have something against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember,
therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works.'

Well, then, the degree must be minded; for though a man may be stedfast in the
main, yet he may be somewhat moved and shaken; but a Christian should not only
be stedfast, but unmoveable; otherwise we shall be very uncertain in our
motions.

II. How needful it is: this is in a great measure showed already. But yet more
fully.

1. Man at best is but a creature. The new creation doth carry a great
correspondence with the old and first creation. It is not enough that the
creature be, but he must be sustained in being; we have our being in God still:
Acts 17:28, 'For in him we live, and move, and have our being.' As providence is
a continual creation, so stablishing grace is the continuance of the new
creation. The same grace that sets us in the state of the new creation, the same
stablisheth us. God found no stability in the angels, therefore it is said he
trusteth them not: Job 15:15, 'Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea,
the heavens are not clean in his sight' They stand by the grace and favour of
God. Take the best creatures even as creatures, they are defective and unstable
in themselves; for God will have the creature, as a creature, to be a dependent
thing on the Creator, who only is a being of himself. Man at his best estate was
but an unstable creaturefor Adam gave out at the first assaultand since, we
are very unstable, blown down with the blast of every little temptation. Even in
the state of grace, we are like a glass without a bottom, broken as soon as out
of hand; and, therefore, God alone is able to make us stand, and persevere in
this grace that we have received: 2 Cor. 1:21, 'Now, he that stablisheth us with
you in Christ is God.' After we are in Christ, our stability is in God alone.

2. The indisposition of our natures both to every good word and work. (1.) To
every good word. The truths of the gospel are supernatural. Now, things that are
planted in us contrary to nature can hardly subsist and maintain themselves. We
have some seeds of the law yet left in our hearts, Rom. 2:14. But the gospel
dependeth on sure revelation; therefore are there so many heresies against the
gospel, but none against the law. Therefore, as they depend upon a divine
revelation, they must be settled in our hearts by a divine power, and by a
divine power preserved there; that as the doctrine is supernatural, so the grace
may be also by which we do receive it. Faith is the gift of God: Eph. 2:8, 'For
by grace ye are saved, through faith and that not of yourselves: it is the gift
of God;' both as to its beginning, so to its preservation and increase. (2.) To
every good work. There is not only slowness and backwardness of heart to the
duties of the gospel, but somewhat of the old enmity and averseness remaineth
still. Our hearts are not only inconstant and unsettled, but very wayward: Jer.
14:10, 'Thus saith the Lord to this people, Thus have they loved to wander;' Ps.
95:10, 'It is a people that do err in their heart.' Moses was no sooner gone
aside with God in the mount, but the Israelites, after their solemn covenant,
fell to idolatry. Before the law could be written, they brake it. Now, we that
have a warring principle within, how can we stand unless God establish us? There
is a back-bias, there are the seeds of wantonness, anger, revenge, envy,
impatience, worldliness, ambition, and sensuality. God knoweth how little the
fleshly mind and interest is conquered in us; and therefore, if he did not
establish us, we should soon show ourselves.

3. In regard of those oppositions that are made against us after once we be in
Christ. It is not enough that we are brought out of the kingdom of Satan, but
after we are rescued out of his hand and power, he pursueth us with continual
malice; therefore there must be the same power to stablish us still in grace
that first brought us into the state of grace: Col. 1:13, 'Who has delivered us
from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear
Son;' compared with 1 John 4:4, 'Ye are of God, little children, and have
overcome them; because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the
world.' The world runneth a quite contrary course than those do that set their
faces heavenward, and therefore maligns them, and pursues them with reproaches
and troubles: 1 Peter 4:4,5, 'Wherein they think it strange that you run not
with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you; who shall give
account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.' And most commonly
our supports are invisible, and we have no temporal interest to leant to; but, 2
Tim. 1:12, 'For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am
not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded he is able to
keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.' We bear these
afflictions by the power of God.

4. We see here the saints miscarry when God withdraweth his supporting grace but
in part, as Peter, David. Peter was in the state of grace, and Christ prayed
that his faith might not utterly fail; yet, when God did not establish him, you
see what sins he was guilty of in that combat. David was 'a man after God's own
heart;' but how did he fall when God upheld him not l Ps. 51. Hezekiah; 2 Chron.
23:31, 'Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon,
who sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left
him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.' Thus is God fain
to humble his children, to teach them dependence, and to put them in mind that
they do not stand by their own strength.

III. Why it is to be sought of God?

1. He only is able: Rom. 16:25, 'Now to him that is of power to establish you
according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ,' &c. Surely God never
made a creature too hard for himself. He is able to defeat the power of enemies,
and to preserve his people in the midst of temptations. So Jude, ver. 24, 'To
him that is able to keep you from falling,' &c.; and 'He is able to keep that
which I have committed to him,' 2 Tim. 1:12. The saints gather much comfort from
this, for it is a relief to their thoughts against the dreadful and powerful
opposition of the world; they have no reason to doubt of their Father's love.
That which surpriseth them 'is to see all the world against them. It is the
dreadfulness of power in the temptation and sense of their own weakness;
therefore the power of God is a fit relief to them.

2. God is not very forward to cast you off, when he hath a just cause to do it.

Your constant experience evidenceth this. If he here had done so, what had
become of you long ago? For you have given him abundant occasion, you have
wearied him with your sins, abused his mercies; and yet he hath not cast you
off. He hath, not utterly forsaken you, when you have turned the back upon him
and have been ready to forsake him, but hath kept you from dangers and in
dangers; yea, called you to his grace, confirmed you hitherto. Why should you
doubt of his grace for the future? 2 Cor. 1:10, 'Who delivered us from. so great
a death, and doth deliver; in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;' 2 Tim.
4:17, 18, 'Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by
me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and
I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from
every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom; to whom be
glory for ever and ever. Amen.'

3. He hath made promises of sustentation and preservation: Ps. 73:23,
'Nevertheless I am continually with thee; thou hast holden me by my right hand.'
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for God upholdeth him with
his hand.. If God hath promised to preserve that grace which he hath once given,
should not we pray for the continuance of it with the more encouragement?
4. The experience of the saints: Ps. 94:18, 'When I said my foot slippeth, thy
mercy, O Lord, held me up,' God's support is there asserted.'

Use. Is to press us at all times to look up to God for establishment; but
especially in two seasons:

1. When we begin to decline, and grow more remiss and indifferent in the
practice of godliness. If grace be weak, you must get it strengthened. When you
grow bolder in sin, and more strange to God and Jesus Christ, and have little
converse with him in the Spirit, oh! it is time to be instant and earnest with
God, that he would recover you. Though you have embezzled your strength, yet you
have to do with a merciful God; go to him for help: Ps. 17:5, 'Hold up my goings
in thy path, that my footsteps slip not.' You have forfeited the more plentiful
aids of grace; but beg him not to forsake you utterly. You must confess the sin,
but God must remedy the evil: Ps. 119:133, 'Order my steps in thy word, and let
not any iniquity have dominion over me.' Lord, I am apt to be led away with
worldly allurements; my spiritual taste is distempered with carnal vanities:
but, 'let not iniquity have dominion over me.'

2. In unsettled times, when we are full of fears, and think we shall never hold
out in a holy course. God, that keepeth us in times of peace, will hold us up in
times of trouble: Ps. 16:8, 'I have set the Lord always before me; because he is
at my right hand, I shall not be moved.'

 

Promoting a Greater Understanding of the Discovery of the Americas