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2. To extricate them when involved in difficulties. So 2 Pet. "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temp"tation." They know not how, but their God doth; they are often at a lofs, but he is never. So I Cor. x. 13. "There "hath no temptation taken you, but fuch as is common to man,
but God is faithful, who will not fuffer you to be tempted "above that which you are able, but will with the temptation "alfo make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
3. To over-rule and order all their troubles to their good and "real advantage. So runs that moft comprehensive promise, Rom. viii. 28. "All things shall work together for good to them that "love God." In the faith whereof Paul concludes, Phil. i. 19. Even this fhall work for his falvation. Thus the people of God were fent into captivity for their good, Jer. xxiv. 8. and Jofeph into Egypt, Gen. 1. 20. "Ye thought evil against me, "but God meant it unto good, to bring to pafs as it is this "day, to fave much people alive."
2. Let us view the wisdom of God, in its relation to his providences, for there it fhines forth eminently, Ezek. i. 18. The wheels were full of eyes, i. e. the motions and providential revolutions in this lower world are very judicious and advifed motions; Non caeco impetu volvuntur rotae; it hath an end and design which no man understands till it open itself in the
The enemies of the church are oft-times men of the finest brains, and deepest policies: Herod a fox for fubtilty, Luke xiii. 32. Julian and Ahitophel, with many others, who have digged as deep as hell in their counfels, and laid their defigns fo fure, that they doubted not to be masters of it; yet their hands could not perform their enterprize.
The wifdom of providence hath ftill befooled them, and baffled the cunningeft head-pieces that ever undertook any defign against the church, as faft as ever they arofe; and here the wildom of providence is remarkable in three things efpecially.
1. In revealing and difcovering the fecret confpiracies and counfels of the church's enemies, and thereby frustrating their defigns, Gen. xxvii. 41, 42. Providence (as one calls it) is the bird of the air, that carries tidings, and whiftles deeds of darknefs; Job. xii. 22. "He difcovereth deep things out of darkness, "and bringeth out to light the fhadow of death." And this God hath done both immediately and mediately. 1. Immediately, 2 Kings vi. 11. What counsel foever the king of Syria took in his bed-chamber was ftill discovered by the word to the prophet.
So true is that, Job xxxiv. 22. There is no darkness nor tha"dow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide them"felves." Thus the defign of Herod is revealed to Jofeph in a dream.
But commonly he doth it by means; as,
1. By giving knowledge of it to fome that are under obligations of duty or affection to reveal it to those that are concerned in the danger. So Paul's fifter's fon, Acts xxiii. 16. revealed the confpiracy against his life, and fo the plot mifcarried by revealing it before it was ripe for execution.
2. By the failure of fome circumstance, the whole is brought to light; there be many fine threads upon which the defigns of politicians hang; if one break, the whole defign is unravelled. Thus the wildom of God fometimes prevents his people's ruin, by taking away the speech of the trufty from him, and making their own tongues to fall upon themselves.
3. By their own confeffion, fo Pfal. Ixiv. 5, 6, 7, 8. where you have the plot laid, ver. 5. "They encourage themselves in an " evil matter, they commune of laying foares privily, they fay, "who fhall fee them?" The deep contrivance of it, ver. 6. "They fearch out iniquity, they accomplish a diligent fearch, "both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart "is deep." Their plot destroyed, ver. 7. "But God fhall shoot "at them with an arrow, fuddenly fhall they be wounded." The method or way of providence in destroying it, ver. 8. "So "they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves, all "that fee them (hall fly away." Thus hath the wisdom of our God wrought for us this day, beyond all the thoughts of our hearts; and oh that it might make fuch impreffions upon all our hearts, as follow in ver. 9, 19. "All men shall fear, and shall "declare the work of God, for they shall wifely confider his doing. "The righteous fhall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in "him, and all the upright in heart fhall glory."
2. The wisdom of God discovers itself in behalf of that people who are his own, in diverting the danger from them, and putting by the deadly thrufts their enemies make at them; thus it fpoils their game by an unforeseen rub in the green, and that especially three ways.
1. By making their counfels to jar among themfelves, in which jars is the fweetest harmony of providence; thus the counfel of Ahitophel jars with the counfel of Hufhai, 2 Sam. xvii. 5, 7. by which means David efcaped: The Pharifees clafhed with the Sadducees, Acts xxiii. 7. and by that means Paul efcaped.
2. By cutting out other work, and starting fome new defign, which puts them, as a fresh fcent does the dog, to a loss. Thus the people of God in Jerufalem were delivered by a diverfion, 2 Kings xix. 7. "Behold, I will fend a blast upon him, and he "shall hear a rumour and fhall return to his own land, and I "will caufe him to fall by the fword in his own land, fo Rab"shakeh returned." By this means alfo was David delivered from the hand of Saul, 1 Sam. xxiii. 27. And in this method of providence, that fcripture is often fulfilled, Prov. xxi. 18. "The wicked fhall be a ranfom for the righteous, and the "tranfgreffor for the upright."
3. By cutting off the capital enemies of his church, by whose feasonable deftruction they are delivered. Thus fell Julian, that bitter enemy of the Chriftians, when he was preparing to put his last and most bloody defign against them in execution. And thus fell Haman, Nero, and many more in the very height and heat of their defigns against the church.
3. The wifdom of God gloriously difplays itself in caufing the defigns of the wicked, like a furcharged gun, to recoil upon, and destroy themselves: it often falls out with the undermining enemies of the church, as it fometimes doth with them that dig dec mines in the earth, who are destroyed and buried in their own work; Pfal. ix. 15, 16, “The Heathen are funk down in "the pit that they made, in the net which they hid is their own
feet taken. The Lord is known by the judgments which he "executeth, the wicked is fnared in the work of his own hands. "Higgajon, Selah." There is a double mercy in this providence, one in delivering the faints from the danger, the other in caufing it to fall upon the contrivers, and is therefore celebrated with a double note of attention: in thefe obfervable ftrokes, the righteousness of God fhines forth in repaying his people's enemies in their own coin *.
Thus Haman did eat the first-fruits of that tree which his own hands planted, and thus Jerufalem becomes a burdenfome ftone to all that burden themfelves with it, Zech. xii. 3.
4. Admire and adore the wisdom of your God in those great and unexpected advantages, which arife to you out of those very dangers and defigns of your enemies that threatned your ruin; the very hands of your very enemies are fometimes made the in
--Nec lex eft juftior uila,
Quam nec is artifices arte perire fua.
Nor is there any juster law, than that contrivers of mischief perish by their own art,
ftruments of your advancement and enlargement,; your perfecutions become your privileges, the motto of the palm-tree fitly becomes yours, Suppreffa refurgo.
In three things the wifdom of God makes advantage out of your troubles.
1. In fortifying your fouls and bodies with suitable strength, when any eminent trial is intended for you; fo it was with the apostles, 2 Cor. i. 5. "As the fufferings of Chrift abound in us, "fo our confolation by Chrift." God lays in fuitably to what men lay on mercilefly: Chrift would not draw the poor timorous difciples out of Jerufalem unto hard encounters, until firft he had endued them with power from on high, Luke xxiv. 49.
2. The wifdom of your God can, and often doth make your very troubles and fufferings, inftead of fo many ordinances, to ftrengthen your faith, and fortify your patience. So the heads of Leviathan became meat to his people inhabiting the wildernefs, Pfal. lxxiv. 14. And fo the plots of Balak and Balaam were defigned by God to be as a standing inftructing ordinance for the encouragement of his people's faith in future difficulties, Mic. vi. 5. "O my people, remember now what "Balak king of Moab confulted, and what Balaam the son of "Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal, that ye may "know the righteousness of the Lord." q. d. You cannot but remember how thofe your enemies courted me with multitudes of offerings to deliver you up into their hands, and how faithfully 1 flood by you in all thofe dangers; that plot difcovered at once the policy of your enemies, and the righteoufnefs of your God. * 3. His wifdom is difcovered to your advantage, in permitting your dangers to grow to an extremity, on purpofe to magnify his goodness, and increase your comfort in your deliverance from it. Pfal. cxxvi. 1. When the Lord turned our capti"vity, we were as thêm that dreamed." Proportionable to the greatnefs of your dangers will your joys be.
Section III. Well then, if the wisdom of God fhines forth fo glorioufly in the times of his peoples trouble; be perfuaded by faith to enter into this chamber alfo; it is a chamber where a believing foul may enjoy the fweeteft reft and quietness in the moft hurrying and distracting times; fhut the door behind you, and improve this attribute to your beft advantage.
1. Enter into this chamber by faith, believe firmly that the management of all the affairs of this world, whether public or perfonal, is in the hands of your all-wife God; more particularly, exercife your faith about the wisdom of God in these things.
1. Believe that the wifdom of God can contrive and order the way of your escape and deliverance, when all doors of hope are shut up to lenfe and reafon; we know not what to do, said good Jehoshaphat, but our eyes are unto thee; q. d. Lord, though I am at a lofs, and fee no way to escape, thou art never at a lofs. The Lord (faith Peter) knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation: Divine wisdom hath infinite methods and ways of deliverance unknown to man, till they are opened in the event.
2. Believe that the wifdom of God can turn your greatest troubles and fears, into the choiceft bleffings and mercies to you I know (faith Paul) that this fhall turn to my falvation, Phil. i. 19. meaning his bonds and fufferings for Christ. Divine wisdom can give you honey out of the carçais of the lion, caufe you to part with thofe afflictions, admiring and bleffing God for them, which you meet with fear and trembling, as fufpecting your deftruction was imported in them,
3. In confideration of both these, refign up yourselves to the wifdom of God, and lean not to your own understandings; "Commit thy way unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be "eftablished," Prov. xvi. 3. When Melancthon was oppreffed with cares and doubts about the distracting affairs of the church in his time, Luther thus chides him out of his defpondency, Definat Philippus effe rector mundi, do not thou prefume to be the governor of the world; but leave the reins of government in his hand that made it, and beft knows how to rule it: let God alone to chufe thy lot and portion, to order thy condition, and manage all thy affairs, and let thy foul take its rest in this quiet chamber of Divine wisdom. But then, 2. Be fure to fhut thy door behind thee, and beware, left unbelief, anxieties, fears, and doubts, creep in after thee to difturb thy reft, and fhake thy faith in this point; we are apt, in two cafes, to be stumbled in this matter.
1. When fubtle and cunning enemies are engaged against us; this was David's cafe, 2 Sam, xv, 31. "One told David, fay
ing, Ahitophel is among the confpirators with Abfalom; and "David faid, O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahi"tophel into foolishnefs." When he heard Ahitophel was with the confpirators, it greatly puzzled him. Though a whole conclave of politicians be against us, yet if God be with us, let us not fear.
2. When our own reafon intrudes too far, and offers its dictates too boldly in the cafe, we are apt to fay in the arrogancy of our own reason, we cannot be delivered; but oh that we