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And stablish you in every good word and work.—2 Thes. II. 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.177
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.
[1.] The habitual confirmation is when the habits of grace are more settled and increased: 1 Peter v. 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. xi. 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 i. 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 xxii. 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. viii. 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 vi. 19, ‘Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, 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. lxxiii. 2, ‘As for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had well-nigh slipped.’ Not habit: Rev. iii. 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. iii. 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.178
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 for the present: 1 Thes. v. 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. vi. 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 ἴδιον στήριγμα, ‘our own stedfastness,’ 2 Peter iii. 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. 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: δίψυχος ἀνὴρ, James i. 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 179inclination of the will that tainteth the mind. Therefore the great establishment is to be settled in a course of godliness: 1 Thes. iii. 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: Gal. v. 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. i. 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. xiv. 29, 30. When winds and waves are against us, alas! 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, 180certain, 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. ii. 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. xiv. 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. xv. 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. iv. 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. viii. 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 xvii. 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 xi. 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. xxvii. 4, ‘One thing have I desired of the Lord; this will I seek after.’ When spiritual resolution carrieth the .force and authority of a principle in the soul, and nothing can break it: 1 Peter iv. 1 ‘Arm yourselves with the same mind.’ As constantly as Christ persevered in the work of mediation, so be you in 181the 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. cxix. 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. xl. 8, ‘I delight to do thy will, my God, yea, thy love is within my heart;’ 1 John v. 3, ‘For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous;’ Ps. cxii. 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. iii. 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. iii. 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, ii. 13, ‘For it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure,’ τὸ θέλειν καὶ τὸ ἐνεργεῖν; and Heb. xiii. 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. iv. 13, ‘I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me;’ Col. i. 11, ‘Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, with 182all 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. vi. 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. xv. 58, ‘Be stedfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord;’ and Eph. iii. 17, ‘That ye being rooted and grounded in love,’ &c.; and Col. i. 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. iv. 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 our selves 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 183and 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. xii. 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. ii. 4, 5, ‘Nevertheless I have some thing 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 xvii. 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 xv. 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 creature—for Adam gave out at the first assault—and 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. i. 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. ii. 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. ii. 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. 184There 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. xiv. 10, ‘Thus saith the Lord to this people, Thus have they loved to wander;’ Ps. xcv. 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. i. 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 iv. 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 iv. 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. i. 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! Ps. li. Hezekiah; 2 Chron. xxxii. 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. xvi. 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 185people 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. i. 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 weaned 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. i. 10, ‘Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver; in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;’ 2 Tim. iv. 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. lxxiii. 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. xciv. 18, ‘When I said my foot slippeth, thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.’ God’s manutenancy 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. xvii. 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. cxix. 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.’186
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. xvi. 8, ‘I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.’187
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