Ralph Erskine Archive

Ralph Erskine



This subject was opened up in two discourses, at a sacramental woke at
Orwell, on the Saturday and Sabbath, the 5th and 6th August, 1738.

Who against hope, believed in hope.” Romans 4:18.

There is always need of faith, and of a strong faith, and especially in days of trials and troubles. Such was the faith of the patriarch Abraham, as you see in this chapter, particularly in the context. Here his faith is commended. We are told particularly in whom he believed, and how he believed.

1. In whom he believed, you see, in the preceding verse, that it was God, even the God that quickeneth the dead, and that calleth the things that be not, as though they were, (v. 17).
There was difficulty in Abraham’s way with reference to be­lieving what God had promised him, namely, in giving an Isaac, a son to him, and to Sarah, in her old decayed years. Now, his faith looks to a God that promised, as a God that quickens the dead, and calls the things that be not as though they were; and really his faith needed such an object and foundation as this. And, indeed, such is the art and policy of faith that it gripes to that in God which suits the particular difficulties of the soul. But as we are told in whom he believed, so we are told how he believed, particu­larly in the text, and the following verses also. O! how did he believe? why, “against hope, he believed in hope;” as it follows, “He staggered not at the promise of God,” (v. 20) but was strong in the faith, as being fully persuaded that God was able to raise himself from the dead.
Here in the words that I have read, we have a sum of the ways how he believed: “he against hope, believed in hope;” and so be­came the father of many nations; the father of the faithful, as he is called, even as some think Eve is called the mother of all the faith­ful, the mother of all living; being the mother of all that believe on Jesus Christ.
But, I go on to consider the text. I need not divide it; it is divided to my hand: I may say it is divided against itself. Here is hope against hope: here is natural hope against spiritual hope: “who against hope, believed in hope.” Abraham, in his present case, had nothing from sense, or carnal reason, to support his hope of having a son, or that the promise should be accomplished; all things from sense and reason seemed to speak against it. Well, but “against hope, he believed in hope.” There is a nick in re­ligion, Sirs, that we need to know and understand; here is hope, and it seems to be, as it were, upon the gulf of despair, when there is nothing without, but ground of despair against hope be­lieving in hope.
For understanding of the words further, we may remark these two or three things concerning the patriarch Abraham.

    1. I remark, that Abraham had heard the gospel; the gospel was preached to him: “The scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel to Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations of the earth be blessed,” (Gal. 3:8). Of thee shall come an Isaac, and of him shall come the Messiah; so in thee shall all nations be blessed.
    2. I remark, that as Abraham heard the gospel, so he believed the gospel: “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness,” (Rom. 4:4). He was a believer, and a strong believer.
    3. I remark, that between the time of the promise made to Abraham, and the accomplishment of it, there was a considerable time, and many difficulties intervened. Hence we read in the fol­lowing verses here, of the deadness of Abraham’s body, and barren­ness of Sarah’s womb.
    4. I remark, that those great difficulties, lying in the way, gave occasion to discover the strength of Abraham’s faith: so we are told here, that he staggered not at the promise; but was strong in the faith, giving glory to God. And we will find, after the hav­ing of the promise of an Isaac accomplished to him, in that instance repeated to us, where we have a short account of Abraham’s offering up Isaac by faith: “Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that received the promises, offered up his only begotten son; of whom it is said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called; accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb. 2:17-19). How did Abraham receive him from the dead in a figure! He did it, in regard he received him as the promise of God: he received him from the dead, in as much as he received him by means of Abraham’s dead body, and Sarah’s dead womb, out of the hands of that God that quickeneth the dead, and calleth the things that are not, as though they were; and so, “Against hope, he believed in hope.”
    The Doctrine natively arising from the words, is the following,
    That unto those that hear the gospel of a promising God in Christ, there is a firm ground for faith and hope, in the most hope­less and desperate-like cases.

  1. In speaking to this proposition, I would, through divine aid, essay the four following things.
  2. I would illustrate the doctrine in a few remarks.
  3. I would enquire into the nature of this faith and hope that is here spoken of.
  4. I would notice some of the hopeless and desperate-like cases that may take place, and yet a firm ground for faith and hope remain.
  5. I would enquire what ground there is for faith and hope in the most hopeless and desperate-like cases. And then,
  6. Deduce some inferences for application.

I. I would clear and illustrate the doctrine in a few remarks.

1. I remark, that although all these are true believers, who against hope believe in hope; yet there is a foundation for faith and hope to all the Lord’s people; yea, there is a foundation for faith and hope in the everlasting gospel: the gospel opens a door of hope; it publishes and presents Christ to us, who is the sum of all the promises of the covenant, and of the blessings thereof; and sinners are called to come to this Jesus, and believe in him; it is the com­mand of God that we do so. But again,
2. I remark, that although the dispensation of the gospel con­tains many calls, invitations, and promises; yet I look upon the promises to be the ornament of that dispensation. Hence we have the gospel called a promise, in the text formerly read, “He preached the gospel to Abraham,” (Gal. 3:8); what is the gospel? “In thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed.” The promises, and the revelation of grace, are the proper object of faith: and as faith believes the promise, so hope expects the first fruits thereof.
3. I remark, that the promises of the covenant are calculated for the various cases and conditions of sinners that hear the gospel. Hence we have promises of conversion, promises of the new heart and spirit, yea, there are promises of salvation, and of the means as well as the end; “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, and will not turn away from doing of them good. I will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me,” (Ezek. 36:26). The promises are absolutely and indefinitely dispensed, in the everlasting gospel, to poor sinners. Some of them indeed run in a conditional form, as if persons were to expect such and such blessings, upon such and such conditions. But, as many divines express it, all conditional promises are radically absolute. Because what is expressed, in one part of the gospel, as conditional, is absolutely promised in another part thereof.
Now, these absolute promises answer the pinches of the awakened sinner, when he finds all he needs is promised, and is in the hands of the Promiser, even God. And these promises are absolutely dispensed in the gospel, that sinners may see their salva­tion is of grace; and that they may see the promise is of grace; and that it is of grace to take the promise, and to see that all things relating to the great salvation are of grace. But,
4. I remark, that it is not the providence of God, but the promise of God that is the rule of faith. Many stagger at the promise, through unbelief, because they mistake in this matter, and regulate their faith and unbelief, by the providence of God, and the aspect thereof. If providence be favorable, they think they may believe; but under frowning providences, when providence seems to contradict the promise, then they cry out, O! who can believe them? But, Sirs, we are to look on the providences of God as in the hand of Christ, and we are to look on the promises of God as in the heart of Christ: I say, the reins of providence are in his hand, and he draws these reins up and down, as in infinite wisdom he pleases. O! but the promises are in his heart; they are the expression of his heart-love, and good-will to poor sinners: and therefore we ought to believe, that he will never suffer his providences to give the lie to his promises, whatever way we may reckon through our unbe­lieving hearts. O! Sirs, we cannot read the providences of God, or see the mysterious steps thereof; but, if we would conceive a-right of God, we are to look into his heart. Where will we see his heart? Why, whatever way he turn his hand, his promise is in his heart, and his heart is in the promise; and he will never let his hand rule against his heart: no; he will bring all providences to work toge­ther in the promise in the issue: “All things shall work together for good to them that love God.” We are to trust in the promise of God, whatever be the aspect of providence; and so believe in a promising God, and rest in his word: and this is the way to find all his providences answering our purpose in the issue. For the Lord often sees fit, Sirs, by cross-like providences, to bring about his counsels: he takes these sovereign steps, and shows the majesty of his grace, in stepping over mountains of difficulty, and mountains of impossibilities, to show that it is like himself that he works. But we are to leave the bringing about of his promise to himself, and rest in his word; and against hope to believe in hope. Again,
5. I remark that this way of believing against hope, believing in hope is exemplified by many others in Scripture besides the ex­ample of Abraham. We have the example of Job, saying, Though he be actually slaying me by his providences, yet will I trust in him, (Job. 13:8). We have also the example of David, saying “At what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee;” and the parallel case you have of David, “Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, well ordered in all things and sure,” (2 Sam. 2:5). Thus we find it exemplified in Habakkuk, “Although the fig-tree should not blos­som, nor fruit grow on the vines; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation,” (3:17). And also this may be seen in the notable woman of Canaan, (Matt. 15:22-28), who, over the belly of all discouragements laid in her way, yet, against hope, she believed in hope. But I proceed to the

II. Thing proposed, namely, to speak of this faith and hope. And here I shall, 1. Enquire what faith is; 2. What hope is; 3. How these two graces agree; and 4. How they differ. A short word to each of these.

1. To the first, what faith is? I shall speak a short word of it, as it relates to the promises, the subject. It is a cordial assent to the divine promises; it is a divine cordial assent to the divine testi­mony of God, saying in effect, as the apostle did, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am the chief,” (1 Tim. 1:15). This cordial assent includes in it, an approbation of the way and method of sal­vation, through Jesus Christ, as a way that redounds to the honor and glory of all the divine attributes, as well as a way to secure our eternal life and happiness. And not only does it include in it an approbation of it; but a particular appropriation of the promise to ourselves. Faith, Sirs, as it is described in our Shorter Catechism, is just the soul saying, I receive and rest upon Christ alone for sal­vation to me: he is offered to me in the gospel, and I receive and rest upon him alone for salvation as he is offered to me, and promised to me. Whence, Sirs, I would have you to remark, though the last clause is the last mentioned, yet it takes first place; the assent of the soul in a day of power: that Christ in the gospel is offered to many in the promise, here is a promise to me, says the poor soul; here is a Saviour for me; here is wisdom for foolish me; here is a righteousness for me; here is sanctification for polluted me; here is redemption for miserable me: O! here is an help meet for me; here is a promise for me; in it I see Christ offered to me, and hereupon I take him. It is just like a marriage bond: before the bride take the man’s hand, she is persuaded he has made love over to her, and is joining himself to her: and thereupon she takes him: so it is here; call it as you will, assurance or persuasion; the soul says, here is a Christ offering himself to me; to be a head to me; to be a husband to me; to be all for me; to be wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and complete redemption to me. I see him offering himself to me; so I take him, and rest upon him alone as he is offered to me, and for me. There is a cordial assent that goes before the consent, or receiving of Christ.
2. I come to enquire what hope is. Hope, Sirs, is another grace of the Spirit of God, whereby the soul has a believing expec­tation of the good things contained in the promise. I call it a be­lieving expectation, because there is no hope without faith. Many say, they hope in God; but it is false, if they never believed in God; they that never had true faith, never had true hope. Hope is a believing expectation; the believer is an expectant of some good thing, as no evil thing can be the object of hope. So it is the good things contained in the covenant of promise, which is the object of hope. Sirs, there was a promise of life made to Adam; and upon his performing perfect obedience, he might have obtained that life promised. Well, but he failed in the condition, and so there was no life or hope by that covenant. But there is another covenant of promise in Christ Jesus; and we may hope for all things thereby, because the condition is performed, by the obedience and satisfaction of Jesus Christ, he having paid the debt we owed; not only so, but the penalty that we incurred being satis­fied, so we have a new hope coming, running in this channel to us; and we cannot have the hope of eternal life, upon any other ground. This is the hope here spoken of: It is not an old, but a new cove­nant hope. Many have nothing but an old covenant hope, hoping if we do the best we can, God will do his best to us. O man! what for a hope is this! it is just an old covenant hope. But this hope, Sirs, that is the hope of the gospel, it is a new covenant hope. The hope that we speak of is a hope grounded upon the obedience and satisfaction of Jesus Christ, and upon the promise of Jesus Christ. It is a new hope, and a holy hope. The old covenant hope, Sirs, persons’ may have it, and yet remain dead in their sins. The old hope never quickens them. Well, but this new and lively hope quickens the soul to ran in the way of God’s commandments, in hope of that rest that remains for the people of God. O Sirs, this hope quickens him of being ever with the Lord, and being like him, and seeing him as he is. It quickens their desire to be purified: “He that hath this hope purifieth himself even as he is pure.” O! it quickens his desire of being more and more like unto the Lord. This hope is a firm, fixing hope: it is the anchor of the soul. The man that has the old hope is never fixed at all; he wavers like a wave of the sea, that hath no foundation at all. The true child of God may be said to waver, but not like a wave of the sea, but like a ship at anchor: the wind may toss him hither and thither; yea, but his anchor is fixed within the vail.
3. The third thing proposed was to point out how faith and hope agree. (1.) Faith and hope agree as sister graces; they are twins born together, and bred together, and nourished together. (2.) They agree in their instrumental cause; the word is the cause of both: as faith comes by hearing, so hope comes by hearing; by hearing of the resurrection of Christ, we are begotten into a new and lively hope, (1 Pet. 1:3). (3.) As they agree in their instru­mental, so they agree in their efficient cause: as God is the anchor of faith, (Heb. 12:2); so he is the author of hope: and therefore he is called the God of hope, (Rom. 15:13). (4.) Faith and hope agree in their usefulness: as the believer lives by faith, so he lives by hope: as there is a confidence of faith; so there is a confidence of hope. But,
4. The main question is, how faith and hope differ: (1.) Faith and hope differ in their order: faith is first in order before hope; we first believe the promise, before hope; we first believe the pro­mise, before we can hope for the accomplishment of the promise to us. (2.) They differ in their office; the office of faith is to believe; but the office of hope is to expect what we believe. The office of faith is to direct, by making known the way; but the office of hope is to excite and encourage the person in the way. (3.) They differ in their subject: the subject where faith dwells is the under­standing properly; but the subject of hope is the will: though the will goes along in believing, yet the proper subject of faith is in the understanding. If this were considered, we would see more how faith differs from works: how it is opposite to works; and that we are not justified by works, but by what God has done, and what God will do through Jesus Christ. (4.) Faith and hope differ in their object: the object of faith is properly the pro­mise; but the object of hope is the good thing promised; the object of faith is the truth of the promise; but the object of hope is the good of the promise; it is that which faith expects the truth of: or, the promise is like a messenger from a king to a favored per­son, telling him he is a-coming. The man receives the messenger; and then he goes out to meet the prince: so the promise is the messenger, telling the King of glory is coming; and faith is receiv­ing the messenger; and hope goes out to meet the prince, waiting patiently for the accomplishment of the promise. What the man believes, he is said patiently to wait for. In a word, as to the difference in their object: the object of faith is not only things that are future, but the things that are past, present, and to come: but the object of hope is only things that are future. In a word, faith looks to the promise as the egg; but hope looks for virtue to be hatched out of that egg. Here we may see some differences be­tween faith and hope But I go on,

III. To the third general head, which was to enquire a little into some of the hopeless and desperate-like cases that may take place; and yet a firm ground remain for faith and hope. It is not possible to mention them all: I shall only name a few.

1. One thing that unbelief makes a handle of, and makes the case hopeless and desperate-like, is, that as the object of faith cannot be seen; so we are called to believe what we cannot see. It is very true, when outward providences favor not the man’s faith, then he thinks he should not hope: but, Sirs, if ye make sight or sense the ground of your faith, you will never believe nor hope either. The foundation of faith and hope are things that are invisible: we can only endure as seeing him that is invisible; “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen,” (1 Cor. 4:18).
2. Another hopeless and desperate case is, with reference unto the contrariety that lies in the way of believing the promise: not only are there no outward providences to favor the man’s belief; but there are many things contrary to the promise. So it was in Abraham’s case here. As there was no appearance of Abraham and Sarah to have a son; so there was appearance to the contrary: there was nothing to be viewed, by sense and reason, but the dead­ness of their bodies: his faith had that to look through. Well, but he looked to God, as a God that quickeneth the dead, and calleth the things that are not as though they were. Many a time this is the case with the poor soul, in believing the promises. O! how hard is it to believe the promises I think, says the poor soul, they are against me, I have essayed to believe the promises; but I find the quite contrary of what I believed. I believed there was a pro­mise of purity, and instead of that, I find impurity taking place in my heart, and nothing but impurity. There was a promise of liberty that I believed; and I find bondage instead of liberty. There was a promise of beauty; but I find blackness instead of beauty. There was a promise of life made to me; but I find dead­ness instead of life. Why then, what must you do? Indeed, there is no way of doing, but against hope: believing in hope against things that contradict the promise, and seem quite contrary to it.
3. Another thing that is an handle to unbelief, and makes the case hopeless and desperate-like, is, the time that intervenes be­tween the promise and the accomplishment of the promise. May be some soul has laid hold on the promise; but the promise is not like to be accomplished: and maybe there are many here, that have gotten a promise, long since, and have been caused to hope upon it, for twenty or thirty years; yea, but the accomplishment is delayed; and some may reckon they are never accomplished to this day: O, says the poor soul, I do not find the thing accomplished that I ex­pected: I do not find that communion with God, or conformity to Christ, I expected; and that is a handle that unbelief makes use of. O the time is long! O when will he come! But, O Sirs, beware of limiting the holy One of Israel. At the last reason will speak; therefore against all these believe; against hope believing in hope. But again,
4. Another thing that makes the case hopeless and desperate-like, is with reference to the way and manner of the accomplishment of the promises. O says unbelief I do not see how it can be ac­complished; how such a thing can take place. O Sirs, that is another way of limiting the holy One of Israel; as to the time, so as to the manner; you say on the matter, “Can the Lord give us flesh in the wilderness?” We find the Lord’s people challenged for this. “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, my way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the ever­lasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding,” (Isa. 40:27-28).
5. Another thing, that makes a case hopeless, and desperate-like, is the present aspect of providence: and particularly provi­dences crossing the promises. As in the case of David, he got a promise of being brought to the kingdom; but, instead of it being accomplished, we find nothing but a track of cross providences in the way. He is hunted like a partridge in the wilderness; and says, “One day or other, I shall fall by the hand of Saul.” So it may be with a spiritual case, “Hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious? Will his promise fail for evermore?” (Ps. 77:8-9).
6. Another case, that seems to be hopeless and desperate-like, is, when not only the promise and the providence of God, seem to clash together; but when the promise and the precept seem to clash together; when we are called to perform a duty that seems cross to the promise of God. We have an instance of this in Abraham; he is called to sacrifice Isaac; there is a command that is cross to a command; not only cross to that command, “Thou shalt not kill;” but cross to the promise, “In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” The church’s Saviour was to come of Isaac; so to cut the throat of Isaac, was like a cutting the throat of the whole church of God at once. Here is a difficulty indeed that nothing could do but this, faith against hope, believed in hope. Another instance is of Gideon, (Judges 8) when he is ordered to fight against the Midia­nites, which were like grasshoppers upon the face of the earth, in­numerable. Gideon has an army of thirty-two thousand men; well, Gideon is commanded to reduce this army to a far lesser number, to thirty, and then he is ordered to fight the battle with these Midia­nites: might not Gideon say, O! how shall I justify this conduct before the world? It seems quite contrary to the rules of reason and prudence, as well as religion. Has not the Lord ordered his battles to be fought by usual means? Faith has sometimes the like of these things to grapple with, that cannot be answered but by be­lieving the word of God, and against hope believing in hope. What! shall David, a strippling, go out against Goliath? or, shall the walls of Jericho be thrown down with the sound of rams horns? or shall a small handful of men stand up against a whole nation, in a way of national reformation.? Indeed, there is no way of believing this, but against hope, believing in hope.
7. Another hopeless-like case is, when any fair beginning meets with a sudden stop; fair beginnings, whether of the conviction of the heart, or the reformation of the kirk (church), when they meet with a sudden stop, O! how trying is this to faith? We find the building of the house of God begun, and then a stop put to it, as you read in the books of Esther and Nehemiah. Many a time the Lord has begun a good work in a person’s heart, and considerable opposition casten up. Is that to hinder faith? no; but to make us learn, against hope, to believe in hope. And to believe that God when he comes to build up Zion, he will appear in his glory. Why does he not appear in his glory, when there is so much rubbish to be taken out of the way; so many mountains to be taken out of the way, that must be removed by the hand of our Zerubbabel? his hand laid the foundation of the house, and his hand must also carry it on, and finish it. But again,
8. Another hopeless-like case that seems to say, O where can faith or hope have a footing, when the person’s case hath nothing but the image of death upon it? Why, Sirs, this is the case of the most of all them that hear the gospel, as all are dead in trespasses and sins, therefore they ought to believe that he is a God that quickeneth the dead, and called the things that are not as though they were. And those that are quickened by grace, they are persons for the most part that find their deadness most, and find more and more need of quickening grace: this is the case of the most part of the Lord’s people, that there is nothing but the image of death on their case; and how then can there be hope? Why, against hope, we are to believe in hope: to look to that God who says, “Can these dry bones live?” Can the house of Israel live, who are saying, “We are cut off for our part?” Therefore the promise is to them; “Thus saith the Lord, O my people I will cause you come up out of your graves,” (Ezek. 37:5-12). Sometimes the case of the church, and her relief, is represented by a resurrection; thereby faith and hope, Sirs. We may expect strange things, Sirs, of this world at the last day. The raising of the soul from spiritual death is re­markable; but the raising of the dead will be more remarkable. An instance of this you have, there comes a man to Jesus, to come and lay his hand on his daughter: in the meantime the maid dies, and his servant cries, “Trouble not the Master, the child is dead,” (Mark 5:35). It is as if it should be said, the case is now hope­less. Here was, Sirs, a rushing flood of temptations on the man. But the Lord Jesus lifts up the standard against the enemy; he says to the man, “Be not afraid, only believe.” What though thy child be dead; yet the case is not hopeless; the case is not past his cure, who is a God that quickeneth the dead. And though this be the case of multitudes here, though they are dead, quite dead, yet, O the case is not past his cure who is the resurrection and the life.

I should now come to the fourth thing proposed, which was to speak of the grounds of faith, namely, what ground there is for faith and hope, in the most hopeless and desperate cases. But I cannot insist. I shall come to the application.
This doctrine would admit of a large application; but I must pass it all at present with a word of trial.
O Sirs, will you try if you have that faith, that can against hope, believe in hope. Sirs, these that can believe this way, have indeed strong faith. Every believer has not strong faith; but we should all seek after a strong faith. Who are these that against hope believe in hope?

1. They who can trust in the dark; or who can trust to the promises, when they want inward comforts. These are among the persons who against hope, believe in hope. This is what we are called to in the dark. “Let them who have no light trust in the Lord, and stay themselves on their God,” (Isa. 50:10).
2. Those who against hope, believe in hope, they not only trust in a promising God, without comforts, but against comfort: in­stead of comforts they have nothing but crosses at the hand of God. “Though he should slay me, yet I will trust in him.” Sirs, this faith that against hope, believes in hope, is a faith that takes hold of God; it will not let him alone till he bless him. It is a strange word my friends, that you have in Isaiah 62:6; “Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence.” Sirs, true faith, as it were, will give God no rest, till it get the blessing; no rest till he return to his soul; and till he come back to his house, and revive his work.
In a word, true faith, that against hope, believeth in hope, can stand its ground, when sense and reason seem to be against believ­ing. It answers them with the truth of God, and the faith of the promises of God. O try your faith, if it be a faith that believeth in a promising God and that gives him the credit and glory of his truth, by depending on his word against all outward appearances.

Sirs, let us be persuaded to look to a God in Christ, and by faith to believe against unbelief, and by hope to believe against hope. Time will not allow [us] to pursue an use of exhortation. I shall only say, O Sirs, endeavor to drop the anchor of faith, in this day of darkness, upon the word of a promising God. Upon his word you will need to have the anchor fixed. Sirs, these are sinning days wherein we live, erring days, days of dreadful defection from God and his truths: and what do we know but there may be dreadful days, days of terrible calamities. Sirs, who knows but this may be the last peaceable communion that we may have? and now when God is threatening to send a sword to avenge the quarrel of his co­venant, O to be established, and to have our faith fixed within the vail.—I’ll tell you a promise to drop your faith and hope upon, “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters; yea, than the mighty waves of the sea,” (Ps. 99:3). O Sirs, there are some strange providences taking place. Many threaten the people of God; statesmen may threaten; the church-men may threaten, and judicatories may threaten. Why, these are sometimes like the waves of the sea: the waves may lift up their voice; but this is ground of hope, that the Lord not only sits on the floods, but he reigns in Jacob, and to the ends of the earth. Another word that you may drop your anchor of faith and hope on, be the trouble what it will, is in Psalm 91:8; “He shall call upon me, I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and hon­our him.” O seek to have the Lord to be with you in trouble. Sirs, whatever should fall out in providence, the presence of God will make a prison to be a palace. O! it can make a fiery furnace a place of safety. O! it makes a den of lions a place of miracles and won­ders. O! seek his gracious presence: He has promised that where his people are met together to bless them, saying, “Lo, I am with you to the end of the world.” O! drop the anchor of faith on him, that he may be with us on this occasion. But I pass all other uses that I designed. May the Lord bless what hath been said, Amen.

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