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THE CONDITIONS OF OBTAINING THAT PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSETH ALL UNDERSTANDING.

PSALM xxix. 10.

THE LORD SHALL GIVE HIS PEOPLE THE BLESSING OF PEACE.a

F you expect that, from these words, I bleffings of a peace

which we have talked of, and wifhed for, fo much of late; though that is the occafion, it is not to be the fubject of the discourse I am now going to make to you.

The truth is, confidering that the world was engaging all our thoughts and paffions in favour of an expected peace, and the confequences of it, I thought it would be a very proper time to put people in mind of a peace of another kind, which the world can neither give nor take away; and which it concerns. us, above all things, to think of.

It is true, even a worldly peace is a very defirable bleffing; but then it is fo little in our power to hinder or promote it, that we are not accountable whether it goes forward or not. Besides, fuch a peace (though made

* See Luke i. 79. John xiv. 27.

with

with wisdom and forefight) is at best uncertain; neither does our happiness depend upon it.

But the peace which I would propose to your meditations, is of another nature: it is what is certainly attainable; our happiness depends upon it; it is our business to look after it; and we shall be accountable, we shall be the fufferers, if we do not obtain it. It is that peace which we pray for daily, which the world cannot give, which the world cannot deprive us of, and which, if we once obtain it, will effectually convince us, that the government of the world, and confequently all the changes of this mortal life, are in the hands of God, who will always do what is best for fuch as fear him.

In fhort; this is that legacy which the Son of God left at his death to all his faithful fervants, in these words:" Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Of which peace the words of the text are a prophecy; The Lord fhall give his people [the true Ifraelites] the bieffing of peace.

It is certain, that it is God who maketh wars to cease in all the world. This he does to all; he maketh his fun to fhine on the evil, and on the good; but it is to his people only that he gives that peace, which is a bleffing indeed, and which paffeth all understanding. As for all others, the way of peace they know not.

And

b John xiv. 27.

And now, if what has been faid has raised in you a defire of knowing more particularly, what this peace is, how we may obtain, how we may fecure fo great a bleffing, and what will be the fruits and effects of it; I fhall, by the good bleffing of God, endeavour to give you fatisfaction in each of these particulars.

I. And first, What is the peace here Spoken of? I know not whether one can give a better anfwer to this question, than in the words of our church, in one of her hymns, in the office of ordination, where fhe describes and prays for this bleffing in these words:-Put back our enemies far from us, and help us to obtain peace in our hearts with God and man,-the best, the truest gain.

To be a little more particular.

It is that peace which arifes in our fouls, by believing and fincerely embracing these truths: That Jefus Chrift, our peace-maker, hath reconciled us to God by the blood of his cross;—that if, after this reconciliation, any man fin, (as we are apt to do) our condition is not desperate; for we have an Advocate with the Father, for whofe fake God will graciously receive and pardon all fuch as with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; and, because of ourselves we are not able to please God, that he has promised his Holy Spirit to them that ask him; by whom the eyes of our understandings fhall be enlightened, our infirmities helped, our fouls ftrengthened,

• Col. i. 20.

until

until we are rooted and grounded in the love of God.

This is the foundation of that peace we are fpeaking of, which confifts in an humble affurance, (built upon God's promife) that he is no longer our enemy; that we are under his guidance and protection; that we are safe while we continue fo; and that we fhall always continue fo, if it is not our own fault.

We eafily perceive, that this is a blessed state of life; and we fhall fee it yet plainer, when we have confidered the condition of those, who, instead of enjoying this happy peace, are at war with God and their own confciences; as all indeed are who live in any known fin.

d

To defy the Almighty, to despise what he can do to us, are words of too much horror and madness to be spoke out: but let it be confidered, whether men do not what they dare not speak, while they live in rebellion, in an open defiance of his laws? The holy fcriptures call this a state of war, in which we are not only led captive, but like flaves fold under fin; which expreffions are made ufe of, to reprefent unto our minds the miferies of fuch a condition, where (if our confciences are awake) we are in continual fear of being undone.

And verily, it were better for us, that our houfes were burnt over our heads, our goods plundered, and ourselves prisoners, and at the

dr Pet. ii. II. e Rom. vii. 14.

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