Exhortation to those who upon trial are found sincere to wear the girdle of truth close around with directions for its daily exercise 4/6

(2.) The truth and sincerity of God to his people appears in the openness and plainness of his heart to them.  A friend that is close and reserved, deservedly comes under a cloud in the thoughts of his friend; but he who carries, as it were, a window of crystal in his breast, through which his friend may read what thoughts are written in his very heart, delivers himself from the least suspicion of unfaithfulness.  Truly thus open‑hearted is God to his saints.  ‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.’ He gives us in his key that will let us into his very heart, and acquaint us what his thoughts are, yea were, towards us, before a stone was laid in the world’s foundation; and this is no other than his Spirit, one who knows ‘the deep things of God,’ I Cor. 2:10, for he was at the council-table in heaven, where all was transacted.  This his Spirit he employed to put forth, and publish in the Scripture indited by him, the substance of those counsels of love which had passed between the Trin­ity of persons for our salvation; and that nothing may be wanting for our satisfaction, he hath appointed the same Holy Spirit to abide in his saints, that as Christ in heaven presents our desires to him, so he may in­terpret his mind out of his word to us; which word answers the heart of God, ‘as face answers face in the glass.’  There is nothing desirable in a true friend, as to this openness of heart, but God performs in a tran­scendent manner to his people.  If any danger hangs over their heads, he cannot conceal it.  ‘By them,’ saith David, ‘is thy servant warned,’ speaking of the word of God.  One messenger or other God will send to give his saints the alarm, whether their danger be from sin within, or enemies without.  Hezekiah was in danger of inward pride.  God sends him a tempta­tion to let him ‘know what was in his heart,’ that he might, by falling once, be kept from falling again. Satan had a project against Peter; Christ gives him notice of it, Luke 22:31.  If any of his children by sin displease him, he doth not, as false friends use, dis­semble the displeasure he conceives, and carry it fair outwardly with them, while he keeps a secret grudge against them inwardly; no, he tells them roundly of it, and corrects them soundly for it, but entertains no ill will against them.  And when he leads his people into an afflicted state, he loves them so, that he cannot leave them altogether in the dark, concerning the thoughts of love he hath to them in delivering them; but, to comfort them in the prison, doth open his heart beforehand to them, as we see in the greatest calamities that have befallen the Jewish church in Egypt and Babylon, as also the gospel-church under Antichrist.  The promises for the deliverance out of all these were expressed before the sufferings came. When Christ was on earth, how free and open was he to his disciples, both in telling them what calamities should betide them, and the blessed issue of them all, when he should come again to them!  And why? but to confirm them in the persuasion of the sincerity of his heart towards them, as those words import, ‘If it were not so, I would have told you,’ John 14:2; as if he had said, ‘It would not have consisted with the sin­cere love I bear to you to hide anything that is fit for you to know, from you, or to make them otherwise than they are.’  And when he doth conceal any truths from them for the present, see his candour and sin­cerity, opening the reason of his veiling them to be, not that he grudged them the communication of them, but because they could not at present bear them. Now, Christian, improve all this to make thee more plain-hearted with God.  Is he so free and open to thee, and wilt thou be reserved to him?  Doth thy God unbosom his mind to thee, and wilt not thou pour out all thy soul to him?  Darest thou not trust him with thy secrets, that makes thee privy to his councils of love and mercy?  In a word, darest thou for shame go about to harbour, and hide from him, any traitorous lust in thy soul, whose love will not suffer him to conceal any danger from thee?  God, who is so exact and true to the law of friendship with his people, expects the like ingenuity from them.

(3.) The sincerity of God’s heart and affection to his people appears in the unmovableness of his love. As there is ‘no shadow of turning’ in the being of God, so not in the love of God to his people.  There is no vertical point—his love stands still.  Like the sun in Gibeah, it goes not down nor declines, but continues in its full strength; ‘with everlasting kind­ness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer,’ Isa. 54:8.  Sorry man repents of his love.  The hottest affection cools in his bosom.  Love in the creature is like fire on the hearth, now blazing, anon blinking, and going out; but in God it is like fire in the element, that never fails.  In the creature it is like water in a river, that falls and riseth; but in God, like water in the sea, that is always full, and knows no ebbing or flowing.  Nothing can take off his love where he hath placed it; it can neither be corrupted nor conquered.  Attempts are made both ways, but in vain.


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