Godly man's ark, or, City of refuge in time of trouble

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Godly man's ark, or, City of refuge in time of trouble (1806)
by Thomas Brooks
3318503Godly man's ark, or, City of refuge in time of trouble1806Thomas Brooks








PSALM xxxiv. 19.

Many are the afflictions of the Righteous, but the Lord
will deliver him out of them all.


Printed by J. & M. Robertson, [No. 18.] Saltmarket,








ISAIAH Xiiii. 2.

When thou paſſeth through the Waters I will
be with thee; and through the Rivers they
ſhall not overflow thee: When thou walkeſt
through the Fire thou ſhalt not be burnt,
neither ſhall the flames kindle upon thee.

THese words, my beloved friends, are a promiſe that God hath made to his church and people, after many ſore and grievous afflictions that he had brought upon them, by reaſon of their ſinning and rebellion againſt him. He doth, in theſe words of my text upon their repentance promiſe to deliver them, when he hath exerciſed their graces, and ſhewed them that there is help and ſuccour only in himſelf, and not in the creature, which we are too apt to doat upon, and forget God our Creator.

it is our duty under ſuch ſevere, but very friendly diſpenſations, wholly to caſt ourselves upon God for help and ſuccour in the time of need, who hath promiſed that he will be with us in fix troubles, and deliver us in ſeven; that is, in all our calamities and afflictions in this world, God will be a preſent help, a preſent relief, a preſent ſupport, a preſent comfort, and a bleſſed portion to all his people, in whoſe great and various trials and afflictions, that they ſhall and may be exerciſed under.

And this ought to be their great comfort, that it is from the hand of a merciful Father, which doth all this to wean us from doating, and too much relying upon earthly comforts, and that we ſhould reſt contented in the enjoyment of God alone.

St. Paul, he learned this excellent leſſon of contentment, Philip, iv. II. "I have learned in all ſtates therewith to be content." He could not learn but of any other than his Maſter in heaven. There is a divine art of contentment to be learned in the ſchool of Christ, which whoſoever hath learned, hath taken a degree in heaven, and knows how to be happy both in want and abundance, faith pious biſhop Hall.

The doctrine that we ſhould observe is this, that God will be a near help, a ſuccour, a ſhield, a ſupport and deliverer of his people in all the troubles and afflictions that they can meet within this world.

And this is confirmed by ſeveral texts of holy ſcripture, viz. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord will deliver him out of them all," Pſal. xxxiv. 19. "The Lord is my Shepherd I ſhall not want," Pſal. xxiii.1. Hope in the Lord; be ſtrong, and he ſhall comfort thine heart, and truſt in the Lord Pſalm xxxvii. 3, 25. "Truſt in the Lord and do good, so thou ſhall dwell in the land, and verily thou ſhalt be fed. I have been young and am now old; yet have I not ſeen the righteous forſaken, nor his ſeed begging bread."

"Commit thy ways to the Lord, and truſt in him, and he ſhall bring it to paſs, that is, when we can ſee no end in our danger, he can." Again, "Caſt thy burden upon the Lord, and the Lord will ſuſtain thee."

Let us not only depend upon God in flight troubles, but even in our greateſt afflictions; let us not murmur in troubles, ſaying, "What a burden do I bear, no man is ſo troubled as I am;" but be it never ſo grevious, tireſome, and as weighty as a mountain to carry, yet caſt thy care and croſs on the Lord, and he will ſupport thee; he hath promiſed to help us. "Commit thy works to the Lord, and thy thoughts ſhall be eſtabliſhed." Prov. xvi. 3. God hath made a faithful promise to take care of us, and ſhall we not caſt all our care upon him then, at all times, and in all ſeaſons? I Pet. v. 7. "Caſting all your care upon him, for he careth for you."

Foraſmuch as God made all things out of nothing, how ought we to truſt in God in all ſtraits and neceſſities? for great is the ſin of infidelity and diſtruſt. When we diſtruſt God for want of means, it is in effect to deny him to be God, and to make no difference between the creature and the Creator; Do we doubt God’s all-ſufficiency, becauſe we now ſee no outward means? Alas! what difference do we make between God and man! we think man can help and ſupply us if he had means, but God the Creator is infinite above the creature and help us without any means. If thou hadſt meat, drink, and money enough, thou wouldſt fear no want, but the want of theſe things makes thee diſtruſtful. Alas! from whence I come all theſe! did not God bring them out of nothing? And can not he as eaſily help thee many ways unknown, and not thought of by thee, if thou truſt in him, as then he could make the whole world out of nothing? It is atheiſm and a denial of the Godhead, to doubt whether God could make the world out of nothing; and all infidelity in theſe caſes, favours of atheiſm, and a denial of the God-head, when we doubt whether God can help us when we can ſee nothing but wants: Is it not eaſier for him to help us than to make a world? So in any danger, when we are ſtraitly beſet and hardly laid too, and ſee no means of deliverance or eſcape, let us learn then to depend on God’s all-ſufficiency. Had we a ſtrong guard of ſoldiers about us, we should not fear the enemy to break in upon us: Alas! did not God make these soldiers and the world out of nothing? and doth he need their help to deliver us? Theſe ought to teach us not to neglect the means that God hath given for our good, but thankfully to uſe them: This ought to teach us to fear God and not man, whose breath is in his noſtrils. The Lord gives us wiſdom to fear him, that can raiſe fears and terrors in our hearts, that can ſet thy affrighted conſcience againſt thee, and can bring more miſery out of thy own boſom than all the world beſides. ’Tis more dangerous to have God againſt us, than all the men in the world.

From hence we learn, that all the riches in the world cometh out of the treaſure of God’s all-ſufficiency, therefore, if thou wouldſt be rich, get God to be thy portion; know this, that all the riches in the world are nothing without God; therefore, learn to eſteem God above all riches. Saith David. "Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none on earth that I deſire beſides thee." Pſalm Ixxiii. 25.

Oh! that we could remember theſe things ſo as to prevent all diſtruſtful and diſtracting cares. Firſt, They are a diſhonour and reproach to the all-ſufficient God, as though he was not able to ſupply all our wants, and anſwer all our deſires; and to deliver us out of all our calamities and miſeries.

But, Secondly, Inordinate cares are a great diſhonour to God, as if our wants were not known to him as his own works; as if he had not a fixed eye upon all our ſtraits and trials that lie upon us, and knows every burden that make us to ſigh, and did not behold every affliction that makes us to ſigh, and did not observe every tear, that dropped from our eyes, Deut. xi. Psal. xl. 5. 2 Cor. vi. 8. Turn to theſe ſcriptures, and they will aſſuredly confirm you.

But, Thirdly, Inordinate cares are a diſhonour and reproach to the mercy and bounty of God; they proclaim God a hard Maſter and not ſo free, and noble and generous a Spirit as the ſcripture and many thouſands ſpeak him to be.

I have read of a Duke of Milan, that married his daughter to a ſon of England; he made a dinner of thirty courſes, and at every courſe he gave as many gifts to every gueſt at the table as there were dishes in the courſe. Here was a rich and royal entertainment, here was noble bounty indeed! but this bounty is nothing to the bounty of God to his people. Princes' treaſure have been drawn dry, but God’s bounty and liberality can never. Oh! ſirs, you can as ſoon tell the ſtars in the ſky, or the ſands on the ſea ſhore, as the mercies of God one day ſhewn to his people, yea, one hour, or one minute of an hour, ſuch is the bounty and liberality of God, that he never takes away one mercy, but he is ready to ſend another in the room of it, Joſhua’s candle began to ſhine before Moſes’s went out. Eli was not gathered to his fathers before Samuel appeared hopeful; nor Sarah before Rebekah was ready to come in her room.

Again, Fourthly, Inordinate cares are a diſhonour to the fidelity of God, as though God was not the faithful God, and hath bound himſelſ by Promiſe, Covenant, and Oath, to take care of his people, and to look to their welfare. God is the fountain and ocean, from whence all faithfulneſs flows, upon which all our hope, praiſes and prayers floweth. God will be ſure to ſhew himself a faithful God to all that fear him. "I had rather (ſays Plutarch) that men ſhould ſay, That there was never ſuch a man as Plutarch, rather than ſay, That Pultarch was unfaithful." Much leſs had men better ſay, There is no God, than to ſay, God is unfaithful. Men commonly ſay and unſay that which they have ſaid, but ſo will not God: Joſhua charges the children of Iſrael to ſhew but in one thing, that God failed them in the good things that he had promiſed them. If God in his faithfulneſs afflict his People to make good his threatenings, oh! much more will he in faithfulnſs preſerve and provide for his people according to his promiſe.

Fiſthly, Unlawful cares are a reproach to the pity and compaſſion of God: God is a God of pity and compaſſion to all his, ſee Pſal ciii 13. "Like as a father pitieth his children, ſo the Lord pitieth them that fear him." You know there is a great love, pity, and compaſſion of a tender father towards his child, much more in God to his children.

I have read of a young man being merry at ſea in a great ſtorm, and being aſked the reaſon, he anſwered, "That the pilot of the ſhip was his father." Ah! ſirs, what ſtorms and tempeſt there is in the world, that the people of God may be in, yet ſuch is the love and pity of God, that he will be ſure to have a care of his. Read the golden promiſes of God in Heb.xiii "Let your converſation be without covetouſneſs; for I will never leave thee nor forſake thee." Sirs, ſhall the word and promiſe of a king cheer us againſt the fear of want? and ſhall not the word of the King of kings arm us againſt the diſtracting cares of this life. Ah! Chriſtians, the help of having God to be our portion, ought to bear up our ſpirits, and make us ſing with that bleſſed martyr, Mr. Careleſs; ſaith he, "My ſoul is turned to her reſt: I have taken a ſweet nap in the lap of Chriſt, and therefore I will ſing away care, and be careleſs according to my name." If the ſenſe of God being our portion will not reward our ſufferings, and burn up all our cares that fill the head, and diſtract the heart, I know not what will. It was a noble ſpeech of the Heathen Socrates, viz. "Since God is ſo careful of you, (ſaith he), what need you be careful of yourſelves?"

Again, Sixthly, God will work above and beyond ordinary means, rather than ſuch as are his ſhall want. We have a memorable example of the Iſraelites, while they were in the wilderneſs, he fed them with manna, for the ſpace of forty years, and opened the hard rock to give water for them and their cattle to drink, Exod. xix. And alſo in the example of Elijah, 1 Kings xvi. where he was forced to flee for his life from the perſecution of Jezebel: The angel of the Lord bid him riſe and eat, and he walked by the ſtrength of that food forty days. I Kings xix. 7. And alſo how afterwards the Lord fed him by ravens, they brought him his food. Alſo his miracle of the widow of Sarepta, where he was fed in the time of famine, ver. 14. of the xvii. chapter, The barrel of meal ſhall not fail." Again the example of one of the prophets’ widows, 2 Kings iv. how God increaſed the pot of oil, that ſhe not only paid her debts out of it, but had enough to maintain her family besides. "Thus God is a ſtrong tower, the righteous fly to it, and are ſafe." And tho’ they are often times enforced to ſuffer nakedneſs, yet he will clothe them with his righteouſness; their Graces ſmell of myrrh, aloes and caſſia, whereby they are more adorned than with all the gold and ſilver in the whole world.

Uſe 1. We learn faith, to truſt and lay hold on the promiſes of God made in Chriſt to ſuch as have it dwelling in them: "Caſting all your care upon "him, for he careth for you," I Pet.v. 7. How did God provide for the Rochellers in that fatal ſiege, when they were ready to ſtarve, by making a company of fiſhers come and deliver themſelves into their hands, that never were in thoſe parts before, nor ſince, and they abode till the ſiege was ended. This was God’s great providence to them, the Lord hath ſhewed by many memorable examples, as we have already ſhewed you, that he doth take care of us, and will not ſuffer us to want, if we caſt our care upon him, and this principle we ought to poſſeſs ſtrongly in our minds, That God provides and cares for us. And therefore God’s children never wants enough, if they have faith enough to depend upon God, Matth. vi. 33. "But ſeek ye firſt the kingdom of God, and his righteouſneſs, and all theſe things ſhall be added unto you." Mark it, ſeek heavenly things, and expect earthly; labour for the one and look for the other.

Not, my friends, that we ſhould be idle; he that doth not labour, muſt not eat; we muſt uſe means that God hath appointed, and thoſe we are to uſe, and no other than God hath appointed, without diſtracting cares about the ſucceſs. Uſe the means in obedience to God, and having uſed the means then trust for a bleſſing, Psal. xxxvii. 5. "Commit thy way unto the Lord, truſt alſo in him, and he ſhall bring it to paſs." Again, it is for want of faith, that cauſes us to diſtruſt God when it is low with us, as to all things of this world; therefore, labour to get faith, and exerciſe faith; the uſe of faith is one of the notaleſt means to keep the ſoul from being over-charged with care; act faith in the wiſdom and providence of God. Faith quiets the heart in want of any thing, by making it ſure and preſent, Heb. xi. 1. "Now faith is the ſubſtance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not ſeen."

Not only in regard of our ſouls, but in regard of our bodies; alſo in all things live, walk, and do every thing by faith, without faith we cannot pleaſe God, nor walk evenly before him. Grounds to know whether God will bleſs us in our calling, and ſpiritual way to thrive, and live without care.

FIRST, to think if you be not provident and diligent in your calling, and if God do not bleſs your diligence, you may do the work of your calling in vain, and that you may look for bad ſucceſs; this to think is lawful and uſeful, for it will raiſe in you a reſolution to be provident and diligent; and when you have done all you can, theſe things will quicken you to pray to God for good ſucceſſes: If your thoughts of thriving, or not thriving be any other than theſe, and desire of ſucceſs drive you to uſe unlawful means, from doubting that you cannot ſo ſoon, or certainly, or not at all ſpeed by the use of lawful, for it makes you full of grief and fear, that though you uſe all the good means you can, all will be in vain, if you be yet doubtful. Matt. vi. 31. "Therefore take no thought, ſaying, What ſhall we eat or what ſhall we drink? or wherewithal ſhall we be clothed?

Again, Secondly, Conſider the ability of faithfulneſs in God, who hath taken care of the ſucceſs of your labour upon him, commanding you not to care, but to caſt all your care upon him, 1 Pet. v. 7. If you would reſt upon this, you might be ſure of good ſucceſs in your outward ſtate, even according to your deſire, or God will more than recompence the want thereof, by cauſing you to thrive, and have good ſucceſs in ſpiritual things, which will be much better, and which you ſhould deſire more.

Again, in the third place, be diligent in the calling that God hath placed you, let there be truth, plainneſs and equity in your dealings with men; circumvent nor defraud no man, make not your gain the ſcale and measure to trade by.

Again, Fourthly, be provident and ſaving; ſee that you let not any opportunity ſlip, and take heed of being circumvented by fraud and falſhood, and enſnared by unneceſſary ſurety-ſhip. And be ſure to make uſe of lawful means of gaining and improving thy eſtate, remembering that by the ſweat of thy brow, much induſtry and lawful care, thou muſt get thy bread, and expect a bleſſing from God upon thy endeavours.

I ſhall ſhew you ſeveral reaſons why you ſhould not care eagerly and inordinately for things. Firſt, Inform thyſelf thoroughly, that all earthly things are of little worth, fading and withering away like graſs; it is extreme folly for us to ſet our hearts and minds upon that which are little worth, as riches are, that God gives rather to his enemies than to his friends.

Secondly, Immoderate care for earthly things is exceeding hurtful, it breatheth many hurtful luſts, which draw men into perdition, it hindereth growth of heavenly and ſpiritual things; it will cauſe a man to err from the faith 2 Tim. vi 10. He whoſe cares are too much about the earth, his care will be too little for heaven. Next conſider, why we muſt not care at all about the ſucceſs of our lawful endeavours any more than to commend them to God.

Firſt, Becauſe it is uſurping upon his proper right, and entrenching too far into God's divine prerogative, taking the work out of his hands; for the care of ſucceſs, and what ſhall be hereafter, is proper to God.

Secondly, It is a vain and fruitleſs thing when you have diligently uſed lawful means for any thing, to take thought for ſucceſs: "And which of you by taking thought, can add to his ſtature one cubit?" Luke xii.25. "Or make one hair white or black." Underſtand the like of all other things.

Thirdly, Every day bringeth its full employment with it, together with its croſſes and griefs, ſo we shall have enough of work for our care to do all the preſent work wholly, and to bear each preſent day’s afflictions fruitfully and patiently; therefore we have little reaſon to eat out our hearts with the thoughts of future events, and what ſhall be to morrow; for no wiſe man will clog himſelf with needleſs Cares.

Fourthly, Inordinate care proceeds from the curled root of unbelief, ignorance and diſtruſt of God, and argueth little faith.

Fifthly, You will be apt to make uſe of unlawful means to attain your ends, when you doubt of lawful; taking thought, both divide, diſtract, overload and weary thee; and waſted thy heart and ſpirits, nothing more.

Sixthly, You cannot be thankful for any thing that God giveth you when you fear you have no good ſuccess.

Oh! how happy are we Chriſtians if we did but know, if knowing would enjoy our happineſs, we are cared for in every thing we need, and can be good for us; we may live without taking thought or care in anything; our work is only to ſtudy and endeavour how to pleaſe God, walking before him in ſincerity, and with a perfect heart; then we may cling to him and reſt on him, both for our ſouls and bodies without fear and diſtraction. Exod. vi. 3.

God is all-ſufficient; if we ſhall wiſely and diligently do our work, we need not fear our wages; having ſo bountiful a Maſter and Father as God is, we need not be careful for our maintenance here in minority and non-age, nor for an inheritance when we come to full age: Thus we might live a heaven upon earth, and not only when we have means, but when we have no means, for God is above and more than all means to all his that rely ſincerely upon him.

Having ſhewed you how God is a preſent help and ſupport to his people in all afflictions and trials, we ſhall further prove theſe truths by God’s all-ſufficiency and the creature’s inſufficiency, from Gen. vii, 1. "I am the Almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect."

From theſe words we may obſerve that the cauſe of our departure from God, and unevenneſs of our ways towards God, is from hence, that we don’t think God all-ſufficient; So on the other ſide, the cause of all our ſincerity, as perfectneſs and upright walking with God, ariſeth from hence, that we do all know him to be all-ſufficient.

Sirs, the cauſe of every man’s keeping off from God, and his uneven walking with him, it is from hence, that they think God is not all-ſufficient; hence it is that he ſteps out of the ways of God, and lays hold on the creature, and there ſeeks help.

1ſt. There is a generation of men in the world that look not towards God at all, conſcious of nothing, becauſe they think they have ſufficient of their own; and therefore, when a man is brought unto God, the firſt work is to take him off from his own bottom, to ſhew him his own emptineſs, and the fulneſs and all-ſufficiency that is in God alone.

A ſecond ſort of men are ſuch as come in and perform many things, and bring forth ſome fruit, and become profeſſors of the fear of God; and yet they do it not thoroughly but by halves, and the cauſe of their doing ſo is, that they cannot apprehend God to be all-ſufficient.

A third ſort of men are ſuch as are regenerate which are yet ſubject to many ſlips, falls, and turnings aſide; and the cauſe of all this is, they apprehended not God to be all-ſufficient, and this was the ſin of the angels that fell, that is the cauſe of all the ſins committed ſince; and the reaſons briefly are theſe.

Firſt, From the deſire of happineſs; every man naturally deſires happineſs. If there be any evil that lies upon him that is not removed, or any good that he deſires and wants, and doth not enjoy, his heart cannot reſt, and if he find not all-ſufficiency in God, he will be ready to ſtep aſide from God.

Secondly, In every ſin there is a turning aſide from God to the creature; now it is certain, if a man did find an all-ſufficiency in God, he would not go from him, nor ſeek to the creature.

To conclude, Thus, we have ſhewed you God’s all-ſufficiency, and the true nature of perfect walking with God: What remains but that we ſo walk, as hath been declared, in the fear of the Lord, and in all his ways with an upright heart, caſting all our care upon him in all our troubles and trials that we meet with in this world, "Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleaſure to give a kingdom in his good time to his faithful ones," for the ſake and merits of his Son Chriſt Jeſus, our Lord. Amen.

God’s Condeſcention to our Worſhip.

1 THY favours. Lord ſurpriſe our ſouls;
Will the Eternal dwell with us?
What can’ſt thou find beneath the poles,
To tempt thy chariot downward thus?

2 Still might he fill his ſtary throne,
And pleaſe his ears with Gabriel’s ſongs;
But th’ heav’nly Majeſty come’s down,
And bows to hearken to our tongues.

3 Great God! what poor returns we pay
For love ſo infinite as thine?
Words are but air, and tongues but clay
But thy compaſſion’s all divine.

F I N I S.



[No. 18.] SALTMARKET, 1806.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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