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you shall have me with you if you will lament evangelically after me.
6. You have good company in your exercise, though there be too, too many vile atheists and libertine wretches that say to God,“ depart from us, cause the Holy One to cease from the midst of us;" yet there are mourners in Zion who are very importunately crying and lamenting after the Lord, with all their might seeking to fetch back the ark; though they be few comparatively, and though despised, and possibly hid in corners, and as little taken notice of as those seven thousand in Elijah’s days, that had not bowed their knee to Baal.* But God searcheth out such retired worshippers, that pray, and complain to their Father in secret, and he will reward and answer them openly, with what concerns more than themselves. Oh! it is good to be of the number of these hidden ones! How blessed a thing is it to combine interests with this lovely society? There is a communion of saints in prayer, though unknown to one another. And I can say it, for your encouragement, O ye praying, inourning souls, that you are not alone, God hath thousands in these nations that have been hard at it many years, and present circumstances do quicken their cries. Our danger increaseth our pains, and those advance our cries; be not discouraged, you have many assistants. . A threefold cord is not easily broken; God hath some children to cry after him from all parts of the kingdom, and though many of the old stock of weeping souls are worn out, yet some wrestling young ones are planted in their room, some begotten in the bonds of the gospel, for the word of God is not bound, though ambassadors be. Zion hath been built in this troublous
* 1 Kings xix. 18.
time. And I think it may be truly said, that as the ark hath more visible followers, so more sincere lamenters after it, than when it was taken out of its public station; as Tertullian of old said, so it must be acknowledged that the more God's field is cut, the more grass springs up.
7. God hath a dear and tender regard for such as lament after him for the ark's sake, and will do them good upon that very account; Psal. cxxii. 6, “Pray. for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee;" they shall not only prosper and prevail for Jerusalem, but God will prosper them in other respects, in their graces, in comforts, yea oft in worldly concerns. . A public spirit is a personal gainer; God never suffers such to be losers by him, that deny themselves for him, Zeph. iii. 18, “I will gather them that are sorrowful, for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.” Such as study God's interest, have the Lord to study their interest. If we put our shoulder to bear his burden, he will bear both us and ours.* “Consider now,” saith God, “from this day and upward from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, consider it, from this day will I bless you,” Hag. ii. 18, 19. How much doth God value and how fully doth he reward an esteem for his worship? God builds their houses that have but a good will to build his house; as in David's case. Thus our Lord bids us prove him by our obedience and see if he will not open the windows of heaven, and pour down a blessing, Mal. iii. 10–12. Who would not then own and lay Zion's cause to heart?
8. The ark and ordinances when lamented over in their absence will be the sweetest and most profitable
* Psal. lv. 22.
when returned and enjoyed. None will so gladly welcome the ark, and improve its return as they that most deeply laid to heart its removal. Such, like those who have appetites, will not come with indifference to this soul-refreshing food ; a thirsty person will prize and be glad of a little water; David never so eagerly longed for God's presence and ordinances, as when he was in a dry and thirsty land, where no water was; Psal. lxiii. 1. “ The full soul loaths the honey comb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.' O what pantings! as the hart chased panteth för water brooks; you will gain more by a day's preaching then, than formerly in many days.
9. Souls that lament after the Lord shall enjoy him without medium or means at last. In heaven you will need no ordinances; Rev. xxi. 22, “I saw no temple therein, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, are the temple of it;" for you shall see his face immediately, and no more through a glass darkly; yea you shall see him as he is, which cannot but felicitate souls perfectly, therefore it is called the Beatifical Vision. O what a day will that be! You shall not then need to fear any disturbance from men or devils, but his servants shall serve him, and his name shall be on their foreheads; there is no more skulking into corners, nor meeting in the night for fear of men's laws, and persecution. Yea the more you have lamented after the Lord and his ark, the more shall your joy in the Lord. The more your sorrows abound, the more will your comfort abound. The lower the ebb, the higher the tide. You that loved Jerusalem, shall be glad with her, yea, you shall rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourned for her, Isa. Ixvi. 10.
* Prov. xxvii. 7. Psal. xlii. l.
10. In the mean time God himself will supply the want of ordinances; the great God will be a little sanctuary when in want of other means of worship ;* he himself will supply that defect. David could encourage himself in the Lord his God ;f Habakkuk rejoiced in the Lord, when destitute of outward comfort, and even in the absence of external privileges.f What want you from ordinances, that the all-sufficient God cannot supply you with light, love, warmth, strength, solution of doubts, satisfaction of your hearts; God is all in all, and all without all these helps. O friends! though you may not chuse to be without the means of grace, because they are God's instituted ways of conveying himself to us here, yet you must be content to be without them, when providence cuts you short of them, and say in this case as holy David, with which I shall conclude this subject, 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26, “Carry back the ark of God into the city, if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and show me both it and his habitation; but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee, behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.” * Ezek. xi. 16.
+ 1 Sam. xxx. 6. I Hab. jii. 16-18.