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ICOME now to speak to the third and last part of the text, namely, of the good effect that will certainly follow to those that, after a due manner, shall take the advice afore given. “Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
Two things from the last clause of the text lie yet before us. And they are they by which will be shown what good effect will follow to those that suffer according to the will of God, and that commit their souls to his keeping.
I. Such will find him to themselves aCREATOr.
In this phrase, a Faithful Creator , behold the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, how fitly and to the purpose he speaketh. King is a great title, and God is sometimes called a King; but he is not set forth by this title here, but by the title of a Creator; for it is not always in the power of a king to succor and relieve his subjects, that are suffering for his crown and dignity. Father is a sweet title — a title that carrieth in it an intimation of a great deal of bowels and compassion, and God is often set forth also by this title in the holy Scriptures. But so he is not here, but rather as aCREATOR.
For a father, a compassionate father, cannot always help, succor, or relieve his children, though he knows they are under affliction! Oh! but a Creator can. Wherefore, I say, he is set forth here under the title of Creator. First, ACREATOR! nothing can die under a Creator’s hands . A Creator can sustain all. A Creator can, as a Creator, do what he pleases. “The Lord, the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary” ( Isaiah 40:28).
The cause of God, for which his people suffer, had been dead and buried a thousand years ago, had it not been in the hand of a Creator. The people that have stood by his cause had been out of both as to persons, name, and remembrance, had they not been in the hand of a Creator. Who could have hoped, when Israel was going in, even into the mouth of the Red Sea, that ever his cause, or that people, should have revived again. A huge host of the Egyptians were behind them, and nothing but death before and on every hand of them; but they lived, they flourished, they outlived their enemies, for they were in the hand of a Creator.
They could not deliver themselves from going thither, they could not preserve themselves from being diminished when they came there, their power was gone, they were in captivity, their distance from home was far, their enemies possessed their land, their city of defense was ruined, and their houses burned down to the ground; and yet they came home again: there is nothing impossible to a Creator.
Who could have thought that the three children could have lived in a fiery furnace? that Daniel could have been safe among the lions? that Jonah could have come home to his country, when he was in the whale’s belly? or that our Lord should have risen again from the dead? But what is impossible to a Creator?
This, therefore, is a rare consideration for those to let their hearts be acquainted with that suffer according to the will of God, and that have committed the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing. They have a Creator to maintain and uphold their cause, a Creator to oppose its opposers. And hence it is said, all that burden themselves with Jerusalem “shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” ( Zechariah 12:3). Second, ACREATOR! A Creator can not only support a dying cause, but also fainting spirits . For as he fainteth not, nor is weary, so “he giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” ( Isaiah 40:29). He is the God of the spirits of all flesh, and has the life of the spirit of his people in his own hand. Spirits have their being from him; he is the Father of spirits. Spirits are made strong by him, nor can any crush that spirit that God the Creator will uphold .
Is it not a thing amazing to see one poor inconsiderable man, in a spirit of faith and patience, overcome all the threatenings, cruelties, afflictions, and sorrows, that a whole world can lay upon him? None can quail F43 him, none can crush him, none can bend down his spirit. None can make him to forsake what he has received of God — a commandment to hold fast. His holy, harmless, and profitable notions, because they are spiced with grace, yield to him more comfort, joy, and peace, and do kindle in his soul so goodly a fire of love to, and zeal for God, that all the waters of the world shall never be able to quench.
Ay, say some, that is because his is headstrong, obstinate, and one that will hear no reason. No, say I, but it is because his spirit is in the hand, under the conduct and preservation, of a Creator. A Creator can make spirits, uphold spirits, and make one spirit stronger to stand, than are all the spirits of the world to cast down. To stand, I say, in a way of patient enduring in well-doing, against all that hell can do to suppress. Third, ACREATOR! A Creator can bring down the spirits that oppose, and make them weak and unstable as water . The Lord, the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, nor is weary; there is no searching of his understanding. He gives power to the faint, and to those that have no might, he increaseth strength; now mark, even the young shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. A Creator can dash the spirits of the enemies with fear. God can put them in fear, and make them know that they are men and not God, and that their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the enemy came to take Jesus Christ, their spirits fainted, their hearts died in them; they went backwards, and fell to the ground. They had hard work to strengthen their spirits to a sufficiency of boldness and courage, though they brought halberts, and staves, and swords, and weapons with them, to take a naked F44 man ( John 18:3-7).
And although this is that which is not so visible to the world as some other things are, yet I believe that God treads down the spirits of men in a day when they afflict his people, oftener than we are aware of, or than they are willing to confess . How was the hostile spirit of Esau trod down of God, when he came out to meet his poor naked brother, with no less than four hundred armed men? He fainted before his brother, and instead of killing, kissed him ( Genesis 33:4). How was the bloody spirit of Saul trod down, when David met him at the mouth of the cave, and also at the hill Hachilah ( 1 Samuel 24:26)? God is a Creator, and as a Creator, is a spirit maker, a spirit reviver, a spirit destroyer; he can destroy body and soul in hell ( Luke 12:5). Fourth, ACREATOR! As a Creator, he is over all arts, inventions, and crafts of men that are set on work to destroy God’s people , whether they be soldiers, excellent orators, or any other whatsoever; we will single out one — the smith, that roaring fellow, who with his coals and his bellows makes a continual noise. “I have created the smith,” said God, “that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy” ( Isaiah 54:16).
The smith, what is he? I answer, an idol maker, a promoter of false worship, and one that makes instruments of cruelty, therewith to help to suppress the true [worship] ( Isaiah 41:7; Isaiah 44:12; Isaiah 46:6). “I have created the smith,” saith God, “that bloweth the coals in the fire.”
The idol inventor, the idol maker, the supporter of idol worship, he is my creature, saith God, to teach that he has power to reach him, and to command his sword to approach him at his pleasure, notwithstanding his roaring with his bellows, and his coals in the fire. So then, he cannot do what he will in the fire, nor with his idol when he has made it; the instrument, also that he makes for the defense of his idol, and for the suppressing of God’s true worship, shall not do the thing for the which it is designed by him. And so the very next verse saith: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord” ( Isaiah 54:17). And the text saith moreover, I have created the waster to destroy.
The waster, what is that? Why, the smith makes an idol, and God has made the rust; the smith makes a sword, and God has made the rust. The rust eats them up, the moth shall eat them up, the fire shall devour them. “The wicked,” saith the Psalmist, “have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken” ( Psalm 37:14,15).
Wherefore by this peculiar title of Creator, the apostle prepareth support for suffering saints, and also shows what a good conclusion is like to be made with them that suffer for righteousness’ sake, according to his will; and that commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator. Fifth, ACREATOR! A Creator can make such provision for a suffering people, in all respects, as shall answer all their wants . Have they lost their peace with the world? Have they no more peace with this world? Why, a Creator can make, create peace, can create peace, peace; peace with God, and peace with his conscience; and that is better than all the peace that can be found elsewhere in the world ( Isaiah 57:19). Have they lost a good frame of heart? Do they want a right frame of spirit? Why, though this is to be had no where in the world, yet a Creator can help them to it ( Psalm 51:10). Have they lost their spiritual defense? Do they lie too open to their spiritual foes? Why, this a Creator can help. “And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense.” ( Isaiah 4:5) This is the work of the Spirit; for though the Spirit itself be uncreated, yet all the holy works of it in the heart are verily works of creation. Our new man is a creation; our graces are a creation; our joys and comforts are a creation F45 ( 2 Corinthians 5:17,18; Ephesians 4:24; Isaiah 65:17-19). Now a creation none can destroy but a Creator; wherefore here is comfort. But again, God hath created us in Christ Jesus; that is another thing. The sun is created in the heavens; the stars are created in the heavens; the moon is created in the heavens. Who can reach them, touch them, destroy them, but the Creator? Why, this is the case of the saint; because he has to do with a Creator, he is fastened to Christ; yea, is in him by an act of creation ( Ephesians 2:10), so that unless Christ and the creation of the Holy Ghost can be destroyed, he is safe that is suffering according to the will of God, and that hath committed the keeping of his soul to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
And this I would have you consider moreover; the man that suffereth according to the will of God, committeth not such a soul to this Creator as dwells in carnal men — a naked soul, a graceless soul, a soul that has nothing in it but sin; but he commits a converted soul, a regenerate soul, a soul adorned, beautified, and sanctified, with the jewels, and bracelets, earrings, and perfumes of the blessed Spirit of grace.
And I say again, this is the work of a Creator, and a Creator can maintain it in its gallantry, and he will do so, but he will put forth acts of creating power for it every day. Sixth, ACREATOR! He that can create can turn and alter any thing, to what himself would have it . He that made “the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning” ( Amos 5:8), he can “make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” ( Isaiah 41:18).
Our most afflicted and desolate conditions, he can make as a little haven unto us; he can make us sing in the wilderness, and can give us our vineyards from thence ( Hosea 2:14,15). He can make Paul sing in the stocks, and good Rowland Taylor dance as he goeth to the burning stake.
Jails, and mocks, and scourgings, and flouts and imprisonments, and hunger, and nakedness, and peril, and sword, and dens, and caves, and rocks, and mountains, God can so sweeten with the honey of his Word, and make so famous for situation by the glory of his presence, and so rich and fruitful by the communications of the Holy Ghost, and so easy by the spreading of his feathers over us, that we shall not be able to say, that in all the world a more commodious place, or comfortable condition, can be found. Some have know this, and have been rather ready to covet to be here, than to shun and fly from it, as a most unsavory condition. F46 All these things, I say, God doth as a Creator. He hath created antipathies, and he can make antipathies close, and have favor one for another. The lion and the calf, the wolf and the lamb, the little boy and the cockatrice’s den he can reconcile, and make to be at agreement. So, sufferings and the saint; the prison and the saint; losses, crosses, and afflictions, and the saint: he can make to lie down sweetly together. Seventh, ACREATOR! A Creator can make up all that thou hast or shalt lose for the sake of thy profession by the hands of the children of men, be they friends, relations, a world, life, or what you can conceive of. 1. Hast thou lost thy friend for the sake of thy profession? Is the whole world set against thee for thy love to God, to Christ, his cause, and righteousness? Why, a Creator can make up all. Here, therefore, is the advantage that he hath that suffereth for righteousness’ sake. Jonathan, the very son of bloody Saul, when David had lost the help of all his own relations, he must fall in with him, stick to him, and love him as he loved his own soul ( 1 Samuel 18:1-3). Obadiah, Ahab’s steward, when the saints were driven even under ground by the rage of Jezebel the queen, he is appointed of God to feed them in caves and holes of the earth ( Kings 18:13). Yea, the very raven complied with the will of a Creator to bring the prophet bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh at night (17:6). When Jeremiah the prophet was rejected of all, yea, the church that then was, could not help him; he was cast into the dungeon, and sunk to a great depth there in the mire. God the Creator, who ruleth the spirits of all men, stirred up the heart of Ebed-melech the Ethiopian both to petition for his liberty, and to put him out of the dungeon by the help of thirty men ( Jeremiah 38:7-13). These now, as Christ says, were both fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and as a loving wife or child ( Matthew 19:29). 2. Hast thou, for the sake of thy faith and profession thereof, lost thy part in the world? Why, a Creator can make thee houses as he did for the midwives of Egypt ( Exodus 1:20,21), and can build thee a sure house as he did for David his servant, who ventured all for the love that they had to the fear of God and his way ( 2 Samuel 7). David was thrust out of Saul’s house, and driven from his own, and God opened the heart of Achisch the king of Gath to receive him, and to give him Ziklag. David, when under the tyranny of Saul, knew not what to do with his father and his mother, who were persecuted for his sake, but a Creator inclined the heart of the king of Moab to receive them to house and harbor ( 1 Samuel 27:5; 1 Samuel 22:3,4). 3. Is thy life at stake — is that like to go for thy profession, for thy harmless profession of the gospel? Why, God the Creator is Lord of life, and to God the Lord belong the issues from death. So then, he can, if he will, hold thy breath in thy nostrils, in spite of all the world; or if he shall suffer them to take away this for his glory, he can give thee another ten times as good for thy comfort. “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” ( John 12:25). 4. Is thy body to be disfigured, dismembered, starved, hanged, or burned for the faith and profession of the gospel? Why, a Creator can either prevent it, or, suffering it, can restore it the very same to thee again, with great and manifold advantage. He that made thee to be now what thou art, can make thee to be what thou never yet wast. It doth not yet appear what we shall be, further than only by general words ( 1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:21). Eight, ACREATOR! Peter sets him before us here as a Creator, because he would have us live upon him as such; as well as upon his grace, love, and mercy. In Job’s day this was bewailed, that none or but a few said, “Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?” ( Job 35:10).
CREATOR, as was hinted before, is one of God’s peculiar titles. It is not given to him above five or six times in all the Book of God; and usually, when given him, it is either to show his greatness, or else to convince us that of duty we ought to depend upon him; and not to faint, if he be on our side, for or under any adversity, according as we are bidden in the text: “Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful creator.” Shall God display his glory before us under the character and title of a Creator, and shall we yet fear man? Shall he do this to us when we are under a suffering condition, and that on purpose that we might commit our souls to him in well-doing, and be quiet, and shall we take no notice of this? “Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth?” etc. ( Isaiah 51:12,13).
Had God concealed himself, as to his being a Creator, yet since he presenteth himself unto us by his Word under so many excellent titles as are given to no other God besides, methinks it should make us bold in our God; but when, for our relief, he shall add to all other that he verily is a Creator, this should make us rest in hope indeed.
Every nation will have confidence for their own gods, though but gods that are made with hands — though but the work of the smith and carpenter; and shall not we trust in the name of the Lord our God, who is not only a God, but a Creator and former of all things ( Micah 4:5), consequently, the only living and true God, and one that alone can sustain us? We therefore are to be greatly blamed if we overlook the ground, such ground of support and comfort as presenteth itself unto us under the title of a Creator; but then most of all, if, when we have heard, believed, and known that our God is such, we shall yet be afraid of a man that shall die, and forget the Lord our maker. We, I say, have heard, seen, known, and believed, that our God is the Creator. The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament showeth his handy-work, and thus he has showed unto us “his eternal power and Godhead” ( Romans 1:20).
Behold, then, thou fearful worm, Jacob, the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars; behold the earth, the sea, the air, the fire, and vapors. Behold, all living things, from leviathan and behemoth to the least that creepeth in the earth and waters. Yea, behold thyself, thy soul, thy body, thy fashion, thy building, and consider; thy God hath made even all these things, and hath given to thee this being; yea, and all this also he made of that which doth not appear ( Hebrews 11:1-3). This is that which thou art called to the consideration of by Peter, in the text; when he letteth fall from his apostolical meditation that thy God is the Creator, and commandeth that thou, in thy suffering for him according to his will, shouldest commit the keeping of thy soul to him as unto a faithful Creator.
He that has the art thus to do, and that can do it in his straits, shall never be trodden down. His God, his faith; his faith, his God, are able to make him stand. For such a man will thus conclude, that since the Creator of all is with him, what but creatures are there to be against him? So, then, what is the axe, that it should boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or the saw, that it should magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against him that lifteth it up; or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were not wood ( Isaiah 10:15). Read also Isaiah 40:12-31, and then speak, if God as Creator is not a sure confidence to all the ends of the earth that trust in, and wait upon him. As Creator, he hath formed and upholdeth all things; yea, his hands have formed the crooked serpent, wherefore he also is at his bay ( Job 26:13).
And thou hast made the dragon in the sea; and therefore it follows that he can cut and wound him ( Isaiah 51:9), and give him for meat to the fowls, and to the beasts inheriting the wilderness ( Psalm 74:13,14), if he will seek to swallow up and destroy the church and people of God ( Ezekiel 29:3,4). Ninth, A Creator is God! the God unto whom they that suffer according to his will are to commit the keeping of their souls — the Creator. And doth he take charge of them as a Creator? Then this should teach us to be far off from being dismayed, as the heathens are, at his tokens ; for our God, the Lord, is the true God, the living God, the King of eternity ( Jeremiah 10:1,2,10). We should tremblingly glory and rejoice when we see him in the world, though upon those that are the most terrible of his dispensations. God the Creator will sometimes mount himself and ride through the earth in such majesty and glory, that he will make all to stand in the tent doors to behold him. O how he rode in his chariots of salvation when he went to save his people out of the land of Egypt! How he shook the nations! Then “his glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.” Then said the prophet, “I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?” ( Habakkuk 3:3-8).
So David: “The earth shook and trembled,” said he; “the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire. Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils” ( Psalm 18:7-15).
These are glorious things, though shaking dispensations. God is worthy to be seen in his dispensations as well as in his Word, though the nations tremble at his presence. “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down,” saith the prophet, “that the mountains might flow down at thy presence!” ( Isaiah 64:1).
We know God, and he is our God, our own God; of whom or of what should we be afraid? (Psalm 46). When God roars out of Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, when the heavens and the earth do shake, the Lord shall be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel ( Joel 3:16).
Every man stayeth up, or letteth his spirit fail, according to what he knoweth concerning the nature of a thing. He that knows the sea, knows the waves will toss themselves: he that knows a lion, will not much wonder to see his paw, or to hear the voice of his roaring. And shall we that know our God be stricken with a panic fear, when he cometh out of his holy place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity? We should stand like those that are next to angels, and tell the blind world who it is that is thus mounted upon his steed, and that hath the clouds for the dust of his feet, and that thus rideth upon the wings of the wind: we should say unto them, “This God is our God for ever and ever, and he shall be our guide even unto death.”
Our God! the Creator! He can turn men to destruction, and say, Return, ye children of men. When our God shows himself, it is worth the while to see the sight, though it costs us all that we have to behold it. Some men will bless and admire every rascally juggler that can but make again that which they only seem to mar, or do something that seems to outgo reason; yea, though they make thunderings and noise in the place where they are, as though the devil himself were there. Shall saints, then, like slaves, be afraid of their God, the Creator; of their own God, when he rendeth the heavens, and comes down? When God comes into the world to do great things, he must come like himself — like him that is a Creator: wherefore the heavens and the earth must move at his presence, to signify that they acknowledge him as such, and pay him that homage that is due to him as their God and great Creator.
We that are Christians have been trained up by his Son in his school this many a day, and have been told what a God our Father is, what an arm he has, and with what a voice he can thunder; how he can deck himself with majesty and excellency, and array himself with beauty and glory; how he can cast abroad the rage of his wrath, and behold every one that is proud, and abase him ( Job 40:9-11). Have we not talked of what he did at the Red Sea, and in the land of Ham many years ago, and have we forgot him now? Have we not vaunted and boasted of our God both in church, pulpit, and books; and spake to the praise of them that, instead of stones, attempted to drive antichrist out of the world with their lives and their blood; and are we afraid of our God? He was God, a Creator, then; and is he not God now? and will he not be as good to us as to them that have gone before us? or would we limit him to appear in such ways as only smile upon our flesh; and have him stay, and not show himself in his heart-shaking dispensations until we are dead and gone? What if we must go now to heaven, and what if he is thus come down to fetch us to himself? If we have been wise as serpents, and innocent as doves — if we can say, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor against Caesar, have we offended anything at all, of what should we be afraid? Let heaven and earth come together, I dare say they will not hurt us.
Our Lord Jesus, when dilating upon some of the great and necessary works of our Creator, puts check beforehand to all uncomely fears; to such fears as become not the faith and profession of a Christian. “Brother,” saith he, “shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” What follows? (verse 28), “Fear them not”; and again, in verse 31, “Fear ye not” ( Matthew 10:21,22).
So again ( Matthew 24): “Nation shall rise against nation — there shall be famines, pestilence’s, and earthquakes, etc. They shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you. — Many shall be offended, and shall betray one another. — And many false prophets shall arise, and deceive many.” And yet for all this we are bid not to be afraid, for all these things, with all other are ordered, limited, enlarged and straitened, bounded and butted by the will, and hand, and power of that God unto whom Peter bids us commit the keeping of our souls, as unto a faithful Creator (verse 7-11; Mark 13:5-9). To wait for God in the way of his judgments doth well become a Christian.
To believe he loves us when he shows himself terrible to us, is also very much becoming of us. Wherefore has he given us grace? Is it that we should live by sense? Wherefore has he sometimes visited us? Is it that our hearts might be estranged from him, and that we still should love the world? And I say again, wherefore has he so plainly told us of his greatness, and of what he can do? Is it not that we might be still when the world is disturbed ; and that we might hope for good things to come out of such providence’s that, to sense, look as if themselves would eat up and devour all?
Let us wait upon God, walk with God, believe in God, and commit ourselves, our soul, our body, to God, to be kept. Yea, let us be content to be at the disposal of God, and rejoice to see him act according to all his wondrous works. For this is a posture highly becoming them that say of God he is their Father, and that have committed the keeping of their souls to him as unto a Creator.