« AnteriorContinuar »
they would desire, yet they know that the morning hath its appointed time of return, beyond which it will not tarry; and therefore they look out for its appearance on all occasions : so it is with the soul in this matter. So says David, Psal. v. 3. “I will direct my prayer, unto thee HD381 and look up.' So we: the words before are defective, 778 pa 75 in the morning,' or rather, every morning, ‘I will order unto thee.' We restrain this unto prayer. “I will direct my prayer unto thee. But this was expressed directly in the words foregoing; 'In the morning thou shalt hear my
voice;' that is, the voice of my prayer and supplications, as it is often supplied. And although the psalmist doth sometime repeat the same thing in different expressions, yet here he seemeth not so to do, but rather proceeds to declare the general frame of his spirit in walking with God. I will, saith he, order all things towards God,' so as that I may wait upon him in the ways of his appointment; IDYNI “and will look up. It seems in our translation to express his posture in his prayer. But the word is of another importance. It is diligently to look out after that which is coming towards us, and looking out after the accomplishment of our expectation. This is a part of our waiting for God; yea, as was said, the life of it, that which is principally intended in it. The prophet calls it his standing upon his watch tower, and watching to see what God would speak unto him, Hab. ii. 3. namely, in answer unto that prayer which he put up in his trouble. He is now waiting in expectation of an answer from God. And this is that which poor, weak, trembling sinners are so encouraged unto, Isa. xxxv. 3, 4. · Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees : say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold your God will come.' Weakness and discouragements are the effects of unbelief. These he would have removed with an expectation of the coming of God unto the soul according to the promise. And this I say belongs unto the waiting of the soul in the condition described. Such a one doth expect and hope that God will in his season manifest himself and his love unto him, and give him an experimental sense of a blessed interest in forgiveness. And the accomplishment of this purpose and promise of God, it looks out after continually. It will not despond and be heartless, but stir up and strengthen itself unto a full expectation to have the desires of his soul satisfied in due time: as we find David doing in places almost innumerable.
This is the duty that in the first place is recommended unto the soul, who is persuaded that there is forgiveness with God, but sees not its own interest therein. Wait on, or for, the Lord. And it hath two properties when it is performed in a due manner; namely, patience and perseverance. By the one men are kept to the length of God's time; by the other they are preserved in a due length of their own duty.
And this is that which was laid down in the first pro. position drawn from the words ; namely, that continuance in watching, until God appears unto the soul, is necessary, as that without which we cannot attain what we look after, and prevailing, as that wherein we shall never fail.
God is not to be limited, nor his times prescribed unto him. We know our way, and the end of our journey; but our stations of especial rest, we must wait for at his mouth, as the people did in the wilderness. When David comes to deal with God in his great distress, he says unto him,‘O Lord, thou art my God, my times are in thine hand ;' Psal. xxxi. 14, 15. His times of trouble and of peace, of darkness and of light, he acknowledged to be in the hand and at the disposal of God; so that it was his duty to wait his time and season for his share and portion in them.
During this state the soul meets with many oppositions, difficulties, and perplexities, especially if its darkness be of long continuance, as with some it abides many years, with some all the days of their lives. Their hope being hereby deferred, makes their hearts sick, and their spirit oftentimes to faint; and this fainting is a defect in waiting, for want of perseverance and continuance which frustrates the end of it. So David, Psal. xxvii. 13. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord.' Had I not received supportment by faith, I had fainted. And wherein doth that consist? what was the fainting which he had been overtaken withal, without the supportment mentioned? It was a relinquishment of waiting on God, as he manifets by the exhortation which he gives to himself and others, ver. 14. *Wait on the Lord : be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.' Wait with courage and resolution that thou faint not. And the apostle puts the blessed event of faith and obedience upon the avoidance of this evil, Gal. vi. 9. We shall reap if we faint not. Hence we have both encouragements given against it, and promises that in the way of God we shall not be overtaken with it. Consider the Lord Christ,' saith the apostle, ' the captain of your salvation, lest you be wearied and faint in your
minds; Heb. xii. 3. Nothing else can cause you to come short of the mark aimed at. ' And they,' saith the prophet, ' who wait on the Lord,' that is, in the use of the means by him appointed, ' shall not faint;' Isa. xl. 31.
This continuance then in waiting, is to accompany this duty, upon the account of both the things mentioned in the proposition; that it is indispensably necessary on our own account, and it is assuredly prevailing in the end; it will not fail.
1. It is necessary. They that watch for the morning, to whose frame and actings, the waiting of the soul for God is compared, give not over until the light doth appear, or if they do, if they are wearied and faint, and so cease watching, all their former pains will be lost, and they will lie down in disappointments. So will it be with the soul that deserts its watch, and faints in its waiting. If upon the eruption of new lusts or corruptions; if upon the return of old temptations, or the assaults of new ones; if
upon a revived perplexing sense of guilt, or on the tediousness of working and labouring so much and so long in the dark, the soul begins to say in itself, I have looked for light and behold darkness ; for peace, and yet trouble cometh; the summer is past, the harvest is ended, and I am not relieved; such and such blessed means have been enjoyed, and yet. I have not attained rest; and so gives over its waiting in the way and course before prescribed, it will at length utterly fail and come short of the grace aimed at. “Thou hast laboured and hast not fainted,' brings in the reward, Rev. ii. 3.
2. Perseverance in waiting is assuredly prevalent; and this renders it a necessary part of the duty itself. If we continue to wait for the vision of peace, it will come, it will not tarry, but answer our expectation of it. Never soul miscarried that abode in this duty unto the end. The joys of heaven may sometimes prevent consolations in this life; God sometimes gives in the full harvest without sending of the first-fruits aforehand, but spiritual or eternal peace and rest, is the infallible end of permanent waiting for God.
This is the duty that the psalmist declares himself to be engaged in, upon the encouraging discovery which was made unto him of forgiveness in God.There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.' And this is that which in the like condition is required of us. This is the great direction which was given us, in the example and practice of the psalmist, as to our duty and deportment in the condition described. This was the way whereby he rose out of his depths and escaped out of his entanglements. Is this then the state of any of us? let such take directions from hence.
1. Encourage your souls unto waiting on God. Do new fears arise, do old disconsolations continue? say unto your souls, Yet wait on God; 'why are you cast down, O our souls ? and why are you disquieted within us? hope in God; for we shall yet praise him, who is the health of our countenance, and our God;' as the psalmist doth in the like case, Psal. xliii. 5. So he speaks elsewhere, 'Wait on God, and be of good courage,' shake off sloth, rouse up yourselves from under despondencies, let not fears prevail. This is the only way for success, and it will assuredly be prevalent; oppose this resolution to every discouragement, and it will give new life to faith and hope; say, 'My flesh faileth, and my heart faileth, but God is the rock of my heart, and my portion for ever;' as Psal. Ixxiii. 26. Though thy perplexed thoughts have even wearied and worn out the outward man, as in many they do, so that flesh faileth ; and though thou hast no refreshing evidence from within, from thyself, or thy own experience, so that thy heart faileth; yet resolve to look unto God; there is strength in him, and satisfaction in him, for the whole man; he is a rock, and a portion; this will strengthen things which otherwise will be ready to die. This will keep life in thy course, and stir thee up to plead it with God in an acceptable season, when he will be found. Job carriedup his condition unto a supposition that God might slay him; that is, add one stroke, one rebuke unto
another until he was consumed; and so take him out of the world in darkness and in sorrow. Yet he resolved to trust, to hope, to wait on him, as knowing that he should not utterly miscarry, so doing. This frame the church expresseth so admirably, that nothing can be added thereunto, Lam. ü. 17–26. “Thou hast removed my soul far off from peace, I forgat prosperity, and my hope is perished from the Lord; remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man-should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.' We have here both the condition and the duty insisted on, with the method of the soul's actings in reference unto the one and the other fully expressed. The condition is sad and bitter, the soul is in depths far from peace and rest, ver. 14. In this state it is ready utterly to faint and to give all for lost and gone, both strength for the present, and hopes for the future, ver. 18. This makes its condition full of sorrow and bitterness, and its own thoughts become unto it like 'wormwood and gall,' ver. 19, 20. But doth he lie down under the burden of all this trouble? doth he despond, and give over? No, saith he, I call to mind, that 'there is forgiveness with God;' grace, mercy, goodness, for the relief of distressed souls; such as are in my condition, ver. 21—23. Thence the conclusion is, that as all help is to be looked for, all relief expected, from him alone; so it is good that a man should quietly wait, and hope for the salvation of God.' This he stirs up himself unto, as the best, as the most blessed course for his deliverance.
2. Remember, that diligent use of the means for the end aimed at, is a necessary concomitant of, and ingredient unto, waiting on God. Take in the consideration of this direction also. Do not think to be freed from your entanglements, by restless, heartless desiring that it were otherwise with you. Means are to be used that relief may be obtained. What those means are, is known unto all. Mortification of