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sin, prayer, meditation, due attendance upon all gospel ordinances; conferring in general about spiritual things, advising in particular about our own state and condition, with such who having received the tongue of the learned, are able to speak a word in season to them that are weary, are required to this purpose. And in all these are diligence and perseverance to be exercised; or in vain shall men desire a delivery from their entanglements.
God the proper object of the soul's waiting in its distresses and depths. We have seen what the duty is, intended in the proposition; we are nextly to consider the reason also of it, why this is the great, first, and principal duty of souls; who in their depths have it discovered unto them that there is forgiveness with God; and the reason hereof is, that which is expressed in our second observation before-mentioned ; namely,
That the proper object of a sin-distressed soul's waiting and expectation, is God himself as revealed in Christ. I have,' saith the psalmist, waited for Jehovah ;' it is not this or that mercy or grace, this or that help or relief; but it is Jehovah himself that I wait for.
Here then we must do two things; first, Shew in what sense God himself is the object of the waiting of the soul; secondly, How it appears from hence that waiting is so necessary a duty.
First, It is the Lord himself, Jehovah himself, that the soul waiteth for. It is not grace, mercy, or relief absolutely considered, but the God of all grace and help, that is the full adequate object of the soul's waiting and expectation; only herein he is not considered absolutely in his own nature ; but as there is forgiveness with him. What is required hereunto, hath been at large before declared. It is as he is revealed in and by Jesus Christ; as in him he hath found a ransom, and accepted the atonement for sinners in his blood; as he is a God in covenant; so he is himself the object of our waiting. And that,
1. Because all troubles, depths, entanglements, arise from, 1. The absence of God from the soul; and, 2. From his displeasure.
1. The absence of God from the soul, by his departure, withdrawing, or hiding himself from it, is that which principally casts the soul into its depths. Woe unto them,' saith the Lord, 'when I depart from them ;' Hos.ix. 12. And this woe, this sorrow, doth not attend only a universal, a total departure of God from any; but that also which is gradual, or partial, in some things, in some seasons. When God withdraws his enlightening, his refreshing, his comforting presence, as to any ways or means whereby he hath formerly communicated himself unto the souls of any; then 'woe unto them,' sorrows will befall them, and they will fall into depths and entanglements. Now this condition calls for waiting. If God be withdrawn, if he hides himself, what hath the soul to do, but to wait for his return? So saith the prophet, Isa. viii. 17. “I will wait upon the Lord that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.' If God hide himself, this is the natural and proper duty of the soul, to wait and to look for him. Other course of relief it cannot apply itself unto. What that waiting is, and wherein it doth consist, hath been declared. Patient seeking of God in the ways of his appointment is comprised in it; this the prophet expresseth in that word, I will look for him;' indeed the same in the original with that in the psalm, '11" S; and I will earnestly look out after him with expectation of his return unto me.
2. A sense of God's displeasure is another cause of these depths and troubles, and of the continuance of the soul in them, notwithstanding it hath made a blessed discovery by faith, that there is with him forgiveness ; this hath been so fully manifested through the whole preceding discourse, that it need not again be insisted on. All hath respect unto sin, and the reason of the trouble that ariseth from sin, is because of the displeasure of God against it. What then is the natural posture and frame of the soul towards God as displeased ? shall he contend with him? shall he harden himself against him? shall he despise his wrath and anger, and contemn his threatenings? or shall he hide himself from him, and so avoid the effects of his wrath? who knows not how ruinous and pernicious to the soul such courses would be ? and how many are ruined by them every day? Patient waiting is the soul's only reserve on this account also. And
Secondly, This duty in the occasion mentioned is necessary, upon the account of the greatness and sovereignty of him with whom we have to do. “My soul waiteth for Jehóvah.' Indeed, waiting is a duty that depends on the distance that is between the persons concerned in it, namely, he that waiteth, and he that is waited on; so the psalmist informs us, Psal. cxxiii. 2. It is an action like that of servants and handinaids towards their masters or rulers. And the greater this distance is, the more cogent are the reasons of this duty on all occasions. And because we are practically averse from the due performance of this duty, or at least quickly grow weary of it, notwithstanding our full conviction of its necessity, I shall a little insist on some such considerations of God and ourselves, as may not only evince the necessity of this duty, but also satisfy us of its reasonableness ; that by the first we may be engaged into it, and by the latter preserved in it.
Two things we may to this purpose consider in God, in Jehovah, whom we are to wait for. First, His being, and the absolute and essential properties of his nature. Secondly, Those attributes of his nature which respect his dealing with us; both which are suited to beget in us affections, and a frame of spirit compliant with the duty proposed.
Considerations of God rendering our waiting on him reasonable and
necessary. His glorious being.
First, Let us consider the infinite glorious being of Jehovah, with his absolute, incommunicable, essential excellencies; and then try whether it doth not become us in every
condi. tion to wait for him, and especially in that under consideration. This course God himself took with Job to recover him from his discontents and complaints, to reduce him to quietness and waiting. He sets before him his own glorious greatness, as manifested in the works of his power, that thereby being convinced of his own ignorance, weakness,
and infinite distance in all things from him, he might humble his soul into the most submissive dependance on him, and waiting for him. And this he doth accordingly, chap. xlii. 6. *I abhor,' saith he, ‘myself, and repent in dust and ashes,' His soul now comes to be willing to be at God's disposal, and therein he found present rest, and a speedy healing of his condition. It is the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy;' Isa. lvii. 15. with whom we have now to do: 'He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants of it are as grasshoppers before him; yea, the nations are as the drop of the bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance; he takes up the isles as a very little thing; all nations before him are as nothing; they are counted unto him less than nothing, and vanity ;' Isa. xl. 15. 17. 22. To what end doth the Lord set forth and declare his glorious greatness and power? It is that all might be brought to trust in him, and to wait for him, as at large is declared in the close of the chapter. For shall grasshoppers, a drop of the bucket, dust of the balance, things less than nothing, repine against, or wax weary of, the will of the immense, glorious, and lofty One ? He that "taketh up all isles as a very little thing,' may surely, if he please, destroy, cast, and forsake one isle, one city in an isle, one person in a city; and we are before him but single per
Serious thoughts of this infinite all-glorious Being, will either quiet our souls, or overwhelm them. All our weariness of his dispensations towards us, arises from secret imaginations, that he is such a one as ourselves; one that is to do nothing but what seems good in our eyes. But if we cannot comprehend his being, we cannot make rules to judge of his ways and proceedings. And how small a portion is it that we know of God? The nearest approaches of our reasons and imaginations, leave us still at an infinite distance from him. And indeed, what we speak of his greatness, we know not well what it signifies, we only declare our respect unto that which we believe, admire, and adore, but are not able to comprehend. All our thoughts come as short of his excellent greatness, as our natures do of his; that is infinitely. Behold the universe, the glorious fabric of heaven and earth; how little is it that we know of its beauty, order, and disposal ; yet was it all the product of the word of his mouth; and with the same facility can he, when he pleaseth, reduce it to its primitive nothing. And what are we poor worms of the earth, an inconsiderable unknown part of the lower series and order of the works of his hands, few in number, fading in condition, unregarded unto the residue of our fellow creatures, that we should subduct ourselves from under any kind of his dealings with us, or be weary of waiting for his pleasure? This he presseth on us, Psal. xlvi. 10. "Be still, and know that I am God.' Let there be no more repinings, no more disputings, continue waiting in silence and patience; consider who I am; 'Be still, and know that I am God.'
Farther, to help us in this consideration, let us a little also fix our minds towards some of the glorious, essential, incommunicable properties of his nature, distinctly. As,
1. His eternity. This Moses proposeth to bring the souls of believers to submission, trust, and waiting, Psal. xc. 1. 'From everlasting to everlasting thou art God.' One that hath his being and subsistence not in a duration of time, but in eternity itself: so doth Habbakuk also, chap i. 12. My Lord, my God, my Holy One, art thou not from everlasting ?' and hence he draws his conclusion against making haste in any condition, and for tarrying and waiting for God. The like consideration is managed by David also, Psal. cii. 27. How inconceivable is this glorious divine property unto the thoughts and minds of men ? How weak are the ways and terms whereby they go about to express it? One says, it is a' nunc stans ;' another, that it is a perpetual duration. He that says most, only signifies what he knows of what it is not. We are of yesterday, change every moment, and are leaving our station to-morrow. God is still the same, was so before the world was, from eternity. And now I cannot think what I have said, but only have intimated what I adore. The whole duration of the world from the beginning unto the end, takes up no space in this eternity of God. For how long soever it hath continued, or may yet continue, it will all amount but to so many thousand years, so long a time; and time hath no place in eternity. And for us who have in this matter to do with God, what is our continuance unto that of the world ? a moment, as it were, in comparison of the whole. When men's liveswere