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For a sinner out of hell not to rest in the will of God, not to humble himself under his mighty hand, is to make himself guilty of the especial sin of hell. Other sins deserve it, but repining against God is principally, yea, only committed in it. The church comes to a blessed quieting resolution in this case, Micah vii. 9. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him ;' bear it quietly, patiently, and submit under his hand therein.
3. Consider that of ourselves we are not able to make a right judgment of what is good for us ; what evil unto us, or what tends most directly unto our chiefest end ; Psal. xxxix. 6. Surely man walketh in a vain shew;' sro in an image full of false representations of things ; in the midst of vain appearances, that he knows not what to choose or do aright, and therefore spends the most of his time and strength about things that are of no use or purpose unto him;
Surely they are disquieted in vain.' And hereof he gives one especial instance; "he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather;' which is but one example of the manifold frustrations that men meet withal in the whole course of their lives, as not knowing what is good for them. We all profess to aim at one chief and principal end, namely, the enjoyment of God in Christ, as our eternal reward ; and in order thereunto, to be carried on in the use of the means of faith and obedience, tending to that end. Now if this be so, the suitableness or unsuitableness of all other things, being good or evil unto us, is to be measured by their tendency unto this end. And what know we hereof? as unto the things of this life, do we know whether it will be best for us to be rich or poor, to have houses or to be harbourless, to abound or to want, to leave wealth and inheritances unto our children, or to leave them naked unto the providence of God? do we know what state, what condition will most further our obedience, best obviate our temptations, or call most on us to mortify our corruptions ? and if we know nothing at all of these things, as indeed we do not, were it not best for us to leave them quietly unto God's disposal ? I doubt not but it will appear at the last day, that a world of evil in the hearts of men was stifled by the destruction of their outward concernments, more by their inward troubles. That many were delivered from temptations by it, who otherwise would have been overtaken to their ruin and scandal of the gospel; that many a secret inposthume hath been lanced and cured by a stroke, for God doth not send judgments on his own, for judgments' sake, for punishment' sake; but always to accomplish some blessed design of grace towards them. And there is no one soul in particular which shall rightly search itself, and consider its state and condition, but will be able to see wisdom, grace, and care towards itself, in all dispensations of God. And if I would here enter upon the benefits that through the sanctifying hand of God, do redound unto believers, by afflictions, calamities, troubles, distresses, temptations, and the like effects of God's visitations, it would be of use unto the souls of men in this case. But this subject hath been so often, and so well spoken unto, that I shall not insist upon it. I desire only that we would seriously consider, how utterly ignorant we are of what is good for us, or useful unto us, in these outward things, and so leave them quietly unto God's disposal.
4. We may consider that all these things about which we are troubled, fall directly within the compass of that good word of God's grace, that he will make all things work together for the good of them that love him;'Rom. viii. 28. All things that we enjoy, all things that we are deprived of, all that we do, all that we suffer; our losses, troubles, miseries, distresses, in which the apostle instanceth in the following verses, they shall all work together for good :' together with one another, and all with, and in subordination unto, the power, grace, and wisdom of God. It may be, we see not how, or by what means it may be effected; but he is infinitely wise and powerful who hath undertaken it, and we know little or nothing of his ways. There is nothing that we have, or enjoy, or desire, but it hath turned unto some unto their hurt. Riches have been kept for men unto their hurt. Wisdom and high places have been the ruin of many. Liberty and plenty are to most a snare. Prosperity slays the foolish. And we are not of ourselves, in any measure able to secure ourselves from the hurt and poison that is in any of these things, but that they may be our ruin also, as they have already been, and every day are, unto multitudes of the children of men. It is enough to fill the soul of any man with horror and amazement, to consider the ways and ends of most of them that are intrusted with this world's goods. Is it not evident that all their lives they seem industriously to take care that they may perish eternally? Luxury, riot, oppression, intemperance, and of late especially, blasphemy and atheism, they usually give up themselves unto. And this is the fruit of their abundance and şecurity. What now if God should deprive us of all these things? Can any one certainly say, that he is worsted thereby? might they not have turned unto his everlasting perdition, as well as they do so of thousands as good by nature, and who have had advantages to be as wise as we? and shall we complain of God's dispensations about them? And what shall we say, when he himself hath undertaken to make all things that he guides unto us, to work together for our good? Anxieties of mind, and perplexities of heart about our losses, is not that which we are called unto in our troubles; but this is that which is our duty; let us consider whether we love God or no, whether we are called according to his purpose:' if so, all things are well in his hand, who can order them for our good and advantage. I hope many a poor soul will from hence, under all their trouble, be able to say with him that was banished from his country, and found better entertainment elsewhere, My friends, I had perished, if I had not perished; had I not been undone by fire, it may be I had been ruined in eternal fire, God hath made all to work for my good.
The end of all these discourses is to evince the reasonableness of the duty of waiting on God, which we are pressing from the psalmist. Ignorance of God and ourselves, is the great principle and cause of all our disquietments. And this ariseth mostly, not from want of light and instruction, but for want of consideration and application. The notions insisted on concerning God are obvious and known unto all; so are these concerning ourselves; but by whom almost are they employed and improved as they ought? the frame of our spirits is as though we stood upon equal terms with God, and did think with Jonah, that we might do well to be angry with what he doth ; did we rightly consider him, did we stand in awe of him as we ought, it had certainly been otherwise with us.
Influence of the promises into the soul's waiting in time of trouble.
The nature of them. HAVING therefore laid down these considerations from the second observation taken from the words, namely, that Jehovah himself is the proper object of the soul's waiting in the condition described ; I shall only add one direction, how we may be enabled to perform and discharge this duty aright, which we have manifested to have been so necessary, so reasonable, so prevalent for the obtaining of relief; and this ariseth from another of the propositions laid down for the opening of these verses not as yet spoken unto; namely, that
The word of promise is the soul's great supportment in waiting for God. So saith the psalmist, “In his word do I hope;' that is, the word of promise. As the word in general is the adequate rule of all our obedience unto God, and communion with him; so there are especial parts of it, that are suited unto these especial actings of our souls towards him. Thus the word of promise, or the promise in the word, is that which our faith especially regards, in our hope, trust, and waiting on God, and it is suited to answer unto the immediate actings of our souls therein. From this word of promise, therefore, that is, from these promises, doth the soul in its distress take encouragement to continue waiting on God, and that on these two accounts:
First, Because they are declarative of God, his mind and his will; and, secondly, Because they are communicative of grace and strength to the soul; of which latter we shall not here treat.
First, The end and use of the promise, is to declare, reveal, and make known God unto believers, and that in an especial manner in him, and concerning him, which may give them encouragement to wait for him.
1. The promises are a declaration of the nature of God, especially of his goodness, grace, and love. God hath put an impression of all the glorious excellencies of his nature on his word, especially as he is in Christ, on the word of the gospel. There as in a glass do we behold his glory in the face of Jesus Christ. As his commands express unto us
his holiness, his threatenings, his righteousness, and severity; so do his promises, his goodness, grace, love, and bounty. And in these things do we learn all that we truly and solidly know of God; that is, we know him in and by his word. The soul, therefore, that in this condition is waiting on, or for God, considers the representation which he makes of himself, and of his own nature in and by the promises, and receives supportment and encouragement in its duty. For if God teach us by the promises what he is, and what he will be unto us, we have firm ground to expect from him all fruits of benignity, kindness, and love. Let the soul frame in itself that idea of God, which is exhibited in the promises, and it will powerfully prevail with it to continue in an expectation of his gracious returns; they all expressing goodness, love, patience, forbearance, long-suffering, pardoning mercy, grace, bounty, with a full satisfactory reward. This is the beauty of the Lord mentioned with admiration by the prophet; How great is his goodness! how great is his beauty!' Zech.ix. 17. which is the great attractive of the soul to adhere constantly unto him. Whatever difficulties arise, whatever temptations interpose, or wearisomeness grows upon us, in our straits, troubles, trials, and desertions, let us not entertain such thoughts of God, as our own perplexed imaginations may be apt to suggest unto us. This would quickly cast us into a thousand impatiencies, misgivings, and miscarriages; but the remembrance of, and meditation on, God in his promises as revealed by them, as expressed in them, is suited quite unto other ends and purposes. There appears, yea, gloriously shines forth, that love, that wisdom, that goodness, tenderness, and grace, as cannot but encourage a believing soul to abide in waiting for him.
2. The word of promise doth not only express God's nature as that wherein he proposeth himself unto the contemplation of faith, but it also declares his will and purpose of acting towards the soul suitable unto his own goodness and grace. For promises are the declarations of God's purpose and will, to act towards believers in Christ Jesus, according to the infinite goodness of his own nature, and this is done in great variety, according to the various conditions and wants of them that do believe. They all proceed from