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ance without diligence, is no better than presumption. It is the hand of the industrious, with the blessing of God, not the former without the latter, nor the latter without the former, that maketh rich, both in temporal and spiritual matters. We must sow, though it be in tears, if we expect a joyful harvest; and go forth bearing precious seed, if we would return with rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us. Duty must be practised, though not rested in, or else we do not properly wait upon God. Nor does this lessen his glory, because it is of his own appointment. Why criest thou unto me, says he to Moses; speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward. Crying was proper on such an emergency; but there was something else necessary, and at that time more expedient. Faith is a resting, but then it is also a working grace. Up then, oh slothful christian, and be doing! Pray, read, hear, attend upon divine ordinances; do not lie sleeping upon thy bed, but go about the streets and broad ways; not only call in the divine assistance, but take the assistance of all means; for this is waiting. upon God.
II. Enforce the exhortation by pointing out its reasonableness. This will appear, if we consider,
1. We are but servants; and what should servants do, but wait? It is their proper work; what they are appointed to, and is expected from them. We are also unprofitable servants; and therefore must look for nothing as a recompense, but every thing as an act of generosity or mercy. We can challenge nothing, and therefore should wait for all. Those have no claim upon God, who have the firmest hope in him, and the highest expectations from him. All blessings are forfeited, and therefore might justly be denied.
2. What God has promised is worth waiting for. Many temporal blessings are so: and the heavily
burdened, greatly afflicted, and sorely diseased, will think so. But spiritual and eternal blessings are much more so; such as light after darkness, comfort after sorrow, victory after a long conflict; or in other words, pardon, peace, grace, holiness, and heaven. Surely those put a great slight upon these blessings, who will not earnestly seek, and patiently wait for them. And what a blessed encouragement it is, that if we thus seek and wait, we shall not be disappointed; for eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, what God hath prepared for them that wait for him. Isai. lxiv. 4.
3. God has long waited upon us. He has had great patience with us and shall not we patiently wait for his mercy? He has borne with our affronts; and shall not we bear with his delays? These three years, says he, (and may he not say with respect to some, these thirty, forty, or fifty years) I have come, seeking fruit, and finding none. If sentence had been speedily executed against an evil work, we had been in hell long ago! Should we not then imitate the long-suffering of God; and if he waiteth to be gracious, shall we not wait till he is so?
4. It is one end for which God bestows his grace upon us, that we might be able and willing to wait. It is this which calms the boisterous passions, and stills the tumult of the soul. It is this which works in us a resignation to the divine will, and a submission to the divine disposal. Now, for what purpose is grace in general, or any grace in particular, such as faith, hope, humility, patience, &c. bestowed, but that it might be exercised. The talent buried in the earth, or hid in the napkin, is useless, both to the giver and receiver.
5. God seldom performs his promises, or answers our expectations, till we are brought to this state of mind. When we are submissive in the want of blessings, we are most likely to enjoy them; whereas, fretfulness and discontent will provoke God to with
hold them. When we contend with him, he will contend with us; but when we resign ourselves up to his will, he will gratify us in our wishes. This is our God, says the church; we haue waited for him, and he will save us this is the Lord, we have waited for him; we will be glad, and rejoice in his salvation. Isai. xxv. 9.
Lastly: The sweetness of blessings is generally proportioned to the time we have waited for them; and the longer they have tarried, the more welcome they are when they come. Hereby God is doubly glorified, and we doubly benefited. Hence David could say, Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness. Psal. xxx. 11.
We may learn from hence, that when grace has reached the heart, there is still much for the christian to do. Our present state is oftentimes a state of sore and pressing want, and always of imperfect enjoyment; and therefore we should wait. Wait as servants for the word of command: Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth. As suitors for the word of promise: I will hear what God the Lord will speak ; he will speak peace to his people, and to his saints. Then also for the fulfilment of the promise: Remember thy word unto thy servant, on which thou hast caused me to hope. Our waiting should be accompanied with cheerfulness: Wait upon the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart. In order to this, we should regard promises more than appearances. And it should be to the end of life: we should never cease waiting till we have no more to receive, and God no more to bestow. This is a state of expectation: heaven will be a state of fruition.
The Christian's Complaint.
PSALM cxlii. 4.
No man careth for my soul.
THIS complaint is not peculiar to David, but
common to all the saints, when oppressed with melancholy, and in a state of affliction or desertion. They are then apt to draw rash conclusions concerning themselves, and entertain evil surmisings with respect to others.
The word soul is sometimes put for the whole man. Thus we read of "the souls" in Abraham's house, and "the souls" that came into Egypt: and in this extensive sense it may be taken here. When David was in prosperity, he had many flatterers and pretended friends, who caressed him, and seemed at all times ready to do him service: but in adversity he was left to shift for himself. When persecuted and insulted by his enemies, he was also neglected and forsaken by his friends. Thus he had to complain and say, I looked on my right hand, and beheld; but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me, I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. There will be no want of friends to persons in affluent circumstances, and of a generous disposition; but these hangers on, will drop off when poverty and affliction come. Happy are they who
have Christ for their friend; for he is a friend known in adversity, and who sticketh closer than a brother. With respect to the favour and friendship of men, it is little to be depended upon; and those who have the smallest expectations, are always likely to meet with the fewest disappointments. David from his own experience, tells us, that men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity. Try your friend then, before you trust in him; for generally speaking, it is only where the carcase is that these eagles are gathered together.
By the term soul, is also meant the life of man. Thus in Psalm vii. 5. "Let the enemy persecute my soul and take it;" and then it follows, "Let him tread down my life upon the earth."-" No man careth for my soul;" that is, whether I live or die; my existence or non-existence is a matter of indifference to most. My friends take no care for my preservation, whilst my enemies, with inveterate rage and malice, seek my destruction. Many rise up against me; few stand up for me. This sense perfectly corresponds with what he says in many other places. That life which was so precious in the sight of God, was aimed at by some, and too lightly esteemed by others. This complaint therefore of David teaches us our duty. As our own lives, so also the lives of others, ought to be the object of our care. "Am I my brother's keeper," was the language of surly Cain: but what a different spirit breathes in those words of Job. I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me. This good man did not excuse himself from interfering in behalf of such, by saying, he knew it not. This excuse, however it may screen from the censures of men, will not secure us from the righteous judgment of God. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death,