« AnteriorContinua »
of a peice, all in order and at rest. If this 'unditciplin'd and perverse spirit were quite banished; Oh what a calm day would it be in the soul ! what fair and sweet correspondence would there be between God and his creature ! for certainly this is the Jonah that raises the storm, and makes the great deeps of the foul that they cannot rest, but do perpetually roll and toss, yea and cast out mire and dirt continually. But alas, I doubt this spirit is not quite laid, no not in the most spiritual man: the best of men are ready to nourifh and hatch up fome darling, some private interest or other of their own, distinct from God, and the grand intereft of their fouls; which God himself
iuft not touch; fome gourd or other that the cold wind must not blow upon.
He is a blessed man indeed, who doth so understand that he lives and moves in God alone; and is fo overpowered with the fense of the infinite goodness and holiness of God, and the absolute perfection of his divine will, as that he reckons it his greatest perfection to be nothing in himself, nor have nothing of his own distinct from God, but only studies to be great in God, to be filled with God, to live to him, and for him ; to enjoy all things as in and under him ; who counts it his only intereft to quit all self-interest, and particular ends, and to be freely at the disposal of the highest mind, conformable to the highest good, chearfully compliant with the untreated will. Potiphar had fo committed all to Joseph, in the sense of his great faithfulness, that he knew not ought he had, fave the bread that he did eat, Gen. xxxix. 6, but this fimilitude is too low: a godly foul should commit all its intereft, its life and livelihood, and all to God in the sense of his fove. reignity, and not know ought that he hath, no not his own life, but despise it in comparison of uncreated life; as Job speaks, fob ix. 21. methinks the sovereignty of God speaks such language to the soul and in it, as Eli to Samuel, my Jon, bide nothing from me, keep nothing back of all that thou hast, and the pious soul should not, with foolish Rachel, conceal any selfish intereft, so as not to be willing to part with it, when its fovereign Lord and father comes to search the-tent; but, with allusion to Amos vi. 10, when God comes to ferret out all self-interest, and shall ask Is there any such yet with thee? Should be able to answer boldly, No, there is none.
Blessed is the man that is in such a case; blessed is the man whose only interest is to serve the will of the Lord well, improve the infinite sovereignty of God to, this end, and work it upon and into your hearts, that all self-will may stoop to it: and let the main interest of your souls, be lo planted and eftablished in your souls, that no other interest may
be able to grow by it: charm your own self-will with such severe reproofs, as this is; either deny thyself,
my soul, or deny thyself to be a creature : either be wholly at God's command, or call him not thy, sovereign.
3. When the sense of it dotb beget. reverence in the Soul towards God. We ought not only to be subject to the rod of God, but even to reverence him when he correcteth with it: and so only to accept of the rod, but to kiss. it too. And surely if the fathers of our flesh corrects us; and we give them reverence, Heb. xii. 9. much more ought we to
reverence the sovereign father both of Aesh and spirit. This is a devout act of the soul, whereby it looks up and adores the infinite and sovereign majesty, and thinks equitable and honourable thoughts of him, even when he is in the way of his judgments. And these are the proper acts of a soul's conversing with God's sovereignty in the time of afflictions. When we are filent before him, subject unto him, and reverencing of him; then do we really and truly converse with him as our almighty and absolute fovereign. But God's authority and prerogative, though it may silence, will scarce satisfy : such a corrupt and rebellious pafs are our natures grown to. Therefore,
2. Converse with the perfect and infinite righteoufness of God in the time of all afflictions; that divine perfection whereby he renders to every man what is juft and due, and no more.
This we are to eye and own, and fincerely to acknowledge, even in the time of our greatest extremity, after the example of Daniel, chap. ix. 14. The Lord our God is righteous in all his works : and of the godly Levites, Neh. ix. 33. Thou art juft in all that is brought upon us, thou haft done right. Argue with Abraham, Gen. xviii. 25. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Can righteousness itself err in judgment ? Shall the timber say unto the rule, why haft thou measured me thus; or to the line, thou art crooked? Are not my ways equal, faith the Lord? Ezek. xviii. 25. are not the Lord's ways equal ? Let your souls say too. Be ye firmly perfuaded of the infinite and incorruptible righteousness and equity of God, but that's not all, we do not then converse with the righteousness of God, when we
do believe it, or acknowledge it: a very Pharaoh may be brought to make such a confeffion, Exod. ix. 27. the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. But then do we converse with the righteousness of God, in general, when the sense of it doth give a rational Jatisfa&tion to the soul. And indeed, whereas the sovereignty of God is enough. to silence, yet his righteousness had need to be called in to administer satisfaction: the former is sufficient to stop the mouth; but there is need of the latter to settle the heart, and indeed methinks: it is a heart-settling consideration. For, how can: the interest of the creature be better secured than in the hands of a righteous God? Where can we venture all we have, better than in such a certain and steady bottom ? How can we better trust ourselves, than on such firm and even ground? We will trust ourselves far with an upright and righteous man: and if we hear of the miscarriage of any interest of ours at any time, it doth mightily calm and satisfy our hearts, if we are assured that it was in the hands of a just and upright person : much more rational and steady satisfaction may the infinite righteousness of God administer even in the time of the greatest affliction, if it be duly wrought into the heart. But more particularly,
1. The powerful sense of the righteousness of God should make us sensible and serious. It becomes us seriously to ponder, duly to weigh, and in good earnest to lay to our hearts, all that is done to us by a righteous God. We use slightly to pass by, and slightly to esteem the words or actions of vain man : but it is not for nothing that the righteous God afflicts any man, in any measure, at any
time. The voice of God, though it be not always articulate, yet it is always fignificant. Will a lion roar for nothing ? Surely every action of the righteous God hath a meaning in it. A hair falls not from our head, nor a sparrow to the ground without him : much less sure do greater changes befal as without him. And in all things he is infinitely righteous. Oh how doth this call upon us to sensiblenefs and seriousness ! how ought all the powers
of the soul to be awakened to attention, when the righteous God utters his dreadful voice ! and the whole frame of the heart and life to be composed under his heavy hand! now if ever, one would say of laughter, it is mad: one would reckon trilling to be a kind of prophaneness and judge that foolish jestings do almost border upon blasphemy, formerly not convenient, now .not lawful. For indeed a vain, frothy, light, trilling spirit, in the day of affliction, is in a fenfe a blaspheming of the righteousness of God. As a consequent of this,
. 2. It should put us upon felf-examination. Nature itself hath taught the Heathenish mariners to enquire where the fault was in a storm, Jonah i. 7. Much more may the knowledge of God's infinite righteousness teach us : so may
the holy word too, that word in Lam. iii. 40. Let us search and try our ways, &C. And
others. Now do the faculties of the godly foul being awakened, begin to cast lots upon themafelves, to find out the guilty party : and certainly God hath a great hand in ordering these lots; he doth ordinarily shew unto man his fin, even by the verdict of his own heart. Conscience, I mean, is God's vicegerent in the