Imatges de pÓgina
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soul; and though it is true, this judge is oft-times corrupted and bribed, or at least over-ruled in prosperity; yet God instructeth it to speak good sense, and to speak out, and speak the truth in the time of affliction. I believe they hit the nail upon the head, who cried out one to the other, Verily we are guilty concerning our brether, Gen. Ixii. 21. Another cries verily I am guilty concerning my master, concerning my people; guilty concerning my wife, concerning my children, concerning my estate, my time, my talents; and it may be all true.

I believe the Heathen was in the right, who looked upon his hands and feet, and cried out, Judg. i. 7. As I have done, so God hath requited me; and the Babylonish monarcho harped upon a right ftring after he was come to his right wits again. Dan. iv. 37. Those that walk in pride, he is able to abafe. God hath not given to our faculties any infallibility indeed, but he enables them to make good guesses; and I am verily persuaded, doth many times lay the hand upon the right fore, and order this secret lottery from heaven : fo that, that faculty, or that frame, or that action which stands convicted in the court of conscience, is feldom held guiltless in the court of heaven.

3. It should work us to bumiliation and reformation; an heart broken, and a conversation bealed of his breaches. By humiliation, I mean, a heart broken purely, properly, and spiritual for fin. I do not mean by it, an heart broken for losses and affictions, and bowing down itself heavily under the burden of its own diftreffes ; no, nor an heart

broken

broken for fin, as viewing it only in the calamitous effects, and bitter fruits of it? Which I doubt is the humiliation of moft. Many may lay concerning their humiliation, to use the prophet's words in a different sense, Zach. xiii. 6. These are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends, by the loss of my friends, the loss of my health, the loss of my goods; these tears that you see, these groans that you hear, are nothing but the scar which the fore hath left behind it, and the wales which the rod hath made. doubt our very sorrow for fin, in a time of affliction, admits of a mixture of carnal self and passion, and fo of sin too. But I mean, a pure, spiritual, pro'per forrow and hatred of sin; which I know may be broached by sharp afflictions, and have vent given to it by piercing the vessel ; but that is not the proper cause and ground of it. Mofes in his joy, had an eye to the recompence of reward, Heb. xi. 26. And so a christian in his sorrow may have respect to the recompence of his sin, I mean, his afflictions; but it is not primarily and principally caused by these; for though these dreadful showers from heaven should ceale, yet the stream of his eyes, or at least the fountain of his heart would not cease issuing forth bitter waters. Though the righteousness of God serves to give vent to godly sorrow, yet it is the goodness and holiness of God that

it. Do we sorrow for fin, because it spoiled us of our comforts, stripped us of our ornaments? Then sure we think there is something in the world worse than fin, for which we should bewail it, and hate it; and so consequently, that there is something better than D

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God, for which we should love him. Alas, how apt are we to run into a practical blasphemy before we be aware! In a word then to decide this controversy, our afflictions, lofles, distresses in the world, may possibly be as a bucket to draw up this water of godly sorrow : but they must not be the cistern to receive and hold it. Serious and spiritual humiliation is a real conversing with the righteousness of God. To meet God, indeed to fall down before him; and to converse with him, is to lie down under him, the truth of which temper is beft evidenced by that excellent commentator, the life of a Christian: this doth best declare the nature and interpret the meaning of heart humiliation. He that breaks off his fins doth best make it appear

that his heart is broken for them. If you would know whether there have been rain in the night, look upon the ground and that will discover. Oh my friends, if the dust be laid; if all earthly joys, contentments, pleasures, concernments, be laid, you may conclude your sorrow was a shower sent into your souls from heaven.

If you see a boy both sobbing and minding his book, you may conclude he hath some right sense of his master's severity. Conversion to God, is the most proper and real conversing with him in the way of his judgments : fo he himself interprets in that complaint made, Isa. ix. 13. The people turneth not to him that smiteth them, &c. That which happeneth to Moseswhen he had been in the mountwith God, Exod. xxxiv. 29. should also be the condition of every good Ifraelite, when he hath been with God in the valley, the vale of tears, and afflicted state : his face should shine, his conversation should witness

that he hath been with God; the smell of this fire should pass upon his garments, his whole outwardman,

The spirit of mourning should be demonstrated by the spirit of burning. If God from heaven set fire on the standing corn of our worldly comforts, we must answer him from within, and set fire on the stubble of our worldly lufts, and corruptions. Let me change our Saviour's words therefore a little, Matt, vi. 18. and exhort you earnestly: thou christian, when thou fastest, when thou humbleft thy soul for fin, was thy face also, cleanse thy outward conversation from all sinful pollution, that thou mayest appear to be humbled indeed. And this shall be accounted as a true and real conversing with the righteousness of God in the time of affliction.

3. Converse with the faithfulness of God. This attribute of God hath respect to his promises; and therefore it

may

be

you will think strange that I should speak of this in a discourse of afflictions, as not having place there at all. Every one will readily acknowledge that God's sovereignty and righteousness do clearly appear in his judgments ; but how his faithfulness can be exercised therein, they see not. What, faithful in punishing, in plaguing, in visiting, in afflicting, distressing his creature, how can that be? many will be ready to think rather, that God is not faithful at such a time, when he denies what he had promised to give, takes away what he had promised to continue; when he plagues David every morning, when he had promised him that the plague should not come nigh his dwelling place; when he brings Abijah to the grave, whom he had promised that

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his days should be long upon the land ; and Job to the dunghil, to whom all the promises were made both of the life that now is, and of that which is

Is this faithfulness? Doth God fulfil his prornises by frustrating them? Notwithstando ing all this, it seems that the faithfulness of God hath place in the afflictions of his people: for lo faith David expresly, Psal. cxix. 75. I know that in faithness thou haft afflicted me: if indeed faithfulness be taken properly in that place : neither indeed need it seem so strange as some men make it: for God hath promised his covenant-people, to visit their iniquity with a rod, Psal. Ixxxix, 32. The rad of a man; a fatherly chastisement, as it is explained, 2 Sam. vii. 14. where this seems to be made a branch of the covenant, and is understood by many as a promise, But if that be not a plain promise, I am sure there is one in Pfal. Ixxxiv. in. No good thing will be with-hold from them that walk sprightly: and if no good thing, then no correction neither, for that is often good and profitable for the people of God in this world for many excellent ends; which, considering the nature of man, cannot well be accomplished without it; as might appear in many particulars; but it is not needful to run out into them. God will take more care of his own people, than of the rest of the world; and will rather correct them, than not reduce them. It is their main happiness that he takes sare for, and he will in kindness take out of the way whatever hinders it, and give whatever may promote it. God's thoughts are thoughts: he judges otherwise of health, riches, liberty, friends, &c. than we do.

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