« السابقةمتابعة »
ride prosperously, because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies, whereby the people fall under thee.' This will make you be the armies of heaven,' that follow him in his great undertakings; Rev. xix. 14. It is his praying people, that are his conquering armies that follow him: now you find it coming, leave not pulling with all your strength, lest it roll back again, shoot not two or three arrows, and so give over, but never leave shooting until the enemies of the Lord be all destroyed.
[3dly.] Seeing it is his gospel whose advancement the Lord Jesus aimeth at in all these dispensations, and whose quarrel alone he revengeth (whatever men may do), help on to the advancement of that gospel of his, which as formerly it was oppressed by the height and tyranny of the tower of Babel, so for the present, is exceedingly defiled and cumbered by the rubbish of it being in some measure cast down.
[4thly.] Whereas in these dispensations, it is most eminently and frequently in the praise of Christ, said, that he is just and righteous in all his ways, as you may see in all the acclamations of the saints upon the execution of his judgments on his enemies (‘just and righteous art thou'); which is signally done on this account, because the ways whereby he doth it are counted most unrighteous in the world, in this then also is he to be met, even in the administration of justice and judgment: you will otherwise certainly be found in a cross path unto him, and be borne down before him. This is that wisdom which he calls for among the judges of the earth, when he is set to reign on his holy hill; Psal. ii. 10, 11.
(2dly.) I shall add one word or two unto them, who either from the darkness of the things themselves, or from the prejudices and temptations of their own spirits, are not able to discern the righteousness of the ways of God, but rather lift up themselves against him.
[1st.] Then, consider the constant appearing of God against every party, that under any colour or pretence whatever have lifted up themselves for the reinforcement of things, as in former days; what colour or pretence soever they have put on, or which way soever they have turned themselves,
God hath still appeared against them: can you not discern his leavening their councils with folly and madness, weakening their hearts and hands, making the strong become as tow, and the successful a reproach? Though they have gone from mountain to mountain to seek for divination, and changed their pretences as often as Laban did Jacob's wages, yet they find neither fraud nor enchantment that will prevail : and doth not this proclaim, that the design which God had in hand, is as yet marvellously above you?
[2.] Consider the constant answer of prayers which those which have waited on God in these dispensations, to their unspeakable consolations, have received; finding God to be nigh unto them in all that they call upon him for: if in this thing, they regarded iniquity in their hearts, surely God would not have heard them :' others also cry, even to the Lord do they cry,' but he will not bear witness to the abomination of their hearts: oh! that upon these and the like considerations, you would at last take the counsel of the psalmist, Psal. xlvi. 10. Be still and know that he is God:' be silent before him, for he is risen out of his holy habitation; say, 'God hath done great things for these; who hath hardened himself against him, and prospered?' And this is the first particular.
(2.) The second design of providence in these dispensations, is evidently to stain the glory of all flesh;' so Isa. xxiii. 9. never did the Lord any work more eminently, what sort of men is there amongst us, whose glory God hath not stained? I had rather leave this unto a silent thought, than to give you particular instances of it: otherwise it were very easy to make it as clear as the sun, that God hath left neither self-honour nor glory to any of the sons of men: meet him then in this also.
1st. Cease putting confidence in man, say he is a worm, and the son of man is but a worm, his breath is in his nostrils, and wherein is he to be accounted of?' This use doth the church make of mercies, Psal. xx. 6, 7. Some trust in horses, and some in chariots, but we will remember the name of the Lord' we will not trust in parliaments or armies; all flesh is grass; Isa. xl. let it have its withering time and away: see no wisdom but the wisdom of God, no strength but the strength of God, no glory but his.
2dly. Have any of us any glory, any crowns, any gifts, any graces, any wisdom or valour, any useful endowments, let us cast them all down at the feet of Jesus Christ; if we look on them, if we keep them as our own, God withers all their beauty, and their glory. Thus do the elders who worship the Lamb for ever,' Rev. iv. 10, 11. say to him, 'Lord Jesus, thine is the glory;' thine are all the mighty works which have been wrought in our days; thine are all the means whereby they have been accomplished; we are nothing, we can do nothing, thou art all, and in all: and this is the second.
[3.] He aims at the shaking of all these things here below: he is taking down the rate and price of all things here below; on that which was worth a thousand pounds, he takes his bill and writes down scarce the thousandth part : he hath laid his hand upon the nests of the nation, and hath fitted wings unto all their treasures; and so eminently written vanity and uncertainty on them all, as must needs lessen their esteem, were not men blinded by the god of this world: in this also are we to meet the Lord.
1st. By getting a low esteem of the things that God is thus shaking, and that upon this account, that he shakes them for this very end and purpose, that we should find neither rest nor peace in them: perhaps thou hast had a desire to be somebody in the world, thou seest thyself come short of what thou aimest at: say now with Mephibosheth upon the return of David, not only half, but let all go, seeing that the Lord Jesus shall reign with glory. A man may sometimes beat a servant, for the instruction of his son: God hath shaken the enjoyments of his enemies, to lead his friends to disesteem them: God forbid, the quite contrary should be found upon any of us.
2dly. By labouring to find all riches and treasures in the Lord Christ: the earth staggers like a drunken man; the princes of it are reduced to a morsel of bread; all that is seen is of no value: doth not God direct us to the hidden paths, to the treasures that cannot be destroyed? Many say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.'
(2.) We are to meet the Lord in the way of his ordinances, in the way of gospel worship, the exalting of the
Lord Christ herein is the issue of all the mighty works of God: this is given in as the end of all, Rev. xxi. 3. The tabernacles of God,' &c. after great shakings, the promise still is of a new heaven and earth, Isa. lxv. 17. Rev. xxi. 1. and this is that the people of God put themselves upon in the days wherein Babylon is to be destroyed, Jer. 1. 4-8. that is the work they then take in hand: the end of all is the building of the temple, Ezek. xlvii. and this is the conclusion that the people of God do make, Isa. ii. 3, 4. and if this be neglected, the Lord will say of us, as David of Nabal; Surely in vain have I kept these men and all that they have.' To meet the Lord in this also,
[1.] Inquire diligently into his mind and will, that you may know his paths, and be acquainted with his statutes. I dare say, no temptation in the world presses with more colour and violence upon men under mercies, than that to a neglect of walking and holding communion with God in his ordinances the devil thinks thus to revenge himself of the Lord Jesus: his own yoke being broken, he thinks to prevail to the casting away of his: Christ hath a yoke though it be gentle and easy.
[2.] You that do enjoy holy ordinances, labour to have holy hearts answerable thereunto: you have heavenly institutions, labour to have heavenly conversations: if we be like the world in our walking, it is no great matter if we be like the world in our worship: it is sad walking contrary to God in his own paths; shew out the power and efficacy of all gospel institutions, in a frame of spirit, course of life, and equability of spiritual temper all your days.
[3.] Keep up the power of private worship, both personal and family. I have seen many good laws for the sabbath, and hope I shall see some good examples: look what the roots are in the family, such will the fruit be in the church and commonwealth: if your spirits are not well manured there, you will be utterly barren elsewhere: that is done most clearly to God, which is done within doors..
(3.) Meet him in the way of his holiness; in the cry of the saints unto the Lord for the execution of his judgments and vengeance, they in an especial manner invocate his holiness. Rev. vi. 10. How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that
dwell on the earth?' And in their rendering praises to him, they still make mention of his holiness and righteousness in all his ways. Though the ways of God are commonly traduced as unequal and unholy ways, yet in the close there is no property of his, that he will more vindicate in all his works, than that of his holiness; in this then we are also to meet the Lord in this day of our deliverance, the day wherein he hath wrought such great and wonderful alterations.
This use the Holy Ghost maketh upon such like dispensations, 2 Pet. iii. 11. Seeing that all these things,' &c. and so also, Heb. xii. 27, 28. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of these things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that these things which cannot be shaken, may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.' All things opposing removed, a freedom established, therefore let us have grace: God is the thrice holy one, holy in his nature, holy in his word, and holy in all his works; and he requires that his people be a holy people. To this he still urged his ancient people, from the argument of his presence amongst them; oh, that the Spirit of the Lord would bring forth this one fruit of all his dealing with us, that we might be a holy people! If we put God's pure and clean mercies into impure and unclean vessels they will to us be defiled. Let us take heed of prostrating the mighty works of God to the service of our lusts. Should we now make such conclusions to ourselves, as the rich fool in the gospel, and say, Well, we have now peace and prosperity laid up for some years; soul, take thy ease, eat, drink, and be merry, grow rich and great, follow after vanity, pride, folly, uncleanness, enjoy with delight the things which we have and heap up thereto. Why, as this is to labour to draw the Lord God into a partnership with our abominations, and to enforce his mighty works to bear witness to our lusts, so certainly it is such a frame as he will surely and speedily revenge. The end why God delivers us from all our enemies, is, not that we may serve our lusts and ourselves without fear, but that we may serve him without fear in righteousness and holiness all the days of our lives. Let then this be the issue upon our hearts, of all the victories,