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ness to be fit to receive them from God, that comes for them by humble prayer to God, that returns for them humble thanks to God, this man hath the first mark of this person upon him, He trusts in God. But he that trusts not in the world, nor in God neither, is worse than he, that trusts in the world, and not in God: because he is farther removed from all humility, that attributes all to himself; he pretends to be an atheist, and to believe in no God; and yet he constitutes a new idolatry, he sacrifices to himself, and makes himself his god.
The second character, and specification of this person, is, that he is righteous. And this word, we shall do best to contain here within a legal righteousness; that righteousness, in which St. Paul protested, and proclaimed himself to be unblameable. For howsoever this apparent righteousness, righteousness in the eyes of the world, be not enough alone, yet no other righteousness is enough without this. The hypocrite, by being an hypocrite, may aggravate his own condemnation, when he comes to reckon with God ; but to the church, who knows him not to be an hypocrite, he does good, by his exemplar and outward righteousness. He that does good for vain glory, may lead another man to good upon good grounds; and the prayers of those poor souls, whom he may have benefited by his vain-glorious good work, may prevail so with God in his behalf, as that his vain glory here, may become true glory, even in the kingdom of heaven.
So then we carry this word righteous no farther, but to the doing of those honest things, which we are bound to do in the sight of men. The word is tzadok, which is often used for the exaltation and perfection of all true holiness ; but as it is very often in the Old Testament taken for verax and
when man's word and work answer one another towards men; so in the New Testament, in the Syriac translation, where the word is the same as in the Hebrew, it is oportuit, it behoved Christ to suffer; and in such a sense, in very many places, to be righteous, is to do that which it behoved us to do, became us to do, concerned us to do in the sight of men. Which can be expressed in no one thing more fully, than in this, To embrace a lawful calling, and to walk honestly in that calling; that is righteousness ; for, justus sua fide virit, the righteous lires by his own faith; not
without faith, nor with the faith of another; so justus suo sudore cescitur, the righteous eats his bread in the sweat of his own brows; he labours in an honest calling, and drinks not the sweat of others’ labours; and this is that righteousness in this text, the second mark upon this person, who is partaker of this portion.
And the third is, that he is rectus corde, upright in heart; that he direct even all the works of his calling, all the actions of his life upon the glory of God. If you carry a line from the circumference, to the circumference again, as a diameter, it passes the centre, it flows from the centre, it looks to the centre both ways. God is the centre; the lines above, and the lines below, still respect and regard the centre; whether I do any action honest in the sight of men, or any action acceptable to God, whether I do things belonging to this life, or to the next, still I must pass all through the centre, and direct all to the glory of God, and keep my heart right, without variation towards him. For as I do no good action here, merely for the interpretation of good men, though that be one good and justifiable reason of my good actions : so I must do nothing for my salvation hereafter, merely for the love I bear to mine own soul, though that also be one good and justifiable reason of that action; but the primary reason in both, as well the actions that establish a good name, as the actions that establish eternal life, must be the glory of God. Distortum lignum semper nutat'', A wry and crooked plank in the floor, will always shake and kick up, and creak under a man's foot. A wry and a crooked heart will always shake distrustfully, and kick rebelliously, and creak repiningly, under the hand of God. Non potest collineari rectitudine Dei, says the same father, He is not paralleled with God, he is not levelled with God, if he use not his blessings, if he accept not his corrections, as God intends them. First, to trust in God, and then to deal righteously with
men, and all the way to keep the heart straight upon God; these three make up the person; and these three bis portion, That he shall be glad, and he shall rejoice, and jubilabit, he shall shout for joy.
Now as three great sums of gold put into one bag, these three
branches of this portion of the righteous, are fixed in one root, raised upon one foundation, Mercy shall compass him about. But then this mercy, this compassing mercy reaches not so far, as that thou shalt have no affliction, though thou trust in God; David had been an unfit person, to have delivered such a doctrine, who says of himself, Daily have I been punished, and chastened ecery morning:39 he had it every day, it was his daily bread; and it was the first thing that he had, he had it in the morning. Here is mention of a morning, early sorrows, even to the godly; and mention of a day, continuing sorrows, even to the godly; but he speaks of no night here, the Son of grace the Son of God, does not set in a cloud of anger upon him. The martyrs that abounded with this trust in God, and this righteousness, and this uprightness of heart, abounded with these afflictions too. They that Bestowed themselves upon God and his church”, as the apostle expresses it, had these sorrows plentifully bestowed upon themselves. And to pass from them to the Author of their constancy, Christ himself, he is Vir dolorum, A Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And now, Whom he loveth he chasteneth, and he scourgeth etery one that he receiceth ; flagellat omnem, he scourgeth every one; Vis audire quem omnem"? Will you know how general, and yet how particular this is? Unicus sine peccato, non tamen sine flagello, There was one Man without any sin, but even that Man was not without punishment, Christ Jesus himself. So general is correction, as that in this case, and in this sense, it is more general than sin itself.
It is not then that the godly shall have no afflictions, no sorrows; But mutant fortitudinem, They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, say our translators in the body of their translation ; but in the margin, (and nearer to the original) They shall change their strength. They that have been strong in sinning, that have sinned with a strong hand, when they feel a judgment upon them, and find that it is God's hand, and God's hand for their sins, they faint not, they lose not their strength, but mutant fortitudinem, they change their strength, they grow as strong in suffering, as they were in sinning, and invest the prophet's resolution, I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him. The book which God gave Ezekiel to eat, was written within and without, with lamentations, and mournings, and woesos; but when he ate it, he found it in his mouth as sweet as honey. When God offers the book, which is the register of our sins to our consciences, or the decree of his judgments to our understanding, or to our sense, it is written in gall and wormwood, and in the bitterness of sorrow; but if we can bring it to the first concoction, the first digestion, to that mastication, that rumination, which is the consideration of God's purpose upon us in that judgment, we shall change our taste, for we shall Taste and see, quam suaris Dominus, how good, and how sweet the Lord is38; for even this judgment is mercy.
30 Psalm lxxiii. 14.
31 2 Cor. xii. 15. 33 Isaiah xl. 31.
Think not then thy valour sufficiently tried, if thou canst take it patiently, to have missed a suit long pursued, or failed of a preferment long expected; no not if thou have stood in a hail of bullets without winking, or sat the searching of a wound without starting; but muta fortitudinem, change thy valour, and when thou comest to bear great crosses, proportionable to thy great sins, with a spiritual courage, acknowledge that courage to be the mercy of God, and not thine own moral constancy. God loves his own example, to do as he hath done; Omni quæstione secerius, à te interrogari; it was said to a Roman emperor, who examined with wisdom, and majesty too: It is truer of God; that it is more fearful than any rack, or torture, when he comes to search and sift a conscience: yet God did come to that office upon Adam, before he would condemn him. He came to a worse place than Paradise; he came to Sodom, to rack and torture them, with that confession, that there could not be found ten righteous men amongst them. But yet this he did, before he condemned them. God will visit thee in this rack, in this furnace, in these trials, before he proceed to thy condemnation. But when God does so, believe thou David, in his indulgence to his son, to have been a type of God's disposition to thy soul. When he sent out his army against Absalom, he stood in the gate to survey the muster, and to every one of the commanders, Joab, and the rest, still he said, Serrate mihi puerum Absalom, Intreat the young man Absalom well for my sake. The Lord of hosts may send forth his army against thee, sickness, loss, shame, pain, banishment, imprisonment, (which are all swords of his) but he says to them all, Serrate mihi Absalom, That soul that I have bought with my blood, preserve for me; fight but against mine enemies, his pride, his security, his presumption; but serrate Absalom, preserye his soul unshaken, and unoffended. God hath said it before, and he says again to thee, in all thy afflictions, I know the thoughts that I think towards you, the thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end". God said this, when a false prophet had
84 Mic. vii. 9.
35 Ezekiel ii. 10.
30 Psalm xxxiv, 8.
promised them deliverance in two years; God prorogues the time; he would do it, but he would not do it under threescore and ten years.
Limit not God in his time, nor in his means; the mercy consists in relieving thee so, as that thy soul suffer not, though thou do. And if that be preserved, his mercy is a compassing mercy, which is also another circumstance in this branch.
The devil had compassed all the earth, and he was angry that God had compassed Job. He says in indignation, Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath, on every side 8? God did so for Job, and he will do so for thee: He redeemeth thy life from the grare, and crowneth thee with mercy, and compassion”. This is the compassing in heaven, when we come to be crowned there. But there is a compassing here, and an empaling of God's children, in St. Paul's co-operantur, When all things work together, for good, to them that lore God”. When prosperity and adversity, honour and disgrace, profit and loss, the Lord's giving and the Lord's taking, do all concur to the making up of this pale, that must compass us; when we acknowledge that there must be nails in the pale, as well as stakes, there must be thorns in the hedge, as well as fruit-trees; crosses as well as blessings; when we leer not over the pale, neither into the common; that is, to the Gentiles and nations, and begin to think, that we might be saved by the light of nature, without this burden of Christianity: nor leer over into the pastures, and corn of our neighbours; that is, to think, that we are not well in our own Church, but must needs hearken to the doctrine, or disci
37 Jer. xxix. 11.
39 Psalm ciii. 4.
38 Job. i. 10. 40 Rom. viii. 28.