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PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS.
PSALM XXXii. 10, 11.
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice ye righteous; and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart.
THE two elements, of which heaven is proposed to us to be composed, are joy and glory. That which is opposed to these, is sorrow and contempt: of the sense of contempt and ingloriousness, men are not alike capable in this world; but of the sense of sorrow, we are somewhat more equal. A man must have had some possession, or at least some hopes of glory and greatness, that apprehends contempt or ingloriousness very passionately. And besides, in the lowest and most abject contempt a man may relieve himself by conveniences of a plentiful fortune at home, how much soever he be undervalued and despised abroad. But when it comes to a sorrow of heart, which dwells not imaginarily in the opinion of others, as contempt doth, but really in mine own bosom, it is a heavy colluctation. Therefore doth the Holy Ghost so often, so very often, blow that coal, and threaten that insupportable, that inextinguishable fire, sorrow, sorrow of heart, sorrow of soul; Many sorrows shall be to the wicked. But the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of consolation; he is a dove that hastes to a better air, to a whiter house, to the ark of peace, the station of the righteous; joy in the mercy of God; for, He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about; Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice ye righteous, and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart.
Our parts are, the and what they have.
persons, and their portions; who they be, The persons are all the inhabitants of this world; for all are wicked, or righteous; and the portion is all that the soul receives here, or hereafter; for all is joy or sorrow; Many sorows shall be to the wicked, but he, &c.
First then, here are sorrows; a passion which we cannot express, and from the understanding whereof, in this sense, God bless us all a sorrow, that is nothing but sorrow; a sorrow that determines not in joy at last. And here are dolores multi, his sorrows are multiplied, many sorrows; and as the word rabbim doth as improperly import, and might be as well so translated, here are dolores magni, great sorrows; great in their own weight, great in themselves, and great also in the apprehension, and tenderness, and impatience of the sufferer, great to him; and then all these heavy circumstances, as the dregs and lees of this cup of malediction, meet in the bottom, in the centre of all; that these sorrows are determinable by no time; for in the original, there is neither that which our first translation inserted, (shall come) Sorrows shall come to the wicked, lest the wicked might say, Let it go as it came, if I know how it came, what occasioned the sorrow, I know how to overcome it; nor is there that which our later translation added, (shall be) Sorrows shall be to the wicked; for though that imply a continuance, when it comes, yet the wicked might say, It is not come yet, and why should I anticipate sorrow, or execute myself before the executioner be sent? But it is without all limitation of time, and so includes all parts of time; est, fuit, et erit, the wicked are not, never were, or shall be without sorrows, many sorrows, great sorrows, everlasting sorrows. This is the portion in our first part; and then the person, for whom this cup is thus filled there, is the wicked; which denotes a plurality, and a singularity too; for it is not said, The wanton, the ambitious, the covetous, the man that is a little leavened, or soured, or discoloured with some degrees of some of these; but it is the wicked; a man whose whole complexion, and structure seems made up of wickedness; and so it is super impium, upon the wicked, emphatically, the wicked; and then, super impium, upon the wicked, in the singular; that is, upon every such wicked person. The sorrow is not lessened by being divided amongst many; the wicked is not eased by having companions in his torments. And this is the portion, and these be the persons of the first kind; which will determine the first part, Many sorrows shall be to the wicked.
And then in the second, to give all this the full weight, and to
make the sorrow the more discernible, and the more terrible, God puts into the other balance, the joy of the righteous. In which, that all may be in opposition to the other, we have also the person, Him that trusteth in the Lord; where we have, as in the former part, a plurality intimated, and a singularity too. For it is not said, He that trusteth not in man, he that trusteth not in princes, he that trusteth not in this or that miserable comforter in the world, but he that trusteth in the Lord; whose present refuge, be the case what it will, or can be, is the Lord; him, emphatically him, mercies shall compass. And then, ille, he, every such man, is infallibly interested in this portion, in this true cause of joy, which is not, that he shall have no affliction, but that he shall have mercy in his afflictions, patience and ease all the way, and an end and joy at last. And then, this mercy shall compass him; it shall not suffer his confidence to break out into a presumption in God, nor any diffidence, or distrust in God, to break in upon him; but he shall see, that only to him, who trusts in the Lord, to him who is righteous, to him who is upright in heart, (with which three characters the Holy Ghost specifies the person, in this second part of our text) belong those three great privileges, those glorious beams of joy, which flow out here; first, Lætari, To be glad, that is, to conceive an inward joy; and then, Exultari, To rejoice, that is, to testify that inward joy, by outward demonstrations; and lastly, Jubilare, To be full of joy, which our last translation hath expressed well, in that word, To shout for joy, that is, to extend our joy to others, to glorify God by drawing in of others, and to call upon them, to call upon God; Many sorrows shall be to the wicked, but, &c.
First then, they shall have sorrow, and cause of sorrow. when we conceive a sorrow in the mind, without any real, and external cause, without pain, or shame, or loss, this is but a melancholy, but an abundance of a distempered humour, but a natural thing, to which some in their constitutions are born, and to be considered but so: but when God lays his hand, and his crosses upon us, the sorrow of the wicked, conceived upon that impression, is the sorrow. For this word, which we translate sorrows here, is according to the Septuagint, scourges, and whips; God shall scourge them, and that shall only work to a sorrow;
so far, and no farther. As a startling horse, they shall avoid a shadow, and fall into a ditch; they shall sorrow, and murmur at their afflictions in this life, and fall the sooner for that into the eternal. Amongst the Romans, condemned persons were first whipped; but that excused them not; when they were whipped, they were executed too. The wicked are scourged by God in this life; and then their temporal afflictions shall meet, and join with the everlasting, they have begun already here, that which they shall never end there. De eis qui voluntatem Dei facere nolunt, fit voluntas Dei; it is Panis quotidianus, A loaf of that bread which is to be distributed every day; a saying of St. Augustine, worthy to be repeated in every sermon, That upon them, who will not do the will of God, the will of God is done; and God executes his righteous sentence upon them, and he executes his justice upon others also by giving them instructions from the impatience and obduration of these. Fata fugiendo in fata ruunt; they chide, and they wrangle, they wrestle, and they exclaim at their miseries in an intemperate sorrow, and this intemperate sorrow is the heaviest part of the judgment of God upon them; they are too sensible of their afflictions, that is, too tender, too impatient; and yet altogether insensible, without all sense of God's purpose in those afflictions. In hell itself, they know that they are in hell; and yet in this world, there are dolores inferni, sorrows that have begun hell here, and that they are under them, are stupified, and divested of all sense of them. That sense that is bodily, and carnal, they abound in; they feel them impatiently; but of all spiritual sense they are absolutely destitute; they understand not them, nor God's purpose in them at all; yet they are many, and great, and eternal. For by all these heavy talents doth the Holy Ghost weigh them in these words.
They are many. Now the pride of the wicked is to conceal their sorrows, that God might receive no glory by the discovery of them. And therefore if we should go about to number their sorrows, they would have their victory still, and still say to themselves, yet for all his cunning he hath missed; they would ever have some bosom sorrows, which we could not light upon. Yet we shall not easily miss, nor leave out any, if we remember those men,
that even this false and imaginary joy, which they take in concealing their sorrow and affliction, is a new affliction, a new cause of We shall make up the number apace, if we remember these men, that all their new sins, and all their new shifts, to put away their sorrows, are sorrowful things, and miserable comforters; if their conscience do present all their sins, the number grows great; and if their own conscience have forgotten them, if God forget nothing that they have thought, or said, or done, in all their lives, are not their occasions of sorrow the more for their forgetting, the more for God's remembering? Judgments are prepared for the scorners, says Solomon', God foresaw their wickedness from before all times, and even then set himself on work, to prepare judgments for them; and as they are prepared before, so affliction followeth sinners, says the same wise king; it follows them, and it knows how to overtake them; either by the sword of the magistrate, or by that which is nearer them, diseases in their own bodies, accelerated and complicated by their sins. And then, as affliction is prepared, and follows, and overtakes, so says that wise king still, there shall be no end of plagues to the evil man'; we know the beginning of their plagues; they are prepared in God's decree, as soon as God saw their sins; we know their continuance, they shall follow, and they shall overtake; their end we do not know, we cannot know, for they have none. Thus they are many.
And if we consider further, the manifold topics, and places, from which the sorrows of the wicked arise, that every inch of their ground is overgrown with that venomous weed, that every place, and every part of time, and every person buds out a particular occasion of sorrow to him, that he can come into no chamber, but he remembers, in such a place as this, I sinned thus, that he cannot hear a clock strike, but he remembers, at this hour I sinned thus, that he cannot converse with few persons, but he remembers, with such a person I sinned thus, and if he dare go no further than to himself, he can look scarcely upon any limb of his body, but in that he sees some infirmity, or some deformity, that he imputes to some sin, and must say, by this sin, this is thus:
1 Prov. xix. 29.
2 Prov. xiii. 21.
3 Prov. xxiv. 20.