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tion, is a thing most reasonable: they that know any thing aright of themselves and God, will not refuse it, at least, when reflecting on their own sinfulness, which, wben truly discovered, even where there is least, yet is there enough of it to justify even utter destruction. Therefore have we good reason unrepiningly to receive such moderate correction from the hand of God, as he thinks fit, and to wonder that it is no more. It is one true character of repentance under the rod, to accept the punishment of our iniquity, to have our untamed spirits brought low, to stoop to God, to acknowledge our punishment to be far less than our iniquity, and that it is of his goodness that we are not consumed, as the church confesses, Lam. iii, 22. Though we feel it heavy and the measure hard, yet self-kuowledge and conscience of sin will lay the soul low and make it quiet, so that it will say nothing, or if any thing, it will be confession of its own guiltiness and the righteousness of God; still clearing him in all, as it is in Psal. li, 4; and using that other saying, Psal. cxix, 137, whatsoever is so inflicted, Righteous art thou, O Lord, and just are thy judgments; which words a good king used, being put in prison, and hardly dealt with. So the Psalmist, Psal. xxxviii, 3; There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones, because of my sin. He justifies God's anger by his own sin. Thus Daniel makes confession for the people, under the very captivity here threatened, when it had lasted out the full term; Dan,
And knowing our sin, ought we not to allow God the clearing of his own justice, his purity and hatred of sin, in punishing it? And possibly he will punish sin most exemplarily here, in those who are nearest him, his own people and children. He can least endure it there. We see this especially when we consider his sovereignty and greatness, that he is tied to no account of his actings ; and though we did not see so clear reason for our sufferings in our deservings, there is reason enough in his will. And this, well considered, would bring us to much humnble submission in all. I was dumb, says David, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it. The bishop of Troyes, meeting Attila marching towards the city, asked, who he was. “I am," said he, “ the scourge of God." Upon this, he set open the gates to him; but God marvellously restrained the soldiers in that city.
But yet further, as our own guiltiness and God's righteousness and greatness, plead for this compliance with his chastisements, so even his goodness and our own profit in them. There is in his chastising of his own people, very much mercy, that they may not be condemned with the world. Their afflictions have a secret stamp of love on them; By this is the iniquity of Jacob purged. He purifies a people in his furnace that they may be holy unto him; gives his own many sweet experiences of secret support and comfort in affliction, and seasonable delivery out of it, and brings them forth with advantage ; gives them the peaceable fruits of righteousness. He humbles and purges a people or a person by his rods, and prepares them for greater mercies, to enjoy them both more sweetly and usefully; renews his covenant and the mutual endearments of love betwixt himself and his people, according to the gracious promises made to his people, in relation to this very judgment here threatened, and after inflicted on them. See Isa. liv; Ezek. xxxvi.
We possibly think it strange that our pressures and troubles still continue, and rather grow upon us than abate; but we judge not wisely concerning this, the most part cursing and repining, others falling into a dead hopeless stupidness, not caring what becomes of things. But our best course were, to turn to him who smites us, to acknowledge our rebellions and his justice, to eye men less and God more in our sufferings, and to confess that our provocations exceed all that is come upon us; to fall down humbly before God, and take submissively his chastisements, saying, Correct me, O Lord, but with judgment; and with the church, I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him; Mic. vii, 9.
Thus likewise in private personal correctings let us learn to behave ourselves meekly and humbly, as the children of so great and good a Father; whatsoever be inflicts, not to murmur, nor entertain a fretful thought of it. Besides the undutifulness and upseemliness of it, how vain is it! What gain we by struggling and casting up our band to cast off the rod, but the more lashes ? Our only way is, to kneel and fold under his hands, and kiss his rod, and even while he is smiting us, to be blessing him, sending up confessions of his righteousness, and goodness, and faithfulness, only entreating for the turning away of bis wrath, though it should be with the continuing of our affliction. That is here the style of the prophet's prayer, Correct me, O Lord, but not in anger. And according to this suit, even where troubles are chastisements for sin, yet a child of God may find much sweetness, reading much of God's love in so dealing with him, in not suffering him to grow wanton and forget him, as in much ease even his own children sometimes do. And as they may find much of God's love to them in sharp corrections, they may raise and act much of their love to him in often-repeated resignments and submissions of themselves, and ready consenting to, yea, rejoicing in his good pleasure, even in those things which to their flesh and sense are most unpleasant.
Now to the petition, the averting of bis anger; that is the great request of them who know and fear him; and There is high reason for it. The heaviest sufferings are light without it, but the least ingredient of that, adds inexpressible weight to the smallest affliction. This was the thing, it is likely, which made the visage of death so sad to holy men in scripture, David and Hezekiah, that in those times it had some character of God's anger against them upon it; came to them as a messenger of displeasure. So a thing small in itself, may be a great
To be cast out unburied, is no great matter. Natural men slight it. There is little difference, to lie eaten of beasts above ground, or of worms beneath. Yet when foretold to a man as a judgment denounced from God, as against that king, Jer. xxii, 19, it hath its own weight, carrying some stamp of God's despising him. And though a man feels it not when it is done, yet he feels it looking on it before-hand, especially as threatened of God; sees himself, as it were, dragged about and torn.
Now if any little particular cross, marked with God's
present anger, becomes so heavy, how much more is bis abiding, prolonged wrath, the thing here spoken of; anger to which no bounds is set! That, says he, in the name of his people, would bring me to nought. There is no standing before it; it will make the stoutest and proudest to shake, yea, shakes them to pieces. If the wrath of a king be to meaner men as the roaring of a lion, how much more terrible, even to kings themselves, is the wrath of God! This great King, whose voice shakes the mountains, and makes the earth to tremble, armies of terrors and deatbs are nothing to a look of his angry countenance. If he withdraws not his anger, the proud helpers stoop under him. The helpers of pride, the great Atlasses of the world, who are thought to bear up all, those who, for their wit and power, are thought the supporters of the kingdoms, how soon are they crushed to pieces by a touch of this anger of God, and perish at the rebuke of his countenance ! O Lord, says ibat holy man, Psal. xe, 11, considering the frailty of poor man, and the power of God, who knoweth the power of thine anger ? Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath; full as much, yes, far more terrible than we can apprehend it.
They who dare go on in ways wherein it may be but suspected that he is against them, O they know him not. Let us consider, and fear before him; and, for the land, still entreat the turning away of his wrath, rather than deliverances from any pressures-Lord, while thou thinkest good further to afflict us, so as to draw us nearer to thee, we are content, yea, we will bless thee; but what soever thou do with us, suffer not thy hot displeasure to arise against us, for then we are undone. So this is all a soul under his hand, in affliction, ought to say, Correct me, but not in wrath, lest thou bring me to nothing; thou knowest I cannot stand before that. He is pleased to look to this, and to express it as that which moderates his anger, even when justly incensed; Isa. lvii, 16; I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth ; for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. Lord, if thou wilt, how quickly and how eaily couldst thou break into pieces, or sink into nothing, not only me, a little atom of it,
but the entire frame of this whole world ; and therefore strive not with me. This often Job represents, and God is pleased to move himself to restrain his wrath, and draw forth his mercy by it. His great compassion lays hold on such considerations. . See Psal. lxxviii, 38, 39, and Psal. ciii, 14. And this may furnish great confidence to souls under a sense of wrath, that do but fall down and entreat for mercy. He who so often prevents us, when we seek it not, will he cast any one away who seeks and sues for it?
The diversion of this anger relates to the heathen, the professed and obdurate enemies of God and his church. Thy wrath, O Lord, may have its course, and yet spare thy people. There is matter enough for it round about, that is good for nothing else ; and good reason for it, besides all other wickedness, their spite and cruelty against thy people ; For they have eaten up Jacob.
Note the character of the ungodly, who are fit fuel for this fire, That know not and call not on thy name; that profess not pretend not to be thine. Tremble, you who are too like these, though reputed amongst the people of God. Seek the knowledge of God, and worship him, families and persons, lest this curse come upon you.
Now this is a prophetical foretelling of the utter destruction of the church's enemies, whereas the church is corrected in measure, and not destroyed. She is first punished; but they that come last, the enemies, the heaviest wrath falls down there, and smothers them, ends on them, and make a full end of them ; Jer. xxx, 11. The belief of this may uphold the faithful in the church's greatest distresses. When at the lowest, then the wrath is nearest changing place and removing to her enemies.
And this is to be so desired and prayed for, in reference to the implacable enemies of God, that we beware we mix nothing of our own interest or passion with it. As wrath in God is without any disturbance, so somewhat like is the desire of it in the godly, a calm undistempered love of the name of God. And so shall the saints rejoice in the final victory and triumph of Christ over all his enemies, and their final ruin in that day when they shall be made his footstool. Then they shall have a pure Diu. No. IX.