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Will you make Act thus-the and, as it were,
things, there is an apparent visible hazard that men's lives and fortunes are likely to be put to. advantage and gain of your trouble? looser you find other things tied to you, upon a running knot, secure that one thing and your portion in it, which is worth all the rest, yea, far above them all, and that alone which can be secured, and made certain. Wanting this, what though you had peace, and health, and all imaginable prosperity? you would still be miserable, being liable to the wrath of God and eternal destruction. But if once united to Christ, and in him reconciled to God and entitled to Heaven, what can fall amiss to you? You shall have joy in the midst of sorrow and affliction, and peace in the midst of war, yea, and life in death. But think not to attain this assurance, while you continue profane and God-less, not seeking it in the way of holiness, for there alone it is to be found. And withal beg it of God by humble prayer.
PSALM CXIX, 136.
Rivers of waters run down mine eyes because they keep not thy law.
LOVE is the leading passion of the soul. All the rest follow the measure and motion of it, as the lower heavens are said to be wheeled about with the first. We have here a clear instance of it in the psalmist, who is testifying his love to God by his esteem and love of the law or word of God: What is each of the several verses of this psalm, but a several breathing and vent of this love, either in itself, or in the causes, or in the effects of it? Where he sets forth the excellencies and utilities of God's law, there you have the causes of his love. His observing and studying of it, his desire to know it more and observe it better, these are the effects of his affection to it. The love itself, he often expresseth, ver. 47, 48, 113, 140; Thy word is very pure; therefore thy servant loveth it; and ver. 127, I love thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold. But as scarcely accounting that love, the greatness of which can be uttered, how much it is,
he expresseth it most by intimating that he cannot express it, ver. 97, O, how love I thy law! Hence are his desires, which are love in pursuit, so earnest after it. Amongst many, that is pathetical, ver. 20; My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times. Hence likewise his joy and delight, which are love in possession, ver. 14; I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies as much as in all riches; and ver. 16; I will delight myself in thy statutes; I will not forget thy word. We have his hatred of things opposite, which is love's antipathy, ver. 113; I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love; and ver. 163; I hate and abhor lying, but thy law do I love. And in the 139th verse you will find his zeal, which is no other than the fire of love stirred up or blown into a flame, My zeal hath consumed mé, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words. And, to omit the rest, in the 158th verse, his love to the law, shows its sympathy in sorrow for the violation of the law: I beheld the transgressors and was grieved, because they kept not thy word. And here you find this grief swelling to such a height, that it runs over into abundant tears. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
The words have briefly these rivers in their channel and course, They run down mine eyes; and then in their spring and cause, to wit, the psalmist's sympathy with God's law broken by men, in the latter clause of the verse, Because they keep not thy law. But both together clearly teach us, that godly men are affected with deep sorrow for the sins of the ungodly.
More particularly consider, I. the object of this af fection; II. the nature of it; III. the degree or measure of it; IV. its subject.
I. The object is the transgression of the law, or, to take it, as in the text, "in concreto," men transgressors of the law; They keep not thy law. It is true, the whole creation groaneth under the burden of sin in the effects of it, as the apostle speaks; but sin itself is man's enemy, he being that reasonable creature to whom the law was given. Now in the general, it is matter of grief to a godly mind to consider the universal depravedness of
man's nature; that he is a transgressor from the womb ; that the carnal mind is enmity against God, not subject to his law, neither, while it remains such, can it be. And this grief will go the deeper by remembering from whence he is fallen. When he was new come forth of the hands of his Maker, that image of God which he stamped upon him, shined bright in his soul: the whole frame of it was regular and comely, the inferior faculties obeying the higher, and all of them subject unto God. But how soon was he seduced, and then what a great change ensued! There has been ever since such a tumult and confusion in the soul, that it cannot hear the voice of God's law, much less obey and keep it. Hence is that complaint of the psalmist oftener than once, They are all gone out of the way, and become abominable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 'Ev ådıkiq keïrai, the world lies buried in wickedness; the same word as is used in the inscription of tombs, evade keira. Look abroad in the world, and what shall ye see, but a sea of wickedness over the face of the whole, which draws from a godly, discerning eye that beholds it, these rivers of tears? The greatest part not knowing the true God, nor the true religion and the true way of his worship. And for those that do, yet, how unlike are they to it in their lives! The reformed churches this way, how unreformed are they in a great part!
But more particularly to branch this out a little in respect to several sorts of men, this godly grief has a very large sphere. It will extend to remote people, remote every way, not only in place, but in manners and religion, even to heathens and gross idolaters. Yea, the very sins of enemies and of such as are professed enemies to God, move the tender-hearted Christian to sorrow and compassion. Of whom I now tell you weeping, says St. Paul, that they are enemies to the cross of Christ-enemies, and yet, he speaks of them weeping. What he writes concerning them, he would have written in tears, if that had been legible. Thus you see the extension of this grief. But yet, out of all question, it will be more intense in particulars of nearer concerniment. It is the burden of the pious man's heart, that his law who made the world and Div. No. VIII.
gives being to all things, should be so little regarded and so much broken through all the world; but yet more especially, that in his own church, amongst his own people, transgression should abound. Sins within the church are most properly scandals. God manifests himself, so to speak, most sensible of those, and therefore the godly man is so too. Whether they be the continual enormities of licentious and profane persons, who are by external profession in the face of the visible church, though indeed they be in it but as spots and blemishes, as the apostle speaks; or whether it be the apostacy of hypocrites; or, which sometimes falls out, the gross falls of true converts-all these are the great grief of the godly. The relations of men, either natural or civil, will add something too; this sorrow will in such cases be greater than ordinary in a Christian. He will melt in a particular tenderness for the sins of his kindred, parents or children, husband or wife; and most of all, ministers will grieve for the sins of their people. How pathetically does this appear in St Paul! And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication, and lasciviousness, which they have committed, 2 Cor. xii, 21. A man cannot but be more particularly touched with the sins of that nation, and of that city, and congregation, and family, whereof he is a member. So we read of Lot, 2 Pet. ii, 8; For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The sins of more eminent persons, either in church or common-wealth, will most affect a prudent Christian, because their inclinations and actions import the public much. Therefore the apostle, when he had exhorted to supplications and prayers for all men, particularly mentions kings, and such as are in authority. And truly when they are abused by misadvice and corrupt counsel, some of these tears were very well spent, if poured forth before God in their behalf: for in his hand, as that wise king confesseth, are their hearts, there compared to rivers of waters; let their motion be never so impetuous, yet, he turneth them whithersoever he pleaseth. Prov. xxi, 1. And who knows but that these
rivers of waters, these tears, may prevail with the Lord to reduce the violent current of that river, a king's heart, from the wrong channel?
II. But to proceed: the second thing to be considered in this affection, is, the nature of it. It is not a stoical apathy, and affected carelessness; much less a delightful partaking with sinful practices. Nor is it a proud setting off of their own goodness with marking the sin of others, as the pharisee did in the gospel. Nor the derision and mocking of the folly of men, with that laughing philosopher; it comes nearer to the temper of the other who wept always for it. It is not a bitter bilious anger, breaking forth into railings and reproaches, nor an upbraiding insultation. Nor is it a vindictive desire of punishment, venting itself in curses and imprecations, which is the rash temper of many, but especially of the vulgar sort. The disciples' motion to Christ was far different from that way, and yet he says to them, Ye know not of what spirit ye are. They thought they had been of Elijah's spirit, but he told them they were mistaken, and did not know of what a spirit they were in that motion. Thus heady zeal often mistakes and flatters itself. We find not here a desire of fire to come down from heaven upon the breakers of the law, but such a grief as would rather bring water to quench it, if it were falling on them; Rivers of waters run down mine eyes.
III. The degree of this sorrow. It is vehement, not a light transient dislike, but a deep resentment, such as causeth not some few sighs, or some drops of tears, but rivers. It is true, the measure and degree of sorrow for sin, whether their own or others', are different in divers persons, who are yet true mourners; and they are also different in the same person at divers times, not only on account of the difference of the cause, but even where the cause is equal, on account of the different influence and working of the Spirit of God. Sometimes it pleaseth him to warm and melt the heart more abundantly, and so he raises these rivers in those eyes, to a higher tide than ordinary; sometimes they remove again. But yet this godly sorrow is always serious and sincere; and that is the other quality here remarkable in it. It is not a histrionical