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is a candle unlighted, when he does not illuminate it for that search. Oh! what a deal of vanity and love of this world, envy and secret pride, lurks in many of our hearts, that we do not at all perceive, till God causeth us to see it, leading us in, as he did the prophet in the vision, to see the idolatry of the Jews in his very temple, by which they had provoked him to forsake it, and go far from his sanctuary; and having discovered one parcel, leads him in further, and makes him enter through the wall, and adds often, Son of man hast thou seen these, I will cause thee see yet more abominations, and yet more abominations. Thus is it within many of us that should be his temples, but we have a multitude of images of jealousy, one lying hid behind another, till he thus discover them to us. Oh! what need have we to intreat him thus, What I see not, teach thou me!
Now in both these, both in the knowledge of our rule, and of ourselves, though there may be some useful subserviency of the ministry of men, yet the great teacher of the true knowledge of his law, and of himself, and of ourselves, is God. Men may speak to the ear, but his chair is in heaven that teaches hearts, cathedram habet in cœlo. Matchless teacher! that teacheth more in one hour than men can do in a whole age! that can cure the invincible unteachableness of the dullest heart, gives understanding to the simple, and opens the eyes of the blind. So then would we be made wise, wise for eternity, learned in real living divinity, let us sit down at his feet and make this our continual request, what I see not, teach thou me.
And if I have done, &c.] That is, "any iniquity that I yet know not of, any hidden sin, let me but once see it, and, I hope, thou shalt see it no more within me; not willingly lodged and entertained." This speaks an entire total giving up all sin, and proclaiming utter defiance and enmity against it; casting out what is already found out without de VOL. III. Ι
lay, and resolving that still in further search, as it shall be more discovered, it shall be forthwith dislodged, without a thought of sparing or partial indulgence to any thing that is sin, or like it, or may any way befriend it, or be an occasion and incentive of it. This is that absolute renouncing of sin, and surrender of the whole soul and our whole selves to God, which whosoever do not heartily consent to and resolve on, their religion is in vain, and (which is here the point) their affliction is in vain: whatsoever they have suffered, they have gained nothing by all their sufferings, if their hearts remain still self-will'd, stubborn, untamed, and unpliable to God. And this makes their miseries out of measure miserable, and their sins out of measure sinful; whereas were it thus qualified, and had it any operation this way towards the subjecting of their hearts unto God, affliction were not to be called misery, but would go under the title of a blessedness: Blessed is the man whom thou correctest and teachest him out of thy law. That suiting with this here desired, I have born chastisement: what I see not, teach thou me; and if I have done iniquity, I will do it no more. were it thus with us, my brethren, how might we rejoice, and insert into our praises all that is come upon us, if it had wrought or advanced any thing of this kind within us, this blessed compliance with the will of God, not entertaining any thing knowingly that displeases him; finding a pleasure in the denial and destruction of our own most beloved pleasures at his appointment and for his sake. Whatsoever is in us, and dearest to us, that would offend us, that would draw us to offend him, were it the right hand, let it be cut off, or the right eye, let it be plucked out: or, to make shorter work, let the whole man die at once crucified with Jesus, that we may be henceforth dead to sin, dead to the world, dead to ourselves, and alive only to God.
HERE is no exercise so delightful to those that are truly godly, as the solemn Worship of God, if they find his powerful and sensible presence in it; and indeed there is nothing on earth more like to heaven than that is. But when he withdraws himself, and with-holds the influence and breathings of his Spirit in his service, then good souls find nothing more lifeless and uncomfortable: but there is this difference, even at such a time betwixt them, and those that have no spiritual life in them at all, that they find, and are sensible of this difference; whereas the other know not what it means. And for the most part, the greatest number of those that meet together with a profession to worship God, yet are such as do not understand this difference. Custom and formality draws many to the ordinary places of public worship, and fills too much of the room; and sometimes novelty and curiosity, to places not ordinary, has a large share: but how few are there that come on purpose to meet with God in his worship, and to find his power in strengthening their weak faith, and weakening their strong corruptions; affording them provision of spiritual, strength and comfort against times of trial; and, in a word, advancing them some steps forward in their journey towards heaven, where happiness and perfection dwells? Certainly these sweet effects are to be found in these ordinances, if we would look after them. Let it grieve us then that we have so often lost our labour in the worship of God, through our own neglect, and intreat the Lord, that at this time he would not send us away empty; for how
weak soever the means be, if he put his strength, the work shall be done, in some measure, to his glory, and our edification. Now that he may be pleased to do so, to leave a blessing behind him, let us pray, &c.
ISAIAH XXviii. 5, 6.
In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty unto the residue of his people.
And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.
ALL the works of divine providence are full of wisdom and justice, even every one severally considered; yet we observe them best to be such, when we take notice of their order, and mutual aspect one to another, whether in the succession of times,' or such passages as are cotemporary and fall in together at one and the same time. As, when the Lord brings notable judgments upon the proud workers of iniquity, and at the same time confers special mercies on his own people; who is there that may not perceive justice and mercy illustrating and beautifying one another? It is true, the full re ward and perfect rest of the godly is not here below; they would be sorry if it were: nor is this the place of plenary punishment for the ungodly. Men may look for a judgment too, yet the Lord is pleased at some times to give some resemblances and pledges, as it were, of that great and last judgment in remarkable passages of justice and mercy, at one and the same time; and such a time it is that the prophet foretells in this his Sermon, which concerns the two sister kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Having denounced a heavy calamity to come upon Israel, under the name of Ephraim, he comforts those of Judah under the name of the residue of his
people. They not being so grossly corrupted as the other were, he stays them with this promise: in that day, saith he, when the other shall be overwhelmed, as with a deluge, the Lord of Hosts shall be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty unto the residue of his people.
The promise is made up of three benefits, yet the three are but one; or rather, one is all the three to them. The Lord of Hosts; it is he that shall be their honour, wisdom and strength. He shall be a crown, &c. But first, a word of the circumstance of time, In that day.
That sovereign Lord, who at first set up the lights of heaven to distinguish times and seasons, by their constant motion, and likewise by his supreme providence ruling the world, hath fixed the periods of states and kingdoms, and decreed their revolutions, their rising, ascending, and their height, with their decline and setting, hath by a special providence determined those changes and vicissitudes that befal his church. That which the Psalmist speaks, in his own particular, holds of each believer, and of the church, which they make up in all ages and places: I said, thou art my God, my times are in thy hand; a sure and steady hand indeed, and therefore he builds his confidence upon it, ver. 13, They took counsel against me, but I trusted in thee. And upon this, he prays in faith, that the face of God may shine upon him, and the wicked may be ashamed.
Thus then, as many as are looking after a day of mercy to the church of God, pray and believe upon this ground, That the time of it is neither in the frail hands of those that favour and seek it, nor in the hands of those that oppose it, how strong and subtile soever they be, but in that almighty hand, that doth in heaven and earth what pleaseth him. If he have said, now, and here, will I give a day of refreshment to my people that have long groaned
a Psalm xxxi. 15.