Images de page
PDF
ePub

this is for Him, and He will gain His glory out of it. The way of man is not in himself. If we see their folly, let us learn to be wiser, to keep close to Him, and desire His gracious direction of our ways; for it is not in our hands, even when we intend best. And for public affairs, let us rest satisfied in His part. Amidst all disorders, He is ordering all wisely and justly, and to them who love Him, graciously; therefore we ought not to be dismayed. Let us calm our thoughts with this, remember who it is that rules all, and disposes of peace and war, and all affairs, and we cannot wish them in a better hand. I am persuaded, that in all the commotions of the world, when a believer thinks on this, it cannot but calm and compose his spirit exceedingly: My Father rules all. Let this so quiet our fears, as that withal it quicken our prayers, and stir us up to the work of this day,-repentant, humble seeking unto God; seeing all is in His hands, our peace, our liberties, and our enemies, that threaten to bereave us of both. Oh! that the effect of all our troubles and dangers were to drive us more to God, to make us throng more about the throne of grace, to draw forth our King for our help! Oh, our impenitence and unreformedness! That turns Him to be our enemy, and that only. Men are nothing. And now, in so great straits, yet, so little calling on Him! Oh, my brethren what are we doing? O! pray, pray. It is our God that commands all, and we may say it upon His own warrant, it is prayer that commands Him.

II. The petition: Correct me, &c. When the hand of God is stretched out against a people or a person, certainly there is no running from Him. The only wise and safe course is, to run unto him. This the Prophet does in behalf of his people, and by his example teaches them so to do. As the Prophet utters his own sense and desires in this prayer, so he sets it as a copy to the people of God in time of judgment to pray by; shews them the way, which is, not vainly to offer to flee from Him, or proudly to stand out against Him, to

VOL. III.

2 B

their undoing, but to humble themselves under His mighty hand, supplicating Him, yielding themselves, and begging quarter. Correct me, O Lord, with judgment, not in anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing. That I should suffer for my rebellion, there is good reason; yet, Lord, do not utterly destroy me, which will be, if the weight of Thine anger fall upon me. And for that, though indeed we have deserved it, yet there is another vent for it, and pardon us to say so, fitter matter for it: Pour out Thy wrath upon the Heathen : ver. 25: let it go out that way. So we see the supplication hath these two particulars in it, an aversion, and a diversion; an aversion of the anger of God from His own people under correction, and a diversion of it upon His and their enemies ; Lord, turn from us, and pour it out there. The aversion is presented, qualified with a humble submission, declaring expressly they decline not that correction of God, but only deprecate His consuming anger. Correct me, O Lord, but with judgment, that is, with measure; such as the discretion and love of a father resolves on towards his child, Thus much will I correct him for his good, and no further.

Not in Thine anger. God is pleased to express His displeasure against sin, by wrath and anger, even towards His own children. But the anger which here the Prophet entreats exception from, for the Church, is anger opposed to judg ment, unbounded, destroying anger, that knows no limits nor stop, but the devouring of those against whom it is kindled. This is spoken in our language, but it is to be understood in a way suiting the purity of God. In Him truly is no passion at all, much less any that is not ordered by wisdom and judgment. He is not carried in heat beyond His purposed measure, but knows well how far He intends to go with any, and goes no farther. But as His anger means His just punishing of sin, so His unlimited anger signifies no other than His just proceeding in punishment, to the utter destruction of inflexible sinners; and to this is opposed here, His correcting

with judgment, that is, in a fatherly gracious moderation, such as does not utterly ruin and cut off, but indeed reclaims and converts sinners unto Him.

This submission and yieldance to a measured correction, is a thing most reasonable: they that know any thing aright of themselves and God, will not refuse it.

First, reflecting on their own sinfulness, which, when 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-knowledge 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, Psal. li. 4., and using that other, 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 this people, under the very captivity here threatened, when it had lasted out the full term. See Dan. ix.

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. 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 humble submission in all. I was dumb, says David, I opened not my mouth, because Thou didst it. Psal. xxxix. 9. 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. 1 Cor. xi. 32. Their afflictions have a secret stamp of love on them; By this is the iniquity of Jacob purged, &c. 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. The peaceable fruits of righteousness. Heb. xii. 11. 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 suffer

ings, 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 He inflicts, not to murmur, nor entertain a fretful thought of it. Besides the undutifulness and unseemliness of it, how vain is it! What gain we by struggling and casting up our hand 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 His 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.

[ocr errors]

Now, to the petition, the averting of His 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, Hezekiah, &c., that in those times it had

« PrécédentContinuer »