423 SERMON L.
PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS.
Psalm vi. 4, 5.
Return, O Lord ; Deliver my soul; O Lord save me, for thy merey's sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee; and in the grave, who shall give thee thanks ?
The whole psalm is prayer; and prayer is our whole service to God. Earnest prayer hath the nature of importunity; we press, we importune God in prayer; yet that puts not God to a morosity, to a frowardness; God flings not away from that; God suffers that importunity, and more. Prayer hath the nature of impudency; we threaten God in prayer; as Gregory Nazianzen adventures to express it; he says, his sister, in the vehemence of her prayer, would threaten God, Et honesta quadam impudentia, egit impudentem; She came, says he, to a religious impudency with God, and to threaten him, that she would never depart from his altar, till she had her petition granted; and God suffers this impudency, and more. Prayer hath the nature of violence; in the public prayers of the congregation, we besiege God, says Tertullian; and we take God prisoner, and bring God to our conditions; and God is glad to be straitened by us in that siege. This prophet here executes before, what the apostle counsels after, Pray incessantly; even in his singing he prays; and as St. Basil says, Etiam somniajustorum preces siint, A good man's dreams are prayers, he prays, and not sleepily, in his sleep, so David's songs are prayers. Now in this his besieging of God, he brings up his works from afar off, closer; he begins in this psalm, at a deprecatory prayer; he asks nothing, but that God would do nothing, that he would forbear him; Rebuke me not, correct me not. Now, it costs the king less, to give a pardon, than to give a pension ; and less to give a reprieve, than to give a pardon; and less to cone, not to call in question, than either reprieve, pardon or pension; to forbear, is not much. But then, as the mathematician said, that he could make an engine, a screw, that should move the whole frame of the world, if he could
have a place assigned him, to fix that engine, that screw upon, that so it might work upon the world: so prayer, when one petition hath taken hold upon God, works upon God, moves God, prevails with God, entirely for all. David then having got this ground, this footing in God, he brings his works closer; he comes from the deprecatory, to a postulatory prayer; not only that God would do nothing against him, but that he would do something for him. God hath suffered man to see Arcana imperil, the secrets of his state, how he governs; he governs by precedent; by precedents of his predecessors, he cannot; he hath none ; by precedents of other gods, he cannot; there are none; and yet he proceeds by precedents; by his own precedents; he does as he did before; habenti dat, to him that hath received, he gives more, and is willing to be wrought, and prevailed upon, and pressed with his own example. And, as though his doing good, were but to learn how to do good better, still he writes after his own copy; and Nulla dies sine linea, He writes some- thing to us, that is, he doth something for us, every day. And then, that which is not often seen, in other masters, his copies are better than the originals; his latter mercies larger than his former: and in this postulatory prayer, larger than the deprecatory, enters our text, Return 0 Lord; deliver my soul; 0 save .me, &c.
David, who everywhere remembers God of his covenant, as he was the God of Abraham, remembers also, how Abraham proceeded with God, in the behalf of Sodom; and he remembers, that when Abraham had gained upon God, and brought him from a greater, to a less number of righteous men, for whose sakes God would have spared that city, yet Abraham gave over asking, before God gave over granting; and so Sodom was lost. A little more of St. Augustine's importunity, of Nazianzen's impudence, of Tertullian's violence in prayer, would have done well in Abraham ; if Abraham had come to a less price, to less than ten, God knows what God would have done; for God went not away, says the text there, till he had left communing with Abraham; that is, till Abraham had no more to say to him. In memory and contemplation of that, David gives not over in this text, till he come to the uttermost of all, as far as man can ask, as far as
God can give; he begins at first, with a Revertere Dominef. Return 0 Lord, and higher than that, no man can begin; no man can begin at a Veni Domine; no man can pray to God, to come, till God be come into him; Quid peto, ut venias in me, says St. Augustine: Qui non essem, sinonesses in me ? How should I pray, that God would come into me, who not only could not have the spirit of praying, but not the spirit of being, not life itself, if God were not in me already ? But then, this prayer is, that when God had been with him, and for his sins, or his coldness, and slackness in prayer, was departed aside from him, yet he would vouchsafe to return to him again, and restore to him that light of his countenance which he had before, Revertere Domine, 0 Lord return. And then he passes to his second petition, Eripe animam, Deliver my soul; That when God in his return saw those many and strong snares which entangled him, those many and deep tentations and tribulations which surrounded him, God, being in his mercy thus. returned, and in his providence seeing this danger, would not now stand neutral between them, and see him and these tentations fight it out, but fight on his side and deliver him ; Eripe animam, Deliver my soul. And then, by these two petitions, he makes way for the third and last, which is the perfection and consummation of all, as far as he can carry a prayer or a desire, Salmtm me fac, 0 Lord save me; that is, Imprint in me a strong hope of salvation in this life, and invest me in an irremovable posssession, in the life to come. Lord I acknowledge that thou hast visited me heretofore, and for my sins hast absented thyself, 0 Lord return; Lord, now thou art returned, and seest me unable to stand in these tentations and tribulations, Deliver thou my soul; Lord thou hast delivered me again and again, and again and again I fall back to my former danger, and therefore, 0 Lord save me, place me where I may be safe; safe in a constant hope, that the Saviour of the world intended that salvation to me; and these three petitions constitute our first part in David's postulatory prayer.
And then the second part, which is also within the words of this text, and consists of those reasons, by which David inclines God to grant his three petitions, which arc two, first, Propter misericordiam titam, Do this O Lord, for thine own mercy sake, and then, Quia non in morte, Do it O Lord, for thine own honour's sake, because in death there is no remembrance ofthee, that second part will be the subject of another exercise, for, that which belongs to the three petitions, will employ the time allowed for this.
First then, the first step in this prayer, Revertere, 0 Lord return, implies first a former presence, and then a present absence, and also a confidence for the future; whosoever says, 0 Lord return, says all this, Lord thou wast here, Lord thou art departed hence, but yet, Lord thou mayest return hither again. God was with us all, before we were anything at all; and ever since our making, hath been with us, in his general providence ; and so, we cannot say, 0 Lord return, because so he was never gone from jS^XBut as God made the earth, and the fruits thereof, before he made the sun, whose force was to work upon that earth, and upon the natural fruits of that earth, but before he made paradise, which was to have the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge, he made the sun to do those offices, of shining upon it, and returning daily to it; so God makes this earth of ours, that is ourselves, by natural ways, and sustains us by general providence, before any sun of particular grace be seen to shine upon us. But before man can be a paradise, possessed of the tree of life, and of knowledge, this sun is made and produced, the particular graces of God rise to him, and work upon him, and awaken, and solicit, and exalt those natural faculties which were in him; this Son fills him, and fits him, compasses him, and disposes him, and does all the offices of the sun, seasonably, opportunely, maturely, for the nourishing of his soul, according to the several necessities thereof. And this is God's returning to us, in a general apprehension ; after he hath made us, and blessed us in our nature, and by his natural means, he returns to make us again, to make us better, first by his first preventing grace, and then by a succession of his particular graces. And therefore we must return to this returning, in some more particular considerations.
There are besides others, three significations in the Scripture, of this word shubah, which is here translated, to return, appliable to our present purpose. The first is the natural and native, the primary and radical signification of the word. And so, shubah, to return, is redire ad locum suum, to return to that place, to which a thing is naturally affected; so heavy things return to the centre, and light things return to the expansion ; So man's breath departeth, says David, et redit in terram suam, he returns into his earth1; that earth, which is so much his, as that it is he himself; of earth he was, and therefore to earth he returns. But can God return in such a sense as this? Can we find an ubi for God ? A place that is his place 3 Yes; and an earth which is his earth; surely the vineyard of the Lord of hosts, is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant plant*. So the church, which is his vineyard, is his ubi, his place, his centre, to which he is naturally affected. And when he calls us hither, and meets us here, upon his Sabbaths, and sheds the promises of his gospel upon the congregation in his ordinance, he returns to us here, as in his ubi, as in his own place. And as he hath a place of his own here, so he hath an earth of his own in this place. Our flesh is earth, and God hath invested our flesh, and in that flesh of ours, which suffered death for us, he returns to us in this place, as often as he maketh us partakers of his flesh, and his blood, in the blessed Sacrament. So then, though in my days of sin, God have absented himself from me, (for God is absent when I do not discern his presence) yet if to-day I can hear his voice, as God is returned to-day to this place, as to his ubi, as to his own place; so in his entering into me, in his flesh and blood, he returns to me as to his earth, that earth which he hath made his by assuming my nature, I am become his ubi, his place; Delicice ejus, His delight is to be with the sons of men, and so with me; and so in the church, in the sermon, in the sacrament he returns to us, in the first signification of this word shubah, as to that place to which he is naturally affected and disposed.
In a second signification, this word is referred, not to the place of God, not to the person of God, but (if we may so speak) to the passion of God, to the anger of God; and so, the returning of God, that is, of God's anger, is the allaying, the becalming, the departing of his anger; and so when God returns, God stays; his anger is returned from us, but God is still with us. The wrath of the Lord was kindled, says the prophet Esay; and he
1 Psal . cxLvi. 4. * Isaiah v. 7.
smote his people, Bo that the mountains trembled, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets*. Here is the tempest, here is the visitation, here is God's coming to them ; he comes, but in anger, and we hear of no return; nay, we hear the contrary, Et non redibat furor, for all this, his wrath, his fury did not return ; that is, did not depart from them ; for, as God never comes in this manner, till our multiplied sins call him, and importune him, so God never returns in this sense, in withdrawing his anger and judgments from us, till both our words and our works, our prayers and our amendment of life, join in a Revertere Domine, 0 Lord return, withdraw this judgment from us, for it hath effected thy purpose upon us. And so the original, which expresses neither signification of the word, for it is neither return to me, nor return from me, but plainly and only return, leaves the sense indifferent; Lord, thou hast withdrawn thyself from me, therefore in mercy return to me, or else, Lord, thy judgments arc heavy upon me, and therefore return, withdraw these judgments from me; which shows the ductilencss, the appliableness of God's mercy, that yields almost to any form of words, any words seem to fit it.
But then, the comfort of God's returning to us, comes nearest us, in the third signification of this word shubah; not so much in God's returning to us, nor in his anger returning from us, as in our returning to him, Turn us again, 0 Lord, says David, et salvi erimus, and we shall be saved*; there goes no more to salvation, but such a turning. So that this returning of the Lord, is an operative, an effectual returning, that turns our hearts, and eyes, and hands, and feet to the ways of God, and produces in us repentance, and obedience. For these be the two legs, which our conversion to God stands upon; for so Moses uses this very word, Return unto the Lord and hear his voice*; there is no returning, without hearing, nor hearing without believing, nor believing, to be believed, without doing; returning is all these. Therefore where Christ says, That if those works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, Tyre and Sidon would have repented in sackcloth and ashes*; in the Syriac translation of St. Matthew,
* Isaiah v. 25 4 Psal. butx. 3. 4 Deut. xxx. 2.
0 Matt. ii. 21.
we have this very word shubah, they would have returned in sackcloth and ashes. So that the word which David receives from the Holy Ghost in this text, being only returned, and no more, » .',, applies itself to all three senses, return thyself, that is, bring back jf - , '1 thy mercy; return thy wrath, that is, call back thy judgments, yJ, ,
or return us to thee, that is, make thy means, and offers of grace, -/"' ,-' , in thine ordinance, powerful, and effectual upon us.
Now when the Lord comes to us, by any way, though he come in corrections, in chastisements, not to turn to him, is an irre-/ verent, and unrespective negligence. If a pursuivant, if serjeant come to thee from the king, in any court of justice, though he come to put thee in trouble, to call thee to an account, yet thou receivest him, thou entertainest him, thou payest him I fees. If any messenger of the Lord come to attach thee, whether sickness in thy body, by thine own disorder, decay in thy estate, by the oppression of others, or terror in thy conscience, by the preaching of his ministers, turn thou to the Lord, in the last sense of the word, and his mercy shall return to thee, and his anger shall return from thee, and thou shalt have fulness of consolation in all the three significations of the word. If a worm be trodden upon, it turns again; we may think, that is done in anger, and to revenge; but we know not; the worm hath no sting, and it may seem as well to embrace, and lick his foot that treads upon him. When God treads upon thee, in any calamity, spiritual or temporal, if thou turn with murmuring, this is the turning of a serpent, to sting God, to blaspheme him; this is a turning upon him, not a turning to him; but if thou turn like a worm, then thou turnest humbly to kiss the rod, to lick and embrace his foot that treads upon thee, that is, to love his ministers, which denounce his judgments upon thy sins, yea, to love them, from whom thou receivest defamation in thy credit, or detriment in thy state.
We see how it was imputed to Asa, when God trod upon him, that is, diseased him in his feet, and exalted his disease into extremity, Yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians1. He turned a by-way ; at least, though a right way, too soon, to the physician before the Lord. This is that, that
7 2 Chron. xvi. 12.
exasperated God so vehemently, because the people turneth not to him that smiteth them; neither do they seek the Lord of hosts*; when the Lord of hosts lies with a heavy army upon them. Therefore, say the prophet there, the Lord will cut off from Israel, head and tail, branch and rush in one day. God is not so vehement, when they neglected him in their prosperity, as when, though he afflicted them, yet they turned not to him. Measure God by earthly princes; (for we may measure the world by a barleycorn) if the king come to thy house, thou wilt profess to take it for an honour, and thou wilt entertain him; and yet his coming cannot be without removes, and troubles, and charges to thee. So when God comes to thee, in his word, or in his actions, in a sermon, or in a sickness, though his coming dislodge thee, remove thee, put thee to somo inconvenience, in leaving thy bed of sin, where thou didst sleep securely before, yet here is the progress of the Holy Ghost, intended to thy soul, that first he comes first to thee, and then if thou turn to him, he returns to thee, and settles himself, and dwells in thee.
This is too lovely a prospect, to depart so soon from ; therefore look we by St. Augustine's glass, upon God's coming and returning to man. God hath imprinted his image in our souls; and God comes, says that father, Utvideat imaainem; Where I have given my picture, I would see how it is respected : God comes to see in what case his image is in us; if we shut doors, if we draw curtains between him and his image, that is, cover our souls, and disguise and palliate our sins, he goes away, and returns in none of those former sins. But if we lay them open, by our free confessions, he returns again; that so, in how ill case soever he find his image, he may wash it over with our tears, and renew it with his own blood, and, ut resculpat imaainem, that he may refresh and re-engrave his image in us again, and put it in a richer and safer tablet. And as the angel which came to Abraham at the promise and conception of Isaac, gave Abraham a further assurance of his return at Isaac's birth, / will certainly return unto thee, and thy wife shaU have a son 0 ; so the Lord, which was with thee in the first conception of any good purpose, returns to thee again, to give thee a quickening of that blessed
* Isaiah i\. 13. '' Gen. xviii. 10.
child of his, and again, and again, to bring it forth, and to bring it up, to accomplish and perfect those good intentions, which his spirit, by over-shadowing thy soul, hath formerly begotten in it. So then, he comes in nature, and he returns in grace; he comes in preventing, and returns in subsequent graces. He comes in thine understanding, and returns in thy will; he comes in rectifying thine actions, and returns in establishing habits; he comes to thee in zeal, and returns in discretion; he comes to thee in fervour, and returns in perseverance; he comes to thee in thy peregrination, all the way, and he returns in thy transmigration, at thy last gasp. So Ood comes, and so God returns.
Yet I am loath to depart myself, loath to dismiss you from this air of paradise, of Gocl's coming, and returning to us. Therefore we consider again, that as God came long ago, six thousand years ago, in nature, when we were created in Adam, and then in nature returned to us, in the generation of our parents : so our Saviour Christ Jesus came to us long ago, sixteen hundred years ago, in grace, 'and yet in grace returns to us, as often as he assembles us, in these holy convocations. He came to us then, as the wise men came to him, with treasure, and gifts, and gold, and incense, and myrrh; as having an ambition upon the souls of men, he came with that abundant treasure to purchase us. And as to them who live upon the king's pension, it is some comfort to hear that the exchequer is full, that the king's moneys are come in : so is it to us, to know that there is enough in God'a hands, paid by his Son, for the discharge of all our debts; he gave enough for us all at that coming; but it is his returning to us, that applies to us, and derives upon us in particular, the benefit of this general satisfaction. When he returns to us in the dispensation and distribution of his graces, in his word and sacraments; when he calls upon us to come to the receipt; when the greater the sum is, the gladder is he of our coming; that where sin abounds, grace might abound too ; when we can pursue this prayer, Revertere Domine, Return 0 Lord in grace, in more and more grace, and when we are in possession of a good measure of that grace, we can pray again, Bevertere Domine, Return O Lord in glory, come Lord Jesus, come quickly; when we are so rectified by his ordinances here, that in a sincerity of soul, we are not only contented, but desirous to depart from hence, then have we religiously followed our example, that man according to God's heart, David, in this prayer of his. If Christ have not been thus fully in thine heart, before, this is his coming; entertain him now: if he have been there, and gone again, this is his returning ; bless him for that: and meet him, and love him, and embrace him, as often as he offers himself to thy soul, in these his ordinances : wish every day a Sunday, and every meal a sacrament, and every discourse a homily, and he shall shine upon thee in all dark ways, and rectify thee in all rugged ways, and direct thee in all cross ways, and stop thee in all doubtful ways, and return to thee in every corner, and relieve thee in every danger, and arm thee even against himself, by advancing thy work, in which thou besiegest him, that is, this prayer, and enabling thee to prevail upon him, as in this first petition, Revertere Domine, 0 Lord return, so in that which follows next, Eripe animam, Deliver my soul.
In this prayer, we may either consider David in that affection which St. Paul had when he desired to be delivered ali angeh Satance, from the messenger of Satan that buffeted him, that so that stimulus carnis which he speaks of, that vexation, and provocation of the flesh, might have been utterly removed from him, whereby he might have past his life in God's service in a religious calm, without any storm, or opposition, or contradiction arising in his flesh : or we may consider it as a prayer agreeable to that petition in our Lord's prayer, Libera nos a malo, Deliver us from evil; which is not from being attended by evil, but by being swallowed up by it. Eripe me, may be, deliver me from rebellions, or deliver me in rebellions ; either that they come not, or that they overcome not.
In that prayer of St. Paul, that God would remove angelum Satance, and take away stimulum carnis, first, St. Paul is not easily understood, and then, it may be, not safely imitated. It is hard to know what St. Paul means in his prayer, and it may be dangerous to pray as he prayed. For the actions of no man, how holy soever, till we come to Christ himself, lay such an obligation upon us, as that we must necessarily do as they did. Nay, the actions of Christ himself lay not that obligation upon us, to fast as he fasted ; no nor to pray as he prayed. A man is not bound in an affliction, or persecution, at least at all times, to that prayer, Si possible, or Transeat calix, If it be possible let this cup pass; but if God vouchsafe him a holy constancy, to go through with his martyrdom, he may proceed in it without any such deprecation to God, or petition to the judge.
But first, before we consider whether he might be imitated, if we understood him, we find it hard to understand him. St. Augustine's free confession, Se nescire quid sit angelus tiatance, That he never understood what St. Paul meant by that messenger of Satan, is more ingenuous than their interpretation, who, I know not upon what tradition, refer it to an extreme pain in the head, that St. Paul should have, as Theophylact says; or refer it ad morbum iliacum, which Aquinas speaks of; or to the gout, or pains in the stomach, as Nazianzen, and Basil interpret it. CEcumenius understands this angel, this messenger of Satan, to be those heretics, which were his adversaries, in his preaching of the gospel; according to that signification of the word Satan, in which Solomon uses it to Hiram, Non est mihi Satan, I have no adversary10. Others, even amongst the fathers, understand it particularly, and literally, of that concupiscence, and those lusts of the flesh, which even the most sanctified men may have some sense of, and some attempts by. Others understand it generally of all calamities, spiritual, and temporal, incident to us in this life. But Cajetan goes furthest, who reads it not as we do, Angelum Satance, but Angelum Satanum; not that angel which comes from Satan, but that angel that is Satan himself. So that he conceives it to be a prayer against all tentations and tribulations here, and hereafter,-which the devil or the devil's instruments can frame against us.
Now, if we think we understand it aright, in understanding it so generally, then enters our second doubt, whether we may imitate St. Paul in so general a prayer. We dispute in the school, whether, if it were in his power to do it, man might lawfully destroy any entire species of creatures in the world, though offensive, and venomous, as vipers or scorpions. For
" 1 Kings v. 4.
VOL. II. 2 F
every species being a link of God's great chain, and a limb of his great creature, the whole world, it seems not to be put into our power, to break his chain, and take out a link, to maim his great creature, and cut off a limb, by destroying any entire species, if we could. So neither does it seem conducible to God's purposes in us, (which is the rule of all our prayers) to pray utterly against all tentations, as vehemently as against sins. God should lose by it, and we should lose by it, if we had no tentations; for God is glorified in those victories, which we, by his grace, gain over the devil. Nescit diabolus, quanta bona de illo foint, etiam, cum scevit"; Little knows the devil, how much good he does us, when he tempts us; for by that we are excited to have our present recourse to that God, whom in our former security, we neglected, who gives us the issue with the tentation. Ego nvci quid apposuerim, I know what infirmities I have submitted thee to, and what I have laid and applied to thee. Ego novi unde cegrotes, ego novi unde saneris; I know thy sickness, and I know thy physic. Sufficit tibi gratia mea; whatsoever the disease be, my grace shall be sufficient to cure it. For whether we understand that, as St. Chrysostom does, De gratia miracnloriim, that it is sufficient for any man's assurance, in any tentation, or tribulation, to consider God's miraculous deliverances of other men, in the like cases; or whether we understand it according to the general voice of the interpreters, that is, be content that there remain in thy flesh, matter and subject for me to produce glory from thy weakness, and matter and subject for thee to exercise thy faith and allegiance to me, still these words will carry an argument against the expedience of absolute praying against all tentations; for still, this gratia mea sufficit, will import this, amount to this, I have as many antidotes, as the devil hath poisons, I have as much mercy as the devil hath malice; there must be scorpions in the world; but the scorpion shall cure the scorpion; there must be tentations; but tentations shall add to mine, and to thy glory, and, eripiam, I will deliver thee.
This word is in the original, chalatz; which signifies eripere in such a sense, as our language does not fully reach in any one
word. So there is some defectiveness, somo slackness in this word of our translation, delivering. For it is such a delivering, as is a sudden catching hold, and snatching at the soul of a man, then, when it is at the brink, and edge of a sin. So that if thy facility, and that which thou wilt make shift to call good nature, or good manners, have put thee into the hands of that subtle woman, that Solomon speaks of, That is come forth to meet thee, and seek thy face1*; if thou have followed her, As an oxgoeth to the daughter, and as a fool to the correction of the stocksTM; even then, when the axe is over thy head, then when thou hast approached so near to destruction, then is the season of this prayer, Eripe me Domine, Catch hold of me now O Lord, and deliver my soul. When Joseph had resisted the temptations of his maaster's wife", and resisted them the only safe way, not only not to yield, but as the text says, Not to come in her company, and yet she had found her opportunity when there was none in the house but they, he came to an inward Eripe me Domine, O Lord take hold of me now, and she caught, and God caught; she caught his garment, and God his soul; she delivered him, and God delivered him: she to prison, and God from thence. If thy curiosity, or thy confidence in thine own spiritual strength, carry thee into the house of Rimmon, to idolatry, to a mass, trust not thou to Naamaifs request, Ignoscat Dominus servo in hac re1S, That God will pardon thee, as often as thou dost so; but since thou hast done so now, now come to this Eripe animam, 0 Lord deliver my soul now, from taking harm now, and hereafter, from exposing myself to the like harm. For this is the purpose of David's prayer in this signification of this word, that howsoever infirmity, or company, or curiosity, or confidence, bring us within the distance, and danger, within the sphere, and latitude of a temptation, that though we be not lodged in Sodom, yet we are- / in the suburbs, though we be not impaled in a sin, yet we are within the purlieus, (which is not safely done ; no more than it is in a state, to trust always to a defensive war) yet when we are engaged, and enthralled in such a temptation, then, though God be not delighted with our danger, yet then is God most delighted
18 Prov. vii. 10. » Prov. vii. 15. " Gen. xxxis. 10. " 2 Kings v.
to help us, when wo are in danger ; and then, he comes not only to deliver us from that imminent, and particular danger, according to that signification of this word, but according to that interpretation of this word, which the Septuagint hath given it, in the prophet Esay, Jachalitz, pinguefaciet"; He shall proceed in his work, and make fat thy soul; that is, deliver thee now, and preserve, and establish thee after, to the fulfilling of all, that belongs to the last petition of this prayer, Salvum mefac, 0 Lord save me; though we have been absent, he shall return; and being returned, shall not stand still, nor stand neutral, but deliver thee; and having delivered thee, shall not determine his love in that one act of mercy, but shall save thee, that is, imprint in thee a holy confidence, that his salvation is thine.
So then, in that manner is God's deliverance expressed, They shall cry unto him, (till we cry, he takes no knowledge at all) and then he sends to them, (there is his returning upon their cry) and then, He shall deliver them, says that prophet1''; and so, the two former petitions of this prayer are answered; but the consummation, and establishment of all, is in the third, which follows in the same place, He shall send them a Saviour, and a great one. But who is that ? What Saviour ? Doubtless he that is proclaimed by God, in the same prophet, Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Behold, thy salvation cometh1*. For, that word which that prophet uses there, and this word, in which David presents this last petition here, is in both places Jashang, and Jashang is the very word, from which the name of Jesus is derived; so that David desires here, that salvation which Esay proclaimed there, salvation in the Saviour of the world, Christ Jesus, and an interest in the assurance of his merits.
We find this name of Saviour attributed to other men in the Scriptures, than to Christ. In particular distresses, when God raised up men, to deliver his people sometimes, those men were so called Saviours. And so St. Jerome interprets those word of the prophet, Ascendent salvatores, Saviours shall come up, on mount Zion", of prophets, and preachers, and such other instruments, as God should raise for the salvation of souls. Those, whom in other places, he calls Angels of the church, here he calls by that higher name, Saviours. But such a Saviour as is proclaimed to the ends of the world, to all the world, a Saviour in the mountains, in the height of presumptuous sins, and a Saviour in the } valleys, in the dejection of inordinate melancholy too, A Saviour '1 ^ of the East, of rising, and growing men, and a Saviour of the I West, of withering, declining, languishing fortunes too, A Saviour in the state of nature, by having infused the knowledge of himself, into some men then, before the light, and help of the law was afforded to the world, a Saviour in the state of the law, by having made to some men then, even types accomplishments, and prophecies histories, and, as himself calls things that are not, as though they were, so he made those men see things that were not, as though they were, (for so Abraham saw his day and rejoiced) a Saviour in the state of the Gospel, and so, as that he saves some there, for the fundamental Gospel's sake, that is, for standing fast in the fundamental articles thereof, though they may have been darkened with some ignorances, or may have strayed into some errors, in some circumstantial points, a Saviour of all the world, of all the conditions in the world, of all times through the world, of all places of the world, such a Saviour is no man called, but Christ Jesus only. For when it is said that Pharaoh called Joseph, Salvatorem mundi, A Saviour of the world*0, (besides, that if it were so, that which is called all the world, can be referred but to that part of the world which was then under Pharaoh; as when it is said, that Augustus taxed the world, that is intended de orbe Romano, so much of the world, as was under the Romans) there is a manifest error in that translation, which calls Joseph so, for that name which was given to Joseph there, in that language in which it was given, doth truly signify revelatorem secretorum, and no more, a revealer, a discoverer, a decipherer of secret and mysterious things; according to the occasion, upon which that name was then given, which was the deciphering, the interpreting of Pharaoh's dream.
" Isaiah Lviii. 11. " Isaiah xix. 20. le Isaiah Lxii. 11.
18 Obad. i. 21.
Be this then thus established, that David for our example considers, and refers all salvation, to salvation in Christ. As he
*1 Gen. xli. 45.
does also where he says after, Notum fecit salutare tuum, The Lord hath made known his salvation", Quid est salutare tuum? says St. Basil; What is the LorcTs salvation? and he makes a safe answer out of Simeon's mouth, Mine eyes have seen thy salvation**, when he had seen Christ Jesus. This then is he, which is not only Salvator popull sui, the Saviour of his people, the Jews, to whom he hath betrothed himself, in pacto salts, a covenant of salt, an everlasting covenant: not only Salvator corporis sui, the Saviour of his own body, as the apostle calls him; of that body which he hath gathered from the Gentiles in the Christian church; nor only Salvator mundi, a Saviour of the world, so, as that which he did, and suffered, was sufficient in itself, and was accepted by the Father, for the salvation of the world.; but, as Tertullian, for the most part reads the word, he was Salutificator; not only a Saviour, because God made him an instrument of salvation, as though he had no interest in our salvation, till in his flesh he died for us; but he is
f salutificator, so the author of this salvation, as that from all eternity, ho was at the making of the decree, as well as in the fulness of time he was at the executing thereof. In the work of our salvation, if we consider the merit, Christ was sole and alone, no Father, no Holy Ghost trod the wine-press with him; and if in the work of our salvation we consider the mercy, there, though Christ were not sole, and alone, (for that mercy in the decree was the joint-act of the whole Trimty) yet even in that, Christ was equal to the Father, and the Holy Ghost. So he is salutificator, the very author of this salvation, as that when it came to the act, he, and not they, died for us; and when it was in council, he, as well as they, and as soon as they, decreed it for us. ,
As therefore the church of God scarce presents any petition, any prayer to God, but i| is subscribed by Christ; the name of Christ, is for the most part the end, and the seal of all our collects ; all our prayers in the Liturgy, (though they be but for temporal things, for plenty, or peace, or fair-weather) are shut up so, Grant this 0 Lord, for our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus" sake: so David for our example, drives all his petitions in this text, to
" Psal . xcviii. 2. « Luke ii. 30.
this conclusion, Salvum me fac, 0 Lord save me; that is, apply that salvation, Christ Jesus to me. Now beloved, you may know, that yourselves have a part in those means, which God uses to that purpose, yourselves are instruments, though not causes of your own salvation. Salvusfactus espro nihilo, ttonde nihilotamen"; Thou bringest nothing for thy salvation, yet something to thy salvation; nothing worth it, but yet something with it; thy new creation, by which thou art a new creature, that is, thy regeneration, is wrought as the first creation was wrought. God made heaven and earth of nothing; but he produced the other creatures out of that matter, which he had made. Thou hadst nothing to do in the first work of thy regeneration; thou couldst not so much as wish it; but in all the rest, thou art a fellow-worker with God; because, before that, there are seeds of former grace shed in thee. And therefore when thou comest to this last petition, Salvum me fac, 0 Lord save me, remember still, that thou hast something to do, as well as to say; that so thou mayest have a comfortable answer in thy soul, to the whole prayer, Return 0 Lord, deliver my goul, and save me. And so we havo done with our first part, which was the prayer itself; and the second, which is the reasons of the prayer, we must reserve for a second exercise.