PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS.
Psalm vi. 8, 9, 10.
Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity j for the Lord hath heard the voice
of my weeping.
The Lord hath heard my supplication ; the Lord will receive my prayer.
Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be
This is David's profligation and discomfiture of his enemies; this is an act of true honour, a true victory, a true triumph, to keep the field, to make good one station, and yet put the enemy to flight. A man may perchance be safe in a retreat, but the honour, the victory, the triumph lies in enforcing the enemy to fly. To that is David come here, to such a thankful sense of a victory; in which we shall first consider David's thankfulness, that is, his manner of declaring Gocl's mercy, and his security in that mercy; which manner is, that he durst come to an open defiance, and protestation, and hostility, without modifications, or disguises, Depart from me all ye workers of iniquity. And then, secondly, we shall see his reason, upon which he grounded this confidence, and this spiritual exultation, which was a preg' nant reason, a reason that produced another reason; The Lord hath heard my supplication, the Lord will hear my prayer; upon no premises doth any conclusion follow so logically, so sincerely, so powerfully, so imperiously, so undeniably, as upon this, The Lord hath, and therefore the Lord will. But then what was this prayer? that we may know, whether it were a prayer to be drawn into practice, and imitation, or no. It is not argument enough, that it was so, because God heard it then; for we are not bound, nay, we are not allowed to pray all such prayers, as good men have prayed, and as God hath heard. But here the prayer was this, Let all mine enemies be ashamed, and sore vexed, let them return, and be ashamed suddenly. But this is a malediction, an imprecation of mischief upon others; and will good men
pray so ? or will God hear that ? Because that is an holy problem, and an useful interrogatory, we shall make it a third part, or a conclusion rather, to inquire into the nature, and into the avowableness, and exemplariness of this, in which David seems to have been transported with some passion.
So that our parts will be three, the building itself, David's thanksgiving in his exultation, and declaration, Depart from me all ye workers of iniquity; and then the foundation of this building, For God hath heard, and therefore God will hear; and lastly, the prospect of this building, David contemplates and looks over again the prayer that ho had made, and in a clear understanding, and in a rectified conscience, he finds that he may persist in that prayer, and he doth so: Let all mine enemies be ashamed, and sore vexed, let them return, and be ashamed suddenly.
First then we consider David's thankfulness; but why is it so long before David leads us to that consideration ? Why hath he deferred so primary a duty, to so late a place, to so low a room, to the end of the psalm! The psalm hath a deprecatory part, that God would forbear him, and a postulatory part, that God would hear him, and grant some things to him, and a gratulatory part, a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Now the deprecatory part is placed in the first place, ver. 1. For if it were not so, if we should not firnt ground that, That God should not rebuke us in his anger, nor chasten us in his hot displeasure, but leave ourselves open to his indignation, and his judgments, we could not live to come to a second petition ; our sins, and judgments due to our sins, require our first consideration; therefore David begins with the deprecatory prayer, that first God's anger may be removed: but then that deprecatory prayer, wherein he desired God to forbear him, spends but one verse of the psalm ; David would not insist upon that long: when I have penitently confessed my sins, I may say with Job, My fifsh is not brass, nor my bones stones, that I can bear the wrath of the Lord; but yet I must say with Job too, If the Lord kill me, yet will I trust in him. God hath not asked me, what shall I do for thee, but of himself he hath done more, than I could have proposed to myself in a wish, or to him in a prayer. Nor will I ask God, Quonsque, How long
shall my foes increase ? how long wilt thou fight on their side against me ? but surrender myself entirely, in an adveniat regnum, and a fiat voluntas, thy kingdom come, and thy will be done. David makes it his first work, to stay God's anger in a deprecatory prayer, but he stays not upon that long, he will not prescribe his physician, what he shall prescribe to him, but leaves God to his own medicines, and to his own method. But then the postulatory prayer, what he begs of God, employs six verses: as well to show us, that bur necessities are many; as also that if God do not answer us at the beginning of our prayer, our duty is still to pursue that way, to continue in prayer. And then the third part of the psalm, which is the gratulatory part, his giving of thanks, is, shall we say deferred, or rather reserved to the end of the psalm, and exercises only those three verses which are our text. Not that the duty of thanksgiving is less than that of prayer; for if we could compare them, it is rather greater; because it contributes more to God's glory, to acknowledge by thanks, that God hath given, than to acknowledge by prayer, that God can give. But therefore might David be later and shorter here, in expressing that duty of thanks, first, because being reserved to the end, and close of the psalm, it leaves the best impression in the memory. And therefore it is easy to observe, that in all metrical compositions, of which kind the Book of Psalms is, the force of the whole piece, is for the most part left to the shutting up; the whole frame of the poem is a bearing out of a piece of gold, but the last clause is as the impression of the stamp, and that is it that makes it current. And then also, because out of his abundant manner of expressing his thankfulness to God, in every other place thereof, his whole Book of Psalms is called, Sepher tehillim, a Book of praise and thanksgiving, he might reserve his thanks here to the last place ; and lastly, because natural and moral men are better acquainted with the duty of gratitude, of thanksgiving, before they come to the Scriptures, than they are with the other duty of repentance, which belongs to prayer; for in all Solomon's Books, you shall not find half so much of the duty of thankfulness, as you shall in Seneca and in Plutarch. No book of ethics, of moral doctrine, is come to us, wherein there is not, almost in every leaf, some
detestation, some anathema against ingratitude; but of repentance, not a word amongst them all. And therefore in that duty of prayer, which presumes repentance, (for he must stand rectus in curia that will pray) David hath insisted longest; and because he would enter, and establish a man, upon a confidence in God, he begins with a deprecation of his anger; for but upon that ground, no man can stand ; and because he would dismiss him with that which concerns him most, he chooses to end in a thanksgiving.
Therefore at last he comes to his thanks. Now this is so poor a duty, if we proportion it to the infiniteness of God's love unto us, our thanks, as we may justly call it nothing at all. But Amor Dei affectus, non contractus1, The love of God is not a contract, a bargain, he looks for nothing again, and yet he looks for thanks, for that is nothing, because there is nothing done in it, it is but speaking; Gratias dicere, est gratias og ere*, To utter our thanks to God, is all our performance of thankfulness. It is not so amongst us; I '/>. <//i./. nunquam apud nos puram, et merum beneficium*; Every man that gives, gives out of design, and as it conduces to his ends: Donat in hamo*, There is a hook in every benefit, that sticks in his jaws that takes that benefit, and draws him whither the benefactor will. God looks for nothing, nothing to be done in the way of exact recompense, but yet, as he that makes a clock, bestows all that labour upon the several wheels, that thereby the bell might give a sound, and that thereby the hand might give knowledge to others how the time passes; so this is the principal part of that thankfulness, which God requires from us, that we make open declarations of his mercies, to the winning and confirming of others.
This David does in this noble and ingenuous publication, and protestation, I have strength enough, and company enough, power enough, and pleasure enough, joy enough, and treasure enough, honour enough, aud recompense enough in my God alone, in him I shall surely have all which you can pretend to give, and therefore Discedite a me, Depart from me all ye workers of iniquity; here is then first a valediction, a parting with his old company, but it is a valediction, with a malediction, with an imprecation
1 Bernard. * Augustine.
* Plulo Judseus. 4 Martial.
VOL. II. 2 I
of God's justice, upon their contempts and injuries. There was in the mouth of Christ, sometimes, such a discede, such an abito, as that farewell was a welcome; as when he said to the ruler, A/-//ir. Go thy way, thy son liveth*; and when he said to the woman, Go in peace, thy faith hath saved thee*. This going was a staying with him still; here the abite, and venite was all one. He that goes about his worldly business, and goes about them in God's name, in the fear and favour of God, remains in God's presence still. When the angels of God are sent to visit his children, in the midst of Sodom, or where they lie, and languish in sordid and nasty corners, and in the loathsomeness of corrupt and infectious diseases, or where they faint in miserable dungeons, this commission, this discedite, go to that Sodom, to that spital, to that dungeon, puts not those angels out of the presence of God. No descent into hell, of what kind soever you conceive that descent into hell to have been, put the Son of God out of heaven, by descending into hell; no discede, no leave, no commandment that God gives us, to do the works of our calling here, excludes us from him; but as the saints of God shall follow the Lamb, wheresoever he goes in heaven, so the Lamb of God shall follow his saints, wheresoever they go upon earth, if they walk sincerely. Christ uses not then as yet, as long as we are in this world, this discede of David, to bid any man, any sinner to depart from him : but there shall come a time, when Christ shall take David's discede, the words of this text into his mouth, with as much and more bitterness than David does here, Nescivi nos, I never knew ye, and therefore Depart from me ye workers of imquity.
So have you his protestation, his proclamation, they must avoid; but who ? who be these that David dismisses here ? Take them to be those of his own house, his servants, and officers in near places, whose service he had used to ill purposes, (as David's person, and rank, and history directs us upon that consideration) and we shall find all such persons wrapt up in this danger, that they dare not discharge themselves, they dare not displace, nor disgrace those men, to whom, by such employments, they have given that advantage over themselves, as that it is not safe to them, to offend such a servant. Natura nee hostem habet, nee amicum roac, says a wise statesmani; In nature, (that is, in the nature of greatness, and, as great) great persons consider no man to be so much a friend, nor to be so much an enemy, but that they will fall out with that friend, and be reconciled to that enemy, to serve their own turn, says that statesman. But yet when great persons trust servants with such secret actions, as may bring them into contempt at home, or danger abroad, by those vices, if they should be published, they cannot come when they would, to this Discedite, Depart from me all ye workers of iniquity.
* John iv. 40. * Luke vii. 50.
We have this evidently, and unavoidably, we cannot but see it, and say it, in this example which is before us, even in King David. He had employed Joab in such services, as that he stood in fear of him, and endured at his hands that behaviour, and that language, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants that have saved thy life, and thy sons, and daughters, and wives, and concubines, thou regardes t neither thy princes, nor servants; but come out, and speak comfortably unto them, for I swear by the Lord, except thou do come out, there will not tarry one man with thee this night*. David endured all this, for he knew that Joab had that letter in his cabinet, which he writ to him for the murder of Uriah, and he never came to this discedite, to remove Joab from him in his life, but gave it in commandment to his son, Let not JoaVs hoary head go down to the grave in peace*: here is the misery of David, he cannot discharge himself of that servant when he will, and here the misery of that servant, that at one time or other he will; and he is a short lived man, whose ruin a jealous prince studies. Because the text invited us, commanded, and constrained us to do so, we put this example in a court, but we need not dazzle ourselves with that height; every man in his own house may find it, that to those servants, which have served him in ill actions, he dares not say, Discedite, Depart from me ye workers of iniquity.
Thus then it is; if those whom David dismisses here were his own servants, it was an expressing of his thankfulness to God, and a duty that lay upon him, to deliver himself of such servants. But other expositors take these men to be men of another sort,
7 Polybius. 8 2 Sain. xix. * 1 Kings ii.
men that came to triumph over him in his misery, men that Persecuted him whom God had smitten, and added to the sorrow of him whom God had woundedTM, as himself complains; men that pretended to visit him, yet when they came, They spoke lies, their hearts gathered iniquity to themselves, and when they went abroad they told it"; men that said to one another, When shall he die, and his name perish1*? Here also was a declaration of the powerfulness of God's Spirit in him, that he could triumph over the triumpher, and exorcise those evil spirits, and command them away, whose coming was to dishonour God, in his dishonour; and to argue and conclude out of his ruin, that either his God was a weak God, or a cruel God, that he could not, or would not deliver his servants from destruction.
That David could command them away, whose errand was to blaspheme God, and whose staying in a longer conversation might have given him occasion of new sins, either in distrusting God's mercy towards himself, or in murmuring at God's patience towards them, or perchance in being uncharitably offended with them, and expressing it with some bitterness, but that in respect of himself, and not of God's glory only, this Discedite, Depart from me all such men as do sin in yourselves, and may make me sin too, was an act of an heavenly courage, and a thankful testimony of God's gracious visiting his soul, enabling him so resolutely to tear himself from such persons, as might lead him into tentation.
Neither is this separation of David, and his company, partial; he does not banish those that incline him to one sin, a sin that perchance he is a weary of, or grown unable to proceed in, and retained them that concur with him in some fresh sin, to which he hath a new appetite. David doth not banish them that sucked his subjects' blood, or their money, and retained them that solicit, and corrupt their wives, and daughters; he doth not displace them, who served the vices of his predecessor, and supply those places with instruments of new vices of his own, but it is Discedite omnes, Depart all ye workers of iniquity. Now beloved, when God begins so high as in kings, he makes this
10 Psalm Ixix. 26. " Psalm xli. C. " Psalm xli 5.
duty the easier to thee; to banish from thee, All the workers of iniquity. It is not a Discede, that will serve to banish one, and retain the rest, nor a Discedite, to banish the rest, and retain one, but Discedite omnes, Depart all, for that sin stays in state, that stays alone, and hath the venom, and the malignity of all the rest contracted in it. It is nothing for a sick man that hath lost his taste, to say, Discedat gula, Depart voluptuousness; nothing in a consumption to say, Discedat luxuria, Depart wantonness ; nothing for a client in forma pauperis, to say, Discedat corruptio, I will not bribe; but Discedant omnes, Depart all, and all together, ye workers of iniquity.
But yet David's general discharge had, and ours must have, a restriction, a limitation; it is not (as St. Jerome notes upon this place) Omnes qui operati, but Omnes operantes, not all that have wrought iniquity, but all that continue in doing so still. David was not inexorable towards those that had offended; what an example should he have given God against himself, if he had been so? we must not despise, nor defame men, because they have committed some sin. When the mercy of God hath wrought upon their sin in the remission thereof, that leprosy of Naaman cleaves to us, their sin is but transferred to us, if we will not forgive that which God hath forgiven, for it is but omnes operantes, all they that continue in their evil ways. All these must depart: how far ? first, they must be avoided, Declinate, saith St. Paul, / beseech you brethren, mark them diligently which cause division and offences, and avoid them". And this corrects our desire in running after such men, as come with their own inventions, schismatical Separatists, declinate, avoid them; if he be no such, but amongst ourselves, a brother, but yet a worker of iniquity, If any one that is calkd a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, with such a one eat notu. If we cannot starve him out, we must thrust him out; put away from among you, that wicked man. No conversation at all is allowed to us, with such a man, as is obstinate in his sin, and incorrigible; no not to bid him God speed, For he that biddeth him God speed, is partaker of his evil deeds ". In this divorce, both the generality, and the distance is
10 Rom. xvi. 17. u 1 Cor. v. 11. " 2 John i 10.
best expressed by Christ himself, If thine eye, thine hand, thy foot offend thee, amputandi et projiciendi", with what anguish or remorse soever it be done, they must be cut off, and being cut off, cast away; it is a divorce and no superinduction, it is a separating, and no redintegration. Though thou couldst be content to go to heaven with both eyes, (thyself and thy companion) yet better to go into heaven with one, thyself alone, than to endanger thyself to be left out for thy companion's sake.
To conclude this first part, David does not say, Discedam, but Discedite, he does not say, that he will depart from them, but ho commands them to depart from him. We must not think to depart from the offices of society, and duties of a calling, and hide ourselves in monasteries, or in retired lives, for fear of tentations; but when a tentation attempts us, to come with that authority, and that powerful exorcism of Nazianzen, Fuge, recede, ne te cruce Christi, ad quam omnia contremiscunt, feriam, Depart from me, lest the cross of Christ, in my hand, overthrow you. For a sober life, and a Christian mortification, and discreet discipline, are crosses derived from the cross of Christ Jesus, and animated by it, and may be always in a readiness to cross such tentations. In the former descriptions of the manner of our behaviour towards workers of iniquity, there is one declinate, one word that implies a withdrawing of ourselves; for that must be done, not out of the world, but out of that ill air; we must not put ourselves in danger, nor in distance of a tentation; but all the other words are words of a more active vehemence, amputate, andprojicite; it is discedite, and not discedam, a driving away, and not a running away.
We proceed now in our second part, to the reasons of David's confidence, and his openness, and his public declaration; why David was content to be rid of all his company; and it was, because ho had better; he says, The Lord had heard him; and first, He had heard, vocem fletus, the voice of his weeping. Here is an admirable readiness in Qod, that hears a voice in that, which hath none. They have described God by saying he is all eye, an universal eye, that pierceth into every dark corner; but in dark corners, there is something for him to see; but he is all
1* Matt. v. 28.
car too, and hears even the silent, and speechless man, and hears that in that man, that makes no sound, his tears. When Hezekiah wept, he was turned to the wall17, (perchance, because he would not be seen) and yet God bade the prophet Esay tell him, Vidi lacrymam; though the text say, Hezekiah wept sore, yet vidit lacrymam, God saw every single tear, his first tear, and was affected with that. But yet this is more strange; God heard his tears. And therefore the weeping of a penitent sinner, is not improperly called, Legatio lacrymarumTM, an embassage of tears; to ambassadors belongs an audience, and to these embassages God gives a gracious audience; Abyssus abyssum invocat, One depth calls upon another"; and so doth one kind of tears call upon one another. Tears of sorrow call upon tears of joy, and all call upon God, and bring him to that ready hearing which is implied in the words of this text, shamang; a word of that largeness in the Scriptures, that sometimes in the translation of the Septuagint, it signifies hearing, shamang, is audit, God gives ear to our tears; sometimes it is believing, shamang, is credit, God gives faith, and credit to our tears; sometimes it is affecting, shamang, is miseretur, God hath mercy upon us for our tears; sometimes it is affecting, shamang, is respondet, God answers the petition of our tears; and sometimes it is publication, ghamang, is divulgat, God declares and manifests to others, by his blessings upon us, the pleasure that he takes in our holy and repentant tears. And therefore Lacrymc e fcenus, says St. Basil, Tears are that usury, by which the joys of heaven are multiplied unto us; the preventing grace, and the free mercy of God, is our stock, and principal; but the acts of obedience, and mortification, fasting, and praying, and weeping, are fcenus, (says that blessed father) the interest, and the increase of our holy joy.
That which we intend in all this, is, that when our heart is well disposed toward God, God sees our prayers, as they are coming in the way, before they have any voice, in our words. When Christ came to Lazarus' house, before Mary had asked anything at his hands, as soon as she had wept, Christ was affected, He groaned in the spirit, he was troubled, and he wept
17 Isaiah xxxviii. w Gregory. " Psalm xliii. 7
too*0; and he proceeded to the raising of Lazarus, before she asked him; her eyes were his glass, and he saw her desire in her tears. There is a kind of simplicity in tears, which God hearkens to, and believes. We know not what we should pray for as we ought*1. Quid? nescimus orationem dominicam? Can we not say the Lord's Prayer, says St. Augustine? Yes, we can say that; but Nescimus tribulationem prodesse, says he, We do not know the benefit that is to be made of tribulation, and tentation, et petimus liberari ab omni malo, we pray to be delivered from all evil, and \ve mean all tribulation, and all tentation, as though all they were always evil; but in that there may be much error: the sons of Zebedee prayed, but ambitiously, and were not heard"; St. Paul prayed for the taking away of the provocation of the flesh, but inconsiderately, and missed**; the apostles made a request, for fire against the Samaritans, but uncharitably, and were reproved ". But when Jehoshaphat was come to that perplexity by the .Moabites, that he knew not what to do, nor what to say, Hoc solum residui habemus, says he, ut oculos nostros dirigamus ad te, This we can do, and we need do no more, we can turn our eyes to thee. Now whether he directed those eyes in looking to him, or in weeping to him, God hears the voice of our looks, God hears the voice of our tears, sometimes better than the voice of our words; for it is the Spirit itself that makes intercession for tts", Gemitibus menarrabilibus, In those groans, and so in those tears, which we cannot utter; Ineloquacibus, as Tertullian reads that place, devout, and simple tears, which cannot speak, speak aloud in the ears of God ; nay, tears which we cannot utter; not only not utter the force of the tears, but not utter the very tears themselves. As God sees the water in the spring in the veins of the earth, before it bubble upon the face of the earth; so God sees tears in the heart of a man, before they blubber his face; God hears the tears of that sorrowful soul, which for sorrow cannot shed tears.
From this casting up of the eyes, and pouring out the sorrow of the heart at the eyes, at least opening God a window, through which he may see a wet heart through a dry eye; from these
K John xi. " Rom. viii. 26. " Matt. xx. 22.
" 2 Cor. xii. 8. "2 Chron. xx. 12. " Rom. viii. 26.
overtures of repentance, which are as those imperfect sounds of words, which parents delight in, in their children, before they speak plain; a penitent sinner comes to a verbal, and a more express prayer. To these prayers, these vocal and verbal prayers from David, God had given ear, and from this hearing of those prayers was David come to this thankful confidence, The Lord hath heard, the Lord wtll hear. Now, beloved, this prayer which David speaks of here, which our first translation calls & petition, is very properly rendered in our second translation, a supplication; for supplications were a suppliciis; supplications amongst the Gentiles were such sacrifices, as were made to the gods, out of confiscations, out of the goods of those men, upon whom the state had inflicted any pecuniary or capital punishment. Supplicationes, a suppliciis; and therefore this prayer which David made to God, when his hand was upon him, in that heavy correction, and calamity, which occasioned this Psalm, is truly and properly called a supplication, that is, a prayer, or petition, that proceeds from suffering.
And if God have heard his supplication, if God have regarded him then, when he was in his displeasure, if God have turned to him, when he was turned from him, and stroked him with the same hand that struck him, God will much more perfect his own work, and grant his prayer after; if God would endure to look upon him in his deformity, he will delight to look upon him then, when he hath shed the light and the loveliness of his own countenance upon him: it is the apostle's argument, as well as David's, If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God, by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his lifeTM. When David found, that God had heard his supplications, the voice of his suffering, of his punishment, he was sure he would hear his prayer, the voice of his thankfulness too.
And this was David's second reason, for his alacrity, and confidence, that God would never be weary of hearing, he had heard him, and he would hear him still, he had heard the supplication, and he would hear his prayer; for this word, which signifies prayer here, is derived from palal, which signifies properly ssparare: as his supplication was acceptable, which proceeded a
*4 Rom. v. 10.
suppliciis, from a sense of his afflictions; so this prayer, which came post separationem, after he had separated, and divorced himself from his former company, after his diseedite, his discharging of all the workers of iniquity, must necessarily be better accepted at God's hand. He that hears a suppliant, that is, a man in misery, and does some small matter for the present ease of that man, and proceeds no farther, ipsum quod dedit perit, that which he gave is lost, it is drowned by that flood of misery that overflows and surrounds that wretched man, he is not tho better to-morrow for to-day's alms, et vitam producit ad miseriam, that very alms prolongs his miserable life still; without to-day's alms, he should not have had a to-morrow to be miserable in. Now, Christ only is the Samaritan which perfected his cure upon the wounded man: He saw him, says the text*7, so did the rest that passed by him; but, He had compassion on him; so he might, and yet actually have done him no good; but, He went to him; so he might too, and then out of a delicateness or fastidiousness, have gone from him again; but (to contract) he bound up his wounds, he poured in oil and wine, he put him upon his own beast, he brought him to an inn, made provision for him, gave the host money beforehand, gave him charge to have a care of him, and (which is the perfection of all, the greatest testimony of our Samaritan's love to us) he promised to come again, and at that coming, he does not say, He will pay, but He will recompense, which is a moro abundant expressing of his bounty. Christ loves not but in the way of marriage; if he begin to love thee, he tells thee, Sponsabo te mihi, I will marry thee unto me", and sponsabo in arternum, I will marry thee for ever. For it is a marriage that prevents all mistakings, and excludes all impediments, / will marry thee in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies, and in faithfulness; many, and great assurances. And as it is added, Seminabo te mihi, which is a strange expressing of God's love to us, / will sow thee unto me in the earth; when I have taken thee into my husbandry, thou shalt increase, and multiply, seminabo te, and all that thou dost produce, shall be directed upon me, seminabo te mihi, I will sow thee to myself: therefore thy soul
*7 Luke x. 33. ** Hosea ii. 19.
may be bold to join with David in that thankful confidence, lie hath heard my supplication, and therefore, he will hear my prayer; he looked upon me in the dust of the earth, much more will ho do so, having now laid me upon carpets ; he looked upon me in my sores, sores of mine enemies' malice, and sores of mine own sins, much more will he do so now, when he hath imprinted in me the wounds of his own Son; for those that were so many wounds upon him, are so many stars upon me ; He looked upon me, may David say, when I followed the ewes great with young, much more will he do so now, now when by his directions, I lead out his people, great with enterprises, and victories against his enemies. First David comes to that holy nobleness, he dares cast off ill instruments, and is not afraid of conspiracy; he dares divorce himself from dangerous company, and is not afraid of melancholy; he dares love God, and is not afraid of that jealousy, that he is too religious to be employed, too tender conscienced to be put upon business; he dares reprehend them that arc under his charge, and is not afraid of a recrimination; he dares observe a Sabbath, he dares startle at a blasphemy, he dares forbear countenancing a profane or a scurril jest with his praise, he dares be an honest man ; which holy confidence constituted our first praise, Depart from me all ye workers of iniquity; and then he grounds this confidence upon an undeceivable rock, upon God's seal, God hath heard me, therefore God will hear me. And when God hears, God speaks too, and when God speaks, God does too, and therefore I may safely proceed as I do, which was our second consideration. And then the third, which remains, is, that upon this, he returns to the consideration, what that was, that he had done; he had either imprecated, or denounced, at least, heavy judgments upon his enemies; and he finds it avovvable, and justifiable to have done so ; and therefore persists in it, Let all mine enemies be ashamed, and sore vexed; let them return, and be ashamed suddenly.
All clean beasts had both these marks, they divided the hoof, and they chewed the cud: all good resolutions, which pass our prayer, must have these two marks too, they must divide the hoof, they must make a double impression, they must be directed upon God's glory, and upon our good, and they must pass a rumination,
a chewing of the cud, a second examination, whether that prayer were so conditioned or no. We pray sometimes out of sudden and indigested apprehensions ; we pray sometimes out of custom, and communion with others; we pray sometimes out of a present sense of pain, or imminent danger; and this prayer may divide the hoof; it may look towards God's glory, and towards our good; but it does not chew the cud too; that is, if I have not considered, not examined, whether it do so or no, it is not a prayer that God will call a sacrifice. You see Christ brought his own prayer, Si possibile, If it be possible, &c., through such a rumination, Veruntamen, Yet not my mll, &c. As many a man swears, and if he be surprised, and asked, What did you say, he does not remember his own oath, not what he swore; so many a man prays, and does not remember his own prayer. As a clock gives a warning before it strikes, and then there remains a sound, and a tinkling of the bell after it hath stricken : so a precedent meditation, and a subsequent rumination, make the prayer a prayer; I must think before, what I will ask, and consider again, what I have asked; and upon this dividing the hoof, and chewing the cud, David avows to his own conscience his whole action, even to this consummation thereof, Let mine enemies be ashamed, &c.
Now these words, whether we consider the natural signification of the words, or the authority of those men, who have been expositors upon them, may be understood either way, either to be imprecatoria, words of imprecation, that David in the spirit of anguish wishes that these things might fall upon his enemies, or else prcedictoria, words of prediction, that David iu the spirit of prophecy pronounces that these things shall fall upon them.
If they be imprecatoria, words spoken out of his wish, and desire, then they have in them the nature of a curse: and because Lyra takes them to be so, a curse, he refers the words Ad d&mones, To the devil: that herein David seconds God's malediction upon the serpent, and curses the devil, as the occasioner and first mover of all these calamities; and says of them, Let all our enemies be ashamed, and sore vexed, &c. Others refer these words to the first Christian times, and the persecutions then, and so to be a malediction, a curse upon the Jews, and upon the Romans
who persecuted the primitive church then, Let them be ashamed, &c. And then Gregory Nyssen refers these words to more domestical and intrinsic enemies, to David's own concupiscences, and the rebellions of his own lusts, Let those enemies be ashamed, Sic. For all those who understand these words to be a curse, a malediction, are loath to admit that David did curse his enemies, merely out of a respect of those calamities which they had inflicted upon him. And that is a safe ground; no man may curse another, in contemplation of himself only, if only himself be concerned in the case. And when it concerns the glory of God, our imprecations, our maledictions upon the persons, must not have their principal relation, as to God's enemies, but as to God's glory; our end must be, that God may have his glory, not that they may have their punishment. And therefore how vehement soever David seem in this imprecation, and though he be more vehement in another place, Let them be confounded, and troubled for ever, yea, let them be put to shame, and perish", yet that perishing is but a perishing of their purposes, let their plots perish, let their malignity against thy church be frustrated ; for so he expresses himself in the verse immediately before, Fill their faces with shame; but why? and how? That they may seek thy name, 0 Lord; that was David's end, even in the curse; David wishes them no ill, but for their good ; no worse to God's enemies, but that they might become his friends. The rule is good, which out of his moderation St. Augustine gives, that in all inquisitions, and executions in matters of religion, (when it is merely for religion without sedition) Sint qui pceniteant, Let the men remain alive, or else how can they repent ? So in all imprecations, in all hard wishes, even upon God's enemies, Sint qui convertantur, Let the men remain, that they may be capable of conversion; wish them not so ill, as that God can show no mercy to them; for so the ill wish falls upon God himself, if it preclude his way of mercy upon that ill man. In no case must the curse be directed upon the person; for when in the next Psalm to this, David seems passionate, when he asks that of God there, which he desires God to forbear in the beginning of this Psalm, when his Ne arguas in ira, 0 Lord rebuke not in thine anger, is
« Psalm lxxxiii. 17.
turned to a Surge Domine in ira, Arise 0 Lord in thine anger; St. Augustine begins to wonder, Quid? illum, quem perfevtion dicimus, ad iram provocat Deum? Would David provoke God, who is all sweetness, and mildness, to anger against any man 2 No, not ^against any man ; but Diaboli possessio peccator, Every sinner is a slave to his beloved sin ; and therefore, Misericors orat, adversu s eum, quicunque orat, How bitterly soever I curse that sin, yet I pray for that sinner. David would have God angry with the tyrant, not with the slave that is oppressed; with the sin, not with the soul that is enthralled to it. And so, as the words may be a curse, a malediction in David's mouth, we may take them into our mouth too, and say, Let those enemies be ashamed, &o.
If this then were an imprecation, a malediction, yet it was medicinal, and had rationem boni, a charitable tincture, and nature in it; he wished the men no harm, as men. But it is rather pncdictorium, a prophetical vehemence, that if they will take no knowledge of God's declaring himself in the protection of his servants, if they would not consider that God had heard, and would hear, had rescued, and would rescue his children, but would continue their opposition against him, heavy judgments would certainly fall upon them; their punishmdht should be certain, but the effect should be uncertain; for God only knows, whether his correction shall work upon his enemies, to their mollifying, or to their obduratiou. Those bitter, and weighty imprecations which David hath heaped together against Judas, seem to be direct imprecations*0; and yet St. Peter himself calls them prophecies; Oportet impleri Scripturam; They were done says he, that the Scripture might be fulfilled*1; not that David in his own heart did wish all that upon Judas; but only so, as foreseeing in the spirit of prophesying, that those things should fall upon him, he concurred with the purpose of God therein, and so far as he saw it to be the will of God, he made it his will, and his wish. And so have all those judgments, which we denounce upon sinners, the nature of prophecies in them; when we read in the church, that commination, Cursed is the idolator, this may fall upon some of our own kindred; and Cursed is he that cursetA
00 Psal. cix. 01 Acts i. 16.
father or mother, this may fall upon some of our own children: and Cursed is he that perverteth judgment, this may fall upon some powerful persons, that we may have a dependance upon; and upon these we do not wish that God's vengeance should fall; yet we prophesy, and denounce justly, that upon such, such vengeances will fall; and then, all prophecies of that kind are always conditional; they are conditional, if we consider any decree in God ; they must be conditional in all our denunciations; if you repent, they shall not fall upon you, if not, Oportet impleri Scripturam, The Scripture must be fulfibled; we do not wish them, wo do but prophesy them ; no, nor we do not prophesy them; but the Scriptures have pre-prophesied them before; they will fall upon you, as upon Judas, in condemnation, and perchance, as upon Judas, in desperation too.
David's purpose then being in these words to work to their amendment, and not their final destruction, we may easily and usefully discern in the particular words, a milder sense than tlie words seem at first to present. And first give me leave by the way, only in passing, by occasion of those words which are here rendered, Convertentur, el erubescent, and which in the original Ktejashabu, and jeboshu, which have a musical, and harmonious sound, and agnomination in them, let me note thus much, even in that, that the Holy Ghost in penning the Scriptures delights himself, not only with a propriety, but with a delicacy, and harmony, and melody of language; with height of metaphors, and other figures, which may work greater impressions upon the readers, and not with barbarous, or trivial, or market, or homely language: it is true, that when the Grecians, and the Romans, and St. Augustine himself, undervalued and despised the Scriptures, because of the poor and beggarly phrase, that they seemed to be written in, the Christians could say little against it, but turned still upon the other safer way, we consider the matter, and not the phrase, because for the most part, they had read the Scriptures only in translations, which could not maintain the majesty, nor preserve the elegancies of the original.
Their case was somewhat like ours, at the beginning of the Reformation; when, because most of those men who laboured in that Reformation, came out of the Roman church, and there had never read the body of the fathers at large; but only such rags and fragments of those fathers, as were patched together in their decretats, and decretals, and other such common placers, for their purpose, and to serve their turn, therefore they were loath at first to come to that issue, to try controversies by the fathers. But as soon as our men that embraced the Reformation, had had time to read the fathers, they were ready enough to join with the adversary in that issue: and still we protest, that we accept that evidence, the testimony of the fathers, and refuse nothing, which the fathers unanimously delivered, for matter of faith ; and howsoever at the beginning some men were a little umbrageous, and startling at the name of the fathers, yet since the fathers have been well studied for more than threescore years, we have behaved ourselves with more reverence towards the fathers, and more confidence in the fathers, than they of the Roman persuasion have done, and been less apt to suspect or quarrel their books, or to reprove their doctrines, than our adversaries have been. So, howsoever the Christians at first were fain to sink a little under that imputation, that their Scriptures have no majesty, no eloquence, because these embellishments could not appear in translations, nor they then read originals, yet now, that a perfect knowledge of those languages hath brought us to see the beauty and the glory of those books, we are able to reply to them, that there are not in all the world so eloquent books as the Scriptures; and that nothing is more demonstrable, than that if we would take all those figures, and tropes, which are collected out of secular poets, and orators, we may give higher, and livelier examples, of every one of those figures, out of the Scriptures, than out of all the Greek and Latin poets, and orators ; and they mistake it much, that think, that the Holy Ghost hath rather chosen a low, and barbarous, and homely style, than an eloquent, and powerful manner of expressing himself.
To return and to cast a glance upon these words in David's prediction, upon his enemies, what hardness is in the first, Erubescent* Let them be ashamed: for the word imports no more, our last translation says no more, neither did our first translators intend any more, by their word, Confounded; for that is, confounded with shame in themselves. This is Virga disciplince, says St. Bernard; as long as we are ashamed of sin, we are not grown up, and hardened in it; we are under correction; the correction of a remorse. As soon as Adam came to be ashamed of his nakedness, he presently thought of some remedy; if one should come and tell thee, that he looked through the door, that he stood in a window over against thine, and saw thee do such or such a sin, this would put thee to a shame, and thou wouldst not do that sin, till thou wert sure he could not see thee. O, if thou wouldst not sin, till thou couldst think that God saw thee not, this shame had wrought well upon thee. There are complexions that cannot blush ; there grows a blackness, a sootiness upon the soul, by custom in sin, which overcomes all blushing, all tenderness. White alone is paleness, and God loves not a pale soul, a soul possessed with a horror, affrighted with a diffidence, and distrusting his mercy. Redness alone is anger, and vehemency, and distemper, and God loves not such a red soul, a soul that sweats in sin, that quarrels for sin, that revenges in sin. But that whiteness that preserves itself, not only from being dyed all over in any foul colour, from contracting the name of any habitual sin, and so to be called such or such a sinner, but from taking any spot, from coming within distance of a temptation, or of a suspicion, is that whiteness, which God means, when he says, Thou art all fair my love, and there is no spot in thee**. Indifferent looking, equal and easy conversation, appliableness to wanton discourses, and notions, and motions, are the devil's single money, and many pieces of these make up an adultery. As light a thing as a spangle is, a spangle is silver; and leaf-gold, that is blown away, is gold; and sand that hath no strength, no coherence, yet knits the building; so do approaches to sin, become sin, and fixed sin. To avoid these spots, is that whiteness that God loves in the soul. But there is a redness that God loves too; which is this erubescence that we speak of; an aptness in the soul to blush, when any of these spots do fall upon it.
God is the universal confessor, the general penitentiary of all the world, and all die in the guilt of their sin, that go not to confession to him. And there are sins of such weight to the soul, and such entangling, and perplexity to the conscience, in some circumstances of the sin, as that certainly a soul may receive much ease iu such cases, by confessing itself to man. In this holy shamefastness, which we intend in this outward blushing of the face, the soul goes to confession too. And it is one of the principal arguments against confessions by letter, (which some went about to set up in the Roman church) that that took away one of the greatest evidences, and testimonies of their repentance which is this crubescence, this blushing, this shame after sin ; if they should not be put to speak it face to face, but to write it, that would remove the shame, which is a part of the repentance. But that soul that goes not to confession to itself, that hath not an internal blushing after a sin committed, is a pale soul, even in the paleness of death, and senselessness, and a red soul, red in the defiance of God. And that whiteness, to avoid approaches to sin, and that redness, to blush upon a sin, which does attempt us, is the complexion of the soul, which God loves, and which the Holy Ghost testifies, when he says, My beloved is white and ruddy**. And when these men that David speaks of here, had lost that whiteness, their innocency, for David to wish that they might come to a redness, a shame, a blushing, a remorse, a sense of sin, may have been no such great malediction, or imprecation in the mouth of David, but that a man may wish it to his best friend, which should be his soul, and say, Erubescam, not let mine enemies, but let me be ashamed with such a shame.
** Cant. iv. 7Cant. v. 10. M Psalm vi. 2,3.
In the second word, Let them be sore vexed, he wishes his enemies no worse than himself had been : for he had used the same word of himself before, Ossa turbata, My bones are vexed, and Anima turbata, My soul is vexed*4; and considering, that David had found this vexation to be his way to God, it was no malicious imprecation, to wish that enemy the same physic that he had taken, who was more sick of the same disease than he was. For this is like a troubled sea after a tempest; the danger is past, but yet the billow is great still: the danger was in the calm, in the security, or in the tempest, by mis-interpreting God's corrections to our obduration, and to a remorseless stupefaction ; but when a man is come to this holy vexation, to be troubled, to be shaken with a sense of the indignation of God, the storm is past, and the indignation of God is blown over. That soul is in a fair and near way, of being restored to a calmness, and to reposed security of conscience, that is come to this holy vexation.
In a flat map, there goes no more, to make west east, though they be distant in an extremity, but to paste that flat map upon a round body, and then west and east are all one. In a flat soul, iii a dejected conscience, in a troubled spirit, there goes no more to the making of that trouble, peace, than to apply that trouble to the body of the merits, to the body of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, and conform thee to him, and thy West is East, thy trouble of spirit is tranquillity of spirit. The name of Christ is Oriens, the EastTM; and yet Lucifer himself is called Fillus Orientis, the Son of the East**. If thou beest fallen by Lucifer, fallen to Lucifer, and not fallen as Lucifer, to a senselessness of thy fall, and an impeiiitibleness therein, but to a troubled spirit, still thy prospect is the East, still thy climate is heaven, still thy haven is Jerusalem : for, in our lowest dejection of all, even in the dust of the grave, we are so composed, so laid down, as that we look to the East; if I could believe that Trajan, or Tecla, could look east-ward, that is, towards Christ, in hell, I could believe with them of Rome, that Trajan and Tecla were redeemed by prayer out of hell. God had accepted sacrifices before ; but no sacrifice is called Odor quietis, It is not said, That God smelt a savour of rest", in any sacrifice, but that which Noah offered, after he had been variously tossed and tumbled, in the long hulling of the ark upon the waters. A troublesome spirit, and a quiet spirit, are far asunder ; but a troubled spirit, and a quiet spirit, are near neighbours. And therefore David means them no great harm, when he says, Let them be troubled; for, let the wind be as high as it will, so I sail before the wind, let the trouble of my soul be as great as it will, so it direct mo upon God, and I have calm enough.
And this peace, this calm is implied in the next word, Convertantur, which is not, Let them be overthrown, but Let them return, let them be forced to return; he prays, that God would do something to cross their purposes; because as they are against God, so they are against their own souls. In that way where they are, he sees there is no remedy; and therefore he desires that they might be turned into another way; what is that way ? This. Turn us 0 Lord, and we shall be turned; that is, turned the right way; towards God. And as there was a promise from God, to hear his people, not only when they came to him in the Temple, but when they turned towards that Temple, in what distance soever they were, so it is always accompanied with a blessing, occasionally to turn towards God ; but this prayer, Turn us, that we may be turned, is, that we may be, that is, remain turned, that we may continue fixed in that posture. Lot's wife turned herself, and remained an everlasting monument of God's anger; God so turn us always into right ways, as that we be not able to turn ourselves out of them. For God hath Viam rectam, et bonam, as himself speaks in the prophet, A right way, and then a good way, which yet is not the right way, that is, not the way which God of himself would go. For his right way is, that we should still keep in his way; his good way is, to beat us into his right way again, by his medicinal corrections, when we put ourselves out of his right way. And that, and that only David wishes, and we wish, that you may turn, and be turned; stand in that holy posture, all the year, all the years of your lives, that your Christmas may be as holy as your Easter, even your recreations as innocent as your devotions, and every room in the house as free from profaneness as the sanctuary. And this he ends as he begun, with another erubescant, let them be ashamed, and that valde velociter, suddenly: for David saw, that if a sinner came not to a shame of sin quickly, he would quickly come to a shamelessness, to an impudence, to a searedness, to an obduration in it.
*5 Zach. vi. 12. M Isaiah xiv. 12. *7 Gen. viii. 21.
Now beloved, this is the worst curse that comes out of a holy man's mouth, even towards his enemy, that God would correct him to his amendment. And this is the worst harm that we mean to you, when we denounce the judgments of God against sin and sinners, ut erubescatis, that we might see blood in your faces, the blood of your Saviour working in that shame for sin. That that question of the prophet might not confound you, Were they ashamed when they committed abomination ? Nay, they were not ashamed"; Erubescere nesciebant, They were never used to shame, they knew not how to be ashamed. Therefore, says he, they shabl fall amongst them that fall, they shall do as the world does, sin as their neighbours sin, and fall as they fall, irrepentantly here, and hereafter irrecoverably. And then, ut conturbati sitis, that you may be troubled in your hearts, and not cry peace, peace, where there is no peace, and flatter yourselves, because you are in a true religion, and in the right way; for a child may drown in a font, and a man may be poisoned in the sacrament; much more perish, though in a true church. And also Ut revertamini, That you may return again to the Lord, return to that state of pureness, which God gave you in baptism, to that state which God gave you the last time you received his body and blood so as became you. And then lastly, Ut erubescatis velociter, That you may come to the beginning of this, and to all this quickly, and not to defer it, because God defers the judgment. For to end this with St. Augustine's words, upon this word velociter, Quandocunque venit, celerrime venit, quod desperatur esseventurum: How late soever it come, that comes quickly, if it come at all, which we believed would never come. How long soever it be, before that judgment come, yet it comes quickly, if it come before thou look for it, or be ready for it. Whosoever labours to sleep out the thought of that day, His damnation sleepeth not, says the apostle. It is not only, that his damnation is not dead, that there shall never be any such day, but that it is no .day asleep : every midnight shall be a day of judgment to him, and keep him awake; and when consternation, and lassitude lend him, or counterfeit to him a sleep, as St. Basil says of the righteous, Etiam somnia justorum preces sunt, That even their dreams are prayers, so this incorrigible sinner's dreams shall be, not only presages of his future, but acts of his present condemnation.
" Jer. vi. 15.