PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS.
Psalm xxxii. 8.
I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go, I will guide thee with mine eye.
This verse, more than any other in the Psalm, answers the title of the Psalm. The title is, David's Instruction; and here in the text it is said, / I will instruct thee, and teach thee, in the way thou shalt go. There are eleven Psalms that have that title, Psalms of Instruction; the whole book is Sepher Tehillim, The Book of Praises; and it is a good way of praising God, to receive instruction, instruction how to praise him. Therefore doth the Holy Ghost return so often to this catechistical way, instruction, institution, as to propose so many Psalms, expressly under that title purposely to that use. In one of those, the manner how instruc
VOL. III. c
tion should be given, is expressed also; it must be in a loving manner, for the title is Canticum Amoruin\ A Song of Love for Instruction. For Absque prudentia, et benevolentia, -non sunt perfecta consilia*: True instruction is a making love to the congregation, and to every soul in it; but it is but to the soul. And so when St. Paul said, He was mad for their sakes, Insait amatoriam insaniam, says Theophylact, St. Paul was mad for love of them, to whom he writ his holy love letters, his epistles. And thereupon do the Rabbins call this Psalm, Leb David, cor Davidis, The opening and pouring out of David's heart to them, whom ho instructs. Wo have no way into your hearts, but by sending our hearts. The poet's counsel is, Ut ameris, ama, If thou wouldst be truly loved, do thou love truly; the Holy Ghost's precept upon us is, Ut credaris, crede, That if we would have you believe, we believe ourselves. It is not to our eloquence that God promises a blessing, but to our sincerity, not to our tongue, but to our heart: all our hope of bringing you to love God, is in a loving and hearty manner to propose God's love to you. The height of the spouse's love to Christ, came but to that, / am sick of love*: the love of Christ went farther, to die for love. Love is as strong as death; but nothing else is as strong as either; and both, love and death, met in Christ. How strong and powerful upon you then should that instruction be, that comes to you from both these, the love and death of Christ Jesus? and such an instruction doth this text exhibit, / will instriwt thee, and teach thee in the way in which thou shall go, I will guide thee with mine eye, God so loved the world, as that he sent his Son to die; tho Son being dead so loved the world, as that he returned to that world again; and being ascended, sent the Holy Ghost to establish a church, and in that church, usque ad consummationem, till the end of the world, shall that Holy Spirit execute this catcchistical office, He shall instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which t/wu shall go, he shall guide thee with his eye.
Though then some later expositors have doubted of the person, who doth this office, to instruct, who this I in our text is, because the Hebrew word Le David, is as well Davidis, as Davidi, An
instruction from David, as an instruction to David, and so the catechist may seem to be David, and no more; yet since this criticism upon the word, Le David, argues but a possibility that it may, and not a necessity that it must be so, we accompany St. Hierome, and indeed the whole body of the fathers, in accepting this instruction from God himself, it is no other than God himself that says, / will instruct thee, &c. No other than God himself can undertake so much as is promised in this text. For here is first, a rectifying of the understanding, I will instruct thee, and in the original there is somewhat more than our translation reaches to; it is there, Intelligere faciam te, I will make thee understand. Man can instruct, God only can make us understand. And then it is Faciam te, I will make thee, thee understand; the work is the Lord's, the understanding is the man's: for God does not work in man, as the devil did in idols, and in pythonissis, and in ventriloquis, in possessed persons, who had no voluntary concurrence with the action of the devil, but were merely passive; God works so in man, as that he makes man work too, faciam te, I will make thee understand; that that shall be done shall be done by me, but in thee; the power that rectifies the act is God's, the act is man's; Faciam te, says God, I will make thee, thee, every particular person, (for that arises out of this singular and distribute word, Thee, which threatens no exception, no exclusion) I will make every person, to whom I present instruction, capable of that instruction, and if he receive it not, it is only his, and not my fault. And so this first part is an instruction de credendis, of such things, as by God's rectifying of our understanding, we are bound to believe. And then in a second part, there follows a more particular instructing, Docebo, I will teach thee, and that in via, in the way; it is not only de via, to teach thee, which is the way, that thou mayest find it, but in via, how to keep the way, when thou art in it; he will teach thee, not only ut gradiaris, that thou mayst walk in it, and not sleep, but quomodo gradieris, how thou mayst walk in it, and not stray; and so this second part is an institution de agendis, of those things, which, thine understanding being formerly rectified, and deduced into a belief, thou art bound to do. And then in the last words of the text, / will guide thee with mine eye, there is a third part, an establishment, a confirmation, by an incessant watchfulness in God; he will consider, consult upon us, (for so much the original word imports) he will not leave us to contingencies, to fortune, no nor to his own general providence, by which all creatures are uersally in his protection, and administration, but he will ponder us, consider us, study us; and that with his oye, which is the sharpest, and most sensible organ and instrument, soonest feels, if anything be amiss, and so inclines him quickly to rectify us; and so this third part is an instruction desperandis, it hath evermore a relation to the future, to the constancy and perseverance, of God's goodness towards us; to the end, and in the end, he will guide us with his eye: except the eye of God can be put out, we cannot be put out of his sight, and his care. So that, both our freight which we are to take in, that is, what we are to believe concerning God; and the voyage which we are to make, how we are to steer and govern our course, that is, our behaviour and conversation in the household of the faithful; and then the haven to which we must go, that is, our assurance of arriving at the heavenly Jerusalem, are expressed in this chart, in this map, in this instruction, in this text, / will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go, I will guide thee with mine eye. And when you have done all this, believed aright, and lived according to that belief, and died according to that life, in the last voice, surgite, you shall find a venite, as soon as you arc called from the dust of the grave, you shall Enter into your Master's joy, and be no more called servants, but friends, no more friends, but sons, no more sons, but heirs, no more heirs, but co-heirs with the only Son of God, no more co-heirs, but idem Spiritus, the same Spirit with the Lord.
First then, the office which God by his blessed Spirit, through us, in his church, undertakes, is to instruct. And this being done so by God himself, God sending his Spirit, his Spirit working in his ministers, his ministers labouring in his church, it is strange that St. Paul speaking so, in the name of God, and his Spirit, and his ministers, and his church, should be put to entreat his hearers, to suffer a word of exhortation. Yet he is; / beseech ye, brethren, suffer a word of exhortation*. And the strangeness
* Heb. xiii. 22.
of the case is exalted in this, that the word there is TrapaKXijo-ean, Solatii, and so the Vulgate reads it, and justly, Ut sufferatis verbum solatii, I beseech ye to suffer a word of comfort. What will ye hear willingly, if ye do not willingly hear words of comfort I With what shall wo exercise your holy joy and cheerfulness, if even words of comfort must oxercise your patience? And yet we must beseech you to suffer, oven our words of comfort; for, we can propose no truo comfort unto you, but such as carries some irksomeness, some bitterness with it; wo can create no truo joy, no true acquiescence in you, without some exercise of your patience too. We cannot promise you peace with God, without a war in yourselves, nor reconciliation to him, without falling out with yourselves, nor eternal joy in the next world, without a solemn remorse for the sinful abuses of this. We cannot promise you a good to-morrow, without sending yo back to the consideration of an ill yesterday; for your hearing to-day is not enough, except ye repent yesterday. But yet, though with St. Paul we be put to beseech you, ut sufferatis, That ye would suffer instruction, though we must sometimes exerciso your patience, yet it is but verbum instructionis, a word of instruction; and though instruction be increpation, (for as tho word is solatium, comfort, so we have told you it is, it is increpation too, for all true comfort hath increpation in it) yet it may easily be suffered because it is but verbum, but a word, a word and away. Wo would not dwell upon increpations, and chidings, and bitternesses; we would pierce but so deep as might make you search your wounds, when you come home to your chamber, to bring you to a tenderness there, not to a paleness or blushing here. We never stay so long upon denouncing the judgments of God, but that we would, as fain as you, bo at an end of that paragraph, of that period, of that point, that we might come into a calm, and into a lee-shore, and tell you of tho mercies of God in Christ Jesus. You may suffer instruction, though instruction bo increpation, for it is but a word of instruction, we have soon done; and you may suffer, them because they are but verba, not verbera, they are but words, and not blows. It is not traditio Satanw, a delivering you up to Satan, it is not the confusion of face, nor consternation of spirit, nor a jealousy and suspicion of God's
good purpose upon you, that we would induce by our instruction, though it he increpation, but only a sense of your sins, and of the majesty of God violated by them, and so to a better capacity of this instruction, which the Holy Ghost here presents, in credendis, in those things which you are bound to believe; of which his first degree is, Intelligere te faciam, He will make ye understand, he will work upon your understanding, for, so much (as we noted to you at first) doth that word, which we translate here, I will instruct thee, comprehend.
Oportet accedentem credere; the apostle seems to make that our first step, He that comes to God, must believe3. So it is our first step to God, to believe, but there i» a step towards God, before it come to faith, which is, to understand; God works first upon the understanding. God proceeds in our conversion, and regeneration, as he did in our first creation. There man was nothing; but God breathed not a soul into that nothing; but of a clod of earth he made a body, and into that body infused a soul. Man in his conversion, is nothing, does nothing. His body is not verier dust in the grave, till a resurrection, then his soul is dust in his body, till a resuscitation by grace. But then this grace does not work upon this nothingness that is in man, upon this mere privation; but grace finds out man's natural faculties, and exalts them to a capacity, and a susceptibleness of the working thereof, and so by the understanding infuses faith. Therefore God begins his instruction here at the understanding; and he does not say at first, Faciam te credere, I will make thee to believe, but Faciam te intelligere, I will make thee understand.
That then being God's method, to make us understand, certainly those things which belong to our salvation, are not inintelligibilia, not in-intelligible, un-understandablc, unconceivable things, but the articles of faith are discernible by reason. For though reason cannot apprehend that a virgin should have a son, or that God should be made man and die, if we put our reason primarily and immediately upon the article single, (for so it is the object of faith only) yet if we pursuo God's method, and see what our understanding can do, we shall see, that out of ratiocination and discourse, and probabilities, and verisimilitudes, at
5 Heb. xi. 6.
last will arise evident and necessary conclusions; such as those, That as there is a God, that God must be worshipped according to his will, that therefore that will of God must be declared and manifested somewhere, that this is done in some permanent way, in some Scripture, which is the word of God, that this book, which we call the Bible, is, by better reasons than any others can pretend, that Scripture; and when our reason hath carried us so far, as to accept these Scriptures for the word of God, then all the particular articles, a virgin's son, and a mortal God, will follow evidently enough. And then thoso two propositions, Mysteria credenda ut intelligantur, Mysteries of religion must bo believed before they be understood, and Mysteria intclligenda ut credantur, Mysteries of religion must be understood before thoy can be believed, will be all one; for God exalts our natural faculty of understanding by grace to apprehend them, and then to that submission and assent, which he by grace produces out of our understanding, by a succeeding and more powerful graco he sets to the seal of faith. Wait thou therefore upon God, his way; present unto him an humble and a diligent understanding; conclude not too desperately against thyself, if thou have not yet attained to all degrees of faith, but admit that preparation, which God offers to thino understanding, by an assiduous and a sedulous hearing; for a narrower faith that proceeds out of a true understanding, shall carry theo farther than a faith that seems larger, but is wrapped up in an implicit ignorance; no man believes profitably, that knows not why he believes. The subject then, that this work is wrought in, is that faculty, man's understanding; there God begins in the instruction of this text, Thou shalt understand, thou shalt; the act shall be thine, but yet, the power is mine, Faciam te, I will make thee understand, which is another consideration in this part.
God doth not determino his promiso here, in a faciam ut intelligas, I will cast an understanding upon thee, I will cause an understanding to fall upon thee, but it is faciam te intettigere, I will make thee to understand, thou shalt be an agent in thine own salvation. When God made the ass speak under Balaam, God went not so far as this first step, (not to the faciam ut intelligas) he imprinted, infused no understanding in that beast. Wheu God suffers the hypocrite to praise him, he imprints no understanding; hero is a frustra colunt, It is a worship that is no worship, when it is with the lips only, and the heart far off. So when a papist cries Templum Domini, templum Domini, Visibility of a church, infallibility in a church, here is no understanding; he pretends to believe as the church believes, but he knows not what the church believes; no, nor he neither upon whom he relies for his instruction, his priest, his confessor. They are deceived that think every priest or jesuit, that comes hither, knows tho tenets of that church; it is a more reserved, a more perplexed, a more involved matter than so. To contract this consideration, when a preacher speaks well, and destroys as fast by his ill life, as ho builds by his good doctrine, here is no understanding neither. A good understanding have all they that keep the commandments3; not all they that preach them, but that keep them; it is all they, and only they. There is no other assurance but that; Hereby we are sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments1. This is our criterium, and only this; hereby we know it, and by nothing else. So that as he that is slothful in his work, is even the brother 0f him that is a great waster8; Bo he that builds not with both hands, life and doctrine, is slothful in his work. He that preaches against sin, and doth it, Instruit Dominion quomodo eum condemnet3, He doth not so much teach his auditory, how to escape condemnation, as teach God how to condemn him. In these cases there is no understanding at all; in the case of the ass, and the hypocrite, and the blind Romanist, and the vicious preacher. In some other cases, there is understanding given, but without any concurrence, any co-operation of man, as in those often visions, and dreams, and manifestations of God, to the prophets, and his other servants; there was a faciam ut intelligas, God would make his pleasure known unto them, but yet not as in this text, where God makes use of the man himself for his own salvation. But yet it is God, and God alone that does all this, that rectifies our understanding, as well as that establishes our faith. It is my soul that says to mine eye, faciam te videre, I will make thee see, aud my soul that says to
mine Oat, faciam te audire, I will make thee hear, and without that soul, that eye and ear could no more seo nor hear, than the eyes and ears of an idol; so it is my God that says to my soul, faciam te intelligere, I will make thee understand. And therefore as thou art bound to infinite thanksgivings to God, when he hath brought thee to faith, to forget not thy tribute by the way, to bless and magnify him, if he. have enlarged thy desire of understanding, and thy capacity of understanding, and thy means of understanding; for, as howsoever a man may forget the order of the letters, after he is come to read perfectly, and forget the rules of his grammar, after he is come to speak perfectly, yet by those letters, and by that grammar he came to that perfection; so, though faith be of an infinite exaltation above understanding, yet, as though our understanding be above our senses, yet by our senses we come to understand, so by our understanding we come to believe. And though tho Holy Ghost repeat that moro than once, Domine quis credidit? Lord who believes our report? And that, Shall the Son of man find faith upon earth when he comes? Though he complain of want of faith, yet he multiplies infinitely that complaint for want of understanding, and there are ten non intettigunts for one non credunt, ten increpations, that his people did not understand, for one that they did not believe; because, though faith be a nobler operation, God takes it always worst in us, to neglect those things which are nearest us, as he doth to neglect the ordinary and necessary duties of religion, and search curiously into the unrevealed purposes of his secret counsels. And this instruction to the understanding, he seems in this text to extend to all, for this singular word, Te, I will make Thee, thee to understand, includes no exclusion, but is an offer, a promise to all, which is our other and last consideration in this first part.
In this consideration, let us stop a littlo upon this question, why tho Scriptures of God, more than any other book, do still speak in this singular person, and in this familiar person? Still tu, and tibi, and te; thou must love God, God speaks to thee, God hath care of thee. Certainly in those passages, which are from lower persons to princes, no author is of a more humble, and reverential, and ceremonial phrase, than the phrase of the Scripture is. Who could go lower than David to Saul, that calls himself a flea, and a dead dog"? Who could go higher than Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, 0 king, thou art king of kings; in all places, the children of men, the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, are given into thy hand"; thy greatness reacheth to heaven, and thy dominions to the ends of the earth1*. So is it also in persons nearer in nature, and nearer in rank; Jacob bows seven times to the ground", in the presence of his brother Esau, and my lord, and my lord, at every word. The Scripture phrase is as ceremonial and as observant of distances, as any, and yet still full of this familiar word too, Tit and Titus, Thou and Thine. And we also, we who deal most with the Scriptures, are more accustomed to the same phrase than any other kind of speakers are. In a parliament, who is ever heard to say, Thou must needs grant this, Thou mayest be bold to yield to this? Or who ever speaks so to a judge in any court? Nay, the king himself will not speak to the people in that phrase. And yet in the presence of the greatest, we say ordinarily, amend thy life, and God bo merciful to thee, and I absolve thee of all thy sins. Boloved, in the Scriptures, God speaks oithor to the church, his spouso, and to his children, and so ho may bo bold, and would be familiar with them; or else he speaks so, as that he would be thought by thee to speak singularly to thy soul in particular. Know then, that Christ Jesus hath done enough for the salvation of all; but know too, that if there had been no other name written in the book of life but thine, ho would havo died for thee. Of those which were given him, he lost none; but if there had been none given him, but thou, rather than have lost thee, he would havo given the same price for thee, that he gave for tho whole world. And therefore when thou hearest his mercies distributed in that particular, and that familiar phrase, faciam te, I will make thee understand, thou knowest not whether he speak to any other in the congregation or no; be sure that he speak to thee; which he does, if thou hearken to him, and answer him. If thou canst not find that he means thee yet, that he speaks to thee now, if thou think he speak rather to some other, whose faith and good life thou pre
ferrest beforo thine own, do but begin to think now of the blessedness of that man, to whom thou thinkcst he speaks, and say to God, with thy Saviour, Eli, Eli, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou gone to the other side, or why to the next on my right, or on my left hand, and left out me? Why speakest thou not comfortably to my soul? And he will leave the ninety-nine for thee, and thou shalt find onus amoris, such a weight, and burden, and load of his lovo upon thee, as thou shalt be feign almost to say with St. Peter, Ewi a me Domine, O Lord go farther from mo, that is, thou shalt sec such an obligation of mercy laid upon thee, as puts theo beyond all possibility of comprehension, much more of retribution, or of due and competent thanksgiving. Miserere amniw turn, Be but merciful to thine own soul, and God will bo merciful to it too; if God had never meant to be merciful to thee, he would learn of thee; if thou couldst love thyself before God loved theo, God would love theo for loving thyself; how much more for thy loving his love in thee? Love understanding, and, faciet te intelliyere, He will make thee understand enough for thy pilgrimage, enough for thy transmigration, enough for thy eternal habitation. As we count them wisest, who are most provident, and foresee most, he will make thee see farther than all they, through all generations, beyond children, and children's children, (which is the prospect of the world) to all eternity, that hath no termination, and he will allow thee an understanding for this world too; he will bid thee lift up thine eyes to heaven, and bid thee look down to the earth1* too; ho will make thy considerations of this world acceptable to him, as well as those of the next; he will remember thee, that angels descended as well as ascended1*, that to a religious soul, this world is not out of the way to heaven; faciet te intelliyere, He will make thee understand enough for both. And so we have done with that first part, De credendis, Things which we are bound to believe, that even for those, God works upon tho understanding, that though God work all in all, yet it is the man that understands; and lastly, that in the Holy Ghost's choosing this word of singularity, te, I will make thee understand, there is a pregnant intimation of God's large and diffusive goodness to
"Isaiah Li. 6. 15 Gen. xxviii.
all, this word, thee, excludes none. And so we pass to our second part, Instruction, de agendis, what we are to do, / will teach thee in the way thou shalt go.
If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God; and faciet intelligere, God shall make him understand: God shall; I may study, and then, you may hear me, but God only makes us all understand; for the understanding is the door of faith, and that door he opens, and ho shuts: so by understanding, he brings us to believe. But then, he that truly believes, finds that he hath something to do too; and he says to himself, Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his ways? And he cannot tell himself; he asks them whom God hath sent to tell him, his ministers, Viri, fratres, Men and brethren what shall we do to be saved? And by their leading, he goes to the Spirit of God, to God himself, and says, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life1*? And that good master will teach him what to do, which is the promise of this part of instruction in our text, I will teach thee in the way thou shalt go. And plus est docere, quam instruere11, God promises more in this, that he will teach thee in the way, than in the former, that he would make thee understand. Not that the matter or subject in this part, is the greater, (for the former had relation to faith, and this but to good works) but that it intimates a more frequent recourse to us, and a more studious care of us, and a more provident vigilancy over us, and a more familiar conversation with us, that God accompanies us in all our way, and directs us in all our particular actions, than that by understanding he hath brought us to believe. He that horses a man well for a journey, or he that rewards a man well for a journey, does a greater work, than he that goes along with him as a guide; but yet there is aliquid magis in the guide, there is a more continual, a more incessant courtesy in him. We see in the Roman church, they are not in their beads, without credoes, they believe enough; and lest that should not be enough, they have made a new creed of more articles than that, in the Council of Trent, and to testify a strong faith therein, they must swear they believe it: and then they have to every creed, more Pater nosters, they petition enough, ask enough at God's hands;
they have credoes enow, Pater nosters enow, and Ave Marias more than enow; but when we consider them in the Commandments, what we are to do, (as great workers as they pretend to be) though they enlarge their credoes, and multiply their Pater nosters, they contract the Commandments, and put two into ono, for fear of meeting ono against images.
This then expresses God's daily care of us, that he teaches us the way. But then, even that implies, that we aro all out of our way; still all bends, all conduces to that, an humblo acknowledgment of our own weakness, a present recourse to the love and power of God; the first thing I look for in tho exposition of any Scripture, and the nearest way to the literal sense thereof, is, what may most deject and vilify man, what may most exalt, and glorify God. We are all, all out of our way; but God deals not alike with all; for, for the wicked, Their way is dark and slippery", and then, the angel of the Lord persecutes them; but for those whom he loves. He will weigh the paths of the just, (says our later translation) and, He will make the paths of the righteous equal and even1*, says our former; it shall be a path often beaten by him, for it is not righteousness, to be righteous once a year, at Easter, nor once a week, upon Sunday. An anersay righteousness, an hebdomadary righteousness, a Sabbatarian righteousness is no righteousness. But it is a path; and so made even, without occasions of stumbling; that is, ho shall be able to walk in any profession, and to make good any station, and not be diverted by the power of any temptations incident to that calling. The angel of the Lord, the evil angel, distrust and diffidence, shall persecute the wicked, in his dark and slippery way; this is no teaching; but because the godly have a teaching, even their direction hath a correction too; God beats his scholars into their way too. The difference is expressed in the prophet, When the Lord hath given you the bread of adversity, and the water of afflictionTM, (for in God's school that is scholar's fare) yet, says God, Thy teachers shall not be removed from thee into a corner; still in thine affliction thou shalt have a teacher, or even tho affliction itself shall be God's usher; and thou shalt have cvidenco of
it, thy teacher shall not bo removed into a corner; thou shalt see it; and (as it follows there) Thine ears shall hear a voice behind thee; (that is, a voice arising even from that affliction that thou hast suffered) and that voice shall say, This is the way, walk ye in it; as dark as affliction is, it shall show thee the way, Hac est via, This is the way, as much as affliction enfeebles thee, yet it shall enable thee to walk in it, ambulate in ea. God is a schoolmaster; not as the law was, to teach with a sword in his hand; but yet ho teaches with a rod in his hand, though not with a sword.
Now in teaching us the way, he instructs us de via, and in via; which is the way, and what is to be done in it. He sees all our ways; All my ways are before thee, says David*1. And he sees them not so as though they belonged not to him, for he considers them, Does not he behold all my ways, and tell all my stepsTM? He sees them, and sees our irremediable danger in them; Formido, et fovea, et laqueus, Fear, and a pit, and snares are upon thee"; Upon whom? There we see the generality of this single word, thee, that it is all; for so, it follows there, upon thee, 0 inhabitant of the earth. The danger then is general, and the Lord knows it; Who then can teach us a better way, but he? But how doth he teach us this way? When God had promised Moses to send an angel to show the people their way, (/ will send an angel before thee) Moses says to God, See, thou sayest, Lead this people forth, and thou hast not showed me whom thou wilt send with me"; (so those translators thought good to render it) God had told him of an angel, but that satisfied not Moses; he must have something showed to him, he must see his guide. If thy presence go not with me, carry me not from hence", says he to God. For, wherein shall it be known, that I, and thy people have found favour in thy sight? Shall it not be when thou goest up with us? And therefore God satisfies him, My presence shall go with thee. Go? but how? says Moses; Wilt thou be pleased to show me thy glory"? Shall wo see anything? They did see that pillar in which God was, and that presence, that pillar showed the way. To us, the church is that pillar; in
*1 Psalm cxix. 168. ia Job xxxi . 4. Isaiah xxiv. 17.
a* Exod. xxxiii. 2, 12. « Ver. 15. ** Ver. 18.
that, God shows us our way. For strength it is a pillar, and a pillar for firmness and fixation: but yet the church is neither an equal pillar, always fire, but sometimes cloud too; the church is more and less visible, sometimes in splendour, sometimes in an eclipse; neither is it so a fixed pillar, as that it is not in divers places. The church is not so fixed to Rome, as that it is not communicated to other nations, nor so limited in itself, as that it may not admit changes, in those things that appertain to order, and discipline. Our way, that God teaches us, is the church; that is a pillar; fixed, for fundamental things, but yet a moveable pillar, for things indifferent, and arbitrary.
Thus he teaches, quid via, which is the way, it is the church, the pillar of truth. He teaches next, quid in via, what is to be done in the way; for, that counsel of the apostle, See that ye walk circumspectly*'', presumes a man to be in the way; elso he would have cried to have stopped him, or to have turned him, and not bid him go on, how circumspectly soever. But, In my path, says David, (not making any doubt but that ho was in a right path) in my path, the proud have laid a mare for me, and spread a net with cordsTM; Ad manum orbitw, (says the original) even at the hand of the path; that path winch should (as it were) reach out a hand to lead me, hath a snare in it. And therefore, says David, with so much vehemence in the entrance of that Psalm, Deliver me, 0 Lord, from the evil man, who purposed to overthrow my goings; though I go in the right way, the true church, yet purposes to overthrow me there. This evil man works upon us: the man of sin; in those instruments that still cast that snare in our way, in our church, there is a minority, an invisibility, and a fallibility in your church; you begun but yesterday in Luther, and you are fallen out already in Calvin. So also works this evil man amongst us, in those schismatics, who cast that snare in our way, your way (though it be in part mended) hath yet impressions of the steps of the beast, and it is a circular, and giddy way, that will bring us back again to Rome. And therefore, beloved, though you be in the way, see ye walk circumspectly, for the snares that both these have cast in the way, the reproaches, and defamations that both these have cast
upon our church. But when thou hast escaped both these snares, of papist, and schismatic, pray still to be delivered from that evil man, that is within thee. Non tantum potest hominem decipere, quam per organum hominis", The devil hath not so powerful an instrument, nor so subtile an engine upon thee as thyself. Quis in hoc seculo non patitur hominem malumTM? Who in this world (or if he go so far out of this world, as never to see man but himself) is not troubled with this evil man? When thou prayest with David, to be delivered from this evil man, if God ask theo whom thou meanest, must thou not say, thyself? Canst thou show God a worse? Qui non est malns, nihil a, malo malt patitur"; If a man were not evil in himself, the worst thing in the world could not hurt him; the devil would not offer to give fire, if there were no powder in thy heart. What that evil man is, that is in another, I cannot know: I cannot always discern another's snare; for, What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him"? Thy spirit knows what the evil man that is in thee, is. Deliver thyself of that evil man that ensnares thee in thy way; though thou come to church; yea even when thou art there. David repeats this word A viro malo, From the evil man, twice in that Psalm. In one place, A viro malo, is in that name, Meish, which is a name of man proper only to the stronger sex, and intimates snares and temptations of stronger power, as when fear, or favour tempts a man to come to a superstitious, and idolatrous service. In the other it is but Meadam, and that is a name common to men, and women, and children, and intimates, that omissions, negligences, infirmities, may encumber us, ensnare us, though we be in the way, even in the true place of God's service; and the eyo may be ensnared as dangerously, and as damnably in this place, as the ear, or the tongue in the chamber. As St. Hierome says, Nugw in ore sacerdotis sunt sacrilegium, An idle word in a churchman's mouth is sacrilege; so a wanton look in the church, is an adultery. Now when God hath thus taught us the way, what it is, that is, brought us to the true church, (for till then, all is diversion, all banishment) and taught us in via, what to do in that
way, to resist temptations to superstition from other imaginary churches, temptations to particular sins from the evil men of the world, and from the worst man in the world, ourself, the instruction in our text is carried a step further, that is, to proceed and go forward in that way, Qua gradieris, I will teach thee to walk in that way.
When St. Augustine saith upon this place, It is via qua gradieris, et non cui hwrebis, A way to walk in, not to stick upon, he doth not mean, that we should ever change this way, or depart from it, (that any cross in this, should make us hearken after another religion) it is not that we should not stick to it, but that we should not stick in it, nor loiter in the way. Thou hast been in this way (in the true church) ever since thy baptism: and yet, if a man that hath lived morally well all his life, and no more than so, find by God's grace a door opened into the Christian church, and a short turning into this right way, at the end of his life, he, by the benefit of those good moral actions, shall be before thee, who hast lived lazily, though in the right way, at his first step; for though those good moral actions were not good works, when he did them, yet then, that grace which he lays hold upon at last, shall reflect a tincture upon them, and make them good in the eyes of God, ab initio. If thou have not been lazy in thy way, in thy Christian profession hitherto, yet except thou proceed still, except thou go from hence now, better than thou eamest, (better in thy purpose) and come hither next day better than thou wentest, (better in thy practice) thou hast not learned this lesson in this instruction, / will teach thee to walk in this way. A Christian hath no solstice, no highest point, where he may stand still, and go no farther; much less hath he any equator, where days and nights are equal, that is, a liberty to spend as much time ill, as well, as many hours in sinful pleasures, as in religious exercises. Quicquid citra Deum est, via est, nee immorandum in ea**; He doth not say, propter Deum, much less contra Deum; For whatsoever is against God, nay, whatsoever is besides God, is altogether out of the way; but citra Deum, on this side of God: till we come to God in heaven, all our best is but our way to him. All the zeal of gathering knowledge,
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all the growth of faith, all the practice of sanctification, is but via, the way; and non imtiiorandum in ea; since we have here a promise of God's assistance in it, in the way, we are sure there is an obligation upon it, as upon a duty, in this way, humbly, and patiently, and laboriously to walk towards him, without stopping upon anything in this world, either preferments on the right, or disgraces on the left hand, (for a cart may stop us, as well as a coach, low things as well as high, with as much trouble, and more annoyance) which is moro especially intended in the last words of the text, Firmabo super te oculos meos, I will settle my providence, fix mine eye upon thee, / will guide thee with mine eye.
Thus far hath our blessed Lord assured us, That he will make us understand, which is his instruction de credendis, what to believo; and That he will teach us to walk in his way, which is his instruction de agendis, what to do, how to avoid temptations; this last is, That he will guide us with his eye, which is his instruction de sperandis, what we are to hope for at his hand, if in this way we do stumble, or fall into some sins of infirmities. But it is but de sperandis, not de prmsumendis; when by infirmity thou art fallen, thy hope must begin then; but if the hope began before, so as thou fellest upon hope that God would raise thee, then it was presumption, and there the Lord's eye shuts in, and guides thee no longer. Otherwise he directs thee with his eye, (that is, with his gracious and powerful looking upon thee) to the means of thy recovery. We hear of no blows, we hear of no chiding from him towards Peter, but all that is said, is, The Lord turned back and looked upon Peter*', and then he remembered his caso: the eye of the Lord lighted his darkness; the eye of the Lord thawed those three crusts of ice, which were grown over his heart, in his three denials of his Master. A candle wakes some men, as well as a noise; the eye of the Lord works upon a good soul, as much as his hand, and he is as much affected with this consideration, The Lord sees me, as with this, The Lord strikes me.
We read in natural story of some creatures, Qui solo oculorum aspectu fovent ova", Which hatch their eggs only by looking upon
** Luke xxii. 63. M Plin. L 10, c. 9.
them; What cannot the eye of God produce and hatch in us? Plus est quod probatur aspectu, quam quod sermone". A man may seem to commend in words, and yet his countenance shall dispraise. His word infuses good purposes into us, but if God continue his eye upon us, it is a further approbation, for he is a God of pure eyes, and will not look upon the wicked. This land doth the Lord thy God care for, and the eyes ofthe Lord are always upon it from the beginning of the year, even to the end thereof1. What a cheerful spring, what a fruitful autumn hath that soul, that hath the eye of the Lord always upon her? The eye of the Lord upon me, makes midnight noon, and St. Lucie's day St. Barnabas'; it makes Capricorn Cancer, and the winter's the summer's solstice; the eye of the Lord sanctifies, nay more than sanctifies, glorifies all the eclipses of dishonour, makes melancholy cheerfulness, diffidence assurance, and turns the jealousy of tho sad soul into infallibility. Upon his people his eye shined in the wilderness; his eye singled them in Egypt, and in Babylon they were sustained by his eye. They were, and we are; The eye of their God was upon the elders of Israel**, and, Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon all them that fear him10. The proverb is not only as old as Aristotle, Oculus domini, and Pes domini, The eye of the master fattens the horse, and the foot of the master marls the ground, but it is as old as the creation, God saw all that he had made, and so, it was very good; it was Visio approbationis", and his approbation was the exaltation thereof.
This guiding then with the eye, we consider to be his particular care, and his personal providence upon us, in his church; for, a man may be in the king's presence, and yet not in his eye; and so he may in God's. God's whole ordinance in his church, is God's face; for that is the face of God, by which God is manifested to us; but then, that eye in that face, by which he promises to guide us, in this text, is that blessed Spirit of his, by whose operation he makes that grace, which does evermore accompany his ordinances, effectual upon us; the whole congregation sees God face to face, in the service, in the sermon, in the
- Ambrose. ,T Deut. xi. 12. "Ezra v. 5.
"Psalm xxxiii. 18. "Hieron.
sacrament; but there is an eye in that face, an eye in that service, an eye in that sermon, an eye in that sacrament, a piercing and an operating Spirit, that looks upon that soul, and foments and cherishes that soul, who by a good use of God's former grace, is become fitter for his present.
And this guiding us with his eye, manifests itself in these two great effects; conversion to him, and union with him. First, his eye works upon ours; his eye turns ours to look upon him. Still it is so expressed with an Ecce; Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon all them that fear him; his eye calls ours to behold that; and then our eye calls upon his, to observe our cheerful readiness, Behold, as the eye of a servant looks to the hand of his master, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, till he have mercy upon us". Where the donee, until, is an everlasting donee, as the blessed Virgin's was; a Virgin donee, till she brought forth her first Son, and a Virgin after; so our eyes wait upon God, till he have mercy, that is, while ho hath it, and that he may continue his mercy; for it was his merciful eye that turned ours to him, and it is the same mercy, that we wait upon him. And then, when, as a well made picture doth always look upon him, that looks upon it, this image of God in our soul, is turned to him, by his turning to it, it is impossible we should do any foul, any uncomely thing in his presence. Will any man solicit a wife or a daughter, and call the father or husband to look on? Will any man break open thy house in the night, and first wake thee, and call thee up I Can any man give his body to uncleanness, his tongue to profaneness, his heart to covetousness, and at the same time consider, that his pure, and his holy, and his bountiful God hath his eye upon him? Can he look upon God in that line, in that angle, (upon God looking upon him) and dishonour him I Upon those words of David, Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord", Quasi diceretur, quid agitur de pedibus"? As though it were objected, Is all thy care of thine eyes? What becomes of thy feet? Non attendis ad eos? Dost thou look to thy steps, to thy life, as well as to thy faith, to please God, as well as to know God! And he answers in the words which follow, Ipse evellet,
As for my feet, God shall order, that is, assist me in ordering them; if his eye be upon me, and mine upon him, (O blessed reflection! O happy reciprocation! 0 powerful correspondence !) Ipse evellet, He will pluck my feet out of the net, though I be almost insnared, almost entangled, he will snatch me out of the fire, deliver me from the temptation.
The other great effect of his guiding us with his eye, is, that it unites us to himself; when he fixes his eye upon us, and accepts the return of ours to him, then he keeps us as the apple of his eye", Quasi pupillam filiam oculi, (as St. Hierome reads it) As the daughter, the issue, the offspring of his own eye. For then, He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye". And these are the two great effects of his guiding us by his eye, that first, his eye turns us to himself, and then turns us into himself; first, his eye turns ours to him, and then, that makes us all one with himself, so, as that our afflictions shall bo put upon his patience, and our dishonours shall be injurious to him; we cannot be safer than by being his; but thus, we are not only his, but he; to every persecutor, in everyone of our behalf, he shall say, Cur me? Why persecutest thou me? And as he is all power, and can defend us, so here he makes himself all eye, which is tho most tender part, and most sensible of our pressures.
So have you then this instruction perfected unto you. First, De credendis, facit te intelligere, God will make you understand, you, for he will work upon your natural faculties supernaturally, and by them, convey faith. And then, de agendis, docebo in via, he will teach you which is the way, and what to do when you are in it. And after that de sperandis, firmabo oculos, he will guide you with his eye, watch, if in that way you stumble, and restore you. That you may constantly hope for; and when you have but thus much more, you have all, that there is in omni sperando, timendum; in every hope, there is something to bo feared. Hope makes us not ashamed", but yet hope, (as long as it is but hope) may make us afraid; though not with a suspicious fear, reflected upon God, yet with a solicitous fear, arising from.
and returning upon ourselves. There is a Hope of glory*1, and there is a Glory in hope"; but no such glory, as exterminates all fear: for we are bid To work out our salvation with fear and trembling"; it must be such a fear, as may still relate to my salvation; for fear that excludes mo from salvation, is a fearful fear; but yet a fear it must be; for as there is a promise of guiding by his eye, there is also a possibility of taking his eye from thee. God is not in this, like the sun, that makes no more haste over a dunghill, than over a garden; over Babylon, than over Jerusalem. The eye of God is not infected with thy blear eye; but yet he will not stay and look upon it. And when he takes his eye from thee, he sets his face against thee; The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil"'. And thus, Ab ejus visione, quem conspices, abes"; Thou art out of God's sight, when thou seest him only in his judgments. Nay, thou shalt not see him in them; / will hide my face from them, says God, (though it were an angry face, yet he would hide it) and I will see what their end will bei%. God shall look upon thy fearful end from the beginning, but thou thyself shalt not see the horror that appertains to it, till it be too late; for that is it, in which God does especially reproach that people, 0 that they were so wise, as to consider their latter end". To that purpose hath God continued his instruction to us, in this text, that we might know from him, what to believe, and what to do, and how to return to God, when we have gone astray, / will instruct thee, and teach thee, in the way which thou shalt go, and I will guide thee with mine eye.