PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS.
Psalm xxxii. 3, 4.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old, through my roaring all the Jay
long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my moisture is turned into
the drought of summer. Selah.
All ways of teaching, are rule and example : and though ordinarily the rule be first placed, yet the rule itself is made of examples: and when a rule would be of hard digestion to weak understandings, example concocts it, and makes it easy: for example in matter of doctrine, is as assimilation in matter of nourishment; the example makes that that is proposed for our learning and farther instruction, like something which we knew before, as assimilation makes that meat, which we have received, >/and digested, like those parts, which are in our bodies before, f David was the sweet singer of Israel; shall we say, God's precentor ? His son Solomon was the powerful preacher of Israel; shall we say, God's chaplain ? Both of them, excellent, abundantly, superabundantly excellent in both those ways of teaching ; poet, and preacher, proceed in these ways in both, rule, and example, the body and soul of instruction. So this Psalm is qualified in the title thereof, A Psalm of David giving instruction. ' And having given his instruction the first way, by rule, in the two former verses, that blessedness consisted in the remission of sins, but that this remission of sins was imparted to none, Cui dolus in spiritu, In whose spirit there was any deceit, he proceeds in this text, to the other fundamental, and constitutive element of instruction, example ; and by example he shows, how far they are from that blessedness, that consists in the remission of sins, that proceed with any deceit in their spirit. And that way of instruction, by example, shall be our first consideration ; and our second, That he proposes himself for the example, / kept silence, says he, and so my bones waxed old, &c. And then, in a third part, we shall see, how far this holy ingenuity goes, what he confesses of himself: and that third part will subdivide itself, and flow out into many branches. First, That it was he himself that was In doloso spiritu, In whose spirit there was deceit, Quia tacuit, Because he held his tongue, because he disguised his sins, because he did not confess them. And yet, in the midst of this silence of his, God brought him ad rugitum, to voices of roaring, of exclamation, to a sense of pain, and a sense of shame; so far he had a voice, but still he was in silence, for any matter of repentance. Secondly, he confesses the effect of this his silence, and this his roaring, Inveteraverunt ossa, My bones waxed old, and, my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. And then thirdly, he confesses the reason from whence this inveteration in his bones, and this incineration in his body proceeded, Quia aggravata mantts, because the hand of God lay heavy upon him, heavy in the present weight, and heavy in the long continuation thereof, day and night. And lastly, all this he seals with that selah, which you find at the end of the verse, which is a
kind of affidavit, of earnest asseveration, and re-affirming the same thing, a kind of amen, and ratification to that which was said; selah, truly, verily, thus it was with me, when I kept silence, and deceitfully smothered my sins, the hand of God lay heavy upon me, and as truly, as verily it will be no better with any man, that suffers himself to continue in that case.
First then, for the assistance, and the power, that example hath in instruction, we see Christ's method, Quid ab initio, How was it from the beginning; do as hath been done before. We see God's method to Moses, for the Tabernacle, Look that thou make everything, after thy pattern, which was showed thee in the Mount1; and for the creation itself, we know God's method too; for though there were no world, that was elder brother to this world before, yet God in his own mind and purpose had produced, and lodged certain ideas, and forms, and patterns of every piece of this world, and made them according to those preconceived forms, and ideas. When we consider the ways of instruction, as they are best pursued in the Scriptures, so are there no books in the world, that do so abound with this comparative and exemplary way of teaching, as the Scriptures do; no books, in which that word of reference to other things, that sicut is so often repeated, do this, and do that, sicut, so, as you see such and such things in nature do; and sicut, so as you find such and such men, in story, to have done. So David deals with G6d himself, he proposes him an example; I ask no more favour at thy hands, for thy church now, than thou hast afforded them heretofore, do but unto these men now, Sicut Midianitis, As unto the Midianites, Sicut Siserce, As unto Sisera, as unto Jabin*: make their nobles Sicut Oreb, Like Oreb and like Zeb, and all their princes /Sicut Zeba, As Zeba and as Zalmana. For these had been examples of God's justice : and to be made examples of God's anger, is the same thing, as to be a malediction, a curse. For, in that law of jealousy, that bitter potion which the suspected woman was to take, was accompanied with this imprecation, The Lord make thee a curse among the people*; so we read it; but St. Hierome, In exemplum, The Lord make thee an example among the people; that is, deal with thee so, as posterity may be afraid, when it shall be said of any of them, Lord deal with this woman so, as thou didst with that adulteress. And so the prayer of the people is upon Boaz, Ut sit in exemplum, (as St. Hierome also reads that place) The Lord make thee an example of virtue in Ephrata, and in Bethlem4; that is, that God's people might propose him to themselves, conform themselves to him, and walk as he did. As on the other side, the anger of God is threatened so, God shall make thee Exemplum et stuporem*, An example and a consternation; and Exemplum et derisum*, An example and a scorn ; that posterity, whensoever they should be threatened with God's judgments, they might presently return to such examples, and conclude, if our sins be to their example, our judgments will follow their example too, a judgment accompanied with a consternation, a consternation aggravated with a scorn, we shall be a prey to our enemies, an astonishment to ourselves, a contempt to all the world; we do according to their example, and according to their example we shall suffer, is not a conclusion of any Sorbonne, nor a decision of any llota, but the logic of the universal university, heaven itself. And so when the prophet would be excused from undertaking the office of a prophet, he says, Ail a. 1n exemplum meum ab adolescentia1, Adam hath been the example, that I have proposed to myself from my youth; as Adam did, so in the sweat of my brows, I also have eat my bread; I have kept cattle; I have followed a country life, and not made myself fit for the office and function of a prophet, Adam hath been my example from my youth. And when Solomon did not propose a man, he proposed something else for his example, an example he would have; he looked upon the ill husband's land, and he saw it overgrown, Et e.remplo didici disciplinam*, By that example I learnt to be wiser. Enter into the armoury, search the body and bowels of story, for an answer to the question in Job, Quisperiit, Whoever perished being innocent, or where were the righteous cut off* ? There is not one example; nowhere; never. Answer but that out of records, Quis restitit, Who hath hardened himself against the Lord, and prosperedTM? Or that
1 Exod. xxiv. 40. * Psal. Lxxxiii. 3. * Num. v. 26.
4 Ruth. iv. 11. * Ezek. v. 15. * Jer. xLviii. 39. 7 Zech. xiii. 5.
0 Pro. xxiv. 32. * Job iv. 7. 10 Job ix. 4.
VOL. II. 2 M
Quis contradicet, If he cut off, who can hinder him"9 There is no example; no man, by no means. So, if thou be tempted with over-valuing thine own purity, find an example to answer that, Quis mundum, Who can bring a clean thing out of uncleanness1*? Or that, Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from sin"? There is no example; no man ever did it; no man can say it. If thou be tempted to worship God in an image, be able to answer God something to that, To whom will ye liken God, or what likeness will ye compare unto him"? There can be no example, no pattern to make God by : for, that were to make God a copy, and the other, by which he were made, the original. If thou have a temptation to withdraw thyself from the discipline of that church, in which God hath given thee thy baptism, find an example, to satisfy thy conscience, and God's people, in what age, in what place, there was any such church instituted, or any such discipline practised, as thou hast fancied to thyself. Believe nothing for which thou hast not a rule; do nothing for which thou hast not an example; for there is not a more dangerous distemper in either belief or practice, than singularity; for there only may we justly call for miracles, if men will present to us, and bind us to tilings that were never believed, never done before. David therefore, in this Psalm, his Psalm of instruction, (as himself calls it) doth both ; he lays down the rule, he establishes it by example, and that was our first consideration, and we have done with that.
Our second is, That he goes not far for his example; he labours not to show his reading, but his feeling; not his learning, but his compunction; his conscience is his library, and his example is himself, and he does not unclasp great volumes, but unbutton his own breast, and from thence he takes it. Men that give rules of civil wisdom, and wise conversation amongst men, use to say, that a wise man must never speak much of himself; it will argue, say they, a narrow understanding, that he knows little besides his own actions, or else that he overvalues his own actions, if he bring them much into discourse. But' the wise men that seek Christ, (for there were such wise men in the world once)
"Jobxi. 10. "Jobxiv. 27.
13 Prov. xx. 9. " Isaiah xi. 18.
statesmen in the kingdom of heaven, they go upon other grounds, and, wheresoever they may find them, they seek such examples, as may conduce most to the glory of God: and when they make themselves examples, they do not rather choose themselves than others, but yet they do not spare, nor forbear themselves more than other men. David proposes his own example, to his own shame, but to God's glory. For David was one of those persons, Qui non potuit solus perire", He could not sin alone, his sin authorized sin in others: princes and prelates, are doctrinal men, in this sense and acceptation, that the subject makes the prince's life his doctrine; he learns his catechism by the eye, he does what he sees done, and frames to himself rules out of his superiors' example. Therefore, for their doctrine, David proposes truly his own example, and without disguising, tells that of himself, which no man else could have told. Christ who could do nothing but well, proposes himself for an example of humility, / have given you an example"; whom? what? That you should.do as I have done. So St. Paul instructs Titus, In all things show a pattern of good works17; but whom ? for Titus might have showed them many patterns; but show thyself a pattern, says the apostle; and not only of assiduous, and laborious preaching, but of good works. And this is that, for which he recommends Timothy to the church, He works the work of the Lord1*, and, not without a pattern, nor without that pattern, which St. Paul had given him in himself, He works so, as I also do. St. Paul, who had proposed Christ to himself to follow, might propose himself to others, and wish as he does, / would all men were even as myself. For, though that apostle, by denying it in his own practice, seem to condemn it in all others, to preach ourselves, (We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord ") yet to preach out of our own history, so far, as to declare to the congregation, to what manifold sins we had formerly abandoned ourselves, how powerfully the Lord was pleased to reclaim us, how vigilantly he hath vouchsafed to preserve us from relapsing, to preach ourselves thus, to call up the congregation, to hear what God hath done for my soul, is a blessed preaching of myself. And therefore Solomon
15 Bernard. " John iii. 15. 17 Titus ii. 7.
10 1 Cor. xvi. 10. " 2 Cor. iv. 5.
does not speak of himself so much, nor so much propose and exhibit himself to the church, in any book, as in that which he calls the Preacher, Ecclesiastes: in that book, he hides none of his own sins; none of those practices, which he had formerly used to hide his sins : he confesses things there, which none knew but himself, nor durst, nor should have published them of him, the king, if they had known them. So Solomon preaches himself to good purpose, and pours out his own soul in that book. Which is one of the reasons which our interpreters assign*0, why Solomon calls himself by this name, ecclesiastes, coheleth, which is a word of the feminine gender, and not concionator, but conclonatrix, a she-preacher, because it is anima concionatrix, it is his soul that preaches, he pours out his own soul to the congregation, in letting them know, how long the Lord let him run ou in vanities, and vexation of spirit, and how powerfully and effectually he reclaimed him at last: for, from this book, the preacher, the she-preacher, the soul-preacher, Solomon preaching himself, rather herself, the church raises convenient arguments (and the best that are raised) for the proof of the salvation of Solomon, of which divers doubted. And though Solomon in this book speaks divers things, not as his own opinion, but in the sense ol worldly men, yet, as we have a note upon Plato's Dialogues, that though he do so too, yet whatsoever Plato says in the name and person of Socrates, that Plato always means for his own opinion, so whatsoever Solomon says in the name of the preacher, (the preacher says this, or says that) that is evermore Solomon's own saying. When the preacher preaches himself, his own sins, and his own sense of God's mercies, or judgments upon him, as that is intended most for the glory of God, so it should be applied most by the hearer, for his own edification ; for, he were a very ill-natured man, that should think the worse of a preacher, because he confesses himself to be worse than he knew him to be, before he confessed it. Therefore David thought it not enough, to have said to his confessor, to Nathan, in private, Peccavi, I have sinned; but here, before the face of the whole church of God, even to the end of the world, (for so long these records are to last) he proposes himself, for an exemplary sinner, for a sinful
*Lorin. Proleg. C. 6.
example, and for a subject of God's indignation, whilst he remained so, When I kept silence, and yet roared, thy hand lay heavy upon me, and my moisture was turned into the drought of summer. And so we are come to our third part, He teaches by example; he proposes himself for the example; and of himself he confesses those particulars, which constitute our text.
Three things he confesses in this example. First, that it was he himself that was in doloso spiritu, that had deceit in his spirit, Quia tacuit, Because he held his tongue, he disguised his sins, he did not confess them; and yet, in the midst of this silence of his, God brought him Ad ruaitum, To voices of roaring, of exclamation, to a sense of pain, or shame, or loss; so far he ha.d a voice; but still he was in silence, for any matter of repentance. Secondly, he confesses a lamentable effect of this silence, and this roaring, Inveteraverunt ossa, His bones were consumed, waxen old, and his moisture dried up; and then he takes knowledge of the cause of all this calamity, the weight of God's heavy hand upon him. And to this confession he sets to that seal, which is intended in the last word, selah.
First then, David confesses his silence; therefore it was a fault: and he confesses it, as an instance, as an example of his being In doloso spiritu, That there was deceit in his spirit; as long as he was silent, he thought to delude God, to deceive God; and this was the greatest fault. If I be afraid of God's power, because I consider that he can destroy a sinner, yet I have his will for my buckler; I remember, that he would not the death of a sinner. If I be afraid that his will may be otherwise bent, (for what can I tell, whether it may not be his will to glorify himself in surprising me in my sins ?) I have his word for my buckler, Miserationes ejus super omnia opera ejus, God docs nothing, but that his mercy is supereminent in that work, whatsoever ; but if I think to escape his knowledge, by hiding my sins from him, by my silence, I am in doloso spiritu, if I think to deceive God, I deceive myself, and there is no truth in me.
When we are to deal with fools, we must, or we must not answer, as they may receive profit, or inconvenience by our answer, or our silence. Answer not a fool, according to his foolishness, lest thou be like him: but yet, in the next verse, Anvvcer a
fool according to his foolishness, lest he be wise in his own conceit*1. But answer God always. Though he speak in the foolishness of preaching, as himself calls it, yet he speaks wisdom, that is, peace to thy soul. We are sure that there is a good silence; for we have a rule for it from Christ, whose actions are more than examples, for his actions are rules. His patience wrought so that he would not speak, his afflictions wrought so that he could not. He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and he was dumbTM; There he would not speak; My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaim, and thou hast brought me into the dust of death", says David in the person of Christ, and here he could not speak.
Here is a good silence in our rule: so is there also in examples derived from that rule. There is Silentium reverentiae, A silence of reverence, for respect of the presence ; The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the world keep silence before him". When the Lord is working in his temple, in his ordinances, and institutions, let not the wisdom of all the world dispute why God instituted those ordinances, the foolishness of preaching, or the simplicity of sacraments in his church. Let not the wisdom of private men dispute, why those whom God hath accepted as the representation of the church, those of whom Christ says, Die ecclesice, Tell the church, have ordained these, or these ceremonies for decency, and uniformity, and advancing of God's glory, and men's devotion in the church; let all the earth be silent, In sacramentis, The whole church may change no sacraments, nor articles of faith, and let particular men be silent in sacramentalibus, in those things which the church hath ordained, for the better conveying, and imprinting, and advancing of those fundamental mysteries; for this silence of reverence which is an acquiescence in those things which God hath ordained, immediately, as sacraments, or ministerially, as other ritual things in the church, David would not have complained of, nor repented.
And to this may well be referred silentium subjectionis, that silence which is a recognition, a testimony of subjection. Let the women keep silence in the church, for they ought to be subject";
91 Prov. xxvi. 4, 5. M Isaiah Liii. 7- ffl Psalm xxii. 15.
" Hab. ii. ult. « 1 Cor. xiv. 34.
and, Let the women learn in silence, with all subjection". As far as any just commandment, either expressly, or tacitly reaches, in enjoyning silence, we are bound to be silent: in moral seals of secrets, not to discover those things which others upon confidence, or for our counsel, have trusted us withal; in charitable seals, not to discover those sins of others, which are come to our particular knowledge, but not by a judicial way; in religious seals, not to discover those things which are delivered us in confession, except in cases excepted in that canon; in secrets delivered under these seals, of nature, of law, of ecclesiastical canons, we are bound to be silent, for this is silentium subjectionis, an evidence of our subjection to superiors. But since God hath made man with that distinctive property, that he can speak, and no other creature; since God made the first man able to speak, as soon as he was in the world; since in the order of the Nazarites instituted in the Old Testament, though they forbore wine, and outward care of their comeliness, in cutting their hair, and otherwise, yet they bound not themselves to any silence; since in the other sects, which grew up amongst the Jews, Pharisees, and Sadducees, and Essenes, amongst all their superfluous, and superstitious austerities, there was no inhibition of speaking, and communication ; since in the twilight between the Old and New Testament, that dumbness which was cast upon Zachariah", was inflicted for a punishment upon him, because he believed not that, that the angel had said unto him, wo may be bold to say, That if not that silence, which is enjoined in the Roman church, yet that silence which is practised amongst them, for the concealing of treasons, and those silences which are imposed upon some of their orders, that the Carthusians may never speak but upon Thursdays, others upon other times, they are not silentia subjectionis, silences imposed upon any just authority, but they are in doloso spiritit, there is deceit in their spirit; if not. in every one of them, who execute the commandment, not in every poor Carthusian, yet in them who imposed it, who by such an obedience in impertinent things, infatuate them, and accustom them to a blind and implicit obedience in matters of more dangerous consequence. Silence of reverence, silence of subjection meet in this, and in
" 1 Tim. ii. 11. *7 Luke i. 20.
this they determine, that we hold our tongues from questioning anything ordained by God, and from defaming anything done by that power, which is establised by his ordinance. And this silence falls not under David's complaint, nor confession.
We have not long to stay upon this silence, which we call the good silence, because it is not the silence of our text; this only we say, That there is a silence which is absolutely good, always good, and there is another occasionally good, sometimes good, and sometimes not so ; and that is silentium boni, or a bono, an abstinence from speaking, or from doing some things, which of themselves, if no circumstance changed their nature, were good and requisite. Silentium bonum, that silence that is absolutely, and always good, is a quiet contentment in all that God sends, N~e, unde debueras esse dives, fias pauper**, Lest when God meant to make thee rich, and have indeed made thee rich, thou make thyself poor, by thinking thyself poor, and misinterpreting God's doing: that thou have not Prcecordla fatui, as the same father speaks, The bowels of an empty man, whining, and crying bowels; Sieut rota currus, fcenum portans et murmurans, As a cart that hath a full and plentiful load, and squeaks and whines the more for that abundance. Neither murmur that thou hast minus de bonis, not goods enough, nor nimis de malts, afflictions too many, but reckon how much more good God hath showed thee, then thou hast deserved, and how much less ill. Sit alone' and keep silence, because thou hast borne it", because the Lord hath laid affliction upon thee ; thine ease is within two verses, For the Lord will not forsake thee for everTM. If thou murmur, and say, Quid feci, Lord what have I done to thee, that thou shouldst deal thus with me I thou shalt hear the justice of God answer thee, Verum dicis, nihil fecisti, Thou hast done nothing, and that is fault enough ; nothing for me, nothing for my sake, but all for respect of thyself, in thine own ways, and to thine own ends.
The other good silence is not always good, but occasionally, and circumstantially so ; It is a forbearing to speak truth, which may be good then, when our speaking of truth can do no good,
I0 Bernard. '* Lament, iii. 28. Augustine.
and may do harm. / will keep my mouth bridled whilst the wicked is in my sight; I was dumb, and spake nothing, I kept silence even from good, and my sorrow was more stirred.*1 Though it were a vexation to him, though he had a sense, and a remorse, that this was some degree of prevarication, to abandon the defence of God's honour at any time, yet his religious discretion made it appear to him, that this present abstinence would, in the end, conduce more to God's glory. It was the wise man's rule, Kindle not the coals of sinners, when thou rebukest them, lest thou beest burned in the fiery flames of their shtss%. Poison works apace upon choleric complexions; and physicians may catch the plague by going about to cure it. An over-vehement, and unseasonable reprehender of a sin may contract that, or a greater sin himself. I may reprehend a blasphemer, in such a manner, and at such a time, as I could not choose but suspect, that he would multiply blasphemies upon my reprehension; and, though that take off none of his fault, yet it adds to mine, and now God hath two in the bond ; he shall answer, and I too, for these later blasphemies. The wise man gave us the rule, Kindle not coals, and a good king gave us the example, when Rabshakeh had blasphemed against God and the king; Let not Hezekiah deceive you, saying, The Lord will deliver us, then they kept silence, and answered him not a word, says that text; for, (as it is added) The king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not a word. There is a religious abstinence, in not answering our adversaries, though their libels, and increpations, and contumelies tend to the dishonour of God. St. Ambrose observed good degrees in this discretion. He notes in David, that Siluit a bonis, Though it troubled him, he could hold his peace, when his reply might exasperate others: he notes in Job, (as he reads that place, according to the Septuagint) Ecce, rideo opprobium, Behold, I laugh at their reproaches**; that he could take pleasure in the goodness of his conscience, for all their calumnies. He notes in St. Paul a higher degree than that; Maledicimur, et benedicimus", That he when he was reviled could bless them that reviled him. Religious discretion allows us to disguise our anger, and smother our sorrow, when either our
" Psal. xxxix. 2. ** Ecclus. viii. 10. " Job six. ^.
04 1 Cor. iv. 12.
anger would exasperate, or our sorrow encourage the adversary, to a more vehement opposing of God, and his church, and his children. But all this is rather true, in private persons, than in those whom God hath sent to do his messages to his people. When I shall say to the wicked, (says God to the prophet) Thou shalt surely die, and thou, the prophet, ghost him not warning, nor speakest to admonish that he may live, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thy hands". And, if every single sinful act, and word, and thought of mine, need the whole blood of Christ Jesus to expiate that, what blood, and what seas of that blood shall I need, when the blood of a whole parish shall be required at my hand, because I forbore to speak plainly of their sins, and God's judgment ? It is true, which St. Bernard says, Discretio mater, et consummatrix virtutum, Discretion is the mother, and discretion is the nurse of every virtue, but yet, in this commandment which is laid upon us, for the reproof of sin, Hcec omnis sit nostra discretio, says he, ut in hoc nulla sit nobis discretio; Let this be all our discretion, as discretion is wisdom, that we use no discretion, as discretion is acceptation of persons. Hcec omnis sapientia, ut in hac parte nulla nobis sit, Let this be all our wisdom, to proceed in this way, this foolishness of preaching, in season, and out of season. In God's name, let us fall within that danger, if we must needs, that if the poor man speak, they say, What fellow is this" ? We are fellows in this service, to God's angels, to the Son of God Christ Jesus, who is your High Priest, and we fellow-workmen with him, in your salvation : and, as long as we can escape that imputation, some man holdeth his tongue, because he hath not to answer17, that either we know not what to say to a doubtful conscience, for our ignorance, or are afraid to reprehend a sin, because we are guilty of that sin ourselves; how far states, and commonwealths may be silent in connivancies, and forbearances, is not our business now; but for us, the ministers of God, vce nobis, si non evangelieemlis, woe be unto us, if we do not preach the Gospel, and we have no Gospel put into our hands, nor into our mouths, but a conditional Gospel, and therefore we do not preach the Gospel, except we
" Ezek. iii. 18. " Ecclus. xiii. 23. " Ecclus. xx. 6.
preach the judgments belonging to the breach of those conditions: a silence in that, in us, would fall under this complaint, and confession, Because I was silent, these calamities fell upon me.
It becomes not us to think the worst of David, that he was fallen into the deepest degree of this silence, and negligence of his duty to God: but it becomes us well to consider, that if David, a man according to God's heart, had some degrees of this ill silence, it is easy for us to have many. For, for the first degree, we have it, and scarce discern that we have it: for our first silence is but an omission, a not doing of our religious duties, or an unthankfulness for God's particular benefits. When Moses says to his people, The Lord shall fight for you, et vos tacebitis, and you shall hold your peace", there Moses means, you shall not need to speak, the Lord will do it for his own glory, you may be silent. There it was a future thing; but the Lord hath fought many battles for us: he hath fought for our church against superstition, for our land against invasion, for this city against infection, for every soul here against presumption, or else against desperation, Dominus pugmavit, et nos silemus; the Lord hath fought for us, and we never thank him. A silence before, a not praying, hath not always a fault in it, because we are often ignorant of our own necessities, and ignorant of the dangers that hang over us; but a silence after a benefit evidently received, a dumb ingratitude is inexcusable.
There is another ill silence, and an unnatural one, for it is a loud silence; it is a bragging of our good works ; it is the Pharisee's silence, when by boasting of his fastings, and of his alms, he forgot, he silenced his sins. This is the devil's best merchant: by this man, the devil gets all; for his ill deeds were his before; and now, by this boasting of them, his good works become his too. To contract this, if we have overcome this inconsideration, if we have undertaken some examination of our conscience, yet one survey is not enough; Delicta quis intelligit**? Who can understand his error? How many circumstances in sin vary the very nature of the sin ? and then, of how many coats, and shells, and super-edifications doth that sin, which we think a single sin, consist ? When we have passed many scrutinies, many inquisitions of the conscience, yet there is never room for a silence; we can never get beyond the necessity of that petition,,.4i occultis, Lord cleanse me from my secret sins; we shall ever be guilty of sins, which we shall forget, not only because they are so little, but because they are so great; that which should be compmtctton, will be consternation; and the anguish, which, out of a natural tenderness of conscience, we shall have at the first entering into those sins, will make us dispute on the sin's side, and, for some present ease, and to give our heavy soul breath, we will find excuses for them; and at last slide and wear into a customary practice of them : and though we cannot be ignorant that we do them, yet we shall be ignorant that they are sins; but rather make them things indifferent, or recreations necessary to maintain a cheerfulness, and so to sin on, for fear of despairing in our sins, and we shall never be able to shut our mouths against that petition, ab occultis; for, though the sin be manifest, the various circumstances that aggravate the sin, will be secret.
*0 Kxod. xiv. 14. " Psal . xix. 12.
And properly this was David's silence: he confesses his silence to have been Ex doloso spiritu, Out of a spirit, in which was deceit; and David did not hope, directly, and determinately to deceive God; but by endeavouring to hide his sin from other men, and from his own conscience, he buried it deeper and deeper, but still under more and more sins. He silences his adultery, but he smothers it, ho buries it under a turf of hypocrisy, of dissimulation with Uriah, that he might have gone home, and covered his sin. He silences this hypocrisy; but that must have a larger turf to cover it; he buries it under the whole body of Uriah, treacherously murdered; he silences that murder, but no turf was large enough to cover that, but the defeat of the whole army, and after all, the blaspheming of the name and power of the Lord of hosts, in the ruin of the army. That sin, which, if he would have carried it upward towards God, in confession, would have vanished away, and evaporated, by silencing, by suppressing, by burying multiplied, as corn buried in the earth, multiplies into many ears. And, though he might (perchance for his farther punishment) overcome the remembrance of the first sin, he might have forgot the adultery, and feel no pain of that, yet still being put to a new, and new sin, still the last sin that he did to cover the rest, could not choose but appear to his conscience, and call upon him for another sin to cover that; howsoever he might forget last year's sins, yet yesterday's sin, or last night's sin will hardly be forgotten yet. And therefore, Tollite vobiscum verba, says the prophet, 0 Israel return unto the Lord; but how I Take unto you words, and turn unto the Lord". Take unto you your words, words of confession ; take unto you his word, the words of his gracious promises; break your silence when God breaks his, in the motions of his Spirit, and God shall break off his purpose of inflicting calamities upon you.
In the mean time, when David was not come so far, but continued silent, silent from confession, God suffers not David to enjoy the benefit of his silence ; though he continue his silence towards God, yet God mingles rugitum cum silentio, for all his silence, he comes to a voice of roaring and howling, when I was silent, my roaring consumed me ; so that here was a great noise, but no music. Now Theodoret calls this Rugitum compunctionis; That it was the indication of his repentance, which began diffidently, and with fearful vociferations; and so some of our later men understand it" ; that because David had continued long in his sin, when the ice brake, it brake with the greater noise ; when he returned to speak to God, he spake with the more vehemence. And truly the word shaag, rugiit, though it signify properly the voice of a lion, yet David uses this word roaring, not only of himself, but of himself as he was a type of Christ: for this very word is in the beginning of that Psalm, which Christ repeated upon the cross, or, at least begun it, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me, and why art thou so far from the voice of my roaring**? So that, roaring, may admit a good sense, and does not always imply a distemper, and inordinateness; for, in Christ it could not; but does it not in our text ? In our former translation it might stand in a good sense, where the two actions are distinguished in time, thus, When I held my tongue, or, when / roared, whether I kept or broke silence, all was one, no more ease in one, than the other. But with the original translation, it cannot be so, which is, When I held my tongue, through my
40 Hos. xiv. 2. " Bellarmine. ** Psal. xxii. 1.
roaring, this and this fell upon me: they were concomitant actions, actions intermixed, and at the same time when he was silent, he roared too; and therefore that that he calls roaring, is not a voice of repentance, for if he had been come to that, then he had broken his former silence, for that silence was a not confessing, a not repenting.
This is then that miserable condition which is expressed in David's case, (though God delivered David from any deadly eflect of it) that ho had occasion of roaring, of howling, (as the Scripture speaks often) though he kept silence: that he was at never the more ease, for all his sins: the eases that he laid hold on, were new sins in themselves, and yet they did not ease him of his other sins: he kept silence, and yet was put to exclamations. And how many examples can we present to ourselves, in our own memory, where persons which have given themselves all liberty to forge writings, to suborn witnesses, to forswear themselves, to oppressr to murder others, to make their ways easier to their ends, and yet have, for all this, though the hand of justice have not fallen upon them, seen their whole estates consume and moulder away ? When men out of their ill-grounded plots, and perverse wisdom, think themselves safe in the silence and secrecy of their sins, God overtakes them, and confounds them, with those two fearful blows, those two thunderbolts, he brings them to exclamations, to vociferations, upon fortune, upon friends, upon servants, upon rivals, and competitors, he brings them to a roaring for their ruin, Never man was thus dealt withal as I am, never such a conspiracy as against me.
And this they do, all day, says David here, Through my roaring all day. It was long so with David ; a day as long as two of their days, that have days of six months; almost a year was David in this dark, dead silence, before he saw day, or returned to speaking. With those that continue their silence all day, the roaring continues all day too ; all their lives, they have new occasions of lamentations, and yet all this reduces them not, but they are benighted, they end their life with fearful voices of desperation, in a roaring, but still in a silence of their sins, and transgressions. And this is that that falls first under his confession, roaring with silence, pain, and shame, and loss, but all without confession, or sense of sin. And then, that which falls next under his acknowledgment, is the vehement working, the lamentable effect of this silence and roaring, inveteration of bones, incineration of his whole substance, My bones are waxen old, and my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.
Both these phrases, in which David expresses his own, and prophesies of other such sinner's misery, have a literal, and a spiritual, a natural, and a moral sense. For first, this affliction of this silenced and impenitent sinner though it proceed not from the sense of his sin, though it brought him not yet to a confession, but to a roaring, that is, an impatient repining and murmuring, yet it had so wrought upon his body, and whole constitution, as that it drunk up his natural, and vital moisture; Spiritus tristis exsiccarat", as Solomon speaks, A broken spirit had dried him up ; His days were consumed like smoke, and his bones were burnt like a hearth"; and that marrow and fatness, in which, he says, he had such satisfaction, at other times, was exhausted"'. This is the misery of this impenitent sinner, he is beggared, but in the devil's service, he is lamed, but in the devil's wars; his moisture, his blood is dried up, but with licentiousness, with his overwatchings, either to deceive, or to oppress others ; for, as the proverb is true, Plures gula quam gladius, The throat cuts more throats than the sword does, and eating starves more men than fasting does, because wastefulness induces penury at last, so if all our hospitals were well surveyed, it would be found, that the devil sends more to hospitals than God does, and the stews more than the wars.
Thus his bodily moisture was wasted, literally the sinner is sooner infirmed, sooner deformed, than another man ; but there is an humidum radicals of the soul too : a tenderness, and a disposition to bewail his sins, with remorseful tears. When Peter had denied his master, and heard the cock crow, he did not stay to make recantations, he did not stay to satisfy them, to whom he had denied Christ, but he looked into himself first, Flevit amare, says the Holy Ghost, He wept bitterly; his soul was not withered, his moisture was not dried up like summer, as long as
" Prov. xvii. 22. " Psal. cii. 3. " Psal. i.xiii. 9.
he could weep. The learned poet" hath given some character, some expression of the desperate and irremediable state of the reprobate, when he calls Plutonem illacrymabilem; There is the mark of his incorrigibleness, and so of his irrecoverableness, that he cannot weep. A sinful man, an obdurate man, a stony heart may weep: marble, and the hardest sorts of stones weep most, they have the most moisture, the most drops upon them: but this comes not out of them, not from within them; extrinsical occasions, pain, and shame, and want, may bring a sinner to sorrow enough, but it is not a sorrow for his sins; all this while the miserable sinner weeps not, but the miserable man, all this while, though he have winter in his eyes, his soul is turned into the drought of summer. God destroyed the first world; and all flesh with water: tears for the want, or for the loss of friends, or of temporal blessings, do but destroy us. But God begun the new world, the Christian church, with water too, with the sacrament of baptism. Pursue his example ; begin thy regeneration with tears; if thou have frozen eyes, thou hast a frozen heart too; if the fires of the Holy Ghost cannot thaw thee, in his promises, the fire of hell will do it much less, which is a fire of obduration, not of liquefaction, and does not melt a soul, to pour it out into a new and better form, but hardens it, nails it, confirms it in the old. Christ bids you Take heed, that your fight be not in winter"; that your transmigration out of this world be not in cold days of indevotion, nor in short days of a late repentance. Take heed too, that your flight be not in such a summer as this; that your transmigration out of this world be not in such a drought of summer, as David speaks of here, That the soul have lost her humidum radicale, all her tenderness, or all expressing of that tenderness in the sense of her transgressions. So did David see himself, so did he more foresee in others, that should farther incur God's displeasure, than he (by God's goodness) had done, this exsiccation, this incineration of body and soul; sin burns and turns body and soul to a cinder, but not such a cinder, but that they can, and shall both burn again, and again, and for ever. And the dangerous effect of this silence and roaring, David expresses in another phrase too, Imeteraverunt ossa, That his
" Horace. « Matt. xxiv. 20.
bones were waxen old, and consumed; for so that word balah signifies, Your clothes are not waxed old upon you, nor your shoes waxed old upon your feet". In the consuming of these bones, as our former translation hath it, the vehemence of the affliction is presented, and in the waxing old, the continuance. Here the rule fails, Si longa levis, si gravis brevis, Calamities that last long, are light, and if they be heavy, they are short; both ways there is some intimation of some ease. But God suffers not this sinner to enjoy that ease ; God will lay enough upon his body, to kill another in a week, and yet he shall pant many years under it. As the way of his blessing is, Apprehendet tritura vindemiam, Your vintage shall reach to your threshing, and your threshing to your sowing"; so in an impenitent sinner, his fever shall reach to a frenzy, his frenzy to a consumption, his consumption to a penury, and his penury to a wearying and tiring out of all that are about him, and all the sins of his youth shall meet in the anguish of his body.
But that is not all; Etiam animc e membra sunt, says St. Basil, The soul hath her bones too ; and those are our best actions ; those, which if they had been well done, might have been called good works, and might have met us in heaven; but when a man continues his beloved sin, when he is in doloso spiritu, and deals with God in false measures, and false weights, makes deceitful confessions to God, his good works shall do him no good, his bones are consumed, not able to bear him upright in the sight of God. This David sees in himself, and foresees in others, and he sees the true reason of all this, Quia aggravata manus, Because the hand of God lies heavy upon him, which is another branch of his confession.
It was the safety of the spouse, That his left hand was under her head, and that his right hand embraced her": and it might well be her safety; for, Per icevam vita pr&sens, per dextram aeterna designator, says St. Gregory, His left hand denotes this, and his right the other life : our happiness in this, our assurance of the next, consists in this, that we are in the hands of God. But hero in our text, God't hand was heavy upon him; and that is an
40 Dent. xxix. 5. a Levit. xxvi. w Cant. ii. 6.
VOL. II. 2 N
action of pushing away, and keeping down. And then when we see the great power, and the great indignation of God upon the Egyptians, is expressed but so, Digitus Dei, The finger of God is in it", How heavy an affliction must this of David be esteemed, 1juii1ulo aggravate, manus, when his whole hand was, and was heavy upon him: Here then is one lesson for all men, and another peculiar to the children of God. This appertains to all, That when they are in silentio, in a scared and stupid forgetting of their sins, or in doloso spiritu, in half confessions, half abjurations, half detestations of their sins ; the hand of God will grow heavy upon them. Tell your children of it (says the prophet) and let your children tell their children, and let their children tell another generation, (for this belongs to all) That which is left of the palmer-worm, the grasshopper shall eat, and that that he lea-ves, the canker-worm shall eat, and the residue of the canker-worm, the caterpillar- The hand of God shall grow heavy upon a silent sinner, in his body, in his health; and if he conceive a comfort, that for all his sickness, he is rich, and therefore cannot fail of help and attendance, there comes another worm, and devours that, faithlessness in persons trusted by him, oppressions in persons that have trusted him, facility in undertaking for others, corrupt judges, heavy adversaries, tempests and pirates at sea, unseasonable or ill markets at land, costly and expensive ambitions at court, one worm or other shall devour his riches, that he eased himself upon. If he take up another comfort, that though health and wealth decay, though he be poor and weak, yet he hath learning, and philosophy, and moral constancy, and he can content himself with himself, he can make his study a court, and a few books shall supply to him the society and the conversation of many friends, there is another worm to devour this too, the hand of divine justice shall grow heavy upon him, in a sense of an unprofitable retiredness, in a disconsolate melancholy, and at last, in a stupidity, tending to desperation.
This belongs to all, to all non-confitents, that think not of confessing their sins at all, to all semi-confitents, that confess them to halves, without purpose of amendment, Aggravabitur manus, The hand of God will grow heavy upon them every way, and stop every issue, every postern, every sally, every means of escape. But that which is peculiar to the children of God, is, that when the hand of God is upon them, they shall know it to be the hand of God, and take hold even of that oppressing hand, and not let it go, till they have received & blessing from it, that is, raised themselves even by that heavy and oppressing hand of his, even in that affliction. That when God shall Jill their faces with shame, yet they shall seek his faceTM; yea, when God shall kill him, yet he will trust in God, and seek him**; and (as the prophet carries it farther) Cum ingreditur putredo, when rottenness enters into their bones, yet they shall rest even in that day of trouble**, of dissolution, of putrefaction. God shall call upon them, as he did upon Judah, Tritura mea, et films arece, 0 my threshing-place, and the son of my floor**, thou whom I have beaten and bruised with my flails, when I have threshed, and winnowed, and sifted thee by these afflictions, and by this heavy hand, still thou shalt fix thy faithful eyes in heaven, and see a room reserved there for thee, amongst those, which come out of great tribulations, and have made their long robes white in the blood of the Lamb; who shall therefore dwell in the midst of them, and govern them, and lead them to the lively fountains of waters, and wipe away all tears from their eyes". Even upon his own children, his hand shall grow heavy, but that heaviness, that weight shall awake them, and that hand shall guide them, to, and in the ways of peace and reconciliation.
51 Exod. viii. 19.
And this both day and night, as our text says, that is, both in the day of their prosperity, and the night of their adversity. Even in prosperity, the child of God shall feel the hand of God grow heavy upon him : he shall find a guiltiness of not having employed those temporal benefits to their right use ; he shall find the pluit laqueos", a shower of snares to have been poured down upon him; occasions of sin; occasions of falling into sins himself; occasions of drawing others, and of buying those souls with his money, which Christ Jesus had a preemption of, and had bought them before with his blood : he shall find the hand of God in adversity, and love it, because it shall deliver him; he shall
M Psahrur.xxxiii. M Psalm Lxxvii. 5* Habak. iii. 16.
" Isaiah xxi. 10. M Rev. jdv. 17. " Psalm xi. 6.
find his hand in prosperity, and be afraid of it, because that prosperity hath before, and may again lead him into temptations.
To end all; all this, the Holy Ghost, by the pen of David, seals with the last word of this text, selah. A word of uncertain sense, and signification; for the Jews themselves do not know exactly, and certainly what it signifies; but deriving this selah, from selal, which signifies Attollere, To lift up, they think it to be but a musical note, for the raising of the voice, at that part of the Psalm, where that word is used ; as, indeed the word is never used in the Bible, but in the Psalms, and twice in one chapter, in the prophet Habakkuk5*, which is a musical, a metrical chapter. In the Latin translation, and in the Arabic translation of the Psalms it is clean left out, because they were not sure how to translate it aright. But, to speak upon the best grounds in the grammar of that language, and upon best authority too, the word signifies a vehement, a pathetical, a hyperbolical asseveration, and attestation, and ratification of something said before. Such, in a proportion, as our Saviour's Amen, Amen is, Verily, verily I say unto you; such, as St. Paul's fidelis sermo, with which he seals so many truths, is, This is a faithful saying; such, as that apostle's Coram Domino is, with which he ratifies many things, Before the Lord I speak it; and such, as Moses' Vivo ego, and Vivit Dominus, As I live saith the Lord, and As the Lordliveth. And therefore, though God be in all his words, yea, and amen, no word of his can perish in itself, nor should perish in us, that is, pass without observation, yet, in setting this seal of selah to this doctrine, he hath testified his will that he would have all these things the better understood, and the deeplier imprinted, that if a man conceal and smother his sins, selah, assuredly, God will open that man's mouth, and it shall not show forth his praise, but God will bring him, ad rugitum, to fearful exclamations out of the sense of the affliction, if not of the sin; selah, assuredly, God will shiver his bones, shake his best actions, and discover their impurity; selah, assuredly, God will suffer to be dried up all his moisture, all possibility of repentant tears, and all interest in the blood of Christ Jesus; selah, assuredly, God's hand shall be heavy upon
50 Hab. iii. 3 & 9.
him, and he shall not discern it to be his hand, but shall attribute all to false causes, and so place all his comfort in false remedies; he shall leave out God all day, and God shall leave out him all night, all his everlasting night, in which he shall never see day more. Selah, Assuredly, verily, amen, Fidelis sermo, This is a faithful, an infallible truth, Coram Domino, Before the Lord, Vivit Domintts, As the Lord liveth, as Moses, as Christ, as St. Paul testify their, David testifies his doctrine, all between God and man is conditional, and where man will not be bound, God will not be bound neither; if man invest a habit and purpose of sinning, God will study a judgment against that man, and do that, even in Israel, which shall make all our ears to tingle", and all our hearts to ache; till that man repent, God will not, and when he does, God will repent too; for, though God be not man, that he can repent, yet that God, who for man's sake became man, for our sakes, and his own glory, will so far become man again, as upon man's true repentance, to repent the judgments intended against that man.