375 SERMON XLVIII.
PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS,
Psalm vi. 1.
0 Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot
God imputes but one thing to David, but one sin ; The matter of Uriah the Hittite: nor that neither, but by way of exception, not till he had first established an assurance, that David stood well with him. First he had said, David did that 'which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from anything, that he had commanded him all the days of his life1: here was rectitude, He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord; no obliquity, no departing into by-ways, upon collateral respects; here was integrity to God's service, no serving of God and mammon, He turned not from anything that God commanded him; and here was perpetuity, perseverance, constancy, all the days of his life: and then, and not till then, God makes that one, and but that one exception, Except ihe matter of Uriah the Hittite. When God was reconciled to him, he would not so much as name that sin, that had offended him.
And herein is the mercy of God, in the merits of Christ, a sea of mercy, that as the sea retains no impression of the ships that pass it, (for navies make no path in the sea) so when we put out into the boundless sea of the blood of Christ Jesus, by which only we have reconciliation to God, there remains no record against us; for God hath cancelled that record which he kept, and that which Satan kept God hath nailed to the cross of his Son. That man which hath seen me at the scaling of my pardon, and the seal of my reconciliation, at the sacrament, many times since, will yet in his passion, or in his ill nature, or in his uncharitableness, object to me the sins of my youth; whereas God himself, if I have repented to-day, knows not the sins that I
1 1 Kings xv. 6.
did yesterday. God hath rased the record of my sin, in heaven ; it offends not him, it grieves not his saints nor angels there ; and he hath rased the record in hell; it advances not their interest in me there, nor their triumph over me. And yet here, the uncharitable man will know more, and see more, and remember more, than my God, or his devil, remembers, or knows, or sees: he will see a path in the sea; he will see my sin, when it is drowned in the blood of my Saviour. After the king's pardon, perchance it will bear an action, to call a man by that infamous name, which that crime, which is pardoned, did justly cast upon him before the pardon: after God's reconciliation to David, he would not name David's sin in the particular.
But yet for all this, though God will be no example, of upbraiding or reproaching repented sins, when God hath so far expressed his love, as to bring that sinner to that repentance, and so to mercy, yet, that he may perfect his own care, he exercises that repentant sinner with such medicinal corrections, as may enable him to stand upright for the future. And to that purpose, was no man ever more exercised than David. David broke into another's family; he built upon another's ground; he planted in another's seminary; and God broke into his family, his ground, his seminary. In no story, can we find so much domestic affliction, such rapes, and incests, and murders, and rebellions, from their own children, as in David's story. Under the heavy weight and oppression of some of those, is David, by all expositors, conceived to have conceived, and uttered this Psalm. Some take it to have been occasioned by some of his temporal afflictions; either his persecution from Saul, or bodily sickness in himself, of which traditionally the rabbins speak much, or Absalom's unnatural rebellion. Some others, with whom we find more reason to join, find more reason to interpret it of a spiritual affliction; that David, in the apprehension, and under the sense of the wrath and indignation of God, came to this vehement exclamation, or deprecation, 0 Lord rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
In which words we shall consider, first the person, upon whom David turned for his succour, and then what succour he seeks at his hands. First his word, and then his end ; first to whom, and then for what he supplicates. And in the first of these, the person, we shall make these three steps; first that he makes his first access to God only, 0 Lord rebuke me not; do not thou, and though I will not say, I care not, yet I care the less who do. And secondly, that it is to God by name, not to any universal God, in general notions; so natural men come to God; but to God whom he considers in a particular name, in particular notions, and attributes, and manifestations of himself; a God whom he knows, by his former works done upon him. And then, that name in which he comes to him here, is the name of Jehovah; his radical, his fundamental, his primary, his essential name, the name of Being, Jehovah. For, he that deliberately, and considerately believes himself to have his very being from God, believes certainly that he hath his well-being from him too; he that acknowledges, that it is by God's providence that he breathes, believes that it is by his providence that he eats too. So his access is to God, and to God by name, that is by particular considerations, and then, to God in the name of Jehovah, to that God that hath done all, from his first beginning, from his being. And in these three we shall determine our first part.
First, in this first branch of this part, David comes to God, but without any confidence in himself. Here is Reus ad rostra sine patrono, Here is the prisoner at the bar, and no counsel allowed him. He confesses indictments, faster than they can be read: if he hear himself indicted, that he looked upon Bathsheba, that he lusted after Bathsheba, he cries, Alas, I have done that, and more; dishonoured her, and myself, and our God ; and more than that, I have continued the act into a habit; and more than that, I have drowned that sin in blood, lest it should rise up to my sight; and more than all that, I have caused the name of God to be blasphemed; and lest his Majesty, and his greatness should be a terror to me, I have occasioned the enemy to undervalue him, and speak despitefully of God himself. And when he hath confessed all, all that he remembers, he must come to his Ab occultis meis, Lord cleanse me from my secret sins; for there are sins, which we have laboured so long to hide from the world, that at last, they are hidden from ourselves, from our own memories, our own consciences. As much as David stands in fear of this Judge, he must entreat this Judge, to remember his sins; remember them, O Lord, for else they will not fall into my pardon; but remember them in mercy, and not in anger; for so they will not fall into my pardon neither.
Whatsoever the affliction then was, temporal, or spiritual, (we take it rather to be spiritual) David's recourse is presently to God. He doth not, as his predecessor Saul did, when he was afflicted, send for one that was cunning upon the harp, to divert sorrow so*. If his subjects rebel, he doth not say, Let them alone, let them go on, I shall have the juster cause, by their rebellion, of confiscations upon their estates, of executions upon ' their persons, of revocations of their laws, and customs, and privileges, which they carry themselves so high upon. If his son lift up his hand against him, he doth not place his hope in that, that that occasion will cut off his son, and that then the people's hearts which were bent upon his son, will return to him again. David knew he could not retire himself from God in his bedchamber ; guards and ushers could not keep him out. He knew he could not defend himself from God in his army; for the Lord of Hosts is Lord of his hosts. If he fled to gea, to heaven, to hell, he was sure to meet God there; and there thou shalt meet him too, if thou fly from God, to the relief of outward comforts, of music, of mirth, of drink, of cordials, of comedies, of conversation. Not that such recreations are unlawful; the mind hath her physic as well as the body; but when thy sadness proceeds from a sense of thy sins, (which is God's key to the door of his mercy, put into thy hand,) it is a new, and a greater sin, to go about to overcome that holy sadness, with these profane diversions ; to fly ad consolatiunculas creaturalce (as that elegant man Luther expresses it, according to his natural delight in that elegancy of diminutives, with which he abounds above all authors) to the little and contemptible comforts of little and contemptible creatures. And as Luther uses the physic, Job uscth the physician ; Luther calls the comforts, miserable comforts; and Job calls them that minister them, Onerosos consolatores, Miserable comforters are you all. David could not drown his adultery in blood; never think thou to drown thine in wine. The ministers of God are sons of thunder, they are falls of waters, trampling of horses, and runnings of chariots; and if these voices of those ministers, cannot overcome thy music, thy security, yet the angel's trumpet will; that Surgite qui dormitis, Arise ye that sleep in the dust, in the dust of the grave, is a treble that over-reaches all; that Ite maledicti, Go ye accursed into hell fire, is a bass that drowns all. There is no recourse but to God, no relief but in God; and therefore David applied himself to the right method, to make his first access to God.
* 1 Sain. xvi. 14.
It is to God only, and to God by name, and not in general notions ; for it implies a nearer, a more familiar, and more presential knowledge of God, a more cheerful acquaintance, and a more assiduous conversation with God, when we know how to call God by a name, a Creator, a Redeemer, a Comforter, than when we consider him only as a diffused power, that spreads itself over all creatures; when we come to him in affirmatives, and confessions, This thou hast done for me, than when we come to him only in negatives, and say, That that is God, which is nothing else. God is come nearer to us than to others, when we know his name. For though it be truly said in the school, that no name can be given to God, Ejus essentiam adcequate reprcesentans, No one name can reach to the expressing of all that God is; and though Trismegistus do humbly, and modestly, and reverently say, Non spero, It never fell into my thought, nor into my hope, that the maker and founder of all Majesty, could be circumscribed, or imprisoned by any one name, though a name compounded and complicated of many names, as the rabbins have made one name of God, of ah1 his names in the Scriptures; though Jacob seemed to have been rebuked for asking God's name*, when he wrestled with him; and so also the angel which was to do a miraculous work, a work appertaining only to God to give a child to the barren, because he represented God, and had the person of God upon him, would not permit Manoah to inquire after his name, Because, as he says there, that name was secret and wonderful4; and though God himself, to dignify and authorize that angel, which he made his commissioner, and the tutelar and national guide of his people, says of that angel, to that people, Fear him, provoke him not, for my name is in him*, and yet did not tell them, what that name was; yet certainly, we could not so much as say, God cannot be named, except we could name God by some name ; we could not say, God hath no name except God had a name; for that very word, God, is his name. God calls upon us often in the Scriptures, To call upon his name; and in the Scriptures he hath manifested to us divers names, by which we may call upon him. Dost thou know what name to call him by, when thou callest him to bear false witness, to aver a falsehood ? Hath God a name to swear by ? Dost thou know what name to call him by, when thou wouldst make him thy servant, thy instrument, thy executioner, to plague others, upon thy bitter curses and imprecations ? Hath God a name to curse by ? Canst thou wound his body, exhaust his blood, tear off his flesh, break his bones, excruciate his soul; and all this by his right name ? Hath God a name to blaspheme by ? and hath God no name to pray by ? Is he such a stranger to thee ? Dost thou know every fair house in thy way, as thou travellest, whose that is; and dost thou not know, in whose house thou standest now ?
* Gen. xxxii. 29. 4 Judges xiii. 18.
Beloved, to know God by name, and to come to him by name, is to consider his particular blessings to thee; to consider him in his power, and how he hath protected thee there; and in his wisdom, and how he hath directed thee there; and in his love, and how he hath affected thee there; and expressed all, in particular mercies. He is but a dark, but a narrow, a shallow, a lazy man in nature, that knows no more, but that there is a heaven, and an earth, and a sea ; he that will be of use in this world, comes to know the influences of the heavens, the virtue of the plants, and mines of the earth, the course and divisions of the sea. -To the natural man, God gives general notions of himself; a God that spreads over all as the heavens ; a God that sustains all as the earth; a God that transports, and communicates all to all as the sea: but to the Christian church, God applies himself in more particular notions; as a Father, as a Son, as a Holy Ghost; and to every Christian soul, as a Creator, a Redeemer, a Benefactor ; that I may gay, This I was not born to, and yet this I
5 Exod. xxiii. 20.
have from my God; this a potent adversary sought to evict from me, but this I have recovered by my God; sickness had enfeebled my body, but I have a convalescence; calumny had defamed my reputation, but I have a reparation ; malice in other men, or improvidence in myself, had ruined my fortune, but I have a redintegration from my God. And then by these, which are indeed but cognomina Dei, his surnames, names of distinction, names of the exercise'of some particular properties, and attributes of his, to come to the root of all, to my very being, that my present being in this world, and my eternal being in the next, is made known to me by his name of Jehovah, which is his essential name, to which David had recourse in this exinanition; when his affliction had even annihilated, and brought him to nothing, he fled to Jehovah, the God of all being, which is the foundation of all his other attributes, and includes all his other names, and is our next and last branch in this first part.
This name then of Jehovah, which is here translated Lord, is agreed by all to be the greatest name by which God hath declared and manifested himself to man. This is that name which the Jews falsely, but peremptorily, (for falsehood lives by peremptoriness, and feeds and arms itself with peremptoriness) deny ever to have been attributed to the Messiah, in the Scriptures. This is that name, in the virtue and use whereof, those calumniators of our Saviour's miracles do say, That he did his miracles, according to a direction, and schedule, for the true and right pronouncing of that name, which Solomon in his time had made, and Christ in his time had found, and by which, say they, any other man might have done those miracles, if he had had Solomon's directions for the right sounding of this name, Jehovah. This is that name, which out of a superstitious reverence the Jews always forbore to sound, or utter, but ever pronounced some other name, either Adonai, or Elohim, in the place thereof, wheresoever they found Jehovah. But now their rabbins will not so much as write that name, but still express it in four other letters. So that they dare not, not only not sound it, not say it, but not see it.
How this name which we call Jehovah, is truly to be sounded, because in that language it is expressed in four consonants only, without vowels, is a perplexed question; we may well be content to be ignorant therein, since our Saviour Christ himself, in all those places which he cited out of the Old Testament, never sounded it; he never said, Jehovah. Nor the apostles after him, nor Origen, nor Jerome; all persons very intelligent in the propriety of language ; they never sounded this name Jehovah. For though in St. Jerome's exposition upon the 8th Psalm, we find that word Jehovah, in some editions which we have now, yet it is a clear case, that ill the old copies it is not so; in Jerome's mouth it was not so; from Jerome's hand it came not so. Neither doth it appear to me, that ever that name Jehovah was so pronounced, till so late, as in our fathers' time; for I think Petrus Gallatinus was the first that ever called it so. But howsoever this name be to be sounded, that which falls in our consideration at this time, is, that David in his distresses fled presently to God, and to God by name, that is, in consideration and commemoration of his particular blessings; and to a God that had that name, the name Jehovah, the name of Essence and Being, which name carried a confession, that all our well-being, and the very first being itself, was, and was to be derived from him. David therefore comes to God in nomine totali ; in nomine integrali; he considers God totally, entirely, altogether; not altogether, that is, confusedly; but altogether, that is, in such a name as comprehends all his attributes, all his power upon the world, and all his benefits upon him. The Gentiles were not able to consider God so; not so entirely, hot altogether; but broke God in pieces, and changed God into single money, and made a fragmentary god of every power, and attribute in God, of every blessing from God, nay of every malediction, and judgment of God. A clap of thunder made a Jupiter, a tempest at sea made a Neptune, an earthquake made a Pluto; fear came to be a god, and a fever came to be a god; everything that they were in love with, or afraid of, came to be canonized, and made a god amongst them. David considered God as a centre, into which and from which all lines flowed. Neither as the Gentiles did, nor as some ignorants of the Roman church do, that there must be a stormy god, St. Nicholas, and a plaguy god, St. Rook, and a sheep-shearing god, and a swineherd god, a god for every parish, a god for every occupation, God forbid. Acknowledge God to be the author of thy being; find him so at the spring-head, and then thou shalt easily trace him, by the branches, to all that belongs to thy wellbeing. The Lord of Hosts, and the God of peace, the God of the mountains, and the God of the valleys, the God of noon, and of midnight, of all times, the God of East and West, of all places, the God of princes, and of subjects, of all persons, is all one and the same God; and that which we intend, when we say Jehovah, is all He.
And therefore hath St. Bernard a pathetical and useful meditation to this purpose : Everything in the world, says he, can say, Creator meus es tu, Lord thou hast made me; all things that have life, and growth, can say, Pastor meus es tu, Lord thou hast fed me, increased me ; all men can say, Redemptor meus es tu, Lord I was sold to death through original sin, by one Adam, and thou hast redeemed me by another ; all that have fallen by infirmity, and risen again by grace, can say, Susceptor meits es tu, Lord I was fallen, but thou hast undertaken me, and dost sustain me; but he that comes to God in the name of Jehovah, he means all this, and all other things, in this one petition, Let me have a being, and then I am safe, for In him we live, and move, and have our being. If we solicit God as the Lord of Hosts, that he would deliver us from our enemies, perchance he may see it fitter for us to be delivered to our enemies : if we solicit him as Proprietary of all the world, as the beasts upon a thousand mountains are his, as all the gold and silver in the earth is his, perchance he sees that poverty is fitter for us: if we solicit him for health, or long life, he gives life, but he kills too, he heals, but he wounds too ; and we may be ignorant which of these, life or death, sickness or health, is for our advantage. But solicit him as Jehovah, for a being, that being which flows from his purpose, that being which he knows fittest for us, and then we follow his own instructions, Fiat voluntas tna, Thy will be done upon us, and we are safe.
Now that which Jehovah was to David, Jesus is to us. Man in general hath relation to God, as he is Jehovah, Being; we have relation to Christ, as he is Jesus, our salvation; salvation is our being, Jesus is our Jehovah. And therefore as David delights himself with that name Jehovah, for he repeats it eight or nine times in this one short Psalm, and though he ask things of a diverse nature at God's hands, though he suffer afflictions, of a diverse nature, 'from God's hands, yet still he retains that one name, he speaks to God in no other name in all this Psalm but in the name of Jehovah: so in the New Testament, he who may be compared with David, because he was under great sins, and yet in great favour with God, St. Paul, he delights himself with that name of Jesus so much, as that St. Jerome says, Que superflue diligebat, extraordinarie nominavit, As he loved him excessively, so he named him superabundantly. It is the name that cost God most, and therefore he loves it best; it cost him his life to be a Jesus, a Saviour. The name of Christ which is anointed, he had by office; he was anointed as King, as Priest, as Prophet. All those names which he had in Isaiah, The Counsellor, the Wonderful, the Prince of Peace*, and the name of Jehovah itself, which the Jews deny ever to be given to him, and is evidently given to him in that place, Christ had by nature; but his name of Jesus, a Saviour, he had by purchase, and that purchase cost him his blood. And therefore, as Jacob preferred his name of Israel7, before his former name of Jacob, because he had that name upon his wrestling with God, and it cost him a lameness; so is the name of Jesus so precious to him who bought it so dearly, that not only every knee bows at the name of Jesus 'here, but Jesus himself, and the whole Trinity, bow down towards us, to give us all those things which we ask in that name. For even of a devout use of that very name, do some of the fathers interpret that, Oleum effusum nomen tuum, That the name of Jesus should be spread as an ointment, breathed as perfume, diffused as a soul over all the petitions of our prayers ; as the church concludes for the most part, all her collects so, Grant this 0 Lord, for our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus' sake. And so much does St. Paul abound in the use of this name, as that he repeats it thrice, in the superscription of one of his letters the title of one of his Epistles, his first to Timothy. And with the same devotion, St. Augustine says, even of the name, Alelitw esi mihi non esse, quamsine Jesu esse, I were better have no being, than be without Jesus; Melius est non vivere, quam vivere sine vita, I were better have no life, than any life without him. For as David could find no being without Jehovah, a Christian finds no life without Jesus. Both these names imply that which is in this text, in our translation, the Lord, Dominus; to whom only, and entirely we appertain; his we are. And therefore whether we take Dominus, to be do minas, to threaten, to afBict us, or to be do mantts, to succour, and 'relieve us, (as some have pleased themselves with those obvious derivations) as David did still, we must make our recourse to him, from whom, as he is Jehovah, Being, our being, our well-being, our eternal being, our creation, preservation, and salvation is derived ; all is from him.
* Isaiah ix. 6. 1 Gen. xxxii. 28.
Now when he hath his access to the Lord, to this Lord, the Lord that hath all, and gives all, and is all, the first part of David's prayer, and all his prayer which falls into our text, is but deprecatory ; he does but pray that God would forbear him. He pretends no error, he enterprises no reversing of judgment; no; at first, he dares not sue for pardon; he only desires a reprieve, a respite of execution, and that not absolutely neither; but he would not be executed in hot blood; ne in ira, ne in furore, not in God's anger, not in his hot displeasure.
First then, deprecari, is not refragari, to deprecate, is not to contend against a judge, nor to defend one's self against an officer, but it is only in the quality, and in the humility of a petitioner, and suppliant, to beg a forbearance. The martyrs in the primitive church would not do that. Nihil de causa sua deprecatur, qui nihil de conditione sua miratur, says Tertullian; and in that he describes a patience of steel, and an invincible temper. He means that the Christians in those times of persecution, did never entreat the judge for favour, because it was not strange to them, to see themselves, whose conversation was in heaven, despised, and contemned, and condemned upon earth: Nihil mirantur de conditione, They wondered not at their misery, they thought it a part of their profession, a part of the Christian religion, to suffer, and therefore, Nihil deprecati de causa, They never solicited the judge for favour. They had learned by experience of daily tribulation, the apostle's lesson, Think it not strange,
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when temptations and tribulations fall; that is, Make that your daily bread, and you shall never starve, use yourselves to suffering, at least to the expectation, the contemplation of suffering, acquaint yourselves with that, accustom yourselves to that before it come, and it will not be a stranger to you when it comes. Tertullian's method may be right, and it may work that effect in very great afflictions; a man may be so used to them, as that he will not descend to any low deprecation, or suit to be delivered of them. But David's affliction was spiritual; and howsoever, as a natural man, nay, as a devout and religious man, (for even in rectified men there are affections of a middle nature, that participate of nature, and of grace too, and in which the Spirit of God moves, and natural affections move too; for nature and grace do not so destroy one another, as that we should conclude, he hath strong natural affections, therefore he hath no grace) David I say, that might justly wonder at his own condition, and think it strange, that he that put his trust so entirely in God, should so entirely be delivered over to such afflictions, might also justly deprecate, and boldly Bay, Ne facias, O Lord deal not thus with thy servant.
Our Saviour Christ's Transeat calix, Let this cup pass from me, was a deprecation in his own behalf; and his Pater dimitte tllt's, Father, forgive them, they know not what they do, was a deprecation in the behalf of his enemies; and so was Stephen's, Ne statuas illis, 0 Lord, lay not this sin to their charge, a deprecation in the behalf of his executioners. And these deprecations for others, for ourselves, are proposed for our imitation. But for Moses' Dele me, Pardon this people, or blot my name out of thy book, and for St. Paul's anathema, rather than his brethren should not be saved, let himself be condemned, for such deprecations for others, as were upon the matter, imprecations upon themselves, those may not well be drawn into consequence, or practice; for in Moses and St. Paul themselves, there was, if not an irregularity, and an inordinateness, at least an inconsideration, not to be imitated by us now, not to be excused in them then ; but for the prayer that is merely deprecatory, though some have thought it less lawful than the postulatory prayer, because when God ia come to the act of afflicting us, he hath then revealed, and declared, and manifested his will to be such, and against the revealed and manifested will of God we may not pray, yet because his afflictions are not peremptory, but we have ever day to show cause, why that affliction should be taken off, and because all his judgments are conditional, and the condition of every particular judgment is not always revealed to us, and this is always revealed to us, Miserationes ejus super omnia opera ejus, That his mercy is above all his judgments, therefore we may come to that deprecation, that God will make his hand lighter upon us, and his corrections easier unto us.
As the saints in heaven have their Usque quo, How long Lord, holy and true, before thou begin to execute judgment ? So the saints on earth have their Usque quo, How long Lord, before thou take off the execution of this judgment upon us ? For, our deprecatory prayers, are not mandatory, they are not directory, they appoint not God his ways, nor his times ; but as our postulatory prayers are, they also are submitted to the will of God, and have all in them, that ingredient, that herb of grace, which Christ put into his own prayer, that Veruntamen, Yet not my will, but thy will be fulfilled; and they have that ingredient, which Christ put into our prayer, Fiat voluntas, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven; in heaven there is no resisting of his will; yet in heaven there is a soliciting, a hastening, an accelerating of the judgment, and the glory of the resurrection; so though we resist not his corrections here upon earth, we may humbly present to God, the sense which we have of his displeasure; for this sense, and apprehension of his corrections, is one of the principal reasons, why he sends them ; he corrects us therefore, that we might be sensible of his corrections ; that when we, being humbled under his hand, have said with his prophet, / will bear the wrath of the Lord, because I have sinned against him*, he may be pleased to say to his correcting angel, as he did to his destroying angel, This 'is enough, and so burn his rod now, as he put up his sword then.
For though David do, well for himself, and well for our example, deprecate the anger of God, expressed in those judgments, yet we see he spends but one verse of the Psalm in that deprecation. In all the rest he leaves God wholly to his pleasure, how far he will extend, or aggravate that judgment; and he turns wholly upon the postulatory part, That God' would have mercy upon him, and save him, and deliver his soul. And in that one verse, he does not deprecate all afflictions, all corrections. David knows what moves God to correct us; it is not only our illness that moves him; for he corrects us when we are not ill in his sight, but made good by his pardon; but his goodness, as well as our illness, moves him to correct us; if he were not good, not only good in himself, but good to us, he would let us alone, and never correct us. But, Ideo eos qui errant corripis, quia bonus et suavis es Domine, as the vulgate reads that place*, the Lord corrects us, not only as he is good, but as he is gentle; he were more cruel, more unmerciful, if he did always show mercy; that David intends, when he says, Propitius fuisti, Thou wast a merciful God, because thou didst punish all their inventions.
6 Micah vii. 9.
So then, our first work is to consider, that that in the prophet, is a promise, and hath the nature of a mercy, / will correct thee in measure10; where the promise does not fall only upon the measure, but upon the correction itself; and then, since this is a promise, a mercy, a part of our daily bread, we may pray as the same prophet directs us, 0 Lord correct me, but with judgment, not in thine anger"; where also the petition seems to fall, not only upon the measure, but upon the correction itself; and then, when I have found some correction fit to be prayed for and afforded me by God upon my prayer, if that correction at any time grow heavy, or wearisome unto me, I must relieve myself upon that consideration, Whether God have smitten me, as he smote them that smote me ", whether it be not another manner of execution, which God hath laid upon mine enemies, than that which he hath laid upon me, in having suffered them to be smitten with the spirit of sinful glory, and triumph in their sin, and my misery, and with execration, and obdurateness, with impenitence, and insensibleness of their own case. Or at least, let me consider, as it is in the same place, Whether I be slain according to the slaughter of them that were slain by me; that is,
* Wisd. xii. 1. " Jer. xxx. 11. " Psal . x. 24.
1* Isa. xxvii. 7.
whether my oppression, my extortion, my prevarication have not brought other men to more misery, than God hath yet brought me unto. And if we consider this, as no doubt David did, and find that correction is one loaf of our daily bread, and find in our heaviest corrections, that God hath been heavier upon our enemies, than upon us, and we heavier upon others, than God upon us too, we shall be content with any rebuke, and any chastisement, so it be not in anger, and in hot displeasure, which are the words that remain to be considered.
Now these two phrases, Argui in furore, and corripi in ira, which we translate, To rebuke in anger, and to chasten in hot displeasure, are by some thought, to signify one and the same thing, that David intends the same thing, and though in divers words, yet words of one and the same signification. But with reverence to those men, (for some of them are men to whom much reverence is due) they do not well agree with one another, nor very constantly with themselves. St. Jerome says, Furor et ira maxime unum sunt, That this anger, and hot displeasure, are merely, absolutely, entirely, one and the same thing, and yet he says, that this anger is executed in this world, and this hot displeasure reserved for the world to come. And this makes a great difference ; no weight of God's whole hand here, can be so heavy, as any finger of his in hell; the highest exaltation of God's anger in this world, can have no proportion to the least spark of that in hell; nor a furnace seven times' heat here, to the embers there. So also St. Augustine thinks, that these two words, to rebuke, and to chasten, do not differ at all; or if they do, that the latter is the lesser. But this is not likely to be David's method, first to make a prayer for the greater, and that being granted, to make a second prayer for the lesser, included in that which was asked, and granted before. A later man in the Roman church1*, allows the words to differ, and the latter to be the heavier, but then he refers both to the next life; that to rebuke in anger, should be intended of purgatory, and of a short continuance there, and to be chastened in hot displeasure, should be intended of hell, and of everlasting condemnation there. And so David must make his first petition, Rebuke me not in thin* anger, to this pur
pose, Let me pass at my death immediately to heaven, without touching at any fire, and his second petition, Chasten me not in thy hot displeasure to this purpose, If I must touch at any fire, let it be but purgatory, and not hell.
But by the nature, and propriety, and the use of all these words in the Scriptures, it appears, that the words are of a different signification, which St. Jerome it seems did not think; and that the last is the heaviest, which St. Augustine it seems did not think ; and then, that they are to be referred to this life, which Ayguanus did not think. For the words themselves, all our three translations retain the two first words, to rebuke and to chasten; neither that which we call the Bishops' Bible, nor that which we call the Geneva Bible, and that which we may call the King's, depart from those two first words. But then for the other two, anger and hot displeasure, in them all three translations differ. The first calls them indignation and displeasure, the second anger and wrath, and the last anger and hot displeasure.
To begin with the first, to be rebuked was but to be chidden, but to be chastened, was to be beaten; and yet David was heartily afraid of the first, of the least of them, when it was to be done in anger: this word that is here to rebuke, Jacach, is for the most part, to reprove, to convince by way of argument, and disputation. So it is in Esay, Come now, and let u s reason together1*, says God. The natural man is confident in his reason, in his philosophy; and yet God is content to join in that issue. If he do not make it appear, even to your reason, that he is God, Choose whom ye will serve, as Joshua speaks ; if he do not make it appear, that he is a good God, change him for any other god that your reason can present to be better. In Micah, the word hath somewhat more vehemence; The Lord hath a quarrel against his people, and he w ill plead trith Israel". This is more than a disputation; it is a suit. God can maintain his possession other ways; without suit; but he will recover us, by matter of record, openly, and in the face of the country; he will put us to a shame, and to an acknowledgment, of having disloyally divested our allegiance. Yea, the word hath sometimes somewhat more sharpness than this; for in the book of Proverbs,
14 Isa. i. 18. » Micah vi. 2.
it cornes to correction, The Lord correcteth him whom he loveth, even as the father doth the child, in whom he deliyhteth. Though it be a fatherly correction, yet it is a correction ; and that is more than the reasoning or disputing, more than the sueing or impleading.
Now though all this, disputing, impleading, correcting, in St. Augustine's interpretation, amount but to an instruction, and an amendment, yet says he of David, In ira emendari non vult, erudiri non vult, He is loath to fall into God's hands, loath to come into God's fingers at all, when God is angry; he would not be disputed withal, not impleaded, not corrected, no, not instructed, not amended by God in his anger. The anger of God is such a pedagogue, such a catechism, such a way of teaching, as the law was. Lex pa'dagogits; the law is a schoolmaster, says the apostle; but litera occidit, the law is such a schoolmaster, as brings not a rod, but a sword. God's anger should instruct us, but if we use it not aright, it hardens us. And therefore, Kiss the Son lest he be angryTM, says David, and what is the danger if he be ? that which follows, Lest ye perish in the way; though his anger be one of his ways, yet it is such a way, as you may easily stumble in ; and, as you would certainly perish without that way, so you may easily perish in that way. For when a sinner considers himself to be under the anger of God, naturally he conceives such a horror, as puts him further off. As soon as Adam heard the voice of God, and in an accent of anger, or as he tuned it in his guilty conscience, to an accent of anger, (for as a malicious man will turn a sermon to a satire, and a panegyric to a libel, so a despairing soul will set God's comfortablest words, to a sad tune, and force a va; even in God's euge, and find anger, and everlasting anger in every access, in every action of God) when Adam heard God but walking in the garden, but the noise of his going, and approaching towards him, (for God had then said nothing to him, not so much as called him) Adam fled from his presence and hid himself amongst the trees. When the guilty man was but spoken to, and spoken to mildly, by the master of the marriage feast, Amice quomodo intrasti? Friend how came you in ? we see he was presently speechless, and
" Psal. ii. 12.
being so, not able to speak, to come to any confession, any excuse, he fell further and further into displeasure, till he was bound hand and foot, and cast irrecoverably away. For Si repente interroget, quis respondebit ei"? If God surprise a conscience with a sudden question, if God deprehend a man in the act of his sin, and while he accomplishes and consummates that sin, say to his soul, Why dost thou this, upon which mine anger hangs ? there God speaks to that sinner, but he confounds him with the question ; it is not a leading interrogatory, it gives him no light to answer, till God's anger be out of his contemplation, he cannot so much as say Domiti e vim patior, responde pro meTM, O Lord I am oppressed, do thou answer for me; do thou say to thyself for me, My spirit shall not always strive with man, because he is but fleshTM. If the Lord come in anger, if he speak in anger, if he do but look in anger, a sinner perishes ; Aspexit et dissolvit gentes ; He did but look, and he dissolved, he melted the nations; he poured them out as water upon the dust, and he blew them away as dust into the sea, The everlasting mountains were broken, and the ancient hills did bowTM.
It is not then the disputing, not the impleading, not the correcting, which this word Jacach imports, that David declines, or deprecates here, but that anger, which might change the nature of all, and make all the physic poison, all that was intended for our mollifying, to advance our obduration. For when there was no anger in the case, David is a forward scholar, to hearken to God's reasoning, and disputing, and a tractable client, and easy defendant, to answer to God's suit, and impleading, and an obsequious patient, to take any physic at his hands, if there were no anger in the cup. Ure renes et cor meum, says David", he provokes God with all those emphatical words, Judge me, prove me, try me, examine me, and more, ure renes, bring not only a candle to search, but even fire, to melt me; but upon what confidence all this ? For thy loving kindness is ever before mine eyes. If God's anger, and not his loving kindness had been before his eyes, it had been a fearful apparition, and a dangerous issue to have gone upon. So also he surrenders himself entirely to God
17 Job ix. 12. " Isa. xxxviii. 14. 1* Gen. vi. 3.
*• Hab. iii. 6. " Psal. xxvi. 1.
in another psalm, Try me 0 God, and know my heart; prove me, and know my thoughts, and consider, if there beany way of wickedness in me. But how concludes he ? And lead me in the right way for everTM. As long as I have God by the hand, and feel his loving care of me, I can admit any weight of his hand ; any furnace of his heating. Let God mould me, and then melt me again, let God make me, and then break me again, as long as he establishes and maintains a rectified assurance in my soul, that at last he means to make me a vessel of honour, to his glory, howsoever he rebuke or chastise me, yet he will not rebuke me in anger, much less chasten me in hot dtspleasure, which is the last, and the heaviest thing, that David deprecates in this prayer.
Both these words, which we translate to chasten, and hot displeasure, are words of a heavy, and of a vehement signification. They extend both to express the eternity of God's indignation, even to the binding of the soul and body in eternal chains of darkness. For the first, Jasar, signifies oftentimes in the Scriptures, vincire, to bind, often with ropes, often with chains; to fetter, or manacle, or pinion men, that are to be executed; so that it imports a slavery, a bondage all the way, and a destruction at last. And so the word is used by Rehoboam, My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions". And then, the other word, Camath, doth not only signify hot displeasure, but that effect of God"s hot displeasure, which is intended by the prophet Esay, Therefore hath he poured forth his fierce wrath, and the strength of battle, and that set him on fire round about, and he knew it not, and it burnt him up, and he considered it not". These be the fearful conditions of God's hot displeasure, to be in a furnace, and not to feel it; to be in a habit of sin, and not know what leads us into temptation ; to be burnt to ashes, and so not only without all moisture, all holy tears, but, as ashes, without any possibility, that any good thing can grow in us. And yet this word, camath, hath a heavier signification than this; for it signifies poison itself, destruction itself, for so it is twice taken in one verse, Their poison is like the poison of a serpentTM; so that this hot displeasure,
» PsaJ. cxxxbe. 23. '* 1 Kings xii. 11. " Esay xt.ii. ult.
" Psal. i.viii. 4.
is that poison of the soul, obduration here, and that extension of this obduration, a final impenitence in this life, and an infinite impenitibleness in the next, to die without any actual penitence hero, and live without all possibility of future penitence for ever hereafter.
David therefore foresees, that if God rebuke in anger, it will come to a chastening in hot displeasure. For what should stop him ? For, if a man sin against the Lord, who will plead for him ? says Eli"; Plead thou my cause, says David; it is only the Lord, that can be of counsel with him, and plead for him; and that Lord, is both the judge, and angry too. So David's prayer hath this force, Rebuke me not in anger, for though I were able to stand under that, yet thou wilt also chasten me in thine hot displeasure, and that no soul can bear; for as long as God's anger »[ lasts, so long he is going on towards our utter destruction. In that state, (it is not a state) in that exinanition, in that annihilation of the soul, (it is not an annihilation, the soul is not so happy as to come to nothing) but in that misery, which can no more receive a name, than an end, all God's corrections are borne with grudging, with murmuring, with comparing our righteousness with other's righteousness ; in Job's impatience, Quare posuisti me contrarium tibi? Why hast thou set me up as a mark against thee, 0 thou preserver of men*1 ? Thou that preservest other men, hast bent thy bow, and made me a mark for thine arrows", says the Lamentation: in that state we cannot cry to him, that he might answer us ; if we do cry, and he answer, we cannot hear; if we do hear, we cannot believe that it is he. Cum invocantem exaudierit, says Job, If I cry, and he answer, yet I do not believe that he heard my voiceTM. We had rather perish utterly, than stay his leisure in recovering us. Si flagellat, occidat semel, says Job in the vulgate, If God have a mind to destroy me, let him do it at one blou>"; Et non de pcenis rideat, Let him not sport himself with misery. Whatsoever come after, we would be content to be out of this world, so we might but change our torment, whether it be a temporal calamity that oppresses our state or body, or a spiritual burden, a perplexity that sinks our under
" 1 Sam. ii. 25. " Job vii. 20. » Lam. iii. 12.
'* Job ix. 16. '* Ver. 23.
standing, or a guiltiness that depresses our conscience. Ut in inferno protegas, as Job also speaks, 0 that thou wouldest hide me", In inferno, in the grave, says the afflicted soul, but in inferno, in hell itself, says the despairing soul, rather than keep me in this torment, in this world !
This is the miserable condition, or danger, that David abhors, and deprecates in this text, To be rebuked in anger, without any purpose in God to amend him ; and to be chastened in his hot displeasure; so, as that we can find no interest in the gracious promises of the Gospel, no conditions, no power of revocation in the severe threatenings of the law; no difference between those torments which have attacked us here, and the everlasting torments of hell itself. That we have lost all our joy in this life, and all our hope of the next; that we would fain die, though it were by our own hands, and though that death do but unlock us a door, to pass from one hell into another. This is Ira tua Domine, et furor tune, Thy anger, 0 Lord, and, thy hot displeasure. For as long as it is but ira patris, the anger of my father, which hath disinherited me, gold is thine, and silver is thine, and thou canst provide me. As long as it is but ira regie, some misinformation to the king, some misapprehension in the king, Cor regis in manu tua, The king's heart is in thy hand, and thou canst rectify it again. As long as it is but furor febris, the rage and distemper of a pestilent fever, or furor furoris, the rage of madness itself, thou wilt consider me, and accept me, and reckon with me according to those better times, before those distempers overtook me, and overthrew me. But when it comes to be Ira tua, furor tuus, Thy anger, and thy displeasure, as David did, so let every Christian find comfort, if he able to say faithfully this verse, this text, 0 Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure; for as long as he can pray against it, he is not yet Bo fallen under it, but that he hath yet his part in all God's blessings, which we shed upon the congregation in our sermons, and which we seal to every soul in the sacrament of reconciliation.
81 Job xiv. 13.