PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS.
Psalm xxxii. 10, 11.
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy
shall compass him about. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice ye righteous; and shout for joy all ye that are
upright in heart.
The two elements, of which heaven is proposed to us to be composed, are joy and glory. That which is opposed to these, is sorrow and contempt: of the sense of contempt and ingloriousness, men are not alike capable in this world; but of the sense of sorrow, we are somewhat more equal. A man must have had some possession, or at least some hopes of glory and greatness, that apprehends contempt or ingloriousness very passionately. And besides, in the lowest and most abject contempt a man may relieve himself by conveniences of a plentiful fortune at home, how much soever he be undervalued and despised abroad. But when it comes to a sorrow of heart, which dwells not imaginably in the opinion of others, as contempt doth, but really in mine own bosom, it is a heavy colluctation. Therefore doth the Holy Ghost so often, so very often, blow that coal, and threaten that insupportable, that inextinguishable fire, sorrow, sorrow of heart, sorrow of soul; Many sorrows shall be to the wicked. But the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of consolation; he is a dove that hastes to a better air, to a whiter house, to the ark of peace, the station of the righteous; joy in the mercy of God; for, He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about; Be glad in the Lord; and rejoice ye righteous, and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart.
Our parts are, the persons, and their portions; who they be, and what they have. The persons are all the inhabitants of this world; for all are wicked, or righteous; and the portion is all that the soul receives here, or hereafter; for all is joy or sorrow; Many sorows shall be to the wicked, but he, &c.
First then, hero are torroiet; a passion which we cannot express, and from the understanding whereof, in this sense, God bless us all: a sorrow, that is nothing but sorrow; a sorrow that determines not in joy at last. And here are doloret multi, his sorrows are multiplied, many sorrows; and as the word rabbim doth as improperly import, and might be as well so translated, here are doloret magni, great sorrows; great in their own weight, great in themselves, and great also in the apprehension, and tenderness, and impatience of the sufferer, great to him; and then all these heavy circumstances, as the dregs and lees of this cup of malediction, meet in the bottom, in the centre of all; that these sorrows are determinable by no time; for in the original, there is neither that which our first translation inserted, (shall come) Sorrows shall come to the wicked, lest the wicked might say, Let it go as it came, if I know how it came, what occasioned the sorrow, I know how to overcome it; nor is there that which our later translation added, (shall be) Sorrows shall be to the wicked; for though that imply a continuance, when it comes, yet the wicked might say, It is not come yet, and why should I anticipate sorrow, or execute myself before the executioner be sent? But it is without all limitation of time, and so includes all parts of time; est, fuit, et erit, tho wicked are not, never were, or shall be without sorrows, many sorrows, great sorrows, everlasting sorrows. This is the portion in our first part; and then the person, for whom this cup is thus filled there, is the wicked; which denotes a plurality, and a singularity too; for it is not said, The wanton, tho ambitious, the covetous, the man that is a little leavened, or soured, or discoloured with some degrees of some of these; but it is the wicked; a man whose whole complexion, and structure seems made up of wickedness; and so it is super impium, upon the wicked, emphatically, the wicked; and then, super impium, upon the wicked, in the singular; that is, upon every such wicked person. The sorrow is not lessened by being divided amongst many; the wicked is not eased by having companions in his torments. And this is tho portion, and these be the persons of the first kind; which will determine the first part, Many sorrows shall be to the wicked.
And then in the second, to give all this the full weight, and to make the sorrow the more discernible, and the more terrible, God puts into the other balance, the joy of the righteous. In which, that all may be in opposition to the other, we have also the person, Him that trusteth in the Lord; where we have, as in the former part, a plurality intimated, and a singularity too. For it is not said, He that trusteth not in man, he that trusteth not in princes, he that trusteth not in this or that miserable comforter in the world, but he that trusteth in the Lord; whose present refuge, be the case what it will, or can be, is the Lord; him, emphatically him, mercies shall compass. And then, ille, he, every such man, is infallibly interested in this portion, in this true cause of joy, which is not, that he shall have no affliction, but that he shall have mercy in his afflictions, patience and ease all the way, and an end and joy at last. And then, this mercy shall compass him; it shall not suffer his confidence to break out into a presumption in God, nor any diffidence, or distrust in God, to break in upon him; but he shall see, that only to him, who trusts in the Lord, to him who is righteous, to him who is upright in heart, (with which three characters tho Holy Ghost specifies the person, in this second part of our text) belong those three great privileges, those glorious beams of joy, which flow out here; first, Lwtari, To be glad, that is, to conceivo an inward joy; and then, Exultari, To rejoice, that is, to testify that inward joy, by outward demonstrations; and lastly, Jubilare, To be full of joy, which our last translation hath expressed well, in that word, To shout for joy, that is, to extend our joy to others, to glorify God by drawing in of others, and to call upon them, to call upon God; Many sorrows shall be to the wicked, but, &c.
First then, they shall have sorrow, and cause of sorrow. For when we conceive a sorrow in the mind, without any real, and external cause, without pain, or shame, or loss, this is but a melancholy, but an abundance of a distempered humour, but a natural thing, to which some in their constitutions are born, and to be considered but so: but when God lays his hand, and his crosses upon us, the sorrow of the wicked, conceived upon that impression, is the sorrow. For this word, which we translate sorrows here, is according to the Septuagint, scourges, and whips; God shall scourge them, and that shall only work to a sorrow; so far, and no farther. As a startling horse, they shall avoid a shadow, and fall into a ditch; they shall sorrow, and murmur at their afflictions in this life, and fall the sooner for that into the eternal. Amongst the Romans, condemned persons were first whipped; but that excused them not; when they were whipped, they were executed too. The wicked are scourged by God in this life; and then their temporal afflictions shall meet, and join with the everlasting, they have begun already here, that which they shall never end there. De cis qui voluntatem Dei facere nolunt, fit voluntas Dei; it is Panis quotidianus, A loaf of that bread which is to be distributed every day; a saying of St. Augustine, worthy to bo repeated in every sermon, That upon them, who will not do the will of God, the will of God is done; and God executes his righteous sentence upon them, and he executes his justice upon others also by giving them instructions from the impatience and obduration of these. Fata fuyiendo in fata ruunt; they chide, and they wrangle, they wrestle, and they exclaim at their miseries in an intemperate sorrow, and this intemperate sorrow is the heaviest part of the judgment of God upon them; they are too sensible of their afflictions, that is, too tender, too impatient; and yet altogether insensible, without all sense of God's purpose in those afflictions. In hell itself, they know that they are in hell; and yet in this world, there are dolores inferni, sorrows that have begun hell here, and that they are under them, are stupified, and divested of all sense of them. That sense that is bodily, and carnal, they abound in; they feel them impatiently; but of all spiritual sense they are absolutely destitute; they understand not them, nor God's purpose in them at all; yet they are many, and great, and eternal. For by all these heavy talents doth tho Holy Ghost weigh them in these words.
They are many. Now the pride of the wicked is to conceal their sorrows, that God might receive no glory by the discovery of them. And therefore if we should go about to number their sorrows, they would have their victory still, and still say to themselves, yet for all his cunning he hath missed; they would ever have some bosom sorrows, which we could not light upon. Yet wo shall not easily miss, nor leave out any, if we remember those men, that even this false and imaginary joy, which they take in concealing their sorrow and affliction, is a new affliction, a new cause of sorrow. We shall make up the number apace, if we remember these men, that all their new sins, and all their new shifts, to put away their sorrows, are sorrowful things, and miserable comforters; if their conscience do present all their sins, the number grows great; and if their own conscience have forgotten them, if God forget nothing that they have thought, or said, or done, in all their lives, are not their occasions of sorrow the more for their forgetting, the more for God's remembering? Judgments are prepared for the scorners, says Solomon1, God foresaw their wickedness from before all times, and even then set himself on work, to prepare judgments for them; and as they are prepared before, so affliction followeth sinners*, says the same wise king; it follows them, and it knows how to overtake them; either by the sword of the magistrate, or by that which is nearer them, diseases in their own bodies, accelerated and complicated by their sins. And then, as affliction is prepared, and follows, and overtakes, so says that wise king still, there shall be no end of plagues to the evil man3; wo know the beginning of their plagues; they are prepared in God's decree, as soon as God saw their sins; we know their continuance, they shall follow, and they shall overtake; their end we do not know, we cannot know, for they have none. Thus they are many.
And if we consider further, the manifold topics, and places, from which the sorrows of the wicked arise, that every inch of their ground is overgrown with that venomous weed, that every place, and every part of time, and every person buds out a particular occasion of sorrow to him, that ho can come into no chamber, but he remembers, in such a place as this, I sinned thus, that he cannot hear a clock strike, but he remembers, at this hour I sinned thus, that he cannot converse with few persons, but he remembers, with such a person I sinned thus, and if he dare go no further than to himself, he can look scarcely upon any limb of his body, but in that he sees some infirmity, or some deformity, that he imputes to some sin, and must say, by this sin, this is thus:
when he can open the Biblo in no place, but if he meet a judgment, he must say, Vindicta mihi, This vengeance belongs to me; and if he meet a mercy, he must say, Quid mihi? What have I to do to take this mercy into my mouth? In this deluge of occasions of sorrow, I must not say with God to Abraham, look up to heaven, and number the stars, (for this man cannot look up to heaven) but I must say, continue thy dejected look, and look down to the earth, thy earth, and number the grains of dust there, and the sorrows of the wicked are more than they. Many are the sorrows; and as the word as naturally denotes, great; great sorrows are upon the wicked.
That pill will choak one man, which will slide down with another easily, and work well. That sorrow, that affliction would strangle the wicked, which would purge, and recover the godly. The core of Adam's apple is still in their throat, which the blood of the Messiah hath washed away in the righteous; Adam's disobedience works in them still, and therefore God's physic, the affliction, cannot work. So they are great to them, as Cain's punishment was to him, greater than he could bear, because he could not ease himself upon the consideration of God's purpose, in laying that punishment upon him. But it is not only their indisposition, and impatience, that makes their sorrows and afflictions great; they are truly so in themselves; as the Holy Ghost expresses it, Is not destruction to the wicked, and strange punishment to the workers of iniquity*? A punishment which we cannot tell how to measure, how to weigh, how to call, a strange punishment; greater than former examples have presented. There the greatness is expressed in the word; and in Isaiah it is expressed in the action; When the scourge shall run over you, and pass through you, eritis in conculcationem, you shall be trodden to dust*; which is, as the prophet calls it there, Flagellum inundans, An affliction that overflows, and surrounds all, as a deluge, a flood, that shall wash away from thee, even the water of thy baptism, and all the power of that, and wash away from thee the blood of thy Saviour, and all his offers of grace to worthy receivers; a flood that shall carry away the ark itself out of thy sight, and leave thee no apprehension of reparation by God's institution in his church; a
* Job xxxi. 3. 'Isaiah xxviii. 18.
VOL. III. r
flood that shall dissolve, and wash thee thyself into water; thy sorrows shall scatter thee into drops, into tears, upon a carnal sense of thy torment, and into drops, into incoherent doubts, and perplexities, and scruples, in understanding, and conscience, and into desperation at last. And this is the greatness: Solutis doloribus inferni, in another sense than David speaks that of Christ; there it is, That the sorrows of hell were loosed, that is, were slacked, dissolved by him: but here it is that the sorrows of hell are loosed, that is, let loose upon thee; and when thou shalt hear Christ say from the cross, Behold and see, if ever there were any sorrow like my sorrow, thou shalt find thy sorrow like his in the greatness, and nothing like his in the goodness: Christ bore that sorrow, that every man might rejoice, and thou wouldst be the more sorry, if every man had not as much cause of desperate sorrow, as thou hast.
Many and great are the sorrows of the wicked, and then eternal too, which is more than intimated, in that the original hath neither of those particles of supplement, which are in our . translations, no such shall come, no such shall be, nor no shall at all; but only, many sorrows to the wicked, many and great now, more and greater hereafter, all for ever, if they amend not.
It is not, they have had sorrows, but they are overblown; nor that they have them, but patience shall outwear them; nor that they shall have them, but they have a breathing time to gather strength beforehand; but as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, sorrows upon them, and upon them for ever. Whatsoever any man conceives for ease in this case, it is a false conception; you shall conceive chaff, and bring forth stubble*. And this stubble is your vain hope of a determination of this sorrow; but the wicked shall not be able to lodge such a hope, though this hope, if they could apprehend it, would be but an aggravating of their sorrows in the end. It is eternal, no determination of time afforded to it. For, they shall be as the burning of lime, and as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Who amongst us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who amongst us shall dwell with that everlasting burning1? It is a devouring fire, and yet it is an everlasting burning. The prophet asks, Who can
dwell there? In that intenseness who can last? They that must, and that is, all the wicked. Fire is kindled in my wrath, saith God*; yet may not tears quench it? Tears might, if they could be had; but it shall burn to the bottom of hell, saith God there. And Dives that could not procure a drop of water to cool his tongue there, can much less procure a repentant tear in that place: there, as St. John speaks, plagues shall come in one day; death, and sorrow, and famine*. But it is in a long day; short for the suddenness of coming, for that is come already, which for anything we know, may come this minute, before we be at an end of this point, or at a period of this sentence: so it is sudden in coming, but long for the enduring. For it is that day, when they shall be burnt with fire, for strong is the Lord God, that will condemn them1*. That is argument enough of the vehemence of that fire, that the Lord God, who is called the strong God, makes it a masterpiece of his strength, to make that lire.
Art thou able to dispute out this fire, and to prove that there can be no real, no material fire in hell, after the dissolution of all material things created? If thou be not able to argue away the immortality of thine own soul, but that that soul must last, nor to argue away the eternity of God himself, but that that must last, thou hast but little ease, in making shift to give a figurative interpretation to that fire, and to say, it may be a torment, but it cannot be a fire, since it must be an everlasting torment; nor to give a figurative signification to the worm, and to say, it may be a pain, a remorse, but it can be no worm after the general dissolution, since that conscience, in which that remorse, and anguish shall ever live, must live ever: if there be a figure in the names, and words of fire and worms, there is an indisputable reality in the sorrow, in the torment, and in the manifoldness, and in the weightiness, and in the overlastingness thereof. For in the inchoation of these sorrows, in this life, and in the consummation of them, in the life to come, the sorrows of the wicked are many, and great, and eternal.
This then is the portion prepared here, Thy portion was with the adulterers", as our last translators have expressed that place
* Deut. xxxii. 22. * Rev. xviii. 8.
'0 Rev. xviii. 8. 11 Psalm L. 18.
in their margin. Thy portion was with them hero, in this world, and thy portion shall be with them for ever; for God expresses all kind of wickedness, carnal and spiritual, in that name of adultery, throughout the hody of the Scriptures. And therefore when you meet judgments denounced against adulterers, never think that those judgments concern not you, if you have forborne that one sin, (and yet even that sin may have been committed in a look, in a letter, in a word, in a wish, in a dream) when St. James saith, Ye adulterers, and adulteresses, know you not this"? Think not that St. James calls not upon you if you be but covetous, but ambitious, but superstitious, and no adulterers; for every aversion from the Creator, every converting to the creature is adultery. Even in nature you are made for that marriage; in the covenant of God you were betrothed, and affianced for that marriage; in the sacrament of baptism you were actually, personally married; and in the other sacrament there is a consummation of that marriage; and every departing from that contract which you made with God at your baptism, and renewed at your receiving the other sacrament, is an adultery. Thus a hermit is a husband, and a nun a wife; and thus both may be adulterers, though in a wilderness, though in a cloister. Si deserts Deum quite fecit, et amas illa qua fecit, adultera es"; If thou turn from God that made thee, to those things that he made, this is an adultery. Therefore Christ calls them, an evil and adulterous generation, because they sought a sign"; because they turned upon other ways of satisfaction, than he had ordained for them, that was adultery. And as David saith, Thy portion also shall be in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death ". Thou art this person, if thou be this adulterer, which is intended in this emphatical word, the wicked.
So then, as these sorrows in our text, are an inchoative hell, they are such wounds as induce, such pangs as precede even the second death, sorrows that flow into desperation, and impenitibleness, (and impenitibleness is hell.) As the torment is an inchoative hell, so is the person, the wicked here, an inchoated devil: it is St. Chrysostom's spontaneus dwmon, and voluntarius damon;
he that is a devil to himself, that could be, and would be ambitious in a spital, licentious in a wilderness, voluptuous in a famine, and abound with temptations in himself, though there were no devil. Most of the names of the devil in the Scripture, denote some action of his upon us; as he is called, The Prince of the Power of the Air1*, there he is called so, because as it is added there, He works in the children of disobedience; as the air works upon our bodies, this prince of the air works upon our minds; how works he? he deceives; He deceived the whole world, saith St. John17; from this insinuation, he hath those other names there, the Great Dragon, and the Old Serpent. When he hath crept in as a serpent, then he grows a roaring lion1*; he professes his power, he disguises not a temptation; then he grows Satan an adversary, an enemy, he opposes all good endeavours in us; and then he grows diabolus, an accuser, an accuser to God, an accuser to our own conscience; and when he hath made our sin, as great as it can be in our practice, when by age, or sickness, or poverty, he cannot multiply our sins for the present, than by his multiplying-glass, he multiplies the sins of our former times, and presents them greater, than even the mercies of God, or the merits of Christ Jesus. So he grows in mischievous names, according to his mischievous actions and practices upon us; but then out of himself arises the most vehement, and the most collective name that is given him in all the Scriptures, TTovrtpbt, and that with the emphatical article, the wicked one; one that is all wickedness, and one that is the wickedness of all; one, who if he had no object to direct his wickedness upon, no subject to exercise his wickedness in, if God should proclaim so general a pardon, that all men, all, should effectually be saved, and so all hope to have enlarged his kingdom be withdrawn, yet would still be as wicked, and as opposite to God as he is.
So then, by this character of multiplicity, this emphatical note of the wicked in our text, the person, whose portion this sorrow is, this sorrow which is a brand of hell at least a match, by which hell-fire itself is kindled, is not he that is an adulterer, or that is a murderer; not he that hath fallen into some particular sins, though great, and continued those great sins in habits,
"Ephes. ii. 2. 17 Rev. xii. 9. "1 Pet v. 8.
though long, for David fell so, and yet found a holy sorrow, a medicinal sorrow: but it is the wicked, he that runs headlong into all ways of wickedness, and usque adfinem, precludes, or neglects all ways of recovery: that is glad of a temptation, and afraid of a sermon; that is dry wood, and tinder to Satan's fire, if he do but touch him, and is ashes itself to God's spirit, if he blow upon him; that from a love of sin, at first, because it is pleasing, comes at last to a love of sin, because it is sin, because it is liberty, because it is a deliverance of himself from the bondage, as he thinks it, of the law of God, and from the remorse and anguish of considering sin too particularly. This is the person, in whom, at first, by this emphatical note, the wicked, we design a plurality, (as we called it) that is, a complicated, a multiplied, a compact sinner, a body, rather a carcass of many, of all sins, all that have fallen within his reach. And then, in the word we noted also a singularity, that upon such a sinner, upon every such sinner, these many, these great, these eternal sorrows shall fall and tarry.
As in the former circumstance, we noted that it was the they, that aggravated it, it was not an an, an adulterer, an ambitious man, but a the, the wicked, whom God enwrapped in this irrecoverable, this undeterminable sorrow: so here, it is not a this, or that, this wicked, or that wicked man, but the wicked, every wicked man is surrounded with this sorrow. He can propose no comfort in a decimation, as in popular rebellions, where nine may be spared, and the tenth man hanged; no, nor so much hope as to have nine hanged, and the tenth spared; he is not in Sodom's case, that a few righteous might have saved the wicked; but he feels a necessity of applying to himself, that, If Noah, Daniel, and Job were in the midst of them, as I live, saith the Lord God, they should deliver neither son, nor daughter"'. Jussisti Domine, et sic est, utpwna sit sibi omnis inordinatus animus"1; It is thy pleasure O God, and thy pleasure shall be infallibly accomplished, that every wicked person should be his own executioner. He is spontaneus dwmon, as St. Chrysostom speaks, an inmate, an innate devil; a bosom devil, a self-devil; that as ho could be a tempter to himself, though there were no devil, so he could bo an
executioner to himself, though there were no Satan, and a hell to himself, though there were no other torment. Sometimes he stays not the assizes, but prevents the hand of justice; he destroys himself before his time. But when he stays, he is evermore condemned at the assizes. Let him sleep out as much of the morning as securely as he can; embellish, and adorn himself as gloriously as he can; dine as largely and as delicately as ho can; wear out as much of the afternoon, in conversation, in comedies, in pleasure, as he can; sup with as much distension, and inducement of drowsiness as he can, that ho may escape all remorse, by falling asleep quickly, and fall asleep with as much discourse, and music, and advantage as he can, he hath a conscience that will survive, and overwatch all the company; he hath a sorrow that shall join issue with him when he is alone, and both God, and the dev il, who do not meet willingly, shall meet in his case, and be in league, and be on the sorrow's side, against him. The anger of God, and the malice of the devil, shall concur with his sorrow, to his farther vexation. No one wicked person, by any diversion or cunning, shall avoid this sorrow, for it is in the midst, and in the end of all his forced contentments; Even in laughing, the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness".
The person is the wicked; every wicked person; he hath no relief in a decimation, that some may escape: nor relief in the communication of the torment; it is no ease to him, that so many bear a part with him. In some afflictions in the world, men lay hold upon such a relief, many men are in as ill case, as I; why am I so sensible of it? And they make shift to patch up a comfort of that kind, out of some chips of poets, and fragmentary sentences; and they that cannot find this relief ready made, will make shift to make it; when they are under the burden of a defamation, of an ill name, they will cast aspersions of the same crime, upon as many as they can, and think themselves the better, if they can make others be thought as ill as they. But all these are amongst Job's miserable comforters; it is a part of our joy in heaven, that every man's joy shall be my joy; I shall have fulness of salvation in myself, and 1 shall have as many sal
vations, as there are souls saved: but in hell thore is no one feather towards such a pillow, no degree of ease, in the communication of tho torment. Every soul shall murmur against God, and curse God, for damning every other soul, as well as for damning his: though they would have them damned, that are damned, yet they shall reproach God, for damning them: and though they wish all the saints in heaven, in hell, yet they shall call it tyranny in God, to have sent a Cain, or an Achitophel, or a Judas thither. And as the person whom we consider in this text, is an embryon of the devil, Genimina viperarum, The spawn of the devil, a potential, and, as we said, an inchoated devil; so is the torment, this sorrow, a Lucifer, such a Lucifer, as hell can send out; not a light of any light, but a cloud of that darkness: as sure as this man, the wicked, shall be a devil, so sure this sorrow, shall end, not end, but reach to hell.
Yet when all this is thus said, said with a holy vehemence, with a zealous animosity, as indeed belongs to the denouncing of God's judgments, yet may we not be asked, Where is there any such person, or upon whom works there any such sorrow? Is it always true, that the wicked make no good use of afflictions? Or is it always true, that they have them? The first may admit a doubt, for if God justify, the ungodly, (God justifieth the ungodly") then their affliction may be a way, to prepare justification in them, as well as in them whom we call godly; and if Christ died for the ungodly, (Christ died for the ungodly*3) they also may fulfil his sufferings in their flesh, and their afflictions may produce good effects. But for that, they which are called ungodly, in both those places, are only such as were ungodly before God's justification began to work upon them, before Christ's death began to be applied to them, but did not continue in their ungodliness after; but these ungodly persons, whom afflictions supple and mollify no farther, but to an intemperate, and excruciating, and exclamatory sorrow, and continue ungodly still, are such as never have good effect of affliction or sorrow.
But then have these always affliction inflicted upon them? one would doubt it, by that in Job, The tabernacles of robbers do prosper, and they are in safety that provoke God*4. God's chil
"Rom. iv. 5. » Rom. v. 6. u Job xii. 6.
dren are robbed and spoiled by the wicked, and the wicked show it in God's face, they hide not their theft, they maintain publicly their wantonness, and their excesses, with the spoil of the poor; they have it, and they will hold it, and they bid God bring his action, and recover how he can. This the prophet Jeremy saw, and was affected, and scandalized with it; 0 Lord, if I plead with thee, thou art righteous"; I know thou canst maintain, and make good that which thou hast done; but yet, says he, Let me tali with thee of thy judgments; wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? Why, their ways prosper in a just punishment of God for their former sins, that they may have a larger and a broader way to destruction; and they are happy in temporal happinesses, that they may have more occasions of smarting; if their wealth stick not to their heirs, in a third generation, call them not rich; if their prosperity cleave not to their souls, call them not happy; he is a poor man, whose wealth can be writ in an inventory; that hath locked all in such an iron chest, in such a cabinet, and hath sent up nothing to meet him in heaven. As all the wealth of the wicked is but counterfeit, so is all the joy that they have in it counterfeit too. And howsoever they disguise their sorrow, yet if their torment be invisible to us, it is the liker hell; if we know not how they are afflicted, it is the liker hell; their damnation sleepeth not, nor they neither; and when at midnight their own consciences are a thousand witnesses to them, it is but a poor ease, that other men do not know, that they are those wicked persons, and their sorrow the sorrow of this text; that they are the wicked, and their sorrows many, and great, and eternal sorrows. But I would be glad to reserve as much time as I could for the other part, the person and the portion, that is in the other scale; Mercy shall compass, &c.
In this part we will begin with the persons; for when we come' to their portion, with which we must end, of that we shall be able to find no end, nay no beginning, for it begins with mercy, (Mercy shall compass them) and mercy is as much without beginning, as eternal, as God himself, and it flows on to joy and gladness, and exultation, and this joy shall no more see an end of
** Jer. xii. 1.
itself, than God himself shall sec an end of himself. Upon the persons we have three characters, and in their portions we have three weights; three degrees of goodness in their persons, three degrees of greatness in their portions. The persons first Trust in God, and then They are righteous, and lastly, They are upright in heart; so also, the reward is first inward joy, and then outward declaration, and lastly, an exemplary working upon others; and then, all these are rooted in the root of all, That mercy shall compass them.
First then, They trust in God. And that, first exclusive; they trust in him so, as that they trust in nothing else, and inclusive too; so, as that they do actually, and positively trust in God. Some have been so beaten out of all confidences in this world, so evacuated of former power, so divested of former favour, so despoiled of former treasures, as that they are brought to trust in nothing else; but then they trust not in God neither; Quia Deo non audent dare iniquitatem, auferunt ei gubernationem**; Because they dare not say, that God does anything ill, they come to say, that God does nothing at all; and to avoid the making of an unjust God, they make an idle God; which is as great an atheism as the other. But because it goes thus with them, that they have many and great sorrows, they conclude that all have so; but The heart knoweth his own bitterness"; they know their own case, the case of the godly they know not. The stranger shall not meddle withjkheir joy; he that is a stranger to this trust in God, understands nothing of the joy that appertains to them that have it. Let that be thy prayer, which was the prayer of Esther, Thy handmaid hath had no joy but in thee, 0 Lord God of Abraham; 0 thou mighty God, above all, hear thou the voice of them that have no other hope".
Our adversaries of Rome charge us, that we have but a negative religion; if that were true, it were a heavy charge, if we did only deny, and establish nothing; but we deny all their new additions, so as that we affirm all the old foundations. The negative man, that trusts in nothing in the world, may be but a philosopher, but an atheist, but a stupid and dead carcass. The affirmative man, that does acknowledge all blessings, spiritual and temporal, to come from God, that prepares himself by holi
!" Augustine. !T Prov. adv. 10. 28 Esther xiv. 18.
ness to be fit to receive them from God, that comes for them by humble prayer to God, that returns for them humble thanks to God, this man hath the first mark of this person upon him, He trusts in God. But he that trusts not in the world, nor in God neither, is worse than he, that trusts in the world, and not in God: because he is farther removed from all humility, that attributes all to himself; ho pretends to be an atheist, and to believe in no God; and yet ho constitutes a new idolatry, ho sacrifices to himself, and makes himself his god.
The second character, and specification of this person, is, that he is righteous. And this word, we shall do best to contain here within a legal righteousness; that righteousness, in which St. Paul protested, and proclaimed himself to be unblameable. For howsoever this apparent righteousness, righteousness in the eyes of the world, be not enough alone, yet no other righteousness is enough without this. The hypocrite, by being an hypocrite, may aggravate his own condemnation, when he comes to reckon with God; but to the church, who knows him not to be an hypocrite, he does good, by his exemplar and outward righteousness. He that does good for vain glory, may lead another man to good upon good grounds; and the prayers of those poor souls, whom he may have benefited by his vain-glorious good work, may prevail so with God in his behalf, as that his vain glory here, may become true glory, even in the kingdom of heaven.
So then we carry this word righteous no farther, but to the doing of those honest things, which we are bound to do in the sight of men. The word is tzadok, which is often used for tho exaltation and perfection of all true holiness; but as it is very often in the Old Testament taken for verax and wquus, when a man's word and work answer one another towards men; so in the New Testament, in the Syriac translation, where tho word is the same as in the Hebrew, it is oportuit, it behoved Christ to suffer; and in such a sense, in very many places, to be righteous, is to do that which it behoved us to do, became us to do, concerned us to do in the sight of men. Which can be expressed in no one thing more fully, than in this, To embrace a lawful calling, and to walk honestly in that calling; that is righteousness; for, justus sua fide vivit, the righteous lives by his own faith; not without faith, nor with tho faith of another; so justus suo tudore •eescitur, the righteous eats his bread in the sweat of his own brows; he labours in an honest calling, and drinks not the sweat of others' labours; and this is that righteousness in this text, the second mark upon this person, who is partaker of this portion.
And the third is, that he is rectus corde, upright in heart; that he direct even all the works of his calling, all the actions of his life upon the glory of God. If you carry a line from the circumference, to the circumference again, as a diameter, it passes the centre, it flows from the centre, it looks to the centre both ways. God is the centre; the lines above, and the lines below, still respect and regard the centre; whether I do any action honest in the sight of men, or any action acceptable to God, whether I do things belonging to this life, or to the next, still I must pass all through the centre, and direct all to the glory of God, and keep my heart right, without variation towards him. For as I do no good action here, merely for the interpretation of good men, though that be one good and justifiable reason of my good actions: so I must do nothing for my salvation hereafter, merely for the love I bear to mine own soul, though that also be one good and justifiable reason of that action; but the primary reason in both, as well the actions that establish a good name, as the actions that establish eternal life, must be the glory of God. Distortum lignum semper nutat", A wry and crooked plank in the floor, will always shake and kick up, and creak under a mans foot. A wry and a crooked heart will always shake distrustfully, and kick rebelliously, and creak repiningly, under the hand of God. I?m potest collineari rectitudine DM, says the same father, He is not paralleled with God, he is not levelled with God, if he use not his blessings, if he accept not his corrections, as God intends them. First, to trust in God, and then to deal righteously with men, and all the way to keep the heart straight upon God; these three make up the person; and these three his portion, That he shall be glad, and he shall rejoice, and jubilabit, he shall shout for joy.
Now as three great sums of gold put into one bag, these three
branches of this portion of the righteous, are fixed in one root, raised upon one foundation, Mercy shall compass him about. But then this mercy, this compassing mercy reaches not so far, as that thou shalt have no affliction, though thou trust in God; David had been an unfit person, to have delivered such a doctrine, who says of himself, Daily have I been punished, and chastened every morning:" he had it every day, it was his daily bread; and it was the first thing that he had, he had it in the morning. Here is mention of a morning, early sorrows, even to the godly; and mention of a day, continuing sorrows, even to the godly; but he speaks of no night here, the Son of grace the Son of God, does not set in a cloud of anger upon him. The martyrs that abounded with this trust in God, and this righteousness, and this uprightness of heart, abounded with these afflictions too. They that Bestowed themselves upon God and his church", as the apostle expresses it, had these sorrows plentifully bestowed upon themselves. And to pass from them to the Author of their constancy, Christ himself, he is Vir dolorum, A Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And now, Whom he loveth he chasteneth, and he scourgeth every one that he receiveth; flagellat omnem, he scourgeth every one; Vis audire quem omnem"? Will you know how general, and yet how particular this is? Unicus sine peccato, non tamen sine ftagello, There was one Man without any sin, but even that Man was not without punishment, Christ Jesus himself. So general is correction, as that in this case, and in this sense, it is more general than sm itself.
It is not then that the godly shall have no afflictions, no sorrows; But mutant fortitudinem, They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength**, say our translators in the body of their translation; but in the margin, (and nearer to the original) They shall change their strength. They that have been strong in sinning, that have sinned with a strong hand, when they feel a judgment upon thom, and find that it is God's hand, and God's hand for their sins, they faint not, they lose not their strength, but mutant fortitudinem, they change their strength, they grow as strong in suffering, as they were in sinning, and invest the
prophet's resolution, / will bear the indignation of the Lard, because I have sinned against him34. The book which God gave Ezekiel to eat, was written within and without, with lamentations, and mournings, and woes"; but when he ate it, he found it in his mouth as sweet as honey. When God offers the book, which is the register of our sins to our consciences, or the decree of his judgments to our understanding, or to our sense, it is written in gall and wormwood, and in the bitterness of sorrow; but if we can bring it to the first concoction, the first digestion, to that mastication, that rumination, which is the consideration of God's purpose upon us in that judgment, we shall change our taste, for we shall Taste and see, quam suuvis Dominus, how good, and how sweet the Lord is3«; for even this judgment is mercy.
Think not then thy valour sufficiently tried, if thou canst take it patiently, to have missed a suit long pursued, or failed of a preferment long expected; no not if thou have stood in a hail of bullets without winking, or sat the searching of a wound without starting; but muta fortitudinem, change thy valour, and when thou comest to bear great crosses, proportionable to thy great sins, with a spiritual courage, acknowledge that courage to be the mercy of God, and not thine own moral constancy. God loves his own example, to do as he hath done; Omni quwstione severius, a te interrogari; it was said to a Roman emperor, who examined with wisdom, and majesty too: It is truer of God; that it is more fearful than any rack, or torture, when he comes to search and sift a conscience: yet God did come to that office upon Adam, before he would condemn him. He came to a worse place than Paradise; he came to Sodom, to rack and torture them, with that confession, that there could not be found ten righteous men amongst them. But yet this he did, before he condemned them. God will visit thee in this rack, in this furnace, in these trials., before he proceed to thy condemnation. But when God does so, believe thou David, in his indulgence to his son, to have been a type of God's disposition to thy soul. When he sent out his army against Absalom, he stood in the gate to survey the muster, and to every one of the commanders, Joab, and the rest, Btill ho said, Servate mihi puerum Absalom, Intreat tfa young man Absa
"Mic. vii. 9. "Ezekiel ii. 10. 56 Psalm xxxiv. 8.
lom well for my take. The Lord of hosts may send forth his army against thee, sickness, loss, shame, pain, banishment, imprisonment, (which are all swords of his) but he says to them all, Servate mihi Absalom, That soul that I have bought with my blood, preserve for me; fight but against mine enemies, his pride, his security, his presumption; but servate Absalom, preserve his soul unshaken, and unoffended. God hath said it before, and he says again to thee, in all thy afflictions, / know the thoughts that I think towards you, the thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end". God said this, when a false prophet had promised them deliverance in two years; God prorogues the time; he would do it, but he would not do it under threescore and ten years. Limit not God in his time, nor in his means; the mercy consists in relieving thee so, as that thy soul suffer not, though thou do. And if that be preserved, his mercy is a compassing mercy, which is also another circumstance in this branch.
The devil had compassed all the earth, and he was angry that God had compassed Job. He says in indignation, Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath, on every side"? God did so for Job, and he will do so for thee: He redeemeth thy life from the grave, and crowneth thee with mercy, and compassion3*. This is the compassing in heaven, when we come to be crowned there. But there is a compassing here, and an empaling of God's children, in St. Paul's co-operantur, When all things work together, for good, to them that love God"'. When prosperity and adversity, honour and disgrace, profit and loss, the Lord's giving and the Lord's taking, do all concur to the making up of this pale, that must compass us; when we acknowledge that there must be nails in the pale, as well as stakes, there must be thorns in the hedge, as well as fruit-trees; crosses as well as blessings; when we leer not over the pale, neither into the common; that is, to the Gentiles and nations, and begin to think, that wo might be saved by the light of nature, without this burden of Christianity: nor leer over into the pastures, and corn of our neighbours; that is, to think, that we are not well in our own Church, but must needs hearken to the doctrine, or disci
plino of another; when we see all that comes, to come from God, and are content with that, then omnia co-operantur, every piece serves to the making up this pale, and his mercy compasses us about.
This is the root of our three branches, the foundation of our three stories; the bag of our three sums, in this portion, mercy, compassing mercy; and then the branches themselves, the rooms, the sums are but these three words, expressing, and exalting one affection, Be glad, rejoice, and shout for joy; which joy, is first an inward love of the law of God, Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever, for they are the joy of my heart". It is not dant, but sunt, not that they bring joy, but that they are joy; there is no other joy but the delight in the law of the Lord: for all other joy, the wise king said, Of laughter, thou art mad, and of joy, what is this that thou dost"? True joy is the earnest which we have of heaven, it is the treasure of the soul, and therefore should be laid in a safe place, and nothing in this world is safe to place it in: and therefore with the spouse we say, We will be glad in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine". Let others seek their joy in wine, in society, in conversation, in music; for me, Thou hast put gladness into my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
Rejoice therefore in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice": Again, that is, rejoice in the second manner of expressing it, by external declarations. Go cheerfully, and joyfully forward, in the works of your callings. Rejoice in the blessings of God without murmuring, or comparing with others. And establish thy joy so, in an honest, and religious manner of getting, that thy joy may descend to thine heir, as well as thy land. No land is so well fenced, no house so well furnished, as that, which hath this joy, this testimony of being well gotten. For, This thou knowest of old, since man was placed upon earth, that the triumphing of tlie wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment45.
And then the last degree is louder than this, Jubilate, Shout for joy; declare thy joy in the ears of other men. As the angels said to the shepherds, / bring you tidings of great joy, which
shall be unto all people, so be thou a cheerful occasion of glorifying God by thy joy. Declare his loving kindness unto the sons of men; tell them what he hath done for thy soul, thy body, thy state. Say, With this staff came I over Jordan: be content to tell whose son thou wast, and how small thy beginning. Smother not God's blessings, by making thyself poor, when he who is truly poor, begs of thee, for that God's sake, who gave thee all that thou hast. Hold up a holy cheerfulness in thy heart; go on in a cheerful conversation; and let the world see, that all this grows out of a peace, betwixt God and thee, testified in the blessings of this world; and then thou art that person, and then thou hast that portion, which grows out of this root, in this text, mercy shall compass him about that trusteth in the Lord.