PREACHED TO THE COUNTESS OF BEDFORD, THEN AT
HARRINGTON HOUSE, JAN. 7, 1020.
Jon xxx. 15.
Lo, though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.
The name, by which God notified himself, to all the world, at first, was, Qui sum, I am; this was his style, in the commission, that he gave to Moses to Pharaoh; say, That he whose name is, I am, hath sent thee1, for there, God would have made it known, that all essence, all being, all things, that fall out, in any time, past, or present, or future, had their dependence upon him, their derivation from him, their subsistence in him. But then, when God contracts himself into a narrower consideration, not to be considered as God, which implies the whole Trinity, but as Christ, which is only the second person, and when he does not so much notify himself to the whole world, as to the Christian church, then he contracts his name too, from that spacious and extensive Qui sum, I am, which includes all time, to Alpha and Omega, first and last, which are pieces of time, as we see, in several places of the Revelation, he styles himself: when God speaks to the whole world, his name is, Qui sum, I am, that all the world may confess, that all that is, is nothing, but with relation to him; when he speaks to a Christian, his name is Alpha and Omega, first and last, that a Christian may, in the very name of God, fix
1 Exod. iii. 14.
his thoughts upon his beginning, anil upon his end, and ever remember, that as a few years since, in his cradle, he had no sense of that honour, those riches, those pleasures, which possess his time now, so, God knows how few days hence, in his grave, he shall have no sense, no memory of them. Our whole life is but a parenthesis, our receiving of our soul, and delivering it back again, makes up the perfect sentence; Christ is Alpha and Omega, and our Alpha and Omega is all we are to consider.
Now, for all the letters in this alphabet of our life, that is, for all the various accidents in the course thereof, we cannot study a better book, than the person of Job. His first letter, his alpha, we know not, we know not his birth; his last letter, his omega, wc know not, we know not his death; but all his other letters, his children, and his riches, we read over and over again, how he had them, how he lost them, and how he recovered them. By which though it appear that those temporal things do also belong to the care and provision of a godly man, yet it appears too, that neither his first care, nor his last care appertains to the things of this world, but that there is a primum quwrite, something to be sought for before, the kingdom of God; and there is a memorare novissima, something to be thought on after, the joys of heaven; and then, Cwtera adjicientur, says Christ, all other cares are allowable by way of accessary, but not as principal. And therefore, though this history of Job, may seem to spend itself, upon the relation of Job's temporal passages, of his wealth, and poverty, of his sickness, and recovery, yet, if we consider the alpha and omega of the book itself, the first beginning, and the latter end thereof, we shall see in both places, a care of the Holy Ghost, to show us first Job's righteousness, and then his riches, first his goodness, and then his goods; in both places, there is a catechism, a confession of his faith before, and then an inventory, and catalogue of his wealth; for, in the first place, it is said, lie was an upright and just man, and feared God, and eschewed evil, and then, his children, and his substance follow; and in the last place, it is said, That Job was accepted by God, and that he prayed for those friends, which had vexed him, and then it is, that his former substance was doubled unto him.
This world then is but an occasional world, a world only to be used; and that but so, as though we used it not: the next world is the world to be enjoyed, and that so, as that we may joy in nothing by the way, but as it directs and conduces to that end; nay, though we have no joy at all, though God deny us all conveniences here, etiamsi occiderit, though he end a weary life, with a painful death, as there is no other hope, but in him, so there needs no other, for that alone is both abundant, and infallible in itself.
Now, as no history is more various, than Job's fortune, so is no phrase, no style, more ambiguous, than that in which Job's history is written; very many words so expressed, very many phrases so conceived, as that they admit a diverse, a contrary sense; for such an ambiguity in a single word, there is an example in the beginning, in Job's wife; we know not (from the word itself) whether it be benedicas, or maledicas, whether she said Bless God, and die, or, Curse God: and for such an ambiguity, in an entire sentence, the words of this text are a pregnant, and evident example, for they may be directly, and properly thus rendered out of the Hebrew, Behold he will kill me, I will not hope; and this seems to differ much from our reading, Behold, though he kill me, yet will I trust in him. And therefore to make up that sense, which our translation hath, (which is truly the true sense of the place) we must first make this paraphrase, Behold he will kill me, I make account he will kill me, I look not for life at his hands, his will be done upon me for that; and then, the rest of the sentence (/ will not hope) (as we read it in the Hebrew,) must be supplied, or rectified rather, with an interrogation, which that language wants, and the translators used to add it, where they see the sense require it: and so reading it with an interrogation, the original, and our translation will constitute one and the same thing; it will be all one sense to say, with the original, Behold he will kill me, (that is, let him kill me) yet shall not I hope in him? and to say with our translation, Behold though he kill me, yet will I hope in him: and this sense of the words, both the Chaldee paraphrase, and all translations (excepting only the Septuagint) do unanimously establish.
So then, the sense of the words being thus fixed, we shall not distract your understandings, or load your memories, with more than two parts: those, for your ease, and to make the better impression, we will call propositum, and prwpositum; first, the purpose, the resolution of a godly man, which is, to rely upon God; and then the consideration, the inducement, the debatement of this beforehand, that no danger can present itself, which he had not thought of before, he hath carried his thoughts to the last period, he hath stirred the potion to the last scruple of rhubarb, and wormwood, which is in it, he hath digested the worst, he hath considered death itself, and therefore his resolution stands unshaked, Etiam occiderit, Though he die for it, yet he will trust in God.
In the first then, the resolution, the purpose itself, we shall consider, quem, and quid; the person, and the affection: to whom Job will bear so great, and so reverent a respect; and then, what this respect is, / mll trust in him. I would not stay you, upon the first branch, upon the person, as upon a particular consideration (though even that, the person upon whom, in all cases, we are to rely, be entertainment sufficient for the meditation of our whole life) but that there arises an useful observation, out of that name, by which Job delivers that person, to us, in this place: Job says, Though he kill me, yet he will trust in him; but he tells us not in this verse, who this he is. And though we know, by the frame, and context, that this is God, yet we must have recourse to the third verse, to see, in what apprehension, and what notion, in what character, and what contemplation, in what name, and what nature, what attribute, and what capacity, Job conceived and proposed God to himself, when he fixed his resolution so entirely to rely upon him; for, as God is a jealous God, I am sure I have given him occasion of jealousy, and suspicion, I have multiplied my fornications, and yet am not satisfied*, as the prophet speaks: as God is a consuming fire, I have made myself fuel for the fire, and I have brought the fires of lust, and of ambition, to kindle that fire; as God visits the sins of fathers upon children, I know not what sins my fathers and grandfathers have laid up in the treasure of God's indignation: as God comes to my notion, in these forms, horrendum, it were a fearful thing to flesh and blood, to deliver one's self over to him, as he is a
jealous God, and a consuming fire; but in that third verse, Job sets before him, that God, whom he conceives to be Shaddai, that is, Omnipotens, Almighty, / will speak to the Almighty, and / desire to dispute with God. Now, if we propose God to ourselves, in that name, as he is Shaddai, we shall find that word in so many significations in the Scriptures, as that no misery or calamity, no prosperity or happiness can fall upon us, but we shall still see it (of what kind soever it be) descend from God, in this acceptation, as God is Shaddai. For, first, this word signifies dishonour, as the Septuagint translate it in the Proverbs3, He that dishonoureth his parents, is a shameless child; there is this word; Shaddai is the name of God, and yet shaddai signifies dishonour. In the prophet Esay it signifies depredation, a forcible and violent taking away of our goods; Vw prwdanti, says God in that place, Woe to thee that spoilest, and wast not spoiled*; Shaddai is the name of God, and yet shaddai is spoil, and violence and depredation. In the prophet Jeremy, the word is carried farther, there it signifies destruction, and an utter devastation, Devastati sumus, says he, Woe unto us, for we are destroy edh; the word is shaddai, and is destruction, though Shaddai be the name of God: yea, the word reaches to a more spiritual affection, it extends to the understanding, and error in that, and to the conscience, and sin in that; for so the Septuagint makes use of this word in the Proverbs, To deceive*, and to lie; and in one place in the Psalms', they interpret the word of the devil himself. So that, (recollecting all these heavy significations of the word) dishonour and disreputation, force and depredation, ruin and devastation, error and illusion, the devil and his temptations, are presented to us, in the same word, as the name and power of God is, that, whensoever any of these do fall upon us, in the same instant when we see and consider the name and quality of this calamity that falls, we may see and consider the power and the purpose of God which inflicts that calamity; I cannot call the calamity by a name, but in that name, I name God; I cannot feel an affliction, but in that very affliction, I feel
the hand (and, if I will, the medicinal hand) of my God. If therefore our honour and reputation decay, all honour was a beam of him, and if he have sucked that beam into himself, let us follow it home, let us labour to be honourable in him, glorified in him, and our honour is not extinguished in this world, but grown too glorious for this world to comprehend. If spoil and depredation come upon us, that we be covered with wrath, and persecuted, slain and not spared. That those that fed delicately perish in the streets, and they that were brought up in scarlet embrace the dunghill, and that the hands of pitiful women have sodden their own children, as the prophet complains in the Lamentations; if there be such an irreparable devastation upon us, as that we be broken as an earthen vessel, in the breaking whereof there remains not a shred to fetch fire from the earth, nor water from the pit, that our estate be ruined so, as that there is nothing left, not only for future posterity, but not for the present family, yet still God and the calamity are together, God does not send it, but bring it, he is there as soon as the calamity is there, and calling that calamity by his own name, Shaddai, he would make that very calamity a candle to thee, by which thou mightest see him; that, if thou wert not so puffed up before, as that thou forgotest to say, Dominus dedit, It was the Lord that gave all, thou shouldst not be so dejected, so rebellious now, as not to say Dominus tulit, It is the Lord that hath taken, and committed to some better steward, those treasures of his, which he saw, thou dost employ to thine own danger.
Yea, if those spiritual afflictions, which reach to the understanding, and are intimated and involved in this word, in this name of God, do fall upon us, That we call for our lovers, and they deceive us* (as we told you, the word did signify deceit) that is, we come to see how much we mistook the matter, when we fell in love with worldly things, (as certainly, once in our lives, though it be but upon our death-beds, we do come to discover that deceit) yea, when the deceit is so spiritual, as that it reaches not only to the understanding, but to the conscience, that that have been deceived either with security at one time, or with
anxieties, and unnecessary scruples, and impertinent perplexities at another; if this spiritual deceit have gone so high, as that we came to think ourselves to be amongst them, of whom the prophet says, Ah Lord God, surely thou hast deceived thy people*, and Jerusalem, that we come to suspect, that God hath misled us in a false religion all this while, and that there is a better than this, if we would look to it; if God to punish our negligence, and surfeit of his word, should suffer the prophet to prophesy lies10, That the prophet should be a fool, and the spiritual man mad11, (that is, as St. Hierome reads that place, arreptitius, possessed, possessed with the spirit of ambition, and flattery, and temporizing, to preach to their appetites, who govern the times, and not to his instructions, who sent them to preach) yea, where this word is carried, the highest of all, that this word, which is the name of God, is used for the devil, (as we noted before, out of the Psalms) That Satan was let loose, and polluted the kingdom, and the princes thereof, with false worships1*, yet to what height soever, this violence, or this deceit, or this temptation should come, God comes with it; and, with God, there is strength and wisdom, he discerns our distresses, and is able to succour us in them; and, (as it is added there) He that is deceived, and he that deceives are his"; the deceiver is his, because he catcheth the crafty in their own nets, and the deceived are his, that he may rectify and unbeguile them. So then the children of God, are the marble, and the ivory, upon which he works; in them his purpose is, to re-engrave, and restore his image; and affliction, and the malignity of man, and the deceits of heretics, and the temptations of the devil himself, are but his instruments, his tools, to make his image more discernible, and more durable in us. Job will speak to God, he will dispute with God, he will trust in God, therefore, because he is Shaddai, because neither dishonour, nor devastation, of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, by deceit of treacherous friends, by backsliding of false teachers, by illusion of the devil himself, can be presented him, but the name and power of God accompanies that calamity, and he sees that they came from God, and therefore he should be
Jer. iv. 10. 10 Jer. v. 31. 11 Hosea ix. 1.
» Lam. ii. 2. 13 Job xii. 16.
patient in them, and how impatient soever he be, he sees he must bear them, because they came from him.
But Job hath another hold too, another assurance, for his confidence in God, from this name Shaddai; it is not only because all calamity comes from him, and therefore should be borne, or therefore must be borne; but all restitution, all reparation of temporal, or spiritual detriment, is included in that name too, for Shaddai is Omnipotens, Almighty, he can do all things; and the consolation is brought nearer than so, in one place14, it is omnia faciens, that, not only for the future he can, but for the present, he does study, and he does accomplish my good; even then, when his hand is upon me, in a calamity, his hand is under me, to raise me up again; as he that flings a ball to the ground, or to a wall, intends in that action, that that ball should return back, so even now, when God does throw me down, it is the way that he hath chosen to return me to himself. Since therefore this name Shaddai assured Job, that all which we call good, and all which wo call evil, that is, prosperity, and adversity, .proceed from God; that God (who in the signification of this name) is able to shatter, and scatter, to devastate and depopulate, not only our estate, but our conscience, in an instant, with the horror of his judgments; and then is able to bind up, and consolidate all this again, with his temporal, and spiritual comforts, since he can destroy in an instant that temple, which was so long in building, that is, overthrow that fortune, which employed the industry of man, the favour of princes, and the ruin and supplantations of other men, for many years, to the making thereof, and then can raise this ruined temple, this overthrown man, in three days, or hours, or minutes, as it pleaseth him, to measure his own purposes, since good and bad, peace and anguish, life and death proceed from him, who is Shaddai, the Almighty God, Job had good reasons, to trust in him, in that God, though he, that God, should kill him; which emphatical, and appliable significations of the name, hath occasioned me (though it be obvious and present to every apprehension, that God is the person, who in this text, is to be relied upon) to insist upon this, as a particular part or branch; and so we pass to that, which we proposed for a second
14 Job viii. 3.
branch, from the person, (God, and God in this notion, Shaddai, Almighty) to the respect, which he promises, trust, Though he kill me, yet will I trust in him.
It is a higher degree of reverence and confidence, to trust in one, than to trust one. We see it so expressed in the articles of our creed; Credimus in Deu?n, We believe in God, and in Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; and then Credimus ecclesiam Catholicam, We believe the Catholic church. We will believe a honest man, that he will do as he says, we believe God much more, that he will perform his promises; we will trust God, that he will do as he says; but then, Job will trust in God, that though God have not spoken to his soul as yet, though he have not interested him in his promises, and in his covenant, (for Job is not conceived to be within the covenant made by God to his people) yet he will trust in him, that in his due time, he will visit him, and will apply him those mercies, and those means, which no man, that had interest in them, can doubt, or distrust. And therefore Job professes his trust in God, in that word, which hath in the use thereof in Scriptures, ordinarily three acceptations; the word is jakal, and jakal signifies expectavit Deum, his eye, his expectation was upon nothing but God; and then it signifies speravit, he hoped for him, as he looked for nothing else, so he doubted not of him; and then it is moratus est, as he was sure of him, so he prescribed him not a time, but humbly attended his leisure, and received his temporal, or spiritual blessings thankfully, whensoever it should be his pleasure to afford them.
First then, expectavit, he trusted in him, that is, he trusted in nothing but him. For, beloved, as we have in the schools, a short and a round way, to prove that the world was made of nothing, which is, only to ask that man, who will need deny the world to be made of nothing, of what it was made; and, if he could find a pre-existent matter, of which he thought the world was made, yet we must ask him again, of what that pre-existent matter was made, and so upwards still, till at last it must necessarily come to nothing: so we must ask that man, that will not be of Job's mind, to trust in God, in what he would trust; would he trust in his riches? Who shall preserve them to him? The law? Then he trusts in the law. But who shall preserve the
VOL. iV. 2 N
law? The king. > Then his trust is in him. And who shall preserve him? Almighty God; and therefore his trust must be at last in him. To what nation is their god come so near to them as the Lord our God is come near unto us? What nation hath laws, and ordinances, so righteous as we have"? Moses said this historically of the Jew, and prophetically of us; it is true we are governed by a peaceable, and a just law; Moses's prophecy is fulfilled upon us, and so is Esay's too, lieges nutricii, Kings shall be thy nursing fathers1'; it is true to us, the law is preserved to us, by a just, and a peaceful prince; but how often have the sins of the people, and their unthankfulness especially, induced new laws, and new princes I The prince, and the law, are the two most reverend, and most safe things, that man can rely upon; but yet (in other nations at least) sacred, and secular story declares, that for the iniquity of the people the law hath been perverted by princes, and for the sin of the people, the prince hath been subverted by God. Howsoever there may be some collateral, and transitory trust in by things, the radical, the fundamental trust, is only in God.
Job trusted in him, that is, in nothing but him: but then, speravit, he hoped for something at his hands; none can give but God; but God will give to none that do not hope for it, and that do not express their hope, by asking, by prayer; God scatters not his blessings, as princes do money, in donatives at coronations or triumphs, without respect upon whom they shall fall. God rained down manna and quails, plentifully, abundantly; but he knew to what hand every bird, and every grain belonged. To trust in nothing else, is but half way; it is but a stupid neglecting of all; it is an ill affection to say, I look for nothing at the world's hands, nor at God's neither. God only hath all, and God hath made us capable of all his gifts; and therefore we must neither hope for them, anywhere else, nor give over our hope of them, from him, by intermitting our prayers, or our industry in a lawful calling; for we are bound to suck at those breasts which God puts out to us, and to draw at those springs, which flow from him to us; and prayer, and industry, are these breasts, and these springs; and whatsoever we have by them, we have from him.
15 Deut. xiv. 16 Isaiah xLix. 23.
Expectamt, Job trusted not in the means, as in the fountain, but yet speravit, he doubted not, but God, who is the fountain, would, by those means, derive his blessings, temporal and spiritual, upon him.
He hoped; now hope is only, or principally of invisible things, for Hope that is seen, is not hope17, says the apostle. And therefore, though we may hope for temporal things, for health, wealth, strength, and liberty, and victory where God's enemies oppress the church, and for execution of laws, where God's enemies undermine the church; (for, whatsoever we may pray for, we may hope for, and all those temporal blessings are prayed for, by Christ's appointment, in that petition, Give us this day our daily bread) yet our hope is principally directed upon the invisible part, and invisible office of those visible and temporal things; which is, that by them, we may be the better able to perform religious duties to God, and duties of assistance to the world. When I expect a friend, I may go up to a window, and wish I might see a coach, or up to a cliff, and wish I might see a ship, but it is because I hope, that that friend is in that coach, or that ship: so I wish, and pray, and labour for temporal things, because I hope that my soul shall be edified, and my salvation established, and God glorified by my having them: and therefore every Christian hope being especially upon spiritual things, is properly, and purposely grounded, upon these stones; that it be spes veniw, a hope of pardon, for that which is past, and then spes gratiw, a hope of grace, to establish me in that state with God, in which, his pardon hath placed me, and lastly spes gloriw, a hope that this pardon, and this grace, shall lead me to that everlasting glory, which shall admit no night, no eclipse, no cloud.
First, for the first object of this hope, pardon, we are to consider sin, in two aspects, two apprehensions; as sin is an injury, a treason, yea a wound to God; and then as sin is a calamity, a misery fallen inevitably upon man. Consider it the first way, and there is no hope of pardon, Nec talem Deum tuum putes, qualis nec tu debes esse, is excellently said by St. Augustine: never imagine any other quality to be in Christ, than such, as thou, as a Christian, art bound to have in thyself. And, if a
17 Rom. viii. 24.
snake hath stung me, must I take up that snake, and put it into my bosom 1 If so poor a snake, so poor a worm as I, have stung my Maker, have crucified my Redeemer, shall he therefore, therefore take me into his bosom, into his wounds, and save me, and glorify me? No, if I look upon sin, in that line, in that angle, as it is a wound to God, I shall come to that of Cain, Major iniquitas, My sin is greater than can be forgiven, and to that of Judas, Peccavi tradens, I have sinned in betraying the innocent blood, that is, in crucifying him again, who was crucified for me, in betraying his righteous blood, as much, by my unworthy receiving, as Judas did, in an unjust delivering of it. But if I look upon sin, as sin is now, the misery and calamity of man, the greater the misery appears, the more hope of pardon I have; Abyssus abyssum, as David speaks18, One depth calls upon another; infinite sins call for infinite mercy; and where sin did abound, grace, and mercy shall much more. First David presents the greatness of his sins, and then follows the Miserere mei, Have mercy upon me, according to the greatness of thy mercy. Is there any little mercy in God? Is not all his mercy infinite, that pardons a sin done against an infinite majesty? Yes; but herein the greatness appears to us, that it delivers us from a great calamity. Quia infirmus, Because I am weak, (born weak, and subject to continual infirmities) Quia ossa conturbata, Because my bones are troubled, (my best repentances, and resolutions are shaked) Quia vexata anima, because my soul is in anguish, when after such resolutions, and repentances, and vows, I relapse into those sins, these miseries of his, were David's inducements why God should pardon him, because it is thus with me, have mercy upon me. And so God himself seems to have had a diverse, a two-fold apprehension of our sins, when he says, that because All the imaginations of the thoughts of man's heart were only evil continually, therefore he would spare none, he would destroy all19, and after he says, That because the imaginations of the thoughts of man's heart were evil from his youth, he tcould no more smite all things living, as he had done*"; for sin, he would destroy them, and yet for sin, he would spare them: when we examine our
sins, and find them to be out of infirmity, and not out of rebellion, we may conclude Gods corrections to be by way of medicine, and not of poison, to be for our amendment, and not for our annihilation, and in that case, there is spes veniw, just hope of pardon.
Another degree of hope is, spes gratiw, hope of subsequent grace; for, as St. Paul builds his argument, If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God, by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life*1: in like manner, every sinner may build his trust, and hope in God, He that hath pardoned us, the sins we have done, will much more assist us with his grace, that we may be able to stand in that state with him, to which he hath brought us. He that succoured us, when there was nothing in us, but his enemies, will much more send new supplies, when the town is held for him, and by his friends. And this hope of pardon, for that which is past, and of grace for the present, continues to the hope of glory to come: of which glory we apprehend strong and effectual beams here, by conforming ourselves to that Gospel, which the apostle calls the glorious Gospel of the blessed God**; and for the consummation of this glory, we do with patience abide for it83, says the apostle: which is the last of those three senses, in which we noted this word, in which Job expresses his trust in God, to be used in the Scriptures, jakal, moratus est; he did trust in nothing else, he did trust in him, and then he stayed his leisure.
Jacob makes a solemn prayer to God, in Genesis xxxii., 0 God of my fathers, Abraham, and Isaac, then he remembers God of his promise, (Thou saidst unto me return, and I will do thee good) he tells him his danger, (/ fear my brother Esau will come and smite me) he makes his petition, (Deliver me from the hand of my brother) and yet, for all this, though he trusted in God, yet God infuses not that confidence into him, as to go on: he sent his present to his brother, but himself tarried there all night, says the text. Yea, God was so far, from giving him present means of deliverance, that he made him worse able to deliver himself, he wrestled with him, and lamed him: but after all, in God's
appointed time, he and his brother were reconciled. If thou pray to Almighty God, in temporal, in spiritual calamities, if God do not presently enlighten thine understanding in every controversy of religion, in every scruple of conscience, if he do not rectify thine estate, when it is decayed, thy reputation, when thou art reproached, yea if he wrestle with thee, and lame thee, that is, bring all to a greater impotency, and improbability of amendment than before, yet thou hast thy rule from Job, thou hast thy example from Jacob, that to trust in God, is not only to trust in nothing else, nor only to hope particularly, for pardon, for grace, for glory from him, but it is to stay his leisure, for the outward and inward seals of all his mercies, and his benefits, which he shall, in his time, bestow upon thee. The ambitious man must stay till he, whose office he expects, be dead: the covetous man must stay till the six months be run, before his use come in. Though thou have a religious ambition, a holy covetousness even at God's graces, thou must stay his time. Os aperui, et attract, says David, / opened my mouth, and panted, became I loved thy commandmentsTM; he loved them, and he longed for them, yet he had not presently a full satisfaction. Domine labia mea aperies, says he also; first, it must be the Lord that must open our lips, in all our petitions; it must not be the anguish of the calamity only, nor the desire of that which thou prayest for only, that must open thy lips, but the Lord, that is, the glory of God: when the Lord hath opened thy lips in a rectified prayer, then follows the Aperuit manus, The eyes of all things wait upon him, and he gives them their meat in due season; he opens his hand, and fills every living thing, at his good pleasure*1: here is plentiful opening, and filling, and filling everything, but still in due season, and that due season expressed, at his pleasure: for, as that is the nature of everything, which God hath imprinted in it, so that is the season of everything, which God hath appointed for it. Thou wouldest not pray for harvest at Christmas*6; seek not unseasonable comforts, out of music, or comedies, or conversation, or wine in thy distresses, but seek it at the hand of God, and stay his leisure, for else thou dost not trust in him.
We have now passed over all those branches, which constituted our first part, that which we called propositum, what is the purpose and resolution of a godly man, in Job: that he would not scatter his thoughts in trusting upon creatures, and yet he would not suffer his thoughts to vanish and evaporate, he would rest them upon something, and not leave all to fortune, he would rest upon God, and yet stay his time for the execution of his gracious purposes. There remains yet, that which we called propositum, in which we intended, the foundation, and ground of that purpose and resolution; which seems in Job, to have been, a debatement in himself, a contemplation of all dangers, the worst was death, and yet, si occiderit, if I die for it, and die at his hands, though he kill me, yet will I trust in him. For when the children of God take that resolution, to suffer any affliction, which God shall lay upon them, patiently, and cheerfully, it must not be a sudden, a rash, an undebated resolution, but they must consider why they undertake it, and in whose strength, they shall be able to do it: they must consider what they have done for God, before they promise themselves the glory of suffering for him. When they which enterprised the building of Babel; did no more but say to one another, Come let us make brick, go to, let us build a tower, whose top may reach to heaven, how quickly they were scattered over the earth*1? The way is, if you mind to build, to sit down and count the costTM; if you purpose to suffer for Christ, to look to your stock, your strength, and from whence it comes. The king that intends a war, in that Gospel, take counsel, whether he be able with his ten thousand to meet the enemy with twenty thousand. We are too weak for our enemy; the world, the flesh, and the devil, are mustered against us; but yet, with our ten thousand, we may meet their twenty thousand, if we have put on Christ, and be armed with him, and his holy patience, and constancy; but from whom may we derive an assurance, that we shall have that armour, that patience, that constancy? First, a Christian must purpose to do, and then in cases of necessity, to suffer: and give me leave to make this short note by the way, no man shall suffer like a Christian, that hath done nothing like a Christian: God shall thank no man, for dying for him, and his
glory, that contributed nothing to his glory, in the actions of his life: very hardly shall that man be a martyr in a persecution, that did not what he could, to keep off persecution.
Thus then Job comes first, to the si Occident, if he should Mll me; if God's anger should proceed so far, as so far, it may proceed. Let no man say in a sickness, or in any temporal calamity, this is the worst; for a worse thing than that may fall: five and thirty years' sickness may fall upon thee; and, (as it is in that gospel) a worse thing than that; distraction, and desperation may fall upon thee: let no church, no state, in any distress say, This is the worst, for only God knows, what is the worst, that God can do to us. Job does not deny here, but that this si occiderit, if it come to a matter of life, it were another manner of trial, than either the si irruerent Sabwi, if the Sabians should come and drive his cattle, and slay his servants; more, than the si ignis caderet, if the fire of God should fall from heaven, and devour all; more, than the si ventus concuteret, if the wind of the wilderness, should shake down his house, and kill all his children. The devil in his malice saw, that if it came to matter of life, Job was like enough to be shaked in his faith; Skin for skin, and all that ever a man hath will he give for his life. God foresaw that, in his gracious providence too; and therefore he took that clause out of Satan's commission, and inserted his veruntamen animam ejus serva, meddle not with his life. The love of this life, which is natural to us, and imprinted by God in us, is not sinful: Few and evil have the days of my pilgrimage been, says Jacob to Pharaoh: though they had been evil, (which makes our days seem long) and though he were no young man, when he said so, yet the days which he had passed, he thought few, and desired more. When Elijah was fled into the wilderness, and that in passion, and vehemence he said to God, Sufficit Domine, tolle animam meam, It is enough 0 Lord, now take away my life, if he had been heartily, thoroughly weary of his life, he needed not to have fled from Jesabel, for he fled but to save his life. The apostle had a cupio dissohi, a desire to be dissolved; but yet "a love to his brethren corrected that desire, and made him find that it was far better for him to live. Our Saviour himself, when it came to the pinch, and to the agony; had a transeat calix, a natural declining of death. The natural love of our natural life is not ill: it is ill, in many cases, not to love this life: to expose it to unnecessary dangers, is always ill; and there are overtures to as great sins, in hating this life, as in loving it; and therefore Job's first consideration is, si occiderit, if he should kill me, if I thought he would kill me, this were enough to put me from trusting in any.
But Job's consideration went further, than to the si occideret, Though he should kill me, for it comes to an absolute assurance that God will kill me; for so it is in the original, Ecce occidet, Behold, I see he will kill me; I have, I can have no hope of life, at his hands. It is all our cases; Adam might have lived, if he would, but I cannot. God hath placed an ecce, a mark of my death, upon everything living, that I can set mine eye upon; everything is a remembrancer, everything is a judge upon me, and pronounces, I must die. The whole frame of the world is mortal, Ileaven and earth pass away: and upon us all, there is an irrecoverable decree passed, Statutum est, It is appointed to all men, that they shall once die". But when? quickly; if thou look up into the air, remember that thy life is but a wind30, if thou see a cloud in the air, ask St. James his question, What is your life? and give St. James his answer, It is a vapour that appeareth and vanisheth away31. If thou behold a tree, then Job gives thee a comparison of thyself; a tree is an emblem of thyself; nay a tree is the original, thou art but the copy, thou art not so good as it: for, There is hope of a tree (as you read there) if the root wax old, if the stock be dead, if it be cut down, yet by the scent of the waters, it will bud, but man is sick, and dieth, and where is he3*? he shall not wake again, till heaven be no more. Look upon the water, and we are as that, and as that spilt upon the ground: look to the earth, and we are not like that, but we are earth itself: at our tables we feed upon the dead, and in the temple we tread upon the dead: and when we meet in a church, God hath made many echoes, many testimonies of our death, in the walls, and in the windows, and he only knows, whether he will not make another testimony of our mortality, of the youngest amongst us, before we part, and make the very place of our burial, our death-bed.
80 Heb. ix. xxvii.
31 Jam. iv. 14.
Job's contemplation went so far; not only to a si occideret, to a possibility that he might die, but to an ecce occidet, to an assurance that he must die; I know there is an infallibleness in the decree, an inevitableness in nature, an inexorableness in God, I must die. And the word bears a third interpretation beyond this; for, si occideret, is not only, if he should kill me, as he may, if he will, and it may be he will; nor only, that I am sure he will kill me, I know I must die, but the word may very well be also, though he have killed me. So that Job's resolution that ho will trust in God, is grounded upon all these considerations, that there is exercise of our hope in God, before death, in the agony of death, and after death. First, in our good days, and in the time of health, Memorare novissima, says the wise man, We must remember our end, our death. But that we cannot forget, everything presents that to us; but his counsel there is, in omnibus operibus, in all thine undertakings, in all thine actions, remember thine end; when thou art in any worldly work, for advancing thy state, remember thy natural death, but especially when thou art in a sinful work, for satisfying thy lusts, rememember thy spiritual death: be afraid of this death, and thou wilt never fear the other: thou wilt rather sigh with David, My soul hath too long dwelt with him that hateth peace'3: thou wilt be glad when a bodily death may deliver thee from all further danger of a spiritual death: and thou wilt be ashamed of that imputation, which is laid upon worldly men, by St. Cyprian. Ad nostros namgamus, et ventos contrarios optamus, we pretend to be sailing homewards, and yet we desire to have the wind against us; we are travelling to the heavenly Jerusalem, and yet we are loath to come thither. Here then is the use of our hope before death, that this life shall be a gallery into a better room, and deliver us over to a better country: for, if in this life only we haw hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable3*.
Secondly, in the agony of death; when the sessions are come, and that as a prisoner may look from that tower, and see the judge that must condemn him to-morrow, come in to-night; so we lie upon our death-bed, and apprehend a present judgment to be given upon us, when, if we do not plead to the indictment, if we stand mute,
33 Psalm cxx. 5. 34 1 Cor. xv. 19.
and have nothing to say to God, we are condemned already, condemned in our silence; and if we do plead, we have no plea, but guilty; nothing to say, but to confess all the indictment against ourselves; when the flesh is too weak, as that it can perform no office, and yet would fain stay here, when the soul is laden with more sins than she can bear, and yet would fain contract more; in this agony, there is this use of our hope, that as God shall then, when our bodily ears are deaf, whisper to ourselves, and say, Memento homo, Remember, consider man, that thou art but dust, and art now returning into dust, so we, in our hearts, when our bodily tongues are speechless, may then say to God, as it is in Job, Memento quwso, Remember thou also, I beseech thee, 0 God, that it is thou that hast made me as clay, and that it is thou that bringest me to that state again**'; and therefore come thou, and look to thine own work; come and let thy servant depart in peace, in having seen his salvation. My hope before death is, that this life is the way; my hope at death is, that my death shall be a door into a better state.
Lastly, the use of our hope, is after death, that God by his promise, hath made himself my debtor, till he restore my body to me again, in the resurrection: my body hath sinned, and he hath not redeemed a sinner, he hath not saved a sinner, except he have redeemed and saved my body, as well as my soul. To those souls that lie under the altar, and solicit God, for the resurrection, in the Revelation, God says, That they should rest for a little season, until their fellow-servants, and their brethren, that should be killed, even as they were, were fulfilledTM. All that while, while that number is fulfilling, is our hopes exercised after our death. And therefore the bodies of the saints of God, which have been temples of the Holy Ghost, when the soul is gone out of them, are not to be neglected, as a sheath that had lost the knife, as a shell that had spent the kernel; but as the godhead did not depart from the dead body of Christ Jesus, then when that body lay dead in the grave, so the power of God, and the merit of Christ Jesus, doth not depart from the body of man, but his blood lives in our ashes, and shall in his appointed time, awaken this body again, to an everlasting glory.
35 Job x. 9. 36 Rev. vi. 11.
Since therefore Job had, and we have this assurance before we die, when we die, after we are dead, it is upon good reason, that he did, and we do trust in God, though he should kill us, when he doth kill us, after he hath killed us. Especially since it is Ills, He who is spoken of before, he that kills and gives life, he that wounds, and makes whole again31. God executes by what way it pleases him; condemned persons cannot choose the manner of their death; whether God kill by sickness, by age, by the hand of the law, by the malice of man, si ille, as long as we can see that it is he, he that is Shaddai, Vastator, et Restaurator, the Destroyer, and the Repairer, howsoever he kill, yet he gives life too, howsoever he wound, yet he heals too, howsoever he lock us into our graves now, yet he hath the keys of hell, and death, and shall in his time, extend that voice to us all, Lazare veni foras. Come forth of your putrefaction, to incorruptible glory. Amen.