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doth show, that by the wrath of man is to be understood, the undue rage of evil and ungodly men against those whom God owns for his people. The word here used signifies a hot or inflaming wrath; and indeed such is the feverish, distempered anger of the church's, enemies. And as too much heat is an enemy to solid reason, this hot wrath of theirs makes them incapable of wise deliberation in themselves, and inflexible to the good advice of others. It is true, they take counsel how to execute their wrath, as we shall hear anon, but they take no counsel that inay cool it. Anger, described by its material cause, is called a boiling of the blood about the heart; but this ariseth from the apprehension of something offensive, kindling a desire of revenge. Now it is a wonder what the powers of the world find in Christ and his harm. less flock, that can incense them. St. James says of the tongue, that it
set on fire of hell; the same is the origin of this wrath. Why do the heathen rage? saith the psalmist; that is, not only to what purpose, intimating that it is a fruitless rage, and void of success, in regard of God's power, but Why, that is, upon what occasion, checking the rage as groundless and without cause, in regard of Christ and his church's innocency. The cause is only within themselves, to wit, that unhappy antipathy of the serpent's seed against the seed of the woman. Thus this wrath of man is the causeless malicious enmity of the wicked against the church of God. And under the name of this passion, I take to be here comprised likewise all the attendants of it, all their crafty plots and devices for the acting of their wrath. As there is mention of the nations' rage against Christ in the second psalm, so likewise of the consultations of those who are of quality fit for it; The rulers take counsel together. Further; this wrath is not barely their ioward fire, but the vent of it, when it flames into cruel and outrageous practices, including likewise all the instruments they make use of. And of all these it is true, that God shall gaiu glory by them; Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee.
II. The wrath of man, says the apostle, worketh not the
righteousness of God. How then can it accomplish his praises? And this is the second thiog propounded,
Are grapes gathered, of thorns, or figs of thistles ? Surely not. Therefore I called this praise, not the fruit or proper effect of mau's wrath, but the event or consequent of it, by the efficacy of divine providence. The wrath of man shall praise thee; that is, the use which thou wilt make of it shall tend to thy praise. Thou wilt produce such effects from it, both in the church and upon thine enemies, when thou sufferest thy wrath to break forth, as shall furnish more matter of thy praises than if thou hadst altogether restrained it. To instance this in some few particulars —
It is the fury of the church's enemies, that has made known to the world the invincible courage and patience of the saints. Those ages which have been most monstrous in persecution, have most of all graced Christiani. ty. Had there been no persecuting emperors, who would bave heard of those primitive martyrs, who triumphed over the cruelty of their torments? Were there no persecu. tion, nor peril, nor sword, against believers, we should not have heard the apostle say, immediately after the mention of those, In all these things we are more than conquerors. They could not have been so much as conquerors,
had there been no conflict. Again ; as the wrath of man praises God in the invincible patience of the saints, so likewise in the innovable stability of the church. Is it not wonderful how so smalland weak a company as the church hath often been reduced to, yea, hath always been in respect of the world, could escape the mouths of so many lions, so many enraged enemies that were ready to devour it? And that we inay see that this tends solely to the praise of her great Protector, look to the church's song penned by the royal prophet; it is the 124th psalm; If it had not been the Lord that was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they had swallowed us up quick. The great monarchies and king. doms of the world, which have risen with so much splendor, have had their periods, and been buried in the dụst. That golden-headed and silver-bodied image de. generated into worse, metal as it went lower, „and the
brittle feet were the causes of the fall and breaking of all the rest. But the kingdom of Jesus Christ, though despicable in the world and exposed to the wrath of the world in all ages, stands firm and cannot be removed. There is a common emblem of the winds blowing from all quarters, and upon the globe of the earth, being in the middle of them, is written “ Immovable.” This fitly resembles the church. Why, it seems to be the sport of all the winds, but is indeed so established, that all of them, yea, the very gates of hell, cannot prevail against it. Now the more the church's enemies labor and moil themselves to undo her, the more do their weakness and the
power her Lord appear; so that thus the wrath of man doth praise him.
When was the church free from the world's wrath? To say nothing of the church of the Jews, did not those wicked emperors of Rome think to have made the Christian church short-lived, to have drowned her newly born, in floods of her own blood? And in latter ages, who knows not the cruelties that have been practised by the Turk in the east, and the proud prelate of Rome in the west ?-by which she bath sometimes been brought to so obscure and low a point, that if you can follow her in history, it is by the track of her own blood; and if you would see her, it is by the light of those fires in which her martyrs have been burnt. Yet hath she still come through, and survived all that wrath, and still shall survive, till she be made perfectly triumpbant.
Further; men's wrath tends to God's praise in this, that God giving way to it, doth so manage it by his sublime providence, that it often directly crosses their own ends, and conduces manifestly to his. Pharaoh thought that his dealing more cruelly with the Jews in their tasks and burdens, was wisdom; Let us work wisely, says he; but whereas their ordinary servility was become familiar to them and they were tamed to it, that same accession of new tyranny did prepare and dispose the Israelites for a desire of departure, and their departure made way for Pharaoh's destruction. Undigestible insolency and rage, hastening to be great, makes kingdoms cast them off, which would bave been far longer troubled with their wicked
ness, had it been more moderate. Surely then the wrath of man commends the wisdom of God, when he makes him by that contrive and afford the means of his own downfal. The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down, says Bildad, Job xviii, 7and that is a sad fall: as that eagle that was shot with an arrow trimmed with her own feathers.
But to close this point ;-it is out of all question, that the deserved punishment of man's unjust wrath doth always glorify the justice of God; and the more he gives way to their wrath, the more notable shall be both their punishment and the justice of it. And though God seems neglective of his people and of his praise, while man's wrath, prevails, yet the truth is, he never comes too late to vindicate his care of both; and when he defers longest, the enemy pays dear interest for the time of forbearance. In his eternal decree, be resolved to permit the course of man's wrath for his own glory, and when the period which he hath fixed is come, he stops man's wrath, and gives course unto the justice of his own.
Nor is there then any possibility of escaping: He will right himself, and be known by executing judgment. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee.
III. And that is the third thing propounded, the infallibility of the eveut.
The Author of nature governs all his creatures, each in a suitable way to the nature he hath given them. He maintains in some things a natural necessity of working, contingency in others, and in others liberty; but all of them are subject to this necessity of effecting inevitably his eternal purposes. And this necessity is no way repugnant to the due liberty of man's will. Some entertain and maintain the truth ; some plot, others act and execute, against it; some please themselves with a wise neutrality, and will appear so indifferent, that it would seem they might be accepted of all sides for judges of controversies. And all these find no less liberty to wind and turn themselves whither they please, than if no higher hand had the winding of them. Yet shall not only the zeal of the godly, but even the wrath of the enemy and the cold discretion of the neutral, all tend to his praise whose supreme will hath a secret, but a sure and infallible sway in all their actions. Whilst some passengers sit, some walk one way, some another, some have their faces towards their journey's end, some their back turned upon it, this wise Pilot does most skilfully guide the ship to arrive with them all at his own glory. Happy they who propound and intend his glory as he himself does, for in them shall the riches of his mercy be glorified! They who oppose him lose this happiness, but he is sure not to lose his glory for all that, to wit, the glory of his justice. His right hand shall find out all his enemies. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee.
The consideration of this truth, thus in some measure unfolded, may serve to justify the truly wise dispensation of God against our imaginary wisdom. Were the matter referred to our modelling, we should assign the church constant peace and prosperity for her portion, and not consent that the least air of trouble should come near her. We would have no enemies to molest her, nor stir against her; or if they did stir, we would have them to be presently repressed: and these, in our judgment, would be the fairest and most glorious tokens of his love and power, whose spouse she is. But this carnal wisdom is enmity against God, and is opposed to the glory of God, which rises so often out of the wrath of his enemies. Had God caused Pharaoh to yield at the very first to the release of his people, where had been the fame of those miraculous judgments in Egypt, and those mercies on the Israelites, the one setting out and illustrating the other? Where had been that name and honor which God says he would gain to himself, and which he did gain out of Pharaoh's final destruction ; making that stony-hearted king and his troops sink like a stone in the waters, as Moses sings? Observe bis proud boastings immediately foregoing his ruin ; I will pursue, says he, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, and my hand shall destroy them. Soon after, the sea quenches all this heat. Commonly big threatenings are unhappy presages of very ill
The historian Herodotus says well of God, “God suffers no other to think highly of himself, than