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the happiness of believers, O! blessed are they that wait for him! Their thoughts fall in and meet with his ; for he is waiting for the
same day they wait for, and if he be not disappointed, they shall not. We are naturally irregular in our affections and notions, and the only right ordering of them, is by reducing them to a conformity with the ways and thoughts of God, which keep an unalterable, fixed course, as the heavens : the way, I say, to rectify our thoughts is, to set them by his, as clocks and watches, which so readily go wrong, too slow or too fast, are ordered by the sun, which keeps its course. 0 that we were more careful to set and keep our hearts in attendance on God, winding them up in meditation upon him, and conforming them in their motions and desires to his disposal in all, for all that concerns us, and for the times of all; being quiet, yea, glad in this, which the psalmist makes his joy, My times are in thy hand, o Lord, Psal. xxxi, 15. And surely that is the best. Were I to choose, they should be in no other hands, neither mine own, nor any others. Alas! what silly poor creatures are we! How little do we know what is fit for us in any kind, and still less what time is fit for any mercy to be bestowed upon us ! When he withholds mercies or comforts for a season, it is but till the due season ; it is but to ripen them for us, which we in childish haste would pluck green, when they would be neither so sweet nor so wholesome. Therefore it is our wisdom and our peace, to resign all things into his hands, to have no wil? nor desires, but only this, that we may still wait for him. All shall be well enough, if we but get rid of the vain hopes and expectations of this world. None who indulge them are so well, but they are still waiting for somewhat further. Now amidst all this, our soul may say with David, and speak it to God as known to him, that it is so indeed; And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee; my expectation or waiting, (the same word that is here) is all placed upon thee. Is it so, brethren ? Are our hearts gathered in from other things to this attendance, while most about us are gaping for the wind ? Have we laid all up in God, to desire and wait for him, and pretend to nothing beside him?
I would do so, may a soul think, but can I hope that he will look on me, and bestow himself on, such a one as I am ? To that I say nothing, but look on his word. If thou thjukest that warrant good enough, here it is for thee, that they are certainly blessed that wait for him. This is, assurance enough. Never was any one who waited for him, miserable with disappointment. Whosoever thou art that dost indeed desire hira and desirest to wait for him, surely thou resolvest to do it in his ways, wherein he is to be found, and wilt not willingly depart from these ; that were foolishly to disappoint thyself, and not to be true to thy own end. Therefore look to that; do not keep company with any sin. It may surprise thee sometinies as an enemy, but let it not lodge with ibee as a friend.
And mind this other thing—prescribe nothing to God. If thou hast begun to wait, faint not, give not up, wait on still. It were good reason, were it but upon little hope at length to find him; but since it is upon the unfailing assurance, that in the end thou shalt obtain, what folly were it to lose all for want of waiting a little longer ! See Psal. xl, 1; In waiting I waited, waited, and better waited--but all was overpaid : he did hear me. So Psal. cxxx ; I wait and wait until the morning. These two joined are all, and may well go together, earnest desire and patient attendance.
These words, as others of the prophet, which we call consolations, look, I conceive, beyond the deliverances from outward troubles, to the great promise of the Messiah. Sure I am, the strain of something following is too high for that, and cannot but have an aspect to the days of the gospel, as that ver. 26. Now the Lord had set his time, that fulness of time for the coning of the blessed Son in the flesh; and till that time came, the Lord was waiting to be gracious, to open up his treasures more fully than ever before ; which when he did, then was he exalted to show mercy, and exalted in showing mercy. Christ bimself was lifted up on the cross, there to show that rich mercy that is for ever to be admired. Did he not let us see into his heart, there to read that love that can no otherwise be uttered? And in that, the Div.
Lord was most eminently manifested as a God of judgment; wisdom, and justice, and mercy, all shining brightest in that contrivance. There he was lift up, and then, after that, lift up into glory, who is the Desire of all nations, the salvation and joy of all ages, both before and after. Before he came, they were from one age to another waiting; and more particularly at the time of his coming, God stirred up the expectation of believers to welcome him, being so near ; Luke ii, 25, 38. And in all times, before and after that, he is the happiness of souls, and they only are blessed that wait for him. Whether you do, or do not believe it now, ihe day is coming, when all the world shall know it to be so.
The Confession and Prayer of Faith.
JEREMIAH xiv, 7, 8, 9. O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do
thou it for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many, we have sinned against thee. O the Hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of
trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a way-faring man, that turneth aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldest thou be as a man astonished, as a migh
ty man that cannot save? yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name ; leave us not.
If we look backwards and forwards in this chapter, we find the three great executioners of God's anger on the world foretold, as having received commission against this people.
In all troubles, felt or feared, this is still the great resource of them who are acquainted with it and can use
it-prayer. And their labor in it is not altogether lost, even where the judgment is determined and unalterable, as here it was; for some mitigations of time and measure are desirable, and by prayer attainable ; and whatsoever there is of that kind, the prayers that have been made long before, have had a concurreuce and influence in it. And always, at the least, prayer carries the personal good of them that present it; if it return unto their bosom, as David speaks, without effect for others, it returns not thither empty; it brings peace and safety thither with it ; they save their own souls. The mourners, if they turn not away the destroyers' weapons from the city, yet they procure one sent along with them, with an ink-horn for their own marking and sparing; Ezek. ix, 3. And were there nothing in this nor any following effect, prayer hath within itself its own reward. Did we know it, we should think so. The very dignity and delight of so near access to God, to speak with him so freely, this in itself is the most blessed and honorable privilege that the creature is capable of; it is a pledge of heaven, something of it beforehand, a standing in pretension to the life of angels : “ Angelorum candidati," as Tertullian speaks ; it is to be but a little lower, as the word is, Psal. viii, 5. Many practise a form ; few know the vital sweetness of it.
O, my brethren, be aspiring to more heavenliness, and a higher bent of the soul in it than as yet you know, and use it more that way; use it for yourselves and others, this whole land, these kingdoms, the church of God through the whole earth. No times have we seen, wherein it hath been more needful, and none wherein less plentiful. There is no one that stirs up himself to lay hold on God. Some, no doubt, there are in these times; yet there are so few, so general a decay and negligence is there in the zeal and frequency of prayer, that, there is none to speak of. And is it not so now with us ? Many discourse one, to another, and yet most to little or no purpose: but little is spoken where nothing would be lost, in humble supplication to God. And this is the saddest sign of this long lasting trouble. O pity the kingdom and yourselves, and learn to pray !
This prayer of the prophet is made up of the two usual ingredients, confession and petition.
O Lord, Jehovah. A chief point of prayer is the presenting of the soul before God, remembering to wliom we speak, that it is to the great King, the holy God; which disposition this expresses, where it is indeed, when we say, O Lord, or, at least, this should remind us, when we forget it, to have such apprehensions as we can reach of his glorious majesty. Consider whether we find our hearts filled with him when we are before him. O how seldom think we that he is God, even while we speak to him, and how quickly do we forget it, and let slip the thought! When we have any thing of it, how soon are we out of it, and multiplying vain words! For such are all those we utter to him without this. O pray to be taught this point of prayer, and watch over your hearts in prayer, to set them thus when you enter to him, and to call them in when they wander, and pluck them up when they slumber, to think where they are and what they are doing. Our iniquities testify against us.
Confession fitly begius. All the difference betwixt God and us lies in this, our iniquities. Now humble confession is one great article of pacification; it is a thing judgment certainly aims at, a thing mercy is mainly moved with. See Hos. v, 15; Psal. xxxii, 5; Jer. xxxi, 18.
When we are to encounter any enemy or difficulty, it is sin weakens us. Now confession weakens sin, takes
away the power of accusations, anticipates the great accuser, leaves him nothing to say, takes off the stroke of sins testifying against us, says, You need not; I confess all, and more than you can gáy.
For this, a right knowledge of God's law is requisite, and then a diligent use of it; laying it to our ways, as a straight rule to show our unevenness, which without it we discern not. Set that glass before you, but withal beg light from heaven to see by; otherwise your applications to this work of searching your hearts, and comparing them with the law, is but poring in the dark, where nothing is to be seen of your spots though you set the glass before you, and open the leaves of it. The spirit of a man is the