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himself alone." And indeed, as he abbors these boastings, so he delights in the abasing of the lofty heart whence they flow, and it is his prerogative to gain praise to himself out of their wrath. Hast thou an arm like God ? says the Lord to Job; then, Look upon the proud and bring them low. Job xl, 9, 12.
When Sennacherib came up against Jerusalem, bis blasphemies and boastings were no less vast and monstrous than the number of his men and chariots. Good Hezekiah turned over the matter unto God, spreading the letter of blasphemies before him; upon which God undertook the war, and assured Hezekiah that the Assyrian should not so much as shoot an arrow against the city, but return the same way he came; ? Kings, xix, 33. And the deliverance there promised and effected, is conceived to have been the occasion of penning this very psalm. Surely, when an angel did in one night slay 185,000 in their camps, that wrath and those threats tended exceedingly to the praise of the God of Israel. The book that he put in Sennacherib's nostrils, as the history speaks, to pull him back again, was more remarkable than the fetters would have been, if he had tied hiin at home, or hindered his march with his army.
Who is he then that will be impatient because of God's patience, and judge bim slack' in judgment, while the rage of the wicked prevails awhile ? Know, that he is more careful of his own glory than we can be, and the greater height man's wrath arises to, the more honor shall arise to him out of it. Did not his omnipotency shine brighter in the flames of that furnace into which the three children were cast, than if the king's wrath had been at first cooled ? Certainly the more both it and the furnace had their heat augmented, the more was God glorified. Who is that God, saith be blasphemously and proudly, that can deliver you out of my hands? a question indeed highly dishonoring the Almighty; but stay till the real answer come, and then, not only shall that wrath praise him, but that very same tongue, though inured to blasphemy, shall be taught to bear a main part in the confession of those praises. Let that apostate emperor Julian go taunting the head, and tormenting the members of that mystical body, his closing with “ Thou hast overcome, O Galilean,” meaning Christ, shall help to verify this truth,whether its course be shorter or longer, man's wrath ends always in God's praise. In like manner, the closing of the lion's mouth spake louder to his praise who stopped them, than if he had stopped Daniel's enemies in the beginning of their wicked design. So hot was their rage, that the king's favorable inclination to Daniel, of which in other cases courtiers use to be so devout obseryers, yea, his contesting and pleading for him, did profit bim nothing, but they hurried their king to the execution of their unjust malice, though themselves were convinced that nothing could be found against him, but only concerning the law of his God. It is said, that king Darius set his heart on Daniel to deliver him, and he labored to do it till the going down of the sun, and then those consellors and counsels of darkness overcame him. But upon this black night of their prevailing wrath, followed immediately a bright morning of praises to Daniel's God, when the lions that were so quiet company all night to Daniel, made so quick a breakfast of those accursed courtiers who had maliciously accused him. Even so let thine enemies perish, O Lord, and let those that love thee, be as the sun when he goes forth in his might!
The other proposition concerns the limiting of this wrath ; The remainder of wrath thou wilt restrain.
To take no notice, for the present, of divers other readings of these words, the sense of them, as they are here very well rendered, may be briefly this--that whereas the wrath of man to which God gives way, shall praise him, the rest shall be curbed and bound up, as the word is; no more of it shall break forth, than shall contribute to his glory. Here should be considered divers
and means by which God useth to stop the heady course of man's wrath, and hinder its proceeding any further ; but only, for the present, let us take out of it this lesson—that the most compendious way to be safe from the violence of men, is to be on terms of friendship with God.
Is it not an incomparable privilege, to be in the favor and under the protection of one, whose power is so transcendant that no enemy can so much as stir without his leave ? Be persuaded then, Christians, in these dangers that are now so near us, every one to draw near to him. Remove what may provoke him. Let no reigning sin be fouod either in your cities or in your villages, for he is a holy God. Is it a time to multiply provocations now? or is it not rather bigh time to be humbled for the former? What shameless impiety is it to be now licentious or intemperate, to be proud, to oppress or extort, to profane God's day, and blaspheme bis name! All these sins and many others abound amongst us, and that avowedly. Without abundance of repentance for these, we shall smart, and the wrath of our enemies, though unjust in them, shall praise God in our just punishment ; though doubtless he will own his church, and be praised likewise in the final punishment of their wrath who rise against it. There is a remarkable expression in the ninetyninth psalm of God's dealing with his people ; Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions. A good cause and a covenant with God, will not shelter an impenitent people from sharper correction. It is a sad, word God speaks by his prophet to his own people; I myself will fight against you. A dreadful enemy! and none indeed are truly dreadful but he. O prevent his anger, and you are safe enough. If perverse sinners will not hear, yet let those who are indeed Christians mourn in secret, not only for their own sins, but let them bestow some tears likewise upon the sins of others. Labor to appease the wrath of God, and he will either appease man's wrath, or will turn it jointly to our benefit and his own glory. Let the fear of the most high God, who hath no less power over the strongest of his enemies than over the meanest of His servants ; let his fear, I say, possess all our hearts, and it will certainly expel that ignoble and base fear of the wrath of
See how the prophet opposes them, Isa. viii, 12; Fear not their fear, says he, nor be afraid ; but sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be
dread. Fear not, yet, fear. This holy fear begets the best courage.
The breast that is mos filled with it, abounds most in true magnanimity. Fear thus, that you may be confident, not in yourselves, though your policy and strength were great, for cursed is Div. No. VIII.
the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, but confident in that God who is too wise and vigilant to be surprised, too mighty to be foiled, and too rich to be out-spent in provision; who can suffer his enemy to come to the highest point of apparent advantage without any inconvenience, yea, with more renown in his conquest. And so, a Christian who is made once sure of this, as easily he may, is little careful about the rest. His love to God prevailing over all his affections, makes him very indifferent wbat becomes of himself or bis dearest friends, so God may be glorified. What though many fall in the quarrel, (which God avert !) yet it is sufficient that truth in the end shall be victorious. Have not the saints in all ages been content to convey pure religion to posterity, in streams of their own blood, not of others? Well, hold fast by this conclusion, that God can limit and bind up the most violent wrath of man, so that, though it swell, it shall not break forth. The stiffest heart, as the current of the most impetuous rivers, is in his hand, to appoint its channels and turn it as he pleaseth. Yea, it is he that hath shut up the very sea with bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come and no further ; here shall thy proud waves be stayed. To see the surges of a rough sea come in towards the shore, a man would think that they were hastening to swallow up tbe land; but they know their limits, and are beaten back into foam. Though the waves thereof toss themselves, as angry at their restraint, yet the small sand is a check to the great sea, yet can they not prevail : though they roar, yet can they not pass over it.
The sum is this—what God permits his church's enemies to do, is for his own further glory; and reserving this, there is not any wrath of man so great, but he will either sweetly calm it, or strongly restrain it. To bim be praise and dominion for ever.
The Believer a Hero.
PSAL. cxii, 7. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is
fixed, trusting in the Lord. ALL the special designs of men agree in this they seek satisfaction and quietness of mind, that is, happiness. This then is the great question, Who is the happy man? It is here resolved, ver. 1; Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth in his commandments.
This blessedness is unfolded, like a rich landscape, that we may view the well mixed colors, the story and tissue of it, through the whole alphabet in capital letters. And take all and set them together, it is a most full and complete blessedness, not a letter wanting to it. Amongst the rest, that which we have in these words is of a greater magnitude and brightness than many of the rest; He shall not be afraid of evil tidings.
Well may the psalm begin with a Hallelujah, a note of praise to bim in whom this blessedness lies. O what a wretched creature were man, if not provided with such a portion ! Without which there is nothing but disappointment, and thence the racking torment and vexation of a disquieted mind, still pursuing somewhat that he never overtakes.
The first words are the inscription, The blessedness of that man, &c. So the particulars follow; where outward blessings are so set, as that they look and lead higher, pointing at their end, the infinite goodness whence they flow, and whither they return and carry along with them this happy man.
And these promises of outward things are often evi. dently accomplished to the righteous and their seed after them, and that commonly after they have been brought very low. But when it is otherwise with them, they lose nothing. It is good for many, yea, it is good for