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look into the Bible, that [must be] is put into the text, by the misunderstanding of them by interpreters. The words are, p; the ruler in or over men, is the just One;' which is Christ himself, who alone is this bw, this ruler. The word may be two ways interpreted (for to interpret it of a man that ruleth over men, the word will no way bear it, nor the prophecy); the DT must be, either he that rules in the human nature, is the just One; or he that rules over the human nature, in all saints,' he is just,' saith he:' and he rules in' or by the fear of God.' As in Isa. xi. 3. it is prophesied of him, 'He shall be of quick understanding in the fear of God;' so here it is prophesied of him, that he shall rule in or by the fear of God; that is the sceptre he shall have in the hearts of men, that is the law he shall put upon the souls of his subjects; he shall rule them neither by outward violence nor force, nor any thing of that nature; but he shall rule them by the fear of God. Ver. 4. declares by sundry comparisons what he shall be: Why,' saith he, 'he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds, as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.' You know how often these things are applied unto Christ. He iscalled in Malachi, the Son of righteousness that ariseth;' chap. iv. 2. He is called 'the day-spring from.on high;' Luke i. 78. And he is called the bright and morning star;' Rev. xxii. 16. He is both a sun, and morning star, and day-spring. He shall be as the morning that brings light, comfort, joy, refreshment to the church. He shall be as a morning without clouds: there is no darkness in the kingdom of Christ. And he shall be as the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain;' the same with that in Isaiah, 'He shall spring up as the tender branch out of the earth.' You know the reason of the allusion; when the grass hath been long dried, and there comes a great rain upon it, and clear shining upon that rain, how will the grass spring up? There was to be a great drought upon the church; but Christ comes, and he was as the rain, and as the sun shining upon the rain; then there was a springing up with great glory, and unto great fruitfulness.
I will at present overlook the fifth verse, to which I am to return; and only shew, that the sixth and seventh verses
do contain a prophecy of the enemies of the church; as this does of Christ. Belial shall be thrust away as thorns.' We render it, the sons of Belial;' but it is only Belial; • Belial, all of it, the whole name of Belial. Sometimes the word is taken for wicked men, and sometimes for the prince of wicked men; as here for the devil and all his agents. And he follows on his allusion, 'that they cannot be taken with hands;' Satan and his seed are so full of thorns and prickles against the church, that you can never seize them by the hand to bring them to any order. And the next verse gives caution how well we must be fenced if we touch them. is the design of the prophecy.
I now return unto that part, which I shall a little more distinctly open unto you, that concerns David himself as he was chosen to be the great type of Christ. Saith he, 'This ruler of men, he shall be as the clear morning without clouds; although my house be not so with God.'
There are two things in the words:
First, A supposition of a great disappointment and surprisal.
Secondly, A relief against, and under that disappointment and surprisal.
First, A great surprisal and disappointment; Although my house be not so with God.' I have looked that it should be otherways, saith he, that my house should have a great deal of glory, especially that my house should be upright with God; but I begin to see it will be otherwise. You may observe David's heart was exceedingly set upon his house; therefore, whenever God spake to him concerning his house, it mightily wrought upon him; as 2 Sam. vii. 18, 19. Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come; and is this the manner of man, O Lord God?' Ver. 25. And now, O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said.' I am sometimes afraid, that David had (as under the Old Testament they generally had) some carnal apprehensions of these spiritual promises that God gave to David's house, which were principally to bring Christ out of his loins,
that should reign for ever: but David thought all things would come well out of his house also. How stands the case now? Now David sees, that in his house Ammon had defiled Tamar, Absalom had slain Ammon for his sin; and he was cut off in his rebellion; and he foresaw, by a spirit of prophecy, that his whole house was like to perish, and be cut down and so comes to that now, Although my house be not so with God.' So that from hence we may take this observation,
That the best of the saints of God, do oftentimes meet with great surprisals and disappointments in the best of their earthly comforts: their houses are not so with God.
I will give you one or two places for this; 1 Chron. vii. 23. Ephraim went in to his wife, and she conceived, and bare a son, and he called his name Beriah, because it went evil with his house.' Ephraim had received a special blessing from God by Jacob, for the multiplying of his house; He shall be great, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations;' Gen. lxviii. 19. Now in Ephraim's old age, some of the chief of his sons are killed; 1 Chron. vii. 21, 22. There were Zabad, and Shuthelah, and Ezer, and Elead, whom the men of Gath, that were born in that land, slew, because they came down to take away their cattle; and Ephraim their father mourned many days.' And he called his other child Beriah, because it went evil with his house. It was a great surprise unto him, because he had a promise for his house; though God afterwards retrieved it.
You know how great a surprisal befel Job. See what his thoughts were, Job xxix. 18. After, in all the foregoing part of the chapter, he had related the manifold blessings of God upon him in his prosperity, the uprightness of his own heart, his righteousness in his way, as he declares them to the utmost in the beginning of that chapter, he tells you his thoughts; Then said I, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand.' He expected, from the blessing of God, long life and peace. You know what surprisal befel him, and disappointment to all his comforts in this world, that never man fell into greater; and he gives you an account how great his surprisal was throughout the next chapter.
The reasons hereof, why it may be thus, are,
First, Because there is no promise of the covenant to the contrary. There is no promise of God secures absolutely unto us our outward comforts, be they of what nature they will, be they in our relations, in our enjoyments, in our persons, of what kind they will, why yet we may have a surprisal befal them in reference to them all; because there is no promise of God to secure the contrary, therefore it may be so.
Secondly, Sometimes it is needful it should be so, though we are apt to think the contrary; and that for these three
1. To keep continually upon our hearts a due awe of the judgments of God; of the actings of God's providence in a way of judgment; which otherwise we should be apt to think ourselves freed from. David testified that this frame was in himself, Psal. cxix. 120. My flesh,' saith he, trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments.' There ought to be in our hearts, an awe of the judgments of God; 'for our God is a consuming fire;' and if we were secured from surprisals in our own concerns, so fleshly are we, so selfish and carnal, it would be impossible we should keep up a due awe and reverence of the judgments of God. But when these judgments of God may reach our nearest concerns, our lives, and all we enjoy; then doth our flesh tremble in a due manner for fear of him, and we may be afraid of his judgments. A due fear of the judgments of God, is a necessary balance upon the minds of the best of the
2. It is needful to keep us off from security in ourselves. There is such a treachery in our hearts, that we are able to build carnal security upon the spiritual dispensations of God's kindness and love. I said I shall never be moved,' saith David. An expression of carnal security. What was the ground? Thou Lord hast made my rock so strong. He built up carnal security upon God's dispensations. It is needful therefore God should sometimes break in upon our concerns, that we may not turn a constant course of his kindness into a sinful security of our own.
3. They are sometimes actually needful to awaken the soul out of such deep sleep of present satisfaction, or love of this world, which nothing else will do. Sometimes we so fall asleep in our own ways, either in our satisfaction, or
projects, and desires, and are so earnest in the pursuit of them, that no ordinary jog will awaken us; it is necessary God should break in upon us in the best of our concerns, and make us put in an although' in our course. Although my children live not, and my house be not so with God; although my house be destroyed, &c.
That which we should learn from hence, by way of use,
1. Not to put too great a value upon any contentment whatever we have in this world, lest God make us write an 'although' upon it. David seems to have put too great a valuation upon his house, the carnal flourishing of his house; but in his last words, he is forced to come to that, 'Although my house be not so with God;' q. d. what I placed all my hope and expectation upon, that I find is not so with God.
2. Let us be in an expectation of such changes of Providence, that they may not be great surprisals unto us. When we are in peace, let us look for trouble; when we are at liberty, let us look for restraint; and when our children are about us, let us look for the removal of them; and be content to see all our comforts in their winding-sheet every day. It is impossible but our hearts will be too much upon them, unless we keep them in this frame.
The second general observation is this;
That the great reserve and relief for believers, under their surprisals and distresses, lies, in betaking themselves to the covenant of God, or to God in his covenant. Although my house be not so with God; what shall I then do? What will become of me? Yet he has made a covenant with me, an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: This is all my desire, and all my salvation, although he make not my house to grow.' I say, the great relief, and only reserve of believers in their distresses and surprisals, such as may befal them in a very few days, is to betake themselves to God in his covenant.
I will give you some instances of it, Gen. xv. 1,2. There God leads us to this I now mentioned. Abraham was in a perplexed condition; God comes to him in the first verse, and renews his covenant with him. The word of the Lord came unto Abraham in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abraham,