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saith he, “do I come;’ thy word concerning me must stand; upon thee will I wait; if thou hast no delight in me, I must perish. Other remedies I know are vain. I intend not to spend my strength for that which is not bread. “Unto thee do I cry.’ Here a sin-entangled soul is to fix itself. Trouble excites it to look for relief. Many things without it present themselves as a diversion; many things within it, offer themselves for a remedy. Forget thy sorrow, say the former; ease thyself of it by us, say the latter; the soul refuseth both, as physicians of no value, and to God alone makes its application. He hath wounded, and he alone can heal. And until any one that is sensible of the guilt of sin, will come off from all reserves to deal immediately with God, it is in vain for him to expect relief. Secondly, Herein it is intense, earnest, and urgent, which was the second thing observed. It is no time now to be slothful. The souls all, its greatest concernments are at the stake. Dull, cold, formal, customary applications to God will not serve the turn. Ordinary actings of faith, love, fervency, usual seasons, opportunities, duties, answer not this condition. To do no more than ordinary now, is to do nothing at all. He that puts forth no more strength and activity for his deliverance when he is in depths, ready to perish, than he doth, or hath need to do, when he is at liberty in plain and smooth paths, is scarcely like to escape. Some (in such conditions) are careless and negligent; they think, in ordinary course, to wear off their distempers; and that, although at present they are sensible of their danger, they shall yet have peace at last; in which frame there is much contempt of God. Some despond and languish away under their pressures. Spiritual sloth influenceth both these sorts of persons. Let us see the frame under consideration exemplified in another. We have an instance in the spouse, Cant. iii. 1–3. She had lost the presence of Christ, and so was in the very state and condition before described; ver, 1. It was night with her, a time of darkness and disconsolation; and she seeks for her beloved. ‘By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth.” Christ was absent from her, and she was left unto depths and darkness upon that account. Wherefore she seeks for him; but as the most are apt to do in the like state and condition. She mends not
her pace, goes not out of, or beyond, her course of ordinary duties ; nor the frame she was usually in at other times. But what is the issue ? saith she, I found him not.' This is not a way to recover a sense of lost love; nor to get out of her entanglements. And this puts her on another course; she begins to think that if things continue in this estate, she shall be undone. I go on indeed with the performance of duties still, but I have not the presence of my beloved ; I meet not with Christ in them. My darkness and trouble abides still; if I take not some other course, I shall be lost. Well, saith she, I will rise now,' ver. 2. I will shake off all that ease and sloth, and customariness, that cleave to me. Some more lively, vigorous course must be fixed on. Resolutions for new, extraordinary, vigorous, constant applications unto God, are the first general step and degree of a sin-entangled soul acting towards a recovery ; ' I will rise now. And what doth she do when she is thus resolved? I will,' saith she, 'go about the streets, and in the broad ways, and seek him whom my soul loveth. I will leave no ways or means unattempted, whereby I may possibly come to a fresh enjoyment of him. If a man seek for a friend, he can look for him only in the streets, and in the broad ways; that is, either in towns, or in the fields. So will I do, saith the spouse; in what way, ordinance, or institution soever, in or by what duty soever, public or private, of communion with others, or solitary retiredness, Christ ever was, or may be found, or peace obtained; 'I will seek him,' and not give over until I come to an enjoyment of him. And this frame, this resolution, a soul in depths must come unto, if ever it expect deliverance. For the most part, men's 'wounds stink, and are corrupt, because of their foolishness;' as the psalmist complains, Psal. xxxviii. 5. They are wounded by sin; and through spiritual sloth they neglect their cure; this weakens them, and disquiets them day by day; yet they endure all, rather than they will come out of their carnal ease, to deal effectually with God in an extraordinary manner. was otherwise with David, Psal. xxii. 1, 2. Why,' saith he, 'art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring ? O my God, I cry in the day-time, and in the night season, and am not silent.' What ails the man? Can he not
be quiet night nor day? never silent, never hold his peace? And if he be somewhat disquieted, can he not contain himself, but that he must roar, and cry out? Yea, must he roar thus all the day long, as he speaks, Psal. xxxii. 3. and groan all the night? 'as Psal. vi. 6. What is the matter with all this roaring, sighing, tears, roaring all the day, all night long? Ah ! let him alone, his soul is bitter in him; he is fallen into depths; the Lord is withdrawn from him; trouble is hard at hand; yea, he is full of anxiety on the account of sin; there is no quietness and soundness in him; and he must thus earnestly and restlessly apply himself for relief. Alas! what strangers for the most part are men now-a-days to this frame! How little of the workings of this spirit is found amongst us! And is not the reason of it, that we value the world more, and heaven and heavenly things less than he did ? that we can live at a better rate without a sense of the love of God in Christ, than he could do ? and is it not hence that we every day see so many withering professors, that have in a manner lost all communion with God, beyond a a little lip-labour, or talking; the filthy savour of whose wounds are offensive to all but themselves ? And so will they go on ready to die and perish, rather than with this holy man thus stir themselves to meet the Lord. Heman was also like unto him; Psal. lxxxviii. 11, 12. What sense he had of his depths, he declares, ver. 3. My soul,' saith he, ' is full of troubles, and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.' And what course doth he steer in this heavy, sorrowful, and disconsolate condition? Why, saith he, O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night unto thee ; let my prayer come before thee, incline thine ear unto my cry;' ver. 1, 2. Day and night he cries to the God of his salvation, and that with earnestness and importunity. This was his business, this was he exercised about all his days.
This is that which is aimed at; if a gracious soul be brought into the depths before-mentioned and described, by reason of sin, when the Lord is pleased to lead him forth towards a recovery, he causeth him to be vigorous, and restless in all the duties whereby he may make application to him for deliverance. Now wherein this intenseness and earnestness of the soul, in its applications unto God, doth
principally consist, I shall briefly declare, when I have touched a little upon some considerations and grounds that stir it up thereunto.
First, The greatest of men's concernments may well put them on this earnestness. Men do not use to deal with dull and slothful spirits about their greatest concerns. David tells us, that he was more concerned in the light of God's countenance, than the men of the world could be in their corn and wine ; Psal. iv. 6, 7. Suppose a man of the world should have his house, wherein all his stock and riches are laid up, set on fire, and so the whole be in danger under his eye to be consumed; would he be calm and quiet in the consideration of it? Would he not bestir himself with all his might, and call in all the help he could obtain ? and that because his portion, his all, his great concernment lies at stake? And shall the soul be slothful, careless, dull, secure, when fire is put to its eternal concernments ? when the light of God's countenance, which is of more esteem unto him, than the greatest increase of corn and wine can be to the men of the world, is removed from him ? It was an argument of prodigious security in Jonah, that he was fast asleep when the ship wherein he was, was ready to be cast away for his sake. And will it be thought less in any soul, who, being in a storm of wrath and displeasure from God, sent out into the deep after him, shall neglect it, and sleep, as Solomon says, on the top of a mast in the midst of the sea ? How did that poor creature, whose heart was mad on his idols, Judges xviii. 24. cry out, when he was deprived of them? · You have taken away my gods,' saith he,' and what have I more ?' And shall a gracious soul lose his God through his own folly, the sense of his love, the consolation of his presence, and not with all his might follow hard after him ? Peace with God, joy in believing, such souls have formerly obtained ; can they live without them now, in their ordinary walking ? can they choose but cry out with Job,' O that it were with us, as in former days, when the candle of the Lord was upon our tabernacle; chap. xxix. 2-4. and with David, O Lord, restore unto me the joy of salvation ;' Psal. li. 12. for. O my God,' I remember former enjoyments, and my soul is cast down within me';' Psal. xlii. 6. They cannot live without it, But suppose they might make a sorry shift to pass on in
their pilgrimage, whilst all is smooth about them ; what will they do in the time of outward trials and distresses 2 when deep calleth unto deep, and one trouble excites and sharpens another? Nothing then will support them, they know, but that which is wanting to them; as Hab. iii. 17, 18. Psal. xxiii. 4. So that the greatness of their concernment provokes them to the earnestness mentioned. Secondly, They have a deep sense of these their great concernments. All men are equally concerned in the love of God, and pardon of sin. Every one hath a soul of the same immortal constitution, equally capable of bliss and woe. But yet we see most men are so stupidly sottish, that they take little notice of these things. Neither the guilt of sin nor the wrath of God, nor death, nor hell, are thought on, or esteemed by them ; they are their concernments, but they are not sensible of them. But gracious souls have a quick, living sense of spiritual things. For, 1. They have a saving spiritual light, whereby they are able to discern the true nature of sin, and the terror of the Lord. For though they are now supposed to have lost the comforting light of the Spirit; yet they never lose the sanctifying light of the Spirit, the light whereby they are enabled to discern spiritual things in a spiritual manner; this never utterly departs from them. By this they see sin to be ‘exceeding sinful; Rom. vii. 13. By this they know “ the terror of the Lord;’ 2 Cor. v. 11. and that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;’ Heb. x. 13. By this they discover the excellency of the love of God in Christ, which passeth knowledge, the present sense whereof they have lost. By this they are enabled to look within the veil, and to take a view of the blessed consolations which the saints enjoy, whose communion with God was never interrupted. This represents to them all the sweetness, pleasure, joy, peace, which in former days they had whilst God was present with them in love. By this are they taught to value all the fruits of the blood of Jesus Christ, of the enjoyment of many, whereof they are at present cut short and deprived. All which, with other things of the like nature and importance, make them very sensible of their concernments. 2. They remember what it cost them formerly to deal