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that fire); but the foxes never came up any more.
Even so can the Lord deal with those enemies, which waste and depopulate his church; make them the authors of their own utter confusion, and bring forth his church with shouting, and with doubled
graces. Who then is the man that desireth tranquillity of life and security against all evil? Let him become a subject in this conquering kingdom, and cast himself under the banner and protection of Christ, and he cannot miscarry. “ He that walketh uprightly, walketh surely.—The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous flieth unto it and is safe. The Lord is a sun and a shield, a fountain of all good.-Grace and glory will he give; and no good thing will he withhold from them, that walk uprightly.”—And a protection against all evil; “ I will not be afraid of ten thousands of men,” saith the prophet David, “ that compass me about.” When there is no light, nor issue; nor, in nature, possibility of escape, he can open a door of deliverance, to relieve his church. As a man in the king's highway is under the king's protection; so in Christ's way, we are under his protection. Let us, then, never repine at the miscarriages of the world, nor murmur against the wise proceedings of God in the several dispensations towards his church on earth. When he punisheth, he doth it in measure, less than our sins deserved ; and when we search and try our ways, and return unto him, he knoweth how to work his own glory in our deliverance. Those stones which are appointed for a glorious building, are first under the saw and the hammer, to be hewn and squared; and those Christians in whom the Lord will take most delight, he usually thereunto fitteth by trials and extremities. He that is brought to tremble in himself“, may, with most confidence, expect to rejoice in God.
Note, Fourthly, This is the honour of Christ's kingdom to be a peaceable, quiet, and secure kingdom, not only after the victory, but in the midst of enemies. “This man,” saith the prophet of Christ, “shall be the peace, when the Assyrian, the enemy, is in the land.” We have peace in him, when we have tribulation in the world. Christ saith of himself, “ I came not to send peace, but a sword";" and yet the apostle
a Hab iii. 16.
b Micah v. 5.
c John xvi. 3.
d Matth. X. 34.
saith, that“he came and preached peace to those which were afar off, and to those which were neare." How shall these things be reconciled ? Surely as a man may say of a rock, • Nothing more quiet, because it is never stirred; and yet nothing more unquiet, because it is ever assaulted ;' so we may say of the church, ‘Nothing more peaceable, because it is established upon a rock; and yet nothing more unpeaceable, because that rock is in the midst of seas, winds, enemies, persecutions.' But yet still the prophet's conclusion is certain, “ The work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever f."
e Eph. ii. 17.
f Isai. xxxii, 17.
Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the
beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning : thou hast the dew of thy youth.
The prophet, before, showed the reign of Christ over his enemies; he now speaketh of his reign over his people, and describeth what manner of subjects or soldiers Christ should have. I will not trouble you with a variety of expositions (occasioned by the many metaphors, and different translations), but give, in a few words, those which I conceive to be most literal and pertinent to the place.
Thy people ;”—that is, those whom thou dost receive from thy Father, and by setting up the standard and ensign of thy gospel, gather to thyself. “ Shall be willing ;"—the word is willingnesses, that is, a people of great willingness and devotion, or (as the original word is elsewhere used a) shall be freewill offerings unto thee. The abstract b being put for the concrete, and the plural for the singular, notes how exceeding forward and free they should be ; as the Lord, to signify that his people were most rebellious, saith that they were “Rebellion itself.”. So then the meaning is, “Thy people shall, with most ready and forward cheerfulness, devote, consecrate, and render up themselves to thy government as a reasonable sacrifice; shall be of a most liberal, free, noble, and unconstrained spirit in thy service, they shall be voluntaries in the wars of thy kingdom.”—" In the day of thy power,” or “of thine armies;” by these words we may understand two things, both of them aiming at the same general sense: First, So as that “armies ”-shall be the same with “thy people” before ;-" In the day when thou shalt assemble thy soldiers together, when thou shalt set up thine ensigns for them to seek unto; that is, When thou shalt cause the preaching of thy gospel to sound like a trumpet, that men may prepare themselves in armies to fight
a Psal. cxix. 108.
b Eph. iv. 8. v. 8.
c Ezek. ii. 8.
thy battles, then shall all thy people, with great devotion and willingness, gather theniselves together under thy colours, and freely devote themselves to thy military service.” Secondly, So as that by power or armies may be meant the means whereby this free and willing devotion in Christ's people is wrought : that is, “When thou shalt send forth the rod of thy strength, when thou shalt command thy apostles and ministers to go forth and fight against the kingdoms of sin and Satan; when thou shalt, in the dispensation of thine ordinances, reveal thy power and spiritual strength unto their consciences,-then shall they most willingly relinquish their former service, and wholly devote themselves unto thee, to fight under thy banners, and to take thy part against all thine enemies."
“ In the beauties of holiness.” This likewise we may severally understand; Either, “In thy holy church; which may well so be called with an allusion to the temple at Jerusalem, which is called the beauty of holiness d,' and a • holy and a beautiful house ,' and a 'glorious high throne.' And hither did the tribes & resort in troops, as it were, in “armies,' to present their free-will offerings, and celebrate the other services of the Lord. Or else we may understand it casually, thus : “In the day of thy power,” that is, “When thou shalt reveal thy strength and Spirit in 'the beauties of holiness,” that is, “When thou shalt reveal how exceeding beautiful, and full of loveliness thy holy ways and services are, then shall thy people be persuaded, with all free and willing devotion of heart, to undertake them.” Or lastly, thus, As the priests who offered sacrifices to the Lord, were clothed with "holy and beautiful garments ";' or as those who, in admiration of some noble prince, voluntarily follow the service of his wars, do set themselves forth in the most complete furniture and richest attire, as is fit to give notice of the nobleness of their minds (for beautiful armouri was wont to be esteemed the honour of an army); so they who willingly devote themselves unto Christ, to be soldiers and sacrifices unto him, are not only armed with strength, but
d Psal. xxix. 2. e Isai. Ixiv, 11. f Jer. xvii. 12.
& Psal. Ixxxiv. 7. h Exod. xxviii, 2, 40. i Judg. v. 30. Curtius lib. 3. et 5.-Vid. Brisson. de Reg. Persarum, 1. 3. p. 323.- Et Tho. Demsteri, ad Rosin. Antiq. Paralipom. lib. 10. cap. I.
adorned with such inward graces, as make them “beautiful as Tirza, comely as Jerusalem, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.”k All which three explications meet in one general, which is principally intended, that holiness hath all beauties in it, and is that only which maketh a man lovely in the eyes of Christ.
“ From the womb of the morning : thou hast the dew of thy youth.” There is a middle point after those words, “ the womb of the morning," which may seem to disjoin the clauses, and make those words refer wholly to the preceding. In which relation, there might be a double sense conceived in them. Either thus, “In the beauties of holiness, or in holiness very beautiful, more than the aurora or womb of the morning, when she is ready to bring forth the sun : and then it is a notable metaphor to express the glorious beauty of God's ways.--Or thus, “ Thy people shall be a willing people from the very womb of the morning ;” that is, “ from the very first forming of Christ in them, and shining forth upon them, they shall rise out of their former nakedness and security, and shall adorn themselves with the beautiful graces of Christ's Spirit, as with clothing of wrought gold, and raiment of needlework; and shall, with gladness and rejoicing, with much devotion and willingness of heart, be brought unto the king',' and present themselves before him as voluntaries in his service."-But because the learned conceive, that the middle point is only a distinction for convenient reading, not a disjunction of the sense,-I shall therefore rest in a more received exposition: “ Thy children shall be born in great abundance unto thee, by the seed of thy Word, in the womb of the church, as soon as the morning, or sun of righteousness shall shine forth upon it. As the dew is born out of the cool morning air, as out of a womb, distilling down in innumerable drops upon the earth ; so thine elect shall be born unto thee, by the preaching of thy Word, and first approach of thy heavenly light, in innumerable armies.”—And this explication is very suitable to the harmony of holy Scripture, which useth the same metaphors to the same purpose in other places. « The remnant of Jacob,” saith the prophet “, “shall be in the midst of
k Cant. vi. 4. 10.
I Psal. xlv. 13, 14, 15.
in Mich. v. 7.