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to his disciples seemed careless : so frequently in Scripture, the saints expostulate with God in an humble and mourning debate, “Why sleepest thou, O Lord ? Arise, cast us not off for ever!.” But God hath his . quare' against us too, for this infirmity and haste of ours; “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, my way is hid from the Lord, and my judgement is passed over from my God?” That is, he hath not taken notice of my calamity. “Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understandingm.” He is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working; and therefore he doth not slumber nor sleep: but only in wisdom ordereth times and seasons, that there may, in the end, be the greater glory unto him,-and in the things done, the more beauty. “ Every thing,” saith Solomon, “is beautiful in its time:" if you gather it before, it looseth both its beauty and virtue. It would be madness for a man to mow down his corn, when it is in the green blade. “He waiteth,” saith the apostle, “ for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience.” James v. 7. Now the prophet assureth us, that light, that is, comfort, refreshment, peace, deliverance, “is sown for the righteous." It was sown for the people of God, when they were in captivity; though to themselves they seemed as dead men in their graves; yet indeed they were dead, but as seed in the furrows, which revived again. And therefore the Lord likewise (like St. James's husbandman) is said to wait, that he may be gracious to his people P, Though a man suffer never so much injury, and be most violently kept out of his own right, yet he must wait till time and mature proceedings have brought on his matters to a trial : therefore the Lord calleth it “the year of recompenses for the controversies of Sion.” It is not for private men to order the periods, or stints, or revolutions of times, wherein businesses are to be tried; but public authority constitutes that, and every man must wait for the appointed time : so the church must not set God the times when it would be heard or eased; but must trust his wisdom and powers, for there is a set time, wherein he will have mercy upon Sion'.
k Mark iv. 38, 39. n Psalm xcvii. 11. xxxiv. 8.
1 Psalm xliy. 23. Jer. xiv. 8, 9. m Isai, xl. 27, 28. o Psalm cxxvi. 5, 6. P Isai. xxx. 18. 9 Isai, u Psalm cxix. 126.
Now this time is ruled and bounded by these considerations : First, When the sin of the enemy is grown ripe, and his heart proud and insolent against God and his people; when he trampleth upon the poor; when he sacrificeth to his own net; when he adoreth his own counsels; when he defieth his own condition, and thinketh that none can pull him down ;-then it is a time for God to show himself, and to stir up his glory. “ It is time,” saith David, " for thee, O Lord, to work, for they have made void thy law." So outrageous they are, that their fury runneth over from thy servants to thine ordinances, to blot out the very records of Heaven, the name and fear of God out of the earth. And this reason and period of time, we find frequently in the Scriptures given: “In the fourth generation they shall come hither again, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full *;" it is not grown to that ripeness and compass, as I, in my wise, secret, and patient providence, will permit. “O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures," saith the Lord to Babylon, “ thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness yn When men have filled up the measure of their sins, then is their end come ; be their wealth, or safety, or their natural or acquired munition never so great. "Put ye in the sickle,” saith the prophet, “ for the harvest is ripe; come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow, for the wickedness is great ?." When wickedness is so great, that it filleth all vessels, then is the Lord ready to put in his sickle, and to cut it down.
It is further demanded, When sin is full ? To this I answer, That there are three things principally, which set forth the sinfulness of sin, Universality, Impudence, and Obstinacy. First, When a whole land is filled with it, that there are none to intercede, or to stand in the gap; when, from streets to palaces, from houses to courts, from schools to churches, from every corner sin breaketh forth, so that blood toucheth blood. « The land is full of adulterers," saith the prophet; " because of swearers, the land mourneth; for both priest and prophet are profane ; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord a when, in every place, and at every view, there are new and more abominations b. Secondly, When sin is impudento, whorish", and outrageous; when there is no fear, modesty, or restraint, but it breaketh all bonds, and, like a raging sea, overrunneth the banks : They declare their sin as Sodom," saith the prophet, "and hide it not; woe unto their souls e :" it is so full that it breaks out into their countenancef; hypocrisy itself is too narrow to cover it. This is that which the apostle calleth“ an excess of riot ;" and the prophet, "a rushing like a horse into the battleh.” Now when God thus gives a man over, sin will not be long filling up : when lusts break forth and throng together; when, from concupiscence', sin goes on to conception and delight, to formation and contrivance, to birth and execution, to education and custom, to maintenance and defence, to glory and boasting, to insensibility, hardness, and a reprobate sense,--then there is such a fulness in sin, as is near unto cursing ; the very next step is hell. Lastly, When sin holds out in stubbornness, and is incorrigible; when the remedy is refused, the pardon rejected, peace not accepted,--then is sin come to its fulness. The sins of the Amorites were never quite full, but when they rejected that peace, inercy, and subjection to God's people, which was offered them first. But when men sin against those means of grace
* Jer. xlix. 19. y Jer. li. 13.
t Psalm cii. 13. z Joel iii. 13.
1 Gen. xv. 16.
which are sent unto them, and leave no remedy to themselves; no marvel if the Lord give them over, and let in the enemy npon them k. Therefore we must take heed of finishing sin, for it is not sin alone, but the consummation and finishing of sin which condemns a man.
Now when thus the sin of the enemy is grown so ripe, that it breaketh forth into pride and insultation against God's people, then is the Lord's time to show himself. “ I will restore health unto thee,” saith the Lord to his church;
a Jer. xxiii. 10, 11. b Ezek. viii. 17. Jer. v. 1, 6. c Isai. xlviii, 4. d Jer. iii. 3. e Isai. iii. 9. f Delicti durior frons est, ab ipso et in ipso delicto, impudentiam docta. Tertul. de Vel. Virg. cap. i. & Rom. i. 24, 26. h Isai, Ixix. 27. i Dum servitur libidini, facta est consuetudo ; dum consuetudini, necessitas. Aug. Confess. lib. 8. cap. 5.-Vid. Bernard. de Gradibus Superbiæ. k 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16.
"and I will heal thee of thy wounds, because they called thee an outcast, saying, This is Sion whom no man seeketh after!.” When the highways were waste, and the wayfaring man ceased, and the enemy regarded no man, “ Now, saith the Lord, will I arise, now will I be exalted m" &c. When the enemies help forward the affliction of God's people, and, by their pride and insultation, do double the misery which is upon them,-then will the Lord return them in mercies, and bé sore displeased with his enemies".
Secondly, When God's people are thoroughly humbled and purged: for God useth wicked men, as his staff or weapon, as his fire or fan, to correct and
them. He intended not in his punishments such severity against them, as against their enemies : if the rod be for the child, the fire is for the rod P. When men are so smitten, that they can return to him that smiteth them, and not revolt more and more: for God will not throw any more darts at those who are sunk and dead already, — when they are stirred in their hearts jointly to seek the Lord, and to meet him in the way of his judgements, and to compassionate and favour the dust of Sion: for when God's time to deliver a people is come, he will more abundantly stir up the hearts of his people to pray for it than in the day of his wrath : whereas, when he will destroy a people, he will not suffer his saints to pray'.
Thirdly, When all human hopes and expectations are gone, when a people is so pilled and broken, that they have no courage, means, succours, or probabilities left; then is God's time to deliver his church, and to punish his enemies. “ The Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gones.” In one word, when the preparation and premises, as it were, unto God's glory are best ordered and put together, then is the day of his wrath come.
The church then need not to be cast down with the insultation of her enemies, since Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever; such as he was ever to his church,
I Jer. xxx. 7. Jer. 1. 11. Ezek. xxv. 3, 28. vi. 9. Obad. verse 3, 4. in Isai. xxxiii. 8, 11. n Zech. i. 15, 16. Isai. xl. 2. xlvii. 5, 6. • Isai. x, 12. p Isai. xxvii. 7, 8, 9. 9 Psalm cii. 16, 17. Dan. ix. 2, 3. Jer. xiv. 11.
Deut. xxxii. 36. Psalm 1xviii. 20. cix. 31. * Deut xx, 3, 4. Isai, li. 12, 13. Deut. xxxi. 6, 7, 8.
such he is still.. If he have delivered his church from the pride of her enemies heretofore, his power, truth, watchfulness, compassion, is the same still: and by faith in them, we may rebuke Satan; we may chide away the weakness and fear of our own hearts; we may rejoice against those that insult over us; when they rage most, we may hope their time is short, and that it is but the biting of a wounded • beast. Therefore we find the saints, in Scripture, arm themselves against present dangers, with the consideration of what God hath done for his church in times past"; and in the confidence of the same truth and power , break forth into a holy scorn of their enemies y. In the sorest extremities, we may fix our faith on God; and he delighteth to be depended upon alone, when all outward helps and probabilities fail”. A million of men came against Asa, one of the hugest hosts of men that we ever read of; yet, by relying on God, they were all delivered into his hand : and the reason is added, because God hath eyes and strength, or, as he is described, Rev. v. 6, seven horns and seven eyes, much wisdom and much power to show himself valiant in the behalf of those that walk uprightly".
We should learn likewise to rejoice and triumph with all thankfulness of heart, when Christ subdueth the enemies of his kingdom, and giveth deliverance and refreshment to his people. When he maketh his hand known to his servants, and his fury to his enemies, then should all they that love Jerusalem, rejoice. Thus the church, after they were delivered from the malice of Haman, instituted days of joy and feasting. It is a sign of an evil heart against the peace and prosperity of the church of Christ, to envy, or slight, or think basely of the instruments and ways, whereby Christ delivereth it; as we see in Tobiah and Sanballat d.
Lastly, We should learn wisdom to lay hold on the times and seasons of God's peace, because he hath a day of wrath too; to apprehend the offers and opportunities of grace. Christ had been at the church's door, and had knocked for. admittance; but neglecting that season, he was gone, and
u Psalm lxviii. 7, 8. lxxiv. 13, 18. Isai. 11. 9, 10, 11, Habak. iii. * Jer. xxx. 8. y Micah vii, 8, 9, 10. Isai. 1. 8, 9. 2 Isai. xli. 17, 18. Habak. ii. 17, 18. a 2 Chron. xvi. 8, 9. b Isai. lxvi. 10. . Esther ix. 22. & Neh. iv. 2. 3.