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So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.—Ver. 42.
IN the former verse we saw the man of God begging for deliverance, or temporal salvation, from the mercies of God according to his word. Salvation belongeth to the Lord, and his mercy can pardon great sins, 448and fetch us off from great extremities, and that according to the word of God. He had boasted of this. There is his request; here is his argument, from the use and fruit of his deliverance; he should have some thing to reply to the scoffs and mocks of wicked men, who insulted over him in his distress and calamity. He had spoken of great things or the promise,1717 Q u. ‘spoken great things of the promise’?—ED. and now desireth the promise to be made good, that he might have an answer ready against their reproaches, ‘So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me.’
But hath a child of God nothing to answer to a wicked man before salvation cometh? Ans. Yes; a child of God could answer them of the principles of faith; but they must have instances of sense. He could say that his ‘God is in heaven, and doth whatsoever he pleaseth;’ that he is ‘the shield of his help, and sword of his excellency,’ Deut. xxxiii. 29. Weapons offensive and defensive enough yet left; but the business is not what is an answer in itself, but what answer will satisfy them? for they that have no faith must be taught by sense. When we urge principles of faith, unless their senses hear, feel, see, they will not regard them. Then their mouths are stopped when God doth own his people from heaven. They count faith a foolish persuasion, hope a vain expectation, and inward supports and comforts fantastical impressions; as if men did feed themselves with the wind. But God’s salvation would answer for him, and some sensible providences be a real confutation.
Observe three things:—
1. The ground of David’s comfort, I trust in thy word.
2. The enemy’s insultation thereupon, intimated in these words, him that reproacheth me. They scoffed at his trust in God, as if he would not bear him out in his strictness.
3. The request of the Psalmist, that God would confute and stop their mouths by making good his promises to him, so shall I have wherewith to answer him. Points:—
Doct. 1. It is our duty to trust God upon his word.
Doct. 2. Those that do so must look to be reproached for it.
Doct. 3. God making good his promises confuteth their reproaches and insultations.
Doct. 4. God will therefore make them good, and his people may expect and beg deliverance to that end.
Doct. 1. It is our duty to trust God upon his word. The act of trust is spoken of with respect to a twofold object—the word and God; the one more properly noteth the warrant of faith, the other the object. Both are mentioned together, John xvii. 20, ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.’ In other places sometimes one is mentioned, sometimes the other; trusting in God and trusting in the word of God; but whenever the one is mentioned the other is included. To trust in God without his word is a foolish and groundless presumption, and the word without God is but a dead letter. It is not the conveyances merely that a man liveth upon, but the lands conveyed by them.
First, What is this trusting in God?
Ans. An exercise of faith, whereby, looking upon God in Christ 449through the promises, we depend upon him for whatsoever we stand in need of, and so are encouraged to go on cheerfully in the ways wherein he hath appointed us to walk. It is a fruit of faith, and supposeth it planted in the heart, for an act cannot be without a habit. I suppose a man to have this grace before I require the exercise of it. And it looketh upon God in Christ as the fountain of blessings, for otherwise God, to the fallen creature, is not an object of trust, but horror; as ‘the devils believe and tremble,’ James ii. 19; and that may be the reason why the sons of men are said to ‘put their trust under the shadow of his wings:’ Ps. xxxvi. 7, ‘How excellent is thy lovingkindness, God! Therefore the children of men shall put their trust under the shadow of thy wings;’ and Ps. lvii. 1, ‘My soul trusteth in thee, yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.’ In which there is supposed to be an allusion not only to the feathers of a hen spread over the chickens, but the out-stretched wings of the cherubim over the mercy-seat, which was a type of Christ, who is therefore called ἱλαστήριον, a propitiation, as also the mercy-seat, Heb. v. 8, with Rom. iii. 24, ‘Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.’ The mercy-seat, or God offering himself to be reconciled in Christ, is an open sanctuary for distressed souls to fly unto. This doth draw our hearts to him through the promises. These are the holdfast which we have upon God, the sacred bands which he has taken upon himself, the rule and warrant of faith which shows how far God is to be trusted. Our necessities lead us to the promises, and the promises to Christ, and Christ to God, as the fountain of grace; and therefore we put these bonds in suit; we turn them into prayers; and then we have free leave to challenge him upon his word: Ps. cxix. 99, ‘Remember thy word unto thy servant, wherein thou hast caused me to hope.’ Therefore, to bear up our hearts, God hath not only promised us, in the general, that he will ‘never fail us nor forsake us,’ Heb. xiii. 5, ‘And all things shall work together for good.’ Rom. viii. 28; that he will be with us in fire and water, Isa. xliii. 2, and that he will be ‘a sun and a shield, and give us grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold,’ Ps. lxxxiv. 11; but also, in particular, hath multiplied and suited his promises to all our necessities, that when we come to the throne of grace we may have a promise ready. A general intimation is not so clear a ground of hope as a particular and express promise: the more of these we have, the more explicit are our thoughts about God’s protection, and the more are our hearts fortified and borne up in praying to him and waiting upon him. Chirographa tua injiciebat tibi, Domine—whose are these? Lay up his words in thy heart, Job xxii. 22. The more of these the more arguments in prayer. We depend upon him for all that we stand in need of. Herein is the nature of trust seen, in dependence and reliance upon God, that he will supply our wants in a way most conducible to his glory and our good. Now, this depending on God must be done at all times, especially in a time of straits and difficulties. At all times: Ps. lxii. 8, ‘Trust in the Lord at all times.’ It is an act never out of season, but especially in a time of fears, misery, and distress: Ps. lvi. 3, ‘At 450what time I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee.’ In prosperity and adversity we are to depend upon God, and to make use of him in all conditions: Ps. xci. 9, ‘Thou shalt make the Most High thy refuge, and my God thine habitation.’ A refuge is a place of retreat and safety in a time of war, and a habitation the place of our abode in a time of peace. Whatever our condition be, our dependence must be on God. When all things are prosperous, God must be owned as the fountain of our blessings, all our comforts taken out of his hand, and that we hold all by his mercy and bountiful providence. Because of our forfeiture by sin, and the uncertainty of these outward comforts, and the continual necessity of his providential influence and support, the heart must still be exercised in the acknowledgment of God and his gracious hand over us; and so the heart is not enticed by our outward comforts, but raised by them. Indeed, in some cases, it is harder to trust God with means than without. When there are visible means of supply, the heart is prone to carnal confidence. Good Paul was in danger: 2 Cor. i. 9, ‘We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, which raiseth the dead.’ But then in adversity, when kept bare and low, then is a time to show trust; how hard soever our condition be, grounds of confidence are not lost: Zeph. iii. 12, ‘I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.’ Every man thinketh trusting in God easy when things go well with him; but indeed he trusteth in other things; he eateth his own meat, and weareth his own apparel, only God carrieth the name of it. But now, when we are without all comfort and encouragement from the creatures, as David, when he was left alone, ‘Refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul: I cried unto thee, O Lord, and said, Thou art my refuge and portion in the land of the living,’ Ps. cxlii. 4, 5. When men fail, God never faileth; when riches take wing, and worldly friends forsake us, then is a time for trust and dependence upon God. It is the end of providence that we should have the less comfort in the creature that we may have all in God. Now we are to depend on God for whatsoever we stand in need of, as at all times, so for all things, temporal and spiritual mercies; for God will withhold no good thing from us. He hath undertaken not only to give us heaven and happiness in the next world, but to carry us thither with comfort, ‘that we may serve him without fear all the days of our lives,’ Luke i. 75. His providence concerneth the outward and inward man, and so do his promises. A whole believer is in covenant with God, body and soul, and he will take care of both. But all the difficulty is how we ought to depend on him for temporal supplies.
1. It is certain that we ought not to set God a task to provide meat for our lusts: Ps. lxxviii. 18, ‘And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lusts.’ Carnal affections and hopes do but make trouble for ourselves. Though it be the ordinary practice of God’s free grace and fatherly cares to provide things comfortable and necessary for his children, whilst he hath work for them to do, yet he never undertook to maintain us at such a rate, to give us so much by the year, such portions for our children, and supplies for our families. 451We must leave to the great Shepherd of the sheep to choose our pastures, bare or large; and he that will depend upon God must be sure to empty his heart of covetous desires, and be contented with our lot, if we would cast ourselves upon his providence: Heb. xiii. 5, ‘Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor for sake thee.’ We do but ensnare and perplex our own thoughts while we would reconcile the promises with our lusts, and crave more than ever God meaneth to give.
2. It is as certain that we ought not to be faithless and full of cares about these outward supplies: Mat. vi. 23, ‘Take no thought what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed;’ because, if we had no promises, there is a common bounty and goodness of God which is over all his works, and reacheth to the preservation of the smallest worm, decketh the lilies, feedeth the ravens and the fowls of the air; and certainly more noble creatures, such as men are, may expect their share in this common bounty; how much more when there is a covenant wherein God hath promised to be a father to us, and temporal blessings are adopted and taken into the covenant as well as other blessings. Will not he give that to children which he gives to enemies, to beasts and fowls of the air? You would count him a barbarous and unnatural father that feeds his dogs and hawks, and lets his children die of hunger; and can we without blasphemy think so of God?
3. As we ought not, on the one hand, to think God will supply our lusts, nor, on the other hand, distrust his care of necessaries, so we cannot be absolutely confident of particular success in temporal things; for they are not absolutely promised, but with exception of the cross, and as God shall see them good for us. God reserved in the covenant a liberty both of showing his justice and his wisdom; his justice, in scourging his sinning people: Ps. lxxxix. 32, ‘He will visit their iniquity with rods, and their transgression with scourges.’ The world shall know God doth not allow sins in his own children. Sin is as odious to God in them as others, yea, more; and therefore they feel the smart of it. The liberty of his wisdom: Ps. lxxxiv. 11, ‘The Lord God is a sun and a shield: the Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly;’ Ps. xxxiv. 9, 10, ‘O fear the Lord, ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear him: the young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they that fear the Lord shall not want any good thing.’ They may want many comforts, but no good thing. Good is not determined by our fancies, but God’s wisdom. Well, then, we cannot expect a certain tenure of temporal happiness-; there is great danger in fixing a deceitful hope; much of the subtlety of Satan is to be seen in it, who maketh an advantage of our disappointments, and abuseth our rash confidence into a snare and temptation to atheism and the misbelief of other truths.
4. The dependence we exercise about these things lieth in committing ourselves to God’s power, and referring ourselves to God’s will. He is so able that he can secure us in his work, so good, that we should not trouble ourselves about his will, but refer it to him without hesitancy, 452which, if we could bring our hearts to it, it would ease us of many burdensome thoughts and troublesome cares: 1 Peter iv. 19, ‘Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator;’ Prov. xvi. 3, ‘Commit thy ways unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.’ Put yourselves into God’s hands, so trusting him with the issue of our affairs, though we know not how it will fall: 1 Chron. xix. 13, ‘Let the Lord do what is good in his sight;’ 1 Tim. iv. 10, ‘Therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the saviour of all men, especially of those that believe;’ and so are encouraged to go on cheer fully with their duty. Trust in God is not idle expectation or a devout sloth, but such a dependence as giveth life to our service, that we may go on cheerfully, without disquiet in our work, and in ways wherein he hath appointed us to walk. The law gives protection to those that travel on the road, not in byways: ‘He shall keep thee in all thy ways:’ in viis, non in prcecipitiis. Otherwise you seek to draw God into a fellowship of your guilt, and do ‘make him serve with your iniquities,’ Isa. xliii. 24—he was doubly censured among the heathen that took a lamp from the altar to steal by—to make God’s providence subservient to the devil’s interest: 1 Peter iv. 19, ‘Commit your souls to God in well-doing.’ God never undertook to protect us in the devil’s service.
Secondly, Reasons why it is our duty.
1. Trust, as it implieth recourse to God in our necessities, is necessarily required in the fundamental article of the covenant, in the choice of God for your God. Nature teacheth men in their distress to run to their gods: Jonah i. 5, ‘The mariners cried every man to his god.’ It immediately results from the owning of a God, that we should trust him with our safety; much more when taught thus to do, and how to do so in the word.
2. Else there can be no converse with God. Truth is the ground of commerce between man and man; so our dependence, which is built upon God’s fidelity, is the ground of commerce between God and us. Man fell from God by distrust, by having a jealousy of him; and still the evil heart of unbelief doth lead us off from God: Heb. iii. 12, ‘Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.’ But the more we believe him, the more we keep with him. God doth not give present payment, nor govern the world by sense; therefore faith is necessary: 2 Cor. v. 7, ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight.’ Sight is for heaven, faith for the present dispensation. We are now under sense, and that will mislead us. Reason is either refined by faith, or depressed by sense.
3. Consider whose word it is. God’s word is the signification of his will who is merciful, able, true. (1.) There is benignity and goodness, by which he is willing to help poor creatures, though we can be of no use and profit to him. The hen receiveth no benefit by the chickens, only her trouble of providing for them is increased; but they are her own brood, therefore she leadeth them up and down that they may find a sustenance: so doth God to the creatures. We are the work of his hands, therefore he pitieth us, and is willing to save 453us; and not only so, but carried us in the womb of his decree from all eternity. (2.) His truth and fidelity is laid at pawn with the creature in the promises: Ps. cxxxviii. 2, ‘Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.’ He standeth much on his truth, is punctual in his promises. It is a great disgrace done to God if we do not trust him upon his word; we ‘make him a liar:’ 1 John v. 10, ‘He that believeth not God hath made him a liar,’ and so not God. (3.) He is able to make it good; his word never yet found difficulty: ‘He spake the word, and it was done.’ There is the same power that goeth still along with his word. If he say he will do this, who can let? Therefore, none that ever yet trusted in God were disappointed: Ps. xxii. 5, ‘They trusted in thee, and were not confounded.’
4. From the benefits of this trust.
[1.] This fixeth and establisheth the heart against all fears, which so often prove a snare to us: Ps. cxii. 7, ‘He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.’ Ill news and cross accidents falling out in the world do not dismay him, because he looketh higher, because he hath set God against men, the covenant against providences, eternal things against temporal; he is not fearless, yet his heart is established and fixed.
[2.] It allayeth our sorrows, and maketh us cheerful in the midst of all difficulties and discouragements: Ps. xiii. 5, ‘I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation;’ so Ps. lii. 8, ‘I am like a green olive-tree, for I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.’ As some trees are green in winter; this will make a man flourish notwithstanding opposition, and all the bitter cold blasts of trouble and worldly distress.
[3.] It quiets the heart as to murmurings and unquiet agitations of spirit, to wait God’s leisure. When there was a storm in David’s spirit, he allayeth it thus: Ps. xlii. 5, ‘Why art thou disquieted, my soul? hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him.’ On the contrary, murmuring, impatience, and vexation is the fruit of distrust: Ps. cvi. 24, 25, ‘They believed not his word, and murmured in their tents.’ They that distrust God’s promise fall a quarrelling with his providence. Did we believe that the wise God is still carrying on all things for our good, we would submit to his will.
[4.] It banisheth and removeth far from us distracting cares and fears; these are a great sin, a reproach to our heavenly Father: Mat. vi. 25, ‘Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, nor what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on;’ and ver. 32, ‘After all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.’ As if your children, when you are able to maintain them, should distrust your allowance, and beg their bread from door to door. We are forecasting many things, take God’s work out of his hands, and are anxious in inquiring what we shall eat, what we shall drink, what shall become of such a business and affair. Now, how shall we be eased of these tormenting thoughts? Prov. xvi. 3, ‘Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established;’ 2 Chron. xx. 20, ‘Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established.’
[5.] It keepeth us from warping and turning aside to crooked paths. 454As long as we are persuaded that God will maintain us by honest and lawful means, we are kept upright with God; but an unbelieving person makes haste; right or wrong, he will be his own carver. Men, if they have not faith enough to trust God in an ordinary course of providence, think God is a bad pay-master, and therefore take up with present things: Zeph. iii. 2, ‘She obeyed not my voice, she trusted not in the Lord;’ that was the reason of her corruption, oppression, and deceit; this was the reason why they rose up against Moses, and would go back to Egypt; they would not believe God could maintain them in the wilderness. Warping and declining from God cometh from want of faith.
The first use is to persuade us to trust in God upon his word. I will direct you—
1. As to the means.
2. The nature of this trust.
1. As to the means. If you would do so—
[2.] Get a covenant interest in him. If our interest be clouded, how can we put promises in suit? But when it is clear, you may draw comfortable conclusions thence: Ps. xxxi. 14, ‘I trusted in thee. O Lord; I said, Thou art my God;’ Ps. xxiii. 1, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;’ he will provide for his own: Lam. iii. 24, 4 The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.’
[3.] Walk closely with him: Micah iii. 11, ‘The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? None evil shall come upon us.’ God will shake them as Paul did the viper. Shame, fear, and doubts do always follow sin. Will a man trust him whom he hath provoked? Doubts are the fumes of sin, like vapours that come from off a foul stomach. If we mean to make good and keep a friend, we will be careful to please him. A good conversation breedeth a good conscience, and a good conscience trust in God.
[4.] Observe experiences, when he maketh good his word: Ps. xviii. 30, ‘As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried; he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.’ All these providences are confirmations that feed and nourish faith: Ps. lvi. 10, 11, ‘In God will I praise his word; in the Lord will I praise his word: in God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.’
2. As to the nature of this trust. Let me commend to you—
[1.] The adventure of faith: Luke v. 5, ‘At thy word we will let down the net.’ At thy command; when we cannot apply the promise, venture for the command’s sake; see what God will do for you, and what believing comes to.
[2.] The waiting of faith, when expectation is not answered, and you find not at first what you wait for; yet do not give God the lie, but resolve to keep the promise as a pawn till the blessing promised cometh: Isa. xxviii. 16, ‘He that believeth maketh not haste.’ It is carnal affection must have present satisfaction: greedy and impatient 455longings argue a disease. Revenge must have it by and by; covetousness waxeth rich in a day; ambition would rise presently; lusts are earnest and ravenous; like diseased stomachs, must have green trash.
[3.] The obstinacy and resolution of faith. Resolve to die holding the horns of the altar; you will not be put off; as she cried so much the more, and the woman of Canaan turned discouragements into arguments: Job xiii. 15, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.’
[4.] The submission and resignation of faith: Mat. vi. 33, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, and all these things shall be added to you.’ Set your hearts upon the highest interest, make sure of heaven, and refer other things to God; be at a point of indifferency for temporal supplies.
[5.] The prudence of faith. Settle your mind against present necessities, and for future contingencies leave them to God’s providence: Mat. vi. 34, ‘Sufficient for each day is the evil thereof.’ Children, that have to allay present hunger, do not cark how to bring the year about; they leave that to their father. Manna was to be gathered daily; when it was kept till the morning, it putrified.
[6.] The obedience of faith. Mind duty, and let God take care of success. Let God alone with the issues of things, otherwise we take the work out of his hands. A Christian’s care should be what he should be, not what shall become of him: Phil. iv. 6, ‘Be careful for nothing;’ and 1 Peter v. 7, ‘But cast your care on him, for he careth for you.’ There is a care of duties and a care of events. God is more solicitous for you than you for yourselves.
Use 2. Do we thus trust in the Lord? All will pretend to trust in God, but there is little of this true trusting in him in the world.
1. If we trust God we shall be often with him in prayer, Ps. lxii. 8, ‘Trust in the Lord at all times; pour out your hearts before him;’ 2 Sam. xxii. 2-4, ‘The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, the God of my rock; in him will I trust; he is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Saviour; thou savest me from violence; I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from mine enemies.’ We #ct our trust at the throne of grace; encourage ourselves in God.
2. It will quiet and fix the heart, free it of cares, fears, and anxious thoughts: Phil. iv. 6, 7, ‘Be careful for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God; and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds, through Jesus Christ;’ Ps. xciv. 19, ‘In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.’
3. A care to please, for dependence begets observance. They that have all from God will not easily break with him.
Doct. 2. Those that do trust in God must look to be reproached for it by carnal men.
1. There are two sorts of men in the world ever since the beginning—contrary seeds: Gen. iii. 15, ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.’ Some born of the flesh, some of the spirit; the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent; some that live by sense, some by faith: ever it will be so. 456And there is an enmity between these two, and this enmity vented by reproach: Gal. iv. 29, ‘But as he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so it is now;’ that persecution was by bitter mockings. So Ishmael: Gen. xxi. 9, ‘Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.’
2. The occasion, from their low condition; hence they will take liberty to mock at their interest in God, and to shame them from their confidence, as if the promise of God were of none effect. Carnal men measure all things by a carnal interest; and therefore the life of those that live by faith is ridiculous to them; those that trust in a promise are exercised with delay and distress: Heb. vi. 12, ‘Be ye followers of them who, through faith and patience, have inherited the promises.’ Here is matter for faith and patience. Now, they that know no arm but flesh, no security but a temporal interest, no happiness but in the things of this life, have them in derision that look elsewhere.
Use 1. Not to count it strange when it is our lot to be exercised with reproaches because of our trust; so was Christ: Ps. xxii. 6-8, ‘I am a worm, and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people: all they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, and shake the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him;’ Mat. xxvii. 39-43, ‘And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself; if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross,’ &c. If Christ Jesus was mocked for his trust, we should bear it the more patiently. So the people of God: 1 Tim. iv. 10 ‘Therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God.’ It is no new thing for the adversaries of religion to scorn such as trust in God, and rely upon his promises; therefore bear it the, more patiently. (1.) Whether they be upbraidings of our trust: Mat. xxvii. 43, ‘He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he will have him, for he said, I am the Son of God;’ Job iv. 6, ‘Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?’ (2.) Or insultings over our low and comfortless condition. Men will tread down the hedge where they find it low. The Psalmist complaineth, Ps. lxix. 26, ‘They speak to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded;’ pour in vinegar and salt where they find a wound, and add affliction to the afflicted. You will hear bitter words. Christ himself was thus exercised: Mat. xxvii. 29, ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’ To be mocked and scorned we must expect, and that men will insult. (3.) Or whether they be perverse applications of providence. Thus Shimei insulted over David in his distress: 2 Sam. xvi. 7, 8, ‘Come out, thou bloody man, thou man of Belial; the Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul,’ &c. So men will say, This is for your rebellion, &c.
Use 2. Since there are two parties in the world, they that trust and they that reproach them for their trust, consider in what number you are. It is needful to be far from the disposition of the seed of the serpent, and not to have your tongues set on fire of hell, to be far from the disposition of those that are governed by sense and carnal interests. 457(1.) It is unmannerly to insult over any in distress, and to reproach them with their condition. Places blasted with lightning were accounted sacred amongst the heathens, because the hand of God had touched them; so you should not speak to the grief of those whom God hath wounded, but pity them, and pray for them, if they are fallen into God’s hands. (2.) It is unchristian to reproach those that trust in God. It is easy to know them. Who are they that pray, that plead promises, that carry not on their hopes by present likelihoods? Though they have their faults, they are, for the main, strict, holy, charitable. (3.) It is dangerous to offend any of Christ’s little ones, and to grieve their spirits.
Doct. 3. That these reproaches are grievous to God’s children, and go near their hearts; therefore David desires God to appear for him, that he may have somewhat to answer them that reproached him.
1. Man’s nature cannot endure reproach, especially a scornful reproach: every man thinketh himself worthy of some regard.
2. Religion increaseth the sense of it, as the flood increased when the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened, Gen. vii. 11. When the deep below and the heaven above combined, the flood was greater; so when grace and nature join, it is very grievous. David said, Ps. xlii. 10, ‘It was a sword in my bones when they said, Where is now thy God?’ These were cutting words to David’s heart.
[1.] It is a dishonour to God, and they are sensible of that, as well as a misery to themselves.’ It is a dishonour to his power, as if ha could not help; to his love, as if he would not; to his truth, as if he would fail in the needful time, or were fickle and inconstant, as if he would desert his friends in misery; to his holiness, as if he favoured wicked men in their evil courses, and formal dead-hearted services: Ps. 1. 21, ‘These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.’ How can a soul that loveth God endure this, that the power of God should be lessened or his truth questioned? Rabshakeh said, ‘What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?’ Isa. xxxvi. 4, compared with xviii. 19, 20, ‘Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The Lord shall deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the heathens delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who are they amongst all the gods that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’ As if the living God had no more power than dumb idols. Therefore Hezekiah goeth and spreads the letter before the Lord. You touch a godly man to the quick when you strike at God’s honour; they have a tender sense and feeling of this.
[2.] It reflects upon the ways of God, to bring them out of request. You thought you were one of God’s darlings, you thought nobody served God but you; this is your godly profession, your fasting and prayer; what need such niceness? Thus they count his way folly, his life madness.
[3.] These reproaches strike at the life of faith, and therefore go 458very near the hearts of God’s children. Trust and confidence in God is the life of their souls: Ps. iii. 2, ‘There is no help for him in God’. Such temptations are very catching, when he seemeth opposite to. them. Now our unbelief puts in to make the temptation stronger. There is some visible pretence for what is said, Where are the promises thou talkest of? Where the promises and the deliverance? What have thy prayers brought from heaven? Thou hast called and none answered, cried and none hath pity on thee. What profit in serving the Lord? And then what followeth after this open objection? Unbelief cometh; and whispereth in our ears, Do you think those things true the word speaketh?
Well, then, open your hearts to God, as Hezekiah did Rabshakeh’s letter; tell him of these ‘cruel mockings,’ as they are called, Heb. xi. 36. It is the manner of saints so to do: Ps. cxv. 2, ‘Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?’ and Joel ii. 17, on the fasting day ‘let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?’
Doct. 4. God making good his promises, confuteth these reproaches and insultations. When deliverance cometh their mouths are stopped: Job v. 16, ‘The poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth;’ Ps. cvii. 42, ‘The righteous shall see it, and iniquity shall stop her mouth,’ then when ‘he sets the poor on high from affliction, and maketh them families like a flock.’ In both these places it is not said, God stoppeth their mouths, or the saints stop their mouths, but they stop their own mouths; then we need not answer our adversaries, they answer themselves; they have not a word to say, and all their pride and insultation is defeated and silenced.
Use 1. Prayer is necessary. Desire God to appear and right himself, that he may confute the perverse thoughts of men, and wrong applications of his providence, that carnal men may see your hope and confidence in God is not in vain. You may beg deliverance on this ground, that the mouth of iniquity may be stopped.
Use 2. Wait. Carnal men reproach God’s people with their trust, when in their distress he stays a little, when they have humbled themselves for their sins, and sought reconciliation with God as his word prescribeth, and are sufficiently weaned from carnal props, and have learned to depend on him; the wicked shall find himself mistaken about the godly, whose ways he counted folly.
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