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SERMON CXXX.

Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.—Ver. 119.

IN these words we have—(1.) God’s dispensation; (2.) The effect it had upon David’s heart.

In the first branch we have—

1. The character by which they are described, all the wicked of the earth.

2. The esteem God hath of them, they are dross.

3. A suitable providence dealt out to them, intimated, thou puttest them away like dross.

First, That the wicked are men of the earth. There are common reasons why we are all men of the earth. Our original is earth, made of the dust of the ground, Gen. ii. 7. They are but a little earth or red clay fashioned into the form of a man, a handful of enlivened dust. Our abode and service is here: John xvii. 4, ‘I have glorified thee upon earth;’ and at our end and dissolution we are turned into earth again: Eccles. xii. 7, ‘Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was;’ Ps. cxlvi. 4, ‘His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth.’ Princes as well as others must look to be dissolved into dust again. But in an especial respect are wicked men said to be of the earth, and that in contradistinction to the people of God, Rev. xiii. 10. God’s witnesses ‘tormented the dwellers upon earth;’ that is, those that are out of the true church, in Antichrist’s kingdom. So Rev. xiii. 8, ‘And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb.’ As, on the contrary, they that dwell in the church, are said to be in heaven: Rev. xiii. 6, ‘And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven;’ so Rev. xviii. 20, ‘Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles.’ But why are they thus characterised? Because here they flourish: Jer. xvii. 13, ‘Their names shall be written in earth;’ grow great, and of good reckoning and account here. Judas had the bag; they ‘pros per in the world,’ Ps. lxxiii. 12, ‘Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world.’ Here they are respected: 1 John iv. 5, ‘They are of the world, and speak of the world, and the world heareth them.’ Here their hearts and minds are, Mat. vi. 19, 20. It is their natural frame to be worldly; they only savour the things of the world; preferment, honour, greatness, it is their unum magnum; here is their pleasure, and here is their portion, their hopes and their happiness. A child of God looketh for another inheritance, immortal and undefiled.

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Use 1. To wean us from present things, which the wicked enjoy more than the righteous, and which certainly are but poor things in comparison of our happiness: ‘Set your affections on things above, not on things in the earth,’ Col. iii. 2. Affect them not as your happiness and last end: Ps. xvii. 14, ‘Their portion is in this life.’ Affect them not in competition with heavenly things, but in subordination, Mat. vi. 33; affect them not inordinately, but so as to part with them when God will: Job i. 21. ‘Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ Affect them not so as to use unlawful means to get them: Prov. xxviii. 8, ‘He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.’ Affect them not so as to put yourselves upon the temptation of getting or keeping them by unjust means: 1 Tim. vi. 9, ‘But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition;’ Prov. xxviii. 20, ‘He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.’ Affect them not so as to be backward to good works: ‘But whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?’ 1 John iii. 17; 1 Sam. xxv. 11, ‘Shall I take my bread, and my water, and my flesh, which I have provided for my shearers, and give it to men I know not?’ Affect them not so as to neglect heavenly things; affect them not so as to lay out your whole time and care about them: Prov. xxiii. 4, ‘Cease from thine own understanding; labour not to be rich;’ Isa. lv. 2, ‘Why do ye spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not?’ But only affect them as you may honour God: Prov. iii. 9, ‘Honour the Lord with thy substance.’ You may provide for your families in the fair lawful way of God’s providence, 1 Tim. v. 8; also you may be helpful to others, Eph. iv. 28; for if you so do, you are not the wicked of the earth, but those that use this world, but hope to enjoy better things.

Use 2. Let us be contented though we be kept low and mean in the world. God’s people are not the children of this world; better things are reserved for them in the world to come: and therefore, if we have food and raiment, and that but of the coarsest, let us be content: 1 Tim. vi. 8, ‘Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.’ Jesus Christ gave thanks for five barley loaves and two fishes, Mark vi. 41. The wicked are characterised to be of the earth; God’s children are from above as to their original, and thither they tend as to their scope and end; and if we have anything by the way, we have no cause to complain: 1 Peter ii. 11, ‘I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims.’ What would a man care for in a journey but a bait or a little refreshing? If we seek after more, it is inordinate affection, and must be mortified, not satisfied: Eph. iii. 5, ‘Mortify your members which are upon the earth.’ Evil inclinations bend us to the earth, and earthly things, those splendid nothings, riches, pleasures, honours, these hinder us from nobler things; yea, they increase our difficulties about the things that are necessary for us by the way: Heb. xiii. 5, ‘Let your conversations be without covetousness, and be content with such 222things as you have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor for sake thee;’ implying that whilst we indulge carnal desires, it is hard to trust God with daily supports, for daily protection and daily maintenance; but always distract ourselves with fruitless cares and thoughts about the things of this life. And also we may say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I do not fear what man can do unto me.’ Therefore let us not desire more than God alloweth: a little with God’s blessing is enough to supply our necessities as to wants, and to give us protection against dangers; as the apostle subjoineth God’s undertaking, and the saints’ confidence thereupon by way of a cure; if we believe God’s promises, and have the spirit of his saints, this is enough to us.

Use 3. Let us not envy the prosperity of the wicked.

1. They are the wicked of the earth; here they flourish; as nettles will more easily grow than choicer plants, the soil bringeth them forth of its own accord; so do wicked men thrive here: but you need not envy them; not only our hopes are much better than their possessions, but our present condition is much better, Ps. xvii. 14. Their possessions are not to be compared with our hopes. What is a more plentiful table to the everlasting fruition of God? the pomp of the world to the seeing God face to face? vainglory to everlasting glory? honour here to the glory that shall be upon us at Christ’s appearing? their momentary pleasures, which pass away suddenly as a dream, to the everlasting pleasure you shall enjoy in the sight of God? Nay, for the present you have communion with God and the sense of his favour, how poor and afflicted soever your outward condition be: Ps. iv. 6, 7, ‘There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us: thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time when their corn and wine increased.’ Carnal men rejoice in sensual earthly good things, not in the favour of God. And mark, this joy is proposed with a supposition of increase; and at the time of this increase, when the carnalist doth enjoy the greatest affluence of worldly blessings, take them at their best, when they have the most lively sense of these things, yet a Christian hath more cause of rejoicing: ‘Thou hast put gladness in my heart;’ here is matter and ground of rejoicing. They drink of the cistern, you of the fountain, Jer. xii. 13; they rejoice not in God, but his gifts; and not the best gifts, but the common sort, riches, pleasures, and honours; and these not as the effects of God’s bounty, but as happening to them in the ordinary course of second causes: ‘Who will show us any good?’ But you rejoice in God, in his best gifts, his love and grace. And then here is the author of this joy: ‘Thou hast put gladness.’ This joy is allowed by God, and wrought by him: Rom. xiv. 17, ‘The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ It is stirred up by his Spirit; their joy is neither God’s allowance nor God’s work. And then here is the subject and seat of this joy; not tickle the senses, but delight the heart: ‘Thou hast put gladness in my heart.’ And then here is the measure; it is more joy, it is more pure and sublime, of a stronger efficacy, which not only overcometh the sense of present infelicities, but the fear of death, hell, and judgment to come: Heb. vi. 18, ‘That we might have stronger consolation.’ But wicked men 223dance about the brink of hell, have their secret gripes; and will you envy them, as if your condition were not much better? When God hath given you the feast, will you be troubled that they have the scraps and fragments of his bounty?

2. In regard of the uncertainty of their condition: Ps. xxxvii. 1, 2, ‘Fret not thyself because of the evil-doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity; for they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.’ Though they seem to be in a very prosperous condition for the present, as grass while it is standing is very green, yet they are soon cut down by the scythe of providence, then presently fadeth, and is carried away from the place where it grew. You think providence doth not deal righteously, because the unworthy are exalted and the worthy depressed. Do but tarry a while, and you will have no cause to complain, or to grow weary of godliness, or to cry up a confederacy with evil men. They are never nearer their own ruin than when they come to the height of their exaltation, as the sun declineth presently when he cometh to the highest point of the zenith. Who would envy those that climb up a ladder for execution? or are carried to the top of a rock, that they may be thrown down from thence to be broken in pieces? Ps. lxxiii. 18, ‘Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction.’

Secondly, That the wicked of the earth are as dross. They are so in these respects:—

1. As to external show, they seem to be a part of the substance or metal, but indeed they are but the filth of the metal, which is wont to be consumed with fire, that the metal may be purged. This is fitly applied to the degenerate members of the visible church, that have only a show of the purity of religion, but are corrupt in faith and manners, ungodly and unrighteous. There are disciples in show, and disciples indeed, John viii. 31; some that live, and some only that have a name to live, but indeed are dead, Rev. iii. 4. There is a Jew outwardly and inwardly, of the letter and of the spirit, Rom. ii. 28, 29. There are branches in Christ, by an external visible union, that bring forth no fruit, John xv. 2. Some are Christians in name, by external visible communion, others by real implantation into Christ. It concerneth us to see whether we be dross or metal, living members of Christ’s mystical body, or only equivocally called Christians, because of some loose profession of Christ’s name.

2. Dross is intermingled with purer metal, and maketh one mass with it. The wicked and the godly live together in the visible church; they are never totally severed till the great day of separation or general judgment, when the sheep and the goats are put apart, some on Christ’s right hand and some on his left. Here in the world, as in the finest metal, there is some dross, and in the same field there is chaff and corn, Mat. xiii. 29. We should not leave the flour for the chaff, but leave the chaff that we may be pure grain.

3. In God’s esteem they are refuse, drossy, worthless things: Ezek. xxii. 19, ‘Thus saith the Lord, Because ye are become dross,’ poor, unprofitable creatures. The church and people of God, because of their excellency, are compared to gold and silver; so Rev. i. 20, ‘The seven golden candlesticks.’ As gold is the most precious metal, so is 224the church, much esteemed by God, called God’s jewels, Mal. iii. 17; as a diamond among a heap of pebbles; God’s jewels, ‘of whom the world is not worthy,’ Heb. xi. 38; his ‘peculiar people,’ Titus ii. 14. God maketh no such reckoning of wicked men. Dross is cast away as good for nothing; and all the wicked of the earth are but as dross to so much good metal. But all his saints are much set by, as the things of silver and gold are precious. What a difference is there between the judgment of God and the judgment of the world! The men of the world esteem the saints to be, 1 Cor. iv. 13, ‘the offscouring and filth of all things,’ as the sweeping of the city, to be cast forth to the dunghill. Whereas themselves are so indeed in God’s account; but ‘reprobate silver,’ Jer. vi. 30, or rather dross, which is the refuse of gold and silver. Therefore their contempt is not to be regarded, how great soever they be; though potentates, high in honour and place, yet if ungodly and wicked, God reckons them to be vile persons, Dan. xi. 21, dross, worthless souls. Men are not valued by God for their secular interests, but moral qualifications. The potentates of the earth are not valued as his princely, but holy ones: ‘The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour,’ Prov. xii. 26. God puts the highest price upon them, they are coin and medals who bear his own image.

4. They are consumed in trials, as dross consumeth in the fining and trying of metals. Solid metal endureth, but the dross is consumed; which holdeth true of wicked men in two respects:—(1.) Their seeming goodness is lost, and the difference is seen between them and those that are sincere. Sound and searching judgments discover hypocrites, as the lightness of a building is seen in a storm: Mat. vii. 27, ‘When the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, the house fell, and great was the fall of it.’ So God, in the metaphor of the text, is often said to melt and try his people, Jer. ix. 7, to discover the dross from pure gold. Hirelings will soon prove changelings, when God trieth them to purpose. (2.) Their imaginary felicity vanished into smoke, they perish, the meanest as well as the greatest. Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross; they are consumed in the fire of God’s wrath, and destroyed: Ezek. xxii. 20, ‘As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.’ But of this by and by.

Use. Let us see what we are, real members of Christ’s mystical body, yea or no. The wicked of the earth are as dross, and the godly are the finest sort of metals. To move you to consider what you are:—

1. Ordinarily the visible church is so mixed, that the generality thereof is unsound: Zech. xiii. 8, ‘Two parts thereof shall be cut off and die; and I will bring the third part through the fire, and refine them as silver is refined, and try them as gold is tried.’ There is but one part in three sound, and it were well the proportion were sound every where; and therefore we had need to consider who shall be saved and found faithful: Luke xiii. 23, 24, ‘And one said unto him, 225Lord, are there few that shall be saved? and he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many shall seek to enter, and shall not be able.’ We had need be the more earnest, because the most miscarry.

2. The trials will be searching; we must pass through the fire, and then what will become of the dross? Rev. iii. 10, ‘An hour of temptation shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon earth.’ And, alas! are we able to brook the fiery trial? 1 Peter iv. 10. Few professors will be able to abide it, when we are to part with the sweetest of our earthly comforts, yea, and it may be life itself, which maketh us capable to enjoy them. It is no strange thing that it should happen to us, 1 Peter iv. 12; it is as useful as violent storms at sea or tempestuous weather in winter; when God is upon reckoning with his people, such things may be expected.

3. The best of us will be found but dross if God would deal with us in extremity; so much of corruption cleaveth to us, and so many hidden lusts do we cherish and indulge, that would soon become a root of apostasy, if God did not hold a hand of grace over us. But God will not be extreme: Isa. xlviii. 10, ‘Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction;’ that is, not so thoroughly. Silver is not refined till all the dross be consumed and wrought out of it; and when should we see good day if God should so refine us?

4. They are not reckoned to dross, but metal, that walk answerable to their profession and obligations to God, as becometh his peculiar people to do; they are not satisfied with common mercies. A man may have the world at will, and yet be a castaway; they must have something peculiar and distinguishing: Ps. cxix. 132, ‘Look upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do to them that love thy name;’ things that can never be given in anger. They do not rest in common grace: Heb. vi. 9, ‘But we hope better things of you, and things that do accompany salvation;’ those good moods in hypocrites and temporaries. Nor content themselves with a common conversation: 1 Cor. iii. 3, ‘Are ye not carnal, and walk as men?’ 1 Peter iv. 4, ‘Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them into the same excess of riot;’ Mat. v. 46, ‘If you love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?’ You should do something rare and singular, not in an ordinary loose rate.

Thirdly, That it is God’s business in heaven to put away the wicked as dross, to sever them from the purer metal.

1. God hath many ways and means to do it. (1.) Partly by his judgments he doth it more and more: Mat. iii. 12, ‘His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ As the chaff from corn, so dross from metal: Isa. iv. 4, ‘When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughter of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning;’ that is, by the judgment executed upon the evil among them: Ezek. xx. 38, ‘And I will purge out from among them the rebels, and them that transgress 226against me.’ This God doth by destroying, wasting judgments. (2.) Partly by the censures of the church: 1 Cor. v. 9, ‘Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.’ And partly by the stroke of the civil magistrate, and their punishments: Prov. xxv. 4, 5, ‘Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.’ Thus doth God do it now, but he will fully and finally do it at the last judgment, when there shall be a perfect separation of them, and all the wicked shall be cast away as refuse: Mat. xxv. 32, 33, ‘Before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left hand;’ there is a congregation and then a segregation, never to meet more, nor be mingled more. Now God doth it in part, but then more fully.

2. The reasons. (1.) God doth so, lest the silver itself should be turned into dross. We are apt to corrupt one another, natural corruption within meeting with examples without: Isa. vi. 5, ‘Woe is me, I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips;’ as a man that hath the matter of a disease prepared, coming into infectious company, is soon infected. God’s choicest people have much dross in them, therefore the Lord needeth to purge out their dross. The purest church is apt to contract pollution and to degenerate, and the choice plants of the covenant-stock to run wild, were it not for these dispensations. (2.) That impunity may not harden the wicked and encourage others. God suffereth it as long as he judgeth it expedient: Eccles. viii. 11, ‘Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil;’ Ps. ix. 16, ‘The Lord is known by the judgments he executeth; the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.’ Men sin more freely and securely when a judgment doth not presently overtake them, when sinners go on without any mark of God’s vengeance; but God will in every age clear his providence, by bringing of judgments upon wicked men. (3.) The nearer they are to God, the more hateful their provocations are, and more severely punished: Amos iii. 2, ‘You have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.’ For their sins the valley of vision is brought to barrenness. They sin against the clearest light, the dearest love, the highest engagements to the contrary; and therefore, when they are mingled among his people as dross with the silver, God putteth them away.

Use 1. To inform us that God in his judicial proceedings will distinguish; he will divide the dross from the other metal, that he may destroy the one, and preserve the other. David prayeth, Ps. xxvi. 9, ‘Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men;’ that God would not lay him common with the wicked. God hath his harvest, for cutting down, for cutting and binding together those that sinned. Now David prayeth that he, that had severed himself in his course of life, might not be gathered with them in their punishment. God will distinguish; his judgments are for the destruction of the worser sort, and the amendment of the better; when he severeth the 227dross, he hath a care of the silver. Though never so terrible to the wicked, still he will be comfortable to his own: 2 Peter ii. 9, ‘The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished.’ His own jewel, that lieth hidden among them: when all is shaken round about them, God can hide them in the secret of his presence, and preserve them as he did Lot and Noah. His own are wonderfully preserved in common judgments; several scriptures speak to this: Eccles. viii. 12, 13, ‘Surely it shall be well with them that fear God, but it shall not be well with the wicked;’ and Josh. iii. 10, ‘Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites;’ Isa. iii. 10, 11, ‘Say unto the righteous, It shall be well with him; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him; for the reward of his hands shall be given him.’ God will make a difference between good and bad.

Use 2. That a few wicked men may bring a great deal of hurt and mischief, as Achan upon Israel; two dry sticks may set a green one on fire, as the whole metal is melted that the dross may be severed.

Use 3. All judgments on the visible church are to sever the dross from the gold. God suffereth them a while to be mingled, and then come trying judgments to separate the one from the other; which is a comfort to us; the church is the purer for these judgments: Isa. i. 25, ‘And I will turn my hand upon thee, and I will surely purge away thy dross, and take away thy tin.’ So Mal. iii. 3, ‘And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.’ He will send such judgments as will destroy the incorrigible wicked ones, and purify the rest. It is a comfort against persecutions. We murmur under them, know not how they shall be turned away; God, who is the purger of his church, will find out some way. And it is a comfort under his judgments; they are not to destroy, but to purge. God intendeth only our purging, how hot soever the furnace be; therefore let God alone with his work.

Use 4. To teach us to wait upon God in the way of his judgments. He is putting away the wicked of the earth like dross; it is not only a work that he hath done, or will hereafter do, but he is always doing of it. We should observe how God hath already done it, and so by faith we should look upon him as still about it. First, he beginneth with his people; he is purging away their wickedness: Isa. xxvii. 9. ‘By this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged.’ ‘But many shall cleave to them by flatteries, and some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them and to purge, and make them white,’ Dan. xi. 35. Now, when God hath employed wicked men to fan and purge his people, then their turn cometh next: Jer. xxv. 29, ‘For lo I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished; for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth;’ 1 Peter iv. 17, ‘If punishment begin at the house of God, where shall the wicked and ungodly appear?’ Prov. xi. 31, ‘Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth, much more the wicked and the sinner.’ When the Lord 228hath performed his work upon Mount Zion and Jerusalem, then he will reckon with his enemies. He beginneth with his church, and maketh an end with their enemies: his enemies drink the dregs of the cup, and their end must needs be unspeakably terrible.

Use 5. Let us see we be not put away like dross, when God’s judgments are abroad in the earth: 1 Cor. xi. 32, ‘We are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.’ We shall put that out of question if we do two things:—(1.) If we be faithful to God, and cleave to God’s people, truth, and interest, how great soever our trials be: Ps. xliv. 17, ‘All this is come upon us, yet we have not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in the covenant.’ To consume in the melting is the property of dross; but the pure metal is the more united, and cleaveth together the more closely. (2.) If you are refined by all these trials: Isa. xxvii. 9, ‘Bv this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged.’ A Christian loseth nothing by his afflictions but sin, which is better parted with than kept.

We come now to the second branch of the text, and that is the effect it had upon David’s heart, ‘Therefore I love thy testimonies.’ This use he made of all God’s judgments.

Doct. A gracious heart, that observeth the providence of God, and the course of his judicial dispensations, will find more cause to love the word of God than ever before.

1. Because thereby he hath sensible experience of the truth of it. God’s providence is a comment upon his word; the effect is answerable to the prediction, and the word that God hath said is fulfilled to a tittle. Now, the more confirmation the word receiveth, the more is affection increased. The apostle telleth us that ‘the word spoken by angels was steadfast,’ Heb. ii. 2, because every ‘transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward.’ The punishment of the transgressors of the law was a proof of God’s authorising their doctrine; the same law made formerly is valid. We see the word doth not threaten in vain, and they that slight it smart for it. Now I see the word of God is to be valued, for God will make it good, even to a tittle.

2. Because if we love not the word, we may see great danger likely to ensue: even those terrible punishments by which he purgeth out the dross should make us fall in love with God’s law. If we would not perish with the wicked of the earth, we should not sin with the wicked of the earth. If we partake of their sins, we must partake of their plagues: Ps. ii. 12, ‘Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, if his wrath be kindled but a little: blessed are they that trust in him.’ When we see the danger of being enemies to God, or unsound with him, we have need to learn this wisdom of showing all affection and reverence and respect to Christ in his ways, and submit to him heartily; there is no safety in any other course. If a spark of his wrath light upon us, how soon will it consume us! The stupid world regardeth not this, to love his ways the more God giveth out proofs of his anger against those that despise them. Many are cut off in the midway sooner than they did or could expect, and yet they do not grow one jot the wiser. It is dangerous to stand out against God, his cause, work, or people.

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3. It doth endear the mercy of God to us; because he hath dealt otherwise with us, who in strict justice have deserved the same. God’s judgments on the wicked commend his mercies to his children, Rom. ix. 23. The vessels of wrath fitted to destruction serve to show the greater love of God to the vessels of mercy; the torments of hell inflicted on the wicked do the more set forth his love to the saints, to whom he hath appointed the joys of heaven. So the severity of God in his present judgments doth imply the love of God to his chosen people, who can take comfort in the promises when the threatenings are accomplished upon others; this might have been our condition too, but that grace hath made the difference. Well, then, as it doth endear the mercy of God to us, so it calleth upon us more highly to love and prize him and his word, because of this distinction.

4. It is not only a means to set off the love of God to us, but even his judgments upon others may be a necessary act of love to us. They are purged out as dross, that they may not infect us by their example, or molest us by their persecutions or oppressions. Now the more we are befriended in this kind, the more we are bound to serve God cheer fully: Luke i. 74, 75, ‘That being delivered from the hands of our enemies, we may serve God in righteousness and holiness all the days of our lives.’ The world is one of those enemies, or the wicked of the earth; therefore we should serve him faithfully.

5. By this means we see the world is governed by God, and we may the more safely commit ourselves to his protection upon the encouragement of his promises. If the affairs of the world were governed by blind chance, and men might do what they listed without check and control, we might think that we had cleansed our hearts in vain, and that a man doth make himself a prey by the simplicity of his innocence. But when God punisheth the wicked in our sight, certainly this should teach us to be more holy in all our ways: Ps. lviii. 11, ‘A man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous, verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth.’ They that knew not what to think of providence shall see there is a God in the heavens that doth wisely administer all things below; and so we are encouraged to love him and serve him more heartily. Say, as the Psalmist, ‘It is good for me to draw nigh to God,’ Ps. lxxiii. 28.

Use. Well, then, let our love to God, and liking and approbation of his law, be accompanied with the hatred of sin, the more we observe his judgments in putting away the wicked like dross, that we may be more holy, and seek after communion with God as our only blessedness. To this end:—

1. Let us bless God for giving a sure rule to walk by, and such promises of protection in the midst of the darkness and uncertainty of the present world. When others perish, you are safe: Isa. viii. 20, ‘To the law and to the testimony,’ &c. Thou shalt walk in this way safely, and shalt not stumble; yea, please God, and you need not fear.

2. Let us walk exactly by this rule, since our temporal and eternal safety and happiness is concerned thereby. For the world to come it is clear, as well as in this life: Prov. iii. 1, 2, ‘My son, forget not my law, but let thine heart keep my commandments; for length of days, and long life, and peace shall they add unto thee,’ and Gal. vi. 16, 230 ‘As many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them.’

3. The more God doth own his law by his judgments, the more let our love be increased. This is to wash our feet in the blood of the wicked: Ps. lviii. 10, ‘The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.’

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