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Rule III.

Continuance in waiting necessary unto peace and consolation.

Whatever your condition be, and your apprehension of it, yet continue waiting for a better issue, and give not over through weariness or impatience. This rule contains the sum of the great example given us in this psalm. Forgiveness in God being discovered, though no sense of a particular interest therein as yet obtained, that which the soul applies itself unto is diligent, careful, constant, persevering waiting; which is variously expressed in the fifth and sixth verses. The Holy Ghost tells us that “light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart,” Ps. xcvii. 11. Light 554and gladness are the things now inquired after. Deliverance from darkness, misapprehensions of God, hard and misgiving thoughts of his own condition, is that which a soul in its depths reacheth towards. Now, saith the Holy Ghost, “These things are sown for the righteous.” Doth the husbandman, after he casts his seed into the earth, immediately the next day, the next week, expect that it will be harvest? doth he think to reap so soon as he hath sown? or doth he immediately say, “I have laboured in vain, here is no return; I will pull up the hedge of this field and lay it waste?” or, “I see a little grass in the blade, but no corn; I will give it to the beasts to devour it?” No; “his God,” as the prophet speaks, “doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him,” — namely, what he must do, and how he must look for things in their season. And shall not we be instructed by him? “Behold, the husbandman,” saith James, “waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain,” James v. 7. And is light sown for them that are in darkness, and shall they stifle the seed under the clods, or spoil the tender blade that is springing up, or refuse to wait for the watering of the Spirit, that may bring it forth to perfection? Waiting is the only way to establishment and assurance; we cannot speed by our haste; yea, nothing puts the end so far away as making too much haste and speed in our journey. The ground hereof is, that a sense of a special interest in forgiveness and acceptance is given in to the soul by a mere act of sovereignty. It is not, it will not be, obtained by or upon any rational conclusions or deductions that we can make. All that we can do is but to apply ourselves to the removal of hinderances, for the peace and rest sought for come from mere prerogative: “When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him?” Job xxxiv. 29. Now, what is the way to receive that which comes from mere sovereignty and prerogative? Doth not the nature of the thing require humble waiting? If, then, either impatience cast the soul into frowardness, or weariness make it slothful (which are the two ways whereby waiting is ruined), let not such a one expect any comfortable issue of his contending for deliverance out of his depths. And let not any think to make out their difficulties any other way: their own reasonings will not bring them to any establishing conclusion; for they may lay down propositions, and have no considerable objections to lie against either of them, and yet be far enough from that sweet consolation, joy, and assurance which is the product of the conclusion, when God is not pleased to give it in. Yea, a man may sometimes gather up consolation to himself upon such terms, but it will not abide. So did David, Ps. xxx. 6, 7. He thus argues with himself: “He whose mountain is made strong, to whom God is 555a defence, he shall never be moved nor be shaken; but I am thus settled of God: therefore I shall not be moved.” And therein he rejoiceth. It is an expression of exultation that he useth; but what is the issue of it? In the midst of these pleasing thoughts of his, “God hides his face,” and “he is troubled;” he cannot any longer draw out the sweetness of the conclusion mentioned. It was in him before from the shinings of God’s countenance, and not from any arguings of his own.

No disappointment, then, no tediousness or weariness, should make the soul leave waiting on God, if it intend to attain consolation and establishment. So dealeth the church, Lam. iii. 21, “This I recall to mind, therefore have I hope.” What is that she calls to mind? This, that “it is of the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not,” verse 22; — “I will yet hope, I will yet continue in my expectation upon the account of never-failing compassion, of endless mercies in him, whatever my present condition be.” And thence she makes a blessed conclusion, verse 26, “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” And this is our third rule:— It is good to hope and wait, whatever our present condition be, and not to give over, if we would not be sure to fall; whereunto I speak no more, because the close of this psalm insists wholly on this duty, which must be farther spoken unto.

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