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God the proper object of the soul’s waiting in its distresses and depths.

We have seen what the duty is intended in the proposition. We are nextly to consider the reason also of it, why this is the great, first, 619and principal duty of souls who in their depths have it discovered unto them that there is forgiveness with God; and the reason hereof is that which is expressed in our second observation before mentioned, namely, —

That the proper object of a sin-distressed soul’s waiting and expectation is God himself as revealed in Christ. “I have,” saith the psalmist, “waited for Jehovah;” — “It is not this or that mercy or grace, this or that help or relief, but it is Jehovah himself that I wait for.”

Here, then, we must do two things, — first, Show in what sense God himself is the object of the waiting of the soul; secondly, How it appears from hence that waiting is so necessary a duty.

First, It is the Lord himself, Jehovah himself, that the soul waiteth for. It is not grace, mercy, or relief absolutely considered, but the God of all grace and help, that is the full adequate object of the soul’s waiting and expectation; only, herein he is not considered absolutely in his own nature, but as there is forgiveness with him. What is required hereunto hath been at large before declared. It is as he is revealed in and by Jesus Christ; as in him he hath found a ransom, and accepted the atonement for sinners in his blood; — as he is a God in covenant, so he is himself the object of our waiting.

And that, first, because all troubles, depths, entanglements arise from, — 1. The absence of God from the soul; and, 2. From his displeasure.

1. The absence of God from the soul, by his departure, withdrawing, or hiding himself from it, is that which principally casts the soul into its depths. “Woe unto them,” saith the Lord, “when I depart from them!” Hos. ix. 12. And this woe, this sorrow, doth not attend only a universal, a total departure of God from any; but that also which is gradual or partial, in some things, in some seasons. When God withdraws his enlightening, his refreshing, his comforting presence, as to any ways or means whereby he hath formerly communicated himself unto the souls of any, then “woe unto them!” sorrows will befall them, and they will fall into depths and entanglements. Now, this condition calls for waiting. If God be withdrawn, if he hide himself, what hath the soul to do but to wait for his return? So saith the prophet Isaiah, chap. viii. 17, “I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.” If God hide himself, this is the natural and proper duty of the soul, to wait and to look for him. Other course of relief it cannot apply itself unto. What that waiting is, and wherein it doth consist, hath been declared. Patient seeking of God in the ways of his appointment is comprised in it. This the prophet expresseth in that word, “I will look for him;” indeed, the same in the original with that in 620the psalm, וְקִוֵּיתִי לוֹ‎; — “And I will earnestly look out after him, with expectation of his return unto me.”

2. A sense of God’s displeasure is another cause of these depths and troubles, and of the continuance of the soul in them, notwithstanding it hath made a blessed discovery by faith that there is with him forgiveness. This hath been so fully manifested through the whole preceding discourse, that it need not again be insisted on. All hath respect unto sin; and the reason of the trouble that ariseth from sin is because of the displeasure of God against it. What, then, is the natural posture and frame of the soul towards God as displeased? Shall he contend with him? shall he harden himself against him? shall he despise his wrath and anger, and contemn his threatenings? or shall he hide himself from him, and so avoid the effects of his wrath? Who knows not how ruinous and pernicious to the soul such courses would be? and how many are ruined by them every day? Patient waiting is the soul’s only reserve on this account also. And, —

Secondly, This duty in the occasion mentioned is necessary upon the account of the greatness and sovereignty of him with whom we have to do: “My soul waiteth for Jehovah.” Indeed, waiting is a duty that depends on the distance that is between the persons concerned in it, — namely, he that waiteth, and he that is waited on; so the psalmist informs us, Ps. cxxiii. 2. It is an action like that of servants and handmaids towards their masters or rulers. And the greater this distance is, the more cogent are the reasons of this duty on all occasions. And because we are practically averse from the due performance of this duty, or at least quickly grow weary of it, notwithstanding our full conviction of its necessity, I shall a little insist on some such considerations of God and ourselves, as may not only evince the necessity of this duty, but also satisfy us of its reasonableness; that by the first we may be engaged into it, and by the latter preserved in it.

Two things we may to this purpose consider in God, in Jehovah, whom we are to wait for — First, His being, and the absolute and essential properties of his nature; secondly, Those attributes of his nature which respect his dealing with us; — both which are suited to beget in us affections and a frame of spirit compliant with the duty proposed.

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