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VER. 1. Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for the miseries which shall come upon you.

Before I come to the particular verses of this paragraph, it will be necessary to premise somewhat concerning the persons to whom it is to be referred; for it seemeth strange that any should be so vile under the Christian name and profession as to oppress and persecute their brethren, and that even to death; in these times of persecution, to `condemn and kill the just, and `draw them before the judgment-seats, &c. Briefly, then, though the main of the epistle concern the godly, and the principal intent be their instruction and comfort, yet he taketh occasion many times to speak to the ungodly and unconverted amongst them. The ancient holy seed was now upon the dregs, guilty of oppression, injury, and all manner of profaneness; and because these lived dispersed, and intermingled with the godly and those that were gained to the Christian faith, he taketh occasion to divert and direct his speech to them. That you may not look upon this as an uncertain conjecture, give me leave to produce my grounds and reasons.—(1.) I may argue from the inscription of the whole epistle `to the twelve tribes, promiscuously, without any express mention of their holy calling or faith, which is usual in the other apostolical epistles. (2.) From the common and civil form of salutation, χαίρειν, greeting: the apostles, writing to Christians, do solemnly wish them `grace and peace, &c. (3.) From the style, which is more rousing and pressing than usual, as intended for the awakening of secure sinners, or persons carnal. (4.) The last verses of the epistle seem to intimate that much of his scope was to convert unbelievers; see James v. 19, 20. (5.) Here he plainly speaketh to rich wicked men, though the truth is, not so much for their sakes as the sake of the 399godly, to encourage them to-patience. For I like Calvin's judgment well, that these six verses are not so much an admonition as a denunciation, wherein the apostle doth not so much direct them what to do, as foretell what should be done to them, that the godly might be encouraged to the more patience under their oppressions; for that the apostle inferreth plainly, ver. 7. I have been long in prefacing, but I hope you will judge it necessary, it conducing much not only to the opening of this paragraph, but of many other places in the epistle. From the whole we may learn:—

Obs. That we must not so altogether mind believers, but that we must give unbelievers their portion,342342`Ita fideles instruit ut infideles non negligat.,—Calvin. terror to whom terror belongeth, as well as comfort to whom comfort. Christ's sermon chiefly aimed at the disciples, profit, but yet there are many lessons for the multitude: Mat. v. 1, 2, `Jesus, when lie saw the multitude, called his disciples, and taught them;, the disciples in the people's hearing; and so intersperseth many things that are of a general use and profit.

Go to now, ἄγε ωῦν.—The phrase we opened before; it is a kind of asciting or calling them to the throne of God's judgment.

Ye rich men, ὃι πλούσιοι—He doth not threaten rich men simply, but such as are afterwards described, carnal rich men, such as were drowned in pleasures, puffed up with pride, worldly, wicked, oppressive; and though he use the word rich, yet the threatening is appliable not only to those that abuse their wealth, but also their greatness, public place, authority, power, as to princes, judges, magistrates, and their officers. Because the apostle speaketh indefinitely, ye rich men, something is notable.

Obs. That it is hard to possess riches without sin. Riches are called `the mammon of unrighteousness, Luke xvi. 9, because they are usually possessed by wicked men, `the men of God's hand., Ps. xvii. 14; and because they are most adored and admired by wicked men; and because they are often gotten by unrighteous dealing, and hardly kept without sin. It is a hard matter to have them and not to be hindered from heaven by them, Mat. xix. 24; not to grow proud, sensual, injurious, carnal, and worldly. We see the beasts, as boars and bulls, when they are full and in good plight, grow man-keen and fierce; so do men wax insolent in the midst of their abundance. Well, then, do not covet riches so much, or please yourselves in the enjoyment of them, but look to your hearts with the more care; it is an easy matter to offend in the midst of outward fulness. A long coat .will soon be draggled and turned into a dirty rag, and a short will not cover nakedness; the mean is best. See Agur's choice, Prov. xxx. 9; when he saith, `Give me not riches, he addeth, `lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord?, There is no condition of life begetteth insolency and contempt of God so much as a luxurious fulness. But you will say, What would you have us do? throw away our estates? I answer—No; but (1.) Prize them less; when you possess them, let them not possess you. Shall I value unrighteous mammon, the portion of the men of God's hand? No; let me have `the favour of God's people, Ps. cvi. 4, 5, and cxix. 132. A man cannot know love and hatred by all that is before him. Riches are 400given to the good, lest they should be thought evil; to the bad, lest we should think them the only and chiefest good.343343`Dantur bonis, ne putentur mala; malis, ne putentur bona., (2.) Do the more good; duties recovered out of the hand of difficulty are the more commendable: `Make you friends of the unrighteous mammon, Luke xvi. 9. It is usually the matter of sin; do you make it the matter of duty. The more liable we are to sin in any estate, the more commendable every way is the duty of it. (3.) Seek God the more earnestly for grace; in a full estate you need it much. It is not simply and absolutely impossible for a rich man to go to heaven. Poor Lazarus resteth there in the bosom of rich Abraham.344344`Dormit pauper Lazarus in sinu Abrahami divitis.,—Aug. God can loosen the heart from the world, so as riches shall be no impediment to hinder you from heaven. Whatever difficulties we are told of in the way to heaven, they serve only to make us despair of our own strength and abilities, Mat. xix. 26.

Weep and liowl, κλαύσατε ὀλολύζοντες, weep howling. The first word is proper to the sorrow of man, or the reasonable creatures, and so it noteth the height of the calamity; it would be such as would make them `howl like wolves of the evening., Howling is a sign of great grief; nature overburdened striveth to give it vent by loud complaints. {Some observe an allusion; they that had lived after the manner of beasts, like hounds and wolves, are here bidden to howl like beasts; but this may be a strain of wit. That inquiry is most necessary and solid, whether this be spoken here by way of counsel or commination. Some think it spoken by way of counsel, as if he would have them prevent their judgments by godly sorrow.

Obs. The truth is, this is the way to escape judgments, when we mourn for them before they come. After great showers the air is clear. It is better weep and howl in a way of duty, than in a way of judgment. There will be weeping and howling hereafter, but it will be to no purpose. `Cast him into utter darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth., But I rather look upon it as a threatening and denunciation of judgment, than an advice or invitation to repentance. Partly because it is usual with the prophets to utter their threatenings in an imperative and commanding form, especially when they would note the sureness of judgments, as if already come; as here, weep, howl. And the prophets do so to check their present security and jollity to whom they speak. See the 15th and 16th chapters of Isaiah, and Jer. xlviii. 36, &c. Partly because our apostle seemeth to cut off all hope from them: `For the miseries that shall come upon you, not `lest miseries shall come upon you, Partly because his main drift is to speak to the poor Christians, that they might be the more patient under the oppression of these great men, by showing that their prosperity should not always last. Observe hence:—

Obs. 1. That many that frolic away their days have more cause to weep and howl. `Go to now, &c., that is, you are merry and voluptuous, and dream of nothing but golden days, without the least thought of the miseries that are hastening upon you. After fine weather cometh a storm, and when the wind is still, the great rain falleth. They that were to go first into captivity had their merry banquets, Amos vi., the 401first seven verses. Well, then, learn that they are not most happy who have least trouble, but who have least cause.

Obs. 2. Again, you may observe from the pressing of the rich to howl, and his endeavour to wean them from their jollity, `Go to now, &c., that riches and outward enjoyments are a sorry ground of rejoicing. This is a joy that may end in sorrow; the rich are called to howling. When rich men are troubled, we ask what such a man should ail? The barbarous Irish ask why they mean to die? But the judgment of God and the world are contrary; `his thoughts are not as your thoughts, Isa. lv. 8. The world thinketh that none have more cause to rejoice, and God that none have more cause to mourn. Well, then, look to the ground of your rejoicing: Ps. xciv. 19, `In the midst of my sad thoughts thy comforts delight my soul., Christians should look to the rise of their contentment, and be sure their comforts be such as flow from God. What a difference is there between David and the carnal fool in the Gospel! David biddeth his soul be merry upon this ground, `God is the light of thy countenance, Ps. xlii. 5. And the fool saith, `Soul, eat, drink, and be merry., Upon what ground?—`thou hast goods laid up for many years, Luke xii. 19.

Obs. 3. Again, from that weep and howl. Nothing but woe to them, as if they were past hope and counsel, and only left to terror and threatening. He had said, Go to now before to the ambitious traffickers, James iv. 13, but he instructeth them, and only threateneth these. Rich sinners are most incurable.345345Aristotle calleth them ἀνιάτους, Ethic., lib. iv. cap. 1. The reason is, prosperity begetteth security: Hosea xii. 8, `And Ephraim said, I am become rich, I have found me out substance; they shall find no iniquity in me that were sin., Because they were rich, they were not sensible of their civil crafts and subtleties. Besides, these are seldom faithfully reproved; and when they are, are most unwilling to bear a reproof; they storm at it, as if their greatness should bear them out: Jer. v. 5, `I went to the great men, but they had dissolved the bands, and wholly broken off the yoke., The meaning is, they had cast off all manner of respect and subjection to the law of God. Well, then, you that have great estates, beware of these two things—security in sin, and storming at the reproofs of sin. Salvian, in his fourth book `De Gubernatione Dei, saith that he could not speak against the. vices of great men, but one or other of them would be objecting, there he meant me, he hit me; and so storm and fret. Alas! as he replieth, it is not we speak to you, but your own consciences; we speak to the order, but conscience speaketh to the person.346346`Si autem in se esse novit quae loquor, non hoc a mea lingua dici existimet, sed a conscientia sua.,—Salvian. de Guber. Dei, lib. iv.

For the miseries that shall come upon you, ταλαιπωρίαις ταῖς ὑπὲρχομέναις.—But what are these? Partly sore afflictions in this life, partly hell torments in the life to come; both may be understood. (1.) The temporal miseries which lighted up Jerusalem, Christ foretold them, Luke xix. 43, 44; and they came to pass about some forty years after his ascension—see Josephus, lib. vi., vii.; as also the calamities which everywhere attended the people of the Jews wherever they were scattered, especially in Alexandria, a city in which the Jews were two 402parts of five,347347See Josephus Antiq., lib. xviii.; and Philo in Hist. Legat. ad Caium. See also Lightfoot in Comment, on Acts. yet were they ransacked, and by the command of Flaccus forced into a strait place of the city, without sustenance, food, or fresh air, where they were not able to stir one for another, and if any straggled abroad, they were knocked down and slain; many were smoked and choked to death in a fire, where they wanted fuel to burn them outright. Thirty-eight of their counsellors and rich men were sent for, dragged through the streets, scourged to death, &c. This may be intended in part. (2.) Hell torments, which are indeed miseries to come; the other are but `the beginning of sorrows, to what Dives or the rich man in the Gospel felt in the flames. See Luke xvi. 24. From all observe:—

Obs. That sore miseries and judgments shall come upon wicked rich men: `Howl, ye rich men, for the miseries, &c. Thou shalt not be miserable as a murderer or a fornicator (as Salvian glosseth), but as a rich man, because thou hast ill used thy wealth, at least not employed it for God's glory.348348`Non torquendus quia homicida es, quia fornicator, sed tantum quia dives, quia divitiis male uteris, quia datas tibi divitias ad opus sanctum non intelligis,—Salvian. ad Ecclesiam Catholicam, lib. i. See what a strain of threatenings there is against rich men, Luke vi. 24, 25, `Woe unto rich men, for you have received your consolation: woe unto you that are full, for you shall hunger: woe unto you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep, &c. So Isa. v. 8, `Woe to them that join house to house and field to field, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth., It is notable that in both these places words that do merely imply riches are used, though the worldly man be in tended, that placeth all his delight, love, care, confidence, and glory in his riches. To rich men much is committed; they have more opportunities and obligations to do good than others, and yet usually have least hearts, and therefore they are called to a more severe account in this world and the world to come. Sometimes in this world God reckoneth with them; in all changes rich men have the greatest proportion of calamity. The winds shake the tallest cedars most sorely. God loveth to bear down the strong oaks, Amos ii. 9. But in the world to come they come sadly to know what it is to have a portion only in this world. God will not give you a double heaven. Oh! who would for a temporal heaven adventure an eternal hell! Oh! then, if there be any worldly, wicked, rich man that heareth me this day, `Go to now, weep and mourn for the calamities that are coming upon you., You will say, We do no hurt with our wealth. Ay! but what good do you do? `Your garments are moth-eaten, and your money rusted; you are wretched and worldly, negligent in religion, careless to lay out your substance for good uses; and `to him that knoweth to do good, and doth it not, to him it is sin., So also the poor may learn hence not to envy worldly pomp and glory. A little with righteousness is a greater blessing, and a pledge of more; all their great treasure bringeth but a trouble and a curse. See Ps. xxxvii. 16, `A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked., Your little may bring you more comfort than if all their store were 403cast into one heap, and bestowed upon you. So Prov. xv. 16, `Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure, and trouble therewith., These are principles that are only relished by men of a mortified and contented mind.

Ver. 2, 3. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped up treasure together for the last days.

Here the apostle cometh particularly to discover their sin, and the reason of God's judgment. The method is observable; he first threateneth, and then cometh particularly to convince. Note hence:—

Obs. That every solemn threatening must be accompanied with sound conviction. This headeth the arrow, and maketh it enter. Every woe must have a for, Mat. xxiii., otherwise men will not care for terrible words. Such brutish thunder becometh a Mahometan dervis, rather than a preacher of the gospel. The success of our work dependeth upon evidence, and `the demonstration of the Spirit, 1 Cor. ii. 4.

Your riches are corrupted, your garments moth-eaten, your gold and silver is cankered.—It is observable that he speaketh of all kinds of wealth. `Your riches are corrupted;, that is, corn, and wine, and oil, all things subject to corruption. `Your garments are moth-eaten;, that is, silks, clothes, linens, and all such kinds of wares. Then, by the `rust of gold and silver, he intendeth the decay of all kinds of metals. Now by these circumstances the apostle doth—(1.) Evince their sin; that they would hoard up their goods and money, and suffer them to be eaten up by moths and rust, and so to be corrupted or perish, without any profit at all, rather than lay them out for good uses, the supply of the poor, and public commodity. (2.) Up braid their folly; that they were such fools to place their confidence in that which is of so perishing and frail a nature as to be eaten out by rust and moths. (3.) The apostle may produce these circumstances as the first pledges of God's displeasure against them, and the preface and introduction of the curse upon their hoards and treasures, in that they were defaced or destroyed by moths, wet, or rust. Out of the whole, observe:—

Obs. 1. That sordid sparing is a sure sign of a worldly heart. Covetousness is all for keeping; as the fool in the Gospel talked of `laying up in his barns, Luke xii. 18. Those that are enamoured, will not part with their pictures of desire, and let their darling go out of sight; that which God would have communicated and laid out, they are all for keeping and laying it up. God gave us wealth, not that we should be hoarders, but dispensers. The noblest act of the creature is communication to others, necessities; but a covetous man doth not dispense to his own; a spiteful envy keepeth him from the supply of others, and a carnal esteem from sparing to himself. Seneca calleth covetous men chests.349349`Hominem illum judicas; arca est; quis aerario, aut plenis loculis invidet?,—Seneca. We think them men, and they are but coffers; who would envy a trunk well stored? Well, then, beware of `withholding more than is meet, Prov. xi. 24, of a delight 404in hoarding; it is a sure note that the world has too much of your heart.

Obs. 2. Keeping things from public use till they be corrupted or spoiled is sordid sparing. When you lay them not out upon God, or others, or yourself, you are justly culpable. The word for money is χρῆμα, which signifieth use; you abuse it when you make it κτῆμα, a possession; then you were as good have so many stones as so many treasures. It is against the ordination of God and the common good of human societies. Scourge your souls with remorse for this baseness. Your meat putrifieth when many a hungry belly wanteth it; your clothes are eaten of moths, which would cover the nakedness of many a poor soul in the world; your money rusteth, which should be laid out for public defence. The inhabitants of Constantinople would afford no money to the Emperor Constantinus Palaeologus when he begged from door to door for a supply for the soldiers; but what was the issue? the barbarous enemy won the city and got all. The like story there is of Musteatzem,350350Calvisius in anno 1258. [Called by D,Herbelot Mostuzem. The manner of his death is differently stated.—ED.] the covetous caliph of Babylon, who was such an idolater of his wealth and treasures that he would not dispend anything for the necessary defence of his city, whereupon it was taken, and the caliph famished to death, and his mouth, by Haalon, the Tartarian conqueror, filled with melted gold.

Obs. 3. Covetousness bringeth God's curse upon our estates. He sendeth corruption, and the rust, and the moth. There is nothing gotten by rapine or tenacity, by greedy getting, or close withholding. Not by greedy getting; when men will snatch an estate out of the hands of providence, no wonder if God snatch it away again; ill gains are equivalent to losses: Micah vi. 10, `Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked?, that is, have they them still? Not by undue withholding; it draweth man's curse and God's too upon us: see Prov. xi. 26, `He that withholdeth corn, the poor shall curse him; but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it., God can easily corrupt that which we will not bestow, and cause a worm to breed in manna. Certainly there is a `withholding that tendeth to poverty, Prov. xi. 24. Well, then, learn the meaning of that gospel riddle, that he that will save must lose, and the best way of bringing in is laying out.

Obs. 4. There is corruption and decay upon the face of all created glory. Riches corrupted, garments moth-eaten, gold and silver cankered. It is madness to set up our rest in perishing things: Prov. xxiii. 5, `Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?, It is not only against grace, but reason; confidence should have a sure and stable ground. Well, then, take Christ's advice, Mat, vi. 19, 20, `Lay not up treasures upon earth, where moth and rust do corrupt, &c. We are apt to seek treasures here, but the moth and the rust checketh our vanity: these are like treasures of snow, that melt in our fingers. So Luke xii. 33, `Provide yourselves bags that wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, or moth corrupteth., A man should look after a happiness that will last as long as his soul lasteth. Why should we, that have souls that will not 405perish, look after things that perish in the using? These things pass away, and the lust of them also, 1 John ii. 17. Time will come, when the world will not relish with us; when we are about to leave the world, then we complain how it hath abused us.

Obs. 5. From the diversity of the terms, moth, corruption, canker, note that God hath several ways wherewith to blast our carnal comforts. Sometimes by the moth, sometimes by the thief, by rust or robbery; they may either rot, or be taken from us. Well, then, let the greater awe be impressed upon your thoughts. Usually we look no further than the present likelihoods. Sometimes God can arm the fire, sometimes a great wind, and anon the Sabeans: Job hath messenger upon messenger, chap. i. There is nothing keepeth the heart so loose from earthly comforts as the consideration of the several ways they may be taken from us: this evinceth our near dependence upon God, and the absolute dominion of providence.

And the rust of them shall be a witness against you.—It is usual in scripture to ascribe a testimony to things inanimate against the unthankful and wicked. As to the gospel: Mat. xxiv. 14, `For a witness to them., The preaching of the word will be a witness that men had warning enough. So to the dust of the apostles, feet: Mark vi. 11, `Shake off the dust of your feet for a testimony against them;, that is, it shall be clear that you are free of their blood; if there be no other witnesses, this dust shall witness it So to the rust here, it shall be a witness; that is, for the present it is an argument of conviction that you had enough, though you would not lay it out; and here after it shall be brought by the supreme judge as a circumstantial evidence for your condemnation. Your own consciences, remembering the moth and the rust, shall bring to remembrance your covetous hoarding. Note hence:—

Obs. That in the day of judgment the least circumstances of our sinful actions shall be brought forth as arguments of conviction. God cannot want witnesses; the rusty iron, the cankered silver, the moth-eaten clothes shall be produced; that is, by the recognition of our consciences. So see Hab. ii. 11, `The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it;, that is, the materials of the house built up by oppression shall come as joint witnesses. The stones of the wall shall cry, Lord, we were built up by rapine and violence; and the beam shall answer, True, Lord; even so it is. The stones shall cry, Vengeance, Lord, upon our ungodly owner; and the beam shall answer, Woe to him, because he built his house with blood. The circumstances of sin are as so many memorials to put us in mind of guilt, and to put God in mind of vengeance. Well, then, think of these things for the present; this rust may be produced against me, this pile of building, these musty clothes in the wardrobe. Conscience is a shrewd remembrancer; it writeth when it doth not speak. Many times for the present it is silent, and seemeth to take no notice of those circumstances of guilt; but they are all registered, and produced at the last day; the very filth of thy fingers in telling money will be an evidence that thou hast defiled thy soul with the love of it. And shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Some interpret this of 406those anxious and `piercing cares, 1 Tim. vi. 9, wherewith covetous men cumber their lives, and eat out the vigour of their own spirits; but with little probability. They come much nearer to the scope of the apostle who interpret this `eating as fire, of the means and cause of their ruin. It is usual in scripture to compare the wrath of God to fire, whether expressed by temporal judgments or eternal torments. See Ps. xxi. 9; Isa. xxx. 27, and xxxiii. 11, `Your breath as fire shall devour you;, so Mark ix. 44, `Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched., Now the effects of wrath are also ascribed to the meritorious cause of it; for what wrath is said to do, that sin is said to do; as in the places cited, and here, the rust shall eat as fire; that is, shall hasten the wrath of God, which shall burn as fire, either in your temporal or eternal ruin. Possibly here may be some latent allusion to the manner of Jerusalem's ruin, in which many thousands perished by fire, which was a pledge of the general judgment. Observe hence:—

Obs. 1. That the matter of our sin shall in hell become the matter of our punishment. The rust of hoarded treasures is not only witness, but executioner. As it hath eaten out the silver, so it shall eat your flesh, and gnaw upon your consciences. When you are burning in hell flames, reflections upon the rust will be sad and horrible. The vexation and anger at your past folly will heighten your present sufferings. Conscience and a sense of the wrath of God are a great part of that fire which burneth souls;351351About hell fire see Aug. de Civitate Dei, lib. xxi. cap. 4. and the outward pains are much in creased by remembering the past circumstances of sin; the revenging image and representation of them always runneth in the thoughts, and their flesh is eaten, but not consumed.352352`Effunditur nobis ultrix imago peccati, nec quietum reum esse permitit., Oh! consider of it; the rust that eateth out the money is but a pledge of those devouring torments. It will be sad to think hereafter that so much money as you hoarded up, so much fire you kept in your chests to your own eternal ruin. It is a part of heaven's happiness to `know as we are known;, that is, to look back upon the circumstances of our past lives, and to see what we were enabled to do by the care and help of grace. And so it is a part of hell's torment to review the passages of a sinful life, and with horror and a despairing remorse to look back upon the known evidences and circumstances of their own guilt. Their present delights prove their future torments.

Obs. 2. Observe, again, the misery of covetousness here and here after. Now it burneth the soul with desires and cares, and hereafter with despair and remorse of conscience. Here pierced with thorns, and there scorched with fires. Oh! what a hard service have these drudges of Satan! Care for the present, and horror hereafter! They labour and toil, and all that they may go to hell with just nothing. What do you gain by Satan? Every sinner is first taken in his snares, and then bound in chains of darkness; but you, above all others, be gin your hell by eating out all your quiet with carking care, that you may eternally undo your souls with the more pains.

Ye have heaped treasure for the last days.—This clause hath under gone several constructions. Some by `the last days, understand the 407latter part of their lives, as if the apostle in this expression did tax that carnal distrust whereby covetous men think they shall never have enough to suffice their needy old age. Such kind of men are always distrustful of future events, and carking for the morrow: what shall become of them and their children, and how they shall live when they are old—a sinful anxiety, however veiled under the appearance of necessity. God gave the Israelites manna but for one day, and our Lord taught us to pray for `daily bread., Every day's trouble is ordained by God for our exercise, and is enough to take up our thoughts. We do but anticipate our cares, and create a needless distraction to ourselves, by carking for the last days; and yet usually this disposition increaseth with age, and the older men grow, the more solicitous about worldly provisions.353353`Plus viatioi quaeritur, quo minus restat viae.,—Seneca. Thus some explain the apostle, but with little reason; for it is not a description, but a threatening; and the apostle is not now intimating their disposition, but their judgment and ruin. Others expound the clause of treasuring and storing up wrath against the day of judgment, as the apostle Paul useth such another phrase, Rom. ii. 5. Calvin inclineth to this sense, because of the former expression, `shall eat your flesh as fire., And, indeed, some translations (as the Syriac and Arabic) read that clause `as fire `with this last sentence, `You have treasured up riches as it were fire for the last days;, that is, as Diodati expoundeth it, whereas you thought to lay up treasures for time to come, you shall in effect find that you have laid up God's wrath. I confess this is probable, because of the particular allusion to their hoarding, and because of the known resemblance between wrath `and a treasure. It is long a-gathering, but every day the sum increaseth; and the longer it is ere it be opened, the greater the heap. As Jehoiada's chest, which was not to be opened till the sum was considerable, so it is here. God's wrath increaseth by degrees, the slower always the more sharp in the issue, so that it is some kind of mercy to meet with a sudden punishment,354354`Tunc magis irascitur Deus cum non irascitur; non enim cum nescio sed cum sentio te iratum, tunc maxime confido propitium.,—Bernard. Serm. 42 in Cant. and to have our worldly practices checked with an early disappointment, lest wrath grow r with our estates, and we do not treasure up money so much as judgments, which will be a sad gain when the chest of God's patience is broken open. See Job xxvii. 8, and Prov. xi. 4. It were far better to scatter than to increase such a heap, as those that fly in battle scatter their wealth that they may not be pursued. God gave us riches as a means to escape wrath, by a liberal and charitable distribution of them to his own glory. Certainly we should not use them as a means to treasure up wrath. Thus you see the words may be fitly accommodated with this sense. But I rather prefer a third, because there is no cogent reason why we should take this ἐθησαυρίσατε, `ye have heaped treasures, in a metaphorical sense, especially since, with good leave from the context, scope of the apostle, and the state of those times, the literal may be retained. I should therefore simply understand the words as an intimation of their approaching judgments; and so the apostle seemeth to me to tax their vanity in hoarding and heaping up wealth, when those scattering and fatal 408days to the Jewish commonwealth were even ready to overtake them. All that treasure which, with such wrong to others, hazard of their own contentment, and violation of their consciences, they had heaped up together, was but heaped up for the spoiler and the violence of the last days. From whence we may observe:—

Obs. That usually men are most secure and carnal before their own judgment and ruin. What wretched men were here fallen upon the lot of the last days! Usually thus it is, men are most full of carnal projects when God is about to break down and pluck up: Jer. xlv. 5, `Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not; for I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord., Foolish men are like a company of ants, storing their nests when their hill or burrow is like to be turned up; and there is never more general security than when judgments are at hand. A little before the flood, `they ate, they drank, they married wives, and were given in marriage, and then the flood came, and destroyed them all, Luke xvii. 27. And the same is observed of Sodom: `They bought, they sold, they builded, they planted, &c., ver. 28. When men generally apply themselves to worldly business, it is a sad prognostic; they do but bring forth for the murderer, and heap up for the plunderer: 1 Thes. v. 3, `When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape., When security runneth not, and is like to degenerate into utter contempt of God, men are not likely to profit by the word, therefore God taketh the rod in hand, that, by the severity of discipline, he may teach men that which they would not learn by kinder and milder persuasions. Plethoric bodies must have their veins opened. And when a people are grown to such a wanton fulness, God will send `the emptiers to empty them, Nahum ii. 2.

Ver. 4. Behold, the hire of your labourers which have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

Here is another argument of conviction produced, viz., the oppression of their servants and labourers, in defrauding them of their reward; a sin so injurious, and of such a heinous quality, that it crieth to God for vengeance. The phrases will be opened in the points. Observe—

Obs. 1. From the context, that there is no sin so heinous and base but covetousness may be a mother or a nurse to it. What more sordid than for a rich man to detain the labourer's wages? It was base to hoard up their own treasures till corrupted with moth or rust; but a practice most accursed, after they had sucked out the strength and sweat of the labourer, to deprive him of his reward. Yet usually thus it is, men that do not part with their own right will not make conscience of invading another's.355355`Qui propria non tribuunt, aliena detinent., First men are sparing, and then injurious. Detest this sin with the more aversion, you know not how far it will carry you; the apostle saith, it is `the root of all evil, 1 Tim. vi. 10.

Obs. 2, From that crieth. Some sins are crying, and do more 409especially require vengeance at the hands of God. This crying is applied to blood, Gen. iv. 10, `Thy brother's blood crieth;, not his soul, but his blood. So to the wickedness of Sodom, Gen. xviii. 20, `The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, because their sin is grievous., So to oppression of God's servants; they are dear to him: Exod. ii. 24, and iii. 9, `God heard their groaning, and `the cry of the children of Israel is come up unto me., So to oppression of the widows and fatherless: Exod. xxii. 23, `If thou afflict the widow and the fatherless, and they cry unto me, I will surely hear their cry., So ver. 27, to taking the neighbour's necessary garment to pledge, `I will hear his cry, for I am gracious., In short, all sins that disturb human society, that are committed with impudence and public liberty, that are of so heinous nature that God in honour is bound as it were to mark them out with some severe stroke of vengeance, that are neglected by men because of the power and greatness of those that commit them, or else done in secret, and so past human cognisance, as Cain's murdering of Abel; so all sins which are past the help of the oppressed, all such sins are said to cry; not that God wanteth evidence, or that his justice needeth excitation, but because some of these sins do even dare vengeance, and provoke divine justice to take notice of them; and in other of these sins God is appealed to by the oppressed as witness and avenger, human justice wanting will, or power, or fit means of conviction to proceed against them. Besides, this crying in some cases showeth the unwillingness of God to punish, till he be solicited and urged thereunto by the importunity and provocation of our own sins.356356`Ostendit Dominus quam invitus puniat, etiam gravissimos peccatores, dicens quod clamor Sodomorum ad se ascenderit; hoc est dicere, misericordia quidem mea suadet ut parcam, sed tamen peccatorum clamor cogit ut puniam.,—Salvian. de Provid., lib. i.

Obs. 3. As all oppression crieth to God, so especially the oppression of poor servants, and those that live by handy labour. It is twice repeated in the text, `which have reaped your fields, and then, again, `the cry of them which have reaped., And the reason is, because it is their life, and so an act of the greatest unmercifulness; and besides, you disappoint them of the solace of their labours. See Deut. xxiv. 15, `He hath set his heart upon it;, this is, that he reckoneth upon his wages at the end of the day. But you will say, How many ways may we oppress the poor labourer? I answer—(1.) When through greatness you challenge their labours without reward, as the gentry use the peasants of many countries: Jer. xxii. 13, `Woe be to him that useth his neighbour without wages;, meaning Jehoiakim, who, in his pompous buildings used his subjects, labour without hire. (2.) When you give them not a proportionate hire, working upon their necessities, for then a great part of their labour is without reward; and it is flat covetousness to `exact all your labours, Isa. lviii. 3, when your reward is scanty and short. (3.) When by cunning ye defraud them of their reward, either through bad payment or crafty cavils. The Lord saith, Mal. iii. 5, `I will be a swift witness against those that oppress the hireling in his wages., So it is in the text, `by fraud kept back., God knoweth what is oppression, though veiled under crafty pretences. (4.) When you diminish or change their 410wages; as it is said of Laban that he changed Jacob's wages ten times, Gen. xxxi. 41. (5.) When you delay payment. God commanded the Jews to do it before sunset: see Deut. xxiv. 14, 15; Lev. xix. 30. It is a maxim of the law, minus solvit, qui minus tempore solvit—that not to pay it at the time is to pay the less, because of the advantage of improvement; and in the text it is said, `kept back by fraud;, though not wholly taken away, yet `kept back, entitled them to sin. The Lord, you know, rewardeth his servants ere they have done their work; we have much of our wages aforehand, &c.

Obs. 4. Though the poor should not cry, the very hire and money would cry, and require vengeance against oppressors. The apostle saith, not only the reapers cry, but the hire crieth. So see Job xxxi. 38-40, `If my land cry against me, and the furrows thereof likewise complain; if I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life, &c. God cannot want witnesses against cruelty; the hire shall cry, the poor shall cry, the beam and the stone out of the wall shall cry, Hab. ii.; the very affliction shall cry. It is said, Gen. xvi. 11, he heard Hagar's affliction when Sarah had used her harshly and imperiously. So the church saith, Lam. ii. 18, `The apple of mine eye shall not keep silence., Their groans clamour, and their tears have a loud voice. Oh! then, consider this, secret wrongs will be known to God. The children of God may not know who harmed them; wicked men act at a distance, like a spider, when she hath weaved a net, goeth out of the way: but yet the Lord knoweth; their very afflictions will cry against you when they know not against whom to cry.

Obs. 5. From that, the Lord of Sabaoth; that is, the Lord of hosts, a name often used in the prophetical books, but most commonly in Isaiah and Zechariah; it is not usual in the New Testament, God's titles being there fuller of sweetness and grace; and the reason why it was so much used then was because the people of God were in great misery, needed much defence and protection, and were in danger to let fall their hopes out of fear of men. It was a name of God, so commonly known and used, that the Septuagint retained the Hebrew term by which it was expressed. And so, also, it is kept in the New Testament, κύριος ΣαβαὼΘ, as by Paul, Rom. ix. 27, and by James in this place; not religiously, out of any mystery in the syllables, as Jerome supposeth, but because this appellation of God was so familiar among the Jews, and so easily known to the nations that conversed with them. Now, the Lord is called the Lord of Sabaoth, or Lord of hosts, because all his creatures are ranked in such an order that they are always ready to serve and accomplish his will. The note is, that the Lord is a Lord of hosts, commander-in-chief of all the creatures, angels, men, thunders, lightnings, storms, showers, lions, fevers, &c.; they are all at his beck, waiting for his word: `He can send lightnings, that they may go; they say unto him, Here we are, Job xxxviii. 35; that is, Lord, Whither shall we go? here we are, ready to fulfil thy word. It were easy to expatiate in so copious an argument; but because it hath been handled by others,357357See Mr Burrough's his `Lord of Hosts;, and Dr Chappel on Ps. ciii. 21. I shall but touch upon 411things. God's command reacheth from the highest angel to the lowest creatures. The angels are principally called God's host; see 1 Kings xxii. 9; Luke ii. 14. And of what power are they, since one angel destroyed in a night a hundred fourscore and five thousand, 2 Kings xix, 35. Then the heavens are intended: Isa. xxxiv. 9, `All the hosts of the stars shall be dissolved., That which Peter calleth στοιχεῖα, the elements, the prophet calleth the hosts. So it is said, Judges v. 20, `The stars in their courses fought against Sisera;, that is, by their influence and efficacy upon the clouds and meteors. For Josephus, speaking of that battle, saith358358Josephus, Antiq. Judaeor., lib. v. cap. 6. that there suddenly fell a storm mixed with hail, which the wind drove against the faces of the Canaanites, and took away their sight, and benumbed their hands, that they could not hold their targets, or fling their darts; but beating upon the backs of the Israelites, it emboldened them the more. So, also, men are called God's hosts; as Israel, Exod. xii. 41; and it is said, `He mustereth the host of the battle, Isa. xiii. 9. Nay, lower creatures, locusts, are called God's army, Joel ii.; and God is said to reserve the snow and hail against the day of battle, Job xxxviii. 22, 23. Against Egypt he sent armies of frogs, and lice, and flies; against the idolatrous people armies of lions, 2 Kings xvii. Nay, God can arm the humours of thy body against thee, cause thine own passions and thoughts to fall upon thee like so many armed men. He needeth no forces from without; there is enough to overwhelm man in the reflections of his own conscience. Oh! then, do not contend with him that can command legions, and draw omnipotency about thy ears: `shall the potsherds of the earth strive with the Lord of hosts?, Isa. xlv. 9. Oh! how sad is it, that when all the creatures serve God, your hearts only should war against him! that the Lord of hosts should not be lord of your souls!

Obs. 6. From that their cries are come into the ears of the Lord of hosts; that is, he hath taken notice of their wrong, and will take care to avenge their quarrel. The note is, that the Lord of hosts is the poor's avenger; the God of angels and thunders is the God that comforteth them are cast down. You may be high and rich in the world, able to contest with poor creatures and crush them; but can you contend with the Almighty? Oh! take heed of wronging the poorest servants of God. Christ speaketh of offending his little ones. Mat. xviii. 10; as little as they are, they have a great champion. The worm Jacob is looked after by the Lord of hosts. So the poor, the servant, the widow, the fatherless, they are called his people, as belonging chiefly to his care: `They eat up my people as bread., Take heed what you do; your poor servants have a master in heaven that will call you to an account. Jerusalem is threatened with captivity for their breach of covenant and unkindness to their servants, Jer. xxxiv. 11; therefore defraud them not, leave them not shiftless. God will visit this sin upon many gentlemen who turn off their old servants shift less and helpless, and have more care of their dogs than of them. Oh! see what an avenger they have, one that is powerful enough. A good man should have a care of his beast, Prov. xii. 10, much more of his servants.


Ver. 5. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

The apostle instanceth in another discovery of the wicked abuse of their riches, and that is sensual or delicate living. In matter of charity, or giving the poor their due, they were sparing and tenacious enough, but did easily and largely lavish out their substance upon pleasures and the gratifications of the flesh; like that epicure in the Gospel, that fared deliciously every day, but denied a crumb to Lazarus the beggar, Luke xvi. 19. Thus lusts, though they dispute every inch with grace, do easily give way to succeeding corruptions.

Ye have lived in pleasure.—The word signifieth indulging the deli cacies and delights of the senses, in meats, drinks, and apparel.

Obs. 1. A sin very natural to us. There were but two common parents of all mankind, Adam the protoplast, and Noah the restorer, and both miscarried by appetite; the one fell by eating, and the other by drinking. We had need be careful. Christ saith, `Take heed of surfeiting and drunkenness, to his own disciples, Luke xxi. 34.

Obs. 2. The sin is natural to all, but chiefly incident to the rich. There is, I confess, a difference in tempers; wealth maketh some covetous, and others prodigal, but the usual sin in the rich is luxury. Pride, idleness, and fulness of bread were the sins of Sodom, and they are usually found in great men's houses; they should be the more wary.

Obs. 3. Though delicate living be a sin incident to wealthy men, yet their abundance doth not excuse it. It is charged upon the rich man in the Gospel that he fared deliciously every day, Luke xvi. God gave wealth for another purpose than to spend it in pleasures. It is prodigious in poor men to guzzle and drink away their days which should be spent in honest labour; but it is not excusable in the rich; though God alloweth them to live more liberally according to their condition and estate, yet not inordinately. Intemperance is odious to God, be it in any whatsoever they be. God threatened them for their delicacy that had beds of ivory, Amos vi. 4; so also the fat cows and kine of Bashan, Amos iv.

Obs. 4. Luxury is living in pleasure, ἐτρυφήσατε. God alloweth us to use pleasures, but not to live in them; to take delights, but not they should take us; to live always at the full is but a wanton luxury.

On earth; that is, say some, like beasts, which do prona spectare terram, in the posture of their bodies look earthward; it is indeed their happiness to live in pleasure, to enjoy pleasures without remorse. But in any congruity of language you cannot thus interpret the apostle's speech. His meaning is, that in this earthly life they placed all their happiness, and their spirits did altogether run after earthly comforts and earthly contentments, as having no higher abode. Note:—

Obs. That all the pleasure that wicked men have is upon earth; here, and nowhere else: Luke xvi. 25, `Remember that in thy life time thou receivedst thy good things., Oh! it is sad to outlive our happiness; when we come to live indeed, then to want our comforts and joys: Mat. vi. 2, `They have their reward., Your heaven is past. 413It is the folly of worldly men to be merry only in the place of their banishment and pilgrimage; they live in pleasure here, where they are absent from God: Job xxi. 13, `They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave., Alas! then their best days are past; here they laugh, and there they howl. Ah, fondness! to sell the birthright for a mess of pottage, and let go heaven for a little earthly contentment! How should this sour your carnal joys, when you remember all this is only upon earth, it cannot be for ever! There will be a time when we shall go down to the grave, and then we may with Adrian sadly warble it out to our own souls, Oh! poor soul, whither dost thou now go? thou shalt never jest it more, sport it more!359359`O animula vague a blandula, quos nunc adibis locos! nec dabis ut solebas jocos, &c.—Platina. These things were upon earth, but into what a gulf am I now falling! The earth is a place of labour and exercise; we were not put into it, as leviathan into the sea, to take our fill of pleasure.

And are wanton, ἐσπαταλήσατε.—The same word is used of the carnal widow, ἡ δὲ σπαταλῶσα ζῶσα τέθνηκε, 1 Tim. v. 6. We translate, `she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth., The word signifieth such a delicacy as bringeth a brawn softness and deadness upon the spirit, and therefore we translate it well by wanton. So that this part of the charge implieth:—

Obs. 1. That luxury is always accompanied with carnal security and contempt of God: Deut. xxxii. 15, Israel waxed fat, and kicked with the heel: Hosea xiii. 6, `According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart is exalted; they have forgotten me., Through too much fatness and plenty the soul becometh wanton and untamed.

Obs. 2. That a fulness of pleasures bringeth us to a wantonness, and contempt of ordinary provisions. Lustful Israel desired quails. First we contemn God, and then his creatures. It is a great sign sensuality hath prevailed upon you when the soul desireth dainty food. Nature itself is not wanton and delicate till it be made so by constant use. It is strange to see how nature degenerateth by degrees, and desires increase with use. At first we are pleased with what is plain and wholesome, but afterwards we must have curious mixtures. Sea and land will scarce yield bits dainty enough for a gluttonous appetite. Cleopatra must have a draught of dissolved pearls, &c.

Ye have nourished your hearts.—What is that? Indulgere genio, to rear up lust, rather than to satisfy nature. It is the same which the apostle Paul expresseth by ποιοῦντες προνόιαν, `making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof, Rom. xiii. 14. The heart is the seat of lusts and desires; so it chiefly signifieth in theology. Now to nourish the heart is to offer fuel to our lusts, to take in by excess that we may unlade and put it out again in lust. Observe hence:—

Obs. Pleasures nourish the heart, and fatten it into a senseless stupidity: nothing bringeth a dulness upon it more than they. Plutarch observeth of the ass, which is of all creatures the dullest, that it hath the fattest heart. Thence that expression in scripture, `Go make their hearts fat;, that is, gross and dull. There is a fish which they 414call ὄνος, the ass-fish, which hath its heart in its belly; a fit emblem of a sensual epicure. The heart is never more dull and unfit for the severities and masculine heights of religion than when burdened with luxurious excess; therefore Christ useth that expression, Luke xxi. 36, `Let not your hearts be overcharged, &c. Ah! do but consider how many reasons we have to be wary in our pleasures. Will the in conveniences they bring to your estates move you? Prov. xxiii. 21, `He that loveth corn, and wine, and oil, shall be poor., How often hath the belly brought the back to rags? Or will the mischiefs they bring upon the body move you? Lust, which is but the last end and consummation of all pleasures, sucketh the bones, and, like a cannibal, eateth your own flesh, Prov. v. 11. Ah! but chiefly think of the inconveniency which your precious souls sustain; your hearts will be nourished and fattened. Pleasure infatuateth the mind, quencheth the radiancy and vigour of the spirit: wine and women take away the heart, Hosea iv. 11; that is, the generous sprightliness of the affections. So the apostle speaketh of persons given to pleasures, that they are past feeling, Eph. iv.; they have lost all the smartness and tenderness of their spirits. Oh! that men would regard this, and take heed of nourishing their hearts while they nourish their bodies. You should starve lust when you feed nature; or, as Austin,360360`Domine hoc me docuisti, ut quemadmodum medicamenta, ita alimenta sumpturus accedam.,—Aug. Confess. come to your meat as your medicine, and use these outward refreshments as remedies to cure infirmities, not to cause them; or, as Bernard,361361`Cum manducas, nequaquam totus manduces, sed corpore tuo suam refectionem postulante, mens suam non negligat, memoria suavitatis domini vel scripurarum poscat meditationes.,—Bernard. refresh the soul when you feed the body, and by Christian meditations on God's bounty, Christ's sweetness, the fatness of God's house, &c., keep the heart from being nourished whenever you repair nature.

As in a day of slaughter, ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς.—Some say, as Brixianus, that the meaning is, they did but fatten themselves for the slaughter; but that is forced. Beza rendereth, as in a day of feast, which Heinsius taxeth with some undue rigour. Certainly there is an allusion to the solemn festivals of the Jews. Their thanksgiving-days were called days of slaughter, wherein many beasts were killed for sacrifice and food; for, in thank-offerings, a great part was reserved for the use of the worshipper: Lev. ii. 15, they were to carry it home and to eat it with their friends. Thence that expression, Prov. xvii. 1, `Better is a dry morsel, than an house full of sacrifices with strife;, that is, of good cheer, as was usual in the time of peace or thank-offering. So also that other, Prov. vii. 14, `I have peace-offerings with me this day;, that is, the flesh of thank-offerings, wherewith to feast and entertain thee. Now the fault wherewith these sensualists are charged, is double:—

1. That they made every day festival.

Obs. It is a wanton luxury to make every day a day of slaughter: Luke xvi., `He fared deliciously every day;, that is an aggravation, that he made it his constant practise. Some men do nothing but knit pleasure to pleasure; their lives are nothing else but a diversion from 415one carnal pleasure to another: Eccles. iii., `There is a time to feast and a time to mourn., Such men disturb the order of seasons. Nature is relieved with changes, but clogged with continuance; frequency of pleasures begetteth a habit; and besides, this putteth men upon novel curiosities, when ordinary pleasures by common use grow stale; pleasure itself must have pleasure to refresh it, accustomed delights becoming our clog and burden.

2. That they gave that to their lusts which was due only upon special occasions to religion.

Obs. Usually this is the vanity of men, to bestow the allotments of worship upon their lusts, and by a cursed sacrilege to serve god the belly, Phil. iii. 19, as zeal serveth the great God of heaven and earth. No music will serve the epicures in the prophet but temple music: Amos vi. 5, `They invent to themselves instruments of music like David., As choice and excellent as .David was in the service of the temple, so would they be in their private feasts. Belshazzar's draughts are not half so sweet in other vessels as in the utensils of the temple: Dan. v. 2, `He commanded to bring forth the golden and silver vessels, that were taken out of the house of God., So the Babylonian humour is pleased with nothing so much as with one of the songs of Zion; not an ordinary song, but `Sing us one of your songs of Zion, Ps. cxxxvii. 3. No jest relisheth with a profane spirit so well as when scripture is abused, and made to lackey upon their sportive jollity. Vain man thinketh he can never put honour enough upon his pleasures, and scorn enough upon God and holy things.

Ver. 6. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

The apostle cometh now to another sin, and that is tyrannous and oppressing cruelty, which is also an effect of riches, where there is no grace to sanctify the enjoyment of them. From the context observe:—

Obs. That plenty begetteth injury; and when all things are possible, men think all things lawful. Rich and great men, if they be higher than others, do not think of him that is higher than they: Eccles. v. 8, `If there be oppression of the poor, marvel not at the matter; for he that is higher than the highest regardeth, and there be higher than they.,

Ye have condemned.—The apostle now instanceth in their cruelty and oppression, masked with a pretence and colour of law. Before they would kill, there was some form of a legal process; they condemned. Note hence:—

Obs. That God taketh notice of the injuries done to his people under the form of a legal procedure; not only of open violence, but that which is closely managed: Ps. xciv. 20, `Shall the throne of wickedness have fellowship with thee, which frameth wickedness by a law?, God taketh it more heinously when public authority, which is the defence of innocency, is made the pretence of oppression. Many make conscience of forms of law, that do not make conscience of oppressing the godly. See Mat. xxvii. 6, `It is not lawful to put the price of blood into the treasury;, yet it was lawful to spill the blood of Christ in their account.

Again, the apostle saith, Ye have condemned, and so ye have killed; 416they did but procure it by their authority and wealth, corrupting judgment, and using evil arts to destroy the just. Note:—

Obs. That any concurrence to the destruction of the innocent bringeth us under the guilt of their blood; and sins committed by our instigation become ours by just imputation. Christ was put to death by authority of the Roman empire, and executed by the Roman soldiers; yet it is charged upon the Jews, upon the whole nation, because done by their instigation and connivance: as Acts ii. 23, `Whom by wicked hands ye have taken and slain;, and ver. 36, `This is Jesus whom you have crucified;, so 1 Thes. ii. 15, `They killed the Lord Jesus., Do not flatter thyself because thou art not the immediate executioner. Jezebel was punished for Naboth's death, though the judges and false witnesses were the next agents, 1 Kings xiii. 23. Beware how you provoke others to blood; the guilt will fall upon your own consciences: God looketh upon the instigators as the principals: `Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife provoked, 1 Kings xxi. 25. It was a sorry answer that of the priests to Judas, `See thou to it, Mat. xxvii. 4: they had need see to it too, since it was by their plot and conspiracy.

And killed.—This is added to show that oppression will proceed as far as death; wickedness knoweth no bounds and limits; as also to show the reason why miseries were coming upon them. Note:—

Obs. When oppression goeth as far as blood, God will surely take vengeance. `He maketh inquisition for blood, Ps. ix.; and blood is one of the crying sins, Gen. iv. 10. The blood of an ordinary man crieth for vengeance; as that of the Gibeonites that were of the race of Canaan; therefore is that clause interserted, 2 Sam. xxi. 2, `Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites., Much more the blood of the saints, which is precious in God's eyes; much more the blood of Christ, which is the case here.

The just, τὸν δίκαιον.—It may be put indefinitely for any just person; as Isa. lvii. 1, `The righteous perish, &c. But because the apostle speaketh in the singular number, and with an article, therefore some understand it of John the Baptist; others of Stephen, with more probability, whom the Jews stoned; others, with most probability, of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because I strongly incline to this, I shall produce my reasons:—(1.) Jesus Christ is elsewhere by way of emphasis called `that Just One., τὸν δίκαιον, Acts xxii. 14. (2.) There seemeth to be a direct parallel place to this, Acts iii. 14, `But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you, (3.) This was the great reason and cause of judgments on the Jews, 1 Thes. ii. 15, 16, which is the scope and argument of this place; and indeed the text runneth that way most fluently. (4.) The illation of the next verse, or persuasion to patient hope, doth most sweetly arise from this consideration; the former part of the verse holding forth their injury, and so the cause of their ruin, which is the argument of hope the apostle propoundeth; and the latter part Christ's patience, the great example and pattern of ours. I know the great prejudice against this exposition is, because all this is supposed to be spoken to Christian Jews; but that we disproved in the first verse. Neither is 417that exception of Brochmand of any weight, how this could be charged upon these sensual rich men, since they that condemned and killed Christ, and the main promoters of his sufferings, were the Pharisees and chief priests, dissembling hypocrites, since the guilt lay upon the whole nation, and they had taken the curse of his blood upon themselves and their children; and therefore the apostle, assigning the cause of approaching judgments, might well say to these, Ye have killed. Neither let it seem strange to any that the apostle doth not call Christ Lord or Saviour, since he speaketh to unconverted Jews; and the fittest medium of conviction he could use to them is that of his righteousness or innocency, as also Peter and John do, Acts iii. 14, `That just and holy one;, for those that would not acknowledge him a Saviour, by a plain evidence of his life might acknowledge him a just person, as Pilate's wife doth, Mat. xxvii. 19, `Have nothing to do with that just person., However, lest the exposition should seem too critical, I shall carry the observations both ways.

Obs. 1. If you take the expression generally, as noting any just person, you may observe that innocency itself cannot escape the pangs of oppression. The just was condemned and killed; so the scripture speaketh of the blood of righteous Abel, Mat. xxiii. 35. Men hate what they will not imitate; and it is God's wisdom that the worst should hate the best, lest the world should judge perversely of their sufferings: Ps. xciv. 21, `They gather themselves against the soul of the righteous, and condemn innocent blood., Thus it hath been, is, and will be. Gregory saith, I would suspect him not to be Abel that hath not a Cain.

Obs. 2. If you understand it particularly of Christ, the note is, that Christ died not as a malefactor, but as a just person. There were several circumstances that did evince his innocency—the disagreeing of the witnesses, Pilate's wife's letter, Pilate's own acknowledgment, Judas's confession. Certainly he died not for his own sins, but ours: `The just for the unjust, 1 Peter iii. 18. Our sacrifice was a lamb without spot and blemish. It is true he loved our justification better than his own reputation; and therefore, when his innocency was taxed, he would not answer a word.

And he resisteth not.—The present tense is put for the past. If you understand it generally, it is to be understood of the weakness and meekness of innocent men.

1. Of their weakness; they are not able to withstand, and therefore you oppress them.

Obs. 1. Weakness is usually oppressed. Men are the more bold with them that want means of defence and resistance. Oh! but consider, the less outward defence men have, the more is the Lord of hosts engaged in their quarrel; he is the patron of the fatherless and widows: Ps. x. 14, `The poor committeth himself to thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless., Weak innocency hath a strong avenger.

2. Of their meekness; it is their duty not to be revengeful: Mat. v. 39, `But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil;, they must not satisfy and accomplish their own private revenges.

Obs. 2. Meekness inviteth injury, but always to its own cost. It is true that of Publius Mimus, though spoken to an ill end, Veterem 418ferendo injuriam invitas novam—by bearing a former injury you do but invite a second. Patience may be trampled upon, but God will ordain a defence. Wicked men are mad without a provocation. You have seen crows on a sheep's back picking wool; it is but an emblem of oppressed innocence. Wicked men do not consider who deserve worst, but who will suffer most.

Obs. 3. If you understand it of Christ, so it is most true; he resisteth not. Jesus Christ was condemned and slain without resistance. He came to suffer, and therefore would not resist. He would declare his obedience to his Father by his patience before men: Isa. liii. 7, `He came as a lamb to the slaughter, as a sheep before the shearers is dumb., Swine will howl, but the sheep is dumb in the butcher's hands: Isa. l. 6, `I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting., Christ did as it were offer himself to the affronts and indignities done to his person: Father, since it is thy pleasure, here is a back for smiters, here are cheeks for the nippers, here is a face for shame; lo! I come to do all thy will. Well, then, we have a lucky sacrifice, that did not struggle, but came to the altar willingly. It is notable that Christ doth with the same severity check the devil tempting him to idolatry, and Peter dissuading him from suffering. It is spoken to both, `Get thee behind me, Satan;, compare Mat. iv. 10 with xvi. 23. When he was to suffer, he forbiddeth the pious women to weep, Luke xxiii. Being about to wipe away all tears by the benefit of his cross, he would have none shed to hinder him from it. Thus our Saviour resisted not; sibi soli injuriosus fuit, saith Tertullian—all the injury he did was to himself. Ah! who would not be willing to do for him that was willing to die for us? He struggled not when he was going to the cross, and why do we struggle and find such reluctations when we are going to the throne of grace? Shall we be more unwilling to pray than Christ was to suffer? &c.

Ver. 7. Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

He now diverteth from the rich oppressors unto the poor faithful brethren that were oppressed; by the illative particle, therefore, we may see the former paragraph was for their sakes. The rich men shall be punished for their wickedness and oppression, therefore be you patient.

Be patient, therefore, brethren, μακροθυμήσατε. The word is put for long-suffering, and so usually translated, which is a further degree of patience; for patience is a sense of afflictions without murmuring, and of injuries without revenge. Now long-suffering is patience extended and lengthened out to that which our apostle calleth its perfect work. Observe:—

Obs. It is the duty of the children of God to be patient under their sufferings, though they be long and sharp. It is easier in a calm and sedate condition to discourse of patience than to exercise it in time of trial. Philosophers have discoursed of it and commended it; but Christians themselves have staggered when they have been exercised with a sharp sense of evils. When God giveth up his people to the 419lust of adversaries, then it is sad, and we are apt to murmur; and yet the apostle saith we should suffer with a long patience. I shall spare motives, and a little show you what Christian patience is. It differeth from security and stoical insensibleness; there can be no patience where there is no sense of evil. Christianity doth not abrogate affections, but regulate them. Carnal men put off that which they cannot put away, and are not patient, but stupid and careless. There are other remedies in Christianity than quenching our sorrows in the wine of pleasures. Again, it differeth from moral patience, which is nothing but a yielding to necessity, and is usually accompanied with vain thoughts, Jer. iv. 14, and carnal workings of spirit. When God layeth on crosses, men please themselves with suppositions of worldly profit, and how their present condition may conduce to secular advancement; as when God taketh away wife or children, men do not think of submission to the hand of God, but the capacity of augmenting their worldly estate, &c. In short, Christian patience supposeth a sense of evil, and then, in the formality of it, it is a submission of the whole soul to the will of God: wherein observe—(1.) The nature; it is a submission of the whole soul. The judgment subscribeth, `Good is the word of the Lord, &c., Isa. xxxix. 9. Though it were to him a terrible word, yet the submission of a sanctified judgment can call it good. Then the will accepteth: Lev. xxvi. 41, `If they shall accept the punishment;, that is, take it kindly from God that it is no worse. Then the affections are restrained, and anger and sorrow brought under the commands of the word. Then the tongue is bridled, lest discontent plash over: Aaron held his peace, Lev. x. 3. (2.) Consider the grounds and proper considerations upon which all this is carried on; usually there is such a progress as this in the spiritual discourse:—(1st.) The soul seeth God in it: Ps. xxxix. 9, `I was dumb and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it., (2d.) It seeth God acting with sovereignty: Job ix. 12, `None can say unto him, What dost thou?, And elsewhere, `He giveth no account of his matters., (3d.) Lest this should make the heart storm, it seeth sovereignty modified and mitigated in the dispensation of it with several attributes. With justice: Deut. xxvii. 26, when every curse was pronounced, they were to say Amen, that if it come to pass, amen is but a righteous dispensation. With mercy: Ezra ix. 13, `Thou hast punished us less than we deserved., They were afflicted, they might have been destroyed; they were in Babylon, they might have been in hell. With faithfulness: they look upon afflictions as federal dispensations, as appendages of the covenant of grace: Ps. cxix. 71, `It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might keep thy statutes., When they are threshed, it is but to lose their stalk and husk: God's faithfulness would not suffer them to want such a sweep help. With wisdom: Isa. xxx. 18, `God is a God of judgment;, it is meant in his dispensations. Let God alone; he is too just to do us wrong, and too kind and wise to do us harm.

Unto the coming of the Lord.—Here is an argument to enforce the duty; God will come and right your injuries. But of what coming doth he speak? Every manifestation of God's grace or judgment is called a coming of the Lord. It is in vain in so known a case to heap 420up places. More especially his solemn judgments on a church or people are expressed by that term; so to all the churches in the Revelations: `I will come quickly, and take away thy candlestick, Rev. ii.; to Pergamus, `Repent or I will come quickly, Rev. iii.; so to Sardis, `I will come as a thief, &c. Any solemn progress and march of God in a judicial way is expressed by corning; but most chiefly it is applied to Christ's glorious appearing in the clouds, called his second coming. But you will reply again, Which, then, is meant here? any particular coming of Christ, or else his solemn coming to general judgment? I answer—Both may be intended; the primitive Christians thought both would fall out together.

1. It may be meant of Christ's particular coming to judge these wicked men. This epistle was written about thirty years after Christ's death, and there was but a little time between that and Jerusalem's last; so that unto the coming of the Lord, is until the overwhelming of Jerusalem, which is also elsewhere expressed by coming, if we may believe Chrysostom and Œcumenius, on John xxi. 22, `If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?, that is, come, say they, to Jerusalem's destruction. Thus God often cometh to his people; and the note is:—

Obs. That Christians, to assuage their griefs, should often think of Christ's coming to their rescue and deliverance. Have a little patience, and when your Master cometh, he will put an end to your afflictions. Long for the coming of Christ, but wait for it; do not bind the counsels of God. Usually his coming is when he is least looked for: Luke xviii. 7, 8, `When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith upon the earth?, that is, confidence that he will avenge; will any look for him then? Mat. xxv. 6, `At midnight there was a cry made, The bridegroom cometh., Who would look for the bridegroom at midnight? Usually because our expectations are earnest to be satisfied, we give over waiting: our time is always present, and flesh and blood is soon tired; yet, as long as it seemeth, it is but a short time: Heb. x. 37, `He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry.

2. It is meant of the general day of judgment, which is the day of their vengeance and your recompenses. See both in 2 Thes. i. 6-8, `Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you which are troubled rest, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance of them which obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ;, which is not to be understood as if they should not be punished nor we rewarded before that day; but then both are more full and complete: the wicked that are now in chains of darkness looking for a more terrible day, and glorified souls for a more full reward, their bodies as yet remaining under the dominion of death. The note is:—

Obs. That a spiritual argument of patience is a thought of the day of judgment. Here we are beaten by enemies and fellow-servants, but then the Lord will come, and all will be well, Mat. xxiv. 51. Oh! it will be sweet when we shall be hugged in the arms of Christ, and he shall say, `Well done, well suffered, my good and faithful servant;, 421and he shall put the crown upon our heads with his own hands. Well, then, love the coming of Christ, 2 Tim. iv. 8, and hasten it, 2 Peter iii. 12; cry as the spouse, `Even so, Lord Jesus; come quickly, Rev. xxii.

Behold, the husbandman waiteth.—Here the apostle anticipated! an objection: Ay! but we wait long; so doth the husbandman, saith the apostle, for that which is nothing so precious as your hopes. Clemens saith,362362Clemens Constit. Apost., lib. ii. cap. 63. that James and his brother Jude were husbandmen, and therefore do they so often bring .similitudes from their own calling, of trees, plants, and fruits of the earth, &c.

For the precious, fruit of the earth, κάρπον τίμιον.—Precious, because it costeth hard labour, and because it is a choice blessing of God for the sustentation of life. This term is used to show that though the fruit be dear to the husbandman, as deliverance is to you, yet he waiteth for it, and, as the apostle saith, `hath long patience.,

Until he receive the early and the latter rain; that is, the former, which falleth a little before sowing; and the latter, a little before the ripening of the corn. These are phrases often used in the prophets. The meaning is, then, he looketh till, in an ordinary way of providence, it may be ripened. So Hosea vi. 3, `As the former and latter rain to the earth., Especially we hear of the latter rain; for the latter rain, that fell somewhat before harvest, was a rain that came seldom in that country, but was much desired for the refreshing of the corn, and other fruits and blessings of the earth.

Obs. From that behold the husbandman. We must behold outward objects to a heavenly purpose, and every ordinary sight should be improved: so doth Christ in his parables; so elsewhere he sendeth us to learn of the lilies, as James doth to the husbandman: so Job biddeth us `to confer with the beasts, and ask of the fishes, Job xii. 7, 8; that is, by meditation to draw useful collections from them. But you will say, How shall we improve common objects? I answer—Two ways: in an argumentative and representative way; by reasoning from them, by viewing the resemblance between them and spiritual matters; as in the present case and similitude of the apostle. (1.) In meditation argue thus: If a husbandman, upon ordinary principles of reason, can wait for the harvest, shall not I wait for the coming of the Lord, the day of refreshing? The corn is precious to him, and so is the coming of Christ to me; shall he be so patient, and endure so much for a little corn, and not I for the kingdom of heaven? He is willing to stay till all causes have had their operation, and he hath received the former and the latter rain; and shall not I till the divine decrees be accomplished? (2.) In meditation make the resemblance and discourse thus within yourselves: This is my seed time, heaven is the harvest; here I must labour and toil, and there rest. I see the husbandman's life is a great toil: we can obtain no excellent thing without labour and an obstinate patience. I see the seed must be hidden in the furrows, rotten, and corrupted, ere it can spring forth with any increase; our hopes are hidden, and light is sown for the righteous, Ps. xcii. 11; all our comforts are buried 422under the clods, and after all this there must be long waiting. We cannot sow and reap in a day; effects cannot follow till all necessary causes have first wrought: it is not in the power of the husbandman to ripen fruits at pleasure; our times are in the hands of God; therefore it is good to wait; a long-suffering patience will reap the desired fruits, &c.

Ver. 8. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Here he applieth the similitude, again enforcing patience; it is a lesson that needeth much pressing.

Stablish your hearts, στηρίξατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν.—The Septuagint use the word στηρίξαι, for the bolstering or holding up of Moses, hands, Exod. xvii. 12. And here it noteth an immovableness in the faith and hope of Christianity, notwithstanding the many oppressions they had met with. In short, it implieth two things firmness of faith and constancy in grace. (1.) Firmness of faith, when, out of the encouragement of a sure trust, we can sit down under God's will and good pleasure. (2.) Constancy in grace, when we are not so bowed with our troubles and sorrows as to depart from our innocency. Observe:—

Obs. That it is the duty of God's children in time of their troubles to establish their hearts, and to put on a holy courage and magnanimity. It is said of a good man, Ps. cxii. 8, `That his heart is established; he shall not be afraid until he see his desire upon his enemies;, that is, neither discouraged in regard of trust and hope, nor miscarrying in regard of constancy and perseverance. Oh! that we would labour for this establishment. We lose our hope, and therefore we lose our patience; we are of a soft and easy heart, and so soon overborne: there is a holy obstinacy and hardness of heart, which is nothing but a firmness in our Christian purposes and resolutions. We have need of it in these times: there are persecutions and troubles; soft and delicate spirits are soon tired: errors and delusions; wanton and vain spirits are soon seduced: scandals and offences, by the miscarriages of false brethren; weak and easy hearers are soon discouraged; as in Nehemiah's time, there were troubles without, delusions from the Samaritans, Tobiah, &c., oppression, and working on the necessities of the people by false brethren, Neh. v. To fortify you against all these, consider, those that draw back the Lord hateth: the crab is reckoned among the unclean creatures, Lev. xi. 10. The four prophetical beasts went every one straight forward, Ezek. i. 9. If you know not how to get this holy hardness or strength of spirit, go to God for it; man's strength is but small, and soon overborne: Ps. xxvii. 14, `Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart;, so 1 Peter v. 10, `Now the Lord Jesus make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you after ye have suffered awhile., Desire him to give you courage, and to strengthen and settle it against all temptations and dangers.

For the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.—Either, first, to them by a particular judgment; for there were but a few years, and then all was lost; and probably that may be it which the apostles mean when they speak so often of the nearness of Christ's coming, Phil. iv. 5, Heb. x. 25, ἐσχάγη ὥρα, 1 John ii. 18. But you will say, How could this be propounded as an argument of patience to the godly Hebrews, that Christ would come and destroy the temple and city? I answer—(1.) The time of Christ's solemn judiciary process against the Jews was the time when he did acquit himself with honour upon his adversaries, and the scandal and reproach of his death was rolled away. (2.) The approach of his general judgment ended the persecution; and when the godly were provided for at Pella, the unbelievers perished by the Roman sword. Secondly, It may be meant of the day of general judgment, which, because of the certainty of it, and the uncertainty of its particular approach, hath been always represented to the church as at hand; or else, in regard of eternity, all that efflux of time between Christ's ascension and his second coming seemeth nothing. Whence the note is:—

Obs. That the world's duration, in regard of eternity, is but short: 2 Peter iii. 8, `One day with the Lord is but as a thousand years. and a thousand years as one day., Men count time long, because they measure it by the terms of their own duration; but God comprehending all ages in the indivisible point of his own eternity, all is as nothing to him, as a moment, as a `watch in the night, Ps. xc. 3. So Ps. liv. 7, `For a small moment have I forsaken thee, &c. Though there was more than a space of two thousand between the first separation and the calling of the Gentiles; yet God saith, `For a small moment have I forsaken thee., The word judgeth not according to sense and appearance. We, being impatient of delays, reckon minutes and count moments long; but God doth not judge of these things, `as men count slackness, 2 Peter iii. 9; that is, as flesh conceiveth. To short-lived creatures a few years may seem an age; but scripture, in its computations measuring all things by the existence of God, reckoneth otherwise. Human reason sticketh altogether in the outward sense and feeling, and therefore, as man measureth his happiness by temporal accidents, so his duration by temporal existences.363363`Ratio humana tantum in praesenti sensu haeret, nihil aliud audit, intelligit, sentit, videt, cogitat.,—Luther in Esaiam, liv. 7. Oh! when shall we look within the veil, and learn to measure things by faith, and not by sense! We count moments long, and God, that is of an eternal duration, counteth thousands of years a small moment. All outward accidents have their periods, beyond which they cannot pass; but eternity is a day that is never overcast with the shadows of a night. Certainly all space of time should be small to them that know the greatness of eternity.364364`Sapienti nihil magnum est cui nota est aeternitatis magnitudo., As in permanent quantity, so it is in successive. The whole globe of the earth is but as a middle point to the vast circumference of the heavens. So is this life but a moment to eternity. If we did value all things according to the computation and valuation of the word, it would not be so irksome to us to wait for Christ's coming. It is too much softness that cannot brook a little delay.

Ver. 9. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

In this verse the apostle layeth down the danger of evil groaning, 424using the same argument as before, the near and speedy approach of judgments.

Grudge not one against another, μὴ στενάζετε κατ᾽ ἀλλήλων.—The word signifieth, groan not one against another. Because it is not easy to find out what is the particular sense and intent of the apostle, the phrase hath been diversely expounded. Some open it thus: Do not sigh out your murmuring complaints into one another's bosom, as if God were unjust in punishing his children and letting the wicked be prosperous; but this cannot be the meaning. It is in the original, κατ᾽ ἀλλήλων, against one another. Others thus: Do not in a groaning manner require vengeance at the hand of God, but forgive, that God may forgive you; but certainly it is lawful to complain to God of our injuries, though not with a revengeful spirit. Much ado there hath been to state this groaning spoken of in the text. Groans in themselves are not unlawful. The apostle must needs mean such groaning as doth arise from an evil cause; as discontent at providence; murmuring groans, so some; or despondency and weakness of mind, distrustful groans; or from revenge and stomachs against their oppressors, vindictive groans, so others; or else from envy at those that suffered less than they did. If any man's condition be more tolerable, we are apt to murmur, and to say, no sorrow like our sorrow; and so fretting against God maketh us angry with men. Thus the apostle would understand envious groans; and to this sense our translators render στενάζετε by grudge not; that is, at the happiness of those that are not exercised with sufferings, or with the same degree of sufferings that you are. I should easily subscribe to this sense, as unwilling to recede from our own translation, but that I see no cause why we should not retain the proper sense of the word, groan not one against another, brethren; for the apostle seemeth to me herein to tax those mutual injuries and animosities wherewith the Christians of those times, having banded under the names of circumcision and uncircumcision, did grieve one another and give each other cause to groan, so that they did not only sigh under the oppressions of the rich persecutors, but under the injuries which they sustained from many of the brethren, who, together with them, did profess the holy faith; which exposition will well suit with the state of those times and the present context. The apostle is persuading them to patience now, because the pressures did arise, not only from enemies, but brethren. He seeketh to dissuade them from a practice so scandalous, lest they should all be involved and wrapped up in the common ruin. What! should brethren grudge one against another? Take heed; such practices seldom escape without a quick revenge. My thoughts are the more confirmed in this exposition, because here seemeth to be a tacit allusion to the history of Cain and Abel, where the blood of one brother cried or groaned against the other, and God told him that sin lay at the door, Gen. iv. 7, intending the punishment of sin, as the apostle telleth these that the judge was at the door, meaning the judgments hanging over their heads. Observe hence:—

Obs. Many times differences may so far be heightened among brethren, that they may groan one against another, as much as against the common enemy. Paul, speaking of the state of primitive times, 425showeth how Christians did `bite and devour one another, Gal. v. 15. To show their rage, he useth words proper to the fights and quarrels of beasts. Thus usually it falleth out when contests arise in the church. Religious hatreds are most deadly. Thus Luther365365`Infensior est mihi quam ulli hactenus fuerint inimici., complaineth that he never had a worse enemy than Carolostadius; and Zuinglius366366`Non sic me Pupistae lacerant ac illi amici uostri., that the Papists were never so bitter to him as his friends. It is sad when we dispute one against another, and tongue is armed against tongue, and pen against pen; but it is sadder when we groan one against another, and prayer is set against prayer, and appeal is set against appeal; lambs acting the wolves, part, &c.

Lest ye be condemned, ἵνα μὴ κριθῆτε, lest ye be judged; that is, lest God punish you; or lest, by mutual allegations, you provoke a condemning sentence to pass against you both, and you be also in volved in the common ruin. You may note hence:—

Obs. 1. That false brethren shall also meet with their judgment. Not only the rich oppressors, but you that groan one against another, shall be condemned: hell is the hypocrite's portion: Mat. xxiv. 51, `He shall appoint him his portion with hypocrites;, in Luke it is μετὰ τῶν ἀπίστων, with unbelievers, Luke xii. 46. Possibly our Saviour might use both expressions, hypocrites and unbelievers, to show that open enemies and secret shall meet with the same judgment.

Obs. 2. Mutual groanings and grudgings between brethren are a usual forerunner of judgment; after biting and devouring, there followeth consuming. Gal. v. 15. It cometh to pass partly by the providence and ordination of God. Wanton contests are not cured but by deep afflictions; and when spirits are once exulcerated, there is no likelihood of agreement but in a prison. The warm sun maketh the wood warp and cleave asunder; in prosperity we wax wanton and divide; when the dog is let loose, the sheep run together. Usually in troubles there are not so many scatterings and disgregations in Christ's flock. Partly by the course of ordinary causes. Our divisions give the adversary an advantage; we should be as wise to reconcile ourselves as they to combine against us. Nazianzen was wont to call them κοίνους διαλλάκτας, the common reconcilers. But party-making and faction maketh men blind , engaged persons will not consider till all be un done. A little before Diocletian's persecution there were sad divisions in the church, ταῖς πρὸς αλλήλους φιλονεικίαις ἀναφλέγοντο, saith Eusebius, they burned with mutual intestine discords,

Behold, the judge standeth before the door.—He had said before, `the coming of the Lord draweth nigh;, now he addeth, that he is `at the door, a phrase that doth not only imply the sureness but the suddenness of judgment: see Mat. xxiv. 33, `Know that it is near, even at the doors;, so that this phrase intendeth also the speediness of the Jewish ruin. Observe hence:—

Obs. 1. The nearness of the judge should awe us into duty. To sin in calamitous times is to sin in the presence of the judge; to strike, as it were, in the king's presence, and to provoke justice when punishments hang over our heads. This is like King Ahaz, that trespassed 426the more for his stripes. When God holdeth up his hand, you do as it were even dare him to strike.

Obs. 2. If we be ready to sin, God is ready to judge: `If thou do evil, sin lieth at the door, Gen. iv. 7 , that is, the punishment, like a serjeant or messenger of justice, doth but lie in wait to arrest us. Thus it is many times; the punishment taketh the provocation by the heel; and whilst we are bustling and `beating our fellow-servants, our Lord is at the door, and cometh ere we look for him, Mat. xxiv. 50, 51.

Ver. 10. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering, affliction, and of patience.

Here the apostle persuadeth to patience by the example of the saints, who though they were dear to God, and employed in high and special services, yet were exercised with sundry sharp afflictions.

Two ways are they an example to us—n their sufferings and in their patience. They are famous for κακοπάθεια and μακροθυμία, hard sufferings and great patience; an example of sufferings, that we may not flinch from them, or sink under them when we meet with them in the way of duty; an example of patience, that we may write after their copy by a meek submission. Their sufferings are produced to allay discomfort, and so Christ urgeth it, Mat. v. 12, `So they persecuted the prophets which were before you;, their patience to stir up imitation: Heb. vi. 12, `Let us be followers of them who through faith and patience inherited the promises., Never any yet went to heaven but those two graces were first exercised, faith and patience; faith in expectation of the future reward; patience in sustaining the present in conveniences. But to the words.

Take for an example.—The word is ὑπόδειγμα; it noteth such an example as is propounded to imitation. The same word is used when Christ commended his washing of the disciples, feet to their imitation, John xiii. 15.

The prophets.—He instanceth in them as the captains and leaders of the church. Every purpose of life hath its chieftains and princes. The Roman warriors can talk of their Camilli, Fabricii, Scipios, the philosophers of their Aristotle, Plato and Pythagoras; but religion propoundeth the example of the prophets.

Who have spoken to us in the name of the Lord; that is, were employed by God, and authorised to speak to the people in his stead, and specially gifted and supplied by his Spirit. Though they spake by divine inspirations, and were as God's mouth, yet they could not escape, but were molested and maligned in the world, even to cruel death and sufferings, for the faithful discharge of their message. This Christ chargeth upon the Jews, Mat. xxiii. 37, `O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them, &c. So doth Stephen, Acts vii. 52, `Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before the coming of the Just One, &c. Now if this were done to the prophets, who .seemed to be sheltered under the buckler of their special commission, and the singular innocency and holiness of their lives, certainly private believers have less reason to promise themselves freedom and exemption.


Of suffering afflictions and of patience; that is, when God maketh us like them in sufferings, we should be like them in patience. It is comfortable to come into their lot, and to be bound up in the same bundle of honour with them. Their example is produced partly to take off prejudice. The matter is not strange; it is not our case alone. We are apt to say, Never man in such a case as I, `Is any sorrow like to my sorrow?, Lam. i. 12. Yes; this was the lot of all the prophets. Partly to allay the shame. We do not surfer with the rude multitude, but with the prophets. Partly to encourage our imitation. Examples have a singular efficacy; man is apt to be led by company. The points are these:—

Obs. 1. The examples of the saints do much encourage us to patience. Man is a ductile creature, more apt to be led by the eye than the ear. We look upon precepts as calculated for notion and fancy; practices are a great confirmation. The strictest and severest ways are not impossible, nor untrodden; that which hath been may be done. Besides they are a check to delicacy; we may say as Elijah, `I am not better than my fathers;, can we look for more privilege than the prophets? Minors are ashamed when they cannot endure that which men of a higher order have endured: Micah was in prison, Jeremy in the dungeon, Isaiah sawed asunder, and shall we stick at a little suffering? Our betters have endured far worse. Besides, good company is a great encouragement. `Having such a cloud of witnesses, &c., saith the apostle, Heb. xii. 1—it is an allusion to the pillar of the cloud that guided the Israelites having such a pillar going before us, we may travel to heaven the more cheerfully.

Obs. 2. Afflictions light on all ranks of saints, but especially upon the prophets. The cross is kindly to our order; to preach is nothing, but to bait the world.367367`Praedicare nihil aliud est quam derivare in se furorem mundi.,—Luther. We are God's ambassadors, but we are often ambassadors in chains, Eph. vi. 20. What recompense did the prophets receive for all their pains and expense of spirits, but saws, and swords, and dungeons? It is almost as necessary a character of a minister to be much in afflictions, as to be much in spirit and much in labours. God hath reserved us, in these latter days, for all the contempt and scorn that villany and outrage can heap upon our persons. But it is no matter; it is the badge of our order, and we know where to have better entertainment; no matter though the world count us scurf and refuse, when Jesus Christ counteth us his own glory: the messengers of the churches are the filth of the world, 1 Cor. iv. 13; but the glory of Christ, 2 Cor. viii. 23; it were suspicion enough that we were not true to our master, when we are dandled on the world's knees.

Obs. 3. From that which spoke to us in the name of the Lord. It noteth the cause of their sufferings, the faithful discharge of their office, only for speaking in God's name. Sufferings are comfortable when they overtake us in the way of duty. It is sad to be spewed out of God's mouth, and to be made contemptible for being partial in the law, Mal. ii. 9, when the Lord maketh us base before the people. It is indeed his usual course with corrupt dispensers of holy mysteries; it is others, malice, but God's judgments. But now, if it be for the 428faithful performance of your place, for speaking boldly in the name of the Lord, you may bind it as a crown to your head. Why should we care for the scorns of an unthankful world, when we have such a good master? It is an honour for us to lose our name for God's, and it is no matter though we be nothing, so Christ be all in all; a minister should be like one in a crowd, that lifteth up another to public view, though himself be jostled and lost in the throng; so Christ be exalted, it is no matter though we suffer loss.

Ver. 11. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

The drift of the context is to persuade to patience: in this verse many things are offered to that purpose.

Behold, we count them happy that endure.—We, it may imply—First, The judgment of all men; mere men are wont to have high thoughts of them that can bear the brunt of afflictions. Note:—

Obs. 1. That meek patience in afflictions is a taking thing even in the eyes of men. There is a double reason implied in the words τοὺς ὑπομέμπμτας, those that endure misery, and fortitude in misery. Now misery worketh upon pity, and fortitude calleth for praises; miseries work upon weak spirits, and constancy in miseries upon generous spirits. Fortitude in miseries is more taken than elsewhere; there is more of choice in it than of furious and brutish valour. Seneca observeth,368368`Non dubito quin magis laudaverim truncam istam manum Mutii quam cujuslibet fortissimi salvain; melius est hostem amissa manu vicisse, quam armata.,—Seneca. that the burning of Mutius, hand was a greater token of his courage than fighting an enemy. Those that are engaged in a good cause need not despair; we shall gain somewhat with mere men; a resolute constancy and a meek patience may recover those friends which the miscarriages of a prosperous condition have lost: providence ordereth such things for good. But remember you cannot take this comfort but in a good cause. Sometimes wicked ones are the depressed party. All would entitle their sufferings to persecution, as the Donatists did in Austin's time; and therefore though sufferings are creditable, yet we must know that the persecuted cause is not always the best. Sarah was a type of the true church, and Hagar of the false; now Sarah she corrected Hagar. There is an unquiet generation; when they suffer anything, they call it persecution, when it is but just punishment. As the Moabites, when they saw the waters look ruddy through the reflection of the morning sun, thought them mingled with blood; so many voice up persecution and martyrs, blood when their insolences are but a little corrected and restrained.

Secondly, We, may imply the judgment of the visible church. The whole Christian church doth acknowledge the slain prophets happy, and celebrate their memory: μακαρίζειν, the word in the text, properly signifieth to make or declare happy. What is in the Hebrew, `the daughters will call me blessed, Gen. xxx. 13, the Septuagint render by μακαρίσουσι. So Luke i. 48, `All generations shall call me blessed;, in the Greek, μακαριοῦσι με πᾶσαι αἱ γενεαί. From this consideration I observe:—


Obs. 2. That it is often the condition of God's people to live envied and persecuted, but to die sainted. We account the slain prophets happy, and celebrate the memory of those which endure; the scribes and Pharisees garnished the tombs of the dead prophets, but killed the living, Mat. xxiii. 29, 30. They pretended honour to the saints departed, but in the meantime were injurious to the saints alive. So John v., the Jews pretended love to Moses, but showed hatred to Christ. It cometh to pass, partly by the providence of God, who after death cleareth up the innocency and holy conversation of his servants; posterity acknowledged them whom the former age destroyed; partly because living saints are an eyesore; by the severity of their lives and reproofs they trouble and torment the world; dead saints do not stand in the way of their lusts, for objects out of sight do not exasperate: this may comfort God's children against the abasers of the present age: `The day will declare it, 1 Cor. iii. 13; when the heat of oppression is over, that which is now called heresy and anti-christianism will then be accounted worship, and your sufferings will speak you not malefactors but martyrs. Men cannot discern the present truth, 2 Peter i. 12, because blinded with interests; but it may be truth itself may be the interest of the next age, and the bleak wind that bloweth now in our faces may be then on our backs; there are strange revolutions. Again, this may serve for caution to us. Let us not rest in fond affection to saints and worthies departed; the memory of Judas is not so accursed to us as Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were to the carnal Jews in Christ's time; Moses was dear to them, as Christ and the apostles to us. That is the best affection which is expressed by imitation; and stableness in the present truth is a great trial of our sincerity; dead saints are out of our envy: how are we affected to the living, that walk in their ways? It is good to examine what proportion and likeness there is between the case of the present hated parties, and the case of Christ and his apostles in the primitive times.

Thirdly, We, may imply (and so I think chiefly) the judgment of the children of God, as it is opposed to the judgment of the world: Behold, we count them happy that endure; we that are enlightened by the Spirit of God. I prefer this last consideration, because this sentence hath reference to a passage of scripture, `Blessed is he that waiteth, Dan. xi. 12, where the Septuagint have μακαριος ὁ ὑπομένων. From hence note:—

Obs. 3. That the judgment of the saints and the judgment of the world about afflictions are far different; they have different principles—the spirit of the world, and the Spirit of God; they have different lights and rules—that of faith and that of sense. A carnal man judgeth by appearance, but a spiritual man looketh within the veil; the world judgeth afflictions miserable, they happiness. It is notable that all the beatitudes are affixed to unlikely conditions, Mat. v., to show that the judgment of the word and the judgment of the world are contrary. Well, then, do not hearken to the judgment of the world about afflictions, but to the judgment of the Spirit; not to what sense feeleth, but to what faith expecteth. The men of the world are infeliciter felices, miserable in their happiness, but the children of God are happy in their misery. But you will say, Wherein? I answer—430(1.) The very suffering for righteousness, sake is a kind of grace which God doth us: 1 Peter iii. 14. `Happy are ye, &c., so `Blessed are they, &c.; Mat. v. 12; `they rejoiced, &c., Acts v. 41. God forgive me this great unthankfulness for this exceeding great mercy, saith Bradford, that he chooseth me for one in whom he will suffer. Secondly, Ye have gain by the afflictions, experience, hope, and grace, Rom. v. 3, 4; Heb. xii. 11; as also the sweet sense of divine consolations, 2 Cor. i. 5. (3.) God hath promised bountifully to reward it; there is a blessing in hand, but more in hope: see James i. 12

Ye have heard of the patience of Job.—He instanceth in Job because he was an eminent instance of misery. From the citation we may note that the book of Job was not a parable, but a history of what was really acted.

Obs. 1. Again from that ye have heard. We had never heard of Job had he not been brought so low. Affliction maketh saints eminent:369369`Ἀπὸ τῆς πενίας λάμπροτερος ἐγένετο.,—Chrys. Job's poverty made him rich in honour and esteem; stars do not shine but in the night; the less we are made by providence, the greater.370370`Cicuta Socratem magnum fecit.,—Seneca. You may oppose this against the temptation of lowness and baseness: God's children never gain so much honour as in their troubles. Many whose names now do breathe forth a fresh perfume in the churches would have lived and died obscurely, and their bones have been cast into some unknown charnel, undistinguished from other relics of mortality, but that God drew them forth into public notice by eminent sufferings.

Obs. 2. Again from that the patience of Job. He showed much impatience and murmuring, cursing the day of his birth, &c.; but not a word of all this: where the bent of the heart is right, the infirmities of God's people are not mentioned. So Heb. xi. 31, there is no mention of Rahab's lie, but only of her faith, and peaceable behaviour towards the spies. Where God seeth grace, he doth as it were hide his eyes from those circumstances that might seem to deface the glory of it: so in Sarah's speech, though the whole sentence be full of distrust and unbelief, God taketh notice of her reverence to her husband:371371See the notes on chap. ii. 25. she called Abraham lord, 1 Peter iii. 6. Wicked men watch for our halting, and feed their malice with our failings; they can oversee a great deal of good, and pitch only upon what is evil. But the Lord, where the heart is sincere, pardoneth the defects. Job murmured; but the word saith, Ye have heard of the patience of Job. There was patience in the man. Job often submitteth to God, sometimes blesseth God, disliketh those murmurings extorted from him by the sense of his sufferings, often correcteth himself as soon as he had spoken any unbecoming word of God and providence, when he was reproved of God, chap. xli.; he humbled himself, chap. xlii.

Obs. 3. Again observe, we should often in our afflictions propound Job's pattern and example; he was famous for miseries, various in their kind; now Chaldeans, then Sabeans, now wind, then fire, &c. When afflictions come like waves, one in the neck of another, and you 431are put upon divers trials, think of Job. They light upon all his comforts, his goods; a life is no life without a livelihood: his children, those dear pledges of affection; you lose one, Job many; when you lose all, it is but as Job: then upon his own body; he was rough-cast with sores. God's afflictions usually come closer and closer till they touch our very skins. In the plague, you may remember how Job's body was smitten with sores; nay, his soul was exasperated with the censures of his friends; this goeth closer and closer. God's immediate hand silenceth the spirit: we take injuries from man very unkindly, especially injuries from friends; these were stabs to the very heart. Perils among false brethren was Paul's sorest trial; it is grievous to suffer from an enemy, worse from a countryman, worse than that from a friend, and worst of all from godly friends. But yet this was Job's case; he complaineth that they were miserable comforters. Thus you see Job was famous for misery, and as famous for patience; it would be too long to survey it. In all the expressions of it, two are notable, which run through every vein of the whole book: his advancing God and debasing himself; good thoughts of God, and low thoughts of himself: `Blessed be God, &c., Job i. 23; and `I have sinned, Job vii. 20. Well, then, in all your afflictions, look upon this spectacle of misery and example of patience.

And have seen the end of the Lord.—It may be applied to Christ or Job. Some apply it to Christ for these reasons:—(1.) Otherwise the main pattern of patience will be left out; (2.) The change of the verb, `ye have heard of Job, and ye have seen the end of Christ., The adding of this new word seen, seemeth to be done by way of contradistinction to heard. These reasons, when I first glanced upon this text, inclined me to that opinion, especially when I afterward saw the same reasons urged by learned Paraeus. Many of the ancients go this way, as Austin, Beda, Lyra, Aquinas;372372`De Job et Christo specialiter exemplificat, Job in Veteri Testamento, Christus in Novo, quorum uni reddita sunt temporalia, alteri aeterna. Sufferentiam Jobi audistis, quanta sustinuit a Diabolo, a praedonibus, ab uxore, ab amicis; et fidem Domini vidistis, oculis scilicet vestris, in cruce pendentem, longanimiter patientem,, &c.—Thomas. in locum. which last improveth it more than I have seen any. Job and Christ, saith he, the two famous instances, are well coupled—Job in the Old Testament, Christ in the New; in the one we have a pledge of a temporal, in the other of an eternal recompense; you have heard of the one and seen the other; Job suffereth, but not to death; therefore, that they might have a complete pattern, he mindeth them of the end of the Lord. Thus far Aquinas. If this were the sense, the point would be, that Christ's death is the great spectacle and glass of patience. But modern divines go another way, and with good reason:—(1.) Because the drift of the context (see ver. 6, 7) is to propound not only a perfect pattern of miseries, but a happy end out of miseries: he had spoken of Job's patience, but if the former sense were true, nothing of his happy issue, a thing most suitable to his purpose and most remarkable in the story. (2.) The apostle in the former verse showeth he would instance in some prophets and holy men of God, not in the Lord himself. (3.) The Syriac translation hath plainly finem quem ei fecit Dominus—the end which the Lord made to him. (4.) The latter clause in the text cannot so commodiously 432agree to the former sense, to wit, that God is pitiful, and of tender mercy; but with this latter sense it fitly suiteth; the end that the Lord made with him, because he is of great mercy, &c. The former arguments may be easily answered:—(1st.) To the first: We must not teach the apostles how to reason, or what instances to bring. Possibly the example of Christ's patience is purposely omitted, because the main thing in question, wherein their constancy was assaulted, was their belief in Christ, and therefore, it was not so necessary to propound his example so much as that of other holy men who were afflicted; that they might not be scandalised at the cross, and from their great afflictions suspect the way which they professed. To all this I may add, that the sufferings of Christ are mentioned, ver. 6, as we cleared before. (2d.) To the second argument, which is grounded upon the change of the verb, heard and seen, I answer—Both words, implying the acts of the outward sense, are put for acts of knowledge and understanding; and seen, which is the clearer way of perception, is used in the latter clause, because God's recompense was so ample, and far more visible than Job's patience. And let not the phrase seem too curt, there being special reason why the issue of Job's afflictions should be called the end of the Lord. The points are these:—

Obs. 1. That the afflictions of God's children must not be considered in their nature and beginning, but in their issue and end: Heb. xii. 11, `No affliction for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous., There are two words emphatical, πρὸς μὲν τὸ παρὸν, for the present, and οὐ δοκεῖ, seemeth; they are smart in the apprehension of the flesh, and smart only for the present. It is but childish to judge of afflictions by present sense; always it is worst with Christians in the present time: see Rom. viii. 18; 1 Cor. xv. 19; 2 Cor. iv. 16-18. Well, then, do not measure afflictions by the smart, but by the end of them; besides our everlasting hopes, usually that end which is seen and liable to common observance is glorious. When Israel was dismissed out of Egypt, it was with gold and ear-rings, Exod. xi.; so the Jews were dismissed out of Babylon with gifts, jewels, and all necessary utensils, Ezra i.; so `When the Lord turned the captivity of Job, he gave Job twice as much as he had before, and every one of his friends brought him a piece of money and an ear-ring of gold, Job. xlii. 10, 11. Oh! wait for the end then; the beginning is usually Satan's, but the end is the Lord's; at the beginning the power of darkness may have an hour, but at the end the Lord will be seen.

Obs. 2. The Lord must give a happy end to all afflictions. (1.) A temporal end; man may begin, but God must make an end. `The beginning of strife (saith Solomon) is as the opening of the waters;, a fool may pull up the sluices, but there is no turning of the stream: Penes reges est inferre bellum, penes autem Deum terminare when man beginneth, the Lord will exercise his own dominion and sovereignty ere the end cometh. (2.) A gracious end: `The fruit of it is to take away sin, Isa. xxvii. 9. Now this is God's work; God's rod, as well as God's word, doth nothing without his blessing, otherwise they are both poor, dead, and useless means: `I am the Lord that teacheth them to profit, Isa. xlviii. 18; that is, by 433afflictions. (3.) A glorious end; it is the Lord's gift, not our merit. Oh! then, let us do duty, and God will not be wanting; let us wait upon him with Job's patience, and he will give Job's end.

That the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.—This clause expresseth partly the cause, partly the manner of God's appearance in Job's end. (1.) The cause why Job had so good an end of his troubles was God's mercy, not his own merit; it was his happiness that he had to do with a pitiful and merciful God. (2.) The manner of God's appearance in the end of afflictions. You will find God merciful and pitiful, whatever the flesh saith to the contrary; in the beginning you think him cruel, but in the end you find him merciful. Here are two words that express God's goodness: the first is, very pitiful, in the original πολύσπλαγχνος, of much or many bowels. These are the tender parts in which we feel a commotion upon every strong affection, as the mother's bowels were said to yearn to the infant when he was to be divided, 1 Kings iii. 26; therefore we are bid to put on bowels: Col. iii. 12. The next word is, of tender mercy, οἰκτίρμων. It is the word which is opposed to the hard heart, and therefore we do not render it `the merciful, but `of tender mercy., Now the proper use and distinction of these words in this place may be conceived thus:—(1.) The one hath respect to our miseries, the other to our sins; pitiful in feeling our miseries, merciful in pardoning our sins. (2.) The one noteth affection; the other acts suitable,373373`Πολύσπλαγχνος abundat intima misericordia.,—Beza. inward and outward mercy. From hence you may observe several notes.

Obs. 1. From that very pitiful and tender mercy.—God's mercy is seldom spoken of without some addition of much, or great, or tender, &c. Most commonly in the Old Testament it is expressed plurally, mercies and loving-kindnesses, and very often are those additions of much and great annexed: Exod. xxxiv. 6, `Great in mercy;, 2 Sam. xxiv. 14, `His mercies are very great;, so Ps. cxxx. 7, `With him there is plenteous redemption:, so `abundant mercy, 1 Peter i. 3; Eph. ii. 7, `The exceeding riches of his grace., God delighteth to discover this attribute in its royalty and magnificence. Certainly, there is more in God's mercy than in men's sins; our ephah is full, but God's mercy is over-full; and there is enough in God to supply all our wants. When you can exhaust overflowing mercy, then you may complain; and there is enough in God to satisfy every particular believer. We all drink of the same fountain, and yet cannot draw it dry. Oh! when shall we learn of our heavenly Father not only to do good works, but to abound in them more and more? He is rich in mercy, when shall we be rich in good works? &c.

Obs. 2. God is very tender to his people in misery. Sense doth but make lies of God. When we hearken to the voice of our own feeling, we are apt to say as Job, `Thou art turned to be cruel, Job xxx. 31; or at least as David, `I am cut off, though at that very time God had a gracious respect to him, `nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications, Ps. xxxi. 22. Israel is chidden for saying `My way is hidden from the Lord, and my judgment passed over by my God, Isa. xl. 27; that is, God hath left me out of the 434count of providence, and the roll of those whom he is to look after; he doth not take notice of my case. Do but wait a little while, and you shall see that the Lord is very pitiful and tender. God's children have been at length ashamed of their hasty words, and when providence hath had its course, they can easily see that, though the outside and bark of it was rough and harsh, yet it was lined with pity and mercy.

Obs. 3. From the two words pitiful and merciful. God hath every way provided for the comfort of his people. He hath pity for their afflictions, and pardon for their sins. He was sensible of Job's misery and Job's weakness; his compassion might be discouraged by our murmurings, but that he is merciful as well as pitiful. Afflicted persons may hence comfort themselves, and answer the objections of their sad spirits; when you have injuries from men, you shall find pities in God. Ay! but I have sinned. I answer—There is mercy in him as well as pity, &c.

Obs. 4. From the order of the words, very pitiful, and then of tender mercy! There is in God, first, bowels, and then bounty; so Exod. xxxiv. 6, `Merciful and gracious., Oh! then, let us learn of our heavenly Father, when we do good, to do it with all our hearts; let the spring be within us: Isa. lviii. 18, `Draw out thy soul to the hungry, and then satisfy the afflicted person.

Ver. 12. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into condemnation.

For the context, some say this is the coherence between the former matter and the present verse. Men in affliction are usually impatient, and impatience bewrayeth itself by oaths and curses—a conceit very injudicious, and no way complying with the intent of the apostle. We need not stick at method and connection; it is usual with James and the other apostles to divert from one matter to another, according as the necessity of the times did require, without any curiosity or observation of the laws of method. In this verse there is an admonition or dissuasive from swearing, in which you may note:—

1. The vehemency of proposal: but above all things.

2. A direction proposed:—

[1.] Negatively, swear not; wherein some forms of oaths are specified, neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor by any other oath.

[2.] Positively, let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay.

3. Here is a comminatory reason and enforcement, lest ye fall into condemnation.

But above all things, πρὸ πάντων, ἄδελφοι.—The phrase hath under gone several constructions, it properly signifieth before all things; therefore Lyra374374`Ne praeponatis juramentum omnibus verbis et promissis., interpreteth the apostle thus, Do not swear before all things; before every word and promise. The exposition were plausible, if the posture of the words were μὴ ὀμνύετε, ἄδελφοι, πρὸ πάντων, `My brethren, swear not before all things;, but it is, `Before all things, my brethren, &c. Therefore I rather take it for a form of vehemency and earnestness, frequent in the apostolical epistles: `Above all things take the shield of faith, Eph. vi. 16. So 1 Peter iv. 8, `Above all things 435have fervent charity among yourselves., But you will say, Why doth he press this above all things? The question is grave and weighty. I shall give some reasons, which will occasion so many notes.

Obs. 1. Because it is a great sin to swear lightly and inconsiderately; it is specially forbidden in the Decalogue: `I will not hold him guiltless, Exod. xx. 7. Of all things God is tender of his own name; it is a great sin in regard of the object about which it is conversant, God's name, which ought to be sacred; every thought and mention should be accompanied with reverence. All sin is against God, but this is formally and directly against God. Men are most tender of their credit. It is a great sin in regard of the occasion; it is without a temptation, unless it be such as argueth height of wickedness, either a wantonness in sin, because it is a sport to do evil. Other sins have an external bait; here is nothing but a glorying in our own shame, Phil. iii. 19. Or an obstinate pride. It is a daring of God; they will sin, because they will sin. It is usually found in ruffians that have lost all awe. Oh! let us beware of this sin of rash swearing, of every tendency that way, any irreverent use of the name of God in sudden outcries, O God, O Lord, &c., or any vain jesting with oaths. Those that swear in jest shall go to hell in earnest. The Jews were so tender of the name of God, that they would not pronounce Jehovah in the law, but read Adonai, unless by the high priest once every year. And being given to swearing, they were loath to use their greater oath, Chi Eloah,375375To which the poet alludeth, `Jura, verpe, per Anchialum.,—Martialis. but swore by the creatures. The heathens would name those but seldom whom they reverenced. Augustus, as Suetonius reporteth, would not have his name obsolefieri, to be worn threadbare. The name of Mercurius Trismegistus was not commonly pronounced, because of great reverence to him.

Another reason why the apostle saith `above all things, is, because it was a sin familiar with the Hebrews, as appeareth by sundry passages in scripture: see those dissuasives, Mat. v. 33, 34, &c.; Mat. xxiii. 16, 17. It was a sin very common amongst them, as among some nations to this day—as the Dutch, French, Scottish, though the English have too much written after their copy. The note is:—

Obs. 2. That common and known sins must be opposed with all earnestness. The apostle saith, `Above all things, swear not, such points are to be pressed above all other. Usually such truths as concern the present age are disliked, when we reflect upon the guilt of the times. Men would have us preach Christ, and the general doctrines of faith and repentance; which is nothing but a vain cavil, masked with the specious pretence of religion; for you shall see when the preaching of Christ was the main truth in controversy, and the apostles bended their strength that way, the Corinthians cried for wisdom, meaning doctrines of civil prudence, and the softer strains of morality; and that is the reason why Paul said, 1 Cor. ii. 3, I have determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ, ναι καὶ τοῦτον ἐσταυρωμένον, yea, and him crucified;, which was the doctrine at which they were most scandalised, and therefore he resolved to take notice of no argument so much as that in his ministry. The work of the ministry is not to contend with ghosts and opinions antiquated, but the errors and sins of 436the present time. Look, as it is the duty of Christians to spend the heat of their indignation on the main sin with which they are surprised: Ps. xviii. 23, `I kept myself from mine iniquity;, so must ministers chiefly bend their zeal and strength against the present guilt. Were we only to provide for ourselves, we might read to you fair lectures of contemplative divinity, and with words as soft as oil entice you into a fool's paradise, never searching your wounds and sores. But our commission is to `cry aloud, and spare not, &c., Isa. lviii. 1.

Obs. 3. It is a custom that can hardly be left or forsaken; therefore above all things take heed of swearing. Austin urgeth this argument,376376`Quare ante omnia? Jurare pejus est quam furari? Jurare pejus est quam adulterare? Jurare pejus est, quam hominem occidere? Absit; quare ergo ante omnia? Ne surrepat vobis consuetudo jurandi; ut te adversus consuetudinem infensissimum redderet.,—Aug. Serm. 28, de Verbis Apostoli. `Why doth the apostle say, Above all things? is it worse to swear than to steal? worse to swear than to commit adultery? worse to swear than to kill a man? no, but the apostle would fortify as much as he could against a pestilent custom, &c. Certainly, when we have once got it, it is hardly left; every corporal thing being often moved in one and the same manner, receiveth a greater easiness and aptitude to the same motions. So doth the tongue when it is used to the voicing of oaths. Custom hath so great a power upon us, that the word is uttered before the mind can check it. The executions of other sins are slower, as murder, lust, theft, because other members are not so ready as the tongue. A man may sooner command his hand than his tongue. Well, then, let those that, by company or education, have learned to swear, or to use vain, idle expressions, watch with the more care; a custom is soon got, either by our own use, or constant conversation with them that use it. Good Joseph learned to swear in the house of Pharaoh. Watch diligently: thy custom will not excuse thee; if it be thy custom to sin, it is God's custom to destroy sinners.

Swear not, neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor by any other oath.—For the opening of this passage, it may be inquired:—

1. Whether all oaths be forbidden? Divers have been of this judgment. The Essenes thought all oaths as bad as perjury, as Josephus witnesseth, `De Bello Judaico, lib. ii. cap. 7. Jerome chargeth the Pelagians with the same opinion; it hath been also objected against the Waldenses, how truly I know not. The Anabaptists have been uncertain in this point; sometimes they have professed against all oaths, at other times expressed themselves as denying only rash oaths, as in the conference at Franckendale; and those of that sect amongst us seem to have recanted the ancient rigour herein. Many modern writers of great note seem to incline to the absolute prohibition of oaths, as unbeseeming that faith and simplicity which should be among Christians. Certainly there hath been a great abuse of them in our civil courts, even to the disgrace of our holy profession, as being administered upon every trifling occasion, for a shilling matter, and in businesses of a low concernment. But, however, oaths in themselves are lawful, if taken `in truth, righteousness, and judgment, Jer. iv. 2—that is, without fraud, in a lawful matter, and upon a weighty occasion—the apostle saith, an oath is 437ἀντιλογίας, `an end of strife, Heb. vi. 17. In the Old Testament, in any doubtful case which could not be otherwise determined, they were `to accept the oath of the Lord, Exod. xxii. 11, 12. The commandment itself alloweth a liberty: `Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, which implieth a lawful use of God's name. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul in weighty matters often sweareth and calleth God to witness, see Rom. i. 9, and ix. 1; 2 Cor. i. 23; `God is my record, Phil. i. 8.

2. What oaths are condemned? Answer—Our Saviour and the apostle James do only meet with that wicked custom introduced by the Pharisees, that a man might swear by the creatures, if there were no mention of the name of God, or things offered to God; as appeareth by considering Mat. v. and Mat. xxiii. The nation of the Jews were guilty of three things—(1.) Frequent swearing; (2.) Swearing by the creatures; (3.) Breaking these oaths as not binding and valid; and these sins being rife in the apostle's days, the prohibition of the text must be chiefly applied to them; so that `swear not, neither by heaven nor earth, must be meant of their usual and accustomed forms, which they had invented to evade the law; for the Jews, so they did omit the great oath of Chi Eloah, thought they were safe. So Philo saith,377377Philo. in lib. περὶ τῶν ἐν εἴδει νόμων. that it `was a sin and a vanity, ἐπὶ τὸν πατέρα καὶ ποιητὴν ὁλῶν ἀνατρέχειν, presently to run to God, or the maker of all things, and to swear by him; but that it was lawful to swear by our parents, by heaven and the stars., So it is observed of some of the ancient Greeks, that they did not προπετῶς ὀμνύειν περὶ τῶν θεῶν, ἀλλὰ κατὰ τῶν ἐπιτυγχανόντων, that they did not easily swear by the gods, but by the creatures and things before their eyes, and then that there was no harm, and no solemn obligation in these oaths; vain pretences, and excuses; for though the name of God was not interposed, yet it is implied, Mat. xxiii. 20-22; Mat. v. 34, 35, the creature being God's creature, and in an oath made by them implicitly called upon to be God's instrument of vengeance in case of perjury. That other clause, nor by any other oath, is meant of other oaths of that kind, so that the note out of the whole is:—

Obs. That swearing by the creatures is unlawful; swearing is an act of worship, and therefore it must be only done in weighty cases, by the name of God: Deut. vi. 13, `Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and swear by his name., So the prophet reproveth those that `swear by the sin of Samaria, meaning the idol, Amos viii. 14. In such oaths the creature is made use of instead of God, whether it be by way of assertion, as when we say, as sure as there is heaven, or there is light in heaven; or by way of execration, as let heaven blast me, earth swallow me, or devil take me, &c. In all these rude speeches there is a double evil—a rash oath, and an oath made by the creature instead of God; and yet what more common than such forms amongst us? I might instance in many: the Popish oath by the Virgin Mary, and our common word, Yes, marry; so also those sottish vulgar forms, by my head, by this light, by this candle, this bread, by my faith, &c.

Reader, thou art entreated to take notice, that the author being 438sensible that this book grew somewhat bulkish, purposely omitted those larger discourses which he conceived upon this verse concerning the lawfulness of oaths, the abuse of them in ordinary commerce and courts of civil judicature, as also the discussion of those questions whether the Old Testament did only forbid perjury, and the New added to the law the prohibition of rash and unnecessary oaths, as Papists, Socinians, and some of late think; as also whether it is in any case lawful to swear by the creatures, and whether oaths so made be valid and obligatory. All these inquiries he purposely omitted, and would rather appear in this curt and contracted form than be burden some; especially there being large discourses extant on all these matters. See the writers on the commandments, Grotius on Mat. v. 34, &c., and Mat. xxiii. 20-22; Perkins on Mat. v.; Hammond's Pract. Cat., and Spanheim Dub. Evang., part 3, Dub. 124, et sequentibus; Brochman, Hist. Theol. Act. de Lege Dei, cap. 8, quaest. 1-3: Jacobus ad Portum in Refut. Institut. Ostorodii, ad cap. 25, &c.

But let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay.—Some suppose that this is the same with what our Saviour speaketh, Mat. v. 37, which implieth that a Christian in his ordinary speech should content himself with simple affirmations or negations, that he may abstain from all appearance of an oath; but mark, our apostle doth not say, `Let your speech be yea, yea, nay, nay, but `Let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay., Yea and nay were the usual forms and words used in stipulations. Now, saith the apostle, let your yea be always yea, and your nay always nay; that is, let your affirmations and negations be plain and sure-grounded on a mere truth; as Paul saith his preaching of the gospel was not yea and nay, but yea and yea, 2 Cor. i. 18; so here, let your yea be yea. The first yea referreth to the promise, the second to the performance; let there be yea in the promise, and yea in the performance; and herein the apostle seemeth to strike at the root, falsehood being the cause of oaths: and we may observe:—

Obs. That an excellent way to prevent swearing is to use a constant truth in our speeches, then we need not interpose an oath; the credit of our communication will be enough. Oaths give suspicion of men's falseness and lightness. If men were serious and sincere in their discourses, their word would be equivalent to an oath, and their very affirming would be swearing; whereas others in a doubtful case are hardly credited, though they swear never so deeply, because they swear so commonly; for having prostituted the highest and most solemn way of assurance to every trifle, they have nothing left where with to establish a controverted truth.

Lest ye fall into condemnation.—Many read ἵνα μὴ εἰς ὑπόκρισιν πέσητε, least ye fall into hypocrisy, that is, be found liars; but it seemeth by most translations, the Syriac, the Arabic, the Latin, that the original was read as we read it, ὑπὸ κρίσιν πέσητε, fall into judgment. It is an allusion to that commination which in in the law that forbiddeth swearing: `The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain;, where not only perjury, but rash oaths are forbidden; for that word which we translate `in vain, is properly so rendered, according to the use of it in scripture, as the learned prove 439against the Socinians; so the Septuagint render it;378378`Ἐν ματαίῳ,—Sept. and so Aquila.379379`Εἰς εἰκῇ.,—Aquila. Note hence.

Obs. That rash and false swearing will bring a sure judgment; for oaths, persons and lands mourn, Hosea iv. If duty doth not move. methinks thou shouldst startle at the danger and punishment. If thou beest not afraid to sin, yet it is strange thou art not afraid to burn.380380`Non peccare metuunt sed ardere.,—Aug. All sins are threatened with death, but this more expressly. God hath engaged himself that he `will not hold him guiltless;, usually they are brought to a speedy trial: Mal. iii. 5, `I will be a swift witness, &c.; and judgment marcheth against them with a swift pace, `the flying roll, &c.; Zech. v. 4. Certainly there is no sin that doth more weary the patience of God, because there is no sin that doth more banish the fear of God out of our hearts.

Ver. 13. Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

Here he diverteth to another matter, which is a direction how to behave ourselves either in an afflicted or in a prosperous condition, we being apt to fail or miscarry in both.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.—Some Latin copies read the whole verse in one sentence, strangely perverting the sense thus: Is any sorry among you? let him pray and sing with an equal mind; but the Greek readeth as we do, `is any among you, &c. He meaneth you that are in the church, that are the flock of Christ. Christianity giveth us no lease of temporal happiness, no exemption from the cross, rather the contrary; `miserable, is one of the church's names: Isa. liv. 6, 10, `thou afflicted.,

Is any merry? εὐθυμεῖ τὶς; `is any of a good mind?,—The effect is put for the state, gladness for prosperity, which is wont to make the heart glad and merry; the word is translated `of good cheer, Acts xxvii. 22, `I exhort you to be of good cheer;, it is εὐθυμεῖν.

Let him sing psalms.—In the original there is but one word, ψαλλέτω, let him sing; but because the apostle is pressing them to religious use of every condition, and because this is the usual acception of the word ψαλλέτω in the church, it is well rendered `let him sing psalms., Certainly, when the apostle biddeth them sing, he doth not mean songs, but psalms; not songs to gratify the flesh, but psalms to refresh the spirit. Merry men are wont to `chant to the sound of the viol, Amos vi. Nature needeth not to be pressed to that; therefore questionless he is to be understood of the duty of singing.

There are many practical notes and inferences deducible from this verse.

Obs. 1. Our temporal condition is various and diverse; now afflicted, and then merry. It is the folly of our thoughts that we cannot be happy, but we think our nest is among the stars: `Man's best estate is altogether vanity, Ps. xxxix. 5. Our prosperity is like glass, brittle when shining. The complaint of the church may be the motto of all the children of God: Ps. cii. 10, `Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down., The church's name, as I said, is `afflicted and tossed with the tempest, Isa. liv. 11.


Obs. 2. This is the perfection of Christianity to carry an equal pious mind in unequal conditions. Paul had learned to walk up-hill and down-hill with the same spirit and pace: `I know both how to be abased, and how to abound, Phil. iv. 12. The prophet saith of Ephraim that he was `as a cake not turned, Hosea vii. 8, baked of one side, but dough of the other. Most men are fit but for one condition. Some cannot carry a full cup without spilling. Others can not bear a full load without breaking. Sudden alterations perplex both body and mind. It is the mighty power of grace to keep the soul in an equal temper.

Obs. 3. Several conditions require several duties. The Christian conversation is like a wheel, every spoke taketh its turn. God hath planted in a man affections for every condition, grace for every affection, and a duty for the exercise of every grace, and a season for every duty. The children of the Lord are `like trees planted by the rivers of water, that bring forth their fruit in due season, Ps. i. 3. There is no time wherein God doth not invite us to himself. It is wisdom to perform what is most seasonable. There is a time to encourage trust: Ps. lvi. 3, `At what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee;, and there is a time to deject security. In misery the duty is prayer, in prosperity, giving of thanks. Sometimes, I confess, these duties may be inverted. We may bless God for giving as well as taking,381381Qu. `taking as well as giving,?—ED. and in prosperity there may be great need of prayer; but the apostle speaketh of what is ordinary; at least he would show us that there is no condition so good but there is need of duty; there is none so bad as to be past duty. In all estates we must be doing. No providence exempts you from duty, and cassates the bonds of obedience. It is our folly to betray our duties by our wishes. If it were thus and thus with us, we could serve God readily and cheerfully. Thou fool! there is no condition but grace can improve it to some religious use, for the advantage of some duty or other. It is thy laziness; and the blame of thine own neglects must not be charged upon providence.

Obs. 4. That it is of excellent advantage in religion to make use of the present affection; of sadness, to put us upon prayer; of mirth, to put us upon thanksgiving: Anima nunquam melius agit, quam ex impetu insignis alicujus affectus—the soul never worketh more sweetly than when it worketh in the force of some eminent affection. With what advantage may we strike when the iron is hot! When the affections are stirred up on a carnal occasion, convert them to a religious use: Jer. xxii. 10, `Weep not for the dead, but weep for him that goeth away, &c.; that is, when sorrow is stirred up by your private loss, turn it out into a public channel. So Luke xxiii. 28. So Christ would have them to spiritualise their tears, `Weep not for me, O daughters of Jerusalem, but for yourselves and children., Christ would not have them to bewail his death in a carnal manner, but to bemoan their own sins and their approaching ruin. So for joy and mirth: Eph. v. 4, `Not jesting, but rather giving of thanks., Mentioning his sweet experiences should be a Christian's mirth and jesting. Oh! that we could learn this wisdom, to take the advantage of a carnal motion, not to fulfil it, but to employ it for the uses of the sanctuary. When the 441affections are once raised, give them a right object, otherwise they are apt to degenerate, and to offend in their measure, though their first occasion was lawful.

Obs. 5. Prayer is the best remedy for sorrows. Griefs are eased by groans and utterance. Such evaporation disburdeneth and cooleth the heart. It is some ease to pour out our complaints into a friend's bosom. Prayer is but the exercise of our graces, and graces exercised will yield comfort. We have great cause in afflictions to use the help of prayer. (1.) That we may ask patience. If God lay on a great burden, cry for a strong back. (2.) That we ask constancy, that you may not `put forth your hands to iniquity, Ps. cxxv. 3. (3.) That we may ask hope, and trust and wait upon God for his fatherly love and care. (4.) That we may ask a gracious improvement. The benefit of the rod is a fruit of the divine grace, as well as the benefit of the word. (5.) That we may ask deliverance, with a submission to God's will: Ps. xxxiv. 7, `I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears., So Ps. cvii., it is four times repeated, `Then they cried unto the Lord, and he saved them out of all their distresses, ver. 6, 13, 19, 28.

Obs. 6. Thanksgiving, or singing to God's praise, is the proper duty in the time of mercies or comforts. It is God's bargain and our promise, that if he would `deliver us, we would `glorify him, Ps. l. 15. The spouse's eyes are `dove's eyes, Cant. iv. Doves peck and look upward. For every grain of mercy there is some return of praise. Look to it then. Mercies work one way or another; they either be come the fuel of our lusts or our praises; either they make us thankful or wanton. Your condition is either a help or a hindrance in religion. Awaken yourselves to this service: every new mercy calleth for a new song. It is sad to hold a great farm by the divine bounty, and pay no rent.382382`Qui majores terras possident, minores census solvunt.,—Parisiensis de Ingratis. You should, as it is in the psalm for the Sabbath, `show forth his loving-kindness every morning, and his faithfulness every night, Ps. xcii. 2. Our morning hopes are founded in God's mercy, and our evening returns of praise should take notice of his truth or faithfulness. We would have mercy in the morning, but usually we forget praise at night.

Obs. 7. That singing of psalms is a duty of the gospel. Having so fair a leave from the text, it will be good to vindicate this holy ordinance and institution. Most practise it out of custom, and in a formal, perfunctory manner, and therefore are apt to lay it aside now it is questioned. Usually the devil taketh that advantage to draw men of a probable faith to atheism;383383`Non exploratis rationibus traditionum, probabilem tantum fidem portant.,—Cypr. and when they do not know the reasons of a duty they are the sooner won to the neglect of it. This comfortable ordinance and spiritual recreation hath been several ways impugned.

First, Some question the whole duty, as if it were legal worship, because we have no formal and solemn institution of it in the New Testament; but vainly, and without reason. For, (1.) Moral duties, enjoined in the Old Testament, need no other institution in the New. That it is a part of moral worship is discernible by the light of nature; the heathens sang hymns to their gods. As also because in 442the Old Testament it is always sorted with other duties that are of a perpetual and immutable obligation; as Ps. xcv. 1, 2, &c., where there is a perfect enumeration of all parts of public worship, the word and prayer, &c., and singing is joined with them, as of equal necessity. Yea, it is notable that all those psalms which prophesy of the worship of the Gentiles under the gospel do mention singing: see Ps. cviii. 2, and Ps. c. &c. (2.) We have the example of Christ and his apostles: `They sang a hymn, Mat. xxvi. 30. The same is recorded of Paul and Silas, Acts xvi. 25. (3.) We have exhortations in the New Testament, as Col. iii. 16, and Eph. v. 19, and the present scripture which we are now upon. (4.) The consent of the churches. Pliny, in his letter to Trajan, mentioneth the Christians, hymnos antelucanos, their morning songs to Christ and God, as a usual practice in their solemn worship. Justin Martyr saith, quaest. 117, ad Orthodoxos, Ὕμνους καὶ προσευχὰς τῷ Θεῷ ἀναπέμπομεν &c.—we send up prayers and psalms to God, c.

Secondly, Others question whether we may sing scripture psalms, the psalms of David, which to me seemeth to look like the cavil of a profane spirit. But to clear this also. I confess we do not forbid other songs; if grave and pious, after good advice they may be received into the Church. Tertullian, in his Apology, showeth that in the primitive times they used this liberty, either to sing scripture psalms or such as were of a private composure.384384`Post aquam manualem et lumina, ut quisque de scripturis vel proprio ingenio potest, provocatur in medium Deo canere.,—Tertul. in Apol., cap. 29. See the notes of Pamelius on that place. But that which I am to prove, that scriptural psalms may be sung, and I shall, ἐκ περισσοῦ, with advantage over and above, prove that they are fittest to be sung.

1. That they may be sung may be proved by reason; the word limiteth not, and therefore we have no reason to make any restraint. They are part of the word of God, full of matter that tendeth to instruction, comfort, and the praise of God, which are the ends of singing; and therefore, unless we will bring a disparagement upon the scriptures, we cannot deny them a part in our spiritual mirth. Besides, thus it hath been practised by Christ himself, by the apostles, the servants of the Lord in all ages; and there is no reason why, in these dregs of time, we should obtrude novel restraints upon the people of God. That Christ himself sang scripture psalms may be probably collected out of Mat. xxvi. 30, Ὑμνήσαντες, `when they had sung a hymn, &c.; which hymn, that it was one or more of David's psalms, may be proved by these reasons to those that do not wrangle rather than scruple. (1.) By the custom of the Jews; they were wont to end the paschal supper with solemn psalms or hymns; they sang six psalms in the night of the passover, when the lamb was eaten; the psalms were cxiii. to cxix., which were called by the Jews the Great Hallelujah, as Lucas Brugensis, Scaliger, Buxtorf, and others skilled in their customs do inform us; and it is more than probable that Christ followed their custom herein, because in all other things he observed their usual passover rites. (2.) From the word itself, they sang a hymn. Now what shall we understand by this but such a hymn as was usual in that age? If any should report the 443manner of our assemblies, and should say after such exercises they sang a psalm, without any other description, what can rationally be understood but the psalms in use amongst us? Now the psalms or hymns then in use were the psalms of David. (3.) The evangelists specify no new hymn made for this purpose, who are wont to mention matters of far less moment and concernment. Grotius, indeed, is singular, and thinketh that the 17th of John was this hymn; but that is a solemn prayer, not in metre or measured words, hath not the style of other hymns and songs; and those words were spoken by Jesus alone, the disciples could not so properly join in them: `These words spake Jesus, and lift up his eyes, &c., John xvii. 1.

That hymn which Paul and Silas sang, Acts xvi. 25, was probably also a scriptural hymn; such were used in that age. Certainly it must be such a hymn as both were acquainted with, or else how could they sing it together? If the practice of the apostles may be interpreted by their instructions, the case will be clear. In Col. iii. 16, and Eph. v. 19, Paul biddeth us `speak to one another, ψάλμοις καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ὥδαις πνευματικαῖς in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs., Now these words (which are the known division of David's psalms, and expressly answering to the Hebrew words Shurim, Tehillim, and Mizmorim, by which his psalms are distinguished and entituled), being so precisely used by the apostle in both places, do plainly point us to the Book of Psalms.

2. Scripture psalms not only may be sung, but are fittest to be used in the church, as being indited by an infallible and unerring Spirit, and are of a more diffusive and unlimited concernment than the private dictates of any particular person or spirit in the church. It is impossible any should be of such a large heart as the penmen of the word, to whom God vouchsafed such a public, high, and infallible conduct; and therefore their excellent composures and addresses to God being recorded and consigned to the use of the church for ever, it seemeth a wonderful arrogance and presumption in any to pretend to make better, or that their private and rash effusions will be more edifying. Certainly if we consult with our own experience, we have little cause to grow weary of David's psalms, those that pretend to the gift of psalmony, venting such wild, raw, and indigested stuff, belching out revenge and passion, and mingling their private quarrels and interests with the public worship of God. But suppose men of known holiness and ability should be called to this task, and the matter propounded to be sung be good and holy, yet certainly then men are like to suffer loss in their reverence and affection, it being impossible that they should have such absolute assurance and high esteem of persons ordinarily gifted as of those infallibly assisted. Therefore, upon the whole matter, I should pronounce, that so much as an infallible gift doth excel a common gift, so much do scriptural psalms excel those that are of a private composure.

Thirdly, There are divers other lesser scruples which I shall handle briefly. Some will have no singing with the voice at all, because the apostle saith, `singing within your hearts., Ay! but the apostle saith there too, `speaking to yourselves., The inward part must not exclude the outward; the lively voice doth not only give vent to affections, but increaseth 444them. David speaketh often of praising God with his tongue, and `with his glory, Ps. cviii. 1, by which he meaneth his tongue; as Ps. xvi. 9, `My heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth;, it is rendered, `my tongue rejoiceth, Acts ii. 16. Besides all this, the benefit we may convey to others by loud singing; one bird sets all the flock a-chirping. Austin speaketh how much he was moved with the melody and singing of the church at Milan, Quantum flevimus in hymnis et canticis suavisonantis ecclesiae, &c.

Others will have the psalmist only to sing, and the congregation say amen, which seemeth to be the fashion in the church of Corinth, 1 Cor. xiv. 14, 15. But mark, that singing spoken of there was the fruit of an extraordinary gift, by which they were able to dictate a psalm in any tongue, which gift being for confirmation, could not be discerned if all should join. I confess this practice was, after the expiration of the age of miracles, kept up in the church, as appeareth by that passage of Tertullian cited before, and among us in our cathedrals, where often one alone chanted, the rest being silent. But yet I should judge that the most simple performance of this duty is as it is now practised, the whole congregation joining; this is most suitable to the precedents of scripture, where the duty is spoken of without any relation to that extraordinary gift; as Exod. xv. 1, `Then sang Moses and all Israel this song unto God;, so it is said, 2 Chron. v. 13, they joined together, &c.; so Christ and his apostles sang a hymn, and Paul and Silas joined, &c.

Others scruple the psalms because they are done in metre and rhyme; a vain cavil. Many learned men, as Gomarus and others, prove, that the psalms of David were penned in measure, and with musical accents. Certainly, as we read them in our translation, a common ear may discern that they are of a different style and cadency from other scriptures. So Josephus saith the Song of Moses was penned in Hebrew hexameter verse. Now there is no reason but that verse may be done into verse, or such metre with which nations are most accustomed. If the scruple continueth, such may sing the reading psalms, as hath been used in cathedrals: and as Austin reporteth of Athanasius, that he was pronuncianti quam canenti vicinior—that his singing was rather a more deliberate and extended pronunciation.

Some scruple singing as a set and usual ordinance, urging this scripture which we are now upon: `Is any merry? let him sing psalms;, in which clause the apostle showeth the chiefest season, not the only time of performance; as in the other duty, prayer, it is to be practised at other times besides in affliction, though then it be most needful. So also for singing; it is not only useful when we are merry, that we may turn the course of our affections into a religious channel, but sometimes to beget spiritual mirth, and to divert our sadness. Paul and Silas sang in prison; and the disciples sang a hymn after the supper of the Lord, though our Lord was presently to suffer, and they were troubled at it, as appeareth John xiv. 1; in that sad hour they sang.

Some scruple singing of scriptural psalms as set by others, because the matter doth not suit with their case, but belongeth to other men and other times. I answer—It is a folly to think that whatever we sing 445must expressly suit with our case; you may as well say that whatever we read should so suit. We are to meditate upon the psalm which is sung, that we may receive comfort and hope from it, as from other scriptures, Rom. xv. 4. I confess there must be always application. Some psalms have direful imprecations. We are not so to sort them to our case as to wish the like judgments on our private adversaries, but to think of the horrible judgments of God on unbelievers, &c. Other psalms contain sad narratives of the sufferings of the church or of Christ, which, though we sing them, cannot be conceived as remonstances of our particular case and state to God, but we are to use them as an occasion to awaken meditations on the afflicted state of the church, or the agonies which Christ endured for our sakes. But this scruple is of the less weight, because the psalms do most commonly contain matter of such general and comprehensive concernment, that they readily offer matter to us to present our own case to God.

Some scruple singing with company of whose gracious estate they can have no assurance, rather shrewd presumptions to the contrary. I confess `praise is comely for the upright, Ps. xxxiii. 1; but yet `it is obligatory to all mankind. Wicked men are bound; and you have no reason to discontinue your own acts of obedience because they are in some sort mindful of theirs. You may as well refuse to hear with them or pray with them; singing being a part of such kind of worship as is not peculiar to a church as a church. Yea, upon this ground the saints may refuse to `bless God, because all the creatures join in consort with them, and `all his works praise him, Ps. cxlv. 10.

Lastly, some scruple the present translation of the Book of Psalms, the metre being so low and flat, and coming so far short of David's original. I confess this is a defect that needeth public redress and reformation. But it is good to make use of present means, though weak, when we have no better; as the martyrs did of the first translations of the Bible, which in many places were faulty and defective. At least, it is far more safe to sing the psalms as now translated than to join in the raw, passionate, and revengeful eructations of our modern psalmists. Besides, for those that conscientiously and modestly scruple this, the Lord hath provided some help by the more excellent translations of Sands, Rous, Barton, and others. Thus I have showed how many ways the devil seeketh to divert men from this comfortable ordinance. I confess a psalmodical history would be of great use and profit, and might be easily collected by them that are versed in antiquity; but our leisure and present intendment will not now permit it.

Ver. 14. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Having given general directions, he descendeth now to particulars, instanceth in one special kind of afflictions, in sickness. (1.) He supposeth the case as likely to be frequent among them, `Is any sick among you?, (2.) Proposeth the duty—(1st.) Of the sick Christian, `let him call for the elders of the church, (2d.) Of the elders, which is twofold—[1.] One ordinary and immutable, `let him pray 446over him, [2.] The other temporary, and suiting with the gifts of those times, `anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.,

This scripture hath occasioned much controversy. Though in this exercise I would mainly pursue what is practical, yet when a matter lieth obvious and fair, like the angel in the way of Balaam, it cannot be avoided without some dispute and discussion: I shall therefore first open the phrases, then clear the controversy, then give you the observable notes.

Is any sick among you, ἀσθενεῖ τὶς ἐν ὑμῖν; `is any weak, and `without strength?, so the word signifieth. Sickness is often expressed by this word ἀσθενεῖς, Mat. x. 8; ἠσθενησε, he was sick unto death, Phil. ii. 26, 27; in the next verse the apostle changeth the word, the prayer of faith shall save κάμνοντα, `him that laboureth, under a disease; we translate `the sick., From this change of the word the Papists collect that extreme unction is not to be administered but to those that are mortally sick; but Cajetan, a cardinal of theirs, well replieth, that James doth not say `is any sick unto death?, but `is any sick?, It is true, there is somewhat in the change of the word; it showeth that the elders must not be sent for upon every light occasion, as soon as the head or foot acheth, as Serarius scoffeth at our exposition, but in such grievous diseases wherein there is danger and great pain; though it be an abuse of the Papists to interpret it of extreme danger, and when the body is half carcassed.

Let him call, προσκαλεσάσθω.—The motion coming from them is a call which we cannot withstand.

The elders.—The word is of a promiscuous use; sometimes it is put for our ancestors and those that lived before us: Heb. xi. 2, οἱ πρεσβύτεροι, `the elders obtained a good report;, that is, the fathers of the Old Testament: so Mat. xv. 2, `the tradition of the elders;, so it cannot be taken in this place. Sometimes it is put for elders in years and wisdom, 1 Tim. v. 1, 2, `elder men, and `elder women., Aretius saith such are here understood, any ancient and discreet Christians in the vicinage;385385`Ætate seniores in quavis vicinia aut societate fidelium.,—Aret. in locum. but that is a private opinion without ground; the apostle saith, πρεσβυτρούς τῆς ἐκκλεσίας, `the elders of the church., Thirdly, then, there are elders by office. Now the term elder is given to all the offices and administrations in the church, from the apostle to the deacon; apostles, pastors, teachers, ruling brethren, deacons, are all called elders. Principally here is understood that order of elders who are elsewhere called bishops, whether ruling or teaching elders, chiefly the latter. In sickness we call in the best helps, and it is to be supposed that the best gifts reside in them who are called to teach in the church; and to add the greater seal to their ministry, and to supply the want of physicians, many of them were endued with the gift of healing. Now mark, he saith, plurally, τοῦς πρεσβυτέρους, `the elders, because, saith Grotius, in those eastern countries seven elders were usually called to this service. Certainly in the primitive times there was great love in the several churches and societies of the faithful, and many elders would go to one sick man. Some say it is an enallage, let him call the elders of the church; that is, one of the elders, as if the speech did imply the order rather than 447number; as we say, Send him to the schools, that is, to some school; so Call for physicians, that is, go to men of that rank, &c. This sense is considerable, though I do believe the apostle speaketh plurally, be cause in every church there were many, and as they were associated in all acts of superiority and government, so in all acts of courtesy and charity; and indeed visiting of the sick is an act of such great skill; I mean to apply ourselves to them for their comfort and salvation, that it should be done with joint consent.

And let them pray over him.—Here is the first duty of the elders, over him, that is, for him say some; but ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν doth not easily bear that construction. It either implieth that ancient rite of covering the diseased body with the body of him that prayed, as Elijah did one child, 1 Kings xvii. 21, and Elisha another, 2 Kings iv. 24, Paul did Eutychus, Acts xx. 10, `he went down and fell on Eutychus, praying for life, a rite that expressed much fervency, and a desire that the dying party might, as it were, partake of his own life; or by prayer over him he meaneth laying on of hands on the sick, which was used by the apostle in cures; see Mark xvi. 17, 18. So Paul healed the father of Publius by laying hands on him. So Cyril on Leviticus, citing this place, instead of `that they may pray over him, readeth ut imponant ei manus, that they may lay their hands on him. The ceremony had this significancy: they did, as it were, point at the sick man, and present him to God's pity, as you know present things do the more stir affections, as Christ would not pray for Lazarus till he could pray over him; for when the stone was taken away, and the object was in his sight, then it is said, `Jesus prayed, John xi. 41.

Anointing him with oil.—There is but one place more in the scriptures that speaketh of using oil in the healing and cure of diseases, and that is Mark vi. 13, `They cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them., Oil among the Hebrews was a usual symbol of the divine grace, and so fitly used as a sign of that power and grace of the Spirit which was discovered in miraculous healing; it was an extraordinary sign of an extraordinary and miraculous cure. It was the error of Aretius to think that the apostle meant some medicinal oil; he rendereth it salubria medicamenta non negligant; he was not the first that was in that mistake. Wickliff before him held those oils in Palestine excellent and medicinal, and therefore used. But this I say is a mistake, for oil was not used as an instrument, but as a symbol of the cure. The apostle doth not mention what kind of oil it should be, probably oil-olive, as wine is put to signify the wine of the grape, which is the most common. Therefore, by the way, that extreme unction used by the Papists is but a ridiculous hypocrisy, and carrieth little proportion with this rite; for they require oil-olive mixed with balsam, consecrated by a bishop, who must nine times bow the knee, saying thrice, Ave, sanctum oleum, and thrice more Ave, sanctum chrisma, and thrice more, Ave, sanctum balsamum. But of this more anon.

In the name of the Lord; that is, either by his authority, calling upon him to operate by his power according to the outward rite, or in his stead, as his ministers, or to his glory, to the honour of Christ, signified here in the term Lord, that being his proper appellation as 448mediator. All these miracles and cures were wrought in his name: Mark xvi. 17, `In my name shall they cast out devils:, so Acts iii. 6, `In the name of Jesus of Nazareth arise and walk, and ver. 16, `His name, through faith in his name, hath made the man strong.,

Having opened the phrases, I come now to open the controversy, whether this anointing with oil be a standing ordinance in the church? The Papists make it a sacrament, which they call the sacrament of extreme unction; others in our days would revive it as a standing ordinance for church members, expecting some miraculous cure, therefore I must deal with both. I know that the intricacies of dispute are unpleasant to a vulgar ear, therefore I shall not traverse arguments to and fro, but cut the work short by laying down some propositions, that may prevent both the error of the Papists and the novelism of those that would revive this rite in our days. The propositions are these:—

1. In the very apostles, time, when it was most in use, it was not absolutely necessary, nor instituted by Christ. Some Protestants, I confess, say that it was instituted by Christ as a temporary rite, which is denied even by some among the Papists, as Lombard, Cajetan, Hugo, who all found it upon apostolical practice. For my part, I think it was only approved by Christ, and not instituted, and taken up as a usual practice among the Hebrews. As I remember, Grotius, in his commentary on the Evangelists, proveth that it was a usual rite among that people, it being their custom to express everything inward and spiritual by some hieroglyphic and visible symbol; and therefore God, in a condescension to them, appointed so many rites and figures suitable to the genius of that nation; and therefore, when they prayed for the sick, they would anoint them with oil, as a token of that ease and joy which they should obtain from God. This right was imitated by the apostles, and by the primitive Christians, with such preciseness and constancy, that they would never give or take any medicine without anointing with oil, so that I think, verily, it was nothing but an imitation of a Jewish rite which Christ approved, but never instituted; for when Christ sent out the apostles, and the power of healing was so solemnly conferred upon them, we hear of no such commands of anointing with oil. He bid them `heal sicknesses, Mark xvi. 18, but prescribeth not the manner. This you will grant, at least, that it never had that solemn ratification, till the Lord come, which other standing ordinances have. Yea, I find it to be a mere arbitrary rite in the apostles, practice, oil being seldom used; they healed by touch, by shadow, by handkerchief, by laying on of hands, by word of mouth, &c. So that was an arbitrary rite which the Lord approved so far as thereby to discover his power. Something may be objected against this, as why then doth James press the elders to anoint with oil? I answer—That they might not neglect the grace of God, which in those times was usually dispensed in a concomitancy with this rite; as long as the gift remained, the accustomed rite and symbol might be used. But you will say he coupleth it with a moral duty, with prayer, which is an act of perpetual worship. I answer—It is not unusual in scripture to couple an ordinary duty with an extraordinary rite—prayer and laying on of hands; baptism and laying on of hands; and so here, prayer and anointing with oil. But you will say, God honoured it with a miraculous 449effect. I answer—So he did the water of Siloam to heal the blind, John ix. 7, the pool of Bethesda to cure the diseased, John v. 2, Jordan for Naainan's leprosy, &c.; and yet these cannot be set up as sacraments and standing ordinances.

2. In the apostles, time it was386386Qu. `was not,?—ED. promiscuously used and ap plied to every member of the church, but with great prudence and caution, for the apostles only anointed those of whose recovery they were assured by the Holy Ghost, as James here seemeth to restrain it to such an object where they could pray in faith. He that gave the gift did always suggest the seasons of using it; with the power he gave discretion, that by a common use they might not expose the gift to scorn. It was a mistake in our learned Whitaker to say, that oleum symbolum erat valetudinis recuparatae, et quod apostoli nullos unguerent nisi à morbo liberatos—that anointing was a symbol of health already recovered, and that the apostles anointed none but those that were in a fair way of recovery. However, it is true that they anointed none but those of whom they were persuaded that they would recover, otherwise the apostle Paul would never have left Trophimus sick at Miletum, 2 Tim. iv. 20, or sorrowed so much for Epaphroditus, sickness, if he could so easily have helped it by anointing with oil, Phil. ii. 27. But now among the Papists it is not given but to those that are halt, dead, or at the point of death; so the Council of Florence decreed, Hoc sacramentum illi de cujus morte non timetur, dari non debet.

3. In the more common use of it afterward, all were not healed that were anointed; God gave out his grace and power as he saw good, for the effect did not depend upon anointing, but the prayer of faith, and if all that were anointed had recovered, there would have been no mortality in the primitive times. God wrought then as he worketh now, by the ordinary means, sometimes blessing them, some times leaving them ineffectual, all depending upon his free pleasure and operation.

4. When it did cease we cannot tell; when it should cease we may easily judge, if we will but understand the nature, use, and end. The rite ceased when the gift ceased, which God hath taken from the world almost these fifteen hundred years. Gifts of healing are coupled with other miraculous gifts, Mat. x. 8; Mark vi. 13; xvi. 17, 18; and ceased when they ceased. At the first mission of the apostles to gain the world, Christ invested them with these gifts. As a tree newly set needeth watering, which afterwards we discontinue, so after some space of time these dispensations ceased, for miracles would not have been miracles, but reckoned among ordinary effects, if still continued. He still provideth for his own, but not in that supernatural way; and healeth as he seeth cause. When men can restore the effect, let them restore the rite, otherwise why should we keep up a naked and idle ceremony? Thus we see when it should cease; but when miracles did cease is not easy to be defined. If the story be true in Tertullian,387387Tertul. ad Scapular. they continued some two hundred years after Christ, for he speaketh of one Proculus, a Christian, that anointed Severus and recovered him: Proculum Christianum qui Torpacion nominabatur, Evodiae procuratorem, qui eum per oleum aliquando curaverat, et in palatio suo 450habuit usque ad mortem ejus. Some suspect the story because of the strangeness of the names, Proculus and Evodia, and the silence of other authors about this thing; though Pamele saith that in the Martyrologies, on the Calends of December, there is mention made of one Proculus, a priest near Rome, in a place where Severus did use to resort. Ever since that passage there is a deep silence of it in histories.

5. Popish anointing, or extreme unction, is a mere hypocritical pageantry. It must be prepared by a bishop, heated with thus many breathings, enchanted with uttering so many words. The members anointed are their eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and, for greater entireness, the reins and feet; in women the navel. The form—By this holy oil, and his tender mercy, piissimam misericordiam, God forgive thee whatever thou hast sinned by thy sight, thy hearing, thy smell, thy touch. Nay, to make the blasphemy more ridiculous, Ægidius Conink, a schoolman, saith those words, per piissimam misericordiam, by his most tender mercy, may be left out. The administrator must be a priest, may be a bishop; the object, a person that must be believed to be at the point and danger of death; the end of it they make to be the expulsion of the relics of sin, healing the soul, and helping it against temptations, and in the congress with Satan, or combat with the powers of the air. So the form of Milan and Venice, which are somewhat different from others, Unguo te oleo sancto in nomine Patris, &c., ut more militis praeparatus, &c. To propose these things is to confute them; for the most ignorant cannot but see the great difference between a miracle and a sacrament, curing the body and the expulsion of sin. Besides, in the circumstances of it there is a great deal of difference among themselves. But let this suffice; I come to the points.

Obs. 1. From the supposition is any among you sick? The note is obvious. Christ's worshippers are not exempted from sickness, no more than any other affliction. God may chasten those whom he loveth. It is said, John xi. 3, `Behold he whom thou lovest is sick., Those that are dear to God have their share of miseries. Austin asketh, Si amatur, quomodo infirmatur? If he were beloved, how came he to be sick? In the outward accidents of life God would make no difference. It is usual in providence that they who have God's heart should feel God's hand most heavy. I have observed it, that God's children never question his love so much as in sickness; our thoughts return upon us in such retirement, and the weakness of the body discomposeth the mind, and depriveth us of the free exercise of spiritual reason; to sense and feeling all is sharp. Besides, in sickness we have not that express comfort from Christ's sufferings which we have in other troubles. It is a sweet help to the thoughts when we can see that Christ went through every miserable condition to which we are exposed. Now, Christ endured want, nakedness, trouble, reproach, injustice, &c., and not sickness. Ay! but he had passions like sickness, hunger, thirst, and weariness, wherewith his body was afflicted. Christ, by experience, knoweth what it is to be under the pains and inconveniences of the body. But if you have not the example of Christ, you have the example of all the saints. Paul had a racking pain, which he expresseth by σκόλοψ ἐν σάρκι, `a 451thorn in the flesh, 2 Cor. xii. 7-9, and could have no other answer but only `my grace is sufficient for thee., He alludeth to such a kind of punishment as slaves, or men not free, were put to for great offences: they sharpened a stake, and pointed it with iron, and put it in at his back till it came out at his mouth, and so with his face upward he died miserably. And, therefore, by that expression the apostle intendeth some bodily distemper and racking pain; suppose the stone, the gout, the strangury, inward ulcers, or some like disease. Of this mind is Cyprian388388`Corporis gravia, et multa tormenta intelligit.,—Cyprian. among the fathers; the word ἀσθένεια, which we translate infirmity, but is usually put in the New Testament for sickness, confirmeth it. Certainly he speaketh of such infirmities in which he would glory, because of concomitant grace, and such as were apt to cure pride; and therefore it cannot be meant of sin or some prevailing lust, as is usually expounded. Therefore comfort yourselves: God's dearest saints may have experience of sorest sicknesses; and if God afflict you with an aching head, you will have abundant recompense if thereby he giveth you a better heart; and if he make your bones sore, bear it, if thereby he breaketh the power of your corruptions. It is no unusual thing for saints to `chatter like cranes, as Hezekiah did, Isa. xxxviii.; and for healthy souls to be troubled with a weak body, as Gaius was, 3 John 2. Sicknesses are not tokens of God's displeasure. It was the folly of Job's friends to judge of him by his calamity. Usually men smite with the tongue where God hath smitten by his hand. Alas! the children of God have bodies of the same make with others; and in this case `all things come alike to all., Hezekiah, Job, David, Epaphroditus, they were all corrected, but not condemned. It was Popish malice to upbraid Calvin with his diseases: `You may see what he is, say they, `by his sicknesses and diseases., He was indeed a man of an indefatigable industry, but of a sickly weak body; and the same hath befallen many of the precious servants of the Lord.

Obs. 2. From that let him call for the elders. Note, that the chief care of a sick man should be for his soul. If any be sick, the apostle doth not say, let him send for the physician, but the elders. Physicians are to be called in their place, but not first, not chiefly. It was Asa's fault, 2 Chron. xvi. 12, `In his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians., Sickness is God's messenger to call us to meet with God. Do not as the most do, send for the bodily physician, and, when they are past all hope and cure, for the divine. Alas! how many do so, and ere a word of comfort can be administered to them, are sent to their own place.

Obs. 3. From that let him call. The elders must be sent for. A man that hath continued in opposition is loath to submit at the last hour, and to call the elders to his spiritual assistance. I remember, Aquinas saith, Sacramentum extremae unctionis non nisi petentibus verbo vel signo dari debet, that this last office must not be performed but to those that require it. Possidonius, in the life of Austin, saith, that Austin was wont of his own accord to visit the poor, the father less, and the widow, but the sick never till he was called. It is indeed suitable to true religion to `visit the fatherless, James i. 27; but 452the sick must call for the elders. Truly sometimes I have been afraid to prostitute the comforts of Christianity to persons sottishly neglecting their own souls. I confess sometimes, where we know our company will not be unwelcome, and in some other cases, we may go uncalled, that we may learn of our master, and be `found of them that asked not for us, Isa. lxv. 1.

Obs. 4. From that the elders. For our comfort in sickness it is good to call in the help of the guides and officers of the church. They, excelling in gifts, are best able to instruct and pray. They can with authority, and in a way of office, comfort and instruct; the prayers of prophets have a special efficacy. So God saith to Abimelech of Abraham, Gen. xx. 7, `Go to him, for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee., This was the special work of the prophets, to pray for the people, and they had more solemn promises of success: Jer. xxvii. 18, `If they be prophets, and the word of the Lord be in them, let them entreat the Lord., They that speak God's word to you are fittest to commend your case to God. Well, then, do not despise this help. Acts done by virtue of an office are under a more solemn assurance of a blessing: `Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted, &c., It is not spoken to every believer. They can authoritatively minister comfort. It is not false divinity to say, God will hear their prayers, when he will not hear the prayers of others: Job xlii. 8, `Job shall pray for you, and him will I accept, lest I deal with you after your folly., Though they were good men, yet God would hear Job; therefore in Ezekiel Job is proverbially used for a praying prophet. Use their help then; it is help in the way of an ordinance, and then you may the better expect a blessing. When Hezekiah was sick, Isaiah, the prophet, cometh to give him faithful counsel, 2 Kings xx. 1, 2.

Obs. 5. Again from that the elders. Visiting of the sick should be performed with the joint care of church officers; it is a weighty work y and needeth many shoulders; the diversity of gifts for prayer and discourse seemeth to call for it; it is the last office we can perform to those of whom the Lord hath made us overseers.

Obs. 6. From that let them pray. One necessary work in visiting is commending sick persons to God, and this prayer must be made by them, or over them, that their sight may the more work upon us, and our prayers may work upon them.

Obs. 7. From that and anoint him with oil. From this clause observe the condescension of God. The first preachers of the gospel of Christ had power to do miracles: the doctrine itself, being so rational and satisfactory, deserved belief; but God would give a visible confirmation, the better to encourage our faith; when Christ had ended his sermon upon the mount, then he wrought miracles; before, there was a great rest and silence of prodigy and wonder: John iii. 2, `We know that thou art a teacher sent from God, for no man can do such things as thou dost, unless God were with him., This was the satisfaction God would give the world concerning the person of the Messiah. Now those miracles are ceased, Christ having gotten a just title to human belief, and that we might not be left to uncertainty. The devil can do strange things, though not such as are truly miraculous; 453and, therefore, lest we should be deceived, Christ hath foretold that we can expect nothing but `the lying wonders, of Antichrist, 2 Thes. ii. 7, and that `false Christs shall show great signs, Mat. xxiv. 24.

Obs. 8. From that anoint with oil in order to cure, note, that the miracles done in Christ's name were wrought by power, but ended in mercy. In the very confirmation of the gospel God would show the benefit of it. The miracles tended to deliver men from miseries of soul and body, from blindness, and sickness, and devils, and so best suited with that gospel which giveth us promises of this life and that which is to come. These miracles were a meet pursuance of his doctrine; not only confirmations of faith, but instances of mercy and charity; not miracles of pomp, merely to evince the glory of his person, but miracles of mercy and actions of relief, to show the sweetness of his doctrine; as also to teach us that in the gospel God would chiefly manifest his power in showing mercy.

Obs. 9. From that in the name of the Lord. All the miracles that were wrought were to be wrought in Christ's name. The apostles and primitive Christians, though they had such an excellent trust, did not abuse it to serve their own name and interests, but Christ's; teaching us that we should exercise all our gifts and abilities by Christ's power to Christ's glory: Ps. li. 16, `Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise;, that was a right aim. To desire quickening for our own glory, is but like him that lighted his candle at one of the lamps of the altar to steal by, or to beg the aid and contributions of heaven for the service of hell. The name and form was made use of by the sons of Sceva, but to their own ends, and therefore to their own ruin, Acts xix. 13. To do things in his name, that is, by abilities received from him, with a pretence to his glory, when we design our own, will succeed but ill with us, as that attempt did to them. Christ will be honoured with his own gifts, and, in dispensing every ability, expecteth the return of praise.

Ver. 15. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Here he cometh to show the effect of this anointing and praying, though it is notable he ascribeth it rather to the prayer than to the oil, the moral means being much more worthy than the ritual and ceremonial; and, therefore, he doth not mention the anointing, but the prayer of faith; as also to show that this is the standing spiritual means of cure, the other being but an arbitrary rite suited to those times.

The prayer of faith; that is, made out of, or in faith. This is added to show that this remedy should only be effectual when they had a special revelation or persuasion of the success of it, there being required to the miracle faith both in the elders and person sick; faith in him that did the miracle, and faith in him upon whom it was wrought; otherwise the one was not to attempt it, or to the other, if administered, it would not prove successful We see unbelief did ponere obicem, let and hinder our Saviour's operation: Mark vi. 5, `He could do no mighty work, &c.


Shall save the sick, σώσει, save.—He speaketh of a corporal infirmity, and therefore it is meant of a corporal salvation, that is, shall restore to health: so saving is used for healing, Mat. ix. 21; Mark vi. 56, `were saved, or `made whole.,

And the Lord shall raise him up, ἐγερεῖ.—It is used for a resurrection out of death, and a restoration to health out of sickness, not only here but elsewhere: Mark i. 31, `He came and took her by the hand, καὶ ἠγειρεν αὐτὴν, `lift her up, or `raised her up., So Mat. viii. 15, ἠγέρθη καὶ διηκόνει, `She was raised, and ministered to them., The reason of the word is, because sick persons lie upon their beds, and when they are recovered we say, he is up again, upon his legs again. `The Lord shall raise him up;, this is added to show by whose power it is done: faith's worth and efficacy lieth in its object, so that it is not faith properly, but God called upon in faith, that saveth the sick.

And if he have committed sins.—Why doth the apostle speak hypothetically? Who is there that can say `my heart is clean,? Prov. xx. 9. I suppose the apostle would imply those special sins by which the disease was contracted and sent of God. Now herein he might speak by way of supposition, sicknesses being not always the fruit of sins, but sometimes laid on, as a means to discover God's glory, John ix. 2.

They shall be forgiven him.—But how can another man's prayer of faith obtain the remission of my sins? I answer—Very well in God's way, and as they procure means of conversion and repentance for me; not as if because they pray and believe, though I do what I will, I shall be forgiven; but they pray, and therefore God will give me a humble heart, and, in the way of the gospel, the comfort of a pardon; for certainly we are to ask spiritual matters for others, as well as temporal; and, if we ask, there must be some hope at least that God will grant. Out of this verse observe:—

Obs. 1. That means, whether moral or ritual, are no further effectual than they are accompanied with faith; anointing will not do it, prayer will not do it; but `the prayer of faith shall save the sick., In the primitive times, when miracles were in their full force and vigour, the effect is always ascribed to faith: Mat. ix. 22; `Thy faith hath made thee whole., Christ doth not say, thy touching my garment, but thy faith. You shall see it is said, Mark vi. 56, `As many as touched his garment were made whole;, and, therefore, the woman thought that the emanation was natural, and not of free dispensation. To instruct her, Christ showeth it was not the rite, but her faith; so Acts iii. 16, `His name, by faith in his name, hath made this man strong., Mark, that place showeth, that as means cannot work without faith, so neither will the principal cause,—`his name, through faith in his name., The disciples, though invested with high gifts, could not cure the lunatic for want of faith: Mat. xvii. 17, `I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him; and Jesus said, O faithless generation!, Well, then, learn that in all duties and means we should mind the exercise of faith, and we should strive to make the persuasion as express and particular as the promises will give leave: acts of trust are engaging, and the way to get God's power exercised is to glorify it in our own dependence.

Obs. 2. That all our prayers must be made in faith; our apostle beateth much upon that argument: James i. 6, `Let him ask in faith, 455&c. Faith is the fountain of prayer, and prayer should be nothing else but faith exercised; none can come to Christ rightly but such as are persuaded to be the better for him; all worship is founded in good thoughts of God. We have no reason to doubt; we always find a better welcome with him than we can expect; therefore, in all your addresses to God, pray in faith; that is, either magnifying his power by counter balancing the difficulty, or magnifying his love, by referring the success to his pleasure.

Obs. 3. Prayers made in faith are usually heard and answered; Christ is so delighted with it that he can deny it nothing: Mat. xv. 28, `O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee as thou wilt., Christ speaketh there as if a believer did obtain as much as he can wish for.

Obs. 4. The efficacy of faith in the use of means is not from its own merits, but from God's power and grace. The apostle saith, `Faith saveth;, but addeth, `The Lord shall raise him up., Faith is but the instrument; it is a grace that hath no merit in itself; it is the empty hand of the soul, and deputed to such high services because it looketh for all from God. The Papists look upon it as an act in us; and because reason will suggest that it is not of worth enough and sufficient for such high effects, they piece it up with works, which, they say, give it a value and a merit.

Obs. 5. That sins are often the cause of sicknesses; we may thank ourselves for our diseases. The rabbins say, that when Adam tasted the forbidden fruit, his head ached. Certainly there was the rise and root of man's misery: 1 Cor. xi. 30, `For this cause many are sick and weak, &c. The body is often the instrument of sins, and therefore the object of diseases; the plague and sore of the heart causeth that of the body. It is very notable that Christ in all his cures pointeth at the root of the disease: Mat. ix. 2, `Be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee., It would have been an ineffectual cure without a pardon; while sin remaineth, you carry the matter of the disease about you. So John v. 14, `Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee., Obedience is the best physic; while sin remaineth, the distemper may be stopped, but not cured; it will break out in a worse sore and scab. The prophet Isaiah saith of Christ, Isa. liii. 4, `He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;, the meaning is, the punishment of our sins: so St Peter applieth it, 1 Peter ii. 24: `He bare our sins in his own body on the tree, which is the express reading of the Septuagint; but now Matthew applieth it to Christ's cure of sicknesses, Mat. viii. 17, `That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, He took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses., How shall we reconcile those places? I answer thus—In taking away sickness, which is the effect, Christ would represent taking away sin, which is the cause; Christ's act in taking away sickness was a type of taking away sin. Now Matthew applieth that^ to the sign, which did more properly agree to the truth itself or thing signified; for you may observe, for the clearing of this and other scriptures, that as the patriarchs, in their actions and in what they did, were types of Christ; so Christ's own actions were in a manner types of what he himself would do more principally. As casting out of devils signified the spiritual dispossessing of Satan, and therefore 456there happened so many possessions in Christ's time; so the curing of blindness, the giving of spiritual sight, and taking away of sicknesses, the pardoning of sins. Well, then, if sin be the cause of sickness, if we would preserve or recover health, let us avoid sin: Exod. xv. 26, `If thou wilt hearken unto me, I will bring none of these diseases upon thee, &c.; otherwise you may, as that woman, spend your whole estate upon the physicians, and yet the cause continue. You shall see, Deut. xxviii. 21, 22, sin is threatened with the consumption, fever, and inflammation; usually the disease answereth the sin, the distempered heats of lust are punished by an inflammation: Asa put the prophet in the stocks, and he himself was diseased in his feet, 2 Chron. xvi. 9, with ver. 12. There were times when God did more visibly plague disobedience, as in the times of the law; when dispensations were more corporal, diseases were a part of God's coercive discipline. However now and then God useth the like dispensations; sinners are met with according to the kind of their offence, though many I confess are left to be taken out by their own rust, and, like chimneys, are let alone so long foul till at length they be fired. But how many adulterers have we seen going up and down like walking spittles? How many beastly epicures, whose skins have been set afire by their own riot and surguedry, &c.?

Obss. 6. That is the best cure which is founded in a pardon. The apostle saith, `shall save the sick, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him., O my brethren! it were ill if any of us should be cured without a pardon, if the stripe and wound should remain upon the conscience when the body is made sound and whole; therefore first sue out your pardon; that is proper physic which worketh upon the cause. David saith, Ps. ciii. 4, `Bless the Lord, who forgiveth all thine iniquities; and healeth all thy diseases., There is the right method; a sick man's work first lieth with God, and then with the physician. Asa went first to the physician, and therefore it sped but ill with him. When God taketh away the disease, and doth not take away the guilt, it is not a deliverance, but a reprieval from present execution.

Ver. 16. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

For the connection, many copies have οὖν `confess your faults therefore, as inferring this direction from what was said before. However it be, there is a connection between the verses, for therefore would he have the special fault acknowledged, that they might the more effectually pray one for another. From whence note:—

Obs. That there is a connection between pardon and confession. The apostle saith `his sins shall be forgiven him;, and then `confess therefore your faults., See the like in other places: Prov. xxviii. 13, `He that confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall find mercy;, so 1 John i. 9, `If we confess, &c. This is the ready way to pardon, it is the best way to clear the process of heaven; that which is condemned in one court, is pardoned in others. God hath made a law against sin, and the law must have satisfaction; sin must be judged in the court of heaven or in the court of conscience, by God or us. In confession 457the divine judgment is anticipated, 1 Cor. xi. 31, 32; it is the best way to honour mercy. When sins abound in our feeling, mercy is the more glorious. God will have pardon fetched out in such a way in which there is no merit; by confession justice may be glorified, but not satisfied. We cannot make God satisfaction, and therefore he requireth acknowledgment: `He keepeth not his anger for ever; only acknowledge thine iniquity, Jer. iii. 13. It is the most rational way to settle our comfort; griefs expressed are best eased and mitigated; all passions are allayed by vent and utterance. David roared when he kept silence, but `I said, I will confess, and thou forgavest, Ps. xxxii. 5. Besides, it is the best way to bring the soul into a dislike of sin. Confession is an act of mortification, it is as it were the vomit of the soul; it breedeth a dislike of the sweetest morsels when they are cast up in loathsome ejections; sin is sweet in commission, but bitter in the remembrance. God's children find that their hatred is never more keen and exasperated against sin than in confessing. Well, then, come and open your case to God without guile of spirit, and then you may sue out your pardon. David maketh it an argument of his confidence: `Blot out my offences, for I acknowledge my transgression, Ps. li. 3. Confession doth not offer a bill of indictment to God's justice, but a sad complaint to God's pity and compassion. Oh! set upon this duty; it is irksome to the flesh, but salutary and healthy to the spirit. Guilt is shy of God's presence; the Lord is dreadful to wounded consciences. Ay! but consider this is the only way to sue out your pardon. Gracious souls would not have pardon but in God's way: Domine, da prius poenitentiam, et postea indulgentiam—Lord, give me repentance, and then give me pardon, saith Fulgentius. But you will say, We confess and find no comfort. I answer—It is because you are not so ingenuous with God as you should be; you do not come with a necessary clearness and openness of mind. David saith none have the comfort of a pardon but those `in whose spirit there is no guile, Ps. xxxii. 2. Usually there is some sin at the bottom, which the soul is loath to cast up, and then God layeth on trouble; as David lay roaring as long as he kept Satan's counsel. Moses had a privy sore which he would not disclose. He pleadeth other things, insufficiency, want of elocution; but carnal fear was the main: therefore God gently toucheth this privy sore: Exod. iv. 19, `Arise, Moses, for the men that sought thy life in Egypt be dead., He had never pleaded this, but God knew what was the inward let. So it is with Christians, some distemper is cockered in the soul; this guile is shaken off with difficulty, but always kept with damage. So you shall see in the history of Job; Job had complained that he did not know the reason of his hard usage; one of his friends answereth him, Job. xxiii. 9, to the end, that God speaketh `several times, and men note it not;, therefore God layeth on trouble upon trouble, and temptation upon temptation, and all for want of ingenuous and open dealing with him, till at length we confess; and then that rare messenger, `one of a thousand, cometh to seal up our comforts to us: for God will not open his heart to us till we open our hearts to him: `But if any say, I have sinned, and it profited me not, then his life shall see light., Usually thus it is, there is some sin at the bottom, and therefore 458God continueth trouble; therefore it is best to take David's course, Ps. cxix. 26, `I declared my ways, and thou heardest me., He opened his whole estate to God, and then God gave him the light and comfort of grace.

Confess your faults one to another, ἐξομολογεῖσθε ἀλλήλοις.—This clause hath been diversely applied. The Papists make it the ground of auricular confession, but absurdly; for then the priest must as well confess to the penitent person, as the penitent person to the priest. For James speaketh of such a confession as is reciprocal, as the words imply; therefore some of the more ingenuous Papists have disclaimed this text.389389`Non hic est sermo de confessione sacramentali; sacramentalis enim confessio non fit invicem; sed sacerdotibus tantum.,—Cajetan, sic et alii citati a Lorino et Paezio in locum. Others apply it to injuries; as the sick person must reconcile himself to God that he may recover, so to his neighbour whom he hath wronged or offended. But παραπτώματα, faults, are of a larger signification than to be restrained to injuries. Some understand it of those sins in which we have offended by joint consent, as if a woman hath humbled herself to the lusts of another, she must confess her sin to him, and consequently and reciprocally he must acknowledge his sin to her, that they may by mutual consent quicken themselves to repentance. But this interpretation and application of the words is too restrained and narrow. I suppose the apostle speaketh of such sins as `did most wound the conscience in sickness as the special cause of it; and therefore joineth this advice of confession with healing and prayer, this being a means most conducible to quicken others to actions of spiritual relief, as the application of apt counsels, and the putting up of fit prayers. Things spoken at random have not usually such an efficacy and comfort in them. The note is:—

Obs. That there is a season of confessing our sins, not only to God, but to man. I will not digress into controversy; I shall briefly show—(1.) The evils and inconveniences of that confession which the Papists require; (2.) The seasons wherein we must confess to man.

First, For auricular confession, or that confession which the Papists require, I shall describe it to you. The Papists call it the sacrament of penance, by which a man is bound, at least once a year, to confess to a priest all the sins he hath committed since he was last shriven, with all the circumstances of it, quis, quid, ubi, quibus, auxiliis, &., and from this law none are exempted, neither prince nor king, no, not the Pope himself; in it they place a great deal of merit and opinion. The truth is, this is the great artifice and engine by which they keep the people in devotion to their interests, knowledge of secrets rendering them the more feared.390390`Scire volunt secreta domus, atque inde timeri.,—Juvenal. Now that which we disprove in it is—(1.) The absolute necessity of it; confession to men being a thing only necessary in some cases; in others confession to God may be enough. Necessity, indeed, is laid upon that, 1 John i. 9. (2.) The requiring of such a precise and accurate enumeration of their sins, with all their circumstances, under the pain of an anathema, which, being impossible, maketh it one of those φόρτια δυσβάστακτα, those insupportable burdens which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear. In short, this scrupulous enumeration is 459nothing else but a rack to the conscience, invented and exercised without any reason, no man's memory being so happy as to answer the requiry, Ps. xix. 12. (3.) Their making of it a part of a sacrament of divine institution. The jure-divinity of it they plead from this place, but wretchedly. One of the most modest of their own writers, Gregory de Valentia, reckoneth up many Papists that say the ground of it only was universal tradition, although indeed it was instituted twelve hundred years after Christ, among other superstitions, by Innocent the Third. (4.) The manner as it is used, and the consequences of it, make it justly odious. It is tyrannical, dangerous to the security and peace of princes, betraying their counsels, infamous and hazardous to all men. I know they talk of the seal of confession; but let a man in Rome or Spain confess but an ill thought of the court of Rome, or any just scruple of the vanities there professed, and by bitter experience he will find how soon this seal is broken open, and the secrets of confession divulged.391391`Haeresis est crimen quod nec confessio celat., Besides, it is profane, as appeareth by the filthy and immodest questions enjoined to be put by the confessarius, mentioned in Bucharadus, Sanchez, and others.

Secondly, We are not against all confession, as the Papists slander as. Besides that to God, we hold many sorts of confessions necessary before men; as:—

1. Some public. And so by the church in ordinary or extraordinary humiliation: Lev. xvi. 21, `The congregation was to confess their sins over the head of the sacrifice., So Neh. ix. 3, `One part of the day they read the law, the other part they confessed., Thus, by the church. So also to the church, and that either (1.) Be fore entrance and admission, in which they did solemnly disclaim the impurities of their former life, professing to walk suitably to their new engagement for time to come: Mat. iii. 6, `They were baptized of him, confessing their sins., So also the apostles, in receiving members into the church, required the profession of faith and repentance, though there was not that scrupulous and narrow prying into their hearts and consciences which some practise; as John did not take a particular confession from every one of that multitude, it was impossible. So Acts xix. 18, `And many that believed confessed, and showed their deeds;, that is, solemnly disavowed their former life and practice. Or (2.) upon public scandals after admission, for of secret things the church judgeth not; but those scandalous acts, being faults against the church, cannot be remitted by the minister alone; the offence being public, so was the confession and acknowledgment to be public, as the apostle saith of the incestuous Corinthian, that `his punishment was inflicted by many, 2 Cor. ii. 6. And he biddeth Timothy `Rebuke open sinners in the face of all, 1 Tim. v. 20, which Aquinas referreth to ecclesiastical discipline. Now this was to be done, partly for the sinner's sake, that he might be brought to the more shame and conviction; and partly because of them without, that the community of the faithful might not be represented as an ulcerous, filthy body, and the church not be thought a receptacle of sin, but a school of holiness. And, therefore, as Paul shaked off the viper, so these were to be cast out, and not received again, but upon solemn acknowledgment. So 460Paul urgeth, 1 Cor. v. 6, `A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump;, and Heb. xii. 15, `Lest many be defiled, &c. In which places he doth not mean so much the contagion of their ill example, as the taint of reproach, and the guilt of the outward scandal, by which the house and body of Christ was made infamous.

2. Private confession to men. And so—(1.) To a wronged neighbour, which is called a turning to him again after offence given, Luke xvii. 4, and prescribed by our Saviour, Mat. v. 24, `Leave thy gift before the altar, and be first reconciled to thy brother., God will accept no service or worship at our hands till we have confessed the wrong done to others. So here, confess your faults one to another, it may be referred to injuries. In contentions there are offences on both sides, and every one will stiffly defend his own cause, &c. (2.) To those to whom we have consented in sinning, as in adultery, theft, &c. We must confess and pray for each other. Dives in hell would not have his brethren come `to that place of torment, Luke xvi. 28. It is but a necessary charity to invite them that have shared with us in sin to a fellowship in repentance. (3.) To a godly minister or wise Christian under deep wounds of conscience. It is but folly to hide our sores till they be incurable. When we have disburdened ourselves into the bosom of a godly friend, conscience findeth a great deal of ease. Certainly they are then more capable to give us advice, and can the better apply the help of their counsel and prayers to our particular case, and are thereby moved to the more pity and commiseration; as beggars, to move the more, will not only represent their general want, but uncover their sores. Verily it is a fault in Christians not to disclose themselves and be more open with their spiritual friends, when they are not able to extricate themselves out of their doubts and troubles. You may do it to any godly Christians, but especially to ministers, who are solemnly intrusted with the power of the keys, and may help you to apply the comforts of the word when you cannot yourselves. (4.) When in some special cases God's glory is concerned; as when some eminent judgment seizeth upon us be cause of a foregoing provocation, which provocation is sufficiently evidenced to us in gripes of conscience, it is good to make it known for God's glory. Thus David, when stung in conscience, and smitten with a sudden conviction, said, 2 Sam. xii. 13, `I confess I have sinned., So when Achan was marked by lot, Joshua adviseth him. Josh. vii. 19, `My son, confess, and give glory to God., So when divine revenge pursueth us till we are brought to some fearful end and punishment, it is good to be open in acknowledging our sin, that God's justice may be the more visibly cleared; for hereby God receiveth a great deal of glory, and men a wonderful confirmation and experience of the care and justice of providence.

And pray for one another.—From thence note, that it is the duty of Christians to relieve one another by their prayers. You shall see John, in the close of his epistle, giveth the same charge: 1 John v. 16, `If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for him that sinneth not unto death;, that is, God shall pardon him, and by that means free him from everlasting death. Because particulars affect us more than general 461considerations, let me tell you—(1.) You must pray for the whole community of saints, every member of Christ's body; not only our familiars, but those with whom we are not acquainted. So Eph. vi. 18, `Make supplication for all saints., This is indeed the church's treasury, the common stock of supplications. Paul prayeth for them that had never seen his face: Col. ii. 1, 2., God knoweth what conflict I have for you, and for many that have not seen my face in the flesh., A Christian is a rich merchant, who hath his factors in divers countries, some in all places of the world, that deal for him at the throne of grace; and by this means the members of Christ's body have a communion one with another, though at a distance. (2.) It is our duty to pray for those especially to whom we are more nearly related; as Paul, Rom. ix. 3, for his own countrymen. So for our kindred, that they may be converted, and be to us, as Onesimus to Philemon, dear `in the flesh, and in the Lord, Philem. 16. So for the same particular society and assembly of the faithful in which we are engaged. So the minister for his people, and the people one for another: Eph. iii. 12, `For this cause I bow my knees, &c. Certainly we do not improve this interest so much as we should do. (3.) More especially yet for magistrates and officers of the church. For magistrates: 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, `For all in authority, &c. This is the best tribute you can pay them. So for ministers, the weightiness of their employment calleth for this help from you. In praying for them you pray for yourselves. If the cow hath a full dug, it is the benefit of the owner. With what passionateness doth the apostle Paul call for the prayers of the people! Rom. xv. 30, `For the Lord Christ's sake, for the love of the Spirit, strive together with me in your prayers., Oh! do not let us stand alone, and strive alone, Voe soli. Single prayers are like the single hairs of Samson; but the prayers of the congregation like the whole bush. Therefore you should, in Tertullian's phrase, quasi manu factâ, with a holy conspiracy besiege heaven, and force out a blessing for your pastors. (4.) The weak must pray for the strong, and the strong for the weak. There is none but should improve his interest. When there is much work to do, you give your children their parts; as those busy idolaters, Jer. vii. 18, `The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough, &c.; all bore a part in the service. So in the family of Christ. None can be exempted: `The head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of you, &c., 1 Cor. xii. 21, 22. God delighteth to oblige us to each other in the body of Christ, and therefore will not bless you without the mutual mediation and intercession of one an other's prayers; for this is the true intercession of saints. And so, in a sense, the living saints may be called mediators of intercession. But chiefly the strong, and those that stand, are to pray for them that are fallen; for that is the intent of this place. Oh! then, that we would regard this neglected duty. Not to pray for others is uncharitableness; not to expect it from others is pride. Do not stand alone; two, yea, many, are better than one. Joint striving mutually for the good of each other maketh the work prosper. Especially, brethren, pray for us, for us in the ministry. Our labours are great, our corruptions are strong, our temptations and snares are many, possibly the more for your sakes; 462that our hearts may be entendered to you, and the fitter to apply reproof, comfort, and counsel to your souls. Oh! pray that we may have wisdom and faithfulness, and speak the word of the Lord boldly. So also pray for one another. Some are in better temper to pray for others than they for themselves; or it may be your prayers may be more acceptable. Job's friends were good men, yet (as we noted be fore) the Lord saith, `I will not hear you; my servant Job shall pray for you, Job xlii. 8.

That ye may be healed.—The word is of a general use, and implieth freedom from the diseases either of soul or body, and the context suiteth with both; for he speaketh promiscuously of sins and sickness. If you understand it of corporal healing, with respect to sickness, you may observe:—

Obs. 1. That God will have a particular confession of the very sin for which he laid on sickness, before healing. But I chiefly understand this healing spiritually: confess, and the Lord will purge you from your sins, and heal the wounds of your consciences. So healing is taken elsewhere in scripture, as Ps. xli. 4, `Lord, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee;, and 1 Peter ii. 24, `By whose stripes ye are healed., I observe hence:—

Obs. 2. That sin is the soul's sickness. There are many fair resemblances. (1.) Distemper: the soul is disordered by sin, as the body is distempered by sickness. (2.) Deformity: therefore of all diseases under the law sin was figured by leprosy, which most spotteth and deformeth the body. (3.) Pain: sickness causeth pain, so doth sin a sting in the conscience, horrors in the hour of death, 1 Cor. xv. 57. (4.) Weakness: the more sin, the more inability and feebleness for any gracious operation. The apostle saith, Rom. v. 6, `We were without strength;, weak, sickly souls that could do no work: thus we were in the state of nature: yea, after grace, there is a feebleness; we never have perfect health till we come to heaven. Thus you see there is a general resemblance between sin and sickness. So in particular between the kinds of sin, and the kinds of sickness. Original sin is like the leprosy of Naaman, which God threatened should `cleave to Gehazi, and to his seed for ever, 2 Kings v. 27, so that every child born of that line was born a leper, as every one born of Adam is born a sinner. So there is the tympany of pride, the burning fever of lust, the dropsy of covetousness, the consumption of envy, &c. These allusions are obvious. So Solomon calleth tenacity a disease. When a man hath abundance, and hath no power to use it, this is, saith he, vanity, and an evil disease, Eccles. vi. 2. As if a man were hungry, and had abundance of meat, yet out of dyscrasy of stomach could not taste it. Well, then, avoid sin as you would avoid sickness; and when you have admitted it, complain of it as the plague and sore of your souls, 1 Kings viii. 38. Many cry because of the plague of their bodies; but when they regard the plague of their hearts, saith the Lord, then will I hear from heaven. The diseases of the soul are worst. Bodily diseases tend only to the death of the body, but these to the eternal death of body and soul. Other diseases are but consequents of sin; it is sin that is the strength of diseases, the sting of death, and the cause of eternal horror and torment. Oh! run to 463Christ then, he is the great physician of souls; his skill to cure you cost him dear: `By his stripes we are healed.,

For the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.—This is added by way of encouragement. In this sentence there are three things:—(1.) The qualification of the prayer, fervent, effectual. (2.) The qualification of the person, of a righteous person. (3.) The effect of the whole, availeth much.

First, for the qualification of the duty, δέησις ἐνεργουμένη. The word in the original is so sublime and emphatical, that translations cannot reach the height of it. It hath been diversely rendered. The vulgar, assidua precatio, daily prayer; but without any reason. Beza, oratio efficax, effectual prayer; but it is not ἐνεργὴς, but ἐνεργουμένη; and, besides, this rendering would impose a tautology upon the sentence,—effectual prayer is effectual. Others render it, wrought in us by the Holy Spirit; as they that were possessed with an evil spirit were called ἐνεργούμενοι. Our translators, because they know not what fit expression to use, translate it by two words, fervent, effectual. The phrase properly signifieth a prayer wrought and excited; and so implieth both the efficacy and influence of the Holy Ghost, and the force and vehemency of an earnest spirit and affection. The word will yield us two notes:—

Obs. 1. That a true prayer must be an earnest, fervent prayer. The ancient token of acceptance was firing the sacrifice. Success may be much known by the heat and warmth of our spirits. Prayer was figured by wrestling; compare Gen. xxxii. 26 with Hosea xii. 4; certainly that is the way of prevailing. So it is resembled to his immodesty that would take no denial, Luke xi. 8; what we translate `importunity, is in the original ἀναιδείαν, `impudence., It is said, Acts xxvi. 7, that the tribes served God instantly, ἐν ἐκτενεία; the word signifieth to the utmost of their strength. Under the law, the sweet perfumes in the censers were burnt before they ascended.392392To this Solomon alludeth when he saith, `Who is this that goeth in pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense?, Cant. iv. 6. The expression manifestly relateth to the smoke that went up out of the censers. Oh! look to your affections; get them fired by the Holy Ghost, that they may flame up towards God in devout and religious ascents. It is the usual token for good that you shall prevail with God as princes. Luther said, Utinam eodem ardore orare possem—would to God I could always pray with a like ardour, for then I had always this answer, fiat quod velis—be it unto thee as thou wilt. Oh! be earnest and fervent, then, though you cannot be eloquent. There is language in groans, and sighs are articulate. The child is earnest for the dug when it cannot speak for it. Only beware that your earnestness doth not arise from fleshly lusts and concernments. The sacrifices and perfumes were not to be burned with strange fire. When your censers are fired, let not the coal be taken from the kitchen, but the altar. God hath undertaken to satisfy spiritual desires, but not fleshly lusts.

Obs. 2. From the word you may observe, that in prayer we must use much diligence to work our hearts to the duty; so the word signifieth a prayer wrought and driven with much force and vehemency. 464It is said of the apostles, Acts i. 14, `They continued in prayer and supplication;, in the original, ἤσαν προσκαρτεροῦντες. The phrase signifieth such a perseverance as is kept up with much labour and force. It is no easy thing to pray, and to work a lazy dead heart into a necessary height of affections. The weights are always running downward, but they are wound up by force: Ps. xxv. 1, `I lift my heart to thee., When our affections are gotten up, it is hard to keep them up; like Moses, hands, they soon flag and wax faint. A bird cannot stay in the air without a continual flight and motion of the wings; neither can we persist in prayer without constant work and labour: our faith is so weak, that we are hardly brought into God's presence; and our love is so small, that we are hardly kept there: affections flag, and then our thoughts are scattered; weariness maketh way for wandering; first our hearts are gone, and then our minds, so that we have need of much labour and diligence; all acts of duty are drawn from us by an holy force.

Secondly, The qualification of the person, of a righteous person; that is, not absolutely, as appeareth by Elias, the instance brought, who is said to be a man subject to like passions with us; therefore, it is meant of a man righteous in Christ, justified by faith. Note hence:—

Obs. That in prayer we should not only look after the qualification of the duty, but of the person. God first accepteth the person, and then the duty. So the apostle proveth the acceptance of Abel's person by God's testimony to his gifts, Heb. xi. 4; and the place to which he alludeth, Gen. iv. 4, plainly showeth that God's first respect was to Abel, and then to his offering. I have read of a jewel that being put into a dead man's mouth loseth all its virtue: prayer is such a jewel in a dead man's mouth; it is of no force and efficacy: Prov. xxi. 27, `The prayer of a wicked man is an abomination, much more when he offereth it with an evil mind., At the best, it is naught, if made with a devout aim; but where there is a conjunction of an evil person and an evil aim, the Lord abhorreth it. Balaam came with seven rams and seven altars, and all would not do. They urge it as a proverb and known principle, John ix. 31, `The Lord will not hear sinners., Well, then, when you come to pray, look to the interest of your persons:—(1.) Otherwise you will be in danger of a legal spirit, to hope to gratify God by your prayers and good meanings. There is not a surer sign of resting in duties than when you look altogether to the quality of the duty, and not to the quality of the person; as if the person were to be accepted for the work's sake, and not the work for the person. This plainly revolveth you to the tenor of the old covenant, and maketh works the ground of your acceptance with God. (2.) You will be in danger of refusal; God will have nothing to do with the wicked: Job viii. 20, he will not take sinners by the hand; so the original and margin; and God will ask what you have to do with him, `What hast thou to do, &c. Ps. 1. Look to your interest in Christ; all hangeth upon that.

Thirdly, The effect of the duty, availeth much. He doth not tell you how much; you will find that upon trial and experience. Observe:—


Obs. That prayers rightly managed cannot want effect. This is the means which God hath consecrated for receiving the highest blessings. Prayer is the key by which those mighty ones of God could lock heaven, and open it at their pleasure. Among the graces, faith excelleth, and prayer among the duties; these are most excellent, be cause most useful to our present state. It is wonderful to consider what the scripture ascribeth to faith and prayer; prayer sueth out blessings in the court of grace, and faith receiveth them. It were easy to expatiate in this argument; but because this is the usual subject of most practical discourses, I forbear. God himself speaketh as if his hands were tied up by prayer: Exod. xxxii. 10, `Let me alone, &c.393393Austin upon that place glosseth thus: `Domine, quis tenet te?, Let me alone, Lord, who holdeth thee? Who can lay fetters and restraints upon Omnipotency? &c. Nay, he indenteth with Moses, and offereth him composition if he would hold his peace, `I will make of thee a great people, &c. So that other expression, if we read it right, `Concerning my sons and daughters, command ye me, &c. These are expressions which are to be admired with a holy reverence; not strained, lest our thoughts degenerate into rude blasphemy. Certainly they are mighty condescensions, wherein the Lord would signify to Us the fruit and efficacy of prayer, as he is pleased to accept it in Christ. Well, then, pray with this encouragement, God hath said in an open place, that is, solemnly avowed before all the world, that none shall seek his face in vain, Isa. xlv. 19.

Ver. 17. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and lie prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

He proveth the general proposition by a particular instance, the .example of Elias. Before we come to examine the words, I shall discuss a doubt. How could he infer a general rule out of one single instance, especially from a man whose life was full of prodigy and wonder? I answer—(1.) In a case necessary, one instance is enough, proofs in such a case being ἐκ περισσοῦ, over and above measure, and for illustration rather than confirmation. (2.) Though the instance be particular, yet the precept of praying, and the promise of being heard in prayer, are both universal. (3.) His drift is to show that, if he obtained so much, our prayers shall not altogether be in vain; there may be less of miracle in our answer, but there will be as much of grace. (4.) For the special dignity of the person, the apostle himself anticipateth that objection; ὁμοιοπαθὴς, of like passions with us, is here put by way of prevention. They might plead Elias was a singular instance; who can expect his experiences? The apostle anticipateth this doubt, by acquainting them that he was subject to like infirmities wherewith other men are surprised. I come now to the words.

Elias.—An eminent prophet, and of whom singular things are related in scripture. He raised the widow's son, 1 Kings xvii. 22; obtained fire from heaven against the priests of Baal, 1 Kings xviii. 38; he was fed by ravens, 1 Kings xvii.; went forty days and forty nights in the strength of one meal, 1 Kings xix. 8; brought fire from heaven on the captains of two fifties and their companions, 2 Kings i. 10; passed over Jordan dry-foot, 2 Kings ii. 8; he was snatched into heaven in a fiery chariot, 2 Kings ii. 11; he visibly appeared in the transfiguration of Christ, Mat. xvii. 3. The Papists feign that he shall come corporally into the world before the day of judgment. And here our apostle instanceth in another miracle—heaven itself seemed to be subject to his prayers, and to be shut and opened at his pleasure.

Was a man subject to like passions as we are.—Some apply this to outward sufferings and afflictions; some to weaknesses of body and the inconveniences of the present life; some to inward passions and perturbations of the mind; some to moral infirmities and sins: all may be intended. The same word is used Acts xiv. 15, when they would have sacrificed to Paul and Barnabas: `We are, say they, `ὁμοιοπαθεῖς, of like passions with yourselves., It is put there for whatever differenceth man from the divine nature; as Peter in the like case saith, Acts x. 26, `I am also a man, &c. Thus the scripture showeth that Elias was hungry, 1 Kings xvii. 11; that he feared death, and therefore fled from Jezebel, 1 Kings xix. 3; and requested to die in a pet and discontent, 1 Kings xix. 4. All kinds of infirmities incident to man are ascribed to him.

And he prayed earnestly, προσευχῇ προσηύξατο, he prayed in prayer, a known Hebraism. Verbalia addita verbis is a kind of construction among the Hebrews which implieth vehemency, and that earnest contention of spirit which should be in prayer. It is an explication of δέησις ἐνεργουμένη, used by the apostle in the former verse. So Christ saith, Luke xxii., `With desire have I desired;, that is, vehemently and earnestly; it is a like Hebraism. But because among the Hebrews I have observed that there is always a conveniency between the forms of expression and the things expressed, therefore Aquinas's note is not altogether amiss, Cordis et oris orationem notat, it may note the agreement between tongue and heart; the heart prayed and tongue prayed. This clause noteth the cause why Elias was heard; he prayed with earnestness and faith, according to the will of God revealed to him.

That it might not rain.—There is no such thing in the history, which you have at large, 1 Kings the 17th and 18th chapters, where there is not a word of his praying that it might not rain; the scripture showeth that he only foretold a drought. But it is more than probable that the worship of Baal, being everywhere received, did extort from this good man, so full of zeal for God, a prayer for drought as a punishment, by which the people being corrected, he prayed again for rain. Certainly, the apostle having recorded the story, we cannot doubt of the truth of it. It is usual in scripture in one place to give us the substance of a history, in another the circumstances of it; as that of Jannes and Jambres, 2 Tim. iii. 8. So Ps. cv. 18, we read that `Joseph's feet were hurt in fetters, and that he was laid in iron; there is no such thing recorded in Genesis. So Heb. xii. 21, `So terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake, which is nowhere recorded in the Pentateuch.

And it rained not by the space of three years and six months.—The same term of time is specified, Luke iv. 25, `Many widows were 467in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heavens were shut three years and six months, &c. But you will say, How is this true? how three years and a half, when it is expressly said, 1 Kings xviii. 1, `And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go show thyself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth?, To answer this scruple, Grotius saith, that the word of the Lord came to him about the end of the third year, to be executed half a year after; but this is not so probable: others say otherwise. The `best answer I conceive is that proposed by Abulensis, and since embraced and improved by Junius and other divines of great note. They answer, that the third year spoken of in that place is to be reckoned from his dwelling at Sarepta; so that the time of his abode about the brook Cherith is not computed, where he was one whole year fed by ravens; for it is said, 1 Kings xvii. 10, `And after a while he departed to Sarepta;, in the margin, `at the end of days;, that is, at the end of the number of days which make a year. So Junius rendereth anno exacto. The same phrase is used, Gen. iv. 3, `In process of time, &c., in the margin, mikketh jomim, `at the end of days, or, `at the year's end., Well, then, after this year is elapsed, from thence for ward we must begin the computation, which may be well inferred from 1 Kings xvii. 14, where Elijah being at Sarepta, it is said, `The Lord came to him, and said, The barrel of meal shall not waste, nor the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain., Now about the middle of the third year from that time the Lord appeared to him again.

The notes are these:—

Obs. 1. That God's eminent children are men of like passions with us: see 1 Peter v. 9, `The same things are accomplished in your brethren that are in the flesh;, they are all troubled with a naughty heart, a busy devil, and a corrupt world. We are all tainted in our originals, and infected with Adam's leprosy: all blood is of a colour.394394`Omnis sanguis concolor.,—Petracha. Many times there are notorious blemishes in the lives of the saints; they are of the same nature with others, and have not wholly divested and put off the interests and concernments of flesh and blood. Moses spake unadvisedly with his lips, and David turned aside to adultery: he rendereth the reason, Ps. li. 5, he had a common nature with other men. So often divers of God's dear children have foul falls. Constancy and continuance in sin would deny them saints, and an uninterrupted continuance in holiness would deny them men. Well, then, God's children, that travail under the burden of infirmities, may take comfort; such conflicts are not inconsistent with faith and piety: other believers are thus exercised, none ever went to heaven but there was some work for his `faith and patience, Heb. vi. 12. When we partake of the divine nature we do not put off the human; we ought to walk with care, but yet with comfort.

Obs. 2. It is no injury to the most holy persons to look upon them as men like ourselves. There is a double fault; some canonize the servants of God, not considering them in their infirmities, make them half gods, who were by privilege exempted from the ordinary state of 468men, and so lose the benefit of their example; whereas, in the word, they are set out as so many precedents. Thy prayers may he heard as well as those of Elias; thy sins may be pardoned as well as Paul's, 1 Tim. i. 17. God will strengthen and confirm necessary graces in thee as well as David, Zech. xii. 8. Others reflect only upon their infirmities, and instead of making them precedents of mercy, make them patrons of sin. Thus every base spirit will plead Lot's incest, David's adultery, Noah's drunkenness. In Salvian's time they pleaded, Si David, cur non et ego? si Noah, cur non et ego? Follow them in their graces as you follow them in their sins: they were men of like passions, but they were also holy men. James here doth not only recite Elijah's weaknesses, but his graces.

Obs. 3. That in the lives of God's choicest servants there was some considerable weakness. Elias, in the midst of his miracles, was encumbered with many afflictions. Paul had `abundance of revelations, but `a thorn in the flesh., In the life of Jesus Christ himself there was an intermixture of power and weakness; of the divine glory and human frailty. At his birth a star shone, but he was laid in a manger; afterwards the devil tempted him in the wilderness, but there angels ministered to him; as man, he was deceived in the fig-tree, but, as God, he blasted it; he was caught by the soldiers in the garden, but first he made them fall back. So it is notable that the same disciples that were conscious to his glory in the mount, are afterwards called to be witnesses of his agonies in the garden. Compare Mat. xvii. 1 with Mat. xxvi. 37. And all this to show, that in the highest dispensations God will keep us humble, and in the lowest providences there is enough to support us.

Obs. 4. Grace is not impassible, or without passions and affections. The stoics held no man a good man but he that had lost all natural feeling and affection. Elijah was a man of like passions. Grace doth not abrogate our affections, but prefer them; it transplanted them out of Egypt that they may grow in Canaan; it doth not destroy nature, but direct it.

Obs. 5. All that God wrought by and for his eminent servants was with respect to his own grace, not to their worth and dignity. God did much for Elijah, but he was a man of like passions with us; though his prayers were effectual, yet he was, as every believer is, indebted to grace. When we have received a high assistance, yet still we are unprofitable servants, Luke xvii. 10; when we reflect upon the common frailty, We may say so in words of truth, as well as in words of sobriety and humility;395395`Οὐ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ μόνον ἀλλ᾽ εὐγνωμοσύνῃ.,—Chrysosiom, in locum. at first, when God taketh us to mercy, we are like other men; was not Esau Jacob's brother? Mal. i. 2; in their persons, and, as they were men, there was no difference. God could love nothing in Jacob above Esau but his own grace;396396`Non aliud in Jacobo dilexit, quam suam misericordiam.,—August. so, if we be preferred above other believers it is out of mere grace; if, from their shoulders upward, they be higher than other saints, it is the Lord's choice, not their own worth. Elijah was like us, and Elijah's widow was like other widows: Luke iv. 25, 26, `There were many widows in Israel, but he was sent to none save the Sareptan., God hath 469mercy on whom he will have mercy; if thou dost excel, who hath made thee to differ?

Obs. 6. Where the heart is upright, our infirmities shall not hinder our prayers. Elijah was a man of like passions, yet he prayed, and it rained not; imitate his faith and earnestness, and your infirmities will be no impediment: 2 Chron. xxx. 19, `The Lord pardoned them that had prepared their hearts to seek the Lord, though they were not legally clean. Christ, when he came into the gardens, saith he would eat the honey with the honeycomb, Cant. v., accept their duties, though not severed from the wax, from weakness and imperfection, and drink his wine mingled with milk, that is, allayed with a milder and less generous liquor. Under the law, `the high-priest was to bear away the iniquity of their holy things, Exod. xxviii. 38; so Jesus Christ doeth away the weakness of our services. Those that do not allow their infirmities may pray with hope of success. God knoweth the voice of the Spirit; our fleshly desires meet with pardon, and our spiritual with acceptance.

Obs. 7. From that he prayed earnestly, or prayed in prayer. This is our duty, to pray in prayer. Not only to say a prayer, but to pray a prayer: Rom. viii. 26, `We pray, and the Spirit maketh intercession for us with sighs and groans that cannot be uttered;, that is, we pray, and the Spirit prayeth in our prayers. When the tongue prayeth alone it is but an empty ring; we often mistake lungs and sighs for grace, and the agitation of the bodily spirits for the impressions of the Holy Ghost;397397`Quibus arteriis opus est, si pro sono audiantur.,—Tertul. de Orat. Dom. many work themselves into a great heat and vehemency by the contention of speech, and that is all; the voice, that is heard on high are the groans of the soul. Well, then, pray in prayer, make you all your prayers and supplications in the Spirit, Eph. vi. 16. Let not the heart be wandering while the lips are praying; lip-labour doth no more than a breathing instrument, make a loud noise; the essence of prayer lieth in the ascension of the mind.398398`Ἀνάβασις τοῦ νοῦ πρὸς θεὸν.,—Damascen. Orthod. Fid., lib. iii.

Obs. 8. It is sometimes lawful to imprecate the vengeance of God upon the wicked. Elias prayed that it might not rain, out of a zeal of God's glory, and detestation of their idolatry. I confess here we must be cautious; imprecations in scripture were often uttered with a prophetic spirit, and by special impulse and intimation from God. Elijah's act must not be imitated without Elijah's spirit and warrant. The apostles, out of a preposterous imitation of another act of Elias, `called for fire from heaven, Luke ix., whereupon Christ checketh them: `Ye know not what spirit ye are of., There may be distempered heats of revenge, strange wildfire that was never kindled upon God's hearth. To direct you in this case of imprecation, I shall lay down some propositions. (1.) There is a great deal of difference between public and private cases. In all private cases it is the glory of our religion to bless them that curse us, to pray for them that despitefully use us; so we learn of the great author of our profession, `he was numbered among transgressors, and he made intercession for transgressors, Isa. liii. 12. It is a prophecy of that prayer which Christ uttered upon the cross for his persecutors, `Father, forgive them, for 470they know not what they do;, his heart was full of love when theirs was full of spite; and truly the followers of the Lamb should not be of a wolfish spirit; we should be ready to forgive all private and personal wrongs; but in public cases, wherein divine or human right is interverted and disturbed, we may desire God to relieve oppressed innocence, to `wound the hairy scalp of evil-doers, &c. (2.) In public cases we must not desire revenge directly and formally; so our prayers must respect the vindication of God's glory, and the avenging of our own case only as it doth collaterally and by consequence follow there upon: Ps. cxv., `Not to us, not to us, but to thy name give glory;, that is, not for our revenge, or to satisfy our lusts, but to repair the esteem of thy mercy and truth. The mainspring and sway upon the spirit should be a zeal for the divine glory. The whole 83d Psalm is full of imprecations, but it is concluded thus, ver. 18, `That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth., The vindication of God's honour and ways is the main aim of their requests. (3.) God's people do not desire vengeance against particular persons absolutely, but in the general against the enemies of the church, and expressly against such as are known to God to be perverse and implacable. (4.) Their ordinary prayers are against the plots rather than the persons of their enemies; diligunt in inimico naturam, non vitium—they can love the nature, though they hate the sin.

Obs. 9. God may continue judgments, especially that of unseasonable weather, for a long time. In Elijah's time, for three years and six months the heavens were as brass and the earth as iron; this may serve to calm our froward spirits, that are apt to murmur against providence when we have not seasons to our mind. Oh! think how it was with Israel when it rained not in three years and more, and fear him that can stop `the bottles of heaven, Job xxxviii. 37, and stay the clouds from giving out their influences: fruitful seasons are at his disposal; see Jer. v. 24. Second causes do not work by chance, can not work at pleasure. This is the bridle which God hath upon the world; the ordering of the weather is one of the most visible testimonies of his power and goodness.

Obs. 10. Lastly, observe how sad it is for any to provoke the prophets of the Lord to pray against them. The grieving of Elijah's spirit cost Israel dear. There is much in their messages, and there is as much in their solemn prayers. We may often observe in the history of the Old Testament, when God had a mind to destroy a people, he commanded his prophets silence. If their silence be a sad omen, what are their imprecations? When Zacharias's blood was shed, he said, `the Lord requite it, which prayer cost them the miseries of Babylon, and his blood was not fully revenged till their utter ruin; compare Mat. xxiii. 35, 36, with 2 Chron. xxiv. 21. Certainly, though there be little in such prayers as are but the effusions of revenge or distempered heat, yet when by your sin and insolence you give them cause to pray against you, their complaints are the sad presages of an ensuing judgment.

Ver. 18. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.


He prayed again; that is, in another strain, not by way of imprecation, but supplication, which last is, recorded in the word, 1 Kings xviii. 42, `He cast himself upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, which was an action of most humble and fervent prayer, by means whereof God had determined to bestow a blessing.

And the heaven gave rain; that is, the air and clouds, as πέτεινα οὐρανοῦ, `the fowls of heaven, are by us translated `the fowls of the air, Mat. vi. 26; so Deut. xi. 17, if `the Lord's anger be kindled against them, he can shut up the heavens that there be no rain, that is, the clouds. So in that climax, Hosea ii. 21, 22, `I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth, &c., the heavens for clouds.

And the earth brought forth her fruit.—All causes depend upon one another, and the highest on God; before this rain there was a great famine through the drought.

From hence observe these points:—

Obs. 1. That when God meaneth to bestow blessings, he stirreth up the hearts of the people to pray for them. God that decreeth the end, decreeth the means: Ezek. xxxvi. 37, `I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them:, so Jer. xxix. 12, `Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken to you., When the time of deliverance was come, God would have them sue it out by prayer. Well, then, look upon the effusion of the spirit of supplications as a happy presage; it is the first intimation and token for good of approaching mercy, like the chirping of birds before the spring.

Obs. 2. Though we are sure of the accomplishment of a blessing, yet we must not give over prayer. Elias had foretold rain, yet when he seemed to hear the sound of it he falls a-praying. Daniel had understood by books that the date of days was expired, therefore is he so earnest, Dan. ix. 1-3. When Christ had intimated his coming, `Behold, I come quickly, the church taketh hold of that advantage, `Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly, Rev. xxii. latter end. It showeth that it is an ill confidence that maketh us to neglect means. God's children are never more diligent and free in their endeavours than when confident of a blessing; hope is industrious, and draweth to action.

Obs. 3. Prayer is a good remedy in the most desperate cases, and when you are lost to all other hopes, you are not lost to the hopes of prayer. Though there had been three years, drought, yet he prayed till he brought down sweet showers. One said of the prayers of Luther, Non dubito quin multum subsidii ad desperatam hanc causam comitiorum preces illius allaturae sunt—that he was confident the business had some life in it, because Luther prayed. Well, then, continue prayer with some hope, though the heaven be as brass, and the earth as iron. When the case is desperate the Lord is wont to come in; he sendeth Moses when the bricks were doubled.

Obs. 4. The efficacy of prayer is very great. Elias seemed to have the key of heaven, to open it and shut it at pleasure. Nothing hath wrought such wonderful effects in the world as prayer: it made the sun stand still at Joshua's request, Josh. x. 13; yea, to go backwards thus many degrees when Hezekiah prayed, Isa. xxxviii. 8. It 472 brought fire out of heaven when Elias prayed, 2 Kings i. 10. Nay, it brought angels out of heaven when Elisha prayed, 2 Kings vi. 17. Nay, God himself will seem to yield to the importunity and force of prayer, Gen. xxxii. 24, 25; in this wrestling he will be overcome. Certainly they that neglect prayer do not only neglect the sweetest way of converse with God, but the most forcible way of prevailing with him.

Obs. 5. From that the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. That there is a mutual dependence and subordination between all second causes. The creatures are serviceable to one another by mutual ministries and supplies; the earth is cherished by the heat of the stars, moistened by the water, and by the temperament of both made fruitful, and so sendeth forth innumerable plants for the comfort and use of living creatures, and living creatures are for the supply of man. It is wonderful to consider the subordination of all causes, and the proportion they bear to one another: the heavens work upon the elements, the elements upon the earth, and the earth yieldeth fruits for the use of man. The prophet taketh notice of this admirable gradation, Hosea ii. 21, 22, `I will hear the heavens, and the heavens shall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and the corn and the wine and the oil shall hear Jezreel., We look for the supplies of corn, wine, and oil; but they can do nothing without clouds, and the clouds can do nothing without stars, and the stars can do nothing without God. The creatures are beholden to one another, and all to God. In the order of the world there is an excellent knot and chain of causes by which all things hang together, that so they may lead up the soul to the Lord.

Ver. 19, 20. Brethren^ if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know that he which converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Here, from prayer, the apostle diverteth to another Christian office, and that is admonition, wherein the work is propounded—turning a sinner from the error of his way. A double fruit is annexed; we shall be instruments in their conversion and pardon. Some do conceive that this is an apology for the whole epistle; rather it may be referred to the immediate context, for the apostle is treating of those acts of Christian charity and relief that we owe to one another, visiting the sick, praying for the distressed, and now of reclaiming the erroneous.

If any of you; that is, of your nation, or rather society; for he supposeth them already gained to the knowledge of the truth.

Do err from the truth, πλανηθῆ ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας.—He understandeth errors both in faith and manners. The word chiefly implieth errors in the faith; but in the next verse he speaketh of `a sinner, and of `covering a multitude of sins;, which phrases imply errors of life, and so both must be understood. By truth he understandeth the rule of the gospel, whether condemning errors in judgment or indirect practices. Thus, concerning the first, it is said of Hymeneus and Philetus, 2 Tim. ii. 18, that `they erred concerning the truth, saying, the resurrection is past., So concerning the second, it is said of Peter, Gal. ii. 14, `That he walked not with a right foot according to the 473truth of the gospel;, and the apostle John speaketh often of `walking in the truth;,399399That the gospel is eminently called truth, see Grotius in locum. that is, according to that rule and order which the gospel prescribeth.

And one convert him.—To convert a sinner properly is God's work. He turneth us: `We are his workmanship in Christ Jesus, Eph. ii. 10. Yet it is ascribed to man, to the ministers and instruments of conversion, as Acts xxvi. 18, `To turn them from Satan to the living God, because they use such means and helps by which God conveyeth a blessing. We plant and water, and `God giveth the increase, 1 Cor. iii. 5. Mark, he saith, and one convert him; he doth not limit it to the minister only. Acts of spiritual charity belong to the care of all believers. Wherever there is true grace it will be assimilating: Luke xxii. 32, `Being converted, strengthen thy brethren.,

Let him know, γινωσκέτω. Some read γιγνώσκετε, know, but to the same effect.

That he which converteth a sinner; that is an instrument in God's hand, by contributing the help and counsel of his prayers and endeavours.

Shall save a soul.—Some expound it of the soul of the admonisher, his own soul; but more properly it is understood of the soul of him that is converted; and save, that is, be an instrument of his salvation. Words proper to the supreme cause are often ascribed to the instrument. So Rom. xi. 14, `That I may save them that are my own flesh, &c. So 1 Tim. iv, 16, `Thou shalt save thyself, and them that hear thee., And a soul, that is the person. The principal part is specified; which being saved, the body also is saved. So 1 Peter i. 9, `Ye shall receive the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls., So James i. 21, `Which is able to save your souls.,

From death.—Eternal death, which hath no power on the converted, Rev. xx. 6, and from many corrections in this life. In the whole clause there is an argument. This was Christ's work; to save souls from death, he himself died to procure it; and shall not we contribute a few endeavours? &c.

And shall hide a multitude of sins.—God's act is again ascribed to the instrument. The sense is, he shall be a means of hiding the sins of an erring brother. I confess there is some difference about rendering the sense of this phrase. Brugensis applieth it to the person converting, he shall cover a multitude of his own sins. His reason is taken from a parallel place of Peter, 1 Peter iv. 8, where it is said, `Have fervent charity among yourselves, for charity shall cover a multitude of sins., Which place, together with this, he applieth to the merit of charity before God. But to this I reply—(1.) That the doctrine itself is false. Charity is indeed a sign and argument of the forgiveness of our sins, but not a cause. To pardon others giveth us the greater confidence and assurance of our own pardon, Mat. vi. 14. (2.) That it is uncertain whether that expression in Peter, and this in James, have the same aim and tendency; yea, there are strong reasons to the contrary. (3.) Suppose that these places are parallel, yet that place in Peter doth not speak of covering sins before God, but amongst men; and not of the covering of the sins of the charitable 474person, but of the person to whom charity is exercised. For that sentence is taken out of Prov. x. 12, `Hatred stirreth up strifes, but love covereth all sins;, that is, concealeth and burieth the faults of a neighbour, which cannot but reductively, and by remote consequences, be applied to the business of justification. I confess some apply this passage of James the same way, `shall cover a multitude of sins;, that is, say they, by brotherly admonitions shall seek to prevent or hide their infirmities; whereas those that hate their brethren do not desire to admonish them, but to divulge their sins, to their discredit and infamy. But to me the clause seemeth to be of another use; for it is ranked among spiritual benefits, and urged, not by way of duty, but motive; first shall save a soul, and then shall cover, &c. Therefore I suppose it implieth the act of justification, which is elsewhere expressed by `covering of sins, Ps. xxxii. 1. And he meaneth the sins of the converted person, which we are said to cover, when, as instruments, by our admonitions, we reclaim the erroneous person, and bring him to repentance. And mark, it is said, `a multitude of sins, for two reasons:—(1.) To take off discouragement. Though they be very bad, neglect not to admonish and reclaim them. Seasonable admonition may be a means to cover a multitude, &c. (2.) To imply the contagion and spreading of this leaven. One error and sin begetteth another, as circles do in the water; and he that beginneth to wander goeth farther.

Observe hence:—

Obs. 1. Brethren may err from the truth. The apostle saith, `Brethren, if any of you do err., There is no saint recorded in the word of God, but his failings and errors are recorded. In the visible church there may be errors; none doubteth but God's children, the elect, may be sometimes led aside, not totally, not finally, and very hardly, into gross errors: Mat. xxiv. 24, `Insomuch as, if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect;, it is not possible totally, because of the infallible predestination and efficacious protection of God.400400It is said, Job xii. 16, `The deceiver and the deceived are his., He ordereth the persons who shall deceive, and who be deceived. It is true, they may die in a lesser error, such as is consistent with faith and salvation, but otherwise they are under the conduct of God's Holy Spirit, that fundamentally they cannot err, or finally. Well, then, the best had need be cautious. Christ saith to his own disciples, Mat. xxiv. 4, `Take heed that no man deceive you., Error is taking and catching, of a marvellous compliance with our natural thoughts; for aught that is in us, we should soon miscarry. There is no ill opinion can be represented to us, but the seeds of it are in our own souls. Again, be not scandalised when you see stars of the first magnitude to leave their orb and station, and glorious luminaries to fall from heaven like lightning. God's own children may err, and dangerously for a while. Junius before conversion was an atheist.

Obs. 2. We are not only to take care of our salvation, but the salvation of others. The apostle saith, `If any man of you, &c. God hath made us guardians of one another. It was a speech savouring of Cain's rudeness and profaneness, `Am I my brother's keeper?, As God hath set conscience to watch over the inward man, so for the conversation, 475he hath set Christians to watch over one another: Heb. iii. 12, `Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you, &c., not only in yourselves, but in any of you. So Heb. xii. 15, 16, `Looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God, and lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and many be defiled., There must be a constant watch kept, as over our own hearts, so over the societies wherein we are engaged. Members must be careful one of another; this is the communion between saints. (1.) It reproveth our neglect of this duty. Straying would have been much prevented if we had been watchful, or did we, in a Christian manner, reason together with each other; what comfort and establishment might we receive from one another's faith and gifts! As no man is born for himself, so no man is born anew for himself. We often converse together as men, but not as Christians. We should παραξύνειν, Heb. x. 24, `quicken one another;, be as goads in each others, sides, &c. (2.) It showeth what a heinous sin it is in them that watch over each's hurt; as the dragon for the man child, Rev. xii. 4, or as angry Herod sought to destroy the babes of Bethlehem, or a nipping March wind the early blossoms of the spring, so they nip and discourage the infancy and first buddings of grace by censure, reproach, carnal suggestions, and put stumbling-blocks in the way of young converts, and so destroy Christianity in the birth. Usually thus it is, when men begin to look after the ways of God, profane men make them objects of their scorn and contempt, and fanatical men lie in wait with sleight and crafty enterprise to deceive them. If to save a soul be a duty, certainly to seduce a soul is a dangerous sin. Such men .are devilised, factors for hell, and agents for the kingdom of darkness. Satan goeth to and fro, and so do they. It is dangerous to partake of other men's sins, to draw that guilt upon your own head; you had need be established in that way which you propagate and promote with a zealous industry; you had need, I say, have high assurance of the truth of it. But usually in them that propagate errors there may be observed either a blind and rash zeal, or a corrupt aim usually. `With feigned words they make merchandise of you, 2 Peter ii. 3, and propagate their opinion with heat and earnestness, that they may promote their own gain.

Obs. 3. From that if any do err. If but one, there is none so base and contemptible in the church but the care of their safety belongeth to all. One root of bitterness defileth many; both in point of infection and scandal we are all concerned; one spark may occasion a great burning. As Arius; an inconsiderable spark at first kindled such a flame as burned in all parts of the world: `Take the little foxes, Cant. ii. 15. It is good with a wise foresight to watch the first appearances of sin and error in a congregation. It presseth us also to be careful of the meanest in the communion of saints. Some think they are too high in birth and parts for that social commerce and intercourse that should be between member and member in the body of Christ. Andronicus and Junia, two poor prisoners, were of great note in the churches, Rom. xvi.

Obs. 4. From that and one convert him. The expression is indefinite, not as limiting it to the officers of the church, though it be chiefly their work. Besides the public exhortations of ministers, private Christians should mutually confer for comfort and edification. I say 476private Christians not only may, but must keep up a Christian communion among themselves: Heb. iii. 13, `Exhort one another while it is called to-day., They are mutually to stir up one another by speeches that tend to discover sin, to prevent hardness of heart and apostasy. God hath severally dispensed his gifts, that we might mutually be beholding to one another. Therefore the apostle calleth it, 1 Peter iv. 10, `the dispensation of the manifold grace of God., Now every one should cast in his lot, according to his gifts and experiences; as the wicked said one to another, Prov. i. 14, `Cast in your lot among us, &c.

Obs. 5. From that convert him; that is, reduce him from his error. Among other acts of Christian communion this is one of the chiefest, to reduce those that are gone astray. We must not only exhort, but reclaim; it is a duty we owe to our neighbour's beast: Deut. xxii. 4, `Thou shalt not see thy neighbour's ox or ass fall down by the way, but thou shalt help them., Say, it is said, Exod. xxiii. 4, `If thou meet thine enemy's ox or ass going astray, thou shalt bring him back again., Mark, in both places, if the beasts were either fallen or strayed, much more if your neighbour himself be fallen by sin, or strayed by error, it is charity to help and reduce him. Hath God a care of oxen or asses? If we suffer sin upon them, we may suffer for their sin. Though it be an unthankful office, yet it must not be declined; usually carnal respects sway us, and we are loath to do that which is displeasant. Well, then, if it be our duty to admonish, it is your duty to `suffer the words of exhortation, to bear a reproof patiently, otherwise you oppose your own salvation. Error is touchy; carnal affections are loath to have the judgment informed; they take away the light of reason, and leave us only the pride of reason; therefore none so angry as they that are seduced into an opinion by interest, their sore must not be touched. Usually conviction and reproof beget hatred: `Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?, Gal. iv. 16. Truth is a good mother, but it begetteth a bad daughter, contempt and hatred. Oh! this should not be so. David counted the smiting of the righteous `a chief oil, Ps. cxli. 5; faithful reproof and counsel is like a sword anointed with balsam, that woundeth and healeth at the same time.

Obs. 6. Again from that convert him. He doth not say destroy him; the work of Christians is not presently to accuse and condemn, but to counsel and convert an erroneous person. To call for fire from heaven presently argueth some hastiness and impatiency of revenge; first burn them in the fire of love. Before any rigorous course be taken, we must use all due means of information; the worst cause always is the most bloody. It is the guise of heretics to `go in the way of Cain, Jude 11. It is tyranny in the Papists to punish every scruple; if a doubt be proposed, though in confession, it cannot be expiated with less than a rack, or the torments of an inquisition. It was Tertullian's complaint of the heathens, Ex officina carniftcum solvunt argumenta—the Christians disputed for their religion, and they had their answer from the hangman. So Ambrose observeth, Quos sermonibus non possunt decipere, gladiis clamant feriendos. False religions brook no contradiction; and what is wanting in argument 477is made up in force; and therefore are erroneous ways fell and cruel. No compulsive force should be used before there be care had for better information, and resolving the doubting conscience, as long as there appeareth a desire to be informed, and meek endeavours after satisfaction. Paul is for two or three admonitions before a church censure, Titus iii. 10. They are cruel hangmen, not divines, saith Pareus, that care not to save a soul from death, but presently to deliver it up to the devil, to the stake, to the sword.

Obs. 7. From that let him know. To quicken ourselves in a good work, it is good we should actually consider the dignity and benefits of it; γιγνωσκέτω, let him consider what a high honour it is to have a hand in such a work. So the apostle presseth to patience upon this ground, Rom. v. 3, `Knowing that tribulation worketh experience., So to sincerity, Col. iii. 23, 24, `Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of inheritance., Well, then, learn this wisdom in case of deadness and opposition of spirit, act your thoughts upon the worth of your duties and the success of them. Man's strength lieth in his discourse and reason, and there is no such relief to the soul as that which cometh by seasonable thoughts; Whom do I serve? the Lord? Can any labour undertaken for his sake be in vain? &c.

Obs. 8. From that, he which converteth a sinner from the error of his way. Before it was expressed by `erring from the truth, and now by the `error of his way., You may note that errors in doctrine usually end in sins of life and practice: Jude 8, `Filthy dreamers, defiling the flesh., First men dream, and then defile themselves. We often see that impurity of religion is joined with uncleanness of body, and spiritual fornication punished with corporal: Hosea iv. 12, 13, `They have gone a-whoring from their God, therefore their daughters shall commit whoredom., Austin saith, Anima quae fornicata est a Deo casta esse non potest,401401Aug. adversus Julian., lib. iv. that those cannot be chaste that go a-whoring from God. Truth aweth the soul, and a right belief guideth the conversation: unbelief is the mother of sin, and misbelief the nurse of it. In error there is a sinful confederacy between the rational and sensual part, and so carnal affections are gratified with carnal doctrines. The spirit or upper part of the soul gratifieth the flesh or lower faculties, and therefore the convictive power of the word is said to `distinguish between flesh402402Qu. `soul,?—ED. and spirit, Heb. iv. 12, between carnal affection and those crafty pretences and excuses by which it is palliated.

Obs. 9. From that shall save. Man under God hath this honour, to be a saviour. We are σύνεργοι Θεοῦ, `workers together with God, 2 Cor. vi. 1. He is pleased to take us into a fellowship of his own work, and to cast the glory of his grace upon our endeavours. It is a high honour which the Lord doth us; we should learn to turn it back again to God, to whom alone it is due: 1 Cor. xv. 10, `I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me;, Luke xix. 16, `Thy pound hath gained ten pounds;, not my industry, but thy pound: so Gal. ii. 20, `I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me., When God shall put the glory of his own work upon the head of the creature, certainly they have great cause to lay the crown of their excellency at the feet of the Lord; and when the 478honour of the supreme cause is put upon the instrument, the instrument may well ascribe all to the efficacy of the supreme cause. Such is the grace of God, that when thou hast used the means, he will reckon it to thy score: `Thou hast gained thy brother, Mat, xviii. 15. A man loseth. nothing by being employed in God's service. Oh! let us strive and take pains in this work: Paul would be anything that he might gain some, 1 Cor. ix. 19-21. It serveth also for direction to Christians; you must not neglect the means, God giveth them the terms proper to the supreme cause. God saith to his interpreter, Job xxxiii. 24, `Deliver him from going down into the pit, &c. So the apostles and the ministers of the gospel that were to preach to Idumaea for the conversion of the elect there are called saviours: Obad. 21, `And saviours shall come from Mount Sion to judge the mount of Esau., It is notable, that though the work of conversion be properly the Lord's, yet it is sometimes ascribed to ourselves, to show that we must not be negligent; sometimes to the ministers and instruments, to show that we must not contemn their help; sometimes to God, that we may not be self-confident or unthankful.

Obs. 10. From that soul. Salvation is principally of the soul; the body hath its share: `This vile body, shall be a `glorious body, Phil, iii. 21. But the soul is first possessed of glory, and is the chief receptacle of it, as it is of grace for the present; see 1 Peter i. 9. Well, then, it teacheth us not to look for a carnal heaven, a Turkish paradise, or a place of ease and sensitive pleasure. This is the heaven of heaven, that the soul shall be filled up with God, shall understand God, love God, and be satisfied with his presence. Complete knowledge, complete love and union with Christ, are the things that Christians should look after. And it teacheth us to keep our souls pure: `Fleshly lusts war against the soul, 1 Peter ii. 11, not only against the present welfare of it. but your future hopes. It also comforteth the children of God; whatever their estate be it shall go well with their souls.

Obs. 11. From that from death. Errors are mortal and deadly to the spirit. The wages of every sin is death, especially of sin countenanced by error, for then there is a conspiracy of the whole soul against God. The apostle Peter calleth heresies αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας, `damnable heresies, or, as it is in the. original, `heresies of destruction., I confess some heresies are more damnable and destructive than others, but all do in their nature tend to damnation. The way of truth is alone the way of life: some heresies there are which by no means can consist with salvation for eternal life, such as are errors in fundamentals, joined with an obstinacy and reluctation against the light, which is the proper badge of a heretic that is in a state of damnation. Well, then, let us take heed how we dally with errors; there is death in them: would a man play with his own damnation? Usually in matters of opinion we are the more careless, because there is less remorse of conscience, for the light by which it should judge is perverted, and because foul acts have more of turpitude and filthiness in them in men's eyes, and occasion more shame from without; but errors are as dangerous; a man that huggeth them huggeth his own death. Besides it confuteth them that say there is salvation in any 479way, so we be of good life: they say some opinions are more compendious ways to salvation, but all are ways; so some Libertines, and some of the Arminians in Holland, as Caspar Barlaeus, Adolphus Venator, and others. The Socinians also say that a man of any persuasion may be saved, if he doth not walk contrary to his light. At the Council of Trent, the salvation of the heathens by the power of nature without Christ was much talked of. The divines of Collen set forth a book De Salute Aristotelis, of the salvation of Aristotle the heathen. But the scripture speaketh but of `one faith, Eph. iv. 5, and that all the nations should be brought to God by `this gospel, Mat. xxiv. 14. That you may conceive of this matter more distinctly, I shall lay down a few propositions. (1.) None can be saved without Christ, there is `no other foundation, 1 Cor. iii. 11, that is, of hope and comfort; `No other name under heaven, &c., Acts iv. 12; `I am the way, John xiv. 6. Therefore the Papists are grossly deceived that say the Gentiles could be saved by the law of nature, as Maldonate asserteth on Mat. xi. 21. (2.) None can be saved by Christ but they that know him and believe in him: John xvii. 3. `This is life eternal, to know thee, &c. Adolphus Venator said a man might be saved by Christ without so much as a historical knowledge of him; Acosta403403`Vix satis mirari possum quid praeceptoribus quibusdam scholasticis, viris certe gravibus nostri saeculi, in mentem venerit, ut nunc quoque temporis, post tam diu revelatum Christum, sine Christi notitia salutem cuiquam aeternam contingere posse confirment.,—Acosta, de Procuranda Indorum Salute, lib. v. cap. 3. complaineth of the like tenet held by some of the schoolmen. But in the word we know of no salvation but by believing in Christ: John iii. 17, that `as many as believed in him, &c. (3.) We must believe in Christ according to the tenor of the scriptures, that is the rule of faith without which it is vain, 1 Cor. xv. 14; John vii. 38. The apostle everywhere speaketh against those that do ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν, otherwise-gospel it, and teach another doctrine, Gal. i. 6-8; 1 Tim. vi. 3; 1 Tim. i. 3; therefore they are deceived that say Christ will not regard how you believe, but how you live, and put all upon good life. (4.) Lesser differences in and about the doctrine of the scriptures, though consistent with the main tenor of salvation, yet, if held up out of by-ends, or against conscience, are damnable. Circumcision and uncircumcision is nothing to. the new creature, yet to be of either of these against conscience is a matter of sad consequence; for then a lesser opinion is in the same rank with a known sin, as being deliberately maintained against light. Consider, then, how much it concerneth you to be right in judgment and profession, for though the error be not damnable in itself, it may be so by circumstance, reluctation against light being so inconsistent with grace , for there cannot be a greater argument of an unsubdued will than to stand out against conviction out of secular respects; this is to `love darkness more than light, John iii. 19, and to prefer present conveniences before those glorious recompenses which religion propoundeth; and how inconsistent that is with faith or true grace, Christ showeth in those passages, John v. 44, and John xii. 43. I know men usually plead there may be salvation as long as the error is not fundamental. Ay! but be the error never so small, the danger is great in walking against 480light: `As many as are perfect must be thus minded, Phil. iii. 15; that is, walk up to the height of their light and principles; and though in some cases profession may be forborne, and we may `have faith to ourselves., Rom. xiv. 22, yet not in times of public contest, and when we are solemnly called to give witness to truths; and therefore be not deceived with that pretence that there may be salvation in that way which you practise. As one404404Despaigne's New Observations on the Creed. argueth well, suppose you could be saved in that way which you acknowledge to be erroneous, yet how can it stand with love, to be guilty of such horrible contempt and ingratitude, as to be content that God may be dishonoured provided that we may be saved? (5.) Gross negligence, or not taking pains to know better, is equivalent to reluctation or standing out against light.405405`Crassa negligentia dolus est.,—Regula Juristarum. There is deceit in laziness or affected ignorance; men will not know that which they have a mind to hate; it argueth a secret fear and suspicion of the truth; men are loath to follow it too close, lest it cross their lusts and interests: John iii. 20, `They will not come to the light, lest their deeds be reproved;, so 2 Peter iii. 5, `They are willingly ignorant., Those that can please themselves in the ignorance of any truth, err not only in their minds but hearts; it is the practice of God's people to be always searching, Ps. i. 2; Rom. xii. 2; we should not only do what we know, but search that we may know more. (6.) Those that live and die in a lesser error about faith or worship, are saved with much difficulty, 1 Cor. iii. 13. The apostle speaketh of chaff and hay built on the golden foundation, and he saith that he that so doth, `shall be saved as by fire;, he loseth much of his comfort and peace, is much scorched in spirit, and kept in a more dark, cold, and doubtful way.

Obs. 12. From that and shall hide. Justification consisteth in the covering of our sins. It is removed out of God's sight, and the sight of our own consciences, chiefly out of God's sight. God cannot choose but see it as omniscient, hate it as holy, but he will not punish it as just, having received satisfaction in Christ: peccata sic velantur ut in judicio non revelentur—sins are so hidden that they shall not be brought into judgment, nor hurt us when they do not please us. Such like notions are elsewhere used: Ps. xxii. 1, `Blessed is the man whose sin is covered., It is an allusion to the covering of the dung of the Israelites. In their march they were to have a paddle tied to their weapon, that when they went aside to ease themselves, they might dig therewith, and cover that which came from them, that God might see no unclean thing among them; Deut. xxiii. 13, 14. So this excrement is covered, and the unsavoury filthiness removed out of the nostrils of justice. Suitable expressions are those of `remembering our sins no more, Isa. xliii. 25, and `casting them behind his back, Isa. xxxviii. 17. God will remove them out of the sight of his justice. They are in their own nature clamorous for revenge, and earnest inducements to wrath; but God will take no notice of them. There are yet higher forms of expression, of `removing them as far as the east is `from the west, Ps. ciii. 12, which chiefly respects the feeling of our consciences. We dread them, and God will set them at 481distance enough. So of `casting them into the depths of the sea, Micah vii. 18. That which is in the depths of the sea is lost and for gotten for ever. The ocean is never like to be drained or dried up. All these words doth the Lord use to persuade us that sins once pardoned are as if they were never committed. Men forgive, but not easily forget; if the wound be cured, the scar remaineth. But God accepteth as if there were no breach.

Obs. 13. From that a multitude of sins. Many sins do not hinder our pardon or conversion. God's `free gift is of many offences unto justification, Rom. v. 16; and it is said, Isa. lv. 7, `He will multiply to pardon., For these six thousand years God hath been multiplying pardons, and yet free grace is not tired and grown weary. The creatures owe a great debt to justice, but we have an able surety; there is no want of mercy in the creditor, nor of sufficiency in the surety. It is a folly to think that an emperor's revenue will not pay a beggar's debt. Christ hath undertook to satisfy, and he hath money enough to pay. We are of limited dispositions, and therefore straiten the abundance of grace in our thoughts. But God is not as man, Hosea xi. 9. The master can forgive talents when the servant would not forgive pence; and ten thousand talents, when we grudge at a hundred pence, Mat. xviii. 24, with 28. Mercy is a treasure that cannot easily be spent. We have many sins, but God hath many mercies: `According to the multitude of thy compassions, Ps. li. 2. When conscience is bowed down with a load of guilt, we may say, as Esau, `Hast thou but one blessing, O my father?, Certainly mercy is an ocean that is ever full, and ever flowing. The saints carry loads of experiences with them to heaven. Free grace can show you largo accounts and a long bill, cancelled by the blood of Christ. The Lord interest you in this abundant mercy, through the blood of Christ and the sanctification of the Spirit! Amen.


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