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solemn assembly, saith the Lord, in the 19th verse, “ I will get them praise and fame in every land, where they have been put to shame.” Have you suffered reproach in the day of the reproach of the solemn assembly; have you suffered reproach? “I will get you fame and praise;" yea, I will get you fame and praise in the very place where you have suffered reproach, yea, in all the places where you have suffered reproach.
And, saith he in the last verse, When I turn back your captivity before your eyes.” Sometimes a man's name is vindicated when he is dead. God vindicates him from reproach when he is dead. But saith he, “I will get you fame and praise even before your eyes; in the very place where you have been put to shame,” there will I get you fame and name, and your eyes shall see this. So that thus then you see the parallel : if that the saints and people of God be sensible of the reproach of the solemn assembly, God will turn their former miseries into after mercies, and he will cause their after comforts to run parallel with their former trouble.
By way of application then:
If these things be so: rejoice not over us, oh, our enemies, for though we be fallen, yet we shall rise again. Speak no more arrogantly, oh, ye children of man, though the righteous fall seven times, he shall rise again.
If this doctrine be true, what a mighty difference is here between a godly man and a wicked man, in reference to his dealings with God, and God's dealing with him. In reference to his dealing with God, a wicked man looks upon a solemn assembly with an evil eye, and it is his burthen, he cries, The burthen of the Lord, the burthen of the Lord. A good man looks upon the reproach of the solemn assembly as his burthen. The solemn assembly itself is a burthen to a wicked man, the reproach of it is a burthen to a good man. Well now, as for the wicked, his laughter shall be turned into mourning; as for the godly his mourning shall be turned into comfort.
But if this doctrine be true, what abundance of comfort is here, for all you that have been sensible of the reproach of the solemn assembly! It cannot be denied, but this day the solemn assembly lies under reproach; then you that
have carried this reproach up and down with you as your burthen, and have been sensible of this reproach of the solemn assembly, be of good comfort, the Lord will turn your present miseries into future mercies; the Lord will cause your after comforts to run parallel with your present troubles.
You will say, this comfort doth relate to the future, but I have none for the present.
Yes, you know it is said, the Lord comforteth in all our tribulations; it is not said after our tribulations, but in them. There is comfort in our tribulations; “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God: Blessed are those that mourn, they shall be comforted: and blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” But “ blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” So that here is comfort for the present. But you will say, All this comfort hangs upon a condition;
, this promise doth run conditionally. Here is a great promise of comfort indeed, but it is upon condition, being sensible of the reproach of the solemn assembly, and I have not been sensible, and I am not sensible.
No, pray stay a little: Not sensible! It may be you are not sensible of your sense. As a man may be sensible of his unsensibleness, so a man may be unsensible of his sense. As a man may not believe that he doth believe ; so a man may not be sensible of the sense that he hath of the cause and misery of the people of God. When a poor man comes first into the prison, he is sensible of the smell of the prison, afterwards he is not sensible of his sense, but he hath a sense still; so now it may be, you have been so used to be sensible of the reproach of the solemn assembly, that it may be you are not sensible of
your sense. But I pray tell me, if that you have borne the reproach of the solemn assembly upon your hearts before God in private; have you not been sensible? If you have fasted and prayed in reference to the reproach of the solemn assembly; have you not been sensible ? Our Saviour Christ expounds the one by the other. There came to Christ the disciples of John, saying: Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? Jesus said unto them : can the children of the bride-chamber mourn? &c. le
expounds fasting by mourning: and if you have been more afflicted with the reproach of the solemn assembly, than of any other thing, and have walked heavily under the burthen of it; certainly you have been sensible.
But whereas you say, This promise doth run conditionally, and this condition you have not attained ; give me leave to say to you, do you rightly understand a condition? a condition properly is that upon the account whereof a thing is done, and without which thing it cannot be done. As for example, I sell my commodity for money, now upon
, the account you pay so much money, I give you the commodity, and without that I do not give it. Now I pray, will you say, that your own sense at the highest is that upon the account whereof God will shew mercy; or will you say that God will not shew mercy unless you have sense? We find that God doth return unto his people first, and afterwards he saith, then shall ye be ashamed, and then shall ye loathe yourselves; it is very true, that he will shew mercy to those that have sense of the solemn assembly; but where doth he say that he will shew mercy to those that have no sense? No where; for his love and grace is free. But if any man be sensible of the reproach of the solemn assembly, lo, this comfort is laid up for you: Are you scattered? The Lord will gather you. Have you halted in this day of the reproach of the solemn assembly? God will heal your halting. Have you suffered reproach? In the very place where you have suffered reproach, God will give you a name, and fame, and glory. I must say it, Lift up your heads, oh, ye saints, you that hang down and are sensible of the reproach of the solemn assembly.
You will say now: But what should we do that we may be more sensible of the reproach of the solemn assembly? It is clear, the solemn assembly doth lie under reproach, and God hath promised all this comfort to those that are sensible of it. I hope I have some sense; what shall I do that I may be more sensible of the reproach of the solemn assembly, that this comfort and this promise may come upon
Get spiritual life, you must be living ; a dead man is not sensible. A living man is sensible of the scratch of a pin, a dead man is not sensible of the gash of a sword; it is life that makes one sensible; never think to be sensible, and to be dead; therefore go to God for spiritual life.
Then strengthen your love unto God, and his ways, and children, and ordinances; Dolor amoris filia, grief is the daughter of love; I grieve for the loss of what I love, and no further than I love. If you would grieve and be sensible of the reproach of the solemn assembly, strengthen your love: love to the ordinances, love to the solemn assembly, love to God. And Then take advantage from all those occasions that
you meet withal, to enlarge your mourning, and your sense. When a man would leap far, he takes his rise upon a molehill, that he may leap the farther. Friends, you have many rises this day, for your mourning, and for your sense; improve all those rises, as you meet with any occasion, look upon them as so many mole-hills, look upon them as so many rises for to go the farther in your sense of the reproach of the solemn assembly.
Then observe what those evils are, those sins are, that have had a hand in bringing this reproach upon the solemn assembly, and do not meddle therewithal; take heed you do not add any of them to the heap. If a man have a burden upon his shoulder, that he cannot stand under, and you go to lay any more upon him, saith he, I pray take heed, I have as much on me as my back will bear : and if there be company in a boat, that the boat be full, and another offer to come; Oh no, by no means, the boat is ready to sink already; truly thus it is, the boat is ready to sink already, it is so full. And do you look upon the reproach of the solemn assembly as your burthen? Oh, then, take notice what it was that brought the reproach, and take heed of that.
Take heed of the immoderate use of any creature comfort. Friends, let me say this to you; the more your hearts do soak into the comfort of the creatures, the less cause you will have of the reproach of the solemn assemblies. The more your hearts soak into the comforts of your own house, the less sensible you will be of the reproach of God's house. So that take heed of the immoderate use of any creature comfort that is before you.
To end all,
be an enemy to faith, faith is a friend to sense; especially sense of sin, and sense of the church's miseries. The more you look upon the fulness, and the freeness, and the certainty of the promise of deliverance, the more your faith will be strengthened. Now this promise of deliverance here, is full, is free, it is large, it is repeated again and again; in Micah iv. you have the same promise, and it is there repeated again and again.
Why then should you say not thus? Well, through the grave of God, though I be sensible of the reproach of the solemn assembly, yet I will believe for deliverance, and though I do believe for deliverance, yet I will be sensible through grace, of the reproach of the solemn assembly. Do so; only let your
faith be the mother unto this sense; therefore take this promise, read it over, work it, chafe it upon your hearts much when you are alone. I conclude reading it: saith the Lord here, “I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burthen : Behold, at that time, I will undo all that afflict thee, and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out: And I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame: At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you, for I will make you a name, and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord.”
THE EVIL OF UNBELIEF IN DEPARTING FROM GOD.
“ Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Heb. iii. 12.
In these words three things are the most considerable.
A great disease that christians are subject to, to depart from God.
The cause of that disease, an evil heart of unbelief.