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And here now, that I may turn your thoughts a little aside from a personal to a national grieving of God's Spirit, I am fallen upon the grounds of those heavy judgments, under which we have lain thus long; groaning and gasping; to the pity and astonishment of our late envying neighbourhood: even the destroying, and devouring sword. Alas, my Beloved! we have grieved our good God by our heinous sins of all sorts; and now we do justıy feel the heavy effects of his displeasure: we have warred against heaven with our iniquities; and now it is just with God, to raise up war against us, in our own bowels. It was the motto, that was wont to be written upon the Scottish coin, as the emblem of their Thistle, Nemo me impunè lacesset ; “None shall scape free, that provokes me.” Surely, it is a word, that well fits the Omnipotent and Eternai Justice and Power of Heaven. We have provoked that to wrath; and, therefore, could not hope to avoid a fearful judgment. Woe to me! we have made ourselves enemies to God, by our rebellious sins; Therefore, thus saith the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, the Mighly One of Israel: Ah, I will case me of my adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies ; Isaiah i. 24.
Three things there are, that aggravate the deep unkindness, that God hath taken at our thus grieving of him: his Endearments, our Engagements, his Expectation.
Were we a people, that God had no whit promerited by his Favours, that he had done nothing for us more than for the savage nations of the world, surely the God of Heaven had not taken it so deeply to heart: but now, that he hath been more kind to us than to any nation under heaven, how doth he call heaven and earth to record of the justness of his high regret! Hear, 0 Heaven, and hearken, 0 Earth; for the Lord himself hath spoken. I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me; Isaiah i. 2: and excellently Jeremiah ii. 31. O generation, see the word of the Lord : have I been a wilderness to Israel? a land of darkness therefore it follows, Behold, I will plead with thee; verse 35.
Neither are his endearments of us, more than our Engagements to him : for what nation in all the world hath made a more glorious profession of the name of God, than this of ours ? What Church under the cope of heaven hath been more famous and fou ishing? Had we not pretended to holiness and purity of religion even beyond others, the unkindness had been the less: now, our unanswerableness calls God to the highest protestation of his otlence; Be astonished, 0 Ileavens, and be horribly afraid; be ye very desolate, saith the Lord; for my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the Fountain of Living Ilaters, and have hean then oul cisterns, broken cisterns, that cun hold no water; Jer. ii. 11, 12. And, who is so blind as my seruant? Isaiah xlii. 19.
Now, according to his endearments and our engagements, hath been his just Expectation of an answerable carriage of us towards him. The husbandman looks not for a crop in the wild desart; but, where he hath gooded, and ploughed, and eared, and sown, why
should not he look for a harvest ? And this disappointment is a just heightener of his griet; What could I have done more for my vineyard, that I have not done? I looked for grapes, and it brought for!h wild grapes. And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard : I will take away the hedge thereof, and I will lay it waste; Isaiah v. 4, 5. Woe is me! we do not hear, but feel God making his fearful word good upon us. I need not tell you what we suffer. The word of Isaiah is fulfilled here; It shall be a vexation only to understand the report; Isaiah xxviii. 19. Alas! we know it too well, what rivers of blood, what piles of carcases are to be seen on all sides.
Would God I could as easily tell you of the Remedy! And why can I not do so? Doubtless, there is a remedy no less certain, than our suifering; if we had but the grace to use it. Too long, alas! too long have we driven off the applying of our redress: yet, even still, there is balm in Gilead; still there is hope, yea assurance of help, if we will not be wanting to ourselves. We have grieved our God to the height: oh, that we could resolve to make our peace with our provoked God, at the last. Excellent is that of Isaiah xxvii. 5: Let him take hold of my strength, and make peace wih me, and he shall make peace with me. Oh, that we could take hold of our strong Helper, who is mighty to save"; that we would lay hold on the strength of his marvellous mercies! Oh, that we could take Benhadad's course here! As they said of the king of Israel, much more may I say of the God of Israel, He is a merciful God; let us put sackcloth upon our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go to the God of Israel, and say, Thy servants say, I pray thee let us live ; 1 Kings xx. 32. Oh, that it could grieve us thoroughly, that we have grieved so good a God! that we could, by a sound and serious humiliation and hearty repentance, reconcile ourselves to that offended Majesty! We should yet live to praise him for his merciful deliverance, and for the happy restoraation of our peace: which God, for his mercy's sake, vouchsafe to
Thus much for the grieving of the Holy Spirit in Himself, by way of Allusion to Human Affection.
2. Now follows that grievance, which, by way of SYMPATHY, he feels in his Saints.
Anselm, Aquinas, Estius, and other later Interpreters have justly construed one branch of this offence of the Holy Spirit to be, when, through our lewd, despiteful words or actions, we grieve and scandalize those saints and servants of God, in whom that Holy Spirit dwells.
It is true, as Zanchius observes well, that it is no thank to a wicked man, that the Spirit of God is not grieved by him, even in person: he doth what he can to vex him: the impossibility is in the impassibleness of the Spirit of God, not in the will of the agent. But although not in himself, yet in his faithful ones, he may and doth grieve him. They are the Receptacles of the Holy Ghost,
which he so possesses and takes up, that the injuries and affronts done to them are felt and acknowledged by him: as when an enemy offers to burn, or pull down, or strip and plunder the house, the master or owner takes the violence as done to himself. We are the temples, the houses, wherein it pleaseth the Spirit God to dwell. What is done to us, is done to him in us. He challengeth, as our actions (the Spirit of God prays in us; Rom. viii. 26:) so our passions also: he is grieved in our grief. Such an interest hath God in his, that, as Christ, the Second Person in the Trinity, could say to Saul, Why persecutest thou me? so the Holy Ghost appropriates our injuries to himself: If ye be reproached for the Name of Christ, happy are ye, saith St. Peter, for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth u pon you : on their part, he is evil spoken of; but, on your part, he is glorified; 1 Pet. iv. 14. Lo, the Holy Spirit is glorified by our sufferings, and is evil spoken of in our reproaches: the word is Baco Pucītei, is blasphemed; so as, it is a fearful thing to think of, to speak contumelious words against God's children, is, by the Apostle's own determination, no better than a kind of blaspheming the Holy Ghost.
See, then, and consider, ye Malicious and Uncharitable Men: your wrongs reach further, thian ye are aware of. Ye suffer your tongues to run riot, in bitter scofis, in spiteful slanders, in injurious raylings against those, that are truly conscionable: ye think ye gall none but men, worse than yourselves; but ye shall find, that
ye have opened your mouths against heaven.
I speak not for those, that are mere outsides and visors of Christianity; making a shew of Godliness, and denying the power of it in their lives. I take no protection of them: God shall give them their portion with hypocrites. But, if he be a true child of God, one that hath the true fear of God planted in his heart, and one that desires to be approved to God in all his ways, though perhaps he differ in judgment and be of another profession from thee in some collateral matters, as the God of Heaven stands not upon such points; let him, I say, be one of God's dear and secret ones whom thou revilest and persecutest, the Spirit of God feels the indignities that are offered to such a one; and will let thee feel, that he feels them: make as slight as you will of scandalizing and wronging a good man, there is a good God that will pay you for it.
What a heavy complaint is that, which the Apostle makes to his Corinthians, concerning himself and his fellows! I think, saith he, that God hath set forth us the Apostles last, as it were appointed to death ; for we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men; i Cor. iv. 9: and verse 13; We are made as the filth of the world, the off-scouring of all things unto this day. Alas! if this were the condition of the blessed Apostles to be thus vilified, why should it seem strange to us, their unworthy successors and disciples, if we be thought fit for nothing, but to be cast upon the dunghill ? But these reproaches, however we may take coolly and calmly, as that Stoic Philosopher did, who, whilst he was discoursing of being free from passions, it being the doctrine of that sect that a wise man should be impassionate, a rude fellow spat purposely in his face; and when he was asked, whether he were not angry, answered, “ No truly, I am not angry; but I doubt whether i should not be angry at such an abuse:” but there is a God, that will not put up our contumelies so: we strike his servants on earth, and he feels it in heaven.
It is very emphatical, which the Apostle hath to this purpose, Col. i. 24. I fill up, that which is behind, Tu úsepuueta, the Afterings of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh; intimating, that there is one entire body, as it were, of Christ's sufferings, part whereof he endured in his own person, and part he still sustains in his members; so as he cannot be free, while they suffer; Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of my brethren, ye did it unto me; Matth. XV. 40).
As the soul feels what is done to the body, The iron entered into his soul; saith the Psalmist: so, what is done to the faithful soul, God is sensible of, and will revenge it accordingly. What shall be done to thee, thou false tongue? saith the Psalmist: even mighty and sharp arrox's
, with hot burning coals; Psalm cxx. 3, 4. Thou hast shot thine arrows, even bitter words, against God's chosen ones; and God shall send thee sharper arrows of his vengeance, singing into thy bosom. Thy tongue hath been set on fire with contention, and hath helped to kindle it in others; and now God shall fill thy mouth with hotter coals of that fire, which shall never be quenched. Oh, then, as we tender our own safety, let us bind our tongues and hands to their good behaviour; and resolve, with the holy Apostle, To give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God; i Cor. x. 32.
Now, as the Holy Spirit of God, both in himself and in his children, is grieved with our lewd speeches and offensive carriages; so, contrarily, God and his Holy Spirit are joyed in our gracious speeches and holy conversation; Luke xv. 10. I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repentelh. Lo, this is God’s joy, and the angels witness it. It is the owner, that hath found the lost groat; and that saith, Rejoice wih me. How doth conscienable and godly behaviour, and holy communication, make music in heaven!
We have known many, that have thought their time well bestowed, if they could make a great man smile: Principibus placuisse, &c. and, perhaps, their facetious urbanity hath not passed unrewarded. Oh, what shall we think of moving true delight to the King of Glory? It was no small encouragement to the Colossians, that the Apostle professes he was with them rejoicing, and beholding their order; Col. ii. 5. What a comfort then must it needs be, that the great God of Heaven is with us; and takes notice of our carriage, and contentment in it! I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience; saith the Spirit of God to the Angel, or Bishop, of the Church of Ephesus; Rev. ii. 2; and Videndo vidi;
saith God to Moses, concerning the Israelities; I have seen the afflictions of my people.
It is said of Anthony the Hermit, (Let no man boggle at this, that I mention a Hermit to this congregation: those first Eremites, that went aside into the wilderness, to avoid those primitive persecutions, were holy men, great saints; and of a quite different alloy from those of the present Romish Church, Mera Nominum Crepitacula,) that when he was set upon by devils, and buffetted by them; as St. Paul was,
2 Cor. xii. according to learned Cameran's interpretation; after the conflict he cried out, o bone Jesu, ubi eras? in () Lord Jesu, where wast thou?" and received answer, Jurta te eram, &c. “ I was by thee, and looked how thou wouldst demean thyself in thy combat.” Who would not fight valiantly, when he fights in the eye of his prince?
It is the highest consideration in the world, this, “ How doth God relish my actions and me?" "The common rule of the world is, “ What will men say? what will my neighbours? what will my superiors? what will posterity?” And, according to their conceits, we are willing to regulate our carriage: but a true Christian looks higher; and, for every thing he says or does, enquires after the censure or allowance of God himself; still caring that the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart may be accepted of his God: and, if his heart tell him, that God frownis at his actions, all the world cannot cheer him up; but he will go mourning all the day long, till he have made his peace, and set even terms between God and his soul : but, if that tell him all is well, nothing in the world can deject and dishearten him; but he takes up that resolution, which Solomon gives for advice, Let thy garments be white, and let no oil be wanting to thine head; go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, for now God accepteth thy works; Eccl. ix. 7, 8.
And this consideration, as it never can be unseasonable, so is a most fit cordial for every honest and good heart, in these dismal times. We are in a sad condition; and, perhaps, in expectation of worse. The sword is either devouring or threatening. We are ready to be swallowed up with grief or fear. What should we
Dear Christians, let every one of us look in what terms he stands with his God. Do we find the face of God clouded from us? let our souls refuse comfort, till we have recovered his favour, which is better than life. Do we find ourselves, upon our sound repentance, received to grace and favour of the Almighty; and that he is well pleased with our persons, and with our poor obediences; and that he smiles upon us in heaven? courage, Dear Brethren, in spite of all the frowns and menaces of the world: we are safe and shall be happy. Here is comfort for us in all tribulation; 2 Cor. i. 4. With that Chosen Vessel, we are troubled on every side ; yet not distressed: we are perplered; but not in despair: persecuted; but not forsaken: cast down; but not destroyed; 2 Cor. iv. 8, 9: for which