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consider” (Isa. i. 3). So, “I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright; no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?" (Jer, viïi. 6.) The Heathens have commended such recollection. On the other side, the Scripture recommendeth meditation as one great help to obedience. Lydia's conversion is described by attendency : the Lord opened her heart, “ that she attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul” (Acts xvi. 11): because that is the first step to it; minding, choosing, prosecuting. So, the man that will benefit by the word of God is he that “ Jooketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein;" that is, abideth in the view of these truths; for a glance never converted nor warmed the heart of any man; “ This man being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his end" (James i. 25). Now, more particularly, Why meditation is necessary?
i. To know the mind of God, and understand our duty. A superficial knowledge hath no efficacy and hold upon us; therefore, by deep meditation, search, and study, we come to be more thoroughly acquainted with the mind of God revealed in his word. We are bidden to dig for knowledge as for silver (Prov. ii. 4). Mines do not lie on the surface, but in the bowels of the earth. Every day we should get more knowledge : “ Be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Rom. xii. 2). And, “Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. v. 17). Now, we cannot know this, without a serious search and inquiry into the rule of duty. There must be an accurate search; spiritual knowledge will not drop into our mouths. There are many clouds of ignorance and folly that yet hover in the minds of men, and they are dispelled more and more by a sound study of the Scriptures.
2. To keep up a fresh remembrance of our duty. Oblivion and inconsideration is a kind of ignorance for the time; though we habitually know a thing, yet we do not actually know a thing, till we consider of it: “ They consider not that they do evil" (Eccl. v. 1). So, “ They consider not in their hearts, that I remember all their wickedness” (Hos. vii. 2).
That which we consider, is always before us; but that which we consider not, is forgotten, laid by, and the notions which we have about them are, as it were, laid asleep, they work not: but now, frequent meditation keepeth these things alive.
3. Meditation is necessary to enkindle our affections. Affections are stirred by thoughts, as thoughts by objects. The truth cannot come home to our hearts, till we think of it again and again: we have no other natural way to raise affection; and we must not think that grace worketh like a charm, in a way contrary to the instituted order of nature. No; the heart of man must be besieged with frequent and powerful thoughts, before it will yield to God, and give entertainment to his truth and ways. There is no coming at the heart, but by the mind; and the mind must be serious in whatever it represents, to gain the heart : that is, we must meditate. The Devil watcheth our postures; he seeketh to catch these thoughts out of our mind, as soon as he seeth that we begin to be serious (Matt. xiii. 19).
4. Meditation is necessary to show our love: “My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved, and I will meditate in tby statutes.” “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law
doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm i. 2). “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved” (Psalm cxix. 47). The mind will muse upon what we love; as thoughts stir affections, so affections stir up thoughts ; for in all moral things there is a avaloyévnois, a pleasing object will be much revolved in our mind, and frequently thought of.
The Use is for direction to us. When you have heard the word, remember what you hear, and apply it to yourselves by serious inculcative thoughts. So, when you read the word, do not only understand it, but think of it again, and again, and again: “Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day,” saith Moses to the Israelites (Deut. xxxii. 46). Šo Christ : “Let these sayings sink down into your ears" (Luke ix. 44). Truths never go to the quick of the affections, but by serious and ponderous thoughts. You will not lift up your hands, till the truth sink into the heart. You read chapters, hear sermon after sermon, they do not stir you, or it is but a little, for a fit, like a man that hath been a little warming himself by the fire, and goeth away, and is colder than he was before. Oh, Christian, this means is not to be neglected, no more than reading or hearing, because of its great use, both for first conversion, and continual quickening.
1. For first conversion. A man cometh to himself by serious thoughts of those great and important truths which are delivered in the word of God: “And when he came to hiinself, he said,” &c. (Luke xv. 17). “ All the ends of the world shall remember, and turn unto the Lord” (Psalm xxii. 27). “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies” (Psalm cxix. 59).
2. For continual quickening. Musing maketh the fire burn. The greatest things will not move us, if we do not think of them: “ What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. viii. 31.) “Lo, this we have searched it, so it is, hear it, and know thou it for thy good” (Job v. 27). The benefit of sound doctrine consists in the application thereof by the hearers. When men have spent their time and strength to find a good lesson for us, shall not we think of it?
hast caused me to hope.
First, His prayer and humble petition to God, “ Remember thy word.” God is said to remember, when he doth declare by the effect that he doth remember. He sometimes seemingly forgets his promise; that is, to appearance carrieth himself as one that doth forget.
Secondly, His argument is taken,
1. As warranted, by his word; that gave him ground of lope and comfort.
2. As caused, by his influence: “ upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” The word, his warrant; the Spirit, his anchor. Would God raise up such a hope merely to defeat it? The word concurred to this hope, as it offered,
(I.) A command to believe.
(2.) The promise of the eternal and immutable God to build upon. The influence of his grace concurred; for he that maketh the offer in the word, doth also work faith in the believer, and inclineth his heart to apply the promise, and trust in it: for faith is the gift of God (Eph. i. 8). In short, here is a promise believed, and pleaded ; and both confirm our faith in the fulfilling and granting of it.
DOCTRINE.—That believers may humbly challenge God upon his word, and seek the full performance of what he hath promised.
This point, that it may be managed with respect to this text, I shall give you these considerations.
1. That God delighteth to promise mercy, before he accomplish it; which showeth these things.
(1.) His abundant love. God's heart is so kindly affected to his people, that he cannot stay till the accomplishment of things, but he must tell us aforehand what he meaneth to do for us: “Before they spring forth, I will tell you of them” (Isa. xlii. 9). Long before there was any sight of such things, or means that might produce them : so that his promise is an eruption and overflow of his love.
(2.) His care for our security. For, by his promise he giveth his people a holdfast upon him, as he maketh himself a debtor to them by his own promise, who was otherwise free, before such engagagement to poor creatures : “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” (Psalm lxxxix. 34). The word is gone out of his lips, not to be recalled, or reversed. The promises are as so many bonds, wherein he stands bound to us; and these bonds may be put in suit, and his people have liberty and confidence to ask what he hath promised to them. Austin saith of his mother, Chirographia tua injiciebat tibi, Domine : “Lord, she showed thy own bond and handwriting.” It is a mighty argument in prayer, when we can plead, that we ask no more than God hath promised.
2. That there is usually some time of delay between making the promise, and fulfilling the promise : for therefore God promiseth, because he meaneth to do us good, but not presently. And this delay is not for want of kindness, or out of any backwardness to our good; for so it is said, he will not tarry: “Though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Hab. ii. 3): nor out of ignorance, as not knowing the fittest time to help his people; for his waiting is guided by judgment : “ He waiteth that he may be gracious; for he is a God of judgment” (Isa. Xxx. 18): he will take hold of the fittest season, or occasion. Not from forgetfulness of his promise; for, “he will ever be mindful of his holy covenant" (Psalm cxi. 5). Not from any mutability of nature, or change of counsel; for he is Jehovah, that changeth not: “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal. iii. 6). He hath a due foresight of all possible difficulties, and needeth not to alter his counsels. Not from impotency and weakness, as if he could not execute what he had promised, as the sons of Zeruiah were too hard for David (2 Sam. iii. 39): all things are at the beck and signification of his will. But (1.) Partly with respect to his own glory, he will do things in
their proper season: “Everything is beautiful in its time" (Eccl. iii. 11). This is the wise providence of God in the government of the world, that everything is brought forth in its proper season, and in the time when it is most fit. God humbleth, and God exalteth his people in the due time: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty land of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter v. 6). So it is said of their enemies : “Their foot shall slide in due time” (Deut. xxxii. 35). Summer and winter must succeed in their seasons. . (2.) With respect to us. God will try our faith, whether we can stay on his word, and hug it, and embrace it, till the blessing come. As it is said of the patriarchs, donaoájevou they embraced the promises (Heb. xi. 13). “In God I will praise his word; I have put my trust in the Lord, I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (Psalm lvi. 4). During this time we may be exercised with divers troubles and difficulties, so that to appearance God seemeth to forget his promises; and this he doth,
(1.) Partly, to try our faith to the utmost, to see if we can trust and depend upon God for things which we see not, nor are likely to see. Faith, in the general, is a dependence upon God for something that lieth out of sight. Now, when the object is not only out of sight, but all that is seen and felt seemeth to contradict our hopes, and God seemeth to put us off, and we meet with many a rebuke of our confidence, instead of an answer, as the woman of Canaan that came to Christ, at first meeteth not with a word, then his speech more discourageth than his silence : “ It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs” (Matt. xv. 26): she turneth this rebuke into an encouragement: “Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table” (verse 27). “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt" (verse 28). Many times we come and pray for blessings promised, and the oracle is dumb and silent; though God love the supplicant, yet he will not seem to take notice of his desires, but will humble him to the dust. Now, to pick an answer out of God's silence, and a gracious answer out of his rebukes, showeth great faith. Job saith, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him (Job xiii. 15). Faith supports us under the greatest pressures; when God seemeth to deal like an enemy, yet even then trusts in God as a friend, and that his dispensations will never give his word the lie.
(2.) To try our patience, as well as our faith. God's dearest children are not admitted to the enjoyment of the mercies promised presently: "Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. vi. 12). And, “ Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye may receive the promise” (Heb. x. 36). We must first do, and sometimes suffer the will of God. The promises are to come, and at a great distance; and, “ if we hope for that we see not, and enjoy not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom. viii. 25). But especially is patience tried when we meet with oppositions, difficulties, dangers, many things done, many things suffered, before we can attain what we hope for. Now, quietly to wait God's leisure, is a great trial of our patience. Our times are always present with us, when God's time is not come. A hungry stomach would have meat ere it be sodden or roasted; and a sickish appetite must have green fruit: but to wait, like the husbandman, in all seasons and weathers, till the corn ripen; and to persevere in hoping and praying, that is that which God requires.
(3.) Our love, though we be not feasted with felt comforts, nor bribed with present satisfaction and benefits in hand. God will try the deportment of his children, whether they will adhere to him when he seemeth to cast them off. It is not said, In the way of thy mercies, but, “ In the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee: the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee” (Isa. xxvi. 8). Love for himself, without any present benefit from him; yea, when kept under sore judgments, and deep distresses.
(4.) To enlarge our desires, that we have the greater sense of our neces. sities, and value for the blessings promised. A sack that is stretched out, holdeth the more. Delay increaseth importunity : “ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. vii. 7). “Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet qaá tnv vaioetav, because of his importunity, he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth” (Luke xi. 8). And things promised being asked, and at length obtained, are the more valued.
3. That if we yet continue our faith, and heartily believe God upon his word, it is a great encouragement in waiting for the thing promised ; for, to believe, is a qualification. There are in the word of God promises that we may believe, and then, promises because we do believe. Promises to invite faith and hope; and then, promises because we believe in God, and hope in his word; promises for faith, and to faith. As for instance, God hath promised to be a defence unto his people: “ I, the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her” (Zech. ii. 5). Now, see how David pleadeth: “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me ; for my soul trusteth in thee, yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast" (Psalm lvii. 1). When once we believe, then we have a claim : “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee" (Isa. xxvi. 3). Trust giveth us a fresh claim, or new interest: “Oh thou, my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee" (Psalm lxxxvi. 2). God will not disappoint a trusting soul. An ingenuous man will not fail his friend, if he rely on him. We count this the strongest bond we lay upon another, to be faithful, and mindful of us; •I trust you, that you will do this for me.' How much more will God do so?
(1.) For his own honour, to show himself faithful, willing, and able to succour his people in their distresses. This is the reproach cast upon the worshippers of idols, that they call upon those things which cannot help them, nor relieve them in their straits: “Go to the gods which ye hare chosen, let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation" (Judg. x. 14). When you trust God, the honour of his Godhead lieth at stake; by trust you own him for a God: “Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man upon his god” (Jonah i. 5). By making good your trust, he showeth hiniself to be a God, that they do not seek to a vain help.
(2.) With a condescension to his people. Nothing goeth so near their hearts, as a disappointment of their hope in God. This will mightily damp their spirits, when God spits in their faces, and seemeth to reject their prayers: “Oh, my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed-yea, let none of them that wait on thee be ashamed; but let them be ashamed which transgress without a cause” (Psalm xxv. 2). To have hopes fail which were invited and drawn forth by promises, is a great temptation.
(3. With respect to their enemies, who will be sure to cast this in their