« PreviousContinue »
mutineer, he would quickly have pleaded for martial law to have been executed upon him*; but Job, by remaining mute and silent under all his trials, put Satan to a blush, and spoils all his projects at once. The best way to outwit the devil is to be silent under the hand of God; he that mutters, is foiled by him; but he that is mute overcomes him; and to conquer a devil, is more than to conquer a world.
Reas. 8. The eighth and last reason why christians should be silent and mute under their sorest trials, is this, that they may be conformable to those noble patterns that are set before them by other saints, who have been patient and silent under the smarting rod; as Aaron, Exod. x. 3. Eli, 1 Sam. iii. 18. · David, 2 Sam. xvi. 7-13. Job, chap. i. 21, - 22. Eliakim, Shebna and Joab, Isa. xxxvi. 11,
12. So those saints in Acts xxi. 12-15. and that cloud of witnesses, pointed at in Heb. xi. 1. Gracious examples are more awakening, more convincing, more provoking, and more encouraging than precepts, because in them we see that the exercise of grace and godliness is possible, though it be difficult. When we see Christians (that are subject to like infirmities with ourselves,) mute and silent under the afflicting hand of God, we see that it is possible that we may attain to the same noble temper of being
* That devil that accused God to man, Gen. iii. and Christ to be an imposter, will make no bopes to accuse the saints, when they miscarry under the red
tongue-tied under a smarting rod Certainly it is our greatest honour and glory in this world, to be eyeing and imitating the highest and worthiest examples. What Plutarch said of Demosthenes, that he was excellent at praising the worthy acts of his ancestors, but not so at imitating them, may be said of many in these days. Oh! they are very forward and excellent at praising the patience of Job, but not at imitating it; at praising the silence of Aaron, but not at imitating it; at praising David's dumbness, but not at imitating it; at praising Eli's muteness, but not at imitating it. It was the height of Cæsar's glory to walk in the steps of Alexander, and of Selymus, a Turkish emperor, to walk in Cæsar's steps, and of Themistocles, to walk in Miltiades's steps. Oh! how much more should we account it our highest glory to imitate the wor. thy examples of those worthies, of whom this world is not worthy! It speaks out much of God within, when men are striving to write after the fairest copies. And thus much for the reasons of the point. I come now to the application.
You see, beloved, by what has been said, That is the great duty and concernment of christians to be mute and silent under the greatest afflictions, the saddest providences, and the sharpest trials that they may meet with in this world. If that be so, then this truth looks sourly and wistly upon several sorts of persons. As,
1. This looks sourly and sadly upon mula
murers, upon such as do nothing but mutter and murmur under the afflicting hand of God. This was Israel's sin of old, Exod. xvi. 7,8,9. Num. xii. 14, 27, 29. chap. xvii. 5, 10. Exod. xv. 24. Deut. i. 27. Psal, cvi. 25. and this is England's sin at this day. Ah, what murmuring is there against God! what murmuring against instruments, and what murmuring against providences, is to be found amongst us? Some murmur at what they have lost, others murmur at what they fear they shall lose ; some murmur that they are no higher, others murmur because they are so low; some murmur because such a party rules, and others mutter because themselves are not in the saddle ; some murmur because their mercies are not so many as others, and others murmur, because their mercies are lot so as others are ; some murmur because they are afflicted, and others murmur because such and such are not afflicted as well as they. Ah, England! England! hadst thou no more sins upon thee, thy murmuring were enough to undo thee, did not God exercise much pity and compassion towards thee. But more of this hereafter. And therefore let this touch for the present suffice.
2. This truth looks sourly upon those that fret, chafe, and vex, when they are under the afflicting hand of God. Many when they feel the rod to smart, ah, how do they fret and fume! Isa. viii. 21. “ When they were hardly bestead and hungry, they fret themselves, and curse their king and their God.” Prov,
xix. 3. “ The foolishness of man perverteth his way; and his heart fretteth against the Lord." The heart may be fretful and forward, when the tongue doth not blaspheme. Folly brings man into misery, and misery makes man to fret, 2 Kings vi. 33. Ps. xxxvii. 1, 7, 8. Man in misery is more apt to fret and chafe against the Lord, than to fret and chafe against his sin that hath brought him into sufferings. A fretful soul dares attack God himself. When Pharoah is troubled with the frets, he dare fly in the very face of God himself: Who is the Lord, that I should obey him? And when Jonah is in a fretting humour, he dares tell God to his face, that he doth well to be angry, Jonah iv. 8. Jonah had done well, if he had been angry, with his sin ; but he did very ill to be angry with his God. God will vex every vein in that man's heart, before he hath done with him, who fumes and frets, because he cannot snap asunder the cords with which he is bound, Ezek. xvi. 43. Sometimes good men are sick of the frets; but when they are, it costs them dear, as Job and Jonah found by experience. No man hath ever got any thing by his fretting and flinging, except it hath been harder blows, , or heavier chains; therefore fret not when God strikes.
3. This truth looks sourly upon those who charge God foolishly in the day of their adversity, Lam. iii. 39. Why doth a living man complain? He that hath deserved a hanging, hath no reason to charge the judge with cru
elty, if he escape with a whipping'; and we that have deserved a damning, have no reason to charge God for being too severe, if we escape with a fatherly lashing *. Rather than a man will take the blame and quietly bear the shame of his own folly, he will put it off upon God himself, Gen. iii. 12. It is a very evil thing, when we shall go to accuse God, that we may excuse ourselves; and unblame ourselves, that we may blame our God, and lay the fault any where rather than upon our own hearts and ways. Job was a man of a more noble spirit, Job i. 22. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. When God charges many men home, then they presently charge God foolishly, they put him to bear the brunt and blame of all; but this will be bitterness in the end : when thou art under affliction, thou mayst humbly tell God, that thou feelest his hand heavy ; but thou must not blame him because his hand is heavy. No man hath ever been able to make good a charge against God; and wilt thou be able ? Surely no. By charging God foolishly in the day of thy calamity, thou dost but provoke the Lord to charge thee through and thro', more fiercely and furiously, with his most deadly darts of renewed misery. It is thy greatest wisdom to blame thy sins, and lay thy hand upon thy mouth; for why should folly charge innocence? That man is
* Some of the Heathens, as Homer observes, would lay the evils that they did incur by their own folly, upon their gods: so do many upon the crue God