« ПретходнаНастави »
hear God, and to speak to Him, and is disposed to speak in the style here prescribed, humbly and repentingly.
I have borne chastisement.] The speaking this unto God under affliction, signifies, that our affliction is from His hand ; and to the acknowledgment of this truth, the very natural consciences of men do incline them. Though trouble be the general lot of mankind, yet, it doth not come on him by an improvidential fatality: though man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards, yet, it comes not out of the dust. Job v. 6, 7. It is no less true, and in itself no less clear, that all the good we enjoy and all the evil we suffer, come from the same Hand; but we are naturally more sensible of evil than of good, and therefore do more readily reflect upon the original and causes of it. Our distresses lead us to the notice of the righteous God inflicting them, and of our own unrighteous ways procuring them, and provoking Him so to do; and therefore it is meet to speak in this submissive, humble language to Him. It is by all means necessary to speak to Him. He is the party we have to deal withal, or to speak to, even in those afflictions whereof men are the intervenient visible causes. They are indeed but instrumental causes, the rod and staff in His hand who smites us, therefore, our business is with Him, in whose Supreme Hand alone the mitigations and increases, the continuance and the ending of our troubles lie. Who gave Jacob to the spoil and Israel to the robbers ? Did not the Lord against whom we have sinned? Isa. xlii. 24. So, Lam. i. 14. The yoke of my transgressions is bound on by His hand. Therefore it is altogether necessary in all afflictions to speak to Him. And as it is necessary to speak to Him, so, it is meet to speak thus to Him, I have borne chastisement, I will no more offend. These words have in them the true composition of real repentance, humble submission and holy resolution. I have borne chastisement, that is, I have justly borne it, and do heartily submit to it; I bear it justly, and take it well; Lord, I acquit thee, and accuse myself. This language becomes the most innocent persons in the world in their suffering. Job knew it well, and did often acknowledge it in his preceding speeches. Though sometimes, in the heat of dispute, and in opposition to the uncharitable and unjust imputations of his friends, he seems to overstrain the assertion of his own integrity, (which Elihu here corrects) you know he cries out, I have sinned against Thee : what shall I do unto Thee, 0 Thou preserver of men ? Job vii. 20. And ch. ix. ver. 30. If I wash myself with snow-water, and make my hands never so clean, yet shalt Thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
Vain, foolish persons fret and foam at the miscarriage of a cause they apprehend to be righteous; but this is a great vanity and inconsiderate temerity in not observing the great and apparent unrighteousness in the persons managing it. But though both the cause and the persons were just to the greatest height imaginable amongst men, yet, still were it meet to speak thus unto God in the lowest acknowledgments and confessions, that righteousness belongs unto Him, and unto us shame and confusion of face. So says the Church, Lam. iii. The Lord is righteous, for I have rebelled against His commandments. Though affliction is not always designedly intended as the chastisement of some particular sin, yet, where sin is, (and that is the case of all the sons of Adam,) affliction coming in, may safely be considered in its natural cognation and alliance with sin, and so press forth humble confessions of sin and resolutions against it. And thus in Lev. xxvi. 41., They shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity ; shall take it humbly and penitently, and kiss the rod.
Oh, that there were such a heart in us! that instead of empty words that scatter themselves in the wind, our many vain discourses we hold one with another concerning our past and present sufferings, and further fears, and disputing of many fruitless and endless questions, we were more abundantly turning our speech this way, in unto God, and saying, We desire to give Thee glory, and to take shame to ourselves, and to bear our chastisement, and to offend no more; to return each from his evil way, and to gain this by the furnace, the purging away of our dross, our many and great iniquities, our oaths, and cursings, and lying, our deceit, and oppressions, and pride, and covetousness, our base love of ourselves, and hating one another; that we may be delivered from the tyranny of our own lusts and passions; and in other things, let the Lord do with us as seems good in His eyes. Oh, that we were speaking to God in Ephraim's words, Jer. xxxi. 18, 19, 20: Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised: turn Thou me, and I shall be turned, &c. : words not unlike these, would stir His bowels, as there ; as it is said, that one string perfectly tuned to another, being touched, the other stirs of itself. When a stubborn child leaves struggling under the rod, and turns to entreating, the father then leaves off striking ; nothing overcomes him but that. When a man says unto God, Father, I have provoked. Thee to this, but pardon, and through Thy grace
I will do so no more, then, the rod is thrown aside, and the Father of mercies and His humbled child, fall to mutual tenderness and embraces.
What I see not, teach Thou me.] The great article of conversion is, the disengagement of the heart from the love of sin. In that posture, as it actually forsakes whatsoever it perceives to be amiss, so, it stands in an absolute readiness to return to every duty that yet lies hidden, upon the first discovery. That is here the genuine voice of a repentant sinner, What I see not, teach Thou me : if I have done iniquity, I will do
This is a very necessary supplication, even for the most discerning and clearest-sighted penitent, both in reference to the commandment and rule for discovering the general nature and several kinds of sin, and withal for the application of this general light to the examination of a man's own heart and ways,
have a more exact and particular account of his own sins.
The former part of the petition is for the knowledge of the law of God, as the rule by which a man is to try and to judge
himself. The most knowing are not above the need of this request ; yea, I am persuaded, the most knowing know best how much they need it, and are most humbled in themselves in the conscience of their ignorance and darkness in Divine things, and are most earnest and pressing in this daily supplication for increases of light and spiritual knowledge from Him who is the Fountain of it: What I see not, teach Thou me. On the other side, the least knowing are often the most confident that they know all, and swelled with a conceited sufficiency of their model and determination of all things, both dogmatical and practical ; and therefore are they the most imperious and magisterial in their conclusions, and the most impatient of contradiction, or even of the most modest dissent. • The wisest and holiest persons speak always in the humblest and most depressing style of their own knowledge, and that not with an affectation of modesty, but under the real sense of the thing as it is, and the sincere account they give of it, and that commonly when they are declaring themselves most so lemnly, as in the sight of God, or speaking in supplication to Him with whom they dare least of all dissemble. Whosoever he was that spake those words, in the thirtieth chapter of Proverbs, surely. he was a man of eminent wisdom and piety, and yet he begins thus : Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man; I have neither learned wisdom, nor have I the knowledge of the Holy. And though he was so diligent a student, and so great a proficient in the law of God, yet, how importunate a petitioner is he for the understanding of it, as if he knew nothing at all! Besides the like expressions in other Psalms, in that one Psalm, (the cxix.] which, although of such length, hath nothing but the breathing forth of his affection to the word and law of God, how often doth David in it reiterate that petition, Teach me Thy statutes !--so often, that a carnal mind is tempted to grow weary of it, as a nauseating tautology; but he made it still new with the freshness and vehemency of his affection : Make me to understand the way of Thy pre
cepts-Give me understanding, and I shall keep Thy lawand Open Thou mine eyes, that I may see the wonders of Thy law,-unseal mine eyes, as if they were still veiled and dark. These are the earnest and nobly ambitious desires that daily solicit holy hearts, and stir them up to solicit the Teacher of hearts, to be admitted more into the secrets and recesses of Divine knowledge; not to those abysses that God intends should be secret still, and from which He hath barred out our curiosity, as the forbidden tree of knowledge, those secrets that belong to Himself alone, and concern us not to inquire after. And certainly, to be wading in those deeps, is the way to be drowned in them. The searcher of majesty shall be oppressed with glory. Yet, there is in man, a perverse, preposterous desire, to pore upon such things as are on purpose hidden that we should not inquire after them, and to seek after useless, empty speculations of them, which is a luxury and intemperance of the understanding, like unto that, and springing from that, which at first undid us in the root. These are times full of those empty, airy questions, and notions in which there is no clearness nor certainty to be attained, and if it were, yet it would serve to little or no purpose, not making the man who thinks he hath found them out, one jot the better or holier man than he was before. What avails it, says a devout author, to dispute and discourse high concerning the Trinity, and want humility, and so displease that Trinity ? The light and knowledge suited according to the intendment of this copy, is of nature, such as purifies the heart and rectifies the life. What I see not, teach Thou me; that is, of such things as may serve this end, that if I have done iniquity, I may do it no more. This is sound and solid know. ledge, such a light as inflames the heart with the love of God and of the beauties of holiness, and still, as it grows, makes those to grow likewise. Such are still, we see, David's multiplied supplications in that cxix. Psalm; not to know reserved and useless things, but, Hide not Thy commandments
from me. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me : now, what is it