THE SAINT’S DUTY IN EVIL TIMES
Where, or on what occasion, this sermon was preached, is uncertain; but by the place it has in the Author’s notes, it is probable it was some time in the year 1738.
“Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee.” Isaiah 26:8
God hath promised his people a door of hope, in the valley of Achor, that they may sing there. These words are part of a song, composed a little before the captivity, by way of anticipation, showing what comfort may be found in the midst of all afflictions. The first part of the song is of a high strain, full of comfort; but, omitting the coherence, in this text you may notice, 1. The circumstances the Lord’s people were in, they were under judgments. By judgments sometimes in scripture is understood the law and commandment; but here it is affliction as in the following verse. 2. Whence their affliction proceeded, from God; thy judgments. 3. The variety thereof, they are judgments, (in the plural number); and the way of his judgments. 4. The persons who were trysted with them, even the people of God, that are here representing their case, we. 5. To whom they relate their circumstances, to God himself; “In the way of thy judgments, O Lord.” 6. Their exercise; we have waited for thee.
From which I observe so many doctrines, for ground of meditation.
- From the afflictions they were under, being called judgments. Observe, “That on whomsoever God inflicts any punishments, they are always just; for they are judgments, parts of his righteous administrations, as the righteous Judge of all the earth.” Hence learn,
- To justify God, whatever be the affliction you are trysted with; and to ascribe righteousness and holiness to him: thus did David, when God had forsaken him and refused him an audience; “My God, my- God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel,” (Ps. 22:1-3). So should we say, “I am so and so afflicted; but thou art holy, but thou art righteous, but thou art just.”
- To condemn ourselves when God so righteously judges us. We ought not to charge God foolishly; but to take with the charge of sin, and to bear the indignation of the Lord, because we have sinned against him.
- To see sin to be an iniquity and an unjust thing, because his afflicting for sin is just: “Thou art just when thou smitest, and clear when thou judgest.”
- To receive affliction dutifully and humbly; because we receive good things out of the hand of God, and should bless him because he is merciful; therefore, we should receive evil things out of his hand also, and adore him because he is just. He may afflict in sovereignty; but if he marks iniquity, we need quarrel no punishment he inflicts.
II. Observation: “That judgments upon a people do not come by chance, but have their original commission from God, therefore they are called his judgments, thy judgments.
The evil of sin is ours, but the evil of affliction the Lord challenges as his: “Is there evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it? “It is God that chastiseth. Who brought such a man to a sickbed, and who inflicted such and such a trouble? Who made that man a widower, and his children motherless; and such a woman a widow, and her children fatherless? Why, saith God, Am not I the Author of it? It is I that removes comforts; I that inflicts crosses. The cruelest act that ever was done in the world, so far as concerned the afflictive part of it, is what God challenges as his own deed, viz. the delivering of Christ to be crucified. It was not the hand of Pilate, but the hand of God himself; so it is said when Pilate spoke to Christ, saying, “Knowest thou not, that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above; therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin, (John 19:10-11). Ye men of Israel, hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approven of God among you, by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain,” (Acts 2:22-23). Whatever be the second cause, God is the first mover and the spring. Hence learn,
- To take off your eyes and passions from instruments of trouble, and from the stone that is thrown, and look to the hand that throws it. See God in every affliction; it is his judgment, whether fatherly or wrathful.
- Learn to exercise submission, patience and toleration. If it were only the hand of man, and the mere influence of some temporary cause, then perhaps there might be some liberty taken; but it is God: therefore let this stop our mouth forever; “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it,” (Ps. 39:9).
- This should influence not only to toleration, but to supplication to God: “Is any afflicted? let him pray;” pray for grace to bear what he lays on your back; pray not only for patience, but for perseverance, since it is hard to hold out under affliction; pray for dependence upon himself: afflictions are the banishers of men from creature-comforts, and from resting on them; therefore we need to pray for a believing and close adherence to the Lord himself; and pray for deliverance; yet with submission to his will.
- Learn to acknowledge his wise providence, that by judgment can bring about mercy; since they are his judgments, we may expect his mercifully accompanying them for good, and making them to work for good, to loose the heart from the creature. “He doth not afflict willingly,” but he mercifully orders the affliction.
- Learn to reap advantage by judgment, and to turn to him that smiteth, and to hear the rod, for it cometh with a lesson: Schola crucis, schola lucis [the school of the cross, the school of light; Ed.].
III. Observation: “That God’s judgments are various; from above, from beneath, from without, from within, from this hand and that hand: hence we read here of the way of his judgments.” There are diversity of afflictions in the hand of God; some he exerciseth with affliction one way, and some another; some various ways, and with various afflictions, and multitudes of them: David knew this; “Deep calleth unto deep.” Temptations, desertions, and many other ways: Paul was in perils diverse ways. Hence learn,
- Men should beware of multiplying sin, lest God multiply judgments; for he hath many arrows in his quiver; an impenitent sinner can never out-sin God’s wrath; his arrows of vengeance can never be spent.
- Men little need to be secure when one judgment is over, as if the bitterness of death was past: God often brings a cloud after rain. When you have escaped one affliction, God can soon meet you with another; he can soon make a son rise up against a father, as Absalom against David. You may escape the famine, and may fall by the sword; you may escape one trial, and yet a greater may be behind. Be not secure.
- If God hath so many and various afflictions wherewith to afflict you, leave it to the wisdom of God, in what kind and after what manner he will chastise you. Beware of afflictions of your own procuring: cut not out your own troubles; let God cut and carve for you.
- Learn hence, to stoop at the first blow, and not to put God at the charge of many arrows; he will overcome when he judges, as he did with Pharaoh, that haughty monarch; he had better dismissed Israel at first.
IV. Observation: “That the sins of God’s own people may provoke him to send judgments on them, and on the place they live in.” They may sin, as here, and bring judgments upon themselves and others: God may be provoked for the iniquity of sons and daughters. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Hence learn,
- Let not God’s own children forget their obnoxiousness to the discipline of his house; “If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments:—Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes,” (Ps. 89:30-32).
- Let everyone examine their own heart, and see what hand they have in bringing such a judgment, and such a judgment, whether spiritual or temporal.
- It should teach us to stand in the gap when others make it wider, even the people of God themselves: how few then are there to stand and to fill it up, or stop it, in this day of degeneracy and backsliding?
- It should teach us to bewail the sins even of God’s own people, their carnality, levity, wantonness, &c., and to live a life of continual dependence upon the Lord Jesus that we be not given up to the sway of our lusts; and to humble ourselves. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land,” (2 Chron. 7:4). Where we may remark, that as humiliation, supplication, and reformation are necessary, in order to have a land healed, if it is hurt even by the sins of God’s people; so it is not our duties, or performance thereof, but God’s propriety in us, and covenant with us, that causes him to show mercy to us. Which also teaches us, how to wrestle with God in prayer; the argument must be drawn from his free grace. And how to do duty acceptably; it is by faith in Christ; as our persons, so our services are accepted only in him: and his interest in his people is unchangeable.
V. Observation: “That we cannot go to a better hand to represent our afflicted circumstances, than the hand that smites us: In the way of thy judgments, O Lord, saith the people here, we come to pour out our complaints.” Hence,
- Here is the mystery of faith! It brings a man to that very God that was offended; to him that judges righteously, that he may judge also mercifully.
- God’s people, in their greatest trials, will never want a refuge: when they are under judgments, they make their Judge their refuge.
- How condemnation-worthy are they that go to other physicians of no value, neglecting God himself, though it is the end of his chastisements to drive them to himself?
- Afflictions that come from God, with a blessing, leads to God by prayer; and when we truly see them to be from him, as his judgments, they will lead us to him, to breathe out our souls to him, as the Deliverer.
VI. Observation: “That it is the duty of the afflicted to “wait for God.” It is the property of God’s people to wait patiently the time of God’s mercy in a way of hope, “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord,” (Lam. 3:25-26). It is not enough to wait on God, in the way of his mercies; but we must wait on him in the way of his judgments also. Here I would, 1. Propose some questions, for explaining and clearing the doctrine. 2. Resolve some objections that may be made, against this duty of waiting upon God in the way of his judgments.
1st, The first thing was, to propose some questions for clearing the duty of waiting on the Lord.
Question: 1. What are we to wait upon God for?
Answer: For all promised blessing of the new covenant; we ought to lay hold on his covenant, and then to wait for all the promised good thereof. As,
- For God himself, his being our God, and acting the part of a God to us; since the great promise of the covenant is, “I will be thy God, and ye shall be my people.
- For the new heart and spirit, according to the promise, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and give you an heart of flesh.” For promised pardon; “I will be merciful to your unrighteousness, your sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” For promised healing, according to the promise, “I will heal your backslidings; I will love you freely.” For the promised Spirit; “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” For promised presence; I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” For promised direction; “I will lead the blind in a way they know not.” For promised salvation, grace and glory, and every good thing promised in the covenant; for what he hath promised to his children, to the church, to the nation. His promise is the rule for regulating our expectations, in waiting for God. We need to know what we are waiting for.
Question: 2. How, and in what manner are we to wait for him?
Answer: 1. We are to wait believingly; believing and waiting are joined together, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of God in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart,” (Ps. 27:13). What is this waiting but continued believing, a living by faith.
- We are to wait on the Lord industriously, obediently, and diligently; true faith is acting and working; we are to wait in the course of duty and diligence; so Elijah, when he prayed for rain, and sent his servant to see if there was any appearance thereof; he prayed again, and sent again, seven times.
- We are to wait humbly: waiting is drawn from the service of an inferior to a superior that waits upon him reverently and respectfully. O the infinite distance between God and us how humbly and reverently should we wait upon him, as our great Lord and Master? (Ps. 123:1-2).
- We are to wait hopefully; “It is good for a man both to hope, and quietly to wait for the salvation of God,” (Lam. 3:26). If his mercy be free, who would not wait and hope in his mercy, however unworthy?
- We should wait upon the Lord cheerfully and affectionately; “For he meeteth him that rejoiceth, and worketh righteousness. Why art thou discouraged, O my soul; hope thou in God,” (Ps. 42:5; 43:5). Give not way to discouragement and despondency, for thus we dishonor God, and discredit his way. He loveth a cheerful giver, a cheerful seeker, a cheerful waiter.
- Wait on the Lord constantly and perseveringly; “Wait on thy God continually,” (Amos 12:6). Wait at the pool till the angel trouble the water; wait on him all the days of your appointed time, till your change come. There is no period here but death.
Question: 3. When are we to wait, at what time?
Answer: At all times, as I was saying just now; and particularly in the way of his judgments. As,
1. A time of trouble and affliction.—Affliction from God is the furnace wherein God tries his metal, tries their faith, hope, and patience; therein we are to wait for him.—Afflictions from men; say not in your haste, You will repay mischief to them that hurts you; I will have amends of such a man. “Christ, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.” —Afflictions from friends, from enemies, and devils; Job met with all these, and waited on God in them.
2. A time of want; outward want, is a time for waiting; therefore we are called to be careful for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, make our requests known. Hath he provided a Christ for your souls, and will he not provide a crumb for your bodies? Inward want; “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the vallies: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water,” (Isa. 41:17-18).
3. A time of temptation, is a fit time for waiting on the Lord, so Paul, when tempted, he besought the Lord thrice.
4. A time of desertion; “And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob; and I will look for him,” (Isa. 8:17).
5. A time of fear; “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee,” (Ps. 56:3).
6. A time of weakness; though called to duty or warfare, wait on him for strength; “They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength,” (Isa. 40:31).
7. In a word, we are to wait on him in secret, in private, in public, in good and bad company, in all that we go about, or are called to be employed in.
Question: 4. Why are we to wait for him?
1. We are to wait on him, because he hath commanded us; “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord,” (Ps. 27:14). Whatever he commands is surely our duty; and there is no greater reason, for any duty, than his sovereign will.
2. Because of his relation to us as our God, Maker and Master; “Behold as the eyes of servants look into the hands of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us,” (Ps. 123:2).
3. Because all things wait on him; “The eyes of all things wait upon thee, and thou givest them their meat in due season,” (Ps. 145:15). All the inanimate creatures do so passively; we ought to so actively.
4. Because it is our interest; “Blessed are they that wait for him,” (Isa. 30:18). “They that wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint,” (Isa. 40:31).
2dly, We propose to resolve some objections, that may be made against this duty of waiting on God in the way of his judgments.
[1.] Some plead against this duty, because of their darkness and unclearness about their saving interest in the God they are called to wait upon; if I knew he was my God, I might have encouragement to wait on him; but I am in the dark about my interest in him, and why should I wait for him?
1. Let it be one of your reasons for waiting upon God, to deal with him for making your right to the covenant sure; Pray him to send forth his light and truth to be a guide to you.
2. Thy want of clearness, in this matter, doth not make void his call and command to thee, to wait on him. This is indeed necessary for the doing it more comfortably and successfully.
3. When you cannot wait on him, as one you know to be yours, by special right; you are to wait on him as one that offers himself to you, and to be yours through Christ.
4. Let not your darkness be a lazy, idle darkness; but be stirred up to diligence by duty and means; and if thou art as diligent, tender, humble, and holy under thy darkness, as others under their light and assurance, it is well; and will have an agreeable issue.
[2.] Some plead, how can I wait on him, in the way of his judgments, when I have procured these judgments by my sins? If my sufferings were cleanly, then I could wait for God, under them; but my manifold transgressions have justly provoked him to send these judgments on me.
1. Your sin bringing on judgments, doth not loose your obligation to the duty of waiting upon God under them, though it may make the performance more difficult. In Psalm 130:1, there the Psalmist is in the deeps, yet he cries to God; though sin was at the door, therefore, he cries also for forgiveness, (v. 3); intimating, that sin had brought him into the deeps.
2. Thou art the more obliged to wait upon God under his judgments, that sin hath procured them; and that whatever way you look on this duty of waiting. (1.) If you understand it for submission to God under sad providences, and patient abiding God’s time and leisure for relief, then your sin is a strong motive to this waiting. What better reason for holy submission to his judgments, than that we have brought them on ourselves? And what better reason to wait his time, than that we, by our sin, deserve eternal misery? See, Micah 7:7. “I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me,” (Lam. 3:30). Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? (2.) If you understand waiting for a hopeful expectation of good from God, and of promised covenant mercy, then the consideration of thy sins ought not to hinder thy waiting for this in the way of his judgments, though thou hast provoked him thereunto; because the ground of your hope of the fulfilling of covenant promises, is the free grace of God in Christ, who hath performed the condition of the covenant; and sovereign grace can neither be furthered by thy good, nor hindered by thy ill; though yet still good things promised in the covenant, are to be expected in the way of duty, not in the way of going on in sin; therefore, set about the exercise of repentance, judging thyself as Ephraim, (Jer. 31:18-20); and by faith apply to the fountain of the blood of Christ, (1 John 1:9).
3. It hath been the practice of God’s children to wait upon him under judgments, even though they were conscious of sin bringing them on, “Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?” (Ps. 49:5). Again saith the church, “Though our iniquities testify against us, yet do thou for thy name’s sake, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” Have we not the more reason to wait on him for pardoning and purifying grace, that our sin hath brought sad things upon us?
4. Christ sympathizes with you, even in these afflictions, which you bring upon yourselves by your sin. As a King, he corrects you for your sins; and yet as an Husband and Head, sympathizes with you, and grieves for the misery that, by your sin and folly, you bring upon yourselves; “In all their afflictions he is afflicted,” (Isa. 63:9); even in these they sinfully procured. See Judges 10:15-16. Israel had by their idolatry provoked God to give them up to a cruel enemy, yet it is said, “His soul was grieved for the affliction of Israel.” How should this encourage us to wait on him, and expect his mercy!
[3.] Some plead against this duty in their heart, from the fearfulness of the providence that befalls them, the irrecoverableness of their losses, and the singularity of their cases: “Is there any sorrow like my sorrow?”
Answer: 1. No trouble, be it ever so great, hath befallen you, but what others of God’s children have either met with the same, or with the equivalent; therefore, say not your case is singular, (1 Pet. 4:12).
2. However singular thy affliction be, yet still thou art the more obliged to this duty, as a duty shaped out for a sad condition. I know no wrathful dispensation a child of God can fall under, that doth not consist with thoughts of peace towards them, to give them an expected end; and where it is not good for him both to hope and quietly wait for the salvation of God, (Lam. 3:26).
3. In waiting for God, we are to wait for what he hath promised, and as he hath promised it. Your temporal losses, be it of a friend, an husband, wife, father, mother, children, &c., may indeed be irrecoverable; in many cases you are not to expect a restoration of the particular thing, by the loss whereof God corrects you: but it is sufficient, if he gives you as good; if he gives you in gold what you have lost in silver. He can make up your losses another way, by giving thee as good; yea, and making thee find more comfort, sweetness, and satisfaction in himself, than ever thou hast found in these enjoyments. Some losses cannot be repaired without a miracle, in the particular itself; and for this thou hast no promise; but thou art to wait on him for the sanctification of thy loss, and for a sweet up-making of it.
4. Sense and reason, which go upon visible appearances, are not the grounds of faith, nor of waiting upon God; but the covenant and promise is the ground thereof. Therefore, having God’s word to build upon, on him you are to wait; though there be nothing appearing to sense and reason that promises relief: but let faith look to what God hath spoken in his holiness; and then there is ground to rejoice and to hope. Faith, which is the evidence of things not seen, will see salvation coming, when sense cannot perceive it, but seems to see the quite contrary; therefore, learn to walk by faith, and not by sight, (2 Cor. 5:7).
[4.] Some plead, they have waited long, and are not the better, but rather trysted with greater trouble; and therefore are ready to say, “Why should I wait on the Lord any longer?” The longer I wait, the greater my trouble grows.
1. It is not strange though the Lord should make his people wait long; yea, wait for good and behold evil, and make greater trouble shoulder out the lesser; “We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble,” (Jer. 8:15). “For the inhabitants of Maroth waited carefully for good; but evil came down from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem,” (Micah 1:12). When the end for which affliction came is not reached, yet still it is our duty to continue waiting, while he continues afflicting; “Wait on thy God continually,” (Hosea 12:6). We are to wait on him, till the day of calamity be over-past; “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 over-past,” (Ps. 57:1).
2. Whatever be the changes of divine providence, his love is unchangeable. He may multiply new troubles, instead of delivering from old ones; yet all this cannot separate from his love, (Rom. 8:35,38).
3. Let times of trouble be never so great or long, yet they are not comparable either to the eternal torments of the damned, or the eternal joys of the redeemed; the former thou hast deserved, the latter thou art entitled to. Why then fret, and not wait patiently on God, under thy troubles? They are nothing to the eternal misery of the damned, from which thou art delivered; nothing to the eternal happiness of the redeemed, to which thou hast a right; and that will soon swallow up all sorrow.
4. Let them be never so great, or of long continuance, they will have an end; “The expectation of the needy shall not perish for ever,” (Ps. 9:18; See Psalm xxxvii. 37). “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all,” (Ps. 34:19). “The vision is for an appointed time,” (Hab. 3). “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry,” (Ps. 40:1). The Lord’s time of giving out covenant-mercies, is the due time, the only time, the best time, the fittest time. Through hastiness of spirit you may think it is more than time, that the promised outget, or promised mercy were given; but thou art not a competent judge, in this case. If we get our mercies or outget in our time, God would lose the glory, and we would lose the advantage he designs thereby; he hath made everything beautiful in his time, not in ours. Let nothing therefore hinder your waiting on him, in the way of his judgments. “He is a God of judgment, and blessed are all they that wait for him,” (Isa. 30:18).
We now proceed to offer some directions, for the right management of this duty of waiting on the Lord in the way of his judgments.
Say you, I cannot wait for God, being of an unbelieving fretful spirit. What help would you offer?
Answer: In general, without a change of nature, by regenerating grace; and without strength, by the assisting grace of the Spirit, it is impossible this duty can be performed. Be sensible of this. And more particularly,
1. Labor to see the insufficiency and vanity of all things beside God; and to have a right uptaking of his sufficiency, and graciousness through Christ, to be forthcoming for thee in thy worst condition; without this, a soul will never wait for God. While people expect relief from the creature; and from this and the other mean; and see not the insufficiency of all things beside God, and how unprofitable and unsuccessful every course will prove, without him, they will never look to God and wait for him. And while people have no spiritual uptaking of the sufficiency of God, for their upmaking in every condition, and of his graciousness to make that sufficiency forthcoming through Christ, but entertain jealous thoughts of God, they will not wait upon him; but if men had once a view of creature-insufficiency, and of God’s all-sufficiency, and of his graciousness to make it forthcoming, this would marvelously help to wait for him, and cry, “Ashur shall not save us, neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods,” (Hos. 14:3).
2. Frequently call up your souls to this duty, resolutely essaying it, over the belly of all obstructions and difficulties: as in Isaiah 8:17; Micah 7:7; and Psalm 3:5. Such resolutions would put the soul in a waiting and watching posture.
3. By faith bring strength from Christ, who can easily empower you, for, “Without him we can do nothing,” (Phil. 4:13); and bring all encouragement from the covenant, where there are promises made of waiting, and to waiting. “Wait on the Lord and be of good courage;” (Ps. 27:14). Objection: But I cannot: why then it is added, “He will strengthen thine heart.” There are also sweet promises to waiting; “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.—And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment; blessed are all they that wait for him. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him,” (Isa. 40:31; 30:18; 64:4). “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him,” (Lam. 3:25).
4. Be much in prayer for a waiting frame, and against the distempers of the spirit that hinders it. Go and tell God of your wants, and of your ills; and pray him to give that patience, faith, hope, and holy submission, and a waiting spirit; “Their hearts shall live that seek God.”
5. Let it be a deed of the soul; “My soul doth wait,” saith the Psalmist. (1.) Let it be a knowing distinct deed of the soul; “Truly our soul waiteth for him,” (Ps. 52:1). (2.) A voluntary deed of the soul; not of necessity, but of choice, and with delight; “I will wait for the God of my salvation,” (Micah 7:7). (3.) An earnest deed of the soul; “The earnest expectation of the creature, waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God,” (Rom. 8:19); as the weary watch waits and longs for the morning, (Ps. 130:6). (4.) An humble deed of the soul. Waiting properly takes in the distance that is between an inferior and superior, the person waited on, and the person waiting; “As the eyes of the servants look to the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hands of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us,” (Ps. 123:2). Consider the great distance between God, your heavenly Master, and you. (5.) Let it be a resolute deed like that, “I have sworn, and I will perform,” (Ps. 27:4), “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (6.) Let it be a fixed and constant deed of the soul, notwithstanding of one disappointment on the back of another, during the whole way of his judgments, “Wait on thy God continually, (Hosea 7:6); “I am weary of my crying, my throat is dried; mine eyes fail, while I wait upon thee,” (Ps. 69:3). Wait on God in the way following the text; “The desire of our soul is to thy name.”
We now offer some Motives to enforce a compliance with the duty. 1. Consider that God, and the good things you need, in your sad condition, are worth the waiting for, were it never so long; “My soul wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God,” (Ps. 65:5-7). Shall a husbandman have patience for the fruit of the earth, and wait for the former and the latter rain; and the soldier wait for victory; the merchant for gain, and the witch for the morning; and yet shall not souls in trouble wait for God, their Rock, their Salvation, their Refuge, &c.? 2. The time of God’s delaying promised mercies and relief, is God’s waiting time, as well as ours; “He waiteth that he may be gracious,” (Isa. 30:18). He expects a suitable time to show mercy. Thou thinkest thou waitest long for God; but truly he waits as long for thee, and for a fit season to show mercy on the soul that waits for him. 3. Waiting for God in trouble, keeps from being taken away with the temptation that attends the trouble. Satan takes the time of trouble to winnow poor souls with his temptations, and to drive them away from God to some monstrous course or other, for relief: but when the soul is once got to a waiting posture, they are much secured against these temptations. “I trusted in him, and am helped. Wait on the Lord, and he will strengthen thine heart.” 4. God doth all things well, and maketh all things work together for good to them that love, and wait for him, (Rom. 8:28). They shall all be brought to say, that he hath dealt well with them, according to his word. Therefore, in the way of his judgments, let us wait on him. 5. Consider how complete he is: “Christ is all and in all.” Consider how desirable he is: “He is altogether lovely.” Therefore wait on him even in the way of his judgments.
We have reason to expect, that before good days come, there shall terrible days come. Why God hath given such a commission as Isaiah got; “Go make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and convert, and be healed,” (Isa. (6:10). We cannot limit the Lord, nor speak of his time: but surely the sins of our day are greater than the sins of those in Isaiah’s time; for we have sinned against greater light, clearer gospel-light, than ever they had. And the greater our privileges are, the greater our guilt in neglecting them: the greater our guilt, the more awful will our judgments be. Perhaps he is to shake the nations before the Desire of all nations shall come. Believe, watch, and pray, for your enemies, are living and lively: corruption is not destroyed. Watch, and make not your watching a burden: but take up with it in a gospel-way, which is the easy way, and the pleasant way. How? You know it is not the business of the watch to fight the enemies; but whenever the enemy appears, to go and tell the captain-general: so your business in watching is not to go forth against the enemy; but whenever you see him appearing, whenever Satan attacks, by any temptation, and upon the very first motion of the enemy, go and tell the Captain of salvation, saying, “Lord, here is the enemy; Lord help me:” See that you mistake not Christ, when you cry to him, and he seemeth not to hear and answer. Mistake him not; the woman of Canaan knew the mind of Christ better; notwithstanding all the repulses she met with, she looked through them all to his kind heart. Remember what David did, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak:” (Ps. 85:8). I will hear him. Satan, sin, and the world put in their word; but they have never a good word to say of Christ: therefore, I will not hear what they say, nor what unbelief saith, nor whatever the enemy saith; but “I will hear what God the Lord will say; he will speak peace,” as a God in Christ reconciling the word to himself: he speaks peace in the covenant of grace. He speaks peace in his word; I will hear him, and listen to his word. Come to Jesus saying, “Lord help me.” However great the congregation is, yet there is room in Christ for you all: therefore, I beg you will all come to him, and wait on him; and come you must to him, or perish. Let the echo of your soul then be, We have come unto thee, O Lord; “Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee.”