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,נוח comes from ינוחו ing after the Lord ? The word
with the dragon's tail:* though persecution attend the former, as in the Marian days, and preferment wait on the latter.
The second general thing to be explained in the text and doctrine, is, what is implied in this lament
' , quiescere : the same word with Noah, which signifies rest; “ They rested after the Lord.” It is in Niphal, which increaseth its signification, and denotes these seven things :
1. They inclined after the Lord. They had wandered away from the Lord, and never thought of him; they had turned aside after vain things, but now they began to hearken to Samuel's preaching, and began to look about them, consider what they were doing, and had a month's mind, as we say, after God, and his ways and worship. A heart to inquire after the Lord, is a good thing: as it is said of the men of Shechem, their hearts inclined after Abimelech, or to follow him, Judg. ix. 3. It is well so : for when people stand still, and question themselves in this manner : what have we been doing? have we done well or ill? what course is best to be taken ? and begin to have some inclinations after God more than formerly, this is the first step.
2. They had become settled, and established in reference to the Lord. They staggered formerly and were much in suspense, wavering like the apostle James's double-minded man,t not knowing which way to take, or like those referred to, 1 Kings xviii. 21: Why halt ye between two opinions ? one while leaning to Baal, another while to God, reeling like drunkards, halting like lame men whose legs are not equal, fluctuating to and fro with divers thoughts: but now this * Rev xü. 4.
+ James i. 18.
people is firm, well resolved, with purpose of heart determined to cleave to the Lord, Acts xi. 23. The trembling needle fixeth towards its centre; the tree has taken deep root; the will is bowed; the affections settled; the conscience clear; nothing shall obstruct their course; they have set down the staff, and say as Ruth to her mother-in-law, Ruth i. 16, 17, “ Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go,” &c. So these : though they had been hesitating and doubtful what to do, yet their steps have become sure and firm in their motion God-wards. *
3. They were congregated and assembled after the Lord : so some read it. They now begin to flock like doves to their windows; they troop after him. f Jer. iii. 17, “ All nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord God;" yea, “ Judah shall go with Israel,” verse 18. See also Jer. 1. 45. They had been broken, now they are united. Some went after commands and examples from one quarter, some after others from another; but now the great God makes an act of uniformity and unanimity, Zech. xiv. 9, “ In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one:” one sovereign commander, one way, one worship: that great God doth not only enjoin one thing, but doth join them in one bond and mind. O happy day! when the grace of God heals the breaches that are in men's spirits, and divisions in the church !
4. They groaned, complained, bemoaned themselves in their following the Lord, as a child followeth his departing father, and as Phaltiel followed his wife Michal, weeping behind her to Bahurim, 2 Sam. iii. 15, 16; or as Micah followed the Danites who took
* Jam in Dei obsequio gradum figunt stabilem et certum. + Collecti sunt post Dominum.
away his idols, who, when he was crying after them, said, “What aileth thee ?” to which he replied, “ Ye have taken away my gods-and what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee?" Judg. xviii. 23, 24; as if he had said, you could not have done me a worse turn : lay your hands on your hearts, ask yourselves, whether any loss can parallel this, of losing one's God? You need not be inquisitive for a reason of my solicitude and complaint, when all good is comprehended in this chief good, whether real or imaginary. Thus, this people lamented, laid to heart this great evil of God's departure, which no temporal good can compensate or countervail.
5. They called, cried, and lifted up their voice after the Lord, by earnest prayer and supplication. The word sometimes imports sighing: “Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee,” Psalm lxxix. 11. Sometimes it is rendered lifting up the voice, as Lam. ii. 18, not only their hearts cried unto the Lord, but tears ran down like a river day and night : verse 19, “ Arise, cry out in the night, pour out thine heart like water, lift up thy hand towards him :" yea, Lam. iii. 8, she did both cry and shout, not that God is deaf, or busy, or pursuing enemies, or sleeping, and must be awaked, as Elijah ironically twits Baal's worshippers with their God, * but for our own sakes, to evidence the honesty and zeal of our hearts, and as a gracious disposition to which mercy is promised. Hence it was that when the children of Israel cried, their cry came up unto God, Exod. ii. 23. Crying is the accent of prayer : a crying prayer sounds loud in God's ear. The tender mother's bowels make her look back on her crying child. God loves to be called back by a fervent, affectionate prayer.
1 Kings xviii. 27
6. They betook themselves to the Lord, that is, by faith, by repentance, covenanting with God, returning from sin, and having recourse to God by a sincere reformation ; without the last all the former were insignificant : but thus did the children of Israel, according to Samuel's command and supposition, in chap. vii. verse 3—If ye do return with all your heart to the Lord, then put away strange gods, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve him only; and they did so, verse 4. This was their best way of lamenting after the Lord. No coming after God with a lie in our right hand, or idols in our hearts; if we do, God will spurn us back into confusion, for nothing keeps persons at a distance from him, but sin: they that hold fast sin and pretend to follow God, do either run from him, or follow him with a sword in their hand to wound him; but such as cast away their abominations follow the Lord aright, and shall succeed in approaching him. This is the method prescribed by God himself: Jer. iv. 1, 2, “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me; and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of thy sight, then shalt thou not remove, and thou shalt swear the Lord liveth.” Then, and never till then, are souls fit to join in covenant with God, when they are divorced from all besides.
7. They were acquiescing in, and fully satisfied with the Lord : this is the proper notion of this word. * Their hearts had abundant tranquillity and peace in the manner of God's worship, and much more in the object of their worship, and in the union of their hearts to God, and communion with him: no satisfaction like this. David saith, “ Return unto thy rest, O my soul,” Psalm cxvi. 7: no such rest, as God is, who is
* Chald. Quieti fuerunt post cultum Domini.
the soul's only centre and sabbath. Jer. xxxi. 25, “ I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul :” as God rests in his love to his saints, so they are well satisfied with their choice of God, and look not out other ways, or beyond him for any contentments to their spirits. Thus then these pious souls, these lamenting penitents might say: Alas, we have been like wandering sheep that have gone astray, every one wandering in his own way, or as a bird wandering from its nest, or as prodigals from our father's house; but now, now at length by Samuel's prophecy we are thoroughly informed that God is the true God, that this prescribed worship is of his institution, and the means of communion with him. At our first hearing this man of God, we were touched, and began to incline towards him; at last, we came to a fixed resolution to follow the Lord in this his way, we were assembled together for this purpose, bemoaned our state in the loss of so dear a friend, cried after him, put away our idols and lusts, returned to the Lord by faith and repentance, and now we see it is not in vain, it is good, yea, very good for us thus to draw near to God; we find full content in him ; we find the enjoyment of him a full recompence for all our pains in a mournful pursuit of him. We have found him, at last we have found him, and happiness in him; he is come whom we sought, we need not look for another, we care not for any other. We fear nothing, since we have found our God.
From hence we may discern the reason why the same word in Hebrew * signifies both to repent and to comfort, to mourn and to cease mourning, to lament and rejoice; for as true comfort belongs only to peni
* On), doluit, pænituit. On), per antiphrasin, dedoluit, dolore desiit, consolationem invenit.