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to be prized by the profanest scorners; yea, he knows how to make a wounding sword to open a way through their bleeding sides, for instructions to enter the most flinty hearts, as Bernard told his ranting brother.
9. How long must the Lord wait for your sensible lamentations? We are soon weary of the yoke, and think it long to wander in the wilderness; sometimes we are for returning back into Egypt, and then all, in post haste for Canaan, as Israel in the desert.* The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loose, and not die in the pit;t but then we would break prison, and are loth to take God's way, or stay God's time; this retards rather than quickens our deliverance. God puts us to our how longs, because we put him to his how longs; " How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?” Jer. iv. 14. “ How long will it be ere you attain to innocency?” Hosea viii. 5. “O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean ? when shall it once be?” Jer. xiii. 27. We were in haste for a restoration many years ago, as Moses for Miriam, “Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee;" God saith, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days ?” Numb. xii. 13, 14. But our heavenly Father hath spit in our face in the open sight of the world, and we have been shut out of his house well near three times seven years; yet alas, it is to be feared we are not evangelically ashamed. Absalom was three years at Geshur, and two years at Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face;# and pretended dissatisfaction therewith. Oh! but where is our real longing to enjoy the Lord in his ordinances ? Alas! it is not length of time that will put our hearts into frame. When at last will God raise up some awakening Numb. xiv. 4. with v. 40.
+ Isaiah li. 14. I 2 Sam. xii. 38. xiv. 28.
Samuel, that shall sound the alarm in the ears of all Israel ? Oh! when shall we awake out of our long sleep? when shall we see our need of God in his ordinances? when shall our souls lament after God to purpose ? surely it is time to bestir ourselves once at last.
10. Can we lament to any else that will or can hear or help us? May not kings or great ones say as a king did once to a crying woman, who said, “ Help, my Lord, O king.” He said, “If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee ?”* Alas! we may say, "Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains. Truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel, Jer. iii. 23. The greatest princes are not to be trusted. God thinks fit to frustrate our expectations from men; to disappoint our carnal confidence in man. “Surely men of low degree are vanity,” if they have a mind to help they cannot; "and men of high degree are a lie,” if they can help; yea, if any promise to help they will not; our best course then is to pour out our hearts before him, and say, “God is a refuge for us,” Psal. lxii. 8, 9: for all power is God's, ver. 11. We may say as David, “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man would know me; refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul; I cried unto thee, O Lord,” Psal. cxlii. 4, 5. The comforter that should relieve our souls is far away. There is none to guide poor Zion, of all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up, Isa. li. 18. “ As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help; in ourwatching we have watched for a nation that could not save us.”+ We are as Naphtali, and have been strug• 2 Kings vi. 26, 27.
+ Lam. iv. 17.
gling as sore, for a firm masculine parliament, as the ancient primitive church long travailed for a man child, a christian emperor; we had one. They also struggled for uniting the Protestant subjects, and alleviating our grievances; they are broken up. We had a second which set themselves to help us; but the children were come to the birth, and there was no strength to bring forth, all attempts proved abortive. Since our Moses and Aaron (by votes or disputes) have represented our case, sought favour, and used means of help, the tale of our bricks has been doubled, the spirits of men more enraged, our favour abhorred, and a keener sword is put into some men's hands to execute the law with more severity; and is it not time to have recourse to God? We are not permitted so much as to petition to men, and make a true representation of our case; that way is barred, and all other doors are locked up: what else can we do but lament after the Lord ? he is able to help, he is willing, and hath promised. Oh ! let us go to our God. There and there only we may ease our hearts, and find help: let us lift up our eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh our help; “Our help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth," Psal. cxxi. 2.
II. Who are the persons or people that are to lament after the Lord ? I answer,
1. Unconverted persons.
These have the greatest reason to lament after the ordinances of God, and the God of ordinances; for alas, those poor souls are “ without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world,” Eph. ii. 12. Ah sinners! what will become of you if you live and die without God? You had better be without money, trade, credit, ease, house, relations, clothes, meat, every thing, all things in the world, than without God: what will your lives or any thing advantage you without God? Alas! have
Alas! have you lived thus long in the world without an interest in God? How know you but death is at the door ? and what will you do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation that shall come from far? To whom will
flee for help, and where will ye leave your glory? Isa. X. 3, 4. Without me, saith God, they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain : woe to you, if death the king of terrors meet you, and God the king of heaven be not on your side. What a woful case was Saul in when the Philistines were upon him, and God was departed from him ?* Oh when sickness, diseases, death, and thy own conscience make war against thee, and thou hast no God to flee to, how sad thy case! Alas, friends, estate, honours, or all the world can do for thee, will be insignificant: if thou live and die without God, thou must be for ever banished from him. And how canst thou in an ordinary way expect to have relation to God, without the means of his appointment for obtaining that end ? The ark of the covenant is the way of covenanting; the preaching of the gospel is the door of faith;t saving faith, by which the soul is entitled to * 1 Sam. xxviii. 15.
+ Rom. x. 14.
the favour of God, comes by hearing, and if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.* Little reason have the mad, frantic world to rejoice over the slain witnesses, to make merry, and send gifts one to another because these prophets tormented them,t that is, would not let them go quietly to hell, but would be jogging them out of their security, and summoning them to repentance. No, no, their departure may be like Ezekiel's book, written within and withcut, with lamentation, and mourning, and woe. Ah poor sinners! God seems to stop ministers' mouths, and saith, thou shalt not be to them a reprover,|| my Spirit shall strive no more with them;s feed them no more, that which dieth let it die, and that which is to be cut off let it be cut off; as if he had said, I will concern myself no further about them, they regarded not my counsels, and slept away the day of grace, and refused the calls of God, now they shall be given up, as a branch cut off from the tree, I will prune it no more, but take it away, John xv. 2, and lay it under that gospel curse, “Never fruit grow on thee from henceforth for ever.” Or like the flourishing vineyard of the Jewish church, Isa. v. 5, 6, “ Take away the hedge thereof, break down the stone wall, lay it waste, it shall not be pruned, nor digged, but there shall come up briars and thorns, I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.” And have men cause to rejoice in this? Is it not rather ground of the greatest lamentation, as a prologue and forerunner of damnation, and a token of rejection ? Will any but madmen rejoice at the approach of calamity, upon themselves? Or will any but frantic bedlamites triumph that those are gone who stopped them from running into a pit or a fire, or that kept them from dashing out
* 2 Cor. iv. 3. of Rev. xi. 10. #Ezek. ii. 10.