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puddle and pleasures of sin, you are far from this royal condition ; but if you find your soul possessed with the love of holiness, and that you are trampling upon profane delights, this may persuade you that God hath enabled you, and crowned you with His grace, and will crown you with glory. Again, try it by this; if the Lord is become your crown and your glory, you will glory in Him, and in nothing else. Though you be wise, you will not glory in your wisdom, nor in strength, nor in riches, nor in honours, though you had them all; but if you glory, you will glory in the Lord. And withal, your highest joy will be, to see the advancement of His glory, and, if you can, to be any way serviceable to the advancing of it.
And for a spirit of judgment.] Both to those that sit in judgment, and to the people. For justice is the strongest base and establishment of authority. And withal, the influence of it is most sweet and comfortable to those who are under authority; and where it is wanting, that order and relation of superiors and inferiors, which God hath appointed in the societies of men for their good, tends exceedingly to the damage of both. And therefore, where God intendeth to continue the peace and welfare of a people, He is liberal in pouring out much of this spirit of judgment on those who sit in judgment. On the contrary, it is for a heavy punishment, when He withdraws His Spirit from rulers, and leaves them wholly to the corruption and vanity of their own spirits.
To him that sitteth in judgment. That is, to all that are in places of authority and judicature, from the supreme to the lowest magistrate ; for this concerns them all. For they be all raised, in their subordination, and several places above the people, for the benefit and good of the people ; as the stars, that be set so high, yet are placed there to be useful and beneficial to the inferior world.
Now this spirit of judgment comprehends in it, both due wisdom and prudence, for the trial and right judging of affairs, and for the discerning betwixt sound and perverse counsel ; and withal, a judgment practically good, that cannot be
biassed from the straight line of equity and justice by any sinister respect.
Now, seeing the spirit of judgment is from the Lord, yea, He is this spirit, it ought to persuade those that sit in judgment, to entreat and pray for this, and to depend upon it, and beware of self-confidence. Trust in the Lord, saith Solomon, and lean not to thine own understanding : if you do, it will prove but a broken reed. And as they that sit in judgment should entreat His spirit by prayer, so, generally, all must share with them in this duty, and make supplication for all that are in authority over them, especially in extraordinary times. Truly we have matter of thankfulness, that the Lord hath in some measure inclined the royal heart of our sovereign to the desires of his people, and we ought still to pray, that the Lord would give the king His judgments ; and then, as the Psalmist adds, The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. Psal. Ixxii. 3. And, for this end, let all who wish the public, yea, their own good, pray much for abundance of this spirit of judgment to be conferred on them. Your eyes and expectations are upon them. If you would enjoy the lamp, you must pour in oil. This spirit, indeed, you cannot pour upon them, but if you pour out many prayers, you may draw it from above: He will give it, who here promises to be a spirit of judgment.
And for strength. Observe, the way to be powerful and successful against foreign enemies, is, to have religion and justice flourishing at home. And truly, if it please our God to answer the desires of His people at this time, it may so unite the affection and strength of the two kingdoms, (the Lord of hosts being their strength,) as to make them a terror to their enemies; whereas they were become a scorn and derision to them. For your particular, labour to make the Lord your glory, to have Christ made unto you, as the Apostle speaks, both wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, which are the glory and beauty of the soul, and redemption from spiritual enemies. Draw strength from Him, to fight and prevail against
them, till, after the short combat of this life, you obtain the crown, and dwell in His presence, where you shall fear no more assaults, neither of sin nor of affliction, but shall be for ever happy in the blessed vision of His face. To him be glory. Amen.
EXTERNAL worship doth openly acknowledge a Deity, but want of inward sense in worship, secretly denieth it: The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. It is strange to hear so much noise of religion in the world, and to find so little piety. To present the living God with a carcass of lifeless worship, is to pay Him with shells of services, and so to moek Him. And it is a more admirable long-suffering in Him, to defer the punishment of such devotion, than of all the other sins in the world. The Egyptian temples were rich and stately fabries: a stranger who had looked upon them without, would have imagined some great deity within; but if they entered, (as Lucian says, laughing at them,) nothing was to be seen, but only some ape, or cat, or pied bull, or some other fine god like those. To behold our fair semblance of religion who frequent this house, it would appear that we were all the temples of the Holy Ghost ; but whoso could look within us, would find in many of our hearts, lust, pride, avarice, or some such like secret vice adored as a god. And these are they which, while our bodies sit here, do alienate our souls from the service of the Eternal God, so that we are either altogether senseless and dead before Him, or, if any fit of spiritual motion rise within us, we find it here, and here we leave it, as if it were sacrilege to take it home with us. But did once that
Spirit of Grace breathe savingly upon our souls, we should straight renounce and abhor those base idols, and then all the current of our affection would run more in this channel : our services would then be spiritual, and it would be our Heaven upon earth, to view God in His sanctuary. And the obtaining of the change, is, or should be, one main end of this our meeting ; and, that it may be the happy effect of it, our recourse must be to the throne of grace by humble prayer, in the name of our Mediator, Jesus Christ, the righteous.
ISAIAH lx. 1.
Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen
ADMIRABLE is the worth and depth of Divine providence ! This, either we know not, or at least seldom remember. While we forget the wonders of providence, we direct our thoughts to baser objects, and think not on it; and while we forget the depth of providence, (if at any time we look towards its) we judge rashly and think amiss of it. If this be true of that general providence whereby God rules the World, it is more trae of His special providence towards his Church. This is both the most excellent piece of it, and therefore best worth the reading, and also the hardest piece, and therefore it requires sobriety in judging : above all other things, he that suddenly judges in this, makes haste to err.
To have a righe view of it, it must be taken altogether, and not by parcels. Pieces of rarest artifice, while they are a making, seem little worth, especially to an unskilful eye, which being completed, command admiration. Peter Martyr says well, De operibus Dei, antequam actum, non est judicandam: There is no judging of the works of God, before they are finished. There is a time when the daughters of Sion embrace the dunghill, and sit desolate in the streets, as Jeremiah hath it in his Lamentations, (iv. 5.) and at that same time the voice of Babylon is, I sit as a queen and shall see no sorrow. Apoc.
xvii. 7, Isa. xlvii. 7. All is out of order here. But if we stay awhile, we shall see Sion and Babylon appointed to change seats, by the great Master of the world: Come down, says He, Daughter of Babylon, and sit in the dust. Isa. xlvii. 1. And here, to Sion, Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the. glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. It is an entire catastrophe: both parties find a notable alteration together. That same Hand that exalts the one, ruins the other. When the sun rises upon the Church, her antipodes must needs be covered with darkness; as we find it in the next verse to the text: Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people ; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.
The Prophet, elevated by the Spirit of God to a view of after ages as clear as if they were present, seems here to find His people sitting under the dark mantle of a sad and tedious night, and having long expected the sun's return in vain, before its time, they give over expectation when it is near them, and desperately fold themselves to lie perpetually in the dark. Now the Prophet, standing, as it were, awake upon some mountain, perceives the day approaching, and the golden chariots of the morning of deliverance hasting forward, and seems to come speedily with these glad news to a captive people, and sounds this trumpet in their ears, Arise, shine, for thy light is come. The very manner of expression is sudden and rousing, without a copulative; not, Arise and shine, but, Arise, shine, &c.
The words have in them a clear stamp of relation to a low posture and obscure condition : they suppose a people lying or sitting without light. Deep distress is that dark foil that best sets off the lustre of marvellous deliverances; and
among many other reasons of the Church's vicissitudes, why may not this be one? The Lord is more illustrious in the world by that deep wisdom and great power that shines when He raises and restores her from desperate afflictions, than if He had still
preserved her in constant ease. He seems sometimes careless of