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In these words we have something supposed, and a duty prescribed.
(1.) Something supposed : though it tarry. This implies some degree of impatience in the persons addressed. They are ready to think every day a month, and every month a year, till the promise is fulfilled, and the expected blessing bestowed. This may arise in part from unbelief. The children of Israel thought Moses was lost in the mount; and Saul imagined that Samuel would never come, because he did not appear at the time expected. We read of some profane persons in the latter day, who will say, " Where is the promise of his coming ?” The beavier the burden, the more restless we are under it: the more grievous the affliction, the more impatiently we wait for its removal. This impatience might also arise from the strength of their desire ; and it may take place in God's own people, when they are far from being in a bad frame. David, who so often speaks of himself as panting, breathing, thirsting after God, frequently makes use of that expression : How long! And in one place, he says, How long wilt thou forget me; for ever! The more the saints have seen of the glory of God, the more they long for renewed discoveries of it. The more they have tasted of the sweetness of the promises, the more impatient they are for their accomplishment. The more refreshing the divine presence has been in time past, the more tedious are the divine withdrawments. Oh when wilt thou come unto me, says the gracious soul! If ye see him whom my soul lovelh, tell him that I am sick of love ! As I cannot bear his frowns, so I am impatient of his delays.
(2.) The duty prescribed : wait for it. The vision, be it what it will, must be waited for. It is at present hid in the divine purposes; but will at length break forth and be revealed. The time is known to God, and will be remembered by him. It shall not be
deferred a moment longer than his infinite wisdom sees fit; that is, when it will be most for his glory to bestow, and for our advantage to receive it.
Here I shall endeavour to explain and enforce the exhortation :--Though it tarry, wait for it.
I. Enquire what is implied in waiting, which is the duty here recommended.-It supposes the following things.
1. A firm persuasion of the being and reality of what God has promised ; and therefore it implies faith, which is the subject of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. That is, it assures us of their being: they had an existence before ; but faith gives them an existence in our own minds. It also gives us a right conception of them, and supports our hope with respect to them. It makes unseen things visible, and future things present: and as to things of a spiritual nature, it so demonstrates their excellency as to engage us to chuse and give then the preference to all other things, while it excites strong desires after them. Faith therefore enters into the very essence of the duty here enjoined. Thus the Psalmist says, I had fainted, unless I had believed: and then he adds, Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage. (Psal. xxvii. 14.) This shews the connexion between believing and waiting. Without faith, there would be no encouragement for waiting; and without waiting, faith would never surmount the difficulties it has to encounter, or atlain its proper persection. We wait for promised blessings; and faith both confides in the veracity of a promising God, and assures is that all the promises are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. In things hard and difficult, and to an eye of sense impossible, faith relies upon the almighty power of God. Lord, if thou wilt, says the leper, thou canst make me clean. The christian is often discouraged under a sense of guilt and his own unworthiness: then faith steps in, and assures him of the goodness and mercy of God, the absolute freeness of covenant blessings, and that salvation in all its parts is the fruit of unnerited grace. In a word, it is folly and weakness to wait for that which is not believed in and hoped for. A beggar will not wait, unless he hopes to receive an alms ; nor the courtier, unless he hopes lo receive an audience : no more will the christian wait upon God, unless his expectation be from him. Simeon waited for God's salvation, being persuaded of it, and having some comfortable hope of his interest in it. What wait I for, says Psalmist : my hope is in thee.
2. It implies the deepest humilly, joined with reverence and love. The language of the unhumbled sinner, who has no love to God in his heart, or fear of him before his eyes, when visited with affliction, crossed in his purposes, or disappointed in his expectations, is, This evil is of the Lord, why should I wait for him any longer! In order then rightly to wait upon God, it is necessary that we look up to him, both as our Sovereign who has a right to do what he will with us, and as our Friend who will assuredly do us good; or in other words, we must have bigh apprehensions of him, and low apprehensions of ourselves. Those who wait upon kings, or great men, appear in suitable apparel ; and those who wait upon God should be clothed with humility, and have the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. The waiting soul is sensible of its own dependence on the divine allsufficiency. It views itself in the hands of God, as clay in the hands of the potter, to be made, unmade, or new made at his pleasure. In a word, waiting is the work of a servant, or inferior, and denotes the superiority of persons waited upon. We wait their order, their leisure, the word of command; wait at their gate, and stand at their door. Thus the Psalmist uses the similitude. (Psal. cxxiii. 2.) Behold, as the eyes of sertants look unto the hand 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.
3. Fervent and continued desire is also included. These two are joined together : (Isai. xxvi. 8.) In the way of thy judgments, oh Lord, hare we waited for thee : the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.-Waiting will cease when desire fails; but when every thing else in a christian seems to be gone, this remains. As the parched earth thirsts for the rain ; the hunted hart, wearied with the chase, for the water brooks; the fatigued traveller, parched with the heat and overcome with drought, for the refreshing stream ; so does he, if grace be in any degree of exercise, thirst after God, and fresh communications from him. Waiting upon God therefore, is opposed to a stupid and lethargic frame of spirit. The soul that waits must be awake. It is also opposed to coldness and indifference.
4. Patience must be exercised in waiting. Not that patience which arises from despair ; nor yet a mere natural patience arising from the particular constitution of the body; but a truly christian patience, whereby we bear without murmuring the greatest afflictions, and are not totally discouraged by the longest delays. A patient spirit is neither timorous and distrustful on the one hand, nor rash and hasty on the other. It is neither highly elated at promising appearances, nor utterly dejected when those appearances are wanting. The apostle illustrates this by a very apt similitude. (James v. 7. 8.) The husbandman waits, and so does the christian. The former for thie fruits of the earth; the latter for the foretastes of glory, and glory itself. The one has long patience, notwithstanding many discouragements ; so has the other. His spirit is calm, his mind composed ; nor does he dare to limit the Holy One of Israel with respect to measure, manner or time. He expects from God, but does not prescribe to him:is a humble suitor, but not a peremptory commander. This was David's advice: Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. And the advice he gave to others, he put in practice himself: I waited patiently for the Lord; and be inclined unto me, and heard my cry. Psal. xxxyii. 7. xl.).
5. Fixedness and stability, in opposition to a fluctuating and unstable temper of mind; constancy and resolution, in opposition to fickleness and levity. The prophet calls it, standing upon his watch tower, and watching to hear what God would speak to him. (ver. 1.) The Psalınist, describing a good man, says, His heart' is fired, trusting in the Lord; resolved to seek help no where else, and to seek it from him till it be obtained. This temper of mind is beautifully exemplified in the conduct of the woman of Canaan. Though Christ put on a forbidding aspect, and spake to her in the most discouraging manner, yet she did not draw back. She had got hold, and she kept her hold; till at length he said, Oh woman, greut is thy faith! Be it unto thee even as thou wilt. It is also illustrated in those words of Job: Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. Not though he frown upon me, afflict me, wound me; but though he slay me, yet I will not entertain an unbecoming thought of him, or cease to exercise a holy confidence in bim.
6. Diligence and constancy, in opposition to sloth and weariness. Waiting upon God does not imply indolence, but activity ; not neglect of the means, but a diligent use of them ; not a folding the hands together, which is the posture of the sluggard, but a stretching them out. In a word, it implies that while we attend to the motions of God's providence, we conscientiously observe and keep his commands. Thus the royal prophet joins these two together: Wạit on the Lord, and keep his way. Diligence without dependance, is the greatest fully; and depend