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he had spent all his goods lecherously, and brought himself io most miserable poverty, and to such extreme famine, that he would have been glad to have eaten the meat prepared for the pigs, besides the great heaviness of heart, that weighed the time of prosperity, and conferred it with his estate of so extreme misery; yet nothing made him so sorry and pensive, as the calling to his remembrance how inreverently he had used his most gentle, loving, and benign father, who was not only liberal and free to his children, but also to his hirelings that lacked nothing. (Luke, xv.) This consideration of his offence towards his father, made him a great deal more sorry than all the pains he otherwise sustained. And thus must every Christian wait upon the Lord, and then doubtless consolation shall follow, as it appeareth by the same prodigal son, and by this Psalm of the Prophet,
Moreover, if we mark with what dangers and troubles the soul seeketh her Lord and spouse Jesus Christ, in the mystical book of Solomon's Ballads, we shall see, with what attendance, diligence, and patience, the soul waiteth upon Christ.“ I sought him (saith the soul), but I found him not. I called him, and he would not answer me. The watchmen of the city found me, and beat me, and wounded me. They took my robe from me that kept the walls. I require you, ye daughters of Jerusalem, if
ye find my spouse, tell hin that I am sick with love.” (Sol. Song, v.) Note these words ; “ I sought him (saith the soul), and found him not. I called him, and he answered not.” Was not this enough to have clean discomforted the heavy, sick, and troubled soul, that ran and cried to her love and husband Jesus Christ, and yet for the time never the nearer? Further, in running and calling for him, the soul fell into the hands of her enemies,
that robbed her of her mantle ; and yet, notwithstanding these dangers, she cried out unto all that she met, that in case they found her spouse, they would tell him that she was sick with his love.
Ponder these things altogether: first, to travail and cry, and not to profit: next, in travailing and crying, to lose all her goods, yen the mantle that she went in: thirdly, to put her life in danger with confessing Christ to be her spouse, before such as hated him mortally. And yet how did this Christian creature ? Doubtless waited upon the Lord, without murmur or grudge. And in all these troubles note there is no complaint nor quarrel made of her prayers that were not heard, of the pains that for the time profited not, of the loss of her goods and apparel, nor yet of the danger that she was in, of her and Christ her spouse's enemies. But here was the weeping, lamentation, and sorrow, that Christ her spouse could not be found; in whose love she burned so ardently, that all adversities grieved her not, neither did she any thing at all esteem them ; but only the want of Christ was her grief and sorrow: yet was she patient, and trusted still in the Lord.
The like may ye see by the woman of Canaan, how she called upon the Lord for her daughter : unto whom Christ made no word of answer. Further, his disciples were troubled and wearied by her importunate suit. Also Christ called her in manner no better than a dog ; yet was there neither the bitterness of his words nor the inhumanity of his Apostles, that she passed for, but she waited still upon the Lord, and was nothing sorrowful for all the sharp words she suffered ; but only because the help of the Lord was not extended and bestowed upon her daughter, as she desired. (Matt. xv.) But what ensueth of such a patient expectation, and sorrowfulness of God's absence ? Mark what the Prophet saith.
THE SECOND PART OF THE PSALM.
Ver, !. For of him cometh my
salvation. Ver. 2. He verily is my strength and my salvation ,
he is my defence, so shall I not greatly fall.
The second part declareth why the troubled person seeketh health of God.
Here first be three doctrines to be noted :
First, to know by God's word, that God can help: the second, that God will help : and the third, that the afflicted is bound, boldly to require help of God. Whereof the troubled person must be assured by the Scripture, or else he shall never find consolation
Now to the first part, that God can help: this Scripture is to be marked, that saith, God is omnipotent, that is to wit, able to do all things. So said he to Abraham, when he eftsoons promised him the land of Canaan : “I am the God omnipotent; walk before me, and be perfect.” (Gen. xvii.) The same said Jacob, when Benjamin his young son was so instantly desired by his brethren to go inta Egypt, when they lacked corn : “My God omnipotent (said Jacob) can make the prince of Egypt favourable unto you.
(Gen. xlii.) So did God tell Moses, that he was the Lord that appeared unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even the Almighty God, (Exod. vi.) The like is in the same book, when God had drowned Pharaoh and his host : Moses gave thanks, and said his name was Almighty. (Exod. xv.) Thus in the word of God we may learn every where, as well by his name, as by his most marvellous works, that he is omnipotent, and there is nothing impossible unto him.
Even so doth the word of God declare, that, as he is omnipotent, and can save : in like manner is he willing, and will save. King David saith, that he
saveth both man and beast. (Psalm xxvi.) In another Psalm he saith, God saved him from all adversities. (Psalm xxxiv.) And again he saith, he will save all that trust in him ; and not only save, but also save for nothing. (Psalm xxxvi. Ivi.) So God saith by the Prophet Isaiah: “I will save thy children.” (Chap. xlix.) And in the same book it is declared, that God's hand is not weakened; but that he can save, and will save. (Chap. lix.) This willing nature of God to save, is manifestly opened unto us in all the Prophets. (Jer. xv. xxiii. Ezek. xxxiv. Dan. xii. Hos. i. Zeph. iii. Zech. viii. ix. x.) And in St. Matthew Christ saith, he came to save such as were lost. (Chap. xviii.) The same is to be seen in St. Luke (chap. ix.), how that the Son of man came not to damn, but to save. St. John the Evangelist saith, his coming was to save the world. (Chap. iii.) And St. Paul saith, he would all men to be saved. (1 Tim. ii.)
Now as the word of God and the examples contained in the same, declare that God can and will help in the time of trouble and adversity; so doth it declare that men be bound to call and seek for help in the time of adversity. As we read in Isaiah the Prophet, where God crieth out in this sort : “ Ye that be athirst, come to the waters," &c. (Isaiah, lv.) In St. Matthew Christ commandeth all men that be troubled to come unto him. (Matt. xi.) Also in the Psalms, he biddeth all men call upon him in the days of their heaviness, and he will hear them, and deliver them. (Psalm 1.) Again, he willeth us to ask, and it shall be given unto us. (Matt. vii. xviii. Mark, xi. Luke, xi. John, xiv. xv. xvi. 1 John, v.)
Now as these three doctrines are to be marked in the Almighty God, so must they be grounded in the heart of the troubled person. . And first he must give this honour unto God, that he alone is able to
save, and none but he: as the Prophet Isaiah saith of him. (Chap. xlv.)
Then being thus persuaded, the afflicted person will not seek help at dead saints, nor at any other creature's hand, but at God's only. And as none giveth God the strength able to help, but is of itself in God and with God : so is there none that can give God a will to help, but he of himself is inclined to have mercy upon the afflicted; and his mercy is most prone and ready to help the poor and miserable.
Hereof learneth the afflicted Christian, that none inclineth God to be merciful, but his own gentle and pitiful nature. So that the sinner may boldly in Christ resort unto him, first, because he is mercy itself; and not go astray to seek first mercy at dead saints' hands, and by their means at last find God merciful and ready to help him.
And when the afflicted perceiveth, by the word of God, that he commandeth him to call upon him, and upon none other ; he may take a courage and audacity to be bold to come unto him, be his sins never so many, horrible, or filthy; yea, if in number they exceeded the gravel of the sea, yet be they fewer always than his mercy: if they be as red as scarlet, yet shall they be made as 'white as snow. The Book of Wisdom saith even so. Although we have sinned, Lord, we be thine, knowing thy greatness. (Isaiah, i. Wisd. xv.)
And where these doctrines be grounded, sec what followeth. In all the depth of anguish and sorrow, this followeth (as this Psalm saith): “ Of him cometh my salvation. He is my strength, my salvation, and my defence,” &c. The same may we see also in the dialogue between the Christian soul, or Christ's church, and Christ, in the book of Solomon's Ballads : were she never so black and