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brew word signifies also to bind, as well as to be mute and dumb, because they that are dumb, are as it were tongue-tied, and bound up. Ah! the sight of God's hand in the affiction that was upon him, makes him lay a law of silence upon his heart and tongue.
I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it. He looks through all secondary causes, to the first cause, and is silent; he sees a hand of God in all, and so sits mute and quiet. The sight of God in an affliction, is of an irresistible efficacy, to silence the heart, and to stop the mouth of a gracious man. In the words you may observe three things.
1. The person speaking, and that is David; David a king, David a saint, David a man after God's own heart, David a Christian. And here we are to look upon David, not as a king, but as a Christian, as a man whose heart was right with God.
2. The action and carriage of David under the hand of God, in these words, I was dumb, and opened not my mouth.
3. The reason of this humble and sweet carriage of his, in these words, because thou didst it. The proposition is this :
Doct.“ That it is the great duty and concernment of gracious souls, to be mute and silent under the greatest afflictions, the saddest providences, and sharpest trials that they meet with in this world.”
For the opening and clearing up of this great and useful truth, I shall inquire,
1. What this silence is that is here pointed at in the proposition.
II. What a gracious, a holy silence doth include.
III. What this holy silence doth not exclude.
IV. The reasons of the point; and then bring home all by way of application to our own souls.
I. For the first, What is the silence here meant I answer, there is a seven-fold silence.
1. There is a Stoical silence. The Stoics of old thought it altogether below a man that hath reason and understanding, either to rejoice in any good, or to mourn for
evil, But this Stoical silence is such a sinful unei sensibleness, as is very provoking to a holy God, Isa. xxvi. 10, 11. God will make the most insensible sinner sensible either of his hand here, or of his wrath in hell. It is a Heathenish and a horrid sin to be without natural affections, Rom. i. 31. And of this sin Quintius Fabius Maximus seems to be foully guilty, who, when he heard that his mother and wife whom he dearly loved, were slain by the fall of an house, and that his younger son, a brave hopeful young man, died at the same time in Umbria, never changed his countenance, but went on with the afe fairs of the common wealth, as if no such calamity had befallen him. This carriage of his spoke out more stupidity than patience.
And so Harpalus was not at all appalled, when he saw two of his sons laid ready dressed in a
charger, when Astyages had bid him to-supper. This was a sottish insensibleness, Job xxxvi. 13. Isa. lvji. 1. Certainly, if the loss of a child in the house, be no more to thee than the loss of a chick in the yard, Hosea vii. 9.. thy heart is base and sordid, and thou mayest well expect some sore awakening judgment. This age is full of such monsters, who think it below the greatness and magnanimity of their spirits to be moved, affected, or afflicted with any afflictions that befal them. I know pone so ripe and ready for hell as these.
Aristotle speaks of fishes, that though they have spears thrust into their sides, yet they awake not. God thrusts many a sharp spear through many a sinner's heart, and yet he feels nothing, he complains of nothing : these mens souls will bleed to death. Seneca reports of Senecio Cornelius, who minded his body more than his soul, and his
money more than heaven ; when he had all the day long waited on his dying friend, and his friend was dead, he returns to his house, sups merrily, comforts himself quickly, goes to bed chearfully. His sorrows were ended, and the time of his mourning expired, before his deceased friend was interred. Such stupidity is a curse that many a man lies under. But this Stoical şilence which is but a sinful sullenness, is not the silence here meant.
2. There is a politic silence ; many are silent out of policy. Should they not be silent, they sould lay themselves more open, either to the rage and fury of men, or else to
the plots and designs of men; to prevent which, they are silent, and will lay their hands upon their mouths, that others may not lay their hands upon their estates, lives, or liberties. " And Saul also went home to Gibeah, and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched. But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us ? and they despised him, and brought him no presents : but he held his peace, or, was as though he had been deaf,” i Sam. x. 26, 27. This new king, being but newly entered upon his kingly government, and observing his condition to be but mean and low, his friends but few, and his enemies many and potent, sons of Belial, i. e, men without yoke, as thé word signifies,) men that were desperately wicked, that were marked out for hell, that were even incarnate devils, who would nei, ther submit to reason nor religion, nor be governed by the laws of nature, nor of nations, nor yet by the laws of God; now this young prince, in order to prevent sedition and rebel lion, blood and destruction, prudently and politicly chuses rather to lay his hand upon his mouth, than to take a wolf by the ear, or a lion by the beard*. He wanted neither wit nor will to be mute; he turns a deaf ear to all they say: his unsettled condition requiring silence.
Henry VI. Emperor of Germany, used to say, He that knows not how to be silent, knows not how to speak. Saul knew this was a time for silence; he knew his work was räther to be an auditor, than an orator. But this is not the silence the proposition speaks of.
* Hear, see, and be silent, if thou wilt live in peace, is a French proverb.
3. There is a foolish silence. Some fools there be, that can neither do well, nor speak well; and because they cannot word it, neither as they would nor as they should, they are so wise as to be mute, Prov. xvii. 28. « Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; and he that shutteth his lips, is esteemed a man of understanding." As he cannot be wise that speaks much, so he cannot be known for a fool that says nothing. There are many wise fools in the world. There are many silly souls, who, by holding their tongues, gain the credit and honour of being discreet men. He that doth not discos ver his want of wisdom, by foolish babbling, is accounted wise, though he may be other wise. Silence is so rare a virtue, where wisdom doth regulate it, that it is accounted a virtue where folly doth impose it. Silence was so highly honoured among the old Romans, that they erected altars to it. That man shall pass for a man of understanding, who so far understands himself, as to hold his tongue: for though it be a great misery to be a fool, yet it is a greater that a man cannot be a fool, but he must needs shew it. But this foolish silence is not the silence here meant.
4. There is a sullen silence. Many, to gratify an humour, a lust, are sullenly silent.