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These are troubled with a dumb devil, which was the worst deyil of all the devils you read of in the scripture, Mark ix. 17–28. Pliny, in his natural history, lib. 7. cap. 2. maketh mention of a certain people in the Indies, upon the river Ganges, called Astomi, that have no mouth, but do only feed upon the smell of herbs and flowers. Certainly there is a gerie, ration amongst us, who, when they are under the afflicting hand of God, have no mouths to plead with God, no lips to praise God, nor no tongues to justify God: these are possessed with a dumb deyil; and this dumb devil had possessed Ahab for a time, 1 Kings xxi. 4. « And Ahab came into his house, heavy and displeased, and laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread." Ahab's ambitious humour, his covetous humour, being crossed, he is resolved to starve himself, and to die of the sullens. A sullen silence is both a sin and a punishment: no devil frets and vexes, wears and wastes the spirits of a man, like this dumb devil, like this sullen silence.
Some write of a certain devil, whom they call Hudgin, who will not (they say) hurt any body, except he be wronged. I cannot speak so favourably of a sullen silence, for that wrongs many at once; God and Christ, bodies and souls. But this is not the silence here meant.
5. There is a forced silence. Many are silent per force. He that is under the power of his enemy, though he suffer many hard things, yet he is silent under his sufferings, because he knows he is liable to worse. He that hath taken away his liberty, may take a way his life; he that hath taken away his money, may take off his head; he that hath let him blood in the foot,may let him blood in the throat, if he will not be still and quiet; and this works silence per force. So when many are under the afflictinghandof God, conscience tells them, that now they are under the handof an enemy, and the power of that God whom they have dishonoured, whose Son they have erucified, whoseSpiritthey havegrieved, whose righteous laws they have transgressed, whose ordinances they have despised, and whose people they have abused and opposed ; and that he that hath taken away one child, may take away every child ; and he that hath taken aa way the wife, might have taken away the hus band; and he that hath taken away some part of the estate, might have taken away all the estate; and that he who hath inflicted some distempers upon the body, might have cast both body and soul into hell-fire for ever ; and he that hath shut him up in his chamber, may shut him out of heaven at pleasure. The thoughts and sense of these things, make many a sinner silent under the hand of God. But this is but a forced silence. And such was the silence of Philip II. King of Spain, who, when his invincible armado, that had been three years a-fitting, was lost, gave command, that all, over Spain, they should give thanks to God and the saints, that it was no more grievous. As the cudgel forces the dog to be quiet and still, and the rod forces the child to be silent and mute; so the apprehensions of what God hath done, and of what God may do, force many a soul to be silent, Jer. iii. 10.
1 Kings xiv. 5-18. But this is not the silence here meant. A forced silence is no silence in the eye of God.
6. There is a despairing silence. A despairing soul is a terror to himself; he hath a hell in his heart, and horror in his conscience. He looks upwards, and there he beholds God frowning, and Christ bleeding; he looks inwards, and there he finds conscience accusing and condemning him, Psal. xciv. 7. Psal. xxviii. 1. He looks on the one side of him, and there he hears all his sins crying out, we are thine, and we will follow thee, we will to the grave with thee, we will to judgment with thee, and from judgment we will to hell with thee. He looks on the other side of him, and there he sees infernal fiends, in fearful shapes, amazing and terrifying him, and waiting to receive his despairing soul, as soon as she shall take her leave of his wretched body. He looks above him, and there he sees the gates of heaven shut against him : he looks beneath him, and there he sees hell gaping for him; and, under these sad sights, he is full of secret conclusions against his own soul. There is mercy for others, saith the despairing soul, but none for me; grace and favour for others, but none for me, pardon and peace for ou thers, but none for me; blessedness and hap piness for others, but none for me. There is no help, there is no hope, no, Jer. ii. 25. and xviii, 12.* Now, under these dismal apprehensions and sad conclusions about its present and future condition, the despairing soul sits silent, being filled with amazement and astonishment, Psal. lxxvii. 4. I am so troubled that I cannot speak. But this is not the silence here meant. But,
7. and lastly, There is a prudent silence, a holy, a gracious silence, a silence that springs from prudent principles, from holy principles, and from gracious causes and considerations; and this is the silence here meant. And this I shall fully discover in my answers to the second question, which is this,
II. Quest. 2. What doth a prudent, a graciQUS, a holy silence include?
Ans. It includes and takes in these eight things.
1. It includes a sight of God, and an acknowledgement of God as the author of all the afflictions that come upon us: and this you have plain in the text, I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didstit.”+ The psalmist looks through secondary causes, to the first cause, and so sits mute before the Lord. There is no sickness so little but God
As that despairing Pope said, the cross could do him no good, because he had so often sold it.
+ In second causes, many times a Christian may see much envy, hatred, malice, pride, &c, but in the first cause he can see nothing but grace and mercy, sweetness and goodness.
hath a finger in it, though it be but the aching of the little finger. As the scribe is more eyed and properly said to write, than the pen; and he that maketh and keepeth the clock, is more properly said to make it go and strike, than the wheels and weights that hang upon it; and as every workman is more eyed, and properly said to effect his works, rather than the tools which he useth as his instruments : so the Lord, who is the chief agent and mover in all actions, and who hath the greatest hand in all our afflictions, is more to be eyed and owned, than any inferior or subordinatecauses whatsoever. So Job, he beheld God in all, Job i. 21. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.
Had he not seen God in the afa fliction, he would have cried out, О these wretched Chaldeans, they have plundered and spoiled me! these wicked Sabeans, they have robbed and wronged me! Job discerns God's commission in the Chaldeans and the Sabeans hands, and then lays his own hand upon his mouth. So Aaron, beholding the hand of God in the untimely death of his two sons, holds his peace,
Lev. x. 3.
The sight of God in this sad stroke, is a bridle both to his mind and mouth, he neither mutters nor murmurs. So Joseph saw the hand of God in his brethrens selling of him into Egypt, Gen. xlv, 8. and that silences him.
Men that see not God in an affliction, are easily cast into a feverish fit; they will quickly be in a flame; and when their passions are up, and their hearts on fire, they will begin