Page images
PDF
EPUB

poison, viz. hot and cold; so there are two kinds of antidotes against all the troubles and afflictions of this life, viz. prayer and patience; the one hot, the other cold; the one quenching the other quickning. Chrysostom understood this well enough, when he cried out, Oh (said he) it is more bitter than death to be spoiled of prayer; and thereupon observes, that Daniel chose rather to run the hazard of his life, than to lose his prayer. Well, this is the second thing; a holy silence doth not exclude prayer. But,

3. A holy, a prudent silence, doth not exclude mens being kindly affected and afflicted with their sins, as the meritorious cause of all their sorrows and sufferings, Lam. iii. 39,40. “ Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sin ? Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. Job xl. 4, 5. Behold, I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer; yea, twice but I will proceed no further. Micah vii. 9. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned.” In all our sorrows, we should read our sins; and when God's hand is upon our backs, our hands should be upon our sins.

It was a good saying of one, I hide not my sins, but I shew them; I wipe them not an way, but I sprinkle them, I do not excuse them, but accuse them : The beginning of my salvation, is the knowledge of my transgression. When some told Prince Henry,

that darling of mankind, that the sins of the people brought that affliction on him ; O no, said he, I have sins enough of mine own, to cause that. I have sinned, said David, but what have these poor sheep done? When Christian is under the the afflicting hand of God, he may well say, I may thank this proud heart of mine, this worldly heart, this froward heart, this formal heart, this dull heart, this backsliding heart, this self-seeking heart of mine ; for that this cup is so bitter, this pain so grievous, this loss so great, this disease so desperate, this wound so incurable, it is mine own self, mine own sin, that hath caused these floods of sorrows to break in upon me. But,

4. A holy, a prudent silence, doth not exclude the teaching and instructing of others, when we are afflicted ; the words of the af, flicted stick close; they many times work, strongly, powerfully, strangely, sayingly upon the souls, and consciences of others. Many of Paul's epistles were written to the churches, when he was in bonds, viz. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. He begot Onesimus in his bonds, Philemon ver. 10. And many of the brethren in the Lord waxed bold and confident by his bonds, and were confirmed, and made partakers of grace, by his ministry, when he was in bonds, Phil. i. 7. 13. 14. As the words of dying persons do many times stick and work gloriously, so many times do the words of afflicted persons work very nobly and efficaciously. I have Iead of one Adrianus, who, seeing the martyrs

suffer such grievous things in the cause of Christ, asked, What was that which enabled them to suffer such things ? and one of them named that, 1 Cor. ii. 9.

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him :" this word was like apples of gold in pictures of silver ; for it made him not only à convert, but a martyr too, Prov. xxv. 11. And this was the means of Justin Martyr's conversion, as himself confesseth. Doubtless many have been made happy by the words of the afflicted; the tongue of the afflicted hath been to many as choice silver, the words of the afflicted many times are both pleasing and profitable; they tickle the ear, and they win upon the heart; they slide insensibly into the hearers souls, and work efficaciously upon the hearers hearts, Eccles. x. 12. The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious, (or grace, as the Hebrew hath it;) and so Hierom, reads it. The words of the mouth of a wise man are grace. They minister grace to others, and they win grace and favour from others; gracious lips make gracious hearts; gracious words are a grace, an ornament to the speaker; and they are a comfort, a delight, and an advantge to the hearer.

Now the words of a wise man's mouth are never more gracious, than when he is most af flicted and distressed. Now you shall find most worth and weight in his words; now kis.lips, like the spouse's, are like a thread of

scarlet, they are red with talking much of a crucified Christ, and they are thin like a thread, not swelled with vain and unprofitable discourses. Now his mouth speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh judgment, for the law of the Lord is in his heart, Psal. xxxvij. 30. Now his lips drop honey-combs, Cant. iv. 10. Now his tongue is as a tree of life, whose leaves are medicinal, Prov. xii. 18. As the silver-trumpets sounded most joy to the Jews in the day of their gladness. Num. X 10. so the mouth of a wise man, like a silvertrumpet, sounds most joy and advantage to others in the days of his sadness.

The Heathen man could say, When a wise man speaketh, he openeth the rich treasures and wardrobe of his mind; so may I say, when an afflicted saint speaks, Oh the pearls, the treasures that he scatters ! But,

5. A holy, a prudent silence, doth not exclude moderate mourning or weeping under the afflicting hand of God, Isa. xxxviii. 3. And Hezekiah wept sore, or, as the Hebrew hath it, wept with great weeping. But was not the Lord displeased with him for his great weeping ? No, ver, 5. “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears : behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years." God had as well a bottle for his tears, as a bag for his sins. There is no water so sweet as the saints tears, when they do not overflow the banks of moderation. Tears are not mutes; they have' a voice, and their oratory is of great prevalency with the almighty God. And there.

fore the weeping prophet calleth out for tears, Lam. ii. 18. « Their heart crieth unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night; give thyself no rest, let not the apple of thine eye cease;" or as the Hebrew hath it, “Let not the daughters of thine eye be silent;" (that which we call the ball or apple of the eye, the Hebrew calls the daughter of the eye, because it is as dear and tender to a man, as an only daughter, and because therein appears the likeness of a little daughter.) Upon which words, saith Bellarmine, Cry aloud, not with thy tongue, but with thine eyes; not with thy words, but with thy tears; for that is the prayer that maketh the most forcible entry into the ears of the great God of heaven. When God strikes, he looks that we should tremble; when his hand is lifted high, he looks that our hearts should stoop low; when he hath the rod in his hand, he looks that we should have tears in our eyes ; as you may see by comparing of these scriptures together, Psal. lv. 2. Psal. xxxviii. 6. Job xxx. 26.-32. Good men weep easily, saith the Greek poet; and the better any are, the more inclining to weeping, especially under affliction. As you may see in David, (whose tears, instead of gems, were the common ornaments of his bed,) Jonathan, Job, Ezra, Daniel, &c. How saith one) shall God wipe away my tears in heaven, if I shed none on earth ? and how shall I

reap in joy, if I sow not in tears? I was born with

« PreviousContinue »