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make it out in another way. I shall add nothing, then, to what you will meet withal in the following discourse, but only my desire, that you would seriously ponder the second observation, with the deductions from thence. For the rest, I no way fear but that that God who hath so appeared with you, and for you, will so indulge to your spirits the presence and guidance of his grace, in these shaking times, that if any speak evil of you as of evil-doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ, and glorify God in the day of visitation.
For these following sermons, one of them was preached at your desire, and is now published upon your request. The first part of the labour I willingly and cheerfully underwent;—the latter, merely in obedience to your commands, being acted in it more by your judgments than mine own. You were persuaded (mean as i. was) it might be for the glory of God to have it made public; whereupon my answer was, and is, That for that, not only it, but myself also, should, by his assistance, be ready for the press. The failings and infirmities attending the preaching and publishing of it (which the Lord knows to be very many) are mine ;—the incon. veniences of publishing such a tractate from so weak a hand, whereof the world is full, must be yours ;—the fruit and benefit both of the one and other is His, for whose pardon of infirmities, and removal of inconveniences, shall be, as for you, and all the church of God, the prayer of,
Your most humble and obliged Servant
In the work of the Lord,
COGGESHALL, Oct. 5, 16-48.
A MEMORIAL OF THE DELIVERANCE OF ESSEX COUNTY, AND
“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. O LORD, I have heard thy
speech, and was afraid : O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember
God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was the LORD displeased against the rivers ? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses, and thy chariots of salvation ? Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers."-Hab. iii. 1-9.
Or this chapter there are four parts.
First, The title and preface of it, verse 1.
Thirdly, Arguments to sustain his faith in that request, from verse 3 to 17.
Fourthly, A resignation of himself, and the whole issue of his desires unto God, from verse 17 to the end.
We shall treat of them in order.
The prophet' having had visions from God, and pre-discoveries of many approaching judgments, in the first and second chapters, in this, by faithful prayer, sets himself to obtain a sure footing and quiet abode in those nation-destroying storms.
Verse 1. “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet;" that is the title of it. And an excellent prayer it is,-full of arguments to strengthen
· The time of this prophecy is conceived to be about the end of Josiah's reign, not long before the first Chaldean invasion.
faith,—acknowledgment of God's sovereignty, power, and righteous judgments,—with resolutions to a contented, joyful, rolling him upon him under all dispensations.
Observation I. Prayer is the believer's constant, sure retreat in an evil time, in a time of trouble.
It is the righteous man's wings to the "name of the Lord,” which is his “strong tower,” Prov. xviii. 10,-a Christian soldier's sure reserve in the day of battle: if all other forces be overthrown, here he will abide by it,—no power under heaven can prevail upon him to give one step backward. Hence that title of Ps. cii., “ A prayer of
. the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed.” "Tis the overwhelmed man's refuge and employment: when“ he swooneth with anguish” (as in the original), this fetches him to life again. So also, Ps. lxi. 2, 3. In our greatest distresses let neither unbelief nor self-contrivances jostle us out of this way to the rock of our salvation
II. Observation. Prophets' discoveries of fearful judgments must be attended with fervent prayers.
That messenger hath done but half his business who delivers his errand, but returns not an answer. He that brings God's message of threats unto his people, must return his people's message of entreaties unto him. Some think they have fairly discharged their duty when they have revealed the will of God to man, without labouring to reveal the condition and desires of men unto God. He that is more frequent in the pulpit to his people than he is in his closet for his people, is but a sorry watchman. Moses did not so, Exod. xxxii. 31;-neither did Samuel so, 1 Sam. xii. 23;—neither was it the guise of Jeremiah in his days, chap. xiv. 17. If the beginning of the prophecy be (as it is) “ The burden of Habakkuk,”-the close will be (as it is) “The prayer
of Habakkuk.” Where there is a burden upon the people, there must be a prayer for the people. Woe to them who have denounced desolations, and not poured out supplications! Such men delight in the evil which the prophet puts far from him, Jer. xvii. 16, I have not desired the woful day, [O Lord), thou knowest.”
Now this prayer is “ upon Shigionoth;” that is,-1. It is turned to a song; 2. Such a song.
1. That it is a song, penned in metre; and how done so. take the deeper impression ; (2.) To be the better retained in memory; (3.) To work more upon the affections; (4.) To receive the ingredients of poetical loftiness for adorning the majesty of God with; (5.) The use of songs in the old church; (6.) And for the present; (7.) Their times and seasons, as among the people of God, so all nations of old. Of all, or any of these, being besides my present purpose, I shall not treat.
* “ Preces et lacrymæ sunt arma ecclesiæ."_Tertul.
(1.) To 2. That it is “upon Shigionoth,” a little may be spoken. The word is once in another place (and no more) used, in the title of a song, and that is Ps. vii., “ Shiggaion of David;" and it is variously rendered. It seems to be taken from the word now, “erravit,” to err, or wander variously, Prov. v. 19. The word is used for delight, to stray with delight : "In her love (naum) thou shalt err with delight, —we have translated it, “ be ravished;” noting affections out of order The word, then, holds out a delightful wandering and variety;—and this literally, because those two songs, Ps. vii. and Hab. iii., are not tied to any one certain kind of metre, but have various verses, for the more delight; which, though it be not proper to them alone, yet in them the Holy Ghost would have it especially noted.
But now surely the kernel of this shell is sweeter than so. Is not this written also for their instruction who have no skill in Hebrew songs? The true reason of their metre is lost to the most learned. Are not, then, God's variable dispensations towards his held out under these variable tunes,—not all fitted to one string? not all alike pleasant and easy? Are not the several tunes of mercy and judgment in these songs? Is not here affliction and deliverance, desertion and recovery, darkness and light in this variously? Doubtless it is so.
III. Observation. God often calls his people unto songs upon Shigionoth.
'He keeps them under various dispensations, that so, drawing out all their affections, their hearts may make the sweeter melody unto him. They shall not have all honey, nor all gall;—all judgment, lest they be broken ; nor all mercy, lest they be proud.
“ Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God: thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions,” Ps. xcix. 8. Here is a song upon Shigionoth! They are heard in their prayers, and forgiven;—there is the sweetest of mercies. Vengeance is taken of their inventions,—there's a tune of judgment. “By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, o God of our salvation,” Ps. Ixv. 5; (which) is a song of the same tune. To be answered in righteousness, what sweeter mercy in the world? Nothing more refreshes the panting soul than an answer of its desires; but to have this answer by terrible things,—that string strikes a humbling, a mournful note. Israel hear of deliverance by Moses, and at the same time have their bondage doubled by Pharaoh,—there's a song upon Shigionoth. Is it not so in our days?-precious mercies and dreadful judgments jointly poured out upon the land ? We are clothed by our Father, like Joseph by his, in a party-coloured coat, Gen. xxxvii. 3;—here a piece of unexpected deliverance, and there a piece of deserved cor
1“Graviter in eum decernitur, cui etiam ipsa connectio denegatur.”—Prosp. Sent. · Duplicantur lateres quando venit Moses.
rection. At the same hour we may rejoice at the conquest of our enemies, and mourn at the close of our harvest,—victories for his own name's sake, and showers for our sins' sake; both from the same hand at the same time. The cry of every soul is like the cry of the multitude of old and young at the laying the foundation of the second temple: many shouted aloud for joy, and many wept with a loud voice; so that it was a mixed noise, and the several noises could not be distinguished, Ezra iii. 12, 13. A mixed cry is in our spirits, and we know not which is loudest in the day of our visitation. I could instance in sundry particulars, but that every one's observation will save me that easy labour. And this the Lord doth,
1. To fill all our sails towards himself at once,—to exercise all our affections. I have heard that a full wind behind the ship drives her not so fast forward as a side wind, that seems almost so much against her as with her; and the reason, they say, is, because a full wind fills but some of her sails, which keep it from the rest that they are empty; when a side wind fills all her sails, and sets her speedily forward. Which way ever we go in this world, our affections are our sails; and according as they are spread and filled, so we pass on, swifter and slower, whither we are steering. Now, if the Lord should give us a full wind, and continual gale of mercies, it would fill but some of our sails, some of our affections,-joy, delight, and the like; but when he comes with a side wind,-a dispensation that seems almost as much against us as for us,—then be fills all our sails, takes up all our affections, making his works wide and broad enough to entertain them every one ;-then are we carried freely and fully towards the haven where we would be. A song upon Shigionoth leaves not one string of our affections untuned. It is a song that reacheth every line of our hearts, to be framed by the grace and Spirit of God. Therein hope, fear, reverence, with humility and repentance, have a share; as well as joy, delight, and love, with thankfulness. Interchangeable dispensations take up all our affections, with all our graces; for they are gracious affections, exercised and seasoned with grace, of which we speak. The stirring of natural affections, as merely such, is but the moving of a dunghill to draw out a stinking steam,—a thing the Lord neither aimeth at nor delighteth in. Their joys are his provocation, and he laugheth in the day of their calamity, when their fear cometh, Prov. i. 26, 27. 2. To keep them in continual dependence upon himself. He
1 « Namque bonos non blanda inflant, non aspera frangunt,
Prosp. Epig. in Sent. August. 3 Ps. cxix, 67; Hos. v. 15; Heb. xii. 10, 11; 1 Pet. i. 6.
3 “In cælo non in terra mercedem promisit reddendam. Quid alibi poscis, quod alibi dabitur ?"-Ambros. Offic., lib. i. cap. 16.