The Lord at thy Right hand shall strike through Kings in the day of his wrath.
Hee shall judge amongst the Heathen, he shall fill the places with dead Bodies: Hee shall wound the heads over many Countries.
IN the former part of the Psalme we have had the description of Christs offices of King and Priest, together with the effect thereof in gathe∣ring a willing people unto himselfe. Now here the Prophet sheweth another effect of the powerfull ad∣ministration of these offices, con∣taining his victories over all his enemies, allegorically expressed in a Hypotiposis, or lively allusion unto the manner of humane victories; wherein first I shall in a few words labour to cleere the sense, and then the observa∣tions which are naturall will the more evidently arise.
The Lord at thy right hand] To lay aside their expo∣sition Page 484 who understand these words of God the Father; the words are an Apostrophe of the Prophet to those at whose right hand the Lord Iesus is. Some make it an Apostrophe to God the Father, a triumphall and thankfull prediction of that power and Iudgement which he hath given to this his Benjamin, the Sonne at his right hand. Because that thereby the phrase retaineth the same signi∣fication and sense which it had in the first verse. As if David had said, O God, the Father of all power and ma∣jesty, worthy art thou of all praise, thanksgiving and honor who hast given such power to thy Sonne in the behalfe of thy Church, as to smite through Kings, and judge heathen, and pull downe the chiefe of his enemies, and to subdue all things to himselfe; and these read it thus, O Lord, hee that is at thy right hand shall strike through Kings, &c. Others make it to be an Apostrophe to the Church, and so to bee a phrase not expressing Christs exaltation, as verse 1. But his care and prote∣ction over his Church, his readinesse, to assist and defend his owne people against all the injuries and assaults of adverse power. Salomon saith, A wise mans heart is at his right hand, but a fooles heart is at his left, Eccl. 10.2. That is, his heart is ready and prepared to execute any wife counsels or godly resolutions; as the Prophet David saith, My heart is prepared ô God, my heart is prepared, I will sing and give thankes. But a fooles heart when hee should doe any thing is like his left hand, to seeke of skill, unactive and unprepared; when hee walketh by the way his heart faileth him, vers. 3. And this readinesse and present helpe of God to defend and guide his Church is expressed frequently by his being at the right hand thereof. Because the Lord is at my right hand I shall not bee moved, Psal. 16.8. Hee shall stand at the right hand of the poore to save him, Psal. 109.31. I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, feare not I will helpe thee, Esai. 31.13. As if David had said, Bee not Page 485 dismayed nor cast downe ô yee subjects of this King, as if being exalted to Gods right hand, hee had given over the care and protection of his people; for as hee is at the right hand of his Father in glory and majesty; so is he at your right hand too, standing to execute judgement on your enemies, and to reveale the power of his arme to∣wards you in your protection.
Now the reasons of this phrase and expression as I conceive are these two. First, to note that Christs power, providence, and protection doe not exclude, but onely strengthen, assist, and prosper the ordinary and just en∣deavors of the Church for themselves. The Lord is not at our left hand to succor us in our idlenesse and negligence, but at our working hand to give successe to our honest endeavors. The sword of the Lord doth not fight with∣out the sword of Gedeon, Iudg. 7.18. In the miracles of Christ when hee fed and feasted men, hee never created wine or bread of nothing, but blessed, and so changed, or multiplied that which was by humane industry prepared before. Our Savior had fish and bread of his owne, and yet hee would have his Disciples put in their net and catch, and bring of their owne, to note unto us, that Gods power and providence, must not exclude but en∣courage mans industry, Ioh. 21.9, 10. Hee protecteth us in viis nostris, non in praecipitiis, in our wayes, not in our precipices or presumptions, Psal. 91.11. So long then as the Church is valiant and constant in withstanding the enemies of her peace & prosperity, God is undoubtedly with her to blesse that courage, and to strengthen that right hand; so long as Moses held up his hand, God fought for Israel. There was Ioshuas sword, and Moses his hand or prayer, and upon those Gods blessing, Exod. 17.12, 13. And they were all to concurre. If the sword should cease, the Prayer would doe no good; for God will not bee tempted: If the Prayer faint, the sword is in vaine, for God will not bee neglected. As in a curious Page 486 Clock stopp any wheele and you hinder the whole mo∣tion. If God promise to bee present, Ioshua must pro∣mise to bee couragious, Iosh. 184.108.40.206. Secondly, to note unto us the care and militarie wisedome of Christ our Captaine to meete with and to prevent our enemies, and to intercept their blowes against us; for wee may observe in the Scripture that Satan plieth the right hand of the Church, laboureth to weaken and assault us where there is most danger towards him. Let Satan stand at his right hand, Psal. 109.6. That is, either give him over to the rage of Satan, that hee may bee hurried to execute his will, or set Satan to hinder him in his mischievous in∣tents. Thus Satan stood at the right hand of Ioshua the high Priest to resist him, Zech. 3.1. Noting the assi∣duous and indefatigable endeavors of Satan to resist, dis∣appoint, and overthrow the workes of the worthies in Gods Church (I would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and againe, but Satan hindered us, 1 Thess. 2.18.) And to divert the strength of men upon his service. And therefore to rebuke him, and to shew to the Church that our strength is from him, and due unto him hee also stands there to outvie the temptations and impulsions of Satan.
These are the two expositions which are given of these words, The Lord at thy right hand. Now though of all places of Scripture there is indeed but one literall sense; yet when two are given, which both tend unto the same generall scope, and are suteable not onely to the analogie of faith, but to the meaning mainely aimed at by the Holy Ghost in the place, and when there is no apparant evidence in the face of the Text, for preferring one before the other: I thinke it is not unfit to embrace both; and so something I shall touch upon both senses.
Shall strike through, or wound, or make gore bloudie, Kings in the day of his wrath.] The word is, Hath stricken through Kings. It is a Prophesie of things future, spoken Page 487 as of things to bee done. To strike thorow, notes a com∣plete victory and full confusion of the enemie, an in cu∣rable wound, that they may stagger, and fall, and rise up no more, and that affliction may not arise a second time, Nahum 1.9. 1 Sam. 26.8. The onely difficulty is what is meant by Kings; for which wee must note that the Kingdome of Christ is spirituall, and his warre spirituall, and therefore his enemies for the most part spirituall. Therefore I take it wee are hereby to understand the most potent enemies of Christ; whether spirituall, wee wrestle not against flesh and bloud, but against principa∣lities, and powers, and spirituall wickednesse in high places, Ephes. 6.12. 2 Cor. 10.4. Or Carnall, as heathen and wicked men, Psal. 2.8, 9. The fat and the strong enemies of the Church, Ezek. 34.16. Our spirituall ene∣mies in Scripture are called Kings. Satan the Prince of this world, the God of this world,* the Prince of the power of the aire. The King of the locusts, &c. Sinne and ori∣ginall concupiscence is a King. Let not sinne raigne in your mortall bodies. And the Earthly enemies of Christ are called Kings. The ten Hornes, that is, ten Kings make warre with the Lambe. The Kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and his Christ; and Death which is the last enemie is a King. The King of Terrors, that raigneth over men. A•d over all these Kings doe the victories of Christ reach. Some by Kings understand the Romane emperors (who are called Kings, 1 Pet. 2.13.17.) And their overthrow for persecuting the Church. But since all sorts of Christs enemies are called Kings in Scripture, and all of them doe push at his Kingdome in the Church, I see no ground why wee may not by Kings understand them all, with their subjects, armies, and associates. As in great victories the Lords and principall men are said to be overcome, when the servants and souldiers are routed and slaine.
In the Day of his wrath.] That is, when time hath ri∣pened Page 488 the insolency and malice of the enemie, when his fury is fully stirred up and provoked, when the just and full time of his glory is come; That it may appeare that they are overcome not by time, or chance, or humane power, or secular concurrence, but onely by the power of his wrath hee will doe it. Christ is never destitute of power, but in wisedome hee hath ordered the times of his Church, when to have his Church suffer and beare witnesse to him, and when to triumph in his delive∣rances. So the meaning of this clause is this, when the day of recompence is come, when the sinnes and provo∣cations of his enemie is ripe, when the utmost period of his patience is expired, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in the fixed and unmo∣veable day which hee hath set, bee the probabilities never so poore, & preparations never so small, the expe∣ctations never so low, the meanes in humane view never so impossible, yet then by his wrath hee will utterly and incurably wound his enemies both spirituall and tem∣porall, that they shall not rise a second time.
He shall judge amongst the Heathen.] The word judge∣ment noteth both Government, and Punishment. The Lord shall judge his people, and repent himselfe for his ser∣vants, when hee seeth that their power is gone, Deut. 32.36. There to judge, noteth government. The Lord stan∣deth up to plead and to judge his people, Esai. 3.13. That nation whom they serve will I judge, Gen. 15.14. There to judge noteth punishment. Here it is taken for exe∣cuting condemnation upon the contumacious adversaries of the Gospell of Christ amongst the Gentiles, as in the great victory of Gog and Magog, Ezek. 39. Some by Gentiles understand all Enemies both spirituall,* and earthly.
Hee shall fill the places with dead Bodies.] That notes both the swiftnesse of the victory, and the greatnesse of the victory. That it shall bee so generall, and so speedy that the enemie shall have either none left, or they that Page 489 are left shall not bee able, nor have leasure to bury their dead Bodies, Ezek. 39.11.
He shall wound the head over divers Countries.*] That is, either the principall of his enemies every where; or Sa∣tan who is the God of the World, that ruleth as Head over the Children of disobedience in all places. Or An∣tichrist the Head of nations, the chiefe of Gods enemies, Revel. 13.7, 220.127.116.11.15.18.
The Lord at thy right hand.] According to the two-fold Apostrophe before mentioned, here are two observations which I will but touch. First, that God the Father is worthy to have all the power, Majesty, and judgement which hee hath given to his Sonne our Me∣diator, for our protection, salvation and defence, most thankfully and triumphantly acknowledged to him. We finde our Savior himselfe praising God in this behalfe, that hee had delivered all things into his hand, even power to make Babes beleeve on him, Matth. 11.25.27. And this S. Paul is frequent in, namely in praising and glorifying God for Christ. O wretched man that I am who shall deliver mee, &c. I thanke God through Iesus Christ our Lord, Rom. 7.25. 1 Tim. 1.16, 17. All the promises of God are in him yea, and in him Amen, to the Glory of God by us, 2 Cor. 1.19, 20. Hee gave him∣selfe for our sinnes, that hee might deliver us from this present evill world according to the will of God and our Father, to whom bee glory for ever and ever, Amen, Gal. 1.4, 5. Every tongue must confesse that Iesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father, Phil. 2.11.
And reason there is that it should thus bee acknow∣ledged to the Father, because hee hath all his Kingdome and power in the Church from the Father. All power is given unto mee. Hee hath given him a name above every name; and this the Sonne hath revealed to us, that so hee might manifest the name, that is, get glory to his Father thereby, Ioh. 17.6, 7. For in Christ it was God that recon∣ciled Page 490 the world to himselfe. Secondly, hee hath it all given unto him in our nature, in our behalfe, and as our head, so that wee in the gifts of God to him were onely respected, and therefore wee have reason to praise God for them. It was not indeed given to him strictly (for it was not to him Beneficium but Onus, an office, but not a benefit) but to him for us, or to us in and by him. In all the victories, deliverances, refreshments, experiences of Gods power and goodnesse wee must ever remember to praise God in and through his Sonne, to acknowledge the power of his right hand, which is not now against his Church, but against the enemies of his Church. For therefore the deliverance of his Church is ascribed to Gods Right hand, because hee hath there one to plead, to intreat, to move his right hand in our behalfe. There∣fore in all our distresses, in all conflicts and temptations, wee must by faith looke up unto Gods right hand, put him in remembrance of that faithfulnesse, righteousnesse, atonement, and intercession which is there made in our behalfe. There wee shall have matter enough to fill our mouths and hearts with praises, and triumph, and re∣joicing in him. It is Christ who is at the right hand of God; who shall separate us from the Love of Christ, Rom. 8.34, 35. Here are two arguments of the Churches safety and triumph. The Love of Christ, and the Honor of Christ. Hee loveth all his to the end. But what good can love doe without power? Therefore hee that loveth us is exalted by God, and hath all power given him for this purpose that his love may doe us good. In the conflicts of my corruptions (which are an adversary too wise, too subtile, too numberlesse for mee to vanquish,) I may yet when I am driven to Pauls extremity, rest in his thanks∣giving, and looking up to Iesus, who will be the finisher of every good worke which hee beginnes, and seeing him at Gods right hand, may triumph in the power and office which God hath given to his Sonne there, which Page 491 is, to subdue our iniquities, and to sanctifie us by his Truth, and by that residue of Spirit which he keepeth for the Church, Ioh. 17.17, 19. for that Prayer is a Mo∣dell, as it were, and counterpane of Christs Intercession: for, saith he, I come to thee, and speake these things in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in them, ver. 13. that is, that they having a specimen and forme of that Intercession which with thee I shall make for them, left upon publike record for them to looke on, and there finding, that their sanctification is the businesse of my sitting at thy right hand, may in the midst of the dis∣comforts and conflicts of their corruption have a full joy and triumph in the honour which thou hast given me. I am beset with the temptations of mine enemies, and persecutions for the Name of Christ; In this case I may give God praise for the power which hee hath given to his Sonne, I may from mine enemies appeale unto Gods right hand, I may like Stephen when the stones and buffets are about my soule looke up by faith, & see there my Captain standing up in my defence, Act. 7.55. I may acknowledge unto God the power given unto his Sonne, that though nothing of all this fall upon me without his provision and permission, yet sure I am that he hath power and mercy in his right hand, that though mine enemies were as strong as a combination and armie of kings, yet the Lord at his right hand hath from him in my behalfe received power enough, to strike through kings when the day of his wrath is come.
Note, secondly, Christ is at the right hand of his peo∣ple, present with them, and prepared to defend them from all their enemies, present by his Spirit to strengthen, comfort, and uphold them, enabling them to glory and rejoyce in all their sufferings, as knowing that they are but for a moment, and that which is needfull to purge their faith, and to make them beare their shame, 1 Pet. 1.6, 7. Iam. 1.2, 3. Esai. 27.8, 9. and to glorifie the Page 492 consequent power of Christ, which shall bee revealed to their joy, 1 Pet. 4.13. when hee will recompence dou∣ble to us in mercy, and to our enemies in severity, Esai. 54.7, 8.61.7. present by his mighty power, and by his Angels, to rescue, deliver and protect them, to bee as a wall of fire, as a shield, a buckler, a rocke, a Captaine to his people, Zech. 2.5.
And this is the ground of all the Churches comfort that more is with them than against them: the enemies have combinations and confederacies of men, but the Church hath Immanuel, God with them, Esai. 8.9, 10. none can pull Christ from the right hand of God, or from the right hand of his people: that is, none can take away either his power or his love from his people. The Church and truth can never bee crush'd and over∣throwne, no more than a rocke with the raging of the waves: they are Heavenly things, and therefore no∣thing of earth or hell can reach to corrupt them. It was but a vaine attempt of the Gyants to build a tower to heaven: The world was made that there might be there∣in a Church to worship and contemplate that God which made it; therefore in the creation God never re∣sted till he came to a Church, to note that that was the end thereof; and therefore it is easier to pull downe the world, and to shake in peeces the frame of nature, than to ruine the Church. The Church hath Christ for her husband, hee to whom all knees must bend, hee whom every tongue must confesse, hee who will subdue all things to himselfe, so she hath Love, Power and Iealou∣sie, all three very strong things on her side. And there∣fore the onely way to be safe, is to keepe Christ at our right hand, to hold fast his truth, worship, and obedi∣ence; for so long as we have Immanuel, all adverse pow∣er is but flesh, and all flesh is but grasse, withered in a moment when God will blow upon it.
Note thirdly, Christ in his appointed time will utterly Page 493 overthrow the greatest enemies of his Kingdome, and de∣liver his Church from under the sorest oppressions. There is not any one argument in the holy Scriptures more frequently repeated, than this of Christs victories; pre∣figured they were in the deliverances of Israel out of Egypt, 1 Cor. 10.2, 4. In the deliverance of the Arke out of the waters, 1 Pet. 3.21, 22. in the deliverance of the Iewes from Babylon, Revel. 14.8. Esai. 11.10-12.15. To note that in the sorest extremities and greatest impro∣babilities God will shew himselfe jealous for his people. This victorie is expressed by treading of a wine-presse, Esai. 63.1, 6. when there are none to helpe, when the Church is brought to sorest extremities, though multi∣tudes meete against her as many as the grapes in a vin∣tage, they shall all be but as Clusters of grapes, he shall squeeze out their bloud like wine, and make his Church to thresh them, Lam. 1.15. Revel. 14.20. Ioel 3.12. Mic. 4.13. By the dissipation of smoke out of a Chimnie, they shall bee as the smoke out of the Chimnie, Hos. 13.3. As Athanasius used to say of Iulian the Apostate, that hee was but Nubecula quae citò transiret, a little cloud, which would quickly be blowne away: smoke when it breakes out of a Chimnie with a horrible blacknesse threatneth to blot out the Sunne, and to invade and choake up all the ayre, but a little blast of winde scat∣tereth it, and anon nothing thereof appeares. By fire consuming thornes and briars, Esai. 10.17. While they be folded together as thornes, and while they are drun∣ken as drunkards, that is, while they have plotted their counsels, and confederacies so curiously that no man dares so much as touch them, and while they are drun∣ken with the pride and confidence of their own strength, they shall then be devoured as stubble that is fully dry, Nahum 1.10. Esai. 18.104.22.168.
Therefore the Scripture calleth Christ a Man of war, Exod. 15.3. Because he is furnished with all Arts of vi∣ctory, Page 494Power invincible, as a Lion amongst shepheards, so is he amongst his enemies, Esai. 31.4. wisedome un∣searchable which must stand, v. 1, 2. If hee purpose, none can disappoint him, Esai. 14.27. Authority by the least intimation to gather together all the forces of the world against the enemies of his Church. If he but hisse unto them, they presently come in troops, Esai. 22.214.171.124. He can command helpe for his people, Psal. 44.4. Psal. 71.3. Ier. 47.7. and, if that should faile, he can create helpe for his people, as hee did for Israel, when hee wrought miracles to deliver them, Psal. 106.22.
We may more profitably consider the truth and com∣fort of this point, by discovering it in the severall ene∣mies of Christ and his people. First, the great enemie of the seed of the woman is the Serpent, that great red Dragon, whose names are all names of enmity. The Accuser, the Tempter, the Destroyer, the Devourer, the Envious man, furnished with much strength, and migh∣tie succour, legions of principalities and powers atten∣ding on him; and with much wisedome, which the Scrip∣ture calleth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the wiles, and traines, and craftines of Satan. And his Arts of destroying men are two. To tempt and to accuse. His Temptations are twofold: ei∣ther unto Sinne, or unto discomfort: either to make us offend God, or to make us disquiet our selves: either to wound us or to vexe us. And in all these his Arts Christ our Captain will tread him under our feet, and will give his Church the victory at the last, either by Arming us with sufficiency of grace and faith in his Victories, putting us by his Spirit in minde of his Temptations, which taught him compassion towards us who are so much weaker, and encouraging our hearts to cry out unto him who is our mercifull and compassionate high priest, like a ravished woman in our extremities, as Paul did, 2 Cor. 12.8, 9. stirring up our faith to lay hold on him when we are in darkenesse; and our spirit of Adoption to cry Page 495 unto him when wee are in danger; and our spirit of wisedome to solve the objections to discerne the devi∣ces of Satan, and to prepare and arme our hearts accor∣dingly to wrestle with him. Or else by rebuking of him, pulling in his chaine, and chasing him away, and, as our second, undertaking the combate in person for us, when he is ready to prevaile, Zech. 3.1, 2. Thus he overcom∣meth him as a Tempter, and ever giveth some either com∣fortable or profitable issue out of them.
He likewise overcommeth him as an Accuser. Satan accuseth the Saints either by way of complaint and na•ra∣tion of the things which they have done, Revel. 12.10. which the Apostle calleth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, his laying of crimes to the charge of men, Rom. 8.33. and thus Christ over∣commeth him by his Intercession, and in the hearts of his Saints by making them judge and accuse themselves, that they may be able to cleere themselves too, 1 Cor. 11.31. 2 Corin. 7.11. Or hee accuseth by way of suspi∣tion or preconjecture, as hee did Iob, Iob 1.9, 10, 11. and herein likewise Christ overcommeth him in his servants, by permitting him to tempt and vexe them, that they may come the purer out of the fire, and by putting a holy suspition and jealousie into them over their owne hearts, which may still bee a meanes to prevent them against evils that are likely to assault them, to teach them in every condition, as well possible as present, how to walke acceptably before God, Phil. 4.11, 13.
Another great enemie of the Kingdome of Christ is, the lust of our owne evill nature. The carnall minde is enmitie against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, Rom. 8.7. Phil. 3.8. Enmity in grieving, vexing, and quenching the holy Spirit in us, and lusting enviously against his grace, Iam. 4.4, 5. And here also Christ overcommeth, by the prevailing pow∣er of his Spirit, giving us more Grace, demolishing the kingdome of sinne, and judging the prince of this world Page 497 which before did rule in the children of disobedience. And this he doth by the judgement Seat, and Scepter of his Spirit in the heart: for the judgement of the Spirit is too hard for the principality of Satan, Ioh. 16.11. The Spirit of Christ is a victorious Spirit. He bringeth forth his judgement unto victory, Matth. 12.20. Esai. 4.4. Hee worketh out by degrees the drosse and impurity of our nature, and services. First, by faith fixing upon better promises and hopes than lust can make, 1 Ioh. 5.4. Heb. 11.24, 26. Secondly, by watchfulnesse, eying corrupti∣ons, and so stirring up those arguments and principles which are strongest against them, Iob 31.1. Psal. 39.1. Thirdly, by leading us to more acquaintance with God in knowledge, love and communion, Iob 22.21. 1 Ioh. 1.3. and so fetching more wisedome and strength from him: for this is the way that wee get all our strength, even by learning of him, Phil. 4.12. Fourthly, by incli∣ning the heart to hate, and to complaine of corrupti∣ons, to bemone it selfe, as Paul and Ephraim did, Rom. 7.23. Mark. 9.24. Ier. 31.18, 19. Fifthly, by bringing the heart into the light, there to approve and judge its acti∣ons, Ioh. 3.20. by setting it alwayes in Gods eye, that it may not sinne against him, Psal. 16.8. Sixthly, by convin∣cing the heart of the beauty and excellencie of Grace, of the unlikenesse of sinne to God, and so making the soule more full of desires for the one, and against the other, Esai. 26.8. Ezek. 36.31. and thus kindling lust against lust, Gal. 5.17. Seventhly, by being alwayes a present Monitour and Watchman in the soule, to supply it with spirituall weapons and reasonings against the temptati∣ons of lust, Esai. 30.31. Ioh. 14.26. Lastly, in one word, by daily supplies from the residue of Spirit which is in our head, whereby according to the proportion and exi∣gence of the members, he floweth into them, Mal. 2.15. Phil. 1.19. This is that seed, that leaven, that vitall in∣stinct, which is ever in the heart, setting it selfe against Page 498 the workings and life of lust, and by little and little wa∣sting it away as fire doth water.
The grand instrument of Satan and lust (who are the two leaders in this warre against Christ) is the wicked world. The power, malice, wisedome, learning, or any other either naturall or acquir'd abilities of evill men: for even in an earthly respect by the word kings, we are not onely to understand those Monarchs, and princes of the earth who set themselves against Christ; but all such as excell in any such worldly abilities as may fur∣ther that opposition. It notes the strength, policie, pride and greatnesse of minde, or scorne of subjection, which is in the heart against Christ. So that king heere stands in opposition to subject, they who reject Christs yoke, and breake his bonds asunder, and will not have him to raigne over them, those are the kings in the Text. And these also will hee smite through and confound by the Power of his Word, and the strength of his arme. The Lord gave the Word, great was the company of those that published it. Kings of armies did fly apace, and she that tarried at home divided the spoile, Psal. 68.11, 12. Tophet is ordained of old, for the king it is prepared, Esai. 30.33. Come, and gather your selves together unto the Supper of the great God. That ye may eate the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captaines, and the flesh of mightie men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great, &c. Revel. 19.17, 18. As for those mine enemies which would not that I should raigne over them, bring them hither, and slay them before me, Luk. 19.27. Be wise now, ye kings, be instructed, ye Iudges of the earth.*Serve the Lord with feare, and rejoyce with trembling; kisse the Sonne lest he bee angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Thus the Lord over∣throweth his Churches enemies, and protecteth it against al their greatest preparations, & most formidable power.
Page 498And this he doth severall wayes; sometimes, by di∣verting their forces from his Church into some other ne∣cessary channell, or ambitious designe of their owne. Thus Rabshakah and his hoast were called from Iudah, 2 King. 19.7, 8. so the Lord promised his people that when they went up to appeare before him thrice a yeere he would divert the desires of their enemies from their land, Exod. 34.24. Thus Iulian the Apostate, having but two maine plots to honour (as he supposed) his govern∣ment and his idols withall, the subduing of the Persian, and the rooting out of the Galileans, as he called them; was prevented from this by being first overthrowne in the other; for the prosperous successe of which expedi∣tion he vowed unto his idoll-gods a sacrifice of all the Christians in the Empire,* as Gregorie Nazianzen rela∣teth. Sometimes by infatuating, and implanting a spi∣rit of giddinesse and distraction in the enemies of his Church, making them destitute both of counsell and courage. When God would punish Babylon (which was a type of the enemies of Christs Kingdome) hee made their hearts melt, that they should bee amazed at one another, and their faces should be like flames, Esay 13.7, 8. that is, not onely pale like a flame, but rather, as I conceive, full of varietie of fearefull impressions, and distracted passions: nothing so tremulous, so various, so easily bended every way with the smallest blast as a flame: so their feare should make their bloud and spi∣rits in their faces to tremble, quiver, and varie, to come and goe like a thinne flame in them; so God threatneth to mingle a perverse spirit, to make the spirit of Egypt faile in them, and their wisedome to perish, Esal. 19.1, 2, 3, 14, 17. and thus likewise the Lord dealt with Iulian in that Persian expedition, he put a spirit of folly in him to burne his ships,* and so to put a necessity of courage in his people, as the old Gauls did against Caesar, and then to leave them all destitute of necessary releefe. Some∣times Page 499 by ordering casualties and particular emergencies for the deliverance of his Church, a thing wonderfully seene in the histories of Ioseph and Ester. Thus as a man by a chaine made up of s•verall links, some of gold, others of silver, other of brasse, iron, or tinne, may bee drawne out of a pit: so the Lord by the concurrence of severall unsubordinate things, which have no manner of dependance, or naturall coincidencie amongst them∣selves, hath oftentimes wrought the deliverance of his Church, that it might appeare to bee the worke of his owne hand. Sometimes by ordering and arming naturall causes to defend his Church, and to amaze the enemie.* Thus the starres in their courses are said to fight against Sisera, Iudg. 5.20. A mighty winde from heaven bea∣ting on their faces discomfited them, as Iosephus reports. So the Christian armies under Theodosius against Euge∣nius the Tyrant were defended by winds from heaven,* which snatcht a way their weapons out of their hands. To make good that Promise, No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. So the Lord slew the enemies of Ioshua with haile. Ios. 11.11. And thus the Moabites were overthrowne by occasion of the Sunne shining up∣on the water, 2 King. 3.22, 23. Sometimes by implan∣ting phantasies and frightfull apprehensions into the mindes of the enemie, as into the Midianites, Iudg. 7.13, 14. The Assyrians,* 2 King. 7.6. thus the Lord cau∣sed a voyce to be heard in the Temple before the destru∣ction of Ierusalem, warning the faithfull to goe out of the Citie. Sometimes by stirring up and prospering weake and contemptible meanes to shew his Glorie thereby.* The Medes and Persians were an effeminate and luxurious people, Cyrus a meane prince, for hee was not at this time the emperour of the Medes or Persians, but onely sonne in law to Darius or Cyaxares, and yet these are made instruments to overthrow that most valiant people, the Babylonians, Esai. 126.96.36.199.17. Page 500 As Ieremie was drawen out of the dungeon by old rot∣ten rags,* which were throwne aside as good for nothing, So the Lord can deliver his Church by such instruments as the enemies thereof before would have looked upon with scome, as upon cast and despicable creatures; for God, as he useth to infatuate those whom he will de∣stroy: so he doth guide with a spirit of wonderfull wis∣dome those whom hee raised to defend his kingdome. The Babylonians were feasting, and counted their Citie impregnable,* being fortified with wals and the great ri∣ver, and God gave wisedome beyond the very conje∣ctures of men, to attempt a businesse which might seeme un•easable in nature, to drie up Euphrates, and divide it into severall small branches, and so he made a way to bring his armie into the Citie while they were feasting, the gates thereof being in great confidence and security left open, Esay 44.27, 28.45.1. Ier. 51.36. Sometimes by turning the hearts of others to compassionate the Church, to hate the enemies, and not to helpe them, but to rejoyce when he is sinking, Esay 188.8.131.52. Na∣hum 3.7. Sometimes by the immediate stroke of God upon their bodies or consciences. Thus God gave the Church rest by smiting Herod, Act. 12.23, 24. Thus Maximinus being smitten with an horrible and stinking disease in his bowels,* confessed that it was Christ which overcame him; and Iulian being smitten with an un∣knowne blow from heaven, as is supposed, confessed that Christ was too hard for him; and another Iulian, uncle to the Apostate, for pissing on the Lords Table, had his bowels rotted, and his excrements issued out, non per secessum, sed per vulnera, as the same Historian reports. Sometimes by tiring them quite out, and ma∣king them for very vexation and succeslesnesse give over their vaine attempts, or else disheartning them that they may not begin them. So Dioclesian retired to a private life, because he could not root out the Christians. And Page 501Iulian was afraid to persecute the Christians, as his pre∣decessours had done, lest they should thereby increase;* he forbore it out of envie, and not out of mercy, as Na∣zian. observes. Sometimes by turning their owne devi∣ces upon their heads, ruining them with their owne counsels, and it may be dispatching them with their own hands. Thus the Lord set every mans sword against his fellow in the huge host of the Midianites, Iudg. 7.22. So Pilate and Nero, the one the murtherer of Christ,* the other the dedicatour of all the consequent great per∣secutions, both died by their owne hands, as being most wicked and most cruell, and therefore fittest to revenge the cause of Christ and his people upon themselves. Thus God did not onely curse the counsell, but revenge the treason of Achitophel by an act of the most desperate folly and inhumanity which could be committed. Some∣times by hardning them unto a most desperate prosecuti∣on of their owne ruine, as in the case of Pharaoh, suffe∣ring them to lift at the stone so long, till it loosen, and fall upon them, Zech. 12.3. Matth. 21.44. Sometimes by ingratiating the Church with them to their owne de∣struction, as he did Israel with the Aegyptians, Exod. 12.35, 36. By these and a world the like meanes doth the Lord overthrow the enemies of his kingdome.
Now all this is In the day of his wrath, or in his owne due time: where we may note by the way, that Christ hath wrath in him aswell as mercie. Though hee be by wicked and secure men misconceived, as if he were only compassionate: yet laesa patientia fit furor, he will more sorely judge them hereafter, whom hee doth not per∣swade nor allure here. So mercifull he is, that he is cal∣led a Lambe for meeknesse, and yet so terrible, that he is called a Lion for fury. It is true, fury is not in him, name∣ly, to those that apprehend his strength and make their peace with him, Esay 27.4.6. But yet to those that will not kisse, that is, not love, worship, nor obey him, hee Page 502 can with a little wrath shew himselfe very terrible, Psal. 2.12. He commeth first with peace, Luke 10.5. but it is Pax concessa, not pax emendicata, a peace mercifully of∣fered, not a peace growing out of any necessity or exi∣gencies on his part, and so wrought by way of composi∣tion for his owne advantages. The peace of a Conque∣rour, Zech. 9.10. A peace which putteth conditions to those to whom it is granted, that they shall be tributa∣ries and servants unto him, Deut. 20.10, 11, 12. There∣fore the Apostle saith, that he came to preach or to pro∣claime peace, Ephes. 2.17. but if we reject it, he then fol∣lowes the directions of Ioshua, These mine enemies which would not have me to raigne over them, bring them hither and slay them before me, Luke 19.27.
But the maine thing here to be noted is, that Christ hath a Day, a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a prefixed, and constituted time wherein hee will be avenged on the greatest of his ene∣mies. When he forbeares, and suffers them to prevaile, yet still he holdeth the line in his owne hand, the hooke of his decree is in their nostrils, and he can take them short when hee will. It is never want of power, wis∣dome, or love to his Church, that their quarrell is not presently revenged; but all these are fitted to his grea∣ter glory. The Lord seemeth to neglect, to breake up the hedge, to sleepe while his Church is sinking (as Christ to his Disciples seemed carelesse, Mark. 4.38, 39.) so frequently in Scripture the Saints expostulate with God in an humble and mourning debate, Why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, cast us not off for ever, Psal. 44.23. Ier. 14.8, 9. But God hath his quare against us too for this infirmitie and haste of ours: Why sayest thou O Iacob, and speakest O Israel, my way is hid from the Lord, and my judgement is passed over from my God? That is, he hath not taken notice of my calamitie. Hast thou not knowne, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, Page 503 neither is weary? There is no searching of his understan∣ding, Esay 40.27, 28. He is wonderfull in counsell and excellent in working; and therefore he doth not slum∣ber nor sleepe: but only in wisdome ordereth times and seasons, that there may in the end be the greater glory unto him, and, in the things done, the more beautie. E∣very thing, saith Salomon, is beautifull in its time; if you gather it before, it loseth both its beauty and vertue. It would bee a madnesse for a man to mow downe his corne when it is in the greene blade. Hee waiteth, saith the Apostle, for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience, Iam. 5.7. Now the Prophet assureth us, that Light, that is, comfort, refreshment, peace, delive∣rance, is sowne for the righteous, Psal. 97.11. It was sowen for the people of God when they were in captivity, though to themselves they seemed as dead men in their graves, yet indeed they were dead but as seed in the fur∣rowes, which revived againe, Psal. 126.5, 6. and there∣fore the Lord likewise (like Saint Iames his husband∣man) is said to wait, that he may be gracious to his peo∣ple, Esay 30.18. Though a man suffer never so much in∣jury, and be most violently kept out of his owne right, yet he must wait till time and mature proceedings have brought on his matters to a triall; therefore the Lord calleth it The yeare of recompences for the controversies of Sion, Esay 34.8. It is not for private men to order the periods, or stints, or revolutions of times wherein busi∣nesses are to be tried; but publike authoritie constitutes that, and every man must wait for the appointed time: so the Church must not set God the times when it would bee heard or eased; but must trust his wisedome and power, Ier. 49.19. for there is a set time wherein he will have mercy upon Sion, Psal. 102.13.
Now this Time is ruled and bounded by these consi∣derations: First, when the sinne of the enemie is growen ripe, and his heart proud and insolent against God and Page 504 his people; when he trampleth upon the poore, when he sacrificeth to his owne net, when he adoreth his owne counsels, when he deifieth his owne condition, and thin∣keth that none can pull him downe; then is it a time for God to shew himselfe, and to stir up his glory. It is time (saith David) for thee, O Lord, to worke, for they have made void thy Law, Psal. 119.126. So outragious they are, that their fury runneth over from thy servants to thine ordinances, to blot out the very records of heaven, the name and feare of God out of the earth. And this reason and period of time wee finde frequently in the Scriptures given: In the fourth generation they shall come hither againe, for the iniquitie of the Amorites is not yet full, Gen. 15.16. It is not growen to that ripenesse and compasse, as I in my wise, secret, and patient providence will permit. O thou that dwellest upon many waters, a∣bundant in treasures (saith the Lord to Babylon) thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousnesse, Ier. 51.13. when men have filled up the measure of their sinne, then is their end come; bee their wealth, or safety, or their naturall, or acquired munition never so great: Put you in the sickle, saith the Prophet, for the harvest is ripe, come get you downe for the presse is full, the fats over-flow, for the wickednesse is great, Ioel 3.13. When wicked∣nesse is so great, that it filleth all the vessels, then is the Lord ready to put in his sickle, and to cut it downe.
It is further demanded when sinne is full? To this I an∣swer, that there are three things principally which set forth the fulnesse of sinne, Vniversality, Impudence and Obstinacy: First, when a whole Land is filled with it, that there are none to intercede or to stand in the gap, when from Streets to Palaces, from Houses to Courts, from Schooles to Churches, from every corner sinne breaketh forth, so that bloud toucheth bloud. The Land is full of adulterers, saith the Prophet, because of swearers the Land mourneth—for both Priest and Prophet are profane, Page 505 yea in my house have I found their wickednesse, saith the Lord, Ier. 23.10, 11. when in every place, and at every view there are new, and more abominations, Ezek. 8.17.*Ier. 5.1-6. Secondly, when sinne is impudent, whorish and outragious; when there is no feare, modesty or re∣straint, but it breaketh all bonds, and like a raging sea overrunneth the bankes. They declare their sinne as So∣dome,* saith the Prophet, and hide it not: woe unto their soules, Esay 3.9. it is so full that it breakes out into their countenance, hypocrisie it selfe is too narrow to cover it. This is that which the Apostle calleth An excesse of riot, and the Prophet, a rushing like an horse into the battell. Now when God thus gives a man over, sinne will not be long a filling up; when lusts breake forth, and throng to∣gether, when from concupiscence sinne goes on to con∣ception and delight, to formation and contrivance, to birth and execution, to education, and custome, to main∣tenances and defence, to glory and boasting, to insensi∣bilitie,* hardnesse, and a reprobate sense, then there is such a fulnesse in sinne as is neere unto cursing, the very next step is hell. Lastly, when sinne holds out in stub∣bornenesse, and is incorrigible, when the remedy is refu∣sed, the pardon rejected, the peace not accepted; Then is sinne come to its fulnesse. The sinne of the Amorites was never quite full, but when they rejected that peace, mercy, and subjection to Gods people, which was offe∣red them first. But when men sinne against those meanes of grace which are sent unto them, and leave no remedie to themselves; no marvell if the Lord give them over, and let in the enemie upon them, 2 Chron. 36.16. There∣fore we must take heed of finishing sinne, for it is not sin, but the consummation and finishing of sinne which con∣demnes a man.
Now when thus the sinne of the enemie is growne so ripe, that it breaketh forth into pride and insultation a∣gainst Gods people, then is the Lords time to shew him∣selfe: Page 506I will restore health unto thee, saith the Lord to his Church, and I will heale thee of thy wounds, because they called thee an out-cast, saying▪ This is Sion whom no man seeketh after, Ier. 30.17. see Ier. 50.11. Ezek. 184.108.40.206—9. Obad. v. 3, 4. when the high wayes were waste, and the way-faring man ceased, and the enemie regar∣ded no man— Now, saith the Lord, will I arise, now will I be exalted, &c. Esay 33.8—11. when the enemies help forward the affliction of Gods people, and by their pride and insultation doe double the misery which is upon them, then will the Lord returne to them in mercies, and be sore displeased with his enemies, Zech. 1.15, 16. Esay 220.127.116.11, 6.
Secondly, when Gods people are throughly humbled and purged, for God useth wicked men but as his staffe or weapon, as his fire or fan to correct and purge them, Esay 10.12. He intendeth not in his punishments such severity against them, as against their enemies: if the rod be for the childe, the fire is for the rod, Esay 27.7, 8.9. When men are so smitten, that they can returne to him that smiteth them, and not revolt more and more, for God will not throw any more darts at those who are sunke and dead already: when they are stirred in their hearts joyntly to seeke the Lord, and to meet him in the way of his judgements, and to compassionate and favour the dust of Sion, then is the day of his wrath; for when Gods time to deliver a people is come, he will more a∣bundantly stirre up the hearts of his people to pray for it, Psal. 102.16.17. Dan. 9.2.3. whereas, when he will destroy a people, hee will not suffer his Saints to pray, Ier. 14.11.
Thirdly, when all humane hopes and expectations are gone, when a people is so pilled and broken, that they have no courage, meanes, succours or probabilities left, then is Gods time to deliver his Church, and to punish his enemies: The Lord shall judge his people, and repent Page 507 himselfe for his Servants, when hee seeth that their power is gone, Deut. 32.36. Psal. 68.20, 109·31. In one word when the preparations and premises as it were unto Gods glory are best ordered, and put together, then is the day of his wrath come.
The Church then need not to bee cast downe with the insultation of her enemies,* since Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever; such as hee was ever to his Church, such hee is still. If hee have delivered his Church from the pride of her enemies heretofore, his power, truth, watchfulnesse, compassion is the same still; and by faith in them wee may rebuke Satan, wee may chide away the weaknesse and feare of our owne hearts, wee may rejoice against those that insult over us, when they rage most wee may hope their time is short, and that it is but the biting of a wounded beast. Therefore wee finde the Saints in Scripture arme themselves against present dangers, with the consideration of what God hath done for his Church in times past, Psal. 68.7, 8.74.13-18. Esai. 51.9, 10, 11. Habak. 3. And in the confi∣dence of the same truth and power breake forth into a holy scorne of their enemies, Mich. 7.8, 9, 10. Esai. 50.8, 9. In the sorest extremities wee may fix our faith on God, and hee delighteth to bee depended upon alone, when all outward helpes and probabilities faile, see Esai. 41.17, 18. Hab. 3.17, 18. A million of men came against Asa,* one of the hugest hoasts of men that were ever read of, yet by relying on God they were all delivered into his hand; and the reason is added, because God hath eyes, and strength, or as hee is described, Revel. 5, 6. Seven hornes and seven eyes, much wisedome, and much power to shew himselfe valiant in the behalfe of those that walke uprightly, 2 Chron. 16.8, 9.
Wee should learne likewise to rejoyce and triumph with all thankfulnesse of heart when Christ subdueth the enemies of his Kingdome, and giveth deliverance and Page 508 refreshment to his people. When hee maketh his hand knowen to his servants, and his fury to his enemies, then should all they that love Hierusalem rejoyce, Esai. 66.10. Thus the Church after they were delivered from the malice of Haman instituted days of joy and feasting, Ester 9.22. It is a signe of an evill heart against the peace and prosperity of the Church of Christ, to envie, or slight, or thinke basely of the instruments and wayes whereby Christ delivereth it; as wee see in Tobiah and Sanballat, Nehem. 4.2, 3.
Lastly, wee should learne wisedome to lay hold on the times and seasons of Gods peace, because hee hath a day of wrath too; to apprehend the offers and opportu∣nities of grace. Christ had been at the Churches dore, and had knocked for admittance; but neglecting that season, hee was gone, and much shee suffer'd before shee could finde him againe, Cant. 5.2-7. When the Lord speaketh unto us in his ordinances, and by the secret mo∣tions and perswasions of his holy Spirit, wee should not deferre, nor put him off, as Felix did Paul to some other time, but pursue the occasion, and set our selves to doe every duty in Gods time. There is a time for every worke, and it is beautifull onely in its time; and therefore fit it is, that wee should observe wisely the signes and nature of the times, Matth. 16.2. And accordingly proportion our devotions for the Church and our selves. It is the worst losse of time, to let slip the seasons of grace, and spirituall wisedome, till it may bee Gods time of mercy is passed over. If thou hadst knowen in this thy day the thing that concerne thy Peace. But now thy day is over, and my day of wrath is come, they are now hidden from thine eyes.
Hee shall judge amongst the Heathen.] By heathen we are to understand the same with Enemies, vers. 1. and People, Esai. 63.6. Meaning all the armies and swarmes of Christs enemies either spirituall or secular. The word Page 509Gentiles was a word of great contempt and detestation amongst God people,* as the word Iew is now amongst us; a proverbiall word to cast reproach and shame upon men. Therefore the Apostle saith of the Ephesians, that in times passed they had been Gentiles in the flesh, Eph. 2.11. As if by being Christians they had ceased to bee Gentiles, or rather that word had ceased to bee a terme of reproach. So that Gentile was a word of scorne, as Samaritan, Ioh. 8.48. or Canaanite, Ezek. 16.3. or Pub∣lican, Matth. 18.17. Luk. 18.11. And therefore wee finde those two still joyned together Publicans and sin∣ners; and so the Apostle joyneth these two words Gen∣tiles and sinners, Gal. 2.15. So then the word Heathen is added by David to the enemies of Christ, to render them the more odious, and to expresse their more ab∣ject and hatefull condition; and therefore when God would cast notable reproach upon his people hee calleth them Sodomites, and Gentiles, Esai. 1.10. Ezek. 2.3. So then the meaning is, his most abject and hatefull enemies, that are unto him as Iewes and Samaritans, hee shall judge, that is, hee shall condemne and punish them.
Whence wee may note, That Christs victorie over his enemies shall bee by way of pleading and disceptation. His military is likewise a judiciary proceeding grounded upon righteous and established Lawes. Therefore the day of Gods wrath is called a time of vengeance, and re∣compence for the Controversies of Sion, Esai. 34.8. To shew that the Lord doth not take vengeance but by way of debate. And therefore when hee punisheth, hee is said to plead with men. The Priest said not where is the Lord, and they that handle the Law knew mee not, &c. Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord, and with your Childrens Children will I plead, Ier. 2.8, 9. So to plead and to take vengeance goe together, Ier. 51.36. And the Lord is said to reprove with equitie; and to smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; that Page 510 is, to convince, and argue before hee doth punish, Esai. 11.4. as wee see in the case of Sodom, Gen. 18.21-33. Herein the Lord sheweth that all our misery beginnes at our selves. That if wee perish, it is because we would not take his counsell, nor be guided by his will; That hee did not sell us to any of his creditors, but that for our ini∣quities we sold our selves, Esai. 50.1. In humane warres, though never so regularly and righteously ordered, yet many particular men may perish without any personall guilt of their owne. Delirant Reges, plectuntur Achivi. But in these warres of Christ, there shall not a man pe∣rish, till hee bee first convinc'd by a judiciary proceeding, of his owne demerit. Every mouth must bee stopp'd, and all the world by the evidence and acknowledge∣ment of their owne conscience become guilty before God, before his wrath shall seise upon them. The Lord sent Noah to preach, before hee sent a floud to destroy the old world. He argued with Adam before he thrust him out of Paradise. The voyce goeth ever before the rod, Mich. 6.9. This course our Savior observed towards him who had not the wedding garment. First, convinced him till hee was speechlesse, and then cast him into utter darknesse, Matth. 22.12, 13. And this course the Lord tooke with his people when hee punished them, Esai. 5.3, 4. Amos 18.104.22.168. For hee will have the consciences of men to subscribe, and acknowledge the justnesse of his proceedings, and to condemne themselves by their owne witnesse; when hee entreth into judgement hee doth it by line and plummet, Esai. 28.17. In proportion to the meanes of grace neglected, to the patience and forbea∣rance abused, to the times of grace overslipped, to the purity of the Law violated and profaned. We must take heed therefore of continuing Gentiles, of being aliens from that commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, of living without God in the world. No man can with hope or comfort say, Enter not Page 511 into judgement, but hee who is the Lords servant, and of his houshold; wee must be all ingrafted into the naturall Olive, and become the seed of Abraham, & Iewes by co∣venant, before Christ will bee our peace or reconcile us unto his Father, Rom. 22.214.171.124-24. Gal. 6.16. Eph. 2.11-14.
Hee shall fill the places with dead Bodies.] This notes the greatnesse of the victory, that none should be left to bury their dead. There shall be an universall destruction of wicked men together in the day of Gods wrath, they shall be bound up in bundles, and heaped for damnation, Matth. 13.30. Psal. 37.38. Esai. 126.96.36.199. And it notes the shame and dishonor of the enemie, they shall lie like dung upon the face of the earth, and shall bee be∣holding to their victors for a base and dishonorable bu∣riall, as wee see in the great battell with Gog and Magog, Ezek. 39.11-16.
Hee shall wound the Head over many Countries.] Either literally, Antichrist, Rev. 17.2.18. Who taketh upon him to bee oecumenicall Bishop, and Monarch, and to dispose of crownes, and dispence Kingdomes at his pleasure. Or spiritually, Satan, who is the Prince of this World, whose head Christ was to crush, and tread under our seete, Gen. 3.15. Rom. 16.20. Or figuratively, the Head, that is, the counsell and power of many nations, which shall at last appeare to have been but a vaine thing, Psal. 2.2. 1 Cor. 1.19. What sense soever wee follow, the maine thing to bee observed is that which wee handled before; that Christ will in due time utterly destroy the greatest, the highest, the wisest of his enemies. And therefore this may suffice upon this verse.