The Foureteenth Lecture.
HOSEA 2. 15.
—And she shall sing there as in the dayes of her youth, & as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
YOu have heard formerly of the valley of Achor, that God gave to his people to be a doore of hope. This day you shall heare of Gods people standing singing at this door of hope. Though it be but a door of hope, yet at that day they shall there sing, as in the days of her youth, when they came up out of the land of Egypt.
There are six things needfull to be opened for the meaning of Gods mind here in this their singing at the door of hope.
First, the reading of the words are to be cleared. 2. The scope is to be shewed. 3. What the dayes of youth that are here spoken of are, is to be opened. 4. What was the song that they did then sing in the dayes of their youth, is to be declared. 5. What cause they had to sing in this the day of their youth, is to be enquired after.
Lastly, how this is applyable to repenting Israel, and what time this pro∣phesie a•meth at, likewise is to be manifested.
First, the word translated [singing.]
Secondly, that which is translated comming up out of the land of Aegypt.
For the word [singing] the Septuagint have it thus, She shall be ••mb∣led; A strange translation you will say;* how much different is it from this in our books, She shall sing! I find divers translate the word so [she shall be humbled) Cyril, Theodoret, and he caryeth it thus, that she shall be hum∣bled by the Assyrians, as she was before humbled by the Egyp•ians. But certainly the words cannot be carryed so, for it is spoken of ascending, of co∣ming up out of the land of Egypt.* But they might easily mistake in transla∣ting the words, because the Hebrew word signifieth both humiliavit, and it signifieth likewise ce•init and contavit, both to be humble, and to sing. The Hebrews divers times by the same word set forth contrary things; As 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 signifieth both to blesse and to curse, many there might be named in the same kind.
This word likewise that is translated singing, signifieth, (and so it is tran∣slated by some) Respondebit, she shall answer, and I finde a very excellent note from it in Cyril, and some others: Shee shall answer as in the dayes of her youth: What answer did shee make? Thus, God in the dayes of her youth, when she came out of Egypt, did bring her to his Covenant, and gave his land to her, as Exod. 19. 5, 6. Now therefore (saith God) if you 〈◊〉 obey my voyce indeed, and keepe my Covenant, then ye shall be a pecu∣liar treasure unto me above all people; (A sweet promise to all in Cove∣nant with God, that they shall be a peculiar treasure unto him above all peo∣ple.) Now vers. 8. All the people answered to gether and said, all that the Lord hath spoken we will doe. Thus they answered him in the days of their youth, so some would carry it, they should answer as in the dayes of their youth, when they came up out of the land of Egypt, as if the meaning should be thus; whereas God in the dayes of their youth did tell them, that if they woul• keepe his Covenant, they should be a peculiar treasure unto him a∣bove all people of the earth, they all with one consent answered, All that the Lord hath spoken that will we doe. So saith God, when I shall againe convert them to my selfe, I will renew my Covenant with them, and upon the declaration of my Covenant to them, they shall freely, readily, and wil∣•ingly answer, Lord we accept of thy Covenant. Thus it is carryed by some, and the exposition is very sweet.
But we shall joyne both the significations of this word together, both ••∣ing, and to answer; And that I take indeed to be the meaning of the Spirit of God, they shal sing by way of answering: Thus, they were wont to sing, •lternis choris, they were wont in their joyfull songs to answer one another, his praecinentibus aliis succinentibus, some singing before, and some an∣swering. So that it was not a bare singing, but a singing of a Canticum dra∣maticum,Page 375 or such a kind of song, as they did answer one another in their singing. And thus (saith God) shall be the melody of my people, when I am again reconciled to them upon their repentance, there shall be mutuall singing, one singing to another, and the others answering in a joyfull way.
The other word to be opened, is that which is translated, coming up out of the land of Egypt.* The word you have in your books [came up] it is ascend∣ed, as in the day when they ascended up out of the land of Egypt. And wee are to take notice of the manner of the expression, because it will afford to us a profitable note anon. They ascended out of the land of Egypt, partly because Egypt was a Countrey that lay very low, and in that respect they may be said to ascend. But that is not the chiefe, they were in a low conditi∣on, they were in a state of bondage, and in that regard they were said to ascend.
The second thing to be shewed is the scope, what the Spirit of God aym∣eth at, They shall sing as in the dayes of their youth, when they ascended out of the land of Egypt. Read it so, and
It is a further expression of the nuptiall solemnity that there should be be∣tween God and his people, in the time of their reconciliation (for so I have told you formerly, that God goeth along in this second part of the Chapter, in that continued Allegory, to shew his bringing of his people to him in a way of marriage, in a betrothing way, which afterward is exprest more ful∣ly; and all the way God expresseth it, is in the manner of Nuptiall solem∣nities:) As if he should say, Marriage is an ordinance I have appointed for mutuall joy and delight that the man and wife should have one in the other, so I will bring you and marry you to my self, and there shall be a great deale of joy that I will have in you, and you shall have in me; there shall be the singing of the Epithilamium, the Nuptiall long between us; there shall be a time of abundance of rejoycing between us, when I shall take you again to my selfe. Doe you think with your selves, when was the greatest time of joy that ever you had in your lives; Know I will bring you to as much joy as ever yet you had. Looke what mercy you had when you came out of the land of Egypt, and rejoyced in it, you shall hereafter have mercies as great as that. Did I then appear in a miraculous way to you? I will do so again. Had you mercies that were promised long before, and rejoyced in them? you shall have the like again. Had you mercies that you a long time pray∣ed for before? you shall have the like againe. Did Moses and Miriam goe before you in singing, and you followed after? there shall be the like time a∣gain, when both Governours and people shall joyne together in singing and praysing the name of the Lord. This is the scope.
The third thing is, what is meant by the dayes of their youth? The dayes of their youth is the same that after wards is exprest, and the day when they came up out of the land of Egypt, that is, the time when they were deliver∣ed out of bondage, after they had passed through the Red-sea, and had seen the great works of God in their deliverance, then was the day of their youth. Page 376Jer. 2. 2. I will remember the kindnesse of thy youth when thou followedst me in the wildernesse. The time that this people were delivered from Pha∣roah, and saw the great works of God in the wildernesse, is the time of their youth, in the time of their bondage; they did not outwardly appear to be the Lords; but when God manifested himself so gloriously in their deliverance, then God did as it were take them again to be his people, and they did seem as it were then to be born againe, and the time of their being in the wilder∣nesse was Gods training them up as it were in their youth. For a people that are under bondage can scarce be said to be born, they are but as the Enbryo at least in the womb in that prison. They cannot be said to be a people when they are under bondage, at least they are not a living people. Hence Chap. 13. of this Prophesie, when they were in bondage under Jeroboams wicked commands, the Text saith, vers. 1. that they died. When Ephraim spake, trembling, in Israel he exalted himselfe; but when he offended in Baal, hee dyed. A people under bondage are as a dead people; before they have their liberty, they are to be accounted as not born; and if they lose their liberty, they are to be esteemed as if they lost their lives.
But here a question ariseth. How can God have reference to this time, and tell them they shall sing as then, whereas in the beginning of the Chap∣ter we find that when God threatneth them, he telleth them he will set them as in the day wherein they were born? so that to be brought to the same con∣dition they were in, is a threatning; How then is it here a promise?
The answer to that is, it is true, the time when they came up out of E∣gypt was indeed a time of much mercy, but they were in great straits in regard of externall helps, as a succourlesse, helplesse, and shiftlesse people, when therefore God threatneth to set them as in the day wherein they were born, he only aymeth at that, that is, to bring them into a succourless, help∣lesse, and shiftlesse condition in regard of creature-helps as formerly they were. But when God promises mercy, and telleth them he will bring them into that condition they were in their youth, hee doth not consider of their succourlesse & shiftlesse condition, but rather looks at all the mercie they had in their deliverance out of Egypt. As it is a great affliction for a people to be brought into the same condition that once they were in, that is, to have all the sowr & bitter without any of the sweet, so it is a great priviledge for a people to be brought into a former condition, when they shall have all the sweet without the sowr, when God shal take away all the branne, & give them only the flowr, strain out all that is evil, & give them all that is good, that is a com∣fortable condition; but when God shall strain out what is good, and give them what is evill, that is a sad condition, and that is the threatning before, and this is the promise now.
The fourth thing for explication is, what the song was that they did then sing in the daies of their youth when they came up out of the land of Egypt.*
That song of theirs you shall find, Exod. 15. Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, &c. And afterwards you shall Page 377 reade that Miriam and all the women sang likewise. In this song of theirs, there are these five things Observable.
First, this song o Moses, Exod. 15. was the most ancyent, the first song that ever was in the world that we know of. Orpheus, Musaeus and Linus, the most ancyent of the Poets were 500, yeares after this time.
Secondly, It was a triumphing song; Then sang Moses and the children of Israel, the Lord hath triumphed gloriously, &c. When they saw Gods judgements upon the adversaries, then they sang in a triumphing way. But you will say, how could they sing thus when they saw such a dreadfull spec∣tacle before their eyes? What, sing at such a lamentable object, when the Egyptians were so miserably destroyed, when they were sprawling up and down in the water, and it is like they heard their shriekings, their dolefull cryes, and saw their bodyes how they were cast upon the shore; And then shall Moses and the people of Israel sing? O cruell hearted people that should sing at such a lamentable object as this! What, to triumph over their adversaries thus fearfully perishing?*
To that we answer. We must not be more pittifull then God is, Psa. 58. 10. The righteous shall rejoyce when he seeth the vengeance, he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
But you will say, this is austerity, they are cruell hearted people that shall doe so. Not so neither. Moses was the meekest man that ever lived up∣on the face of the earth, the lovingst man except Christ that ever was; yet Moses sang thus when he saw the Egyptians destroyed; so that to rejoyce in Gods judgements against the ungodly, may stand with meeknesse & qui∣etnesse of spirit, with a loving and sweet disposition as Moses had.
It is true, we ought not to insult over wicked men in way of revenge, in respect of our selves, but when we consider the righteous judgments of God upon his adversaries, we may be swallowed up in the consideration of Gods justice, and rejoyce in it; But so, as not altogether to be without some pit∣ty and commiseration of the persons perishing: As Titus Vespation is said to weep, when he saw the destruction of Jerusalem, though his enemies.
But there is a time comming when all the Saints shall be so swallowed up with God, so as they shall rejoyce in the destruction, yea in the eternall damnation of the wicked, without the least pitty & commiseration of them; they shall wholly mind God and his glory without pitying of them, yea though they were the fruit of their own bodies, and came out of their owne loyns. But for the present, though wee are to rejoyce and triumph in the works of God and his judgements upon the wicked, yet with some mixture of pitty and compassion towards their persons.
And mark by the way some difference between Gods affection toward his people, and toward wicked men. It is very observable, that when Gods people come to be in an afflicted condition, if there shall be any that dare to be so wicked as to rejoyce in that, God will avenge himself on them; yea if they doe but looke upon his servants that are in affliction with any Page 378 kind of contentment, the Lord will be avenged on them for it. But when the wicked are destroyed, God doth not onely give us leave to look at them, but to rejoyce and sing praises to God for their destruction.
I will give you a Text for this, Obad, verse 12. Thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother, neither shouldest thou haeve rejoyced over the children of Iudah in the day of their destruction. Mark, God hath a quarell against them that did but look upon the day of their brothers distress, and rejoyce. But when destruction commeth upon the enemies of God, then the people of God may look, and rejoyce, and triumph.
Thirdly, It is a song most excellent, in regard of the elegancy of the ex∣pressions, and variety of the matter. For verse 1. He hath triumphed glo∣riously, or thus, He is become gloriously glorious, or, in magnifying himself, he hath magnified himself. What an elegant expression is here, He is mag∣nifyed above the magnificent, so some. All Gods works are glorious, but some are gloriously glorious; and so is this work of God towards his peo∣ple.
Rivet hath a good note upon this: The greatest glory of God, where∣in he is most glorious, it is in doing good to his own people; so (saith he) great men should account it their glory not in spoising others, especially those that are their owne, but in doing good, that was the great glory of God wherein he was gloriously glorious, in delivering of his people, not in spoil∣ing them. In Esay, 14. 20. there is threatned a dishonourable buriall to the King of Babylon, upon this ground, saith the Text, Thou hast destroyed the land, and slaine thy people: Yea he threatneth his seed, The seed of evill doers shall never be renowned, because he had destroyed his land, and spoil∣ed and slaine his people, his owne people.
Againe, the elegancy of this song is in those expressions that are in the ab∣stract; He is Fortitudo mea, and Laus mea, and Salus mea: Hee is my strength, and my praise, and my salvation, all in the abstract.
So in that elegant Epiphonema, or patheticall eruption of spirit, which though it should have beene in the close as comprehending all the rest, yet he breakes forth in the midst of the song, verse 11. Who is like unto thee, O Lord? glorious in holinesse, fearfull in praises, doing wonders. In many o∣ther particulars, we might shew abundance of elegancy in this song.
Fourthly, it is not onely narrative of what was, but propheticall of what is to come. A Propheticall song, The Dukes of Edom shall be amazed, the mighty men of Moab trembling, &c. ver. 15. Fiftly, it is typicall, that is, a song that doth typifie out the rejoycing of Gods people in after time, when the Saints shall overcome Antichrist, then the song of Moses shall be sung o∣ver again: That is a very observable place, Rev. 15. 2. 3. of those that over∣come the beast, the Text saith, They sung the song of Moses, that is, they sung that song, which this of Moses was but a type of.
Sixtly, according to some, this song was a miraculous song, so Augustine hath it in his Tractate, De mirabilibus Scripturae, a miracle worthy of ad∣miration without measure.
Page 379 Wherein did he think the Miracle of this song to be?
In this,* that he imagined that both Moses and all the people, were at one instant inspired by God to sing this song: this is that which hath beene thought by some. But we are not able to make out that there was such a mi∣racle at this time, but rather God inspired Moses onely, and the other peo∣ple followed Moses as he sung this song.
I note it the rather for this, because here by we may see that singing is an Ordinance in the Church of God, not onely in the time of the Law, but in the time of the Gospel, for this place, She shall sing as in the dayes of her youth, is spoken of the time of the Gospel, Therefore not onely when one man hath an extraordinary gift, (as the Scripture speakes, if any one hath a Psalme, an extraordinary gift in the Congregation of making a Psalme) that he should sing, but it is an Ordinance to joyne with others who have the gift of making a Psalme; so were the people to doe here.
The fifth thing to be enquired after is, the reason of their singing, what cause they had thus to sing in the dayes of their youth. The reason was be∣cause of their great deliverance they had from Egypt, and therein indeed are many things considerable, that will afford unto us many excellent observa∣tions. First, then they sang because of their freedome from outward bon∣dage. Bondage hath three things in it.
1. When any one is under the power of another, under any Law without his consent given, either explicite or implicite.
2. When he serveth another without any respect to his own good; on∣ly ayming at the satisfying of the will of him whom he doth serve.
3. VVhen he is forced to doe what he doth with rigour.
Here you may see the difference between a free subject,* and a slave; no [ 1] free subject is bound to any laws of men, as mens laws, but such as some way or other he giveth his own consent unto; thus it is with us in England, that is the difference betweene us and the Turks, who are slaves, they are bound meerly to the will of those above them; but in England, every free∣holder, some way or other gives consent to whatsoever law he is bound un∣to, therefore there is none can challenge any further power over him by any Law, but what he hath either explicitely or implicitely given his owne con∣sent [ 2] unto. Secondly, he is a slave that is forced to obey, without any re∣spect of good to himselfe, but onely to satisfie the will of him whom he doth obey. There is no such distance betweene one man and another, that one should serve another, without respect to his own good. Indeed there is such a distance betweene God and us, that the more we are swallowed up in aim∣ing at God, and the lesse we ayme at our selves, it is the better service; but there is not such a distance between men and men, we are not bound to serve men, but in some ayme and respect to our own good, so far as it concernes men, Therefore in England when any thing is granted to the King, it is usu∣laly so, as to send up some other Bill, that may be for the good of the subject, as giving him somewhat, but withall expect some good and benefit from him to them.
Page 380 Indeed in our service to men, we are to ayme at God, and in the conditi∣on God hath put us, to seek to glorifie him, more then to provide for our selves; but so far as our service hath regard to man only, and looks no fur∣ther then him, we are not bound to serve him, further then with respect to our selves and the good of others. Wherefore subjects may know that they are not made meerly for the will of those that are above them, they indeed serve them, but they serve them for the good they expect from them.
[ 3] The third is to serve out of love, and not to have only rigorous Lawes to force them to such service.
Now the people of Israel were under bondage in all these three respects. First, they were forced to serve without any consent at all. Secondly, they that did governe them, did not at all ayme at their good; It is no matter for them, let them perish as dogs, we will have our worke done, and well done too. VVhen men shall governe so as they care not what become of thou∣sands of others, so they have their wills satisfied, this is to make free subjects bondslaves. And thirdly, all was done out of rigour, they forced from the people what they did, as for their love they cared not for that. Wherefore when they were freed from these three things, they sung, and they had cause so to doe.
[ 4] Secondly they sung when they came out of the land of Egypt, because they were not only in bondage in Egypt, but in bondage under such a King as they were. For, consider who it was they were in bondage unto, and then to be delivered from such a one, you will see a great deale of cause of singing.
[ 1] First, They were bondslaves to a King of another Nation. Sometimes Country and kindred sake moves compassion, but being they are another people, to whom I have no relation, but only to serve my own turn of them, it is no matter what becomes of them; let become of them what will, I will have my will satisfied.
[ 2] Secondly, They were bondslaves to a King that ruled by an arbitrary government, there was but only his will for the Law, he would impose what work and taskes he pleased, how many bricks they should make, and when he pleased take away their straw, and yet tye them to the making of so ma∣ny. He governed them not by Law, but by Will.
[ 3] Thirdly, They were in bondage under a cruell King, for the King of E∣gypt in the Scripture is called a Dragon, for his cruelty, Ezek. 23. 3. I am against thee Pharaoh, King of Egypt, the great Dragon.
Fourthly, They were in bondage to a King that was an unnaturall King; [ 4] unnaturall in this, that whereas the predecessors of the Israelites had saved Egypt from perishing, saved the King and his family from destruction; yet now, without any regard to what was done in former times by their prede∣cessors, having this power over them, he oppresses them in such an unnatu∣rall way, so as not to care what becomes of them. Fiftly, they were in bon∣dage under a King that extreamly hated them, & that is a sad thing. The text [ 5] saith, Gen, 43. 32. The Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is abomination to to the Egyptians.
Page 381 Sixtly, They were in bondage under a wilfull King, under one who was ex∣treamly set upon his will; we scarce read of any one that ever was so set upon his will as this King was, therefore they expresse this in their song which they sung when they came out of Egypt. Exod. 15. 9. blessing God that they were delivered from such a wilfull Prince as he was. In the 9. ver. four times he saith [I will] I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoile, I will draw my sword, and the 5. time, my lust shall be satisfied upon them, but of this before, to be slaves to such a one, so wilfull, was a very hard condition, the like wilfulnesse hath beene already noted of the King of Babylon, and none the like to these two; the Text speakes from their deliverance in part from under the King of Babylon also, as if he should say, you did sing when you came up out of Egypt merrily, and joyfully, because you were delivered from such a cruell wilfull King, you shall sing so again, for you shall be deli∣vered again from as cruell and wilfull a King as he was; for though not all the ten Tribes came back, yet it was in part fulfilled by many of them. [ 7]
Lastly, They were in bondage under a suspicious and jealous King, lest they should grow to a head, and so rise against him, one that thought he could not confide in them. It is a sad thing when there are such suspitions between King and people, or people and King, that they cannot tell how to confide and trust one in another.
VVell might they sing therefore in the dayes of their youth, when they came up out of the land of Egypt.
Thirdly, They sang when they came up out of the land of Egypt, because [ 3] they were freed from what hindered them in the exercise of Religion. Hence Moses told Pharaoh, that they must goe three dayes journey in the wilder∣nesse to sacrifice unto the Lord their God; they could not sacrifie in Egypt, therefore when they got freedome to sacrifice to God, this being a great mercy they sang praises. Fourthly, They sang, because their deliverance [ 4] out of Egypt was wrought with a mighty hand. The Lord hath triumphed gloriously, hath been gloriously glorious; so the words are. And ver. 6. & 7. marke what the Text saith, Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power. The hand of God is God, strength, but the hand of God in power is a greater expression. Thirdly, Gods right hand in power. Fourthly, the right hand of God is glorious in power, this is a mighty expression, surely great was the work of God in their deliverance. Yea and further, ver. 16. it is said, by the greatnesse of his arme, not onely Gods hand, but his arme, and the greatres of his arme was in this work. And ver. 7. In the greatnesse of thine excellency, Mulititudine celsitudinis excellentiae, superbiae elationis, in the greatness of thine excellency, in the multitude of thy height, of thy elation of the lifting up of thy self in a kind of pride, (for the word that is translated ex∣cellency there signifies pride too.) Now God did this in the multitude of his excellency, that is, he did such a work toward his people, as had a multitude of glorious works in it, which if you could analyse, anatomize, you should find a multitude of glorious excellencies in it. Well might they sing, when God did manifest himself thus.
Page 382 All these will afford us excellent and sweet observations by and by.
[ 5] Further, they sang when they came up out of the land of Egypt, because this mercy was the fulfilling of a promise made long before. Therefore the Scripture telleth us, That at the end of 430. years, even the selfe same day, the hoasts of the Lord went out of the land of Egypt; which hath reference to a promise, and sheweth us that God kept his word to a very day. Hence in vers. 2. of that 15. of Exod. He is my God, I will prepare him an habita∣tion, my fathers God, and I will exalt him; As if hee should have said, O Lord thou didst make promises to our forefathers, now thou hast fulfilled those promises, thou art our God, and our Fathers God. This made them sing so merrily.
[ 6] 6. It was a mercy that was got by much prayer, for Exo. 3. 7. it is said, they cryed unto God by reason of their afflictions, there were many cries sent up to God before their deliverance, and now being delivered, this made them sing.
[ 7] 7. It was a mercy that came after a sore and long bondage.
[ 8] Lastly, It was a mercy that they had in order to that great mercy of lead∣ing them into Canaan, therefore this they mention as the especiall cause of the joy of their hearts in the 13. vers. Thou hast guided thy people in thy strength to thy holy habitation, and ver. 17. thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountaine of thine inheritance. The holy Ghost speaks here as if the thing were done already, as if he should say thus, O Lord thou hast indeed granted unto us a great mercy in delivering us out of Egypt, but herein we prize thy mercie that it is in order to the bringing us to thy habita∣tion, and it will bring us at length to the mountain of thy holinesse; it is not so much that were are delivered from bondage, as that wee expect to bee brought to thy holy habitation.
Now saith the Lord, you shall sing as you did then, look what causes you had then to sing, you shall have the same causes to sing again, when I am re∣conciled to you.
The last thing for the explication is, when this was fulfilled, or to what time this is to be referred.
There are four times that this prophesie aims at, and refers unto.
[ 1] First, It began in some degree to be fulfilled at their returne out of their captivity from Babylon, though it is true few of the ten tribes returned, yet it is clear in Scripture that many of them did then return, and had the begin∣ning of this mercy, and there was joy and singing. Isa. 12. the whole chap. is a song blessing God for their return from the captivity, Jehovah is my strength, and my song, he also is become my salvation, &c.
[ 2] 2. This prophecie aims at spiritual Israel; so in Rom. 9. it is applied to the calling of Jew & Gentile together; when the Gospel was first preach∣ed, Jewes and Gentiles being called home, became the spiritual Israel of God, then there was singing, Rom. 15. 20. Again he saith, rejoyce ye Gen∣tiles with his people.
Page 383 The third time that it refers unto, is the delivery of Gods people from un∣der the tiranny of Antichrist, typified by the tiranay of the Egyptians: for that, the former place is very full, Rev. 15. 2. there you shall observe, Those that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his marke, and over the number of his name, stood upon a sea of glass mingled with fire, having the harps of God in their hands, and they sang the song of Moses, & the song of the Lamb, saying, Great & marvellous are thy works Lord God almighty, just and true are thy ways thou King of Saints, &c. In this song, which I make no question but this Scripture hath reference unto, there are divers things observable. To take them up briefly by the way.
1. That they that sung were those that had gotten victory over the beast, over his image, and over his mark; that is a full victory, not only abomina∣ting Antichrist himself, but any image, any character of him, any thing whereby they might seem to allow of him, to be owned by him.
2. They stood upon a sea of glasse mingled with fire. The sea of glasse, I [ 2] find interpreted, Christian doctrine, so called, for the clearness of it, though not so clear as afterward it should be, for there is some darknes even in glass, but clear in comparison of what it was before; for 2 K. 25. 13. The sea was of brasse, which is far thicker and darker. But there was fire mingled with this sea of glass, that is, though they had a clearer doctrine then before, yet there were many contentions in the Church through many different opini∣ons, and much division there was even amongst the godly. It was a sadde condition indeed, yet it is ordinary, especially when Doctrines come to be first cleared, to have great contentions grow in the Church among godly men. It is no wonder though good men should be of different opinions, yea and have some heat of spirit one against another, when the light first breaks forth. When men are in the dark they sit together, and walk not at such a di∣stance; but when light comes, it cannot be expected but there will be diffe∣rences. But yet mark, the godly then, they did not reject the doctrine, be∣cause there was fire mingled with it, because there was heate of contention, but the Text saith, they were there with their harps in their hands, they were professing this doctrine and rejoycing that ever they lived to that time, to have the Gospel so clearly revealed unto them.
And they sang the song of Moses, and not only of Moses, but the song of the Lamb too. What was that? First, great and marvellous are thy works, in that we see we are delivered from Antichristian bondage, as the people of Israel were delivered from Egyptian bondage with a mighty hand of thine; Oh it is a marvellous worke of God that wee are thus at liberty. Therefore know this, that whensoever the Church shall be delivered from Antichristi∣an bondage, it shall be a marvellous work of God, therefore we may not be discouraged, because wee meet with some difficulties by the way, for wee shal never be delivered, but so as it shal appear to be a wonder; if we should be delivered without difficulties, we should not see the marvellousness of the worke.
Page 384 Further, Iust and true are thy wayes. God in that deliverance will shew the fulfilling of all his promises, and he will fully satisfie the hearts of his peo∣ple, who have been a long time seeking him, and suffering for him. Whereas the adversaries, because God did forbear a while in his patience and let them prosper, thought there was no God in heaven that looked upon them, they scorned at the fastings, and prayers, and faith of the Saints; But though the hearts of the Saints were ready to faile, yet at last they shall say, Iust & true are thy wayes, Lord we now see all thy good word fulfilled, all thy promises made good; now we see it is not in vaine to seek thee, it is not in vain to wait upon thee, for just and true are thy wayes.
O thou King of Saints. God will appear then to be a King of Saints. He is indeed the King of the world now, and the King of his Saints, but he doth not appear so clearly, the kingdome of Jesus Christ as King of Saints hath been much darkned in the world; We have some what indeed of the Priestly and Propheticall office of Christ made known to us, but very little of his kingly office; but when God shall fully deliver his people, then they shall magnifie Jesus Christ as the king of Saints in an especiall manner.
Lastly, they shall say, Who will not feare thee thou King of Nations? As if they should say, wee see now it is good to feare God, wee see now God hath made a difference between him that feareth him, and him that feareth him not. The Angel that John saw, Apoc. 14. 6, 7. Flying in heaven, ha∣ving the everlasting Gospel to preach, cryes with a loud voyce, Feare God, and give glory to him; The feare of God will be mighty upon the hearts of the Saints in those times. This shall be the song of Moses that this Scripture aymeth at, they shall thus sing as they did in the dayes of their youth, when they came up out of the land of Egypt, yea and the truth is, their song shall be much more glorious.
[ 4] The last time this prophesie aymeth at,* is the great calling of the Jewes, then the Scripture saith, Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, they shall obtain gladnesse and joy, and all sorrow and mourning shall flee away. They shall so sing, as never mourn more in this world, in regard of any malice and rage of their adversaries. This was not fulfilled at their return out of the Babylonish captivity, therefore there is yet a time for the fulfilling of it, and the Scripture is clear about the fulfilling it, even in this world; that place Rev. 21. 4. is a repetition of that prophecy, he saith there, God shall wipe a∣way all teares from their eyes, and there shall be no more sorrow nor crying. When Jews and Gentiles shall joyne together, then they shall siug indeed to purpose, as they did in the dayes of their youth, when they came up out of the land of Egypt.
First, it is a great mercy for people to be delivered from outward bond∣age.* It will be found a great mercy when the world shall be delivered from their outward bondage, when men shall see they were born free-men, and not slaves, though Subjects, yet not slaves, when men shall see that the world was not made for twenty or thirty to doe what they list, and they Page 385 to account all the rest as beasts, yea dogs; as if it were not so much for the lives of thousands of them to goe, as for their humours and lusts not to be sa∣tisfied; but when men shall know, that they are men and not beasts, and so shall live like men,* and not like beasts, to be at the will of others, this will be a great mercy. But to be delivered from Antichristian bondage, is a greater mercy, then it was for the children of Israel to be delivered from their Egyptian bondage. For,
First,* when they were in the Egyptian bondage, we reade not that their [ 1] consciences were forced, that they were forced at all to any false worship. Pharaoh did not this, but Antichrist forced to Idolatry.
Secondly, Though Pharaoh layed heavy taskes and burthens upon them, yet he did not kill them, indeed at length they killed their first borne, but the people of Israel themselves might have their lives still, though with hard∣ship. [ 2] But Antichrist thirsts for blood; Papists are bloody men.
Thirdly, It was the affliction of Gods people to be in bondage in Egypt, [ 3] but it was not their sin: But to be in bondage under Antichrist, is not onely an affliction, but it is sin, and that of a high nature too.
4. Though they were under Egyptian bondage, yet they were delivered [ 4] from Egyptian plagues; but those that are under Antichristian bondage, shall come under Antichristian plagues. Come out of her my people, lest you be partaker of her plagues. You must not think to escape so as they escaped out of Egypt; if you stay in that bondage, you will be involved in their plagues. With what an eye therefore should we look upon those who would bring us into this bondage againe, when God hath begun to give us a little reviving? Jer. 37. 20. O my Lord the King (saith Jeremy) let my supplica∣tion, I pray thee be accepted before thee, that thou cause me not to returne to the house of Ionathan the Scribe, lest I die there. So let us ery to the King of heaven and earth, O Lord our King, let our supplication be accepted be∣fore thee, since wee are begun to be delivered from that bondage, doe not cause us to returne to that house againe.* The second is, A reconciled con∣dition is a singing condition. When there is a harmony between heaven and the soul, between God and a sinner, there is a sweet melody indeed, there may well be singing, Esay, 35. 10. The ra•somed of the Lord shall returne and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads. And E∣say 44. 23. Sing Oye heavens, for the Lord hath d•ne it; s•out yee lower parts of the earth, break forth into singing ye mountains, We being justified by faith having peace with God, saith the Apostle, we not only rejoyce in hope of glory, but we even rejoyce and boast in tribulation: Having peace with God, though war withall the world, we rejoyce.
Thirdly,* It is a great mercy, when Magistrates and people shall generally joyne together in praising God, when they shall sing as they did in the dayes of their youth, (for that is the promise.) How is that? Moses beginneth, and Miriam followeth, the leaders of Israel, and then all the people joyne together, and answer one another in their singing.
Page 386 When that day shall come that God shall stirr up the hearts of Magistrates and great ones, that there shall be singing Hallelujahs to him that sitteth up∣on the throne, and the Lamb for evermore; and when God shall generally move the hearts of the people, that they shall answer one another in their singing, and so joyne in a sweet melody; this will be a blessed time indeed. Now perhaps in one place there is singing, and blessing God for what is done, in another place there is cursing, and cursing those that do sing. Some mens hearts are rejoycing in the great things God doth, other mens hearts fret and rage when they heare of the great works of the Lord, this makes no melody in heaven. Perhaps now in the family the Husband singeth, and the wife frets; perhaps the wife singeth, and the malignant husband is inra∣ged; the servant rejoyceth, and the master chafeth; the children sing, and the parents vex; this is harsh musique. This is our condition at this day; there are better times coming, when Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, and all the people shall joyn in singing praise to our God.
4. Thankfulnesse to God,* for mercy cannot be without joyfulnesse. A grumbling, pensive, sadde, dumpish disposition, cannot be a true thankfull heart as it ought. God will not accept in this sense of the bread of mourn∣ers. It is grievous to the Spirit of God, that we should be pensive and sad in the midst of abundance of mercies.
5. They shall sing there. There, where? at the door of hope in the valley of Achor. You may remember in the opening of that valley of Achor, I gave you what might be understood by it according to the most, that is, that God would make the greatest trouble and affliction of his Church to be a door of hope, to bring mercy to them: And if you take it in that sense, here rises an excellent observation.
When God brings into straits,* yet if he shall sanctifie our straits, making them means of good to us, we have cause to rejoyce. You have an excellent Text, Isa. 35. 6, 7. For in the wildernesse shall waters breake out, and streams in the desart, and the pa•ched ground shall become a poole, and the thirsty land springs of water. Those things that seem to goe most contrary to you, I will work good unto you out of them, saith God. VVell, what is the fruit of this? This is set as the reason of the words immediately before, Then shall the lame man leap as an Hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing. Because the Lord shall make the parched ground become a poole, and the thirsty land springs of water, this shall make the lame to leap as an Hart, & the tongue of the dumb to sing. Though our tongues be dumb, yet it should make us sing when we see God working good out of contraries, when wee see things that of themselves tend to our ruin, and would bring us to misery, that are as the valley of Achor, yet God working good out of them; if wee have the hearts of men in us, much more the hearts of Christians, though we were dumb before, this should make us sing. Yea all this is brought in as an argument to strengthen the weak hands, and the feeble knees, and as a reason why those that have weake hearts should not feare, because God Page 387 workes good out of that which seemeth the greatest evill; vers. 4. Say to them that are of a fearefull heart, be strong, feare not, and then followeth this in the 6. verse.
Are we in the valley of Achor,* a place of trouble and straits? wee have cause to sing even in this valley of Achor, for we have not yet been brought into any straits, but God hath brought good out of them; he hath turned the parched ground into a pool, and the thirsty land into springs of water. It is our great sin, that when God calleth us to singing, we are yet concluding of rejecting; we are ready to think if we be brought into the valley of Achor, we are presently cast off: Oh no, God calleth you to singing, nothwith∣standing you meet with difficulties. Isa. 49. 13. Sing O heavens (saith the Text there) he joyfull O earth, breake forth into singing O mountaines, for God hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted; But mark now the next words, But Zion said, the Lord hath forsaken me, & my God hath forgotten mee. At that very time, when the Lord was calling for singing, even then they were concluding of rejecting. Take we heed this be not our condition.
But take the words as then I told you as I conceived them to be the mean∣ing of the spirit of God, that this valley of Achor was some speciall mercy that God gave at first as a door of hope to further mercies he would give af∣terward, and there they shall sing.
Then the observation is,
When the Lord is beginning with his Saints in the ways of mercy,* though they have not all that they would have, yet it is a singing condition. Though you be but yet brought into the valley of Achor, and be but at the doore of hope, and not entred into the door, though you have not yet got the possessi∣on of all the mercy God intendeth for you, yet God expects you should sing. You must not stand grumbling,* whining, complaining, and murmuring at the door, because you have not what you would have; though God makes you wait at the door, you must stand singing there. It may be said of Gods mercy as of his word in Psal. 119. 130. The entrance into thy word giveth light, so the entrance of Gods works of mercy giveth light. Psal. 138. 5. Yea they shall sing in the wayes of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. In the ways of the Lord they shall sing, though God be but in the wayes of his mercy, and they have not what they would have, yet they shall sing.
This is certainly one great reason why our doore of hope is not yet opened to us as we desire, or at least that we have not that entrance that we would have at that door, because we stand murmuring; yea we stand quarrelling one with another at the doore, whereas God expects that we should stand singing and praising his name there. Though wee have not what wee desire, yet let us blesse God that ever we lived to this day, to see so much of God as we have done, though we should never see more, though the mercy we look for should be reserved for the generation that shall follow, yet we have cause to blesse God while we live, that we have seene and do see so much of God 〈1 page duplicate〉Page 384〈1 page duplicate〉Page 385〈1 page duplicate〉Page 386〈1 page duplicate〉Page 387Page 388 as we have done & daily do.* Let us stand at our Fathers door singing, and if we must sing at the foot of Zion, what song shall we sing when we come to the height? Ier. 31. 12. They shall come and sing in the height of Zion they shall flow to the bountifulnesse of the Lord. If there be any one with whom God is dealing in a way of mercy, though you can see but a little light tho∣rough the key-hole, yet you should sing there. There are many poor souls, with vvhom God is beginning in very gracious ways, yet because they have not their minds inlightned, their hearts humbled as they desire, power over corruptions, abilities to performe duties as they expect, they are presently ready to conclude against themselves, surely the Lord will not have mercy, we are rejected. They think they have nothing, because they have not what they vvould. O unthankfull heart! This is the very thing that keepeth thee under bondage, because when the Lord is setting open a door of hope unto thee, thou wilt not take notice of it, but art presently murmuring and repin∣ing, because thou hast not all that thou wouldest. Wouldest thou enter in at this door, and have God perfect the mercy he hath begun? take notice of the beginnings, and blesse God for what thou hast. This would be an obser∣vation of marvey lous use to many a drooping soul, if they would learne by this dayes coming hither, to sing hereafter at the doore of hope.
Yet further,*They shall sing there as in the dayes of their youth. It is the condition of Gods own people many times, when first they enjoy liberty, then to be in a singing condition,* but afterward to lose their joy. At first in∣deed when Gods mercies were fresh to them, in the dayes of their youth, O how their hearts were taken! how then they sung merrily and chearfully, Moses and all the people!* but in processe of time it appeareth they had not kept up this singing, this harmonious, this melodious heart of theirs, there∣fore God promiseth they should sing as in the dayes of their youth.
We finde it so in people, when they first come to enjoy liberty out of bon∣dage, Church liberties, Oh how they rejoyce in them! how do they blesse God for them! O how sweet are these mercies at their very hearts! they re∣joice that ever they lived to this time; but within a while the flower of their youth is gone, and they soone have the teats of their virginity bruised. At first indeed, O the sweetnesse! but stay a while and you shall finde conten∣tion or scandoll arising amongst them, or deadnesse of heart befalling them. Oh the blessed condition that God hath brought us to, to have these liberties and ordinances according to his own way! but within a while we may say as the Apostle to the Galatians,*Where is the blessednesse you spake of? They would have pulled out their eyes for Paul, What is become of all now? All their beauty & glory is quite damped, let us take heed that when our hearts seem to be raised and mightily affected with mercies, we do not soon loose our vigour & heat. It hath been so with England, when they have had fresh mercies at first, they rejoyced in them exceedingly. I have read of the City of Berne, when they were first delivered from Antichrist, they wrote the day of their deliverance upon pillars with letters of gold. Was it not so with us here in England?
Page 389 I will only instance in that deliverance upon the fifth of November,* how mightily was both King and Parliament affected with it! their hearts were exceedingly up, then there was blessing God, for their deliverance from Pa∣pists, then there were prayers and thanksgivings set forth, and in them, this expression against Popery, Whose faith is faction, whose Religion is rebel∣lion, whose practice is murthering of soules and bodyes; When the mercy was fresh, how did their spirits worke? then they profest against all kinde of Popery. Reade but the Proclamation about the solemnity of that time, and the expressions of the prayers then set forth, and one would have thought verily then that Popery should never have prevailed in England again; who would ever have thought it possible that a Popish Army should ever have had any countenance in England more? Certainly, if a Popish Army had been raised at that time when mens hearts were so up, all the people of the land (if it had been but with clubs) would have risen and beaten them to pieces.
It is so with many young people, when God first beginneth to worke upon their hearts, O how are they for God! then their spirts are mightily up for Christ, Psal, 90. 14. O satisfie us early with thy mercies, and then we shall be glad and rejoyce all the dayes of our lives; It is a sweet thing when the latter part of that prayer followeth, when God satisfieth young people with his mercy, and that satisfaction abideth, so as they rejoyce all the dayes of their lives afterward. The Lord doth many times satisfie young ones with his mercy, but they quickly grow dead and cold, and their hearts are soone hardned and polluted,* and they doe not rejoyce all the dayes of their lives. Another Observation, that restored and recovered mercies, are very sweet and precious mercies. They shall sing as in the dayes of their youth; They were once in a blessed sweet singing condition, they had lost it, but now God promiseth to recover them. Iob 29. 2. O that I were as in months past, as in the dayes when God preserved me, when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I warlked thorough darknesse; as I was in the dayes of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my Tabernacle. Iob de∣sireth this earnestly, that he might have restored, recovered mercies; What a happy condition should I be in then, saith he, if it were now with me as in the dayes of my youth! May not many in this place say so? God hath been gracious to them in former dayes, he hath given many sweet manifestations of his love, many soule-ravishing communications of himself unto them! but how have they lost them! They may well say, O that it were with us as in the dayes of our youth! Oh that God would restore to us what mercy we once had! what a blessed condition should we be in then! But God here giveth a gracious promise, that he will restore them, that he will give them that which is the petition of David, Psa. 51. Restore to me the joy of thy sal∣vation; Lord I have lost it, O that I might have it againe! How happy should I be! So Ps. 132. 1. By the Rivers of Babylon there we sat down, yea we wept there when we remembred Zion, we hanged our harps upon the willowes.
Page 390 They were in this sad condition, but if one should have come to them and have said, what will you say if you shall be restored againe and goe to Zion, to Jerusalem againe, and have songs there, as much and as delightfull as be∣fore? their hearts could not have held in them. This mercy would be like that wine mentioned, Cant. 7. 9. that is so sweet, that it causeth the lips of those that are asleepe to speake; If there be any life left, such a mercy will raise and actuate it. Psal. 126. 1. 2. When the Lord turned againe the cap∣tivity of Zion, our mouthes were filled with laughter, and our tongues with singing, when God granted them a recovered mercy. As a poore prodigal, that hath left his fathers house, and afterward is come to beggery and mise∣ry, and is under bondage, & is almost starved; he sitteth down under a hedg, wringing his hands, falleth a lamenting the losse of his Fathers house, and considering what comfort he had in his Fathers presence, cryeth out of his folly and madnesse; but if one should come and say to him, what will you say if your Father should be reconciled to you, and send for you home, and promise to put you in as comfortable a condition as ever? O how would this cause singing in his heart! Thus God promiseth to his people, that he would restore them to that singing condition they had lost.
They shall sing as in the dayes of their youth.
That which made this mercy so sweet, was because it was a promised mercy. Hence this Note.
Promised mercies are sweet mercies.* Luke 16. 61. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a home of salvation to us, in the house of his servant David, as he spake by the mouth of all his Prophets. And ver. 77. To performe the mercy pro∣mised; there is the cause of singing, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that hath performed the mercy promised.
Giving out of a promise is sweet to a gracious heart, it can sing then; much more sweet is the promise when it cometh to be fulfilled. 2 Chron. 20. 17. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, there is the promise. Mark now how Jehosaphat and the people were affected with the promise: And Jeho∣saphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Iudah and the Inhabitants of Ierusalem fell before the Lord, worshipped the Lord. And the Levites, and the child en of the Koathites, & the children of the Kor∣hites shall stand up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voyce on high. And ver. 21. He appointed singers unto the Lord that should praise the beauty of holinesse, and to say, Praise the Lord, for his mercy endureth for ever. Jehos•phat had not got the promise fulfilled, it was only made; they had not got the victory over their enemies, but onely a promise that God would be with them, & presently Jehosaphat & all the people fell a singing.
A gracious heart seeth cause enough to sing, if he have got but a promise, but much more when he hath got the performance.
If the promise of a mercy hath such sweetnesse in it, what sweetnesse then hath the mercy of the promise?
Page 391 But the promise was not only barely fulfilled, but fulfilled with a high hand, and that made them sing. This may be another Observation:
When God appeareth remarkably, with a high hand in delivering his peo∣ple, then the mercy is to be accounted a precious mercy indeed, and all the people of the Lord should sing and praise him. Esay 43. 19. 20. mark there, when God had told of an extraordinary hand of his in a way of mercy, saith he, I will plant them in the wildernesse, and so goeth on: Then (saith he) shal this be, that they may see, and know, & understand, & consider, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it. When Gods imediate hand doth a thing, when it helps a people in an extraordinary way, he expects that they should see, and know, and consider, and understand together: All these expressions are heaped one upon ano∣ther. And if any people be called to this, we are at this day; God hath ap∣peared extraordinarily to us. Oh that we had eyes to see! Oh that we had hearts to consider and understand, that we might give God the glory that is due to him!