« PreviousContinue »
in the strength of the Lord, making mention of his righteousness and his only." When he is oppressed with burdens, he should live upon Christ, casting all upon him, and saying, “ Why art thou cast down, o my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him.”
5. Faith, as it is a sitting down under this shadow imports, a ready act of faith, and catching the opportunity: No sooner is the apple-tree discovered to the bride here, in the superlative excellency thereof, than she just takes hold of the occasion, and sits down under the shadow of that tree. No powerful corruption, no asaulting temptation of Satan, no dark dispensation of providence, no great or greatly aggravated sin, nor long continuance in sin, should hinder or make a delay in acting of this faith : but the feeling of these maladies, the present feeling of the scorching heat, and the seeing of what a thick, and broad, and living, and lasting shadow this is, should make us quickly sit down here. Nothing must hinder you from making use of Christ ; neither sins against law, nor sins against gospel, nor sins against vows, mercies, crosses, providences : instead of hindering they should hasten you, that here you may get relief.
6. Faith, as it is a sitting down under this shadow, imports, a full and entire acting of faith, the whole man upon a whole Christ; I sat down. The believer leaves not one part of himself from under the shadow. "I sat down under his shadow;" he makes use of all the shadow for all the good that God gives him for. Some through unbelief, fear it would be too bold for them to expect all the benefits that are to be had in Christ, viz. wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption : but true faith acts fully for all the good of the gospel. Some, like the prodigal son, think God will not make them. sons but as hired servants; but this faith is a sitting down where no drop of wrath can touch you, and where you may have all the fruits that grow upon the apple-tree, and have perfect rest.
7. Faith, as it is a sitting down under this shadow, imports, the activity of faith through grace. The soul being acted is active in sitting down, saying, “ Return, to thy rest, O my soul,” Psal. cxvi. 7. I was weary with wandering from one barren bush to another'; but whenever I got a view of the glorious Apple-tree, the Tree of life, some invisible secret virtue came from it that catched my heart, and made me take up my rest here, and so “ 1 sat down."
8. And lastly, Faith, as it is a sitting down under this shadow, imports, as composed a posture of soul as can be had in this world. Christ is elsewhere compared to the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, Isaiah xxxii. 2. The rest to be had here, by faith, will always be different from, and short of the rest that re. mains for the people of God hereafter; it is therefore a rest amidst trouble: “In the world ye shall have tri.
n, says Christ : but in me ye shall have peace, " John xvi. 33.
Let us not mistake the nature of this rest and recumbency under this shadow ; some may think they have been essaying to sit down and rest under this shadow; but they cannot find that which they can call a rest; but, in order to remove this difficulty, you will consider the nature of this rest. It is not like the rest of a big rock on the land, or in the sea, that doth not shake or move when the waves beat, or the storms blow and make a tumultuous noise about it: but it is like the rest of a ship at anchor, that may be tossed and moved to and fro in a storm, and some waves going over her, but she is secured against splitting, or sinking, or being cast away, as long as the anchor does not drive; such is the nature of this rest: it is a rest with fighting and exercise, a rest that secures the main point from ruin as long as the soul keeps under Christ's shadow. And this is the rest and recumbency of faith that we. should look for in time; and if we thus took
the nature of this quiet rest, under the apple-tree, it would loose many doubts, and help to break many snares, and temptations, to which we expose ourselves many times, because we cannot get that rest we would be at.
In a word, faith's sitting down under this shadow, imports, that faith is a composing grace, making the
soul easy, quiet, and composed amidst all troubles, saying, “ Though my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, wellordered in all things and sure; and this is all my salvation, and all my desire,” 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.-" Though the fig-tree should not blossom, neither should fruit be found in the vine, &c.; yet will I rejoice in the Lord : I will joy in the good of my salvation, Hab. iii. 17, 18.
-Though the earth should be removed, and the mountains cast into the midst of the sea, &c. yet there is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God,” Psalm xlvi. 2, 3, 4,
IV. The fourth thing proposed, was, To touch at the way and manner of faith's sitting down under this shadow, namely, with great delight : “ I sat down under his shadow with great delight,” &c. It is observed, that the word may be read, as in the margin, •1 delighted, and sat down ;' intimating, that the delight was both an antecedent and a concomitant of her sitting down under his shadow. The shadow of a tree is. comfortable and refreshing to these that are parched with the scorching and boiling heat of the sun; so is Christ to his church under hot persecutions, being in the world as a lily among thorns, and under the heat of wrath revealed in the law; therefore with so much delight does she rest under his shadow, who hath delivered her from the wrath to come, according to his word.
Remark 1. This delight is very much spoken of in scripture; hence Psal. exix, 50.“ This is my comfort in mine affliction, thy word hath quickened me. Psal. Ixiii. 5. My soul shall be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness.-Psalxciv. 19. In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.to Psal. iv. 6,7. Many say, Who will shew us any good ? But, Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance ; then shall I have more gladness, than in the time that their corn and wine increaseth." O what great delight is to be had under Christ's cool and refreshing shadow !
2. This delight carries always along with it, a delight in tender walking, and a delighting in the law of the Lord, as the rule
of holiness ; Psal. i. 2. “ His delight
is in the law of the Lord.” Christ is not a shadow to screen wickedness. This tender walk evidences their delight to be no delusion.
3. The Lord having designed a fulness of delight for his people hereafter, as it is, Psal. xvi. 11. “ In his presence is fulness of joy, and at his right-hand are pleasures for evermore :" it pleases him to grant some delight in time as a pledge of that ocean of pleasures they are to enjoy above, that new wine of consolation that they shall drink in their Father's kingdom.
4. This delightful frame in closing with Christ, and improvement or use-making of him, is a very excellent and necessary frame; for, besides that he is in himself a very delightful and lovely object, this delight is a token for good, evidencing that the heart is warming towards him; and it is more than half an enjoyment of him, and tends to ensure a further and fuller enjoyment of him; having so much in hand he hath the more in hope : and as this delighting in him is begun enjoyment, so it is a mean of preserving and continuing the enjoyment; because, when the soul is satisfied and madeupin him, it warmsthe heart and cherisheth praise; yea, delight and satisfaction will beget praise, and praise is a notable preserver and fosterer of the good which we enjoy; whereas on the other hand, a discouraged and dissatisfied disposition, a murmuring, quarreling, discontented person soon clouds his clear days, and cuts short his enjoyment through his peevish ingratitude ; whereas a blessing and a praising frame, quickens our prayers and supplications for the continuance of what the soul delights in. It is said, 1 Samuel ii. 1. that Hannah prayed to God, when yet all she says is praise and thankfulness: intimating, that delight in God, begetting praise, is a noble supplicant.
But more particularly, this faith that sits down under Christ's shadow, brings with it great delight on these accounts following:
1. Because it reconciles us to our consciences that accused us for guilt : for, under that shadow we have our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,. Hebrews
2. Because it reconciles us to our uneasy crosses, and quiets us under them; “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusted in thee," Isa. xxvi. 8. It makes a calm, though the soul before was a raging sea.
3. Because it begets pleasant views of God; for we cannot make use of Christ, and yet find the Father displeased; because faith is the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ; so that, when we see him, we see the Father, and the Father to be well pleased in him.
4. Because it lays hold on a complete salvation and an incomprehensible good, that, as it were, swallows up the understanding to take up the worth of it, “ Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls,” 1 Pet. i. 19. The lively exercise of faith takes just a great salvation in its arms; and the man sees himself a saved man, and that there is no difficulty in all the world can stand in the way of his salvation ; this cre. ates joy.
5. Faith's act must be delightful, because it is accompanied, with comfortable views of providence; for when a man comes under this shadow, then he can say, Come what will, and let the Lord do with me what he will; yet all things shall work together for my good.
6. It is attended with comfortable views of the meaning of the scriptures; for they become so savoury as to be the savour of life. Lively faith makes scriptures have another lustre than before. It was a good say. ing of an old Reformer, “ That the Christ, which is "pointed out in scripture, could never scare'a sinner." When conscience is awakened to see what the law says, it is terrible; but let a man have the lively exercise of faith in Christ, then the scriptures have the smell of a pleasant garden : the very threatenings of the scripture are pleasing; for a man can say, They have frighted me to my resting-place. There is not a word in the Bible but what is savoury to the believer, as seeing God's good-will in it.
In a word, under this shadow the man hath a pleasing view of death, judgment, and eternity: for here he