by William Bridge
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 42:11.
In these words we read of the sad discouragements of a gracious spirit, with those remedies that are to be applied and used against them. The discouragements are expressed in two words, under two similitudes: cast-down, disquieted. As a man is bowed or cast down under the weight of some heavy burden, so art thou cast down, O my soul, says David: and as the sea in the time of a storm is much disquieted, so art thou also disquieted within me, O my soul. The remedies that he uses against these discouragements are two: self-reprehension and self-admonition. First, He chides himself for his diffidence and distrust of God: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?” He chides and rebukes himself for it. Secondly, He admonishes and calls upon himself to wait upon and hope in God: “Hope thou in God.” Why? I. Because I shall yet be delivered: “For I shall yet praise him.” II. Because salvation belongs unto Him alone: “He is the health of my countenance,” or, “the salvation of my countenance.” III. Because He is in covenant with me, and I with Him; He is my God: “The health of my countenance, and my God.”
I begin with the former part of this verse, wherein you may observe these three things:
First, That there is an inward peace and quietude of soul, which the saints and people of God ordinarily are endued with. This is implied.
Secondly, It is possible that this peace may be interrupted, and God's people may be much discouraged, cast down and disquieted.
Thirdly, That the saints and people of God have no reason for their discouragements whatever their condition may be.
Why art thou cast down, and why art thou thus disquieted within me? There is no reason for it.
I shall take these matters in their order, and speak only unto the first at this time, which is this:
There is an inward peace and quietude of soul which the saints and people of God ordinarily are endued with.
Therefore David says here, “Why art thou cast down, and why art thou disquieted within me?” It seems, then, that this was not his ordinary condition; his pulse did not always beat thus high in this way of discouragement; but ordinarily he had peace and quiet within. So that I say, there is an inward peace and quietness of soul, which the saints and people of God ordinarily are endued with. Ordinarily they are arrayed in white; so they appear in Rev. 7:13-14. “What are these which are arrayed in white robes?” They are such as have “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” This book of the Revelation attends much unto the Jewish customs, and among the Jews they had their mourning and their rejoicing garment. The mourning garment was a black garment; and therefore when a man is brought in, in a mourning way, he is brought in in a black garment, as you find in the next Psalm, the 43rd, and the 2nd verse, “Why go I in mourning?” The word used in the Hebrew signifies black. “Why go I in black, because of the oppression of the enemy?” The black garment was the mourning garment. And the white garment was the rejoicing garment; therefore, in Eccles. 9:8, it is said, “Let thy garments be always white, and let thy head lack no ointment.” I confess this phrase sometimes denotes the purity and holiness of the person, so Rev. 3:4, “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.” But ordinarily it denotes the joyfulness and comfortableness of our state; so in Rev. 7, the saints are brought in, in white, not only because of their purity and cleanness, but because of their rejoicing. I say then ordinarily the saints and people of God go in white, they have a peace and a rest within. “Great peace have they that love thy law (says the Psalmist), and nothing shall offend them.” Rom. 2:10, “But glory, honour and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.” Let him be what he will be; if he be godly, if he work that which is good, glory, honour and peace shall be upon him; not only an outward, but an inward peace he shall have.
And, indeed, how can it be otherwise? For the saints and people of God walk with God, they converse with God, they acquaint themselves with God. Now if you look into Job 22:21, you will find that this acquaintance brings rest and peace: “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” The saints and people of God are, as I may so speak, of God's special acquaintance, and so they have peace, for they walk with God, and have communion with Him. They have communion with the Father, and He is the God of all consolation; they have communion and fellowship with the Son, and He is the Prince of Peace; they have communion and fellowship with the Spirit, and He is the Comforter. They have communion with the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit, in and by the gospel; and that is the word of peace, the gospel of peace. The saints and people of God, therefore, ordinarily have peace within.
But to make out this more fully unto you. Consider, I pray, how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, with whom the saints and people of God have communion and fellowship, are engaged for their peace.
1. The Father is engaged to give peace unto them. He is engaged by His prerogative, by His commandment, by His promise, by Christ's purchase and by the saints' chastisements.
He is engaged by His prerogative. Kings and princes will stand, you know, for their prerogatives. And this is the great prerogative of God the Father, to give peace, inward peace. “I create the fruit of the lips, peace, peace,” Isa. 57:19. And He is called, the God of peace, the God of consolation: not the God of indignation, not the God of war, but the God of peace. This is the great prerogative of God the Father, to give peace unto His people.
He is engaged also, by virtue of His commandment. And therefore if you look into lsa. 40:1-2, you will find, that He commands the prophets and ministers to preach comfort, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.” Suppose a man's affliction, or temptation, be very great or much: God hath commanded us to comfort, and comfort twice; “Comfort ye, comfort ye”: not once, but twice, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” But there are divers comforters that are indeed like Job's comforters, like Job's friends, they speak hard words unto poor distressed souls. Well, says God, therefore, in verse 2, “Speak ye comfortably.” So you read it; but in the Hebrew, “Speak ye to the heart, Speak soft and sweet words, Speak to the heart of Jerusalem.” Oh, you say, but my temptation is so great, that I am not able to hear those that come to comfort me. Mark what follows: “Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry unto her”; lift up thy voice and cry, if a poor soul be distressed, tempted and cannot hear easily; you that are ministers, lift up your voice and cry: not only speak to the heart, but cry; lift up your voice and cry unto her.
Well, but what are they to speak and cry? There are three things which will comfort a poor distressed soul, and they are to be spoken. Say, first, “that her warfare is accomplished”; affliction and temptation is at an end, it shall be no more. Secondly, “That her iniquity is pardoned.” Her sin is forgiven fully and freely. Thirdly, “That she hath received at the Lord's hands double for all her sins,” God hath no more against her, no quarrel, no controversy, no further punishment to inflict upon her; she hath sufficiently borne the punishment of her iniquity. Thus the Lord hath commanded ministers to preach peace, and to preach comfort; and what God hath commanded us to speak, He hath engaged Himself to work. Thus, I say, the Father is engaged by virtue of His commandment.
He is engaged also, by virtue of His promise. And therefore, if you look into Psalm 29, you will see what the Lord has promised: verse 11, “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace,” Here is the promise, “The Lord will bless his people with peace.” Yea, if you look into Isaiah 26, you will find there, that the Lord has promised to keep the peace of His people for them, verse 3: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” So you read the words, but according to the Hebrew, they ought to be read thus: “Thou wilt keep peace, peace”: twice peace. “Thou wilt keep peace, peace, for him whose mind is stayed on thee.” So that the Lord is not only engaged to give peace unto His people, but He is by promise also engaged to keep their peace for them.
Yea, the Lord is engaged by purchase. Christ has purchased peace for His people; and what Christ has purchased for them, God the Father is engaged to give unto them. Read the purchase in Eph. 2:13-14, “But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, for to make in himself of twain, one new man, so making peace.” Verse 16, “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace unto you that were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” So that thus you see it is the purchase of Jesus Christ: this inward peace and quietness of soul, it is Christ's purchase; and what Christ the Son has purchased, God the Father is engaged to give.
Yea, the Father is engaged to give peace unto His people, by all those chastisements that they meet with. And therefore in Isaiah 40, which I named before, the Lord commands us to comfort and speak comfortably unto His people, upon this account, “For she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins”: even because a fulness of chastisement had been upon them. Thus, I say, God the Father, by virtue of His prerogative, by virtue of His commandment, by virtue of His promise, by virtue of Christ's purchase, by virtue of chastisements that are laid upon His people, is engaged to give peace unto His children.
2. But now proceed a little, and you will see, that as the Father is engaged, so the Son also is engaged to give peace, inward peace, and quietude of soul unto His servants.
He is engaged by those qualifications and endowments that He received from God His Father, for this end and purpose. Isa. 41, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (says He) and he hath anointed me”; why? “that I might comfort those that mourn.” That is one end. But I pray look into Isa. 50, and consider the 4th verse, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” They are plainly the words of Christ, as will appear to you, if you read but the following words: “The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back; I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting:” So that these are the words of Christ. Well, what does Christ say here? He tells us, that He has received the tongue of the learned, to comfort those that are distressed and troubled in conscience, and to help poor wearied souls. Why does He say, the tongue of the learned? “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned.” All men desire to hear the learned: and it is the greatest piece of learning in the world, to speak a word in due season by way of comfort to those that are weary. This is the greatest piece of ministerial learning, and says Christ, “He hath given me the tongue of the learned.” Well, but all learned men have not wisdom to speak in season. Mark what follows. “He hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” But has Jesus Christ such skill at this work, in comforting those that are troubled? Yes, “He wakeneth morning by morning.” As a master is up early in the morning to teach his scholars, so has God the Father been teaching Christ from all eternity this great skill: “Morning by morning he wakeneth, morning by morning he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” This is the piece of learning, says Christ, which I have been learning morning by morning of my Father from eternity, and this is that great learning which He had attained unto. So that in regard of this endowment which He has received from the Father, He is engaged to give peace unto His people; for He has received the tongue of the learned for this end and purpose, that He might speak a word in season to them that are weary.
He is engaged also, by His own disposition; His sweet, loving, and tender disposition. He is a lion, indeed, of the tribe of Judah, but not that roaring lion seeking to devour. He is a king, indeed, but He comes meekly, riding upon an ass's colt. “He doth not lift up his voice in the streets.” When our Lord and Saviour Christ left the world, He said unto His disciples, “My peace I give unto you; my peace I leave with you: not as the world gives peace, but my peace I give unto you,” John 14:27. And as soon as ever Christ rose from the dead again, and met with His disciples, what does He say unto them? When they were all met together, “Peace be unto you,” John 20:19. As it was His last word when He left them, so it is the first word that now He uses when He sees them again. But, O Lord, we have sinned greatly since we saw Thee. Be it so, yet “peace be unto you.” But, O Lord, here is Peter among us, who has denied Thee since Thou sawest us. Be it so, I know it very well, yet” “Peace be unto you.” Peace when He went away, and peace when He came again: this is His language and this is His disposition still. Thus He is engaged.
Yea, He is engaged by office to give peace unto His people. You know the apostle calls Him our great High Priest. It was the work of the high priest in the Old Testament, to bless the people; and when he did bless the people, what did he say but, “The Lord bless you, and give you peace?” Now then, if Jesus Christ be our great High Priest, and it be the office of the high priest to bless, and to give peace, then Christ, by virtue of His office also, is engaged to give peace unto His people. Take all these three together; Christ the Son of God is engaged to give peace by His endowments He received from the Father, by His own disposition, and by His office. Thus it appears plainly that there is a great engagement upon Jesus Christ to give peace unto His servants.
3. As the Father and the Son are engaged to give peace and quietude unto the saints and people of God, so also the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, is engaged to give peace unto them. For, as I may so speak with reverence, He is, as it were, the great Executor of Jesus Christ. When Christ died, He made His will, and gave a legacy to His disciples, “My peace I give unto you”: and then He sent the Comforter, the Spirit from heaven, on purpose to beget peace within their souls.
Yea, the Holy Ghost is not only this Executor, to see this will of Christ fulfilled, but He is, as it were, our Advocate. Indeed we have but one Advocate, that is Christ: but I say, we have, as it were, two Advocates, one in heaven above, and one in our bosom. When a godly man sins, Satan accuses him in heaven: and therefore says John, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” 1 John 1:2. But if a godly man sin, Satan also accuses him to himself. And therefore says the apostle, “We have the Spirit within us, making intercession.” And says our Saviour Christ, “I will send another Comforter,” John 14:16: so you read it; but it is the same word that is translated Advocate; “I will send you another Advocate.” Yea, the Spirit of the Lord is our Witness also; “For the Spirit shall bear witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God.” Now when the Spirit bears witness with a man's spirit that he is a child of God, then he has peace and quiet. So that, if you consider all these engagements, the Father engaged, the Son engaged, the Holy Ghost engaged, for the peace and quiet of God's children, must you not needs conclude this point and doctrine, and say, Surely, there is an inward peace and quietness of soul, which ordinarily God's people are endued with?
But our experience often seems to speak the contrary; for there are many of God's own people that have not peace and quiet within them, but are full of doubts and fears about their everlasting condition.
The second doctrine therefore speaks to that condition, Is it possible this peace may be interrupted?
But some have never had peace all their days. Oh, says one, I have been a long while afflicted, troubled: two, four, six years, and never yet had peace and quiet within me. Either therefore this doctrine is not true, or else I am not godly.
All that may be which you speak of, and yet this doctrine may be true. General rules have always some exceptions. Though the garment that the saints ordinarily wear be white, yet here and there some do go in black, and go so a great while. But that there may be no stumbling concerning this matter, I shall desire you to consider with me some few distinctions.
1. You must know, that there is a fundamental peace which the saints and people of God have; and there is an additional peace. A fundamental peace, which naturally arises and flows from their justification: “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” Rom. 5:1. And then there is an additional peace, which arises from the sense of their justification. Possibly a child of God may for a long time lose the latter, but the former he shall never lose. As a woman that hath a great jointure,1 takes a journey, and meets with thieves, and they take away all the money that she has about her; but yet, says she, though they have taken away my spending money, they cannot take away my jointure; I have not lost my jointure. So now the saints sometimes may lose their spending money; they may lose the peace that arises from the sense of their justification; but as for the peace that arises and issues from their justification itself, the first peace, that they shall never lose. Peace is the church's jointure, and that peace they shall never lose.
2. You must know, that there is a great difference between peace, comfort, and joy. A man may have peace that has no comfort; a man may have comfort that has no joy: one is beyond the other, one a degree above the other. As now, it may be daylight, and yet the sun may not shine forth; the sun may shine forth, and yet not noon-day. Possibly a man may have peace, and yet not much comfort, only stayed upon God; possibly a man may have comfort, and yet not much joy. But now, many a poor soul thinks, because he has no joy, therefore he has no comfort; and because he has not much comfort, therefore no peace. Labour to know the difference between these.
3. You must know, that there is a peace which lies in opposition to what one has been; and a peace that is in opposition to what one would be. A godly man, a weak Christian, when he considers what he would be, and what he would have, he has no rest nor quiet: but now, come unto the same man, and say thus, You remember what a wicked life you once led; you were a drunkard, or you were a wanton: what say you; would you be in that condition again? Oh no, says he then, I would not be in that condition for all the world. Here now the soul has peace in opposition to what it has been, though it has not peace and quiet in opposition to what it would be.
4. You must know, that there is a secret, dormant peace; and there is an awakened and apparent peace: peace in the seed, and peace in the flower. As it is with many a wicked man, for the present he has great comfort; but when affliction comes, and the day of death comes, then he has trouble; trouble in regard of sin. Why? the sin and guilt was in his heart before, only it lay sleeping there, but now it is risen. So with a godly man in regard of his peace: possibly for the present, he may be full of trouble; but when affliction comes, and the hour of death comes, then he has peace and comfort: why, it was there before, it was at the bottom, only he was not aware of it; he did not know of it. Ask such a weak Christian who is thus full of fear for the present, you see there a drunkard, a swearer, a wanton; would you be in his condition? Would you be contented to be in that man's condition? Oh, no, says he; I would not be in such a condition for all the world. And why does he say so, but because there is a peace and quietude at the bottom, although he be not aware of it? It is true the saints grieve, but then dolent et de dolore gaudent (they grieve and rejoice that they can grieve): they are troubled for sin; and they have rest and quiet in this, that they can be troubled for their sin: they have no peace in their sin; but they have peace in this, that they can have no peace in their sin. For say now unto them, Are you troubled that you are troubled? You are in some measure grieved for sin, and are you troubled that you are grieved? No, they will say, I am glad that I am grieved for sin; and the Lord knows, it is my trouble that I can be grieved no more; I have quiet and peace in that I am troubled. Some have peace in the direct act, and some have peace in the reflex act; some have it more at the first hand, and some have it more at the second hand. But consider all these distinctions, and you will find that there is no godly man, but more or less in some of these respects he may be said to have peace within. But supposing it to be so, what is the issue of this doctrine? what does it tend and lead unto?
The issue is thus much: behold what a blessed condition the saints and people of God are in! Is it not a blessed thing to have peace within; to have quiet, peace and rest within? If you have peace within, though you want peace without, you will be able to bear all your burdens, “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Prov. 18:14. Some bear agues and fevers; some bear stones and colics, rackings and tormentings; but a wounded spirit who can bear? Oh, but “the spirit of a man will sustain his infirmities,” if he have peace within; if he be heart-whole, as they say, if he have peace within, then will he be able to bear all his burdens. You see into what times we are now fallen; we cannot promise ourselves peace for a day together; suddenly a cloud may arise in a night, and all our comforts be laid in the dark; how good a thing is it then to have peace within, to have rest and quiet within! If I have peace within, I can relieve myself here against all calamity. What though I have trouble from my friends? yet I have peace within: what though I am reproached? yet I have peace within; I am wet indeed, my garment is wet; but I am not wet to the skin, I am dry within, I have peace within. “Blessed (says our Saviour) are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted,” Matt. 5:4. Are those blessed for the present that shall be comforted? How blessed are those then that are comforted, and that have peace and quiet already!
This doctrine looks well both upon the ungodly, and upon the godly. It looked once so favourably upon a great man in Germany, that it was the beginning of his conversion and turning to God: I mean the Marquess Galeacius Carracciolus. He was a papist, a profane person; and coming occasionally to hear Peter Martyr preach, he heard this expression or similitude: “When you see men at a distance skipping, leaping, and dancing, you think the men are mad; but when you draw near to them and hear what music they have, then you do not wonder; but you rather wonder at yourselves that you should wonder at them. So,” said Peter Martyr, “when you look upon the godly at a distance, and see them running after ordinances, and frequenting the means and rejoicing in the ways of God, you think the people are mad, and you say they are mad; but if you draw near to a godly concourse, and perceive what music these people have within, you say not they are mad, but you rather wonder at yourselves, that you should wonder at them.” Hereupon the Marquess hearing this similitude, was so struck by it, that he began to look into his condition, and it was the occasion of his conversion. I say no more. You that are ungodly, you hear what music the saints have within, peace and quiet within ordinarily, though here and there there may be some exception; yet ordinarily, what music they have within! Oh, who would not be godly!
But this doctrine also looks wishly upon you that are godly. And it calls for your thankfulness, that you should praise the Lord for the peace and quiet that you have. You will praise God for your outward peace, especially if it be a peace after war. And especially if the war were a civil war, and you have felt the smart of it, then you will praise God for peace. You that are godly, and have peace, have had a war within, a civil war within your own bosoms, and you have felt the smart of trouble of conscience, and now you have peace; and will you not be thankful? Will you not praise the Lord who has given you this peace and rest?
I confess indeed, says one, that it is the duty of all those that have rest, and peace and quiet within, to be very thankful; but there is one thing that hinders my thankfulness and keeps me from praising the Lord for the peace and quiet that I have, and that is, I fear my peace is not right; for there are many that have a counterfeit and a false peace, and I fear that my peace is such, and therefore I cannot praise the Lord, or be thankful for it.
I grant you, there is a false and counterfeit peace, that wicked men have, even an inward peace. And if you look into Deut. 29:19, you may read as much: “And it come to pass when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.” So that a man may be in a most cursed way, adding drunkenness to thirst, and yet he may have peace, and say in his heart, It shall go well with me. Without question, there is a peace of security; there is a peace and a rest of sleep, as well as of health. A man that is wounded and full of aches and pains, feels them not when he is asleep; but the reason why he does not feel them is not because of his health, but because he is asleep. So a man may be freed from the trouble of aches and pains within, because he is asleep, as well as because he is in health. But there is also a peace that is the fruit of the Holy Ghost; as you read in Gal. 5:22 : “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.” Without question, there is a false and a true peace. But shall I say that all my money is counterfeit, because there is some counterfeit gold in circulation?
But to help a little in this, I will say something about the difference between true and false peace; and yet very briefly, thus: True saving peace is the child of grace, and the mother of grace. There is a peace that arises from the apprehension of God's common goodness; which is common peace. And there is a special peace, that arises from the apprehension of God's special favour and free grace; true peace is the daughter of that grace, yet it is also the parent of inherent grace, or of gracious actions. I should rather say the nurse, for says the apostle, “The peace of God, that passes all understanding, shall keep (or guard) your hearts and minds,” Phil. 4:7. This saving peace is a guard unto all our graces. As false peace is a guard to our sins, so true peace is a guard unto all our graces.
True saving peace is such a peace as is wrought by faith. “Being justified by faith, we have peace,” Rom. 5:1. “The Lord give you peace in believing,” says the apostle, Rom. 15:13. It comes in a way of faith: true saving peace is wrought by faith. False peace is such as is either born with us and was never interrupted, being the offspring of nature only; or the product of a natural conscience, or such as is wrought out by time, time working out one's trouble.
True saving peace will live in the sight of sin. False peace cannot endure the sight of sin; a godly man, the more he sees his sin, unless he be under temptation, the more peace he has: a wicked man, the more he sees his sin, the less peace he has; and all his peace arises from the concealment of his sin from him.
True saving peace loves to be examined, is willing to be examined, it loves to be tried. But false peace cannot endure examination; it flies from the light; it does not love to be tried.
True saving peace is spoken by God. “I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace,” says the Psalmist, Psalm 85:8. When God speaks peace, He speaks it to a soul under or after temptation. When God speaks peace, He speaks it with a strong hand: giving such peace as no creature in the world is able to give. When God speaks peace, it is a peace beyond all expression, the peace of God that passes all understanding; it cannot be uttered. Now though a wicked man have peace, and much peace and quiet within, yet God does not speak it; for it was not spoken to him in or after temptation; it was not spoken by a strong and irresistible hand; it is such a peace, as may be wrought by time, time working off the trouble. The pleasures and contentments of the world may beget the like; it is not a peace that is beyond all expression, a peace beyond all understanding, but a low peace, which you may easily express. But as for you that are godly, that make this objection, and have this fear and scruple in your hearts, I will here appeal unto your own souls. You know and remember your former trouble; now you have peace and rest within. I appeal to you, I say, to answer yes or no. When you were in that trouble, suppose I, or another minister, or ten others of your own choosing, suppose a hundred should have come to you with one promise after another, had we been able to have spoken comfort to you? Oh, no, you answer; if the Lord had not spoken comfort to me, it had not been in the power of all the ministers in the world to have spoken comfort unto my soul, but the Lord certainly has done it. Yet I appeal to you; are you not willing to have your peace examined? are you not willing to have your peace, your inward peace tried? You reply, Yes, with all my soul I would have my peace tried: and truly, I could not hope that my peace were right, if I were not willing to have it examined. Well, yet I appeal to you further; and do not you find that you have peace, even when you do see your sins? And the more you see your sins upon the back of Christ, the more peace you have? Yes. And do not you find this, that your peace came to you in a way of believing? from the sight of Christ, laying hold on the promise? by the prospect of free grace? Yes, I must needs say so. Had I not had a promise to stay my soul upon, had I not had a view of free grace, had I not seen the Lord Jesus, I had never had any peace in my poor soul: but the Lord knows, that thus I attained my peace. Well, then, be of good comfort, man or woman, I tell you from the Lord, your peace and quiet is right. I know what the danger is of sewing pillows under men's elbows, and speaking peace, when none ought to be spoken; but, I say, if it be thus with your soul, notwithstanding all your sins and fears, from the Lord, I say unto you, your peace is right; go in peace, and the God of peace tread down Satan under your feet.
But, says one, I fear that my peace, my, inward peace, is not right because it does not last and continue.
The second doctrine answers that objection: for the second doctrine says, That a godly man's peace may be interrupted. But one thing, you say, yet troubles me, and makes me fear that my peace and quiet is not good, and that is, because I came so lightly and slightly by it. I see how it has been and is with others of the people of God; some that have been long afflicted and wounded and have remained troubled a great while, and so they have had peace: but as for me, it is not so with me; I came lightly and slightly by my peace and quiet, and therefore I do even fear that the Lord never spake peace yet unto my soul.
Do you say lightly? How lightly? Have you stolen your peace? or have others bought their peace? For you say, others have been much afflicted and troubled, and had a great deal of heart-smart. But I pray tell me, did those who have had all this trouble, did they purchase or buy their peace at the hand of Christ with all this trouble? or did Christ give them that peace and comfort freely? Buy it! you reply, no, surely; they did never purchase it, never buy it, but Christ gave it them freely. Why, if Christ gave it them freely after all their trouble, why may He not give it you after less trouble? I have read, and so have you, in the gospel, a parable about two that came into the vineyard to work; the one in the beginning of the day; who bare the heat of the day, and the other at the latter end of the day; and both had a penny. When they were both paid, he that was there at the beginning of the day, murmurs, saying, I have been here all this day, and I have borne the heat of the day, and I have but a penny; and the other, that came in at the latter end of the day, has a penny as well as I. The man that had been there working at the beginning and in the heat of the day, murmurs; but he that came at the latter end, he did not murmur, nor say, Surely, my penny is naught, because I have a penny given me, as well as he that hath borne the heat of the day. If any should complain, those that have borne the heat of the day, that have been so much troubled, should in reason be the persons. But has the Lord taken you, and given you a penny, the same peace with him who bare the heat of the day; and will you complain, and say, Surely, my penny is false coin, and my peace naught, because I have not borne nor endured so much trouble as another has? You know, some children are born into the world with more pain than others, some with less pain: should the child that is born with less pain, say, I am a bastard, because I was not born with so much pain as the other was? When Christ is formed in the souls of men and women, some are regenerate and born again with more pain, some are regenerate and born again with less pain: should he that is born with less pain, say, I am a bastard, and not a true son, because there was not so much pain at my regeneration as such an one had? You know how it was with Zacchreus; Christ came unto his house, and the same day that He came, He said to Zacchreus, “This day is salvation come to thy house.” He had assurance the first day. But Paul is converted; and he lies troubled, and is three days blind. Should Zacchreus now say, Surely, I am not converted, for I never lay three days blind, nor was so much troubled as Paul was? No, surely. No more may you say that your peace is false because you have not such abundance of trouble as others have. You are not to make another's measure your rule. God goes several ways with His people, as well in regard of peace, as in regard of grace. This therefore I say unto you: look unto your peace itself. Have you peace and quietness of soul? Then bless and praise the Lord for that peace of yours: yea, do not only praise the Lord for your peace and quiet, but praise the Lord that you came so sweetly by it, in a way of free grace; and if for any thing you are to be troubled, it is for this, that you should nick-name the grace of God, and call it little or false. Christ calls it free, and you call it false. Oh, be humbled for this, and praise the Lord for any measure of quiet and peace that He has given unto you.
But another will say, All this does not come up to my case; for I have neither peace nor quiet in my soul to be thankful for: some there are that have peace and quiet indeed, and they, no doubt, ought to be very thankful for it; but my poor soul has been long afflicted and troubled, and I never yet had assurance of God's love in Christ; I have not this peace and quiet within. What shall I do, that I may attain unto it? or what should a poor soul do, to get and retain this peace and quiet within?
You know what the Psalmist says, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace unto his people,” Psalm 85:8. It is not in my power, or in the power of any poor creature, to speak peace unto you; but it is the Lord only that must speak peace unto your soul; and the Lord speaks peace in the way of an ordinance.
But what does the Lord say? What does the Lord speak from His Word in the way of an ordinance, that I, who was never yet settled, may attain unto this inward peace and quietude of soul?
1. He wills you to study and consult much the death, sufferings and fulness of the satisfaction made by Jesus Christ. Go down into the grave of Christ; Christ's blood is the object of faith, and faith brings peace. Unbelief is a painful sin, and faith is an easing and quieting grace. “Being justified by faith, we have peace,” Rom. 5:1. The more you see the free and infinite love of God, the more will your heart be at rest and quiet within you. And where shall you see the love of God but in the death of Christ? By seeing Christ on the cross, you see divine love in triumph. All true peace within arises from the sight of peace made without: where shall you read of that, but in Christ's death? And therefore says the prophet, “Of the chastisement of our peace was upon him.” In Psalm 41 you have a promise made of a great blessing unto him that considers the poor. “Blessed is he that considereth the poor.” Who is this “poor”? Tarnovius tells us, from the 10th verse, that it is Christ in His sufferings: for, as he observes, this psalm is a psalm of Christ, verse 9, “Yea, mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” They are the words of Christ, and Christ speaks this psalm; and this “poor” to be considered, is Christ in His sufferings, says he. I will not here debate the truth of this interpretation; but if true, the Lord promised here a blessing to him that doth wisely consider the death and sufferings of Christ: and wherein doth that blessing lie and consist? “The Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble”: in the evil day, or in the day of evil, says the Chaldee paraphrase: in the day of vexation, says Symmachus. Now the day of temptation, doubts and great fears, is an evil day, and a day of vexation: this day will God deliver him from, who doth wisely ponder on the death of Christ. Could we see the heart of Christ, we should doubt no more. In His death you may see His heart; in His blood you may see His heart. You know what the prophet Isaiah says (26:12), “Lord, wilt thou not ordain peace, who hast wrought all our works for us?” And where shall you find that God has wrought all our works for us, but in Christ's grave and death?
2. You must not only go unto the grave of Christ, and study His death, but you must go unto Christ Himself for peace. He, the great peace-maker, has a commission to take up all differences without us, and within us. You know His words, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned (says He), that I may speak a word in due season to him that is weary,” Isa. 50:4. Go then to Christ, and press this engagement, and say, Lord, Thou hast therefore received the tongue of the learned, that Thou mayest speak a word in due season to him that is weary. And, O Lord, I am one of those wearied souls; wearied with my temptations, wearied with inward trouble; now, Lord, speak a word in due season to this poor, wounded, and wearied soul. Thus go to Christ.
Only, in your addresses to Christ, be sure that you go in uprightness. Take heed that you do not desire peace merely for the comfort of it, but as an help unto your grace: “He will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” Psa. 84:11. Good men seek peace for grace' sake; but wicked men and hypocrites seek grace for peace' sake. When you make your addresses for peace, be sure you come to Christ in uprightness; and take heed that you do not desire peace only for the comfort of it, but as an help unto your grace.
And when you go unto Christ for peace, carry the promise with you; go in the way of a promise. Go and wait long on Christ; wait upon Him only, and keep His way. Some say they wait on God, but they do not keep His way. They throw up their duty if they have not comfort at once. But in your addresses to Christ, go and wait long on Him; and in case peace and comfort do not come at once, lay by that great question a little, Whether you be in Christ or no, whether you be the child of God or no. The great trouble is this, Oh, I am afraid I am not the child of God; if I did but know that I am the child of God, I should have peace. If peace and comfort therefore do not come at once, lay that question aside a little, and in due time, Christ will answer that question too; only now for the present wait on Him, and keep His way.
But, because it will be said, Should not we be humbled for sin committed? And is not humiliation a good means to get peace within? Therefore, in all your humiliation, carry Christ along with you. When you go to mourn for sin, begin aloft with Christ: and do not always think to begin below with sin, and so to come up to Christ; but begin aloft with Christ, and so by your humiliation, fall down upon sin. You say, Oh, but I would be first humbled before I go to Christ. But I pray tell me, can you be humbled and not see your sin? and where can you have such a prospect of sin as in the death of Christ? Is there anything in the world that can shew you the misery, ugliness, and damning nature of sin, as the death of Christ? If you begin with Christ, then you will certainly come down to your sin and be humbled for it: but if you begin with sin, you will not certainly come up to Christ. There is many a poor soul that hath said. I will be first humbled for my sin, and then I will go to Christ; but he has stuck so long in the legal work, that he has never come at Christ. And if you be humbled before you do come to Christ, you will have no great peace and comfort in your humiliation: but if you first come to Christ, and then carry Christ along with you to your humiliation, then you will have much comfort and peace therein. Would you therefore be so humbled as to have peace thereby? Be sure that you carry Christ with you unto that work; do not begin always with sin to go up to Christ, but rather begin at Christ, and so fall down upon sin.
Labour to mortify your affections, and to get your will melted into the will of God. As the winds are to the sea, so are the affections to the soul of man. So long as the sea is hurried with the wind. it has no rest or quiet; and what is the reason that our hearts are no more calmed and quieted, but because we have not yet resigned up our wills to the will of God? It is our own will that troubles our peace; get but your will mortified into the will of God, and you will say, Lord, I would fain have peace; yet not my will, but Thy will be done. Therefore, Lord, when Thou wilt, and as thou wilt, not my will, but Thine own will be done. Thus do, and you are at rest at once.
Do you want peace and comfort and quietude of soul? Take heed how you walk with doubting company; take heed how you walk with those that are full of fears and doubtings. As one drunkard makes another, and one swearer begets another, and one opposer of godliness draws on another, and one adulterer makes another; so one doubting Christian makes another. You that are weak, and full of doubtings, should go and lean upon those that are strong and have full assurance; and you that have assurance should give the shoulder to those that are weak, and say, Come, and lean upon me, and I will be an help unto you. You know how it is with the ivy and the vine; the ivy leans upon the oak, and the vine upon the posts or the house-side; the ivy and the vine do not lean one upon another; if the ivy and the vine should come and lean upon one another, what twisting would there be. Both would fall to the ground: but the ivy leans upon the oak, and the vine upon the posts or the house-side. So a weak Christian should go and lean upon a strong Christian: but if one doubter leans upon another doubter, both will fall to the ground. I have read of a woman that was under great temptations, and meeting with another in the same condition, she said to her, I am afraid I shall be damned. So am I too, said the other. Oh, but said she again, I do not only fear, but I am sure of it; certainly I shall be damned. Aye, but said the other, yet my condition is worse, for I am damned already. Oh, what communion is here! Is this to build up one another? Do you therefore want comfort and peace? You that are weak, go and lean upon those that are strong, and have full assurance; and you that have assurance, be not unwilling to give your shoulder unto those that are weak, and are full of doubtings.
And to end all. Do you want peace and inward quietude of soul? Whensoever the Lord then does but begin to speak the least peace unto you heart, take heed that you do not refuse it, but rather improve it, and stir up yourselves then in a way of believing. Praise God for every smile, and rejoice in the least. If a bowed sixpence, as it were, be sent you from heaven, lay it up, even every love-token. Peace is a tender thing. Does the Lord begin to speak peace to any of your souls? Now stir up yourselves in a way of believing, and then Christ will give you more.
You know how it was with Nathanael: when Nathanael believed what Christ had spoken, says Christ unto him, “Believest thou, because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree? I will shew thee greater things; thou shalt see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man,” John 1:50-51. So will the Lord Christ say to a poor soul, I have spoken a word unto you, and I gave you a little Peace, and do you believe because of the word I have spoken unto you? You shall see greater things, and I will give you abundance of peace. Look into Isaiah 48:18, and there you shall find the Lord speaking thus: “Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” When the Lord speaks, and calls upon people to believe, if then they do hearken to Him, then shall their peace be like a river. And when does the Lord call in a special manner upon people to believe? When He gives out a word, and when He gives them a little peace, then He is calling upon them to believe; now return, and now believe, says the Lord. You know how it was with Elijah: when they wanted rain, and had wanted rain for a long time, Elijah sends his servant towards the sea, to see if he could perceive any rain coming, and Elijah falls down upon his face in prayer. His servant goes, but sees no sign of rain: he goes again, and sees no sign of rain; and the seventh time Elijah's servant perceives a cloud, of the bigness of an hand, and he comes down unto his master, and tells him he has seen a cloud, the bigness of a man's hand: whereupon Elijah concludes and says, “Come, let us up, I hear the noise of many waters.” So say I, you have been upon your face, and have been much discouraged; yet if you have been at prayer, and a little refreshment comes, though it be but the bigness of an hand, yet conclude and say, Surely, there is more rain a-coming. Come, O my soul, why art thou cast down? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God, and wait on Him; I hear abundance of rain coming. When our Saviour Christ sometimes speaks peace, He does at the first speak by a small word, and if that be improved, then he speaks more. You know how it was with Mary; she was at the sepulchre, and had been inquiring after her Lord, and says she to the angels, They have taken away my Lord; and the angels talked to her, but could not comfort her. But at last comes our Saviour Christ, and He speaks to her, and then she was comforted. But what does He say to her? Only one word: Mary. So, when a man is in trouble, the Lord comes sometimes and speaks but a word; He takes a promise, it may be, and sets a word thereof upon the soul, and the heart answers, Rabboni, my Lord. Does the Lord therefore speak but one word unto you, yet stir up yourself in believing, and hearken unto Him, for He will speak yet more fully and plainly; only when He speaks, listen: hearken diligently unto Him and improve what He says, so shall your peace be as a river, and your righteousness as the ocean.
1. Property held for the joint use of husband and wife for life, or as a provision for the latter during widowhood.
2. To put to good use.
Taken from A Lifting up for the Downcast
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