Again, may be the thing God would have thee deny thyself in is thy wrath and revenge, which, to give thee a fair occasion to do with greater demonstration of thy sincerity, he puts thy enemy into thy power, and lays him bound, as it were, under thy hand; yea, so orders it in his providence, that thou mayest have thy will on him with little noise; or, if it be known, yet the notorious wrongs he hath done thee, and some circumstances in the providence that hath brought him into thy hand, concur to give thee an advantage of putting so handsome a colour upon the business, as shall apologize for thee in the thoughts of those that hear it—making them, especially, who look not narrowly into the matter, rather observe the justice of God on thy enemy’s judgment befallen him, than thy injustice and sin, who wert the instrument to execute it. Now when the way lies smooth and fair for thee to walk in, and thy own corruption calls thee forth—yea useth God’s name in the matter, to make thee more confident saying to thee, as they to David, ‘Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee,’ I Sam. 24:4;—if now, thou canst withstand the temptation, and, instead of avenging thyself upon the person, thy enemy, revenge thyself on thy revenge—thy greater enemy of the two —by paying good into thy adversary’s bosom for the evil he hath done thee; and, when thou hast done this, canst escape another enemy in thy return, I mean pride, so as to come out of the field a humble conqueror, and wilt consecrate the memorial of this victory not to thy own [praise] but [to the] praise of God’s name—as Goliath’s sword, which was not kept by David at his own home, to show what he had done, nut in the tabernacle ‘behind the ephod,’ as a memorial of what God had done by it in David’s hand, I Sam. 21:9;—[if thou canst do this,] thou hast done that which speaks thee sincere, yea a high graduate in this grace, and God will sooner or later let thee know so. David’s fame sounds not louder for his victories got in the open field over his slain enemies, than it doth for that he got in the cave, though an obscure hole, over his own revenge, in sparing the life of Saul—[an incident] in which you have the case in hand every way fitted. By the renown of his bloody battles, he got ‘a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth,’ II Sam. 7:9; but, by this noble act of his self-denial, he got a name, great, like unto the name of those that are famed for their holiness, in the Scripture; and rather than David shall not have the commendation of this piece of self-denial, God will send it to him in the mouth of his very enemy, who cannot hold—though by it he proclaims his own shame and wickedness—but he must justify him as a holy righteous man. ‘And he,’ that is Saul, ‘said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil,’ I Sam. 24:17.
(3.) Means. Continue thou to wait upon God in all the ways of his ordinances—every one in their season. Whenever thou comest to get the comfortable sight of thy sincerity, it is the Spirit of God that must befriend thee in it, or else, like Hagar, thou mayest sit by the well and not find it; thou mayest round thy field again and again, but find not the treasure hid in it. It is the Spirit of God by which we ‘know the things that are freely given to us of God,’ I Cor. 2:12. Now the Spirit sits in the ordinances, as a minister of state in his offices, whither we must resort, if we will have the truth of our graces—that are our evidences for heaven—sealed to our consciences. Thither go therefore, yea, there wait, for thou knowest not, as the wise man saith of sowing seed, Ecc. 11:6, whether thy waiting on this or that, now or then, shall prosper and be successful to thee in the end. It is enough to confirm, yea, quiet and comfort thee in thy attendance, that thou art at the right door; and though thou knockest long and hearest no news of his coming, yet thou canst not stay so long, like Eglon’s servants, Judges 3:25, that thou needst be ashamed. They indeed waited on a deadman, and might have stood long enough before he had heard them; but thou on a living God, that hears every knock thou givest at heaven-gate with thy prayers and tears; yea, a loving God, that, all this while he acts the part of a stranger, like Joseph to his brethren, is yet so big with mercy, that he will at last fall on thy neck and ease his heart, by owning of thee and his grace in thee. Lift up thy head then, poor drooping soul, and go with expectation of the thing; but remember thou settest not God the time. The sun riseth at his own hour, whatever time we set it. And when God shall meet thee in an ordinance—as sometimes no doubt, Christian, thou findest a heavenly light irradiating, and influence quickening, thy soul, while hearing the word, or may be on thy knees wrestling with God—this is a sweet advantage and season thou shouldst improve for the satisfying soul. As when the sun breaks out, we then run to the dial to know how the day goes; or when, as we are sitting in the dark, one brings a candle into the room, we then bestir ourselves to look for the thing we miss, and soon find what we in vain groped for in the dark; so mayest thou, poor soul—as many of thy dear brethren and sisters before thee have done—know more of thy spiritual state in a few moments at such a time, than in many a day when God withdraws. Carefully therefore watch for such seasons and improve them. But if God will hide thy treasure from thy sight, comfort thyself, comfort thyself with this, that God knows thy uprightness, though wrapped up from thy own eye. Say as David, ‘When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path,’ Ps. 142:3; and God will do with thee, not by the false accusations thou bringest in against thyself—as it is to be feared some have suffered at men’s hands—but by the testimony which his all-seeing eye can give to thy grace.