Question: But how are we to praise God in this stormy wind?
By raising our thoughts to the contemplation of the His greatness and majesty in it, so as to fear and to tremble before Him.
O Lord, how you are clothed with glory and majesty
Who would not fear and tremble
Before such a God as you are?
The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness, Psalm 29:9. That is, the wild beasts of the wilderness B and shall it not shake our hearts? Shall our hearts be more hard and stupid than the hearts of those wild and savage beasts of the wilderness?
It shakes the most lofty cedars: What are our spirits? How lofty? How hardened with pride and folly, if they do not shake, if they tremble not before such a God as this?
It is a notable speech of Elihu in Job 37:1,
At this also my heart trembleth,
And is moved out of his place at this
At what is it that he heart trembles?
His voice roareth
He thundereth with the voice of His excellency,
God thunders marvelously with His voice;
great things doths He which we cannot comprehend,
Out of the south commeth the whirlwind
The wind passeth and cleaneth
Wherefore, upon this great work of God and other [works] he concludes in verse 22:
With God is terrible majesty
Touching the Almighty
We cannot find Him out.
He is excellent in power
Men do therefore fear Him
[These lines are taken from Job 37:22-24.]
It is a time now indeed to fear the Lord,
To lie down with low humbled trembling hearts before Him.
It is no time to vex
As is the practice of some when grievous tempests and storms arise
And put them out to trouble and danger
They vex and rage against the Winds
When seas cause the winds to rage
Their hearts are in as a great a rage as the seas
Swearing and cursing most dreadfully in their rage
Their cursed hearts foam out with filth
According to that description of the wicked which we have in Isaiah 57:20-21
The wicked are like a troubled sea
When it cannot rest
Whose waters cast out mire and dirt
There is no peace, saith my God
To the wicked.
Oh the abominable mire and dirt that is cast out by such hearts at such times, when God calls fore the most fear of Him, trembling before Him, subjection unto Him, what is that but even to dart up our arrows against the heavens, and to fly even in the very face of God, Himself.
I have read of a people in Africa, who being troubled with strong winds, driving heaps of sands upon their fields and dwelling places, they gathered an army to fight against them (the winds), but with so evil success [such a bad outcome] that themselves were buried under the hills of sands driven upon them by the win.
It is no less madness in these who curse and rage in times of tempests. There are fighters against God. It is the infinite patience of God that that cursed breath the comes from them at those times is not stopped.
Let us praise God in this stormy wind, by considering what poor creatures we are, how infinitely we depend upon this God that appears so much above us in it, we see howHe can make a vapor terrible to us so much us in it, we see how He can make a vapor terrible unto us, so that we cannot stand before it. We see at what advantage He has [over] us by the winds: to overturn our houses, to dash our ships in pieces by it.
Mark how Job was affected when God spoke to him from out of the whirlwind, Job 38:1, compared with Job 40:3-4: The Job answered the Lord, that is, when the Lord had spoken to him out of the winds,
Behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee?
I will lay mine hand upon my mouth:
Once I have spoken, but I will not answer,
Yea, twice, but I will proceed no further.
And again, compare Job 40:6 with Job 42:5-6: The Lord speaks to him again out of the whirlwind.
That God delights to make use of this creature to speak to men by to humble them, you heard before. But here you see the effect of this, what power there is in it to do that which God intends by it. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear (says Job), but not mine eyes have seen thee, wherefore I abhor myself in dust and ashes.
This makes a Job, a holy, godly man, to abhor himself in dust and ashes before this great God.
Let us upon this labor to purge our hearts, and keep them cleansed from guilt, that the terrors of God in this and other of His works may not overwhelm them and sink them. It is a blessed thing to be able to look upon God in these His glorious works with comfort and peace, if there were no guilt in our hearts (although they would be moved with reverence of God in His great works); yet, all the tempests in the wold could not shake them with such terror as to hinder their comfort, peace, their sweet rest and response in God; yea, they would rather rejoice the heart, they would raise it to bless itself in this God as their the God of its comfort and of all its good: Were it not for vapors, for wind got into the earth, all storms and tempestuous winds without, would never make an earthquake were our spirits clear within. Whatever comes [from] without would never cause any slavish despairing, sinking heartquake in us.
Pliny says the eagle is not afraid of thunder, the greatest tempests of thunder do not frighten her; whereas other fowls shake and tremble at it; and other beasts of the field get into their shelters. Thus spiritual hearts who converse much with God and keep themselves up on high, they are not terrified with such things as fill the hearts of others with amazing terrors. Hearts that are heavenly are like the air above the middle region B free from tempests and storms.
It is very observable which we read of David in Psalm 18: He there sets out the glory of God in the earthquake and deadly tempests.
Then the earth shook and trembled;
the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken,
because he was wroth.
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,
and fire out of his mouth devoured:
coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down:
and darkness was under his feet.
And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly:
Yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his secret place;
his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
At the brightness that was before him
his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.
The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
and the Highest gave his voice [Psalm 18:7-13]
Yet observe in verse 16, David draws comfort out of this
He send from above
He took me
He drew me out of many waters.
These grievous tempests, these dreadful storms where not to overwhelm me, to sink me in the waters; but the Lord took me, that God who appeared thus dreadful in these storms and tempests; yet this god took me and drew me out of many waters. And in verse 19:
He delivered me,
Because he delighted in me.
Give glory to God in blessing His name for deliverance from those fearful judgments that He makes tempestuous winds and storms the executioner of upon many others. Some of you it is like may say, and have said, except the wind had been turned at such a time I had been lost; we had certainly been all cast away. Then where had you been now, it may be from those dreadful waters you might have sunk into the lake of unquenchable fire; you might have been swallowed upon of that infinite ocean of God=s eternal wrath. But God preserved you, and you are alive and yet enjoy the day of grace.
The goodness of the Lord has been to you that which He promised in Isaiah 32:2,
A hiding place from the wind
and a covert from the tempest.
It is the free grace of God towards you. Only His goodness that has been your safety; for what could you do to help yourself? It may be you cried and prayed to God, but what could your prayers do, who are and it may be still are a profane and wretched creature – the course of whose life is a way of enmity against the great God of the whole world?
It is reported of Bias the philosopher, who sailing among a company of rude [uneducated] mariners, they being in danger by a storm, the mariners fell on praying and crying out to their gods. Bias calls to them to hold their peace lest the gods should hear them and so they should all fare the worse for their sakes. The worst that is in such dangers will cry out and sometimes fall on praying. But how should that praying be accepted that comes out of that mouth, out of which so many oaths came awhile since, which is defiled with so many blasphemies and yet not purged by repentance?
Wherefore whensoever you have been delivered and others have perished, admire at the free grace of God towards thee. Give him the glory of it, and let God be thus praised in the stormy wind.
Give God the glory of this work of His, by seeking Him for the raising, ordering and stilling the wind, according as your occasion is.
I have read of people who erected an altar to the winds, and once a year spent a whole night in their devotions to the winds, to seek calm winds, because of the great hurt they often suffered by them.
But we have learned otherwise, namely, to look beyond the winds to seek God, acknowledge Him [as] the raiser and orderer of them. This is part of that divine worship that is due to God, that He should be acknowledged and sought in these things. Although it be but a common work of His providence. YetHe expects to be sought to in it. Prayer has shut the heavens and opened them. Prayer has power over heaven and earth, and air and seas and winds. It has power to prevail with God, much more power over any creature whatsoever.
We read in 1 Samuel 7:9-10, when Samuel offered to God but a sucking lamb [a very young lamb, still nursing], presently a grievous storm arose, The Lord thundered with thunder upon the Philistines.
And Revelation 8:4-5: And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel=s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
All the devils in Hell have not power over the winds that the prayers of the saints have.
We have a famous story of the power fo the prayers of the Christian soldiers in the army of Marcus Aurelius, which story is record in Eubesius. The soldiers were praying to God in a time of great drought, when the army was like to perish for thirst, they procured [from God] a great tempest against their enemies which put them to flight and overthrew them and [brought] a refreshing rain to their own army. Whereupon they were called the Lightening Legion, upon which Aurelius was much moved and favored the Christians much after it and wrote in their behalf, acknowledging it to be the hand of God as the fruit of their prayers.
If prayers have power over the rain, over thunder and lightening, then surely over the stormy wind. If therefore you seek not God in this, if you think it is nothing that prayer can do, you are more heathenish and fuller of atheism then most of the rude [uneducated] heathen.
Matthew 8:24-25, When a tempest arose, Christ was awakened.
When a storm arises, God must be sought.
Consider if storms and tempests in the air be so [word is illegible], what then are the storms and tempests of God=s anger in the execution of the dreadful judgments upon nations and kingdoms, and how terrible are storms and tempests raised and raging in men=s consciences.
For the first, Isaiah 28:1-2: The Lord pronounces a woe against the drunkards of Ephriam, whose glorious beauty is as a fading flower
Behold the Lord hath a mighty strong tempest
A destroying storm
And a flood of mighty waters.
The clouds gather apace and hang exceeding black and dreadful over many places, as if God had reserved us some fearful stormy days. God=s way has been in the sweet calm of peace for a long time, in the sweet sunshine of His mercies. But Nahum 1:3,
The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind
And in the storm
Yea, even that God that is slow to anger, yet hath His way in the storm, and in that way God is seeming now to come.
Elijah could foresee a great rain by a cloud no bigger than a man=s hand. We may foresee not only rain, but the great storm and tempest of God=s displeasure gathering, nearby clouds that arise which are bigger than a man=s hand, for behold the heavens are black: We have feared the gathering of them often, but because they have been dispelled we have promised peace to ourselves. God has His times too, so to gather them, that they shall not be scatted until they fulfilled His Word:
The prudent man foreseeth the evil
And hideth himself
Evil men understand not judgment:
but they that seek the LORD understand all things.
What are the thoughts, the fears of those who do most seek the Lord? Observe what they do if they understand anything of God=s mind B then a storm is coming. It observed of bees, that before a storm you may see them come apace [return quickly] to their hives. What are the hives of the saints but the public temples of God. These have the promise of God to be a place of refuge a covert from storm (Is. 4:6). These are the chambers God calls His saints into:
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers,
and shut thy doors about thee:
hide thyself as it were for a little moment,
until the indignation be overpast.
For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity:
the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
These are the palaces to which God call you. If you think yourselves so settled in your places as that you cannot stir, take heed lest the storm be to you as it is threatened in Job 27:21:
The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth:
and as a storm hurleth him out of his place.
You know the speech of Elijah to Ahab, when he sees the clouds arise, make haste, lest the rain prevent you, 1 Kings 18:44.
So I to you, make haste lest the storm prevent you. When an enemy takes in a town by storm, it is very terrible. Oh how dreadful then will it be to that people whom the Lord shall come against as an enemy, and after many offers of conditions of peace rejected from Him, He shall take them in by storm. It is the pride of men=s hearts that is the cause they fear not this. Wherefore, my prayer shall be according to that of the Psalmist in 83:15:
Lord, make them afraid of thy storm
I do not, I will not pray as in the former part of the verse,
Lord persecute them with thy tempest.
Oh no, if it may be the Lord keep it from them. Neither do I pray, Lord make them afraid with your storm, but Lord make them afraid of your storm.
For the second, how terrible are storms raised and raging in men=s consciences?
When the wrath of God in a man=s soul shall persecute him as the wind, as Job complains in 30:15
Terrors are turned upon me
They pursue my soul as the wind
And in Job 9:17:
He breaketh me with a tempest.
When God shall say to conscience, go persecute them with your tempest, and make them afraid with your storm; after great calms there arise grievous storms: many of you have had a long calm of peace and prosperity, you may expect a storm coming.
God who is aid in Psalm 107:29 to make the storm a calm, can as soon make your calm a storm. The vapors that cause the tempest arise insensibly, but when they grow to a tempest, they have mighty power. So sins are committed and multiplied insensibly. They lie by heaps in the conscience. You feel nothing of them now, but at last if you look not to it, they will cause a dreadful tempest and especially when the hearts of men are most swelling with pride.
Mariners observe that usually before great tempests there are great swellings of the sea. It is so usually before great conscience tempests: the more swelling any wicked man=s hear is, the nearer, the more dreadful is the tempest like to be. Many of you have in your time been in most fearful tempests, that have made your hearts to ache within you. But you must look to another manner, a mor dreadful tempest when not vapors in the air but the wrath of an infinite God in the conscience shall shake and rend your hearts, the terrors of the Lord following you will cause another manner of rage in the heart than ever stormy wind caused in the mighty waters.
Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest:
this shall be the portion of their cup.
It is called the portion of their cup, says Saint Augustine upon the place, because of the just measure and proportion God=s justice observes in dealing out punishment to sinners. As we heard before, God is said to have a weight for the winds. So for this storm and tempest that comes upon the wicked, the Lord weighs it; it comes upon them proportionable to their sin. Were you ever struck with fear when you have seen the huge floods of water rolling and raging in the seas, being driven by mighty winds? What fear then will possess your hearts, when you shall see the floods of ungodness come upon you, you will the terrors of even Hell then compass about?
It is an expression of David in Psalm 18:4-5:
The sorrows of death compassed me,
The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
So Arias Montanus turns it, howsoever he may mean of ungodly men, yet the word bearing the other reading, we also apply to the ungodliness of men, then the sorrows of Hell compassed me. The Lord give you a heart to foresee this storm and to prevent [go before] it.
We read in Exodus 9:20, when God threatened to send upon Egypt a fearful storm of hail, those who feared the Word of the Lord made their servants and cattle to flee into their houses. So this day you hear from the Lord a storm threatened, let every soul that fears the Word of the Lord seek to flee into a shelter. There is no other shelter that can keep it off, but only the Lord Jesus Christ. That which is said in Isaiah 32:2 is true of him, a man shall be a hiding place from the wind and covert from the tempest.
Let us yet rise higher in praising God in the stormy wind by considering in our heart, if God be so dreadful now in this one creature, how dreadful then will He be when He shall appear in all his power in all his wrath, his justice and holiness, what shall the glory of the great God be hereafter B of which [glory] the Scripture speaks so much? WhenHe shall cloth himself in glory and majesty, in the full brightness of them; when the heavens shall depart like a scroll; and the elements melt with fervent heat; when all the wold shall be on fire about him, the voice of the Lord has shaken the earth. But, says He, yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also Heaven. That will be a dreadful day indeed, when the stars so Heaven shall fall unto the earth as a fig-tree casts her untimely [unripe] figs when she is shaken by a mighty wind; when every mountain and island will be moved out of their place; when the kings of the Earth and the great and mighty men shall hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks and mountains (Rev. 6:13-15).
A stormy win that shakes off the fruit of trees here, we account great. But such as shall shake the heavens and cause the stars to fall as the fruit, the untimely fruit of a fig-tree, how dreadful must that needs be B beyond all comprehension. And yet, such a stormy win will God one day appear in his glory, when not only children and women, and a few fearful shall be afraid B but the kings and the captains and the great ones of the earth shall tremble and hide themselves, and with the mountains to fall upon them, and the hills to cover them from the wrath of the Lord.
Thus, I have endeavored to show you how you should glorify god in his work: to be moved with in a sensitive way [pertaining only to the senses], that is no more than the brute beasts are: the swine will run up and down and cry in a stormy wind B yes, even when it is [only] coming, being sensible of it before you are. But Job 35:11, God teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, and makes us wiser than the fowls of the heaven.
Therefore, God looks for another manner of glory from us men, than from them [the beasts]; and more from Christians than from men. God has given to the reasonable creature to search out the cause of things. We must take heed we do not stay [remain in one place] until we arise to the supreme, the highest cause.
Philosophers dispute the inferior causes. It is devilish knowledge that in the contemplation of nature holds in nature, and keeps us from God, as Calvin says [when commenting] upon Psalm 29. And further he has this expression, If one desires to know a man, [and] he neglects the looking upon his face and fastens his eyes upon his nails, his folly is to be derided. So, he says, while men wholly mind the inferior causes of things as works of nature only, neglecting God as the highest cause of all.
And in this our giving glory to God, we must labor to be as spiritual as we can, then the work will abide upon our hearts. But if we be only moved in a sensitive way, the impressions will soon vanish and come to nothing.
Here Aprevent@ means come prior to you.
A philosopher would here include what is now known as a Ascientists@. Ed.
Here is an important point in understanding Burroughs= thought: Burroughs wholly supports scientific investigation into the nature. Yet, the purpose of such investigation B just as it is in the whole of life B is to better understand God. To understand the physical universal and to explain nature is describe things which glorify God. It would be as if a man were to give a present to a friend. The present is not an end in itself, but it is a means to an end to engender joy in the beloved. But if the friend were to receive the gift and to reject the friend, the purpose of the gift is lost. Ed.