It is not enough for us to begin every day with God, but on him we must wait every day, and all the day long.
For the opening of this I must shew, (I.) What it is to wait upon God; And, (II.) That we must do this every day, and all the day long.
I. For the first, Let us inquire, what it is to wait on God. You have heard how much it is our duty in the morning to speak to him, in solemn prayer. But have we then done with him for all day? No, we must still be waiting on him; as one to whom we stand very nearly related, and very strongly obliged. To wait on God is to live a life of desire towards him, delight in him, dependence on him, and devotedness to him.
A. It is to live a life of desire towards God; to wait on him, as the beggar waits on his benefactor, with earnest desire to receive supplies from him; as the sick and sore in Bethesda’s pool, waited for the stirring of the water, and attended in the porches with desire to be helped in and healed. When the prophet had said, Lord, in the way of thy judgments we have waited for thee, he explained himself thus in the next words, the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee; and with my soul have I desired thee, ISA 26:8, 9. Isaiah 26:8-9(KJV) Our desire must be not only towards the good things that God gives, but towards God himself, his favour and love, the manifestation of his name to us, and the influences of his grace upon us. Then we wait on God, when our souls pant after him, and his favour, when we thirst for God, for the living God: O that I may behold the beauty of the Lord! O that I may taste his goodness! O that I may bear his image, and be entirely conformed to his will! For there is none in heaven or earth, that I can desire in comparison of him. O that I may know him more, and love him better, and be brought nearer to him, and made fitter for him. Thus upon the wings of holy desire should our souls be still soaring upwards towards God, still pressing forwards, forwards towards heaven.
We must not only pray solemnly in the morning, but that desire which is the life and soul of prayer, like the fire upon the altar, must be kept continually burning, ready for the sacrifices that are to be offered upon it. The bent and bias of the soul in all its motions must be towards God, the serving of him in all we do, and the enjoying of him in all we have. And this is principally intended in the commands given to us to pray always, to pray without ceasing, to continue in prayer. Even when we are not making actual addresses to God, yet we must have habitual inclinations towards him; as a man in health, though he is not always eating, yet has always a disposition in him towards the nourishments and delights of the body. Thus must we be always waiting on God, as our chief good, and moving towards him.
B. It is to live a life of delight in God, as the lover waits on his beloved. Desire is love in motion, as a bird upon the wing; delight is love at rest, as a bird upon the nest; now though our desire must still be so towards God, as that we must be wishing for more of God, yet our delight must be so in God, as that we must never wish for more than God. Believing him to be a God all-sufficient, in him we must be entirely satisfied; let him be mine, and I have enough. Do we love to love God? It is a pleasure to us to think that there is a God, that he is such a one as he has revealed himself to be, that he is our God by creation to dispose of us as he pleaseth, our God in covenant to dispose of all for the best to us; this is waiting on our God, always looking up to him with pleasure.
Something or other the soul has that it values itself by, something or other that it reposes itself in, and what is it? God or the world? What is it that we pride ourselves in? Which we make the matter of our boasting? It is the character of worldly people, that they boast themselves in the multitude of their riches, PS 49:6, Psalm 49:6(KJV) and of their own might, and the power of their own hands, which they think has gotten them this wealth; it is the character of godly people, that in God they boast all the day long, PS 44:8. Psalm 44:8(KJV) That is waiting on God; having our eye always upon him with a secret complacency, as men have upon that which is their glory, and which they glory in.
What is it that we please ourselves with, which we embrace with the greatest satisfaction, in the bosom of which we lay our heads, and in having which we hug ourselves, as having all we would have: the worldly man when his barns are full of corn, saith, soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry; the godly man can never say so till he finds his heart full of God, and Christ, and grace; and then, return unto thy rest, O my soul, here repose thyself; the gracious soul dwells in God, is at home in him, and there dwells at ease, is in him perpetually pleased; and whatever he meets with in the world to make him uneasy, he finds enough in God to balance it.
C. It is to live a life of dependence on God, as the child waits on his father, whom he has a confidence in, and on whom he casts all his care. To wait on God is to expect all good to come to us from him, as the worker of all good for us, and in us, the giver of all good to us, and the protector of us from all evil. Thus David explains himself, PS 62:5. Psalm 62:5(KJV) My soul wait thou only upon God, and continue still to do so, for my expectation is from him, I look not to any other for the good I need; for I know that every creature is that to me, and no more than he makes it to be, and from him every man’s judgment proceeds. Shall we lift up our eyes to the hills? Doth our help come from thence? Doth the dew that waters the valleys come no further, than from the tops of the hills? Shall we go higher, and lift up our eyes to the heavens, to the clouds? Can they of themselves give rain? No, if God hear not the heavens, they hear not the earth; we must therefore look above the hills, above the heavens, for all our help cometh from the Lord; it was the acknowledgment of a king, and no good one neither, if the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee out of the barn-floor, or out of the wine-press?
And our expectations from God as far as they are guided by, and grounded upon the word which he hath spoken, ought to be humbly confident and with a full assurance of faith. We must know and be sure, that no word of God shall fall to the ground, that the expectation of the poor shall not perish. Worldly people say to their gold, thou art my hope; and to the fine gold, thou art my confidence, and the rich man’s wealth is his strong city; but God is the only refuge and portion of the godly man here in the land of the living; it is to him only that he saith, and he saith it with a holy boldness, thou art my hope, and my confidence. The eyes of all things wait on him, for he is good to all; but the eyes of his saints especially, for he is in a peculiar manner good to Israel, good to them. They know his name and therefore will trust, and triumph in him, as those that know they shall not be made ashamed of their hope.
D. It is to live a life of devotedness to God, as the servant waits on his master, ready to observe his will, and to do his work, and in every thing to consult his honour and interest. To wait on God, is entirely and unreservedly to refer ourselves to his wise and holy directions, and disposals, and cheerfully to acquiesce in them, and comply with them. The servant that waits on his master, chooseth not his own way, but follows his master step by step: thus must we wait on God, as those that have no will of our own, but what is wholly reserved into his; and must therefore study to accommodate ourselves to his. It is the character of the redeemed of the Lord, that they follow the Lamb wheresoever he goes, with an implicit faith and obedience. As the eyes of a servant are to the hand of his master, and the eyes of a maiden to the hand of her mistress, so must our eyes wait on the Lord, to do what he appoints us, to take what he allots us; Father, thy will be done; Master, thy will be done.
The servant waits on his master, not only to do him service, but to do him honour; and thus must we wait on God that we may be to him for a name, and for a praise. His glory must be our ultimate end, to which we, and all we are, have, and can do, must be dedicated; we must wear his livery, attend in his courts, and follow his motions as his servant, for this end, that he may in all things be glorified
To wait on God, is to make his will our rule.
1. To make the will of his precept, the rule of our practice, and to do every duty with an eye to that. We must wait on him to receive his commands, with a resolution to comply with them, how much soever they may contradict our corrupt inclinations, or secular interests. We must wait on him, as the holy angels do, that always behold the face of their Father, as those that are at his beck, and are ready to go upon the least intimation of his will, though but by a wink of his eye, wherever he sends them. Thus must we do the will of God, as the angels do it that are in heaven, those ministers of his that do his pleasure, and are always about his throne in order to it; never out of the way.
David here prays, that God would shew him his way, and lead him, and teach him, and keep him, and forward him in the way of his duty; and so the text comes in as a plea to enforce that petition, for on thee do I wait all the day; ready to receive the law from thy mouth, and in every thing to observe thine orders. And then it intimates this, that those and those only can expect to be taught of God, who are ready and willing to do as they are taught. If any man will do his will, be stedfastly resolved in the strength of his grace to comply with it, he shall know what his will is. David prays, Lord, give me understanding, and then promiseth himself, I shall keep thy law, yea I shall observe it; as the servant that waits on his master. They that go up to the house of the Lord, with an expectation that he will teach them his ways, it must be with a humble resolution, that they will walk in his paths, ISA 2:3. Isaiah 2:3(KJV) Lord, let the pillar of cloud and fire go before me, for I am determined with full purpose of heart to follow it, and thus to wait on my God all the day.
2. To make the will of his providence, the rule of our patience, and to bear every affliction with an eye to that. We are sure, it is God that performeth all things for us, and he performeth the thing that is appointed for us; we are sure, that all is well that God doth, and shall be made to work for good to all that love him: and in order to that, we ought to acquiesce in, and accommodate ourselves, to the whole will of God. To wait on the Lord, is to say, it is the Lord, let him do with me as seemeth good to him, because nothing seemeth good to him, but what is really good; and so we shall see, when God’s work appears in a full light; it is to say, Not as I will, but as thou wilt, for should it be according to my mind? It is to bring our mind to our condition in every thing, so as to keep that calm and easy, whatever happens to make us uneasy.
And we must therefore bear the affliction, whatever it is, because it is the will of God; it is what he has allotted us, who doth all according to the counsel of his own will. This is Christian patience; I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, not because it was to no purpose to complain, but because thou didst it, and therefore I had no reason to complain. And this will reconcile us to every affliction, one as well as another, because whatever it is, it is the will of God; and in compliance with that we must not only be silent, because of the sovereignty of his will, Woe unto him that strives with his Maker; but we must be satisfied, because of the wisdom and goodness of it. Whatever the disposals of God’s providence may be concerning those that wait on him, we may be sure that as he doth them no wrong, so he means them no hurt: Nay, they may say as the Psalmist did, even then when he was plagued all the day long, and chastened every morning, however it be, yet God is good; and therefore, Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him, yet will I wait on him.
I might open this duty of waiting on God by other scripture expressions which speak the same thing, and are, as this, comprehensive of a great part of that homage, which we are bound to pay to him, and that communion which it is our interest to keep up with him. Truly thus our fellowship is with the Father, and with the Son Jesus Christ.
It is to set God always before us, PS 16:8. Psalm 16:8(KJV) To look upon him as one always near us, always at our right hand, and that has his eye upon us, wherever we are and whatever we are doing; nay, as one in whom we live, and move, and have our being, with whom we have to do, and to whom we are accountable. This is pressed upon us, as the great principle of gospel obedience; walk before me, and be thou upright; herein consists that uprightness which is our evangelical perfection, in walking at all time as before God, and studying to approve ourselves to him.
It is to have our eyes ever towards the Lord, as it follows here, PS 25:15. Psalm 25:15(KJV) Though we cannot see him by reason of our present distance and darkness, yet we must look towards him, towards the place where his honour dwells; as those that desire the knowledge of him and his will, and direct all to his honour as the mark we aim at, labouring in this, that whether present or absent we may be accepted of him. To wait on him, is to follow him with our eye in all those things wherein he is pleased to manifest himself, and to admit the discoveries of his being and perfections.
It is to acknowledge God in all our ways, PROV 3:6, Proverbs 3:6(KJV) in all the actions of life, and in all the affairs of life, we must walk in his hand, and set ourselves in the way of his steps. In all our undertakings, we must wait upon him for direction and success, and by faith and prayer commit our way to him to undertake for us; and him we must take with us wherever we go; If thy presence go not up with us, carry us not up hence. In all our comforts we must see his hand giving them out to us, and in all our crosses we must see the same hand laying them upon us, that we may learn to receive both good and evil, and to bless the name of the Lord both when he gives and when he takes.
It is to follow the Lord fully, as Caleb did, NUMB 14:24. Numbers 14:24(KJV) It is to fulfil after the Lord, so the word is; to have respect to all his commandments, and to study to stand complete in his whole will. Wherever God leads us and goes before us, we must be followers of him as dear children, must follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes, and take him for our guide whithersoever we go.
This is to wait on God, and those that do so may cheerfully wait for him, for he will without fail appear in due time to their joy, and that word of Solomon shall be made good to them; he that waits on his master shall be honoured, for Christ has said where I am, there shall also my servant be, JOHN 12:26. John 12:26(KJV)
II. For the second thing. Having shewed you what it is to wait on God, I come next to shew, that this we must do every day; and all the day long.
A. We must wait on our God every day. Omni die (Every day), so some. This is the work of every day, which is to be done in its day, for the duty of every day requires it. Servants in the courts of princes have their weeks, or months of waiting appointed them, and are tied to attend only at certain times. But God’s servants must never be out of waiting: all the days of our appointed time, the time of our work and warfare here on earth we must be waiting, JOB 14:14, Job 14:14(KJV) and not desire or expect to be discharged from this attendance, till we come to heaven, where we shall wait on God, as angels do, more nearly and constantly.
We must wait on God every day. 1. Both on sabbath days, and on week days. The Lord’s day is instituted and appointed on purpose for our attendance on God in the courts of his house, there we must wait on him, to give glory to him, and to receive both commands, and favours from him, ministers must then wait on their ministry, ROM 12:7, Romans 12:7(KJV) and people must wait on it too, saying as Cornelius for himself and his friends, now we are all here ready before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God, ACTS 10:33. Acts 10:33(KJV) It is for the honour of God to help to fill up the assemblies of those that attend at the footstool of his throne, and to add to their number. The whole sabbath time except what is taken up in works of necessity and mercy, must be employed in waiting on our God. Christians are spiritual priests, and as such it is their business to wait in God’s house at the time appointed.
But that is not enough; we must wait upon our God on week days, too, for every day of the week we want mercy from him, and have work to do for him. Our waiting upon him in public ordinances on the first day of the week, is designed to fix us to, and fit us for communion with him all the week after; so that we answer not the intentions of the sabbath, unless the impressions of it abide upon us, and go with us into the business of the week, and be kept always in the imagination of the thoughts of our heart. Thus from one sabbath to another, and from one new moon to another, we must keep in a holy gracious frame; must be so in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, as to walk in the Spirit all the week.
2. Both on idle days, and busy days, we must be found waiting on God. Some days of our lives are days of labour and hurry, when our particular calling calls for our close and diligent application; but we must not think that will excuse us from our constant attendance on God. Even then when our hands are working about the world, our hearts may be waiting on our God, by an habitual regard to him, to his providence as our guide, and his glory as our end, in our worldly business; and thus we must abide with him in them. Those that rise up early, and sit up late, and eat the bread of carefulness in pursuit of the world, yet are concerned to wait on God, because otherwise all their care and pains will signify nothing; it is labour in vain, PS 127:1, 2, Psalm 127:1-2(KJV) nay, it is labour in the fire.
Some days of our lives we relax from business, and take our ease. Many of you have your time for diversion, but then when you lay aside other business, this of waiting upon God must not be laid aside. When you prove yourselves with mirth, as Solomon did, and say, you will enjoy pleasure a little, yet let this wisdom remain with you, ECCL 2:1, 3, Ecclesiastes 2:1-3(KJV) let your eye be then up to God, and take heed of dropping your communion with him, in that which you call an agreeable conversation with your friends. Whether it be a day of work, or a day of rest, we shall find nothing like waiting upon God both to enlighten the toil of our work, and to sweeten the comfort of our repose. So that whether we have much to do, or little to do in the world, still we must wait upon God, that we may be kept from the temptation that attends both the one and the other.
3. Both in days of prosperity, and in days of adversity, we must be found waiting upon God. Doth the world smile upon us, and court us? Yet let us not turn from attending on God, to make our court to it: If we have never so much of the wealth of the world, yet we cannot say we have no need of God, no further occasion to make use of him, as David was ready to say, when in his prosperity he said he should never be moved; but soon saw his error, when God hid his face, and he was troubled, PS 30:6. Psalm 30:6(KJV) When our affairs prosper, and into our hands God bringeth plentifully, we must wait upon God as our great landlord, and own our obligations to him; must beg his blessing on what we have, and his favour with it, and depend upon him both for the continuance, and for the comfort of it. We must wait upon God for wisdom and grace, to use what we have in the world for the ends for which we are intrusted with it, as those that must give account, and know not how soon. And how much soever we have of this world, and how richly soever it is given us to enjoy it, still we must wait upon God for better things, not only than the world gives, but than he himself gives in this world. Lord put me not off with this for a portion.
And when the world frowns upon us, and things go very cross, we must not so fret ourselves at its frowns, or so frighten ourselves with them, as thereby to be driven off from waiting on God, but rather let us thereby be driven to it. Afflictions are sent for this end, to bring us to the throne of grace, to teach us to pray, and to make the word of God’s grace precious to us. In the days of our sorrow, we must wait upon God for those comforts which are sufficient to balance our grief; Job, when in tears, fell down and worshipped God, taking away, as well as giving. In the day of our fear we must wait upon God for those encouragements that are sufficient to silence our fears; Jehoshaphat, in his distress waited on God, and was not in vain, his heart was established by it; and so was David’s often, which brought him to this resolution, which was an anchor to his soul, what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
4. Both in the days of youth, and in the days of old age, we must be found waiting on God. Those that are young cannot begin their attendance on God too soon: The child Samuel ministered to the Lord, and the scripture story puts a particular mark of honour upon it; and Christ was wonderfully pleased with the hosannas of the children that waited on him, when he rode in triumph into Jerusalem: when Solomon in his youth, upon his accession to the throne, waited upon God for wisdom, it is said, the saying pleased the Lord. I remember thee (saith God to Israel) even the kindness of thy youth, when thou wentest after me, and didst wait upon me in a wilderness, JER 2:2. Jeremiah 2:2(KJV) To wait upon God, is to be mindful of our Creator, and the proper time for that is in the days of our youth, ECCL 12:1. Ecclesiastes 12:1(KJV) Those that would wait upon God aright, must learn betimes to do it; the most accomplished courtiers are those that are bred at court.
And may the old servants of Jesus be dismissed from waiting on him? No, their attendance is still required, and shall be still accepted: they shall not be cast off by their Master in the time of old age, and therefore let not them then desert his service. When through the infirmities of age they can no longer be working servants in God’s family, yet they may be waiting servants. Those that like Barzillai are unfit for the entertainments of the courts of earthly princes, yet may relish the pleasures of God’s courts as well as ever. The Levites when they were past the age of fifty, and were discharged from the toilsome part of their ministration, yet still must wait on God, must be quietly waiting, to give honour to him, and to receive comfort from him. Those that have done the will of God, and their doing work is at an end, have need of patience to enable them to wait till they inherit the promise: and the nearer the happiness is which they are waiting for, the dearer should the God be they are waiting on, and hope shortly to be with, to be with eternally.
B. We must wait on our God all the day. Toto die (All the day), so we read it. Every day from morning to night we must continue waiting on God; whatever change there may be of our employment, this must be the constant disposition of our souls, we must attend upon God, and have our eyes ever towards him; we must not at any time allow ourselves to wander from God or to attend on any thing beside him, but what we attend on for him; in subordination to his will, and in subserviency to his glory.
1. We must cast our daily cares upon him. Every day brings with it its fresh cares, more or less, these wake with us every morning, and we need not go so far forward as tomorrow to fetch care, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof: you that are great dealers in the world, have your cares attending you all the day; though you keep them to yourselves, yet they sit down with you, and rise up with you; they go out and come in with you, and are more a load upon you than those you converse with are aware of. Some, through the weakness of their spirits, can scarce determine any thing but with fear and trembling.
Let this burden be cast upon the Lord, believing that his providence extends itself to all your affairs, to all events concerning you, and to all the circumstances of them, even the most minute, and seemingly accidental; that your times are in his hand; and all your ways at his disposal; believe his promise that all things shall be made to work for good to those that love him, and then refer it to him in every thing, to do with you and yours as seemeth good in his eyes, and rest satisfied in having done so, and resolve to be easy. Bring your cares to God by prayer in the morning, spread them before him, and then make it to appear all the day, by the composedness and cheerfulness of your spirits, that you left them with him as Hannah did, who, when she had prayed, went her way and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad, I SAM 1:18. 1 Samuel 1:18(KJV) Commit your way to the Lord, and then submit to his disposal of it, though it may cross your expectations; and bear up yourselves upon the assurance God has given you, that he will care for you as the tender father for the child.
2. We must manage our daily business for him, with an eye to his providence, putting us into the calling and employment wherein we are; and to his precept, making diligence in it our duty; with an eye to his blessing, as that which is necessary to make it comfortable and successful; and to his glory, as our highest end in all. This sanctifies our common actions to God, and sweetens them, and makes them pleasant to ourselves. If Gaius brings his friends that he is parting with, a little way on their journey, it is but a piece of common civility, but let him do it after a godly sort; let him in it pay respect to them, because they belong to Christ, and for his sake; let him do it that he may have an opportunity of do much more profitable communication with them, and then it becomes an act of Christian piety, THIRD JOHN 6. 3 John 1:6(KJV) It is a general rule by which we must govern ourselves in the business of every day, Whatever we do in word or deed, to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, COL 3:17, Colossians 3:17(KJV) and thus in and by the Mediator we wait on our God.
This is particularly recommended to servants, though their employments are but mean, and they are under the command of their masters according to the flesh, yet let them do their servile works as the servants of Christ, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; let them do it with singleness of heart as unto Christ, and they shall be accepted of him, and from him shall receive the reward of the inheritance, EPH 6:5, 6, 7, 8, Ephesians 6:5-8(KJV) COL 3:22, 24. Colossians 3:22-24(KJV) Let them wait on God all the day, when they are doing their day’s work, by doing it faithfully and conscientiously, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, by aiming at his glory even in common business: they work that they may get bread, they would get bread that they may live, they would live not that they may live to themselves, and please themselves, but that they may live to God, and please him. They work that they may fill up time, and fill up a place in the world, and because that God who made and maintains us, has appointed us with quietness to work and mind our own business.
3. We must receive our daily comforts from him; we must wait on him as our benefactor, as the eyes of all things wait upon him, to give them their food in due season, and what he giveth them, that they gather. To him we must look as to our Father for our daily bread, and from him we are appointed to ask it, yea though we have it in the house, though we have it upon the table. We must wait upon him for a covenant right to it, for leave to make use of it, for a blessing upon it, for nourishment by it, and for comfort in it. It is in the word and prayer that we wait on God, and keep up communion with him, and by these every creature of God is sanctified to us, FIRST TIMOTHY 4:4, 5. 1 Tim 4:4-5(KJV) and the property of it is altered; to the pure all things are pure; they have them from the covenant, and not from common providence, which makes a little that the righteous man has, better than the riches of many wicked, and much more valuable and comfortable.
No inducement can be more powerful to make us see to it, that what we have we get it honestly, and use it soberly, and give God his due out of it, than this consideration, that we have our all from the hand of God, and are intrusted with it as stewards, and consequently are accountable. If we have this thought as a golden thread running through all the comforts of every day, these are God’s gifts, every bite we eat, and every drop we drink is his mercy, every breath we draw, and every step we take, is his mercy, this will keep us continually waiting upon him, as the ass on his master’s crib, and will put a double sweetness into all our enjoyments. God will have his mercies taken fresh from his compassions, which for this reason are said to be new every morning; and therefore it is not once a week that we are to wait upon him, as people go to market to buy provisions for the whole week, but we must wait on him every day, and all the day, as those that live from hand to mouth, and yet live very easy.
4. We must resist our daily temptations, and do our daily duties in the strength of his grace. Every day brings its temptations with it; our Master knew that when he taught us, as duly as we pray for our daily bread, to pray that we might not be led into temptation. There is no business we engage in, no enjoyment we partake of, but it has its snares attending it; Satan by it assaults us, and endeavors to draw us into sin: Now sin is the great evil we should be continually upon our guard against, as Nehemiah was, ch. 6:13. Nehemiah 6:13(KJV) That I should be afraid, and do so, and sin. And we have no way to secure ourselves but by the waiting on God all the day, we must not only in the morning put ourselves under the protection of his grace, but we must all day keep ourselves under the shelter of it; must not only go forth, but go on in dependence upon that grace which he hath said shall be sufficient for us, that care which will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able. Our waiting upon God will furnish us with the best arguments to make use of in resisting temptations, and with strength according to the day; be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and then we wait on the Lord all the day.
We have duty to do, many an opportunity of speaking good words, and doing good works, and we must see and own that we are not sufficient of ourselves for any thing that is food, not so much as to think a good thought: we must therefore wait upon God, must seek to him, and depend on him, for that light and fire, that wisdom and zeal, which is necessary to the due discharge of our duty; that by his grace we may not only be fortified against every evil word and work, but furnished for every good word and work. From the fullness that is in Jesus Christ, we must by faith be continually drawing grace for grace, grace for all gracious exercises; grace to help in every time of need: We must wait on this grace, must follow the conduct of it, comply with the operations of it, and must be turned to it as wax to the seal.
5. We must bear our daily afflictions with submission to his will; We are bid to expect trouble in the flesh, something or other happens every day that grieves us, something in our relations, something in our callings, events concerning ourselves, our families, or friends, that are matter of sorrow: perhaps we have every day some bodily pain or sickness: or, some cross and disappointment in our affairs; now in these we must wait upon God. Christ requires it of all his disciples, that they take up their cross daily, MATT 16:24. Matthew 16:24(KJV) We must not willfully pluck the cross down upon us, but must take it up when God lays it in our way, and not go a step out of the way of duty either to it, or to miss it. It is not enough to bear the cross, but we must take it up, we must accommodate ourselves to it, and acquiesce in the will of God in it. Not, this is an evil, and I must bear it, because I cannot help it; but this is an evil, and I will bear it, because it is the will of God.
We must see every affliction allotted us by our heavenly Father, and in it must eye his correcting hand, and therefore must wait on him to know the cause wherefore he contends with us, what the fault is for which we are in this affliction chastened: what the distemper is which is to be by this affliction cured, that we may answer God’s end in afflicting us, and so may be made partakers of his holiness. We must attend the motions of providence, keep our eye upon our Father when he frowns, that we may discover what his mind is, and what the obedience is we are to learn, by the things that we suffer. We must wait on God for support under our burthens; must put ourselves into, and stay ourselves upon the everlasting arms, which are laid under the children of God to sustain them, when the rod of God is upon them. And him we must attend for deliverance; must not seek to extricate ourselves by any sinful indirect methods, nor look to creatures for relief, but still wait on the Lord, until that he have mercy on us; well content to bear the burden until God ease us of it, and ease us in mercy, PS 123:2. Psalm 123:2(KJV) If the affliction be lengthened out, yet we must wait upon the Lord, even when he hides his face, ISA 8:17, Isaiah 8:17(KJV) hoping it is but in a little wrath, and for a small moment, ISA 54: 7, 8. Isaiah 54:7-8(KJV)
6. We must expect the tidings and events of every day, with a cheerful and entire resignation to the divine providence. While we are in this world, we are still expecting, hoping well, fearing ill: we know not what a day or a night, or an hour will bring forth, PROV 27:1, Proverbs 27:1(KJV) but it is big with something, and we are too apt to spend our thoughts in vain about things future, which happen quite differently from what we imagined. Now in all our prospects we must wait upon God.
Are we in hopes of good tidings, a good issue? Let us wait on God as the giver of the good we hope for, and be ready to take it from his hand; and to meet him with suitable affections then when he is coming towards us in a way of mercy. Whatever good we hope for, it is God alone, and his wisdom, power, and goodness that we must hope in. And therefore our hopes must be humble and modest, and regulated by his will; what God has promised us, we may with assurance promise ourselves, and no more. If thus we wait on God in our hopes, should the hope be deferred, it would not make the heart sick, no not if it should be disappointed, for the God we wait on, will over-rule all for the best; but when the desire comes, in prosecution of which we have thus waited on God, we may see it coming from his love, and it will be a tree of life, PROV 13:12. Proverbs 13:12(KJV)
Are we in fear of evil tidings, of melancholy events, and a sad issue of the depending affair! Let us wait on God to be delivered from all our fears, from the things themselves we are afraid of, and from the amazing tormenting fears of them, PS 34:4. Psalm 34:4(KJV)
When Jacob was with good reason afraid of his brother Esau, he waited on God, brought his fears to him, wrestled with him, and prevailed for deliverance! What time I am afraid, said David, I will trust in thee, and wait on thee; and that shall establish the heart, shall fix it, so as to set it above the fear of evil tidings.
Are we in suspense between hope and fear, sometimes one prevails, and sometimes the other? Let us wait on God, as the God to whom belong the issues of life and death, good and evil, from whom our judgment, and every man’s doth proceed, and compose ourselves into a quiet expectation of the event, whatever it may be, with a resolution to accommodate ourselves to it: Hope the best, and get ready for the worst, and then take what God sends.
First, Let me further urge upon you this duty of waiting upon God all the day, in some more particular instances, according to what you have to do all the day, in the ordinary business of it. We are weak and forgetful, and need to be put in mind of our duty in general, upon every occasion for the doing of it; and therefore I choose to be thus particular, that I may be your remembrancer.
1. When you meet with your families in the morning, wait upon God for a blessing upon them, and attend him with your thanksgivings for the mercies you and yours have jointly received from God the night past; you and your houses must serve the Lord, must wait on him. See it owing to his goodness who is the founder and father of the families of the righteous, that you are together, that the voice of rejoicing and salvation is in your tabernacles, and therefore wait upon him to continue you together, to make you comforts to one another, to enable you to do the duty of every relation, and to lengthen out the days of your tranquility. In all the conversation we have with our families, the provision we make for them, and the orders we give concerning them, we must wait upon God, as the God of all the families of Israel, JER 31:1. Jeremiah 31:1(KJV) And have an eye to Christ, as he in whom all the families of the earth are blessed.
Every member of the family sharing in family mercies, must wait on God for grace to contribute to family duties, whatever disagreeableness there may be in any family relation, instead of having the spirit either burdened with it, or provoked by it, let it be an inducement to wait on God, who is able either to redress the grievance, or to balance it, and give grace to bear it.
2. When you are pursuing the education of your children or the young ones under your charge, wait upon God for his grace to make the means of their education successful. When you are yourselves giving them instruction in things pertaining either to life or godliness, their general or particular calling, when you are sending them to school in a morning, or ordering them the business of the day, wait upon God to give them an understanding, and a good capacity for their business. Especially their main business, for it is God that giveth wisdom. If they are but slow, and do not come on as you could wish, yet wait on God to bring them forward, and to give them his grace in his own time, and while you are patiently waiting on him, that will encourage you to take pains with them, and will likewise make you patient and gentle towards them.
And let children and young people wait on God in all their daily endeavors, to fit themselves for the service of God in their generation, you desire to be comforts to your relations, to be good for something in this world, do you not beg of God then a wise and an understanding heart, as Solomon did, and wait upon him all the day for it, that you may be still increasing in wisdom, as you do in stature, and in favour with God and man.
3. When you go to your shops, or apply yourselves to the business of your particular calling, wait upon God for his presence with you. Your business calls for your constant attendance, every day, and all the day, keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee; but let your attendance on God in your callings, be as constant as your attendance on your callings. Eye God’s providence in all the occurrences of them. Open shop with this thought, I am now in the way of my duty, and I depend upon God to bless me in it. When you are waiting for customers, wait on God to find you something to do in that calling to which he hath called you; those you call chance customers, you should rather call Providence customers, and should say of the advantage you make by them, the Lord my God brought it to me.
When you are buying and selling, see God’s eye upon you to observe, whether you are honest and just in your dealings, and do no wrong to those you deal with; and let your eye then be up to him, for that discretion to which God doth instruct not only the husbandman, but the tradesman, ISA 28:26, Isaiah 28:26(KJV) that prudence which directs the way, and with which it is promised, the good man shall order his affairs; for that blessing which makes rich, and adds no sorrow with it; for that honest profit which may be expected in the way of honest diligence.
Whatever your employments be, in country business, city-business, or sea-business, or only in the business of the house, go about them in the fear of God, depending upon him to make them comfortable, and successful, and to prosper the work of your hands unto you. And hereby you will arm yourselves against the many temptations you are compassed about with in your worldly business; by waiting on God, you will be freed from that care and cumber which attends much serving, will have your minds raised above the little things of sense and time, will be serving God, then when you are most busy about the world, and will have God in your hearts, when your hands are full of the world.
4. When you take a book in your hands, God’s book, or any other useful good book, wait upon God for his grace to enable you to make a good use of it. Some of you spend a deal of time every day in reading, and I hope none of you let a day pass without reading some portions of scripture, either alone or with your families; take heed that the time you spend in reading be not lost time; it is so, if you read that which is idle and vain, and unprofitable; it is so, if you read that which is good, even the word of God itself, and do not mind it, or observe it, or aim to make it of any advantage to you. Wait upon God, who gives you those helps for your souls, to make them helpful indeed to you. The Eunuch did so, when he was reading the book of the prophet Isaiah in his chariot, and God presently sent him one, who made him understand what he read.
You read perhaps now and then the Histories of former times; in acquainting yourselves with them, you must have an eye to God, and to that wise and gracious Providence which governed the world before we were born, and preserved the church in it, and therefore may be still depended upon to do all for the best, for he is Israel’s king of old.
5. When you sit down to your tables, wait on God, see his hand spreading and preparing a table before you in despite of your enemies, and in the society of your friends; often review the grant which God made to our first father Adam, and in him to us, of the products of the earth, GEN 1:29. Genesis 1:29(KJV) Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, bread corn especially, to you it shall be for meat. And the grant he afterwards made to Noah our second father, and in him to us, GEN 9:3. Genesis 9:3(KJV) Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you, even as the green herb; and see in those what a bountiful benefactor he is to mankind, and wait upon him accordingly.
We must eat and drink to the glory of God, and then we wait on him in eating and drinking. We must receive nourishment for our bodies, that we may be fitted to serve our souls in the service of God, to his honour in this world. We must taste covenant-love in common mercies, and enjoy the Creator while we are using the creature; we must depend upon the word of blessing from the mouth of God, to make our food nourishing to us; and if our provisions be mean and scanty, we must make up the want of them by faith in the promise of God, and rejoice in him, as the God of our salvation, though the fig-tree doth not blossom, and there is no fruit in the vine.
6. When you visit your friends, or receive their visits, wait upon God; let your eye be to him with thankfulness for your friends and acquaintances, that you have comfort in; that the wilderness is not made your habitation, and the solitary and desert land your dwelling; that you have comfort not only in your own houses, but in those of your neighbors, with whom you have freedom of converse; and that you are not driven out from among all men, and made a burden and terror to all about you. That you have clothing not only for necessity but for ornament, to go abroad in, is a mercy which, that we may not pride ourselves in, we must take notice of God in, I decked thee with ornaments, saith God, and put earrings in thine ears, EZEK 16:11, 12. Ezekiel 16:11-12(KJV) That you have houses, furniture, and entertainment, not only for yourselves, but for your friends, is a mercy in which God must be acknowledged.
And when we are in company, we must look up to God for wisdom to carry ourselves, so as that we may do much good to, and get no harm by those with whom we converse; wait on God for that grace with which our speech should be always seasoned, by which all corrupt communication may be prevented, and we may abound in all that which is good, and to the use of edifying, and which may minister grace to the hearers, that our lips may feed many.
7. When you give alms, or do any act of charity, wait on God, do it as unto him, give to a disciple in the name of a disciple, to the poor because they belong to Christ; do it not for the praise of men, but for the glory of God, with a single eye, and an upright heart, direct it to him, and then your alms as well as your prayers, like those of Cornelius, come up for a memorial before God, ACTS 10:4. Acts 10:4(KJV) Beg of God to accept what you do for the good of others, that your alms may indeed be offerings, ACTS 24:17, Acts 24:17(KJV) may be an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God, PHIL 4:18. Philippians 4:18(KJV)
Desire of God a blessing upon what we give in charity, that it may be comfortable those to whom it is given, and that though what you are able to give is but a little, like the widow’s two mites, yet that by God’s blessing it may be doubled, and made to go a great way, like the widow’s meal in the barrel, and oil in the cruse.
Depend upon God to make up to you what you lay out in good works, and to recompense it abundantly in the resurrection of the just; nay, and you are encouraged to wait upon him, for a return of it even in this life; it is bread cast upon the waters, which you shall find again after many days; and you shall carefully observe the providence of God whether it doth not make you rich amends for your good works, according to the promise, that you may understand the loving kindness of the Lord, and his faithfulness to the word which he hath spoken.
8. When you inquire after public news, in that wait upon God: do it with an eye to him; for this reason, because you are truly concerned for the interests of his kingdom in the world, and lay them near your hearts; because you have a compassion for mankind, for the lives and souls of men, and especially of God’s people; ask, what news? Not as the Athenians, only to satisfy a vain curiosity, and to pass away an idle hour or two, but that you may know how to direct your prayers and praises, and how to balance your hopes and fears, and may gain such an understanding of the times, as to learn what you and others ought to do.
If the face of public affairs be bright and pleasing, wait upon God to carry on and perfect his own work; and depend not upon the wisdom or strength of any instruments; if it be dark and discouraging, wait upon God to prevent the fears of his people, and to appear for them, when he sees that their strength is gone. In the midst of the greatest successes of the church, and the smiles of second causes, we must not think it needless to wait on God; and in the midst of its greatest discouragements, when its affairs are reduced to the last extremity, we must not think it fruitless to wait upon God; for creatures cannot help without him, but he can help without them.
9. When you are going journeys, wait on God; put yourselves under his protection, commit yourselves to his care, and depend upon him to give his angels a charge concerning you, to bear you up in their arms when you move, and to pitch their tents about you where you rest. See how much you are indebted to the goodness of his providence, for all the comforts and conveniences you are surrounded with in your travels. It is he that has cast our lot in a land where we wander not in the wilderness, as in the deserts of Arabia, but have safe and beaten roads; and that through the terrors of war, the high ways are not unoccupied; to him we owe it, that the inferior creatures are serviceable to us, and that our going out and coming in are preserved, that when we are abroad we are not in banishment, but have liberty to come home again; and when we are at home we are not under confinement, but have liberty to go abroad.
We must therefore have our eyes up to God at our setting out, Lord go along with me where I go; under his shelter we must travel, confiding in his care of us, and encouraging ourselves with that in all the dangers we meet with; and in our return must own his goodness; all our bones must say, Lord who is like unto thee, for he keepeth all our bones, not one of them is broken.
10. When we retire into solitude, to be alone, walking in the fields, or alone reposing ourselves in our closets, still we must be waiting on God; still we must keep up our communion with him, when we are communing with our own hearts. When we are alone, we must not be alone, but the Father must be with us, and we with him. We shall find temptations even in solitude, which we have need to guard against; Satan set upon our Saviour, when he was alone in a wilderness; but there also we have opportunity, if we but know how to improve it, for that devout, that divine contemplation, which is the best conversation, so that we may never be less alone than when alone. If when we sit alone and keep silence, withdrawn from business and conversation, we have but the art, I should say the heart to fill up those vacant minutes with pious meditations of God and divine things, we then gather up the fragments of time which remain, that nothing may be lost, and so are we found waiting on God all the day.
Secondly, Let me use some motives to persuade you, thus to live a life of communion with God, by waiting on him all the day.
1. Consider, the eye of God is always upon you. When we are with our superiors, and observe them to look upon us, that engageth us to look upon them; and shall we not then look up to God, whose eyes always behold, and whose eye-lids try the children of men.
He sees all the motions of our hearts, and sees with pleasure the motions of our hearts towards him, which should engage us to set him always before us.
The servant, though he be careless at other times, yet when he is under his master’s eye, will wait in his place, and keep close to his business; we need no more to engage us to diligence, than to do our work with eyeservice while our master looks on, and because he doth so, for then we shall never look off.
2. The God you are to wait on, is one with whom you have to do, HEB 4:13. Hebrews 4:13(KJV) All things, even the thoughts and intents of the heart, are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do; proV on hmin logoV, (Lit., “To whom we must give an account”) with whom we have business, or word, who hath something to say to us, and to whom we have something to say; or as some read it, to whom for us there is an account; there is a reckoning, a running account between us and him: And we must every one of us shortly give account of ourselves to him, and of every thing done in the body, and therefore are concerned to wait on him; that all may be made even daily between us and him in the blood of Christ, which balanceth the account. Did we consider how much we have to do with God every day, we would be more diligent and constant in our attendance on him.
3. The God we are to wait upon, continually waits to be gracious to us; he is always doing us good, prevents us with the blessings of his goodness, daily loads us with his benefits, and slips no opportunity of shewing his care of us when we are in danger; his bounty to us when we are in want; and his tenderness for us when we are in sorrow. His good providence waits on us all the day, to preserve our going out and our coming in, PS 121:8, Psalm 121:8(KJV) to give us relief and succour in due season, to be seen in the mount of the Lord. Nay, his good grace waits on us all the day, to help us in every time of need; to be strength to us according as the day is, and all the occurrences of the day. Is God thus forward to do us good, and shall we be backward and remiss in doing him service?
4. If we attend upon God, his holy angels shall have a charge to attend upon us. They are all appointed to be ministering spirits, to minister for the good of them that shall be heirs of salvation, and more good offices they do us every day than we are aware of. What an honour, what a privilege is it to be waited on by holy angels, to be borne up in their arms, to be surrounded by their tents, what a security is the ministration of those good spirits, against the malice of evil spirits? This honour have all they that wait on God, all the day.
5. This life of communion with God, and constant attendance upon him is a heaven upon earth. It is doing the work of heaven, and the will of God, as they do it that are in heaven; whose business it is always to behold the face of our Father. It is an earnest of the blessedness of heaven, it is a preparative for it, and a preludium to it; it is having our conversation in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour. Looking for him as our Saviour, we look to him as our Director; and by this we make it appear, that our hearts are there, which will give us good ground to expect that we shall be there shortly.
Thirdly, Let me close with some directions, what you must do, that you may thus wait on God all the day.
1. See much of God in every creature, of his wisdom and power in the making and placing of it, and of his goodness in its serviceableness to us. Look about you, and see what a variety of wonders, what an abundance of comforts you are surrounded with; and let them all lead you to him, who is the fountain of being, and the giver of all good; all our springs are in him, and from him are all our streams; this will engage us to wait on him, since every creature is that to us, that he makes it to be. Thus the same things which draw a carnal heart from God, will lead a gracious soul to him; and since all his works praise him, his saints will from hence take continual occasion to bless him.
It was (they say) the custom of the pious Jews of old, whatever delight they took in any creature, to give to God the glory of it; when they smelled a flower, they said, blessed be he that made this flower sweet; if they eat a morsel of bread, blessed be he that appointed bread to strengthen man’s heart. If thus we taste in every thing that the Lord is gracious, and suck all satisfaction from the breasts of his bounty, we shall thereby be engaged constantly to depend on him, as the child is said to hang on the mother’s breast.
2. See every creature to be nothing without God; the more we discern of the vanity and emptiness of the world, and all our enjoyments in it, and their utter insufficiency to make us happy, the closer we shall cleave to God, and the more intimately we shall converse with him, that we may find that satisfaction in the Father of spirits, which we have in vain sought for in the things of sense. What folly is it to make our court to the creatures, and to dance attendance at their door, whence we are sure to be sent away empty, when we have the Creator himself to go to, who is rich in mercy to all that call upon him, is full, and free, and faithful. What can we expect from lying vanities? Why often should we observe them, and neglect our own mercies? Why should we trust to broken reeds, when we have a rock of ages, to be the foundation of our hopes? And why should we draw from broken cisterns, when we have the God of all consolation to be the foundation of our joys.
3. Live by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot with any confidence wait upon God, but in and through a Mediator, for it is by his Son that God speaks to us; and hears from us: all that passeth between a just God and poor sinners, must pass through the hands of that blessed days-man, who has laid his hand upon them both; every prayer passeth from us to God, and every mercy from God to us by that hand; it is in the face of the anointed, that God looks upon us; and in the face of Jesus Christ, that we behold the glory and grace of God shining; it is by Christ that we have access to God, and success with him in prayer, and therfore must make mention of his righteousness, even of his only; and in that habitual attendance we must be all the day giving upon God, we must have an habitual dependence on him, who always appears in the presence of God for us; always gives attendance to be ready to introduce us.
4. Be frequent and serious in pious ejaculations. In waiting upon God we must often speak to him, must take all occasions to speak to him; and when we have not opportunity for a solemn address to him, he will accept of a sudden address, if it come from an honest heart. In these David waited on God all day, as appears by ver. 1. Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul: to thee do I dart it, and all its gracious breathings after thee. We should in a holy ejaculation ask pardon for this sin, strength against this corruption, victory over this temptation, and it shall not be in vain. This is to pray always and without ceasing; it is not the length or language of the prayer that God looks at, but the sincerity of the heart in it: and that shall be accepted, though the prayer be very short, and the groanings such as cannot be uttered.
5. Look upon every day, as those who know not but it may be your last day. At such an hour as we think not, the Son of man comes; and therefore we cannot any morning be sure, that we shall live till night, we hear of many lately that have been snatched away very suddenly, what manner of persons therefore ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness. Though we cannot say, we ought to live as if we were sure this day would be our last, yet it is certain, we ought to live as those who do not know but it may be so; and the rather, because we know the day of the Lord will come first or last; and therefore we are concerned to wait on him. For on whom should poor dying creatures wait, but on a living God.
Death will bring us all to God, to be judged by him; it will bring all the saints to him, to the vision and fruition of him; and one we are hastening to, and hope to be forever with, we are concerned to wait upon, and to cultivate an acquaintance with. Did we think more of death, we would converse more with God; our dying daily, is a good reason for our worshipping daily; and therefore wherever we are, we are concerned to keep near to God, because we know not where death will meet us: this will alter the property of death; Enoch, that walked with God, was translated that he should not see death; and this will furnish us with that which will stand us instead on the other side of death and the grave. If we continue waiting on God every day, and all the day long, we shall grow more experienced, and consequently more expert in the great mystery of communion with God, and thus our last days will become our best days, our last works our best works, and our last comforts our sweetest comforts: in consideration of which take the prophet’s advice; HOS 12:6. Hosea 12:6(KJV) Turn thou to thy God; keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.