Acquaint now yourself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come to you.
I. AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD, THE BEST SUPPORT UNDER AFFLICTIONS. The exceeding corruption and folly of man is in nothing more manifest than in his averseness to entertain any friendship or familiarity with God. In all cases where the body is affected with pain or sickness, we are forward enough to look out for remedies. Yet notwithstanding that, we find and feel our souls disordered and restless, tossed and disquieted by various passions, and notwithstanding that we are assured from other men's experience, and from our own inward convictions, that the only way of regulating these disorders is to call off our minds from too close an attention to the things of sense, and to employ them often in a sweet intercourse with our Maker, the Author of our being, and Fountain of all our ease and happiness; yet we are strangely backward to lay hold of this safe, this only, method of cure; we go on still nourishing the distemper under which we groan, and choose rather to feel the pain than to apply the remedy.
I. WHAT THIS SCRIPTURE PHRASE IMPLIES. Wherein does the duty consist? We are prone by nature to engage ourselves in too close and strict an acquaintance with the things of this world, which immediately and strongly strike our senses. To check and correct this ill-tendency, it is requisite that we should "acquaint ourselves with God," that we should frequently disengage our hearts from earthly pursuits, and fix them on Divine things. This is only general; it may be useful to mention some particulars wherein it chiefly consists. In order to begin and improve human friendships, five things are principally requisite — knowledge, access, a similitude of manners, an entire confidence and love; and by these also the Divine friendship, of which we are treating, must be cemented and upheld.
II. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO A PERFECT TRANQUILLITY AND REST OF MIND. "And be at peace." Honour, profit, and pleasure, are the three great idols to which the men of this world bow, and one or all of these are generally aimed at in every friendship they make; and yet, though nothing can be more honourable, profitable, or pleasing to us, than an acquaintance with God, we stand off from it, and will not be tempted even by these motives, though appearing to us with the utmost advantage, to embrace it. Can anything improve, and purify, and exalt our natures more than such a conversation as this, wherein our spirits, mounting on the wings of contemplation, faith, and love, ascend up to the first principle and cause of all things, see, admire, and taste His surpassing excellence, and feel the quickening power and influence of it? In what conversation can we spend our thoughts and time more profitably than in this?
III. THE MOST PROPER SEASON FOR SUCH A RELIGIOUS EXERCISE OF OUR THOUGHTS IS WHEN ANY SORE TROUBLE OR CALAMITY OVERTAKES US. "Now," when the wise Disposer of all things hath thought fit to pour out afflictions upon thee. At such times our soul is most tender and susceptible of religious impressions, most apt to seek God, to delight in approaching Him, and conversing with Him. The kind and chief design of God, in all His severest dispensations, is to melt and soften our hearts to such a degree as He finds necessary in order to the good purposes of His grace. We are, by nature, indigent creatures, incapable of ourselves to content and satisfy ourselves; and therefore are ever looking abroad for somewhat to supply our defects and complete our happiness. How can the pious sons and daughters of affliction better employ themselves than in looking up to Him that hath bruised them, and possessing their souls in patience? Let us, throughout the whole course of our lives, take care to make the thoughts of God so present, familiar, and comfortable to us here, that we may not be afraid of appearing face to face before Him hereafter.
(F. Atterbury, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.