Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

the important services to which he had afterwards the honour to be called.

Let these considerations reconcile you to the humbling work of the Spirit of God. And if any thing you have heard hath touched your hearts, seek not relief among foolish companions, but retire to your closets, and on your bended knees beseech the Lord to perfect the good work he hath beguu, and Ile who comforteth those that are cast down, will not leave you in the Red Sea, but carry you safely through to the farther side, and put the Song of Moses and of the Lamb into your mouths, “giving you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Amen,

[ocr errors]

SERMON XXII.

Psalm cxix. 173, 174, 175.

Let thine hand help me ; for I have chosen thy precepts.

1 have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight. Let

Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee ; and let thy judgments help me.

These words were immediately addressed to God, most High, whose workmanship we all are, even to him that quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things that be not as though they were. Here David appeals to the Searcher of hearts, and lays before him not the product of his own labour and skill, as though he possessed something whereof he might glory before God, but what he gratefully acknowledges to be the doing of the Lord; a heart in some measure renewed after his image, and panting after a nearer and still more perfect resemblance.

I shall therefore consider this account, which, in the form of a solemn address to God, the Psalmist here gives of his own temper and conduct, as an approved model or pattern for our imitation. What this holy man was, that ought we to be; and such we shall certainly endeavour to be, if we aspire to the character whereby David was distinguished by the Supreme Judge himself, when he dignified him with the most honourable of all appellations, even that of the man after his own heart.

The passage contains,
1. The distinguishing character. And,

II. The leading requests of a truly godly man.

Each of these I shall briefly illustrate and improve; the one for the present trial, and the other for the future direction of those, who have this day* made a public profession of their faith in Christ, over the sacred symbols of his broken body, and shed blood, in the holy sacrament of his supper.

I begin with the distinguishing character of a truly godly man; and you will observe the following particulars distinctly marked, viz. The matter of his choice The object of his desires-and, The source of his joy.

The gedly man's choice is the precepts of God. David had said, verse 3. That he had chosen the testimonies of God for his heritage; by which he probably meant the promises of that everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, to which he afterwards resorted in the immediate prospect of death, as all his salvation, and al his desire. These promises are indeed exceeding great and precious, suited to all the necessities of the saints, and extending to every blessing that can be denoted by these two significant and most comprehensive words, GRACE and GLORY. But one may choose, or rather covet, the heritage of a child, who hath an aversion to the duties that result from that relation; and therefore the choosing the law or precepts of God, for regulating the heart and life, is, of all others, the most discriminating character of a true ebild of God; for there can be no doubt, that one who sincerely devotes himself to the service of God, will most sincerely and ardently wish to be happy, in the possession of the promised inheritance.

Let us next attend to the object of the godly man's desire. “ I have longed,” saith David, " for thy salvation;" a present salvation from the guilt and power of sin ; and future salvation, in the full and everlasting enjoyment of God in heaven, David was already possessed of the first of these ; for he spake from his own experience, when be said, “ Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” He had the happiness to be a partaker both of pardoning mercy, and of sanctifying grace; yet still he longed for more of this salvation, that is, for a more assured faith of pardoning mercy, and larger measures of sanctifying grace. It is a just observation, with respect to earthly things, that Nature is contented with a little, and Grace with less. But it is quite the reverse as to spiritual things. Here grace is not contented with a little ; on the contrary, it is insatiable ; the more it hath received, the more it desires to receive. Enjoyment, instead of surfeiting, sharpens the appetite. Nay, so sweet is their relish, that every renewed taste of it, abates and quenches the thirst for other things, “ There be many that say, who will shew us any good ?” . this is the voice of the mere child of Adam. But what saith the new man in Christ, “ One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after. As the hart panteth for the brooks of water, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee."

* Preached after the celebration of the Lord's Supper.

This leads us forward to the source of the godly man's joy. “ Thy law,” saith David, “is my delight.” Here he chooses the term law for denoting the whole revelation of God's will, to remind us of the inseparable connection between privilege and duty, faith and obedience, holiness and comfort; and to teach us, that we ought to be thankful to God, for the direction he hath given us in the road to heaven, no less than for the promises by which we are assured of the possession of it. But what I would chiefly observe is, that the joy of a saint is not extracted from such base and perishing materials, as corn, and wine, and oil; it flows spontaneously from the fountain of living waters, from the pure source of that word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. Nay, so little is it dependent upon, or even connected with, any thing that belongs to a present world, that “ although the fig-tree should not blossom, neither should fruit be in the vine ; the labour of the olive should fail, and the fields should yield no meat ; the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there should be no herd in the stall;" yet still the saint can rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of his salvation. Nay, when the heavens shall be shrivelled up like a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island shall be moved out of their places ; he can look at the universal desolation, and say, when these materials are consumed, I shall have lost nothing. " All things are mine, for I am Christ's, and Christ is God's God lives, blessed be my rock.-The Lord is the portion of my inheritance," and in him I possess and enjoy all things.

These three particulars, respecting the matter of the godly man's choice, the object of his desire, and the source. of his joy, may help us to form a just estimate of ourselves; and this is the improvement I would have you to make of this branch of the subject.

How are your hearts affected towards the precepts of God's word ? an outward reluctant obedience there may be, compelled by the slavish fear of wrath: but do you serve God from choice, with a free and liberal mind? Doth the Lord Jesus appear as amiable with the crown upon his head, and the sceptre in his hand, as when clad with his garments rolled in blood ?

Is salvation, in all its extent, the chief object of your desire ? even the present salvation of an inward growing light, and love, and purity; as well as the future salvation of deliverance from the fire that is not quenched, and the enjoyment of those positive pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore. Do

you know what it is to hunger and to thirst after righteousness ? « They that are after the flesh do mind

« IndietroContinua »