Page images

abundantly pardon." Here is his own proclamation; these are his proposals. Oh! that you would believe him, and throw down the weapons of your rebellion, and confide in the word of a prince, that if you come in and submit yourselves you shall obtain life and peace. Oh! if you did but know his bands and cords of love! Oh! if you did but know the liberty of his service! Oh! if you did but know how easy his yoke, and how light his burden! Oh! did you but know the blessedness of those who know the joyful sound and walk in the light of his countenance, and in his righteousness exalt themselves! Surely you would immediately repair to him. Oh! let me entreat you, let me beseech you, to do this. I conclude in the language of the psalmist: "Kiss the Son"- that is, "submit to him "—"lest he be angry, and ye perish by the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in





"In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul."-PSALMS XCIV. 19.

A TEXT of this kind shows us forcibly the power of Divine grace in the human heart: how much it can do to sustain and cheer the heart. The world may afflict a believer, and pain him; but if the grace which God has given him is in active exercise in his soul, the world cannot make him unhappy. It rather adds by its ill treatment to his happiness; for it brings God and his soul nearer together-God the fountain of all happiness, the rest and satisfaction of his soul.

This psalm was evidently written by a deeply afflicted man. The wicked, he says, were triumphing over him; and had been so for a long while. He could find no one on earth to take his part against them. "Who will rise up for me against the evil-doers?" he asks in the sixteenth verse; 66 or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?" And it seemed, too, as though God had abandoned him. His enemies thought so, and he seems to have been almost ready to think so himself. But what was the fact? All this time the Lord was secretly pouring consolation into his soul, and in the end made

[ocr errors]

that consolation abundant. In appearance a wretched, he was in reality a happy man; suffering, yet comforted; yea, the text says, delighted "Thy comforts delight my soul."

We must consider, first, his sorrow; and then, his comfort under it. The evil; and the remedy.

I. In his sorrow, there are two things for us to notice: the source, and the greatness of it.

1. The source of it, you may say, is doubtless the ill treatment he was experiencing. But not so, brethren; it arose, he says, from his own mind his own thoughts. Our Prayer-Book version of the pas sage makes this clear; the word translated here" thoughts," is rendered there "sorrows." The one translation explains the other; the psalmist means thoughts that engender sorrows; disturbed, sorrowful and distressing thoughts.

But who can keep these out of his mind when trouble comes, or indeed when it does not come? None of us, brethren. The best of us are liable at all times to these sources of disquietude. Some of us suffer more from them than from all our outward afflictions put together.

To enumerate them all would be an endless task; but some we may mention.

There are thoughts concerning our own spiritual state and condition, which are often painful to us. "Is Christ my Savior? or is he not? Is this heart of mine a really converted heart? or still a hard, ungod ly, unclean one? Am I one of the sheep of Christ—one that the good shepherd in his love and power has brought to himself, and will eventually take to his home in the heavens? or am I one of the filthy swine, that he can now take no delight in, and that in his holiness he will one day cast for ever from him?"

And there are thoughts of the same character as to our future spiritual course and condition. If we really are the Lord's, how we shall keep so how we shall ever get through the difficulties and temptations we see before us, and bear up under the conflict that is going on within us, and keep alive the faith and hope and love, that so frequently even now seem expiring.

And then come thoughts of the same troublous concern about death and judgment. How it will be with us when we come to die; how we shall bear the sinking of dissolving nature; the going into a new, strange, untried world; the first sight there of a holy God; the standing before him, as sinners, to be judged.

And this world, too, how many harassing, distressing thoughts does

that give rise to within us! We profess to have overcome, and triumphed over it; but the battle, dear brethren, we at times find has not been half fought nor won. "My Savior has told me, to 'take no thought of the morrow; he has promised to think of it for me, and provide against it for me; nay, he has told me that he has already so provided for it; and oh! that I could leave it entirely in his hands! But it is not always I can. What shall I do when this or that thing comes, which I see impending? I would provide things honest in the sight of all men ;' but how, amid the difficulties I am placed in, shall I ever do it? But children must be provided for; how shall I provide for them? They will want a friend to watch over them when I am gone; who will befriend them? They may go before me; if so, how shall I bear the loss!" "And these afflictions," the soul says at other times," that are even now come upon me - why are they come? why are they so multiplied one upon another, and so long continued? I want to be enlightened; I cannot understand the Lord's dealings with me; the more I think, the more I am perplexed and disturbed."

[ocr errors]

And sometimes we can excite anxious thoughts in our minds, even from the absence of afflicting providences. "I read in my Bible," the soul says, "that whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth;' but he chastens not me. The sun rises brightly day after day upon me; my days pass in peace and quietness; oh! if I were a child of God could this be so?"

And then, brethren, when in our better moments we forget ourselves, and look at the world and church around us, here again our thoughts. often trouble us. We mourn over the world's sins, and distractions, and miseries; we are ready to tremble often for the ark, the cause, the church, the glory of God. The Lord says to us-"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth;" but we are afraid he will not be exalted find it hard to be still. We are as anxious for the church and for the cause of Christ, as though Christ were not that great and lofty being we know he is the omnipotent King of Zion- but some petty prince, who cannot maintain his own cause, from whose hands the sceptre is ready to fall because of weakness.

[ocr errors]


I need not go on. You all know, that thinking is sometimes painful and distressing work. All of us, some in one way and some in another, have found out with the psalmist, that "thoughts" are frequently only another name for "sorrows."

2. Observe, now, the greatness of this man's distress.

This is forcibly expressed in the text, though in our translation it is scarcely obvious. The word in it rendered "thoughts," scholars tell

us, signifies originally the small branches of trees. The idea in the psalmist's mind appears to be this. "Look at a tree, with its branches shooting in every direction, entangling and entwining themselves one with another; let the wind take them-see how they feel it, how restless they become, and confused, beating against and striving one with another. Now my mind is like that tree. I have a great many thoughts in it, and thoughts which are continually shifting and changing; they are perplexed and agitated thoughts, battling one with another. There is no keeping the mind quiet under them; they bring disorder into it, as well as sorrow." And mark the word "multitude" in the text; there is exactly the same idea in that. It signifies more than number: confusion. Think of a crowd collected and hurrying about: "so," says the psalmist, "are my thoughts. I have a crowd of them in my mind, and a restless confused crowd. One painful thought is bad enough, but I have many: a multitude of them; an almost countless, a disturbed throng."

We now, then, understand the case we have before us. This man's sorrow arose, at this time, from disquieting thoughts within his own breast; and his sorrow was great, because these thoughts were many, and at the same time tumultuous.

"But what," some light-hearted persons may be ready to say, "is such sorrow to us? We know nothing of it; why should we be told of it?" Dear brethren, here is one reason why you should be told of it, that you may see and learn, that God need not go far, at any time, to afflict any one of us. He can do it, this text says, without calling to his aid sickness, or losses, or disappointments, or any outward calamities; there is a scourge ready prepared for him within our own breasts. He has only to turn our minds, our own thoughts, loose on us, and we shall be miserable enough.

We know not, brethren, what there is in our hearts - how much evil and how many seeds of misery and bitterness. God in his mercy restrains for a time the workings of our own minds; but now and then he lets a bitter branch shoot up, that we may see there is bitterness within us. But the harvest of evil and the harvest of misery - he reserves that to a distant day. The Lord grant that none of you may reap it. But reap it you will, brethren, if you make no effort now to escape it. It is a part of that "wrath to come," which we must have fall on us, if we do not now flee from it. Continue to make light of God's "great salvation," and you will understand at last too well, that there is no wretchedness like that which is born within a man's own bosom; which springs out of a man's own mind a thinking, active, disquieted, guilty, God-abandoned mind — a heart given up to itself,

its own evils, its own wild thoughts and workings. Oh! dread that, brethren; dread it more than poverty, or bereavements, or any of the mortal ills "that flesh is heir to." Oh! dread it as you would dread hell. Let us all pray-"Lord! cleanse thou the thoughts of our hearts within us. Whatever thou take from us, take not thy Spirit, thy restraining Spirit, from us. Never in thine anger leave us to


II. Let us now go on to our second point: the psalmist's comfort in his sorrow.

1. Look, first, at the source of this. It came from God. 66 My thoughts," he says; they constituted his sorrow; it sprung from himself. But "Thy comforts," he says; his consolations were from God. Here again, brethren, let me remind you, we may afflict and torment ourselves, but it is the living God only who can comfort us. It is easy for us to set our minds at work, and raise a storm: but if we want to be quieted, if we want a calm there a real calm, not a lethargy - it is beyond our power to make one. The Lord, the Lord from his high throne above us, must speak, and bid the tumult be still.

But when the psalmist says "Thy comforts," he means more than comforts of which God is the author or giver. God is the author and giver of all our comforts of all the earthly comforts that surround us; they are all the work and gift of his gracious hand. Hence he is called "the Father of mercies" of mercies generally; as our church. calls him in her General Thanksgiving-"the Father of all mercies." He is the God, the Scriptures tell us, "of all consolation." We are to understand here such comforts as are peculiarly and altogether God's; such as flow at once from God; not from him through creatures to us, but from him immediately to us without the intervention of creatures. The comforts that we get from his attributes—from meditating on, and what we call realizing them: the comforts we get from his promises-believing and hoping in him; and the comforts of his presence, he drawing near to our souls and shining into them—we knowing he is near us, conscious of it by the light and happiness and renewed strength within us. "Thy comforts" - the comforts we get from the Lord Jesus Christ; from looking at him; considering him; thinking of his person, and offices, and blood, and righteousness, and intercession, and exaltation, and glory, and his second coming; our meeting him, seeing him, being like him. "Thy comforts the comforts which come from the Holy Spirit, "the comforter;" when he opens the Scriptures to us, or speaks to us through ceremonies or ordinances, or witnesses within us of our adoption of God; shining in on his own work of grace


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »