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standing heart,” above all the children of men. As ministers of God's word, we need the same: for St. Paul says, in reference to the ministry, “ who is sufficient for these things ?" The same must be said by us in every station and relation of life. We all have our own peculiar duties to perform; and wisdom consists in executing them aright. Let this never be forgotten, that our chief wisdom consists in ascertaining with precision, and performing with punctuality, the duties of our own particular situation. It
It is not by going out of our own proper line, but by filling our own particular station well, that we shall approve ourselves truly wise. Let parents and children, masters and servants, magistrates and subjects, bear this in mind : “let none lean to their own understanding a," but all with one heart address to God this necessary petition, O give me understanding in the way of godliness "i")
a Prov. iii. 5. b See the text in the Prayer-book Translation.
Ps. ci. 3. I hate the work of them that turn aside : it shall
not cleave to me. TO improve our influence for God, is our bounden duty, whatever be the station to which he has been pleased to call us. Magistrates, in particular, may render most extensive service to the community, by exerting their power in the promotion of virtue. David felt his responsibility in this respect : and, either on his beginning to reign in Hebron after the death of Saul, or on his coming to the full possession of the kingdom at a subsequent period, he wrote this psalm, declarative of his determination to discountenance evil, and encourage good, to the utmost extent of his power, both amongst his courtiers, and amongst his more immediate attendants in his household.
Let us consider, 1. The work which he here so determinately repro
batesThe two points to which he seems to refer are, 1. A want of integrity in morals
[A dereliction of principle has often been indulged under the idea of expediency; and the utmost subtlety of argument has been employed in vindication of it. But integrity, undeviating integrity, should possess the Christian's mind. There are many things which will consist with what is called a sense of honour, which can never be admitted into the conduct of a real saint. The laws of honour have their origin from man: and as they derive their authority from man, so they have respect only to the judgment of man in the observance of them. These therefore may bend to times and circumstances. But the Law of God is inflexible ; and our adherence to it must be uniform under all circumstances. It must regulate the ends which we propose, the means we use in the prosecution of them, and the manner in which we proceed throughout the whole of our deportment. In every thing we must endeavour to approve ourselves to God, and to act as in his immediate presence. Any departure from the strict line of duty, in whatever circumstances we be placed, must be avoided : and our whole conduct towards mankind, in whatever relation to us they stand, must be such as we, in a change of circumstances, should think it right for them to observe towards us. God requires that “ truth should be in our inward parts a;” and every act, every word, every purpose and desire of our hearts, ought to be in strict accordance with it.] 2. A want of constancy in religion
[Many there are, who, having begun well, leave off to behave themselves wisely, and “ turn aside from the holy commandment delivered to them.” Various are the sources of this declension. Sometimes it begins in a neglect of religious duties, or in the mere formal performance of them. Sometimes it originates in the secret indulgence of some hidden lust. Sometimes “ the care of this world, the deceitfulness of riches," and the desire of other things which have no direct reference to religion, choke the seed that has been sown in our hearts, and prevent it from bringing forth any fruit unto perfection. But whatever it be that turns us from God, it should be discountenanced in others, and avoided in ourselves. It may have a specious aspect: much may be said for it to extenuate, if not altogether to justify, the practice of it: but if its operation be to turn us aside from God, and from the pursuit of heavenly things, it becomes an evil work, which it behoves us to renounce.
We must, however, be careful not to impute to any line of duty the evils which arise from our own want of care in the prosecution of it There is not any thing which we may not make an occasion of sin. A person may say, 'I have intellectual pursuits, which occupy my mind with such intensity, that I cannot fix it afterwards upon heavenly things :'or, I have a manual labour, which indisposes me for heavenly contemplation.' In such cases, the duty of these persons is, not to renounce a Ps. li. 6. b 2 Pet. ii. 21. c Matt. xii. 22.
the labours to which, in the course of providence, they have been called, but to implore of God such a measure of spiritual strength as may enable them to combine the duties which they have been wont to separate: nor can we doubt, but that, if they be upright in heart, they shall have imparted to them grace sufficient for the conscientious discharge of all their duties. The point for them especially to attend to, is, that they guard against every inordinate desire: for it is from their inward desires, rather than their outward duties, that they are in any danger of being drawn from God.]
The conduct of the Psalmist, in relation to such "work,” shews, II. The disposition which we also should manifest
towards it1. We should abhor it in principle
[There should be in us an attraction towards God, resembling that of the needle to the pole. A needle may, by force, be turned from its proper direction: but it will never cease from a tremulous motion, till it has returned again to its proper rest. So it may be with us. We know not what deviations a sudden impulse of temptation may cause for a moment: but the very instant we perceive that we have departed, even in thought, from the perfect line of duty, we should give neither sleep to our eyes nor slumber to our eye-lids, till we have returned with penitential sorrow to our God. The direction given to us by God is, “ Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good 4.” And, whether in relation to morals or religion, this must be the constant habit of our minds. We must be “ Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guileo." 2. We should avoid it in practice
[We never can be too observant of our own ways. As, at sea, the mariner is often drawn from his course by currents of which he was not aware, and only finds his deviation from his appointed course by the observations which he makes; so it is possible for a Christian to be drawn aside by a corrupt bias, till he has carefully compared his ways with the unerring standard of the word of God. Hence the need of attending to that divine counsel, “ Prove all things; and hold fast that which is good?.” It is not without extreme care that we shall be able to " keep a conscience void of offence towards both God and man.” We are passing through a polluted world; and it is very difficult to “keep our garments altogether undefiled." But if we come in contact with evil, we must take care that it does not cleave
d Rom. xii. 9. fi Thess. v. 21.
e John i. 47. & Rev. iii. 4.
unto us." It must be the one labour of our lives to be “ sincere, and without offence, until the day of Christ h.”] ADDRESS1. Mark well the beginnings of declension
[“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith,” says the Apostle: “prove your ownselves.” Let the first symptoms of spiritual declension be carefully noted by you, and be made an occasion of augmented diligence in your heavenly course. Many evils will you avoid by such watchfulness. Happy would it have been for David, if he had marked the first risings of desire, which the sight of Bathsheba excited in his soul. And happy will it be for us, if we determine, through grace, to abstain, not from evil only, but from the first motions of it, yea, and even “the very appearance of it,” whether in heart or life.] 2. Avoid the means and occasions of it
[Our Lord teaches us to pray, that we may “not be led into temptation.” In truth, if we willingly subject ourselves to temptation, we cannot expect to be kept. We must "take heed to our ways," and shun the scenes of vice and folly; and avoid the company, and conversation, and books, and sights, that would ensnare us, if we would be preserved "holy and unblameable and unreprovable in the world.” If we "come out from among the ungodly, and touch not the unclean thing, then will God be a Father unto us, and we shall be his sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty?."] h Phil. i. 10.
i 2 Cor. xiii. 5. k 1 Thess. v. 22.
1 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.
THE RESTORATION OF THE JEWS. Ps. cii. 13–15. Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion :
for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come: for thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.
AMIDST all the personal afflictions with which a Child of God can be encompassed, he will be filled with consolation, if he hear glad tidings concerning Zion. The interests of God and the welfare of mankind are nearer to his heart than any of the concerns of time and sense. Hence Paul, when complaining that he “suffered trouble, as an evil-doer, even unto bonds,” consoled himself with this, that “the word of God was not bounda:” yea, his very bonds themselves were an occasion of joy to his soul, when he saw that they were overruled for the establishment of Believers, and the augmentation of the Church of Godb. Thus, in the psalm before us, the writer, whether speaking in his own person, or personating the Church of God, was in a most disconsolate condition;
but the thought of God's speedy interposition for his Church and people comforted him. He saw Jerusalem lying in ruins; but he felt assured that the time was near at hand, when it should be rebuilt, and God's glory be manifested in it as in the days of old. To the Gospel Church also he had a further reference in his own mind : for though the restoration of the Jews from Babylon attracted some attention from the neighbouring states, it was far from being attended with those effects which are here foretold as following from their yet future restoration to their own land, and their final union with the Church of Christ.
In considering this event, we shall notice, I. The time fixed for itGod most assuredly has mercy in store for Zion
[The Jews shall not always continue in their present degraded state: they shall be gathered from every quarter of the globe, and be brought back again to their own land. We must almost cease to assign any determinate meaning to words, if we explain in a figurative sense only the numberless declarations of God on this subject — As to their restoration to the Divine favour, it is impossible for any one who believes the Scriptures to doubt of it. Though God is angry with them, he has not cast them off for ever. There is yet among them “ a remnant according to the election of grace," who shall be again engrafted on their own olive-tree, and enjoy all the riches of the Gospel salvation ---- ]
For the conferring of “these favours," there is a time fixed in the Divine counsels
a 2 Tim. ii. 9. b Phil. i. 12–18. c ver. 3-11.
That the writer looks forward to that period, will appear by comparing ver. 25—27. with Heb. i. 10–12.
e Ezek. xxviii, 25, 26, and xxxvii. 1—28. f Rom. xi. 5, 25, 26.