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[It was “but yesterday” that we grew up; and to-morrow our place will no more be found.” If suffered to continue for a while, we are only ripening for the scythe ; but a burning sun, or blasting wind, may cut short our existence in an houra. And when once the flower of the grass is withered, all remembrance of it is gone: and so it is with us: we look gay and flourish for a little moment: and then pass away, and give place to other generations.]
But “the mercy of God towards his people is from everlasting to everlasting”
[As to its origin, it existed from all eternity. It is not excited in the bosom of our God by any thing that he sees in man: neither the misery of our fallen state, nor any goodness which we may be supposed to manifest, move him to exercise a disposition that was not antecedently conceived in his own mind. Both his determination to exercise mercy, and the objects towards whom it should be exercised, were from all eternity fixed in his own bosomo. His people are chosen by him, not because they are holy, or will be holy, but that they may be holy, and without blame before him in lovef.” “He loved them with an everlasting love, and therefore with loving-kindness hath he drawn them.”
In its duration also it is everlasting. “ If he have begun a good work in them, we may be confident that he will carry it on h.” As, on the one hand, he will not depart from them, so, on the other hand," he will put his fear in their hearts, that they may not depart from him.” If at any time they transgress against him, he will chastise them with the rod, till he has brought them back to himself: but“ his loving-kindness will he not utterly take from them :" for "his gifts and callings are without repentance!.” In every age will he prove faithful to his promises, even “ to all poster
“ to all posterities for evermore." This doctrine is thought by many to encourage a presumptuous confidence, and a consequent neglect of holiness. But, if we only bear in mind the statement before given of the character of God's people, and our unequivocal declaration, that no person who does not answer to that character can have any scriptural hope of mercy, we shall see, that there is no occasion for jealousy on that head. The holiness of man is secured by the irreversible decree of Heaven, That the end shall be combined with the means; and that every one whom God has ordained unto life, shall be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.” We need not be afraid to give unto God all
d Jam. i. 10, 11.
Eph. iii. 11. 2 Tim. i. 9. & Jer. xxxi. 3.
h Phil. i. 6. k Ps. lxxxix. 30–36. 1 Rom. xi. 29.
the glory of our salvation, and to ascribe all to the operation of his sovereign grace, since, whatever may be said of God's decrees, it is an infallible truth, that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”] Let us LEARN from hence,
1. In what light we should view our present state of existence
[We should learn from nature, and from every thing we see around us.
Let all, and the young especially, look, not at the grass merely, but at the flower of the grass, and learn from that, how transient their life is m And let none, like the fool in the Gospel, promise themselves years, when, for ought they know, this very night their souls may be required of them.] 2. In what way we should improve it
[What have we to do, but to attain the character of God's people, and to secure the mercy which he will exercise towards them? --- In comparison of this, all earthly pursuits are vanity; since, transient as our life is, we may yet find the objects of our fondest regard still more transient"."]
m Isai. xl. 6–8. This would be proper to insist on, if it were the funeral of a young person.
n If this were a Funeral Sermon for an eminently pious person, his views and conduct might with propriety be stated here.
THE DUTY OF PRAISING GOD. Ps. civ. 33, 34. I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.
IT is well that we have in the Holy Scriptures a record of the experience of former saints: for, on the one hand, we should be inclined to rest in low attainments, if we did not know to what heights others had attained ; and, on the other hand, we should be condemned for aiming at such exalted frames as were possessed by them, if we had not the sanction of their high authority. However, whether the world be pleased or displeased, this, God helping me, shall be my resolution; and I recommend it to every one of you as your own; “ I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will praise my God while I have my being !"
From the words before us, we may learn, I. What was the frame of David's mind1. It was a frame most becoming
[Such was the frame of man when he came out of his Creator's hands: and such to this hour would it have continued, if he had not sinned. “ Praise is comely for the uprighta;" and " it becometh well the just to be thankful.” Such a state, as far as their nature will admit of it, befits every creature that God has formed. All the hosts of heaven, and all the inhabitants of the earth, every creature in the universe, rational and irrational, animate and inanimate, are distinctly called upon by the Psalmist, to present unto God, according to their capacity, their tribute of praise b- - And, if such a state becomes them as creatures, that are merely formed by God's hand, and supported by his care, what should be our state, as redeemed by the blood of his only-begotten Son? Well may it be said, “Let them give thanks, whom the Lord hath redeemed."] 2. It was a most delightful frame
[We cannot conceive of David but as exquisitely happy, when he penned these memorable words. Indeed he tells us elsewhere, how rich a source of happiness he found it to his soul: “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lipso." It is, in truth, the felicity of heaven itself, where “they rest not day nor night, singing salvation to God and the Lamb for ever and ever."]
3. It was a frame which it is our bounden duty also to attain
[The commands of God to this effect are clear and positive: “ Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoiced."
Rejoice evermore.” Provision was made for the exercise of this grace under the Jewish dispensation : feasts were appointed expressly for it; and every member of each family was to rejoice before the Lord, the old and the young, the master and the servant, and even the stranger that happened to be sojourning among them? And ought not we, who live under the more liberal dispensation of the Gospel, to rejoice? Methinks there should be no end of our joy: the resolution of David in the text should be ours; and we should be carrying it into effect all the day long. Nor should untoward circumstances of any kind rob us of our joy; but we should say, with the Church of old, “ Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."]
a Ps. cxlvii. 1. b Ps. cxlviii. 1–13. Cite it at full length. c Ps. lxiii. 5. d Phil. iv. 4. e 1 Thess. v. 16. f Deut. xvi. 13-15.
Nor need we despair of resembling David; since he points out, in our text, II. The way in which it may be attained
As he attained it, so should we, 1. By meditation
[His “meditations on God were sweet,” though in the psalm before us, they related only to the creation and providence of God. But the minuteness with which he describes all these things clearly shews what delight he found in surveying every particular which might illustrate his subject. What delight, then, should we feel in contemplating all the wonders of redemption! Of these there is no end. In meditating on these, we should soon be constrained to say,
“ How precious are thy thoughts to me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with theeh." Let us, then, address ourselves to this holy employment. Let us say, with David, " I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doingsi.”] 2. By resolving to rest in nothing short of it
[We do well to say, 'I will fear the Lord;' and well to say, 'I will serve him.' But these are far below our duty. We should aspire after higher attainments than these: we should say, with David, “ I will be glad in the Lord:” 'I will never be satisfied, till I have such views of his excellency, and such a sense of his love, that I can rejoice in him, yea, till I can rejoice in him all the day.' Men attain not this, because they do not aim at it. They are contented with lower acquirements; and hence they know but little of delight in God. O beloved Brethren! I would have “your hearts to be lifted up in the ways of the Lord.” Why should any of you be strangers to this holy frame? Why should you not “ sing in the ways of the Lord,” as others have done before you? I know, indeed, that you cannot of yourselves create these heavenly joys: but I know what God has said; “ They shall praise the Lord that seek him:" and if you set yourselves in earnest to enjoy him, you shall receive from him the Spirit of adoption," whereby you shall be able to call him Father; and have " the witness of the Spirit,” whereby you shall know that you are his children. Thus walking in the light of his countenance here, you shall have an earnest and a foretaste of your heavenly bliss.] APPLICATION
& Hab. ii. 17, 18.
h Ps. cxxxix. 17, 18.
i Ps. lxxvii. 11, 12. a 1 Pet. ii. 9. b Deut. xxxii. 9-13. Isai. lxiii. 9.
[I beseech you, Brethren, live not so far below your privileges as Christians in general are wont to live. How much happier might you be, if you lived near to God in the contemplation of his excellencies, and in the delightful exercise of prayer and praise! This should be the very bent of your mind from day to day, and it should continue to be so to the latest hour of your life. True, indeed, this cannot be expected, unless you embrace him and cleave unto him as your God. First learn to say to him, “ O God, thou art my God!" and then you will find no difficulty in adding, “Early will I seek theek." Then will praise be, as it were, the natural language of your heart, and the constant employment of your lives! Then in death, also, will your soul he joyful in your God: and “ an abundant entrance will be ministered unto you into the realms of bliss," where, to all eternity, you shall know no other feeling than that of joy, no other language than that of praise.] k Ps. lxiii. 1.
i Ps. cxlv. 1, 2. and cxlvi. 1, 2.
THE CHRISTIAN's desire. Ps. cvi. 4, 5. Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou
bearest unto thy people : O visit me with thy salvation ; that I may see the good of thy chosen ; that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation ; that I may glory with thine inheritance !
THE Psalms, though in many parts historical, doctrinal, and preceptive, may yet be considered as differing materially from the rest of the inspired volume, inasmuch as, while other books of Scripture inculcate religion, these exemplify its operations on the heart.
The words before us express the fervent desires of David's heart; and give occasion for observing, that, 1. The lot of God's people is truly desirableGod “bears a peculiar favour” towards them
[He esteems them as “ his chosen,” “ his people," " his inheritance a ;” and shews the same tender regard towards them as he did towards Israel of old; guiding, protecting, and even bearing them as on eagles' wings. Hence that congratulation