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given them by Moses, a congratulation applicable to them in every age and place
.] He gives them to enjoy the truest “good”—
[The enemies of God often possess the greatest share of this world's goodsd: but his own people have that which is really good, and which shall endure when all sublunary things are come to an end'. He “visits them with salvation,” which comprehends every solid good, whether for soul or body, whether for time or eternity.]
He fills them with “gladness” and holy“ glorying"
[They are not indeed always joyful, because they have much, both within and without, which may well occasionally produce sorrow8: but they have seasons of joy, and sometimes are enabled to rejoice with joy unspeakableh. Even in the midst of tribulations they can often glory', and shew to all around them, that they have supports and consolations which the world can neither give nor take away k. But what gladness and glorying will they have, when all grounds of sorrow shall be finally removed!!]
Surely such a state is the most excellent on earth: and therefore, II. To desire a participation of it, is a laudable am
bitionThe fervent petitions in the text were, doubtless, acceptable to God
(Every man naturally desires his own happiness: nor is this species of self-love ever wrong, except when it leads us to seek the end by improper means.
When “ salvation” is the object of our wishes, we cannot covet it too earnestly: God himself has taught us to pray for it, and to urge our petitions with an importunity that will take no denial m. And the answers which he gave to David" and others in the days of old, sufficiently evince, that he is a prayer-hearing Godo, and that “ he delighteth in the prayer of the uprightp."]
Nor can we please God more than by pleading with him after David's example,
[There is nothing so great, but we may freely ask it at the hands of God. Nor is there any thing so peculiar to the
c Deut. xxxiii. 29. d Ps. xvii. 14. and lxxiii. 7. e Isai. lv. 2.
f Prov. viii. 18. g 1 Pet. i. 6. h 1 Pet. i. 8. i Rom. v. 3.
k Ps. xciv. 19. Isai. xxxv. 10. and lx. 19, 20. m Luke xviii. 1. Ps. Ixxxi. 10. Isai. xlv. 11. n Ps. xxxiv. 6. and cxxxviii. 3.
o Ps. lxv. 2. p. Prov. xv. 8.
saints, but we may ask it as sinners, and be certain of obtaining it, provided we ask in humility and faith. Salvation especially, with all its attendant joys and blessings, he is ready to give unto all that call upon him. Let us then beg of him to impart it to us.
And let us particularly bear in mind, that we must first be “ visited with his salvation,” before we can good of his chosen, and glory with his inheritance.” It is through the knowledge of Him, as our Saviour and Redeemer, that we are to be made partakers of all other blessings. In vain do we hope to have fellowship with his people in their felicity, unless we first have fellowship with him in his salvation] ADDRESS1. To those who are grasping after this world
[All persons are apt to think that this world can make them happy: but David and Solomon, who enjoyed all that the world could give them, found all to be vanity and vexation of spirit. Let not us then follow the beaten track, but rather aspire after a good that never cloys, an inheritance that never fades'.]
2. To those who are sincerely, though faintly, pursuing the path assigned them
[We need not fear a disappointment on account of any unworthiness in ourselves. Let us beg of God to“ remember us,” and he will remember us. Let us seek “ his favour" in Christ Jesus, and he will be ever ready to grant it. Only let us prosecute this end steadily, and without wavering: so shall we attain the object of our desires, and glory with God's inheritance" for ever and ever.] q 1 John i. 3.
r 1 Pet. i. 4.
THE EFFECTS WHICH NATIONAL MERCIES SHOULD PRODUCE
ON US. Ps. cvi. 10–12. He saved them from the hand of him that
hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies : there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praises.
GRATITUDE for mercies received is a duty universally approved. Every one sees the propriety of acknowledging personal obligations; nor is it less incumbent on us to be thankful for blessings conferred on us in our national capacity. The words before us record the conduct of the Israelites when a signal deliverance had been vouchsafed to them: may we be as devoutly, and more abidingly impressed, while we consider,
1. The mercy vouchsafed unto them
They had been in a state of extreme danger and distress
[After their departure from Egypt they encamped by the Red Sea; there they were hemmed in by impassable mountains and morasses. Pharaoh, greatly incensed, followed them with all his hosts, nor doubted but that he should speedily destroy them all. They, to all appearance, had no means either of escape or self-defence, and in this situation expected nothing but instant ruin.]
But God vouchsafed them a most astonishing deliverance
[He prevented the nearer approach of Pharaoh by interposing a thick cloud between the Israelites and the Egyptians. He made a path across the sea, the waters standing as a wall on either side: he led his people through it as on dry land. Giving up Pharoah to judicial blindness and obduracy, he suffered him, at the head of his army, to follow the hosts of Israel; but, when the Israelites were passed over, he let loose the waves upon their pursuers : thus in an instant were the Egyptian armies overwhelmed, and Israel saw their enemies dead upon the sea-shore. How wonderful was this interposition of the Deity, and how great the obligation conferred by it !)
Nor were they at the time insensible of the kindness manifested to them : II. The effects produced by it
They had shewed themselves an ungrateful and unbelieving people
But now, for a season, they were greatly changed: 1. They believed God's word
[They had had reason enough before to believe the promises made to them : Moses had confirmed his word by many stupendous miracles; but they no sooner came into difficulty than they renewed their murmurs. Now, however, they were forced to confess the power and faithfulness of God, nor did they suppose that they should ever yield to unbelief again.] 2. They sang his praise
[The salvation afforded them was inexpressibly great, and the hand of God in it was too visible to be overlooked: however therefore they might pity the individuals who perished, they could not but rejoice in their own safety, nor could they
refrain from praising him who had wrought their deliverance; the most obdurate could not but feel; the most insensible could not but admire. Happy would it have been for them if they had always continued in this mind; but though, through frailty, they soon relinquished this heavenly temper, the effect, while it lasted, was good and suitable.] IMPROVEMENT
1. Let us endeavour to get our minds duly impressed with the temporal deliverances vouchsafed to us as a nation
[We must be blind indeed if we see not the hand of God in the repeated victories which we have lately gained : though they have not been either so miraculous or so complete as that recorded in the text, they demand our most grateful acknowledgments. Had they been as numerous and decisive in favour of our enemies as they have been on our part, we should before this time have seen this land the theatre of war. Let us then praise and adore our God for his interposition on our behalf; nor let us soon forget the wonders he has wrought for us ; let us rather turn to him in an humble dependence on his mercy; Let us plead the promises he has made to all penitent and believing people ; and let us, in faith and penitence, expect the accomplishment of his word.]
2. Let us take occasion also to bless him for the spiritual deliverance wrought for us as individuals
[Our danger from the broken law was far greater than from human foes: there was no possible method of escape, if God had not interposed for us; but he has opened a way for us through the death of his own Son, and utterly vanquished all the enemies of our salvation. Let every heart and every tongue unite in his praise; nor let the remembrance of his mercy be ever effaced from our minds, but let his word, whereby he encourages sinners, be our hope ; then shall every fresh victory be a pledge of future triumphs, and the final destruction of our enemies be the subject of eternal praise.]
DCLXXVIII. THE EVIL AND DANGER OF INGRATITUDE. Ps. cvi. 21-23. They forgat God their Saviour, which had done
great things in Egypt; wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red Sea. Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.
THERE is scarcely any sin more strongly reprobated in the Scripture than ingratitude. In the catalogue which the Apostle gives us of the crimes committed by the heathen world, unthankfulness to God is particularly specified as one of the most heinous and inexcusable". And the judgments denounced against one of the most eminent saints for a single instance of it, indisputably prove, how hateful it must be in the sight of God. In improving the instance recorded in the text, we shall, I. Consider the history referred to
[The history to which our text alludes is so well known, as not to need many words either to record or explain it. There were mercies vouchsafed to the Israelites in Egypt, such as never had been experienced before from the foundation of the world
But they presently forgat their almighty Deliverer, and worshipped a golden calf in his stead. This justly excited the indignation of God, and determined him to destroy them. But Moses, having already fasted forty days and nights, fell down before God, and, during forty more days and nights, neither ate nor drank, but interceded on behalf of this rebellious people. God in answer to his intercession averted the stroke, and forbore to punish them according to their deserts.] II. Apply it to existing circumstances,
[We need not recall to your minds what great things God has lately done for us also in Egypta. Except in the history of the Jewish nation, there is scarcely any victory recorded in the annals of the world that was more glorious or complete than that vouchsafed to us. Yet how have we requited the Lord? At first, like the Jews, we were willing to give God the glory, and to sing his praise : but has not the impression worn off? and have we not shamefully " forgotten our Benefactor?” – - Well might God's anger wax hot against us, to consume us for such ingratitude Nor can we ascribe it to any thing but the intercessions of God's people that his wrath has not burst forth against us, as against Korah and his company, to destroy us utterly.] III. Deduce from it some suitable observations
[We are commanded to pray for all men, and especially a Rom. i. 21. b 2 Chron. xxxii. 25. c Exod. xxxii. 8—14.
d This was the first fast-day after Lord Nelson's victory near the Nile, 1800.