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magisterial authority, and should find it promptly exerted for him when occasion requires. On the other hand, the magistrate, whose office is rather for the suppression of evil than the inculcation of good, needs the aid of ministers, for the effecting of an entire change in the sentiments and habits of the community. Let each, therefore, be found in the faithful discharge of their respective duties; so may we hope that God's wrath shall be averted from our guilty land, and that his covenant blessings shall be poured forth upon us through eternal ages.
I cannot close my subject without briefly observing, that we all have within the camp of our own hearts many corruptions, which have provoked the displeasure of the Most High, and which need to be sought out, and prosecuted, and slain. O that there were in all of us a holy zeal in reference to them, and that we would sacrifice them to God with an unsparing hand! It is said of “ all that truly belong to Christ, that they have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Can we appeal to God that this is our character? Do our lives bear witness to us, that whilst the great mass of the community care for nothing beyond the pleasures, the riches, the honours, of the world, and those who should stand forth as champions for God, are lukewarm and timid in his sacred cause, we dare to be singular, and firm and zealous in the discharge of our respective duties, and, above all, in the devotion of our souls to God? Truly we should all, if I may so express myself, begin at home. God has at this moment a controversy with the whole nation. And, though magistrates and ministers may do much to correct the abuses which prevail in external matters, that will be of little avail to pacify our offended God. God looks at the heart. That must be humbled for our past iniquities, and purged from the allowed indulgence of any sin. Yea, that must be consecrated to God, with all its faculties and all its powers: it must first be cleansed in the blood of Christ, and then be sanctified by his Spirit. Then shall the chastising hand of God be removed from us, in our individual capacity at least, if not collectively as a nation : and, at all events, his eternal judgments shall be averted from us, and all the blessings of his covenant be our everlasting portion. This is the plague which, after all, we are most interested in removing, even “ the plague of our own hearts;” and this once removed by faith in the Lord Jesus, and by the influences of his Spirit, we shall have the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and stand accepted of our God for ever and ever.
PRAISE TO GOD FOR HIS MERCIES.
Ps. cvi. 48. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlast
ing to everlasting ! and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the Lord !
WE find in the world almost an universal prejudice against religion, as a source of melancholy. And more especially if the wickedness of man be portrayed in very deep colours, it is supposed that we shall drive all our hearers to despair. But where shall we find the sins of Israel more awfully depicted, than in the psalm before us? Yet, how is it closed ? with weepings and with wailings? No: but with as devout an ascription of praise as is to be found in all the inspired volume. The truth is, that nothing so elevates the soul as a contrasted view of God's mercies and our own vileness: and no man will build so high a superstructure of praise, as he who digs deepest into the corruptions of his own heart, and lays his foundation broadest on God's sovereign grace in Christ Jesus. Behold, then, I pray you, I. The ebullition of heart here manifested !
What is it that the Psalmist has been contemplating?
(He give us, in the psalm, an epitome of the conduct of all Israel, from the time of their coming out of Egypt to the time of Davida. He mentions their provoking of God at the Red Sea, their lusting after sensual gratifications, their mutinying against his vicegerents, their worshipping of the molten calf, their contempt of the Promised Land, their joining with the Moabites and Midianites in the worship of Baal-peor, their quarrelling with Moses at Kadesh; and, finally, their incorporating themselves with the Canaanites, and imitating their idolatrous and cruel customs.
a See 1 Chron. xvi. 35, 36.
But together with all this, he shews how graciously God had dealt with them: for though he had inflicted many and sore judgments upon them, he had not yet finally forsaken them; but, for his own name sake, and for the sake of the covenant which he had made with them, he still continued to them his tender mercies.]
And was not all this a ground for praise and thanksgiving ?
[Methinks it was not possible for any one who duly considered the subjects here brought before him, to feel otherwise than as the Psalmist himself felt on the occasion. For, had God taken them in this manner from the midst of another nation, and multiplied his mercies to them to such an extent, and for so many hundreds of years, in the midst of all their rebellions; and shall they not " bless him?” Had he so shewn himself both “ the God of Israel” and “ a God to Israel;” and shall they not adore him? Shall they not desire that all should be alike impressed with a sense of these mercies, and that God should be alike glorified in all and by all? Methinks, when it was said, “ Let all the people say, Amen,” there was not one dissentient or silent voice in the midst of them. Indeed, we are expressly told that “they did all say, Amen; and praised the Lord b.” And, if there had been one who refused to unite in this tribute of praise, he might well have been separated from the congregation, as a curse to the Church, and as unworthy to be numbered amongst the Lord's people.]
From hence, then, we may clearly see, II. The corresponding feeling which it should gene
rate in usWe have experienced an infinitely greater redemption than they
[Theirs was from temporal bondage, which, at all events, must have been ere long terminated by death: ours is from the chains of sin and Satan, death and hell Theirs was by power only: ours is by price as well as power, even by the inestimable price of our Redeemer's blood --]
And, notwithstanding this, we have been as rebellious as ever they were
See the preceding reference. c 1 Pet. i. 18, 19.
[Were our sins noted in a book, as theirs are, we should be found to have been as perverse and obstinate as they. In truth, their history is a mirror, wherein the countenance of the whole Christian world shines as clearly as the sun at noon-day. They are the very prototype, to which we are perfectly conformed'; yes, and with incomparably greater guilt than they, inasmuch as our obligations to God are infinitely greater than theirs -- -]
Yet is God more merciful to us than ever he was to them
[True, he has at times visited us with judgments: but he has never cast us off, or “shut up his loving-kindness in displeasure.” On the contrary, he still follows us with offers of mercy through his beloved Son, and importunes us to accept of reconciliation with him through the blood that was shed for us upon the cross --]
What, then, should be our sense of gratitude towards him!
[If the Israelites were called to bless him as the God of Israel,” how much more should we bless him the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and our God and Father in him! If they were called to bless him in a review of his conduct towards them, how much more may we, in reference to his conduct towards us! If every one of the people was to utter his “ Amen” at the giving of thanks to God, what shall be said of us, if there be one amongst us who shall shew reluctance to unite in this holy exercise? Methinks" the very stones would cry out against him." To every one of you, then, I say with confidence, bear your part with us: and when we say, " Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting,” let every one of you, without exception," say, Amen, Amen, Amen!” yes, with one heart and one voice, I say to all, without exception, “ Praise ye the Lord.") ADDRESS
1. Those who are not yet liberated from their bondage
[Such there were in the days of Saul and of David, who were in captivity among the heathen. And how would it be possible for them to unite with their brethren in Jerusalem in these songs of praise? “How could they sing the Lord's song in a strange land?” Hence they pray, "Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy name, and to triumph in thy praised!” The same prayer I recommend to you. I know you cannot rise to this devout and holy frame whilst you are under bondage to guilt
and fear and evil habits : it is impossible you should. But, if once you obtain reconciliation with God, and," by a spirit of adoption, are enabled to call him Father," then will your mouth be opened to sing his praise; and you will desire that every child of man should join with you in that blest employment.]
2. Those who have been brought into “the liberty of the children of God”—
[To you this song of praise is nothing more than the prevailing expression of your feelings before God. To bless and magnify your God, is the joy of your soul: and you are ready to obey the call, when God's ministers invite you to unite in that holy exercise. Behold, then, I now say, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel! and let
every one of
you say, Amen.” Say it, then; say it cordially; say it devoutly. We are told, that when the Christians of the primitive Churches said Amen, so general and so earnest was the utterance given to that word, that the sound was like thunder. I will not pretend to say what their circumstances might call for ; nor will I sit in judgment upon those of whom I know so little. But at this day, I confess, I should prefer a more quiet expression of our feelings and our desires. I am not fond of vociferation in prayer; nor do I like a noisy piety. I prefer what is intimated in that delicate expression of the Psalmist : “ Praise is silent before thee, O Lord." But let God hear “ your breathing and your cry":" and doubt not but that He will accept it at your hands; and, by the efforts which you make to praise him now, will he prepare you to join in everlasting “ Hallelujahs” in the realms above.]
e Ps. Ixv. 1. The Hebrew, as mentioned in the margin.
PRAISE TO GOD FOR REDEMPTION. Ps. cvii. 1–3. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; and gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
THE intent of this psalm appears to be, not merely to display the providence of God as interposing in all the concerns of men, but especially the goodness of God in vouchsafing to hear the prayers of men, and to grant them deliverance in answer to their suppli