« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Majesty on high? All, as David speaks," was verity and judgmente.” În like manner, if we are pardoned, and raised to a participation of his glory, "mercy and truth meet together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other?” Every threatening denounced against sin has been executed in the person of Christ; and every thing promised to Christ, or to us, is fulfilled, when for Christ's sake we are restored to God's favour, and made heirs of his inheritance - -]
Agreeable to this character of God's works is, II. The respect paid to them by every true Christian.
The Christian is fitly represented as one "who has pleasure in these works”.
[The generality of mankind have, alas! no pleasure in these works, but rather put away the remembrance of them with abhorrence But not so the Christian: he regards them with far different sensations. He indeed is not insensible to pleasures of other kinds, provided they be such as may be enjoyed with a good conscience towards God. He may, as a scholar and philosopher, feel delight in intellectual pursuits ; and he may, as a member of society, find pleasure in the intercourse of friendship, or the enjoyment of domestic comforts. But, though he lose not his taste for such pleasures, his delight in them is altogether subordinated to higher and more spiritual enjoyments. Whatever he once accounted gain, is now esteemed by him comparatively as dross and dung
The wonders of redeeming love are on earth, as they will be in heaven, his constant solace, and his song.]
By him they “ are sought out” with care and diligence
[With a view to a more enlarged knowledge of these works, he reads the Holy Scriptures, searching into them as for hid treasures
He attends carefully on the ministry of the word, that he may both obtain a further insight into the Gospel, and have a richer experience of it in his soul By constant meditation also, and by fervent prayer, he dives deeper and deeper into the great mysteries of godliness ; musing, as it were, day and night, and crying mightily to God, “ Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law!" Never does he imagine that he has yet attained. The more enlarged his views become, the more he sees, that he knows nothing yet as he ought to know: and he looks forward with proportionable earnestness to the eternal world, where the veil shall be taken from before his eyes, and he “ will see as he is seen,” and “know even as he is known."] e ver. 7.
f Ps. lxxxv. 10. % Phil. iii. 7,8.
1. Seek yet more and more this most desirable of all knowledge
[See with what persevering diligence the philosopher prosecutes the attainment of science And will not ye, for the acquiring of knowledge wherein eternal life consists, and “ which the angels themselves desire to look into ?” — -]
2. Endeavour more and more to make a suitable improvement of it
[“ Hallelujah" stands as the introduction to the contemplations of David. Let all your contemplations lead to, and terminate in, a similar acclamation. Such will be the result of all the knowledge which we shall possess in heaven and such should be our improvement of all that we attain on earth -]
THE FEAR OF THE LORD.
Ps. cxi. 10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom :
a good understanding have all they that do his commandments : His praise endureth for ever.
OF all attainments that are made by man, wisdom is confessedly the highest : and well does it deserve the highest place in our esteem, because it elevates and ennobles him in whom it is found. This is true even of human wisdom : how much more, then, of that which is divine! But where shall divine wisdom be found ? or who can ever estimate it aright, when found? These are questions propounded by holy Job; and they deserve our most attentive consideration. “Where,” says he, “shall wisdom be found ? and where is the place of understanding ? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not in me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx and the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls : for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it; neither shall it be valued with pure golda.” Having stated all this, he again asks the question, “Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding ?” He then answers, that it is hid from the eyes of all living : that God alone understandeth it: and that he hath declared where and what it is: “Unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Now, rich and determinate as this passage is, it does not equal the declaration of David, who says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” Here he not only identifies the fear of the Lord with wisdom, but carries on the comparison from the beginning to the end, from the first formation of them in the soul to their final completion in glory.
To enter fully into his meaning, we shall consider the fear of the Lord, I. As existing in the soul
“Man is born like a wild ass's colt,” and is as destitute of true wisdom as he. “ The fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom ;” and then only does wisdom exist in the soul, when the fear of the Lord is implanted in it. But, What do we understand by the fear of the Lord ?
[This needs not to be stated at any length, because a very few words will suffice to explain it. The fear of the Lord is here put for true religion ; even for such religion as manifests itself by a deep humiliation before God, a simple affiance in the Lord Jesus Christ, and an unreserved obedience to his will. This is well understood amongst you, and therefore needs not to be insisted on. You all know that it does not consist in a mere assent to Christianity as true, or a profession of it as the only true system: you are fully aware that there is comprehended in it a real surrender of ourselves to God as his redeemed people.] This, when existing in the soul, is true wisdom
[There is no true wisdom where this fear is not; for a Job xxviii. 12-19. b Job xxviii. 20, 21, 24, 27, 28.
without this fear, a man views nothing aright, and does nothing aright. Earthly things have in his eyes an importance which does not properly belong to them ---- and heavenly things are in no respect appreciated according to their real worth
But when "God has put his fear into our hearts," our misconceptions are removed, and our mistakes rectified. Sin is no longer that light and venial evil which we before supposed it to be; nor is salvation judged to be of so small consequence, that we can any longer neglect it. The salvation of the soul becomes from that moment the one thing needful; and all the concerns of time are swallowed up in those of eternity This may be accounted folly: yea, it is so accounted by an ignorant and ungodly world: but God declares it to be wisdom; and such it will prove itself to be in the issue -]
But trace it,
In all its bearings, and in all its operations, the fear of the Lord approves itself to be true wisdom. Mark it as operating, 1. In the different ages and relations of life
[Of whatever age a person be, whether young or old, the fear of the Lord will dictate to him such a deportment as befits him. And in every relation of life it will exalt his character. Husband or wife, parent or child, master or servant, magistrate or subject, all will know their place; all will fulfil their duties; all will execute their respective offices with care. In nothing will the operation of this principle more clearly appear, than in stimulating every one to discharge with diligence and propriety the duties of his own peculiar calling ---]
2. In the different circumstances in which it may be placed
[Are we in prosperity ? this will keep us humble, and watchful against the temptations to which prosperity will ex
Are we in adversity of any kind ? this will support us from fainting and murmuring, on the one hand; and from a contemptuous apathy on the other. It will cause us to acknowledge a divine agency in every thing that occurs : and to make such an improvement of it, as that God may be glorified in all.
Of course, I must not be understood to say that the fear of the Lord will enlarge a man's intellectual powers, any more than it will increase his bodily stature; at least, not to such a degree as to divest a man of his natural weakness. A man who is of slender capacity will continue so; and he will be liable to misapprehensions as arising out of that circumstance. A person of a weak mind will betray that weakness in any thing that may
engage his attention : and, if it betray itself in his religious deportment, it will be very unjust to ascribe that to religion which proceeds only from his own imbecility, and would equally shew itself in any other occupation or pursuit
. But this I will say, that this divine principle will go far to direct him, where his judgment, not so regulated, would err: and that, consequently, he will on the whole excel in wisdom those whose capacity and attainments are in other respects on a level with his own. I will further say, that, in proportion as he advances in true piety, his profiting in wisdom also will appear unto all.]
Let us view this principle yet further, III. As completed in a better world
The applause which ungodly men gain from their blind companions is of very short continuance. But that which piety secures will endure for ever.
The man who fears the Lord is not without applause in this world-
[What if he be derided by some? it is only by those who know not what true wisdom is: and who, if they acted in reference to earthly things as they do in relation to their heavenly concerns, would themselves be regarded by all mankind as fools and idiots. By every man whose
good opinion is worth having, the godly man is loved and honoured himself also honours him with the richest manifestations of his presence and love ----] And how is he honoured in the eternal world !
[Thither the angels of God bear him on their wings, exulting in the office assigned to them of ministering unto him. And no sooner is he arrived at the portals of heaven, than he is welcomed by God himself, who, in the presence of all the heavenly host, addresses him, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Behold the crown prepared for him! the throne also made ready for his reception! Behold the kingdom awarded to him as his inheritance, of which he takes possession as an “heir of God, and joint-heir with Christ!" Yes, truly, this is his praise; and will be so when they who here despised him shall “awake to shame and everlasting contempt." * This praise, too, endureth for ever. his once contemptuous enemies are “weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth” in hell, he will be in the full enjoyment of glory and honour and immortality, in the bosom of his God.] ADDRESS— 1. Those who despise religion
[Whence is it that ye despise it? Your contempt of it is altogether founded on your own ignorance and wickedness.
yea, and God