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But it may be that our souls are in a pardoned state; and that God has “ taken a live coal from off the altar, and applied it to our lips, saying, Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purgede." If so, what acknowledgments should we make ? Verily there can be no circumstances whatever in which such persons should not bless God from their very inmost souls?.] 2. His
from tears[David often found occasion to weep, either on his own account or on account of others 5. Indeed his whole life was tempestuous and full of trouble. What the particular affliction was from which he had now been delivered, we do not exactly know. If it was sickness and death, his tears must have proceeded, as Hezekiah's did, from an apprehension of the distraction and misery that were likely to ensue to the whole state by his removal from it at that time h. But whatever it was, his mind was now at ease in relation to it.
And are we at this time free from any great affliction? Surely we have reason to be thankful for it: for, how numberless are the sources of grief from whence our whole souls may speedily be overwhelmed ! In our own persons we are exposed to diseases and accidents every moment. In our relative connexions too, how many occasions of sorrow are ever ready to arise! the misconduct of one, the unkindness of another, the misfortunes of a third, the death of one that was to us as our own souls,-alas! alas ! it is a vale of tears that we are passing through, moaning or bemoaned every hour. Our very pleasures not unfrequently become occasions of the bitterest pains. If then we have been kept for any time in a good measure of peaceful serenity, we may well account it a rich blessing, for which we are bound to adore and magnify our God. It is not from the dust that either our trials or our comforts spring : and, if God have dealt to us an abundance of earthly comfort, whilst so many thousands of our fellow-creatures are racked with pain, or bowed down with sorrows, we ought to acknowledge him as the author and giver of these distinguished privileges.] 3. His feet from falling
[On more than one occasion, David's " feet had well nigh slipped.” When urged to kill Saul, and when hastening to avenge himself on Nabal, he was on the brink of a dangerous precipice, from whence however it pleased God to deliver him.
e Isai. vi. 6, 7.
f 1 Pet. i. 3, 4. N. B. This is the very commencement of an Epistle written to “ • Strangers who were scattered all the world over by cruel persecutions."
& Ps. xlii. 3. 2 Sam. xii. 36. and xv. 30. and xviii. 33. h Isai. xxxviii. 9-14.
And what a miracle of mercy is it, if our feet are kept! Consider with what innumerable snares and temptations we are beset on every side, and what corruptions reign in our own hearts, ready to precipitate us into any evil: consider the deceitfulness of sin too, what pleasing and even innocent forms it will assume: consider also the malice and subtlety of our great adversary, who is going about continually as a roaring lion seeking to devour us : consider more particularly how many persons of eminence in the religious world have fallen; a David, a Solomon, a Peter; O have not we reason to adore our God, if our feet have been kept from falling ; more especially when we reflect, how near we have been to many grievous falls, when nothing but God's infinite mercy has held us up!
Let us look back then on these mercies vouchsafed unto us, and, from the review, let us follow David in,] II. His determination arising from it
By “the land of the living” we understand this present world', where alone there is any opportunity of making suitable returns to God. “ The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day,” says Hezekiah. As long as he should live, David determined, with God's help, to walk before God, 1. In a constant attendance on his ordinances
[This is particularly intended in the words of our text: twice is the idea expressly stated in the following verses! where should a person go to make his acknowledgments to God, but to His house, where the free-will offerings and thank-offerings of old were wont to be brought? A grateful heart will pant after these public opportunities of glorifying God, even “ as the hart panteth after the water-brooksm," and to be deprived of access to them will be a source of pain and griefn. David envied the very swallows their liberty of access to the house of God, when he was kept at a distance from it. Let us shew our gratitude in the same way. And let not our attendance on his courts, after a recovery from sickness, be a mere prelude to our return to all the gaieties and follies of the world; but let our delight be in the worship of our God on earth, as an earnest and foretaste of our enjoyment of him in a better world.] 2. Under an abiding sense of his
presence [To “set the Lord always before us is the sure way to honour him. Whether we think of him or not, “he is always about our bed and about our paths, and spieth out all our
Ps. xxvii. 13. Isai. liii. 8. k Isai. xxxviii. 19.
m Ps. xlii. 1, 2.
o Ps. lxxxiv. 1-4.
ways.” Wherever we are, therefore, there should be that inscription, which Hagar saw, " Thou God seest me.” O how circumspect would our conduct then be! How continually would that question recur to our minds, “ What will my God approve?” That this is the frame of mind which every child of God will cultivate, is beautifully represented by St. Paul in his address to servants: he tells them how the servant of God does act towards his heavenly Master, and proposes it as a pattern for them towards their earthly masters P. Let us “not be mere eye-servants, as men-pleasers,” but exert ourselves at all times to please our God, as servants do under the immediate eye of their master.] 3. In a cheerful obedience to his commands
[This is to walk before God in deed and in truth9: and to produce this, is the very end of all God's mercies towards us. Surely, if we are in any measure sensible of our obligations to God, we shall not account any of “his commandments grievous.” We shall not wish so much as one of them to be relaxed, but shall attend to all of them without partiality and without hypocrisy. Happy would it be for us if more of this gratitude were found amongst us.
Happy would it be if the love which God has shewn to us in Christ Jesus constrained us to live altogether unto God; so that we could make the same appeal to him that Hezekiah did, “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight "." This is the surest test of our integrity, and the most acceptable expression of our gratitude to God.) In our REFLECTIONS on this subject, we cannot but
view in it abundant matter, 1. For our humiliation
[How many mercies have we received, yet never stood amazed at the goodness of our God! Were it only this, that our souls are not consigned over to everlasting death, we should have cause to bless our God day and night. Only reflect a moment, how dreadful it would have been to be cut off in our sins, and to be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where there is nothing but weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth! And yet who amongst us has not richly deserved it? who has not been in constant danger of it from day to day? Our sins have been more in number than the hairs of our head; yet not a thousandth part so great as they would have been, if we had been left to carry into act all the evil dispositions of our hearts. Truly if we have not run into the same enormities as others, it is God, and God alone, who has made the difference
P Eph. vi. 5–8. 9 1 Kings ii. 3, 4. r Isai. xxxviii. 3.
between us. What shall we say then to the insensibility which we have manifested under all these stupendous mercies? Are we not ashamed? Have we not reason to be ashamed, yea, and to abase ourselves before God in dust and ashes? O let us remember that ingratitude is a sin of the most crimson dyes: and that, if we will not notice as we ought the operations of God's hands, his loving-kindness will ere long be shut up in everlasting displeasure'.] 2. For our encouragement
[To the evil and to the unthankful have all these mercies been vouchsafed: What then shall not be done for us, if we will seek after God in sincerity and truth? Surely these present blessings shall be only as the drop before the shower; they shall be a prelude to that blessedness, “where there shall be no more death nor sorrow, nor sin, but where all tears shall be wiped away from our eyes for everu." God offers himself to every one of us, as a Covenant God: he says to each of us, as he did to Abraham of old, “I am God Almighty: walk before me, and be thou perfect*." In Christ Jesus he is already reconciled to us; and he only requires that we come to him through Christ, embracing his proffered mercies, and yielding up ourselves to him as those that are alive from the dead. O that he may so draw us, that we may run after him; and so subdue us to the obedience of faith, that we may become a peculiar people, zealous of good works!
s Rom. i. 21. t Ps. xxviii. 5. u Rev. xxi. 4. x Gen. xvii. 1.
HOW TO REQUITE THE LORD FOR HIS MERCIES. Ps. cxvi. 12–14. What shall I render unto the Lord for all
his benefits toward me! I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.
THE influence of faith on our eternal salvation is obvious to all who have any just views of the Gospel: but its operation on the mind in this present life, and its efficacy to produce peace and holiness, are by no means generally understood. In this view however the psalm before us is peculiarly instructive. David, when his faith failed him, overlooked all the mercies that he had received at the Lord's hands, and rashly concluded, that all which had been declared to him respecting the purpose of God to establish him on the throne of Israel, was false : “I said in my haste, all men are liars.” But, when his faith was strengthened, he no longer gave way to such querulous expressions and desponding fears : on the contrary, he then was full of peace and joy; and with the liveliest emotions of love and gratitude, exclaimed, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me ?” That we may be brought to this happy state of mind, and may be led to abound in praise and thanksgiving, let us contemplate, I. The benefits which our God has conferred upon us
On such an inexhaustible subject as this, we can do no more than suggest a few leading thoughts, which may be more largely prosecuted in our secret
retirement. To contemplate them in all their fulness will be the blissful employment of eternity. Let us notice those, 1. Of creation
[How distinguished is our condition above all other creatures upon the face of the earth! In bodily powers, it is true, we are exceeded by many; who have not only far greater strength and agility than we, but their senses also, of sight, and hearing, and taste, and smelling, and of feeling also, far more exquisite than ours. But the endowment of reason elevates us far above them all, and puts them all, in some degree at least, in subjection under our feet. In them indeed is instinct, and that too in such perfection as almost to border on the province of reason; but in us is a capacity to comprehend things of spiritual and eternal import, and an ability to know, to love, to enjoy, to glorify our God. Say whether these be not mercies which call for the devoutest gratitude at our hands?
Nor is it a small matter that we have been brought into the world at such a time, when the light of God's truth is so clearly seen, and in such a place as Britain, where it shines forth, as it were, in meridian splendour. We might have been born of Mahometan or Heathen parents; or even in our own country have been so situated, as to hear but little of Christ and his salvation. Surely we should not overlook these great benefits, nor forget what a mercy it is to live in this present day, when there exists such an ardent zeal for the propagation of the Gospel, and such unprecedented efforts are made for its diffusion throughout the world.] 2. Of Providence
[Innumerable are the deliverances which we have all received from dangers seen and unseen. Millions have been