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true light was made to shine. Let not any of us then indulge desponding fears: let us know assuredly, that "the counsel of God shall stand," and that “they who trust in him shall never be confounded.” Indeed even "in our darkness the Lord will be a light unto us;" and soon "our light shall rise in obscurity, and our darkness be as the noon-day."
2. To those who have been “ brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light”
[Happy, happy ye, who behold a risen Saviour, and see the fulness which ye have in him! Ye may be sweetly assured, that, as he is able, so also he is engaged, to "save your souls to the uttermost, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for you." But let this light have its proper influence upon your minds. “ Walk as children of the light” and of the day: yea, “ walk in the light, as he is in the light.” If you do indeed “ behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," it is God the Lord who hath shewn it to you ;” and “ye, as his peculiar people, are called to shew forth his praises?.” Do this then in the way before prescribed : give up yourselves wholly unto him; and take him as your only, your everlasting, portion.]
r 1 Pet. ii. 9.
PRACTICAL RELIGION ENFORCED. Ps. cxix. 46. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts
diligently. Othat my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
IT is impossible to read the psalm before us and not see that true religion is altogether of a practical nature. Doubtless, in the first instance, the Inspired Volume reveals to us a way of reconciliation with our offended God, through the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ: but its ultimate object is, to bring
our hearts into a conformity to the mind and will of God. In the words before us we see all that is most interesting to the child of God: I. His indispensable duties
God commands us, not only to return to him in a way of penitence, but to walk before him in a way of holy obedience.
This he requires throughout the Holy Scriptures
[He requires it by Moses, and the prophetsb; by Christ alsoc, and his holy Apostlesd. Indeed, to bring us to holiness of heart and life was the very end for which he gave his onlybegotten Sono, and for which Christ himself died? And every command is enforced with an authority which it is at our peril to disregard®.]
He requires, too, that in this duty we exert ourselves with “ diligence"
[This is again and again insisted on“, both in relation to the keeping of the heart', and to the whole of our deportment through life. We are particularly called to " set our heart” to this work, that we may understand it in all its parts, and perform it in its utmost extent. In a word, “This is the will of God, even our sanctification m.”]
How the true saint stands affected towards his duties, may here be seen in, II. His impassioned desire
The perfection of a Christian is seen far more in his desires than in his actual attainments. He feels and mourns over his manifold defects
[It might be supposed, that the more holy any man were, the more self-complacent he would be: but the very reverse of this is the truth : for, the more holy any man is, the clearer and more enlarged are his views of God's holy law, and, consequently, the deeper his sense of his short-comings and defects". Hence he complains with St. Paul, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?"]
He desires the gift of God's Holy Spirit, to remedy these defects
[He knows, by sad experience how liable he is to be deceived, even whilst he is endeavouring to do the will of God. “ His heart is deceitfulp," and easily betrayed into error, by its prejudices, its passions, its interests. And sin itself also is deceitful, putting on, in ten thousand instances, the garb of holiness, and the semblance of duty? And Satan is a subtle adversary, that has at command ten thousand wiles and devices, whereby to ensnare him'. What, then, shall the Christian do? He can look only to God, for the gift of his Holy Spirit to guide him aright and to direct his steps. Hence, from his a Deut. v. 29.
b Jer. vii. 22, 23. c Matt. xxviii. 20. d1 Pet. i. 15, 16. e 1 John iii. 8.
f Tit. ii. 4. & Jam. ii. 10-12. h Deut. xi. 13, 18, 22. i Prov. iv. 23. k 2 Pet. i. 10. and ii. 14. IDeut. xxxii. 46. m 1 Thess. iv. 3. n Rom. vii. 9.
o Rom. vii. 24. p Jer. xvii. 9. a Heb. iii. 13. r 2 Cor. xi. 3.
s Prov. iii. 6.
inmost soul, he prays, “ Hold thou me up, O Lord'!” yea, “ Direct my heart into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ's future adventu!"]
But, in the midst of all his troubles, we may behold, III. His assured encouragement
Were he left to himself, he well knows he must perish. But “his hope is in the Lord his God.”
That which is required of him, is, to be upright before God
[God "requireth truth in the inward parts?.” However defective we be in our attainments, there must be no insincerity in our desires. We must “account all God's commandments concerning all things to be right, and must hate every false way." In our regard to them, there must be “no partiality, no hypocrisy2:" the smallest commandment must not be considered as light“, nor the greatest be deemed “grievous b. “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to doc?" must be his daily prayer; and to fulfil every command of God, the constant habit of his mind.] With this one acquisition, he has nothing to fear
[“ God will uphold the upright mand.” Satan may tempt him; his own in-dwelling corruptions may assault him; and he may at times be so harassed, as to be almost at his wit's ende;" but “God will keep him, by his own power, through faith, unto everlasting salvation"." "The weaker the Christian feels himself, the more “ will God perfect his own strength in his weakness 8;" nor shall “ the hope that has been formed in him ever make him ashamed h." no: " he shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation; and shall not be ashamed or confounded, world without endi."] Be
ye then, Brethren, CHRISTIANS INDEED — (Get just views of your duty, both towards God and man
And be like-minded with God in relation to it, desiring nothing but to be, and do, all that God himself requires
And know where all your help and hope is; not in yourselves, but in the Lord your God, who alone can " guide you by his counsel, so as ultimately to bring you to his gloryk'
And“ may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, make you perfect in every good work, to do his will; working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ! to whom be glory for ever and Amen!.']
t Ps. xvii. 5.
u 2 Thess. iï. 5.
x Ps. li. 6.
1 Heb. xiii. 20, 21.
DCXCVI. GOD'S WORD THE MEANS OF SANCTIFICATION. Ps. cxix. 9. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed thereto according to thy word. THERE is much despondency in the human mind, especially in reference to the great work of sanctification. There are many who wish to become holy; but they know not how: they would mortify sin; but they cannot: they would serve God in newness of life; but to attempt it, appears to them a hopeless task. The people of the world, if exhorted to give themselves up to God, do not hesitate to affirm that, in the existing state of things, it is impossible : and many who have begun to do this in their own strength, and found its insufficiency for so great a work, have given up in despair, and returned to their former state of carelessness and indifference. But, whilst we acknowledge the impossibility of serving God aright by any strength of our own, we must deny that it is altogether impracticable to fulfil his will. On the contrary, if any man ask, “ Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” we are prepared to answer, that it may be done, “ by taking heed thereto, according to God's word.”
* We have here, I. A difficulty proposed
“How shall a young man cleanse his way?”
If this question were asked in reference only to outward defilements, it would not be without its difficulties
[Consider to what temptations a young man is exposed. Those which arise from within, are exceeding great — And they are continually strengthened by those occurring from without. Every thing he sees around him has a tendency to
foster and to gratify some bad passion; whilst the examples on every side countenance and encourage the indulgence of it. To render evil the less formidable, every one agrees to strip it of its proper names, and to affix to it some gentle appellation that shall conceal its odiousness, and cast a veil over its deformity. Nay, as if it were not sufficient to cloke its malignity, many become its panders and its advocates, and endeavour to laugh out of the world all that squeamishness that betrays a fear of evil, and an aversion to the commission of it. Is it any wonder if young men, so circumstanced, fall into sin? or is it easy for them to keep their garments clean in such an ensnaring and polluting world as this? —
-] But if the question be asked in reference to the sanctity which God requires, the difficulty will appear great indeed
[It is not a Pharisaic righteousness, a cleansing of the outside of the cup and platter, that God requires, but real holiness, both of heart and life. We must seek to be “cleansed from secret faults,” as well as from those which are more open; and never account our end fully accomplished, till we are "pure as the Lord Jesus Christ is pure,” and “perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect.' But how shall a young man so cleanse his way? How shall he “ mortify the whole body of sin,” keeping in subjection so many unruly appetites, correcting so many unhallowed dispositions, and putting forth into constant exercise so many heavenly graces as are comprehended in real piety? Indeed, we may ask, How shall young persons of either sex so walk before God? In respect of outward decorum, females, from the restraints of education, have a great advantage: perhaps, in reference to vital godliness also, they may be considered as more favoured than the other sex, because they have more opportunity for serious reflection. But real piety is uncongenial with our fallen nature; and to attain it is no easy task to any, of either sex, or of whatever age or quality or condition. The very names by which the divine life is described in Scripture sufficiently shew that it is neither attained nor exercised without great difficulty. A “race," a “wrestling for the mastery," a "warring of a good warfare," all require much exertion; and not for a moment only, but till the victory is accomplished. It must be confessed, therefore, that a young man's course is very difficult; that “ strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,” in which he has to walk; and that if ever he gain “the kingdom of heaven, he must take it by violence."]
Happy is it for us, however, that we have, on divine authority,