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II. The difficulty solved
To the question asked, “How shall he cleanse his way ?” the answer is given, even "by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” The Holy Scriptures afford, to every human being, 1. A sure directory
[There may doubtless be particular cases, even to our dying hour, in which it may be difficult to discover the precise line of duty. But, for the most part, the way of righteousness is clearly defined; and it is our own blindness only that makes it appear intricate or doubtful. There is no corruption of the heart which is not there condemned, nor any holy affection which is not there delineated. There every thing is described in its proper colours : piety is exalted as the perfection of our nature; and sin is declared to be “ an abomination in the sight of God.” The example of our blessed Lord also is there portrayed with the utmost exactness; so that, whatever doubt might obscure a precept, the true light is reflected on it, and a perfect standard is exhibited before us. It cannot be through ignorance, therefore, that any shall err, if only they will make use of the light afforded them in God's blessed word.] 2. Sufficient encouragement
[There is not a precept in the whole inspired volume which is not made also the subject of a promise. God has engaged to “ give us a new heart, and to renew within us a right spirit, and to cleanse us from our filthiness and from all our idols :" so that, however inveterate any lust may be, here is provision against it; and however arduous any duty be, here is sufficient strength promised for the performance of it. How effectual the word is, when duly improved, may be seen in the general description given of it by the Psalmist : “ The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned; and in keeping of them there is great reward a.' Here, whether in respect of direction or efficacy, its sufficiency for our necessities is fully declared. But yet more satisfactory is the declaration of St. Peter, when he affirms, that by " the exceeding great and precious promises of Scripture we may be made partakers of the divine nature, and be enabled to escape the corruption that is in the world through lustb.” By the a Ps. xix. 7-11.
b 2 Pet. i. 4.
word, therefore, we may cleanse our way; not externally only, but really, truly, spiritually, and to the full extent of our necessities : so that the difficulty in our text is completely solved; and to the inquiry there made, we are prepared to answer, “Having these promises, dearly Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."] ADDRESS — 1. Let the Scriptures of Truth be studied by you
[Do not form your standard by the opinions of men, or labour to cleanse your way by superstitious observances that have been devised by man; but look to the word of God as the proper rule of your conduct, and seek for holiness in the way that is there prescribed. Be careless in your way, and your ruin will ensued But let the word of Christ dwell in you richly “in all wisdom;" and you shall find it the power of God to the salvation of your souls.] 2. Devote to piety your early youth
[" Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,” says Solomon. You must not stay till you are advanced in life
“cleanse your way,” but engage in that work while yet you are young.” In the appointment of the sacrifices which were offered under the Law, the lambs were to be but a year old: and in the first-fruits presented unto God for a meatoffering, special care was to be taken that “green ears” should be offered, “ beaten out indeed of full ears,” but still green, and needing to be “ dried with fire" before they could be ground to floure. Does not this shew what use is to be made of our early youth? Methinks, it speaks powerfully: and I pray God that this day the greenest ears amongst you may be consecrated to the Lord, and receive from him some blessed tokens of his favourable acceptance. Let the youngest, who are as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word; and they shall grow therebyf:” and let the “ young men have the word of God abiding in them; and they shall overcome the wicked one."] 3. Live in the daily habit of self-examination
[Inward and unperceived uncleanness will come upon you, if you be not always on your guard. A mariner may be drawn from his course by currents, as well as driven by winds: and therefore from day to day, he consults his compass and his chart, to see whether there have been any deviation from his destined path. The same precautions must be used by you.
c 2 Cor. vii. 1. d Eccl. xi. 9. e Lev. ii. 14-16.
f 1 Pet. ii. 2. % 1 John ii. 14. VOL. VI.
You must not only "examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith,” but what progress you are making in the faith. Do this, beloved, daily, and with all diligence; so shall ye“ be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, shining among them as lights in the world, and holding forth in your walk and conversation the word of lifeh:” and be assured, that in so ordering your conversation aright, " you shall at last behold the salvation of God."]
h Phil. ii. 15, 16.
HOW TO ATTAIN DIVINE KNOWLEDGE.
Ps. cxix. 18. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous
things out of thy law ! THE necessity of Divine teaching, in order to a spiritual acquaintance with the truth of God, is by many denied; and all expectation of the Holy Spirits influence for that end is derided as enthusiasm. But, however the profane ungodly world may scoff at the idea, it is “by the Spirit of God alone that we can know the things which are freely given to us of Goda:” and the wisest of men, as much as the most ignorant, has reason to adopt the petition in our text, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law!”
From these words we shall take occasion to shew, I. What wondrous things are contained in God's law
If we understand the law here spoken of, as importing the Law of Moses, it certainly is full of wonders : the moral law, being a perfect transcript of the mind of God; and the ceremonial law, being a shadow of all those good things which are revealed to us in the Gospel. But we apprehend that David is speaking rather of the Gospel, even of that “ law which is come forth from Zion, and that word which has proceeded from Jerusalem.” No one of the prophets, scarcely excepting even Isaiah himself, had clearer or richer views of Christ than David ; and as he speaks of Christ in almost all his psalms, we may justly suppose, that in this place he refers to the wonders that are contained in the Gospel of Christ.
a 1 Cor. ii. 12.
Consider the Gospel generally
[In it is revealed salvation, salvation purchased by the blood and righteousness of God's only-begotten Son. What a mystery is this! The God of heaven and earth assuming our nature, that in that nature he may expiate the guilt of a ruined world! We are accustomed to hear of this, and therefore listen to it without emotion: but what should we think of it, if it now reached our ears for the first time? Truly “ great is this mystery of godliness!” We, through unbelief and indifference, think little of it: but “the angels,” though infinitely less interested in it than we, “ desire day and night to look into it," and to comprehend, if it were possible, the heights and depths of love that are contained in ito.] Consider it more particularly
[Mark well the character of this salvation; its freeness, its fulness, its suitableness! It is as free as the light we see, or the air we breathe. It has come to us unsolicited, unsought : and it is given to us “without money and without price." The whole world are invited to come to Christ as to an overflowing fountain, and to "take of the water of life freelya.” So fuii is it, that it neither wants, nor is capable of, any addition. Nothing is left to be supplied by man: he gives nothing, but receives all. “ All is treasured up for us in Christ,"
" 66 who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctífication, and complete redemption'." If only we are content to receive out of his fulness, we shall never lack any thing that is necessary either for our present or eternal happiness. And this is exactly such a salvation as is suitable to fallen man. If we were required to add any thing to what Christ has done and suffered for us, in order to render it sufficient for our salvation, what could we add ? What have we of our own, but sin? The more any one knows of himself, the more he would despair, if any thing were required
of him, as a price whereby to purchase an interest in Christ. Doubtless we must repent, and believe, and obey the Gospel, before we can be saved: but repentance, faith, and obedience, though necessary as means to an end, merit nothing at the hands of God; nor have we of ourselves any sufficiency for those things: even those graces are wrought in us by the Spirit of God, who “ gives us both to will and to do of his own good pleasure." Salvation, from first to last, is altogether of grace; and therefore it is equally suitable to all; to the thief when dying on the cross, as to Nicodemus, or Nathanael, whose whole life and conduct had been so exemplary, and who lived to adorn the doctrine they professed.
b 1 Pet. i. 12.
c Isai. lv. 1.
d Rev. xxü. 17.
Contemplate these things, and say whether they contain not “ wonders” that surpass the comprehension, both of men and angels? ---]
From the text however we may learn, II. How we are to attain the knowledge of them-.
Doubtless we must “search the Scriptures,” and that with all diligenceh. But, if we search them in dependence on our own wisdom, we shall never succeed. We must look up to God for the teachings of his good Spirit, even as David did, and pray, “ Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” This is the way prescribed by God
[God regards all men as blind', and incapable of comprehending spiritual things, till he himself has opened their eyes, and given them a spiritual discernmentk
Hence he counsels all to come to the Lord Jesus Christ " for eye-salve, that they may see?;" and to look to him as the only Author of true wisdom. He represents it as the Holy Spirit's office to take of the things that are Christ's, and to shew them unto usn;" and to bring home to the minds of men a clear perception of those various truths which are most of all interesting to their souls. He considers all men as equally under the necessity of submitting to the teachings of his Spirito. The efforts of those who lean to their own understanding, he derides P, and will communicate to “ babes the things which he conceals from the wise and prudent." True it is, that God uses both the written and preached word as the means of conveying instruction: but the due reception of that instruction he ascribes to the operation of his own almighty power". Even the disciples whom Jesus himself had instructed for three or four years, were not able rightly to apprehend his word, till " he opened their understandings to understand the Scripturess:" and, when Peter confessed his Lord to be the Christ, he was expressly told, that * flesh and blood had not revealed it” to him, but God himselft. Be it known then to all, that every child of man, whether learned or unlearned, must “ hear and learn of the Father," who is “the Father of lights, and from whom cometh every good and perfect giftu."
This is the way pursued by the saints in all agesb John v. 39. i Rev. iii. 17. k 1 Cor. ii. 14. Eph. iv. 18. 1 Rev. ii. 18. m Jam. i. 5. n John xvi. 8, 11, 13, 14. o John vi. 45. p 1 Cor. i. 19, 20, 9 Matt. xi. 25. r 1 Cor. iii. 5—7. s Luke xxiv. 45. + Matt. xvi. 17. u Jam. i. 17.