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than honey and the honey-comb, and infinitely more precious than the finest gold m?] 3. By it he gained a foretaste of heaven itself
[The word was to him as Jacob's ladder, by which he held intercourse with heaven itself. By it he ascended to Mount Pisgah, and surveyed the Promised Land in all its length and breadth. In it he beheld his Saviour, as it were, transfigured before his eyes, yea, and seated on his throne of glory, surrounded by myriads of saints and angels; yea, and beheld the very throne reserved for himself, and the crown of glory prepared for him, and the golden harp already tuned for him to bear his part amongst the heavenly choir.
I forbear to speak more on this subject; because, if what I have already spoken do not justify the language of my text, nothing that I can add can be of any weight. Only let any person read this psalm, in which no less than one hundred and seventy-six times the excellency of the sacred volume is set forth in every variety of expression that David could invent; and he will see, that the language of my text was no other than what every child of man should both feel and utter.] But from all this, who does not see
1. That religion is not a mere form, but a reality?
[Religion, if it be genuine, occupies, not the head, but the heart and soul, every faculty of which it controls and regulates. Religion is in the soul, what the soul is in the body O that we all felt it so! But indeed, Brethren, so it is; and so it must be, if ever we would enjoy the benefits it is intended to convey
2. That we all have very abundant occasion for shame in a review both of our past and present state?
[We are not, like the unhappy papists, debarred from God's blessed word. The very least and meanest amongst us has free access to it, and may read it for himself; yea, and derive still greater advantage from it than ever David himself reaped; by reason of the rich additions which have been made to it since his day, and the fuller discovery it gives us of God's mind and will. Yet how many of us read it not at all, or only in a formal cursory manner, without any such feeling as that which is expressed in my text! My dear Brethren, we suffer loss, exceeding great loss, by our negligence in this respect. Did we but read the word, and meditate on it day and night,
pray over it, and converse with God by it, what might we not obtain, and what might we not enjoy?' Well—I leave it, with “commending you to God and to the word of his grace,
m Ps. xix. 10.
which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified n." Certain I am that "it is profitable for all that your souls can desire;” and that if you improve it aright, it shall render you perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works °," and shall “ make you wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus P."]
n Acts xx. 32. 0 2 Tim. ii. 17. p 2 Tim. iii. 15.
Ps. cxix. 30-32. I have chosen the way of truth : thy judg
ments have I laid before me. I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O Lord, put me not to shame! I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
EVERY thing which has an aspect of egotism is for the most part to be avoided; or, at all events, it should be entered upon with extreme care, and be relinquished as soon as the occasion for it has ceased. Yet, whilst this rule is proper for private Christians, we have reason to be thankful that the Inspired Writers were under no necessity of submitting to it; but that, on the contrary, they were constrained, by the powerful motions of the Holy Spirit, to record the secret workings of their hearts, and to develop the principles by which they were actuated in the divine life. What a treasure has in this view been committed to us in the Psalms of David! In him we see what is the experience of God's saints in every age. In the very words which we have just read we may behold a Christian's mind : I. His retrospective testimony
We may take the words as declaring, 1. His deliberate choice
[Whatever was his state in former life, he is now become a new creature: his former sins and errors he has utterly renounced ; and has determinately embraced the truth of God, even that truth which God has revealed in the Gospel of his Son. He knows that, as a sinner, he is justly obnoxious to God's heavy displeasure ; and that there is no hope for him, but in that Saviour who died for him
the cross Hence, with the fullest conviction of his mind and the most
deliberate purpose of his soul, has he“ fled for refuge to Christ, and laid hold on him as his only hope."] 2. The means by which he seeks to effect his end
[The written word of God is regarded by him as the only ground of his faith, and the only rule of his practice. The promises contained in it he treasures up in his mind, for the encouragement of his soul; and the precepts, as a sure directory. The Sacred Volume is to him what the chart and compass are to the mariner: nor will he ever pass a day without consulting it, to ascertain the state of his soul, and the course that he shall pursue.]
3. The exertions made by him in the prosecution of his purpose
(No sooner did he turn to God in earnest, than he found allurements, on the one hand, to draw him from the Lord; and menaces, on the other hand, to drive him from his God. But his conscience bears him witness, that “ he has stuck unto God's testimonies,” and “cleaved unto the Lord with full purpose of heart." True, the conflict yet continues, yea, and requires the utmost exertions of his soul: but still he is “steadfast and immoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord: assured that, at last, his labour shall not be in vain in the Lord."]
Conformable with his past experience is also, II. His prospective determinationHe feels, indeed, that God alone can uphold him
[This is strongly expressed in that prayer, “ O Lord, put me not to shame!” In vain would be all his own efforts, if he were not aided from on high. Soon would he fall, and make shipwreck of his faith, and be put utterly to shame," if God should withdraw from him for one single moment. He feels himself like an infant in its mother's arms, and cries to God continually, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." He laments that in his own heart he is narrow and contracted, and incapable of either devising or executing such plans as may advance his spiritual welfare in the way that he could wish. He seems to himself like a ship that is becalmed; and which, for want of winds to carry him forward, is in danger of being diverted from his path by currents which he is unable to withstand. Hence he prays to God for such communications of his Holy Spirit as shall fill his sails, and bear him onward to his destined port. And,]
In dependence on God, he determines to redouble his exertions till he has attained the great object of his desires
[He is not contented to “walk” in the ways of God: no; he would“ run;" he would“ run, and not be weary; he would march onward, and not faint.” He considers himself as engaged in a race: and he sees his course clearly marked in the commandments of his God. Hence he determines, that " when God shall enlarge his heart, he will run with all his might, and never stop till the prize shall be accorded to him. Whatever advance he may have made," he forgets what is behind, and reaches forward to that which is before, and presses on for the prize of his high calling" with increased zeal. He determines that nothing shall abate his ardour, or for a moment divert him from his path. Thus he runs the race that is set before him; and determines, through grace, " so to run it, that he may obtain the prize."] Let me now add a few words,
1. Of congratulation, to those who can adopt this language
[I do hope that some amongst you are like-minded with David in these particulars; and that, if you have not attained his eminence in the divine life, you are yet truly and habitually following his steps. Shall I not, then, say to you, as Moses did to Israel of old, “ Happy art thou, O Israel! who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord a ?” Truly, in comparison of you, the greatest, wisest, noblest of mankind are in a poor and low condition. In you the end of your creation has been answered; yea, and the end of your redemption too. In you God delights; yea, he regards you as his peculiar treasure. On you the very angels before the throne account it an honour to wait, as your ministering servants: and for you are prepared crowns and kingdoms that shall never fade away. Was Mary commended by our Lord for having chosen the good part? and was she assured that it should never be taken away from her? The same commendation is yours, and the same assurance is yours also. I do, then, from my soul congratulate you, however pitiable in other respects your condition may be ; and, in the name of my Divine Master, I say for your encouragement, “ Be not weary in well-doing; for in due season you
shall reap, if you faint not."] 2. Of reproof, to those who are yet strangers to this heavenly experience
[What have you been doing all your days, that you have never yet made this choice? Are the ways of the world equal in any respect to the way of truth? Are they as reasonable in themselves ? Are they as conducive to the best interests of man? or will they prove so happy in their issue? Compare the things which tempt you from the testimonies of the Lord, with the loss which they will occasion, and the evils which they will entail upon you. You may now, perhaps, justify the preference which you give to sin: but say whether you will not one day be ashamed of it? Say whether, in that hour when you shall be bidden to depart from your Saviour's presence, and to take your portion for ever in a lake of fire, you will not be ashamed of the choice which you have now so unwisely made, and of the hopes which you now so presumptuously cherish? Peradventure you now laugh at the idea of an enlargement of heart, and deride the course to which it leads : but will you do so in that day? Will you not rather lament that you followed the course of this world, instead of prosecuting the ways which lead to heaven? I would
a Deut. xxxii. 29.
say then to you, " Seek now the Lord whilst he may be found, and call upon him whilst he is near.” There is no repentance in the grave, nor any reversing of the sentence that shall soon be passed upon you. Begin, then, the course which David ran, and prosecute it with the ardour that filled his soul. So shall you possess with him the joy that is set before you, and inherit to all eternity the rest that remaineth for the people of God.)
WISDOM OF TRUE PIETY.
Ps. cxix. 34. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy
law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. A SPIRITUAL discernment essentially differs from the mere exercise of our intellectual powers. A man may have the richest stores of human knowledge, and the most discriminating faculty in various branches of science, and yet be under the dominion, the allowed dominion, of his own lusts and passions. But spiritual knowledge is always accompanied with gracious dispositions : and for the sake of its practical effects alone is it to be desired. This appears from what St. Paul says respecting the intercessions which he continually offered before God in the behalf of his Colossian converts : “ We do not cease,” says he, "to pray for you, and to desire that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye may walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.” În a foregoing part of
a Col. i. 9, 10.