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avenues. Some have found to their cost, that one sinful idea, which they have either seen in a book or picture, or heard in conversation, has abode with them through life, when they have greatly desired to forget it; whilst hundreds of sermons which they would have been glad to have remembered, have passed from their minds like the early cloud. Behold David, the man after God's own heart; what reason had he to curse the day that he ever looked upon Bathsheba!
What reason too had Solomon's fool to lament that ever he listened to the voice of the enchanting adulteress! It is not without reason that Solomon advises us not to look upon the wine when sparkling in the glass d. We must resist the very first entrance of sin into the soul; for it will operate like fire on a house of wood. Alas! “ how great a matter does a little fire kindlee!" Its progress is very rapid: and who shall stop the conflagration, when once it is begun? “When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." We exhort all then, like Solomon, to make a covenant with their eyes, and with their ears also, yea, and with the very imaginations of their heart; that neither their corporeal nor intellectual eyes become ministers of sin, or traitors to their souls.]
We should cry earnestly to God for his effectual grace
[God does and will preserve his people from evil, if they cry unto him. We should therefore call upon him both for his preventing and his quickening grace: we should pray, as David, “ Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
There are many ways in which God will turn away our eyes “ “from beholding vanity." He will, if we are really seeking it at his hands, keep temptation from us. And how much we are all indebted to him for this, we shall never know, till we come to the bar of judgment, and have all his mercies unfolded to our view. Thousands of our fellow-creatures, who were once as respectable in every point of view as ourselves, have in an hour of temptation so fallen, as to destroy all their own honour and happiness through life. And why have not we done the same? Are we sure that we, if subjected to the same temptations as they, should not have done the same? Oh! if we are wise, we shall cry day and night, “ Lead us not into temptation.” But there are many other ways in which God can, and does, impart the same blessing. Perhaps he lays some affliction upon our loins, and visits us with some personal or domestic calamity. We are apt on such occasions to complain of the affliction; whereas, if we saw from what evils the visitation was sent to deliver us, we should be adoring God for it as the richest of all mercies. Let our distress be either in body or mind, who will not bless God for it, if it be the means of weakening the influence of worldly objects on his soul, and of keeping his eyes from beholding vanity?
c Prov. vii. 6—23. d Prov. xxiii. 31, 32. e Jam. iii. 5.
f Jam. i. 15.
But, in addition to this, we should cry to him also for his quickening grace. However active we may be in the pursuit of earthly things, we all are too sluggish in our heavenly course, Nine times in this psalm does David cry, “Quicken me!” and ninety times nine do we need to renew the petition every day of our lives. Beg of God then to shew you more and more clearly the excellency of “his way" (even of that salvation which Christ has wrought out for us -), and the blessedness of the end to which it leads. This will quicken us more than any thing else. Let us see the excellency of a life of faith; and that will make us despise the things of sense. Let us also get Pisgah views of the land of Canaan ; and we shall value nothing that can be offered us in this dreary wilderness. Look at Christ as the
will soon “ cast away the besetting sins that impede you," and
run with alacrity the race that is set before you."] ADDRESS1. Young people
[Greatly do you need to offer the petition in our text. O! bear in mind what is the true character of earthly things: they are " vanity" altogether — Bear in mind your danger from them: they will ensnare, and, if the snare be not broken, destroy, your souls --- Bear in mind your need of divine grace to counteract their influence. It is God only that can preserve you: and, if not preserved by him, you will fall and perish - -] 2. Those who make a profession of godliness
[Think not that you are above temptation. Satan tempted even our blessed Lord himself, by " shewing him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. And you will he tempt in like manner. Nor imagine that you may not fall : for Demas was as eminent as any of you, and yet fell at last, through love of this present worldh. In every Church the sad effect of worldly and carnal lusts is seen. You yourselves see it in others. O, beware lest it be seen in you also. duty, and your happiness, to “ be crucified unto the world, and to have the world crucified unto youi.” You may use this world, if God have given it to you; but you must so use it, as not to abuse it;k” and so flee from all occasions of evil, that you may be" found of God at last without spot, and blameless!."]
& Heb. xii. 1, 2. h 2 Tim. iv. 10. with Col. iv. 14. and Phil. 24. i Gal. vi. 14. k 1 Cor. vii. 29–31. 1 2 Pet. ii. 14.
It is your DCCII.
TRUE LIBERTY. Ps. cxix. 45. I will walk at liberty; for I seek thy precepts.
JUSTLY as civil liberty is appreciated amongst us, there are but few who have just conceptions of that liberty which has respect to morality and religion. Every one knows that unrestrained liberty is licentiousness : but every one does not know, that a perfect obedience to God's Holy Word is the most perfect liberty that man can enjoy. This, however, is plainly intimated in the passage before us; from whence I shall take occasion to shew, 1. That the ungodly are strangers to true liberty
They will boast of liberty, and “promise it to all who will conform to their ways; but they are altogether in a state of bondagea:” 1. To the world
[The tastes of men differ, according to their age and to the sphere in which they move: but all of every age and every rank are subject to the laws of custom, which they dare not to infringe. Even the religion of men must be conformed to this standard; and God's commandments must be reduced to the scale which men have established for the regulation of their own lives. If one be told what God requires, he immediately bethinks himself, What will this person say, or that person do, if I comply with requisitions so foreign to the habits of those around me? Will they not deride my singularity, and set themselves to oppose my insufferable preciseness?' To justify their conduct, men put the Scriptures altogether aside, as an antiquated volume, the dictates of which are superseded by the wiser and more practicable maxims of fashion and “philosophy, falsely so called.” Yes: of all unconverted men it is declared, that they “ walk according to the course of this world ),” and “gaze strangely at any who presume to choose for themselves a holier patho.”] 2. To the flesh
[There are different degrees in which men yield to the impulse of their corrupt appetites: but every man has “a law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin which is in his members." In fact, there is not any one so ignorant, but that even his unenlightened reason prescribes to him a better path than he pursues. Let us look around, and see what are the dispositions and habits of all around us. Are not all “ fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind," without affecting any thing higher than the gratification of their own corrupt appetites? We are told, that “they who are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh":" and we know, from infallible authority, that to whomsoever we yield ourselves servants to obey, his servants we are to whom we obey 8." In truth, even to our dying hour will our conflicts with this tyrannical master continue; for even St. Paul himself complained, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death h ?"] 3. To the Devil
a 2 Pet. ii. 19. 6 Eph. ii. 2. c 1 Pet. iv. 4.
[Well is Satan called “ the god of this world: for he worketh in all the children of disobedience.” Ever since he prevailed over our first parents in Paradise, he has subjected the whole race of man to his dominion, “ taking them in his snares, and leading them captive at his willk.” That men deny the
agency, and even the existence of this great adversary, is only a proof to what an extent they are “blinded by him," and how effectually he has lulled them to sleep in his very arms m. Doubtless it is very humiliating to think of ourselves as his vassals: but this is the true state of every unconverted man; and even the saints themselves are not delivered from his influence, but through the mighty power of Jehovah himself, given in answer to fervent and believing prayer"]
But the Psalmist's mention of liberty leads us more particularly to shew, II. What sweet enjoyments they have of it who love
and serve their God David accounted the service of his God to be
perfect freedom. And so, indeed, it is : for the man whom “the truth of the Gospel has made free"," and who “looks to God's precepts” as his only rule of conduct, he, I say, walks, 1. According to the dictates of his own judgment
[He has an insight into the mind and will of God, and clearly discerns that there is not, in all the Holy Scriptures, a command which does not conduce to the happiness of all who obey it. His own mind and conscience go along with the word of God, and set their seal to the truth and excellency of every thing contained in it. “Not one commandment appears to him to be grievousP:" the whole law of God is esteemed by him as "holy, and just, and good." To " love God with all his heart and soul and strength, and his neighbour as himself,” does not appear to him any hardship imposed upon him, but the perfection of his nature and completion of his felicity: so that he would on no account have one atom of this law cancelled, or mitigated in the least degree. His own judgment tells him that it is no less his privilege, than it is his duty, to be "holy, as God is holy;" and "perfect, as his Father who is in heaven is perfect."] 2. Agreeably to the inclination of his own will—
d Rom. vii. 23. e Eph. ii. 3.
f Rom. viii. 5. 8 Rom. vi. 16.
h Rom. vii. 24. i Eph. ii. 2. k 2 Tim. ï. 26.
1 2 Cor. iv. 4. m Luke xi. 21. n Eph. vi. 12—18. Jam. iv. 7. Rom. xvi. 20. • John viii. 32.
[He is neither drawn nor driven against his own will. He is, indeed, “ made willing in the day of God's power";" but “he is drawn with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love." He does not, indeed, all that he would ; yea, in too many respects he does what he would nott:" but this very thing shews that it is rather strength than inclination that he wantsu. Could he have but the desire of his heart, he would leave no sin unmortified, no duty unfulfilled. He is in the situation of one who is running a race, or “fighting a fight:” had he but his will accomplished, his every antagonist would be vanquished in a moment, and “ death itself, his last enemy, be swallowed up in victory."] 3. In an unbiassed exercise of his own affections
[He has a real delight in God. He does not observe the duties of prayer and praise through the fear of hell, but from a real pleasure which he feels in drawing nigh to God, whom it is his privilege to call by the endearing name of Father, and in communion with whom he would gladly walk all the day long. Conceive of Adam before his fall; and there you have an image of those who, through the tender mercy of God, are restored. True, they still have “ the flesh lusting against the Spirit, as well as the Spirit lusting against the flesh; so that they neither do, nor can do, all that they would*:" but their taste is the very same with that of angels; and the felicity of angels is begun in them: for their life, so far as they have really attained, is both a preparation for heaven, and a foretaste also of heaven, in their souls.]
P 1 John v. 3. 9 Rom. vii. 12. and Ps. cxix. 128.
i Rom. vii. 15. u Rom. vii. 16-20. x Gal. v.17.