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Let me then, in CONCLUSION, commend this liberty
to your acceptance
[Think not, my Brethren, that the Gospel is a mere system of restraints : no, it is a “perfect law of libertyy:" and “all who are made free by Christ, are become free indeed?.” O that religion were but understood in this view! No captive would more delight to shake off his chains, than sinners would to emancipate themselves from the sore bondage in which they are held. Know then, Brethren, that I am authorised, in the name of Jesus Christ, to "preach deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bruiseda.” The jubilee trumpet now sounds in your ears, and proclaims to you a restoration to all that you have ever lost and forfeited. Did not the poor slave, think you, when called to resume his liberty and his inheritance, account the trumpet a joyful sound? Let the Gospel, then, be such a sound to you : and, instead of regarding God's service as a hard bondage, adopt the language of the Psalmist : "I will walk at liberty; for I seek thy precepts." “Take upon you the yoke of Christ, and I pledge myself that you shall find it light and easy; and you shall obtain everlasting rest unto your souls b.'] y James i. 25. 2 John viii. 36. a Luke iv. 18, 19.
b Matt. xi. 28, 29.
COMFORT UNDER PERSECUTION.
Ps. cxix. 51, 52. The proud have had me greatly in derision;
yet have I not declined from thy Law. I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself.
THERE is not, throughout the whole Scriptures, any woe so little feared, so little thought of, so little credited, as that which was denounced by our blessed Lord, “ Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you"!" But, in truth, there is no denunciation more certain to be executed than that: for there is nothing that can more infallibly prove us to be the enemies of God, than the approbation and love of an ungodly world. If it be asked, Whence this should be? I answer, that “the things which are highly esteemed amongst men are an abomination in the sight of God; and that the things which are pleasing to God are no less an abomination in the sight of men: and consequently, that, whichever of the two we serve, we must of necessity lose the favour of the other. This is what our blessed Lord has told us : “Ye cannot serve God and mammon;" ye cannot adhere to either without despising and renouncing the other. And the truth of this has been exemplified in all the saints, from the time of Abel to the present moment. What David speaks respecting his own experience of it, will lead me to consider, I. The trials he endured
a Luke vi. 26.
He was held greatly in derision by his ungodly subjects
[If any one could have escaped contempt, we should have supposed that David would be the happy man. His rank in society, as the king of Israel; his extraordinary prowess in arms; the services he had rendered to his country; and the marvellous sublimity of his piety, must, we should have thought, have rendered him an object of universal love and admiration. But, amongst his proud and envious subjects, this last quality neutralized, as it were, all his merits, and reduced him to an object of hatred and contempt. The highest people in his kingdom delighted to speak against him; whilst the lowest readily joined in their opprobrious treatment of him. The fat bulls of Bashan on the one hand, and the dogs on the other, compassed him about®, and treated him with every species of indignity. Even his own wife, who should have been ready to stem the torrent of abuse that was cast upon him, herself joined in it with peculiar malignity"; and the very best actions of his life were made the chief subjects of their profane raillery, And let not this be thought a light affliction. Truly it is painful to flesh and blood to bear such contemptuous treatment: so, at least, the Apostle represents it in the Epistle to the Hebrewsh; and so Ďavid himself found it to be: “Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us !” says he: “for we are exceedingly filled with contempt: our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proudi."] And can we hope to escape a similar trial ?
[Look at the saints from the beginning, and find one that ever escaped it? How contemptuously did the scoffers of the antediluvian world ridicule the conduct of Noah, all the time b Matt. vi. 24.
d Ps. lxix. 12. e Ps. xxii. 12, 16. f 2 Sam. vi. 20. & 2 Sam. vi. 16. and Ps. lxix. 10–12. h Heb. x. 32, 33. i Ps. cxxiii. 3, 4.
that he was preparing the arkk! What an object of derision, too, was Isaac, on account of his confidence in God?! Behold Lot also in Sodom, and Elisha" and Jeremiaho in Israel: or rather, look at our blessed Lord himself, and all his holy Apostles; what was there too contemptuous for the ungodly to say either of himp or them?? How, then, can any one hope to escape in the present day? Is “the carnal mind less at enmity with God” now, than in former ages? That the laws of the land protect the godly to a certain degree, is true; but from the shafts of calumny and contempt, no laws, whether divine or human, can protect us: and this species of persecution, at least, shall every one experience, who will come out from the world, and boldly declare himself to be on the side of Christ'. " If they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, much more will they those of his households."]
For our direction, then, let us contemplate, II. The graces he exercised
Whilst he bore his trials with patience, he suffered none of them to divert him from the path of duty
[David's mind was too firmly fixed on God to be moved by the scoffs and raillery of a profane world. What he did, he did from principle. He regarded God's Law as a rule from which no trial whatever should induce him to depart. Not only would he not turn back from the path of duty; he would not turn aside from it, no, not for a moment. The more contemptuously he was treated by men, the more diligently he sought communion with his God, in the study of his blessed word, and in the exercise of fervent prayer 4. Hence, when he and his people were treated with the utmost possible scorn and derision, he could appeal to God in the following triumphant language: “ All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant: our heart is not turned back; neither have our steps declined from thy ways?."]
And such, also, is the firmness which we should manifest
[It should be with us "a small matter to be judged of man's judgments." We should have but one object, and that is, to approve ourselves to God; and, having “ the testimony of our consciences that we have pleased him,” we should not lay to heart the displeasure of others, however contemptuously or virulently it may be displayed. Onward we should go in our destined path, not turning either to the right hand or to the left. If the whole world should deride us, we should not be induced either to do any thing which will offend our God, or to forbear any thing which will honour him. That they “ hate our light,” and are offended at it, is no reason at all why we should put it under a bushel:" whoever they may be, whether friends or foes, our reply to them should be, "I will yet be more vile than thus?."]
k 2 Pet. iii. 3—6. I Gen. xxi. 6. with Gal. iv. 29. m 2 Pet. ii. 7, 8. n 2 Kings ii. 23. o Jer. xx. 7. P Matt. xxvii. 39–44. 91 Cor. iv, 13. r John xv. 19. s Matt. x. 25.
ver. 23, 24.
u Ps. lxix. 13. * Ps. xliv. 13-18. with lxix. 20.
y 1 Cor. iv. 3.
Nor will this be very difficult, when once we have tasted of, III. The consolations he enjoyed
In the recollection of “God's judgments of old, he comforted himself"
[The term “ judgments" has in the Scriptures a great variety of meanings. In the psalm before us it seems to import the declarations and decisions of Jehovah. Now God, in his word, has abundantly declared that such treatment is to be expected, and that it is, to those who suffer it, a token for good: “ The just upright man is laughed to scorn. He that is ready to slip with his feet, is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease." A lamp burning bright in a dark place is an object of high regard; but when it is so burnt down that the flame is quivering on the wick, and almost extinct, it is regarded rather as an object of disgust. And such is the light in which even the best of worldly men are viewed, when once God is pleased to convert them to himself: they are no longer welcomed as friends to exhilarate and enliven their companions, but are lothed rather, as the bane of social happiness. In God's estimation, however, they are proportionably exalted; and are taught to consider “the reproach of Christ as greater riches than all the treasures of Egypth.” In the view of these things, the Psalmist" comforted himself;" saying, “Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy Law is my delight. Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts c."]
The same sources of comfort are ever open unto us also
[Our blessed Lord speaks of this treatment as the certain portion of all his people: “Ye shall be hated of all men, for my name's sake d.
And does he represent this as a matter for grief and sorrow? Far from it: he tells us rather to
z 2 Sam. vi. 22. a Job xii. 4, 5. b Heb. xi. 26. c ver. 77, 78.
d Matt. x. 22.
“ rejoice and leap for joy, because great will be our reward in heaven" Besides, in these afflictions we are made "partakers of Christ's sufferings ;” and by means of them “ the Spirit of glory and of God is made more visibly and more abundantly to rest upon us : and though, part
of our enemies, God is evil spoken of and dishonoured, on our part he is glorified":" and, to crown the whole, we are assured, that, “ if we suffer thus with Christ, we shall also in due time be glorified together 8." And are not these declarations abundantly sufficient to comfort us, under all that we can be called to suffer for Christ's sake? No doubt they are: and, therefore, if we participate with David in his trials and his graces, we shall, both in this life and the next, be partakers also of his consolations.] LEARN, then, from this subject, 1. What expectations to form
[You must not dream of honour from man ; but be contented with the honour that cometh of God h
You must expect to go through “honour and dishonour, through evil report as well as good report i."] 2. What conduct to pursue
[Be not cast down when these trials come upon you; but submit to them, as sent of God for your good; and “rejoice that you are counted worthy to endure them for the Lord's
-] 3. What recompence to look for
[Be not anxious about the approbation of men, if only you may but approve yourselves to God. In a little time you will stand at his judgment-seat; and then you shall receive a testimony from him, and “ your righteousness shall appear as the noon-day.” If "the Lord Jesus do but confess you before his Father and his holy angels," it will be no grief to you that you have suffered for confessing him! A crown of righteousness and glory will be an ample recompence for all the hatred and contempt that an ungodly world could pour upon you.)
sake & "
e Matt. v. 10–12.
f 1 Pet. iv. 13, 14.
& Rom. viii. 17. k Acts v. 41.
DCCIV. SERIOUS AND SPEEDY CONVERSION TO GOD RECOMMENDED. Ps. cxix. 59, 60. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet
unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.