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AT what period of David's life these words were written, we are not informed : if in his early youth, they relate to his first conversion to God; but if in his middle or more advanced life, they declare the daily habit of his soul. Under any circumstances they are very instructive. To young people they shew, that it is never too early to begin a life of entire devotedness to God.
To those engaged in business of any kind, they manifest, that, whilst in the world, they should not be of the world, but in the midst of all their cares they should preserve their minds spiritual and heavenly. To the great and noble, yea, to princes and kings, they hold forth a solemn admonition to imitate the Jewish monarch, and to be as eminent in piety, as they are elevated above others in state and dignity. This all may learn from them, that if ever we would find acceptance with God in the great day, we must turn to him, I. With care and diligence
Inconsideration is the source of almost all the evil that exists
[Men will not give themselves the trouble to look back upon their past conduct. They take for granted that all has been right, or at least not materially wrong; and that they have done nothing that calls for any particular humiliation before God. Of this the prophet Jeremiah complains &; as does our Lord also of the Jews in his day. Nor will men take much pains to ascertain the path of duty in reference to what is future: they love rather to act from the impulse of the moment; nor have they any apprehensions that they shall offend God by any thing that they may do. “ They do what is right in their own eyes," without inquiring whether it be right in God's sight, or not; or whether he remembers it, or not.]
But we should compare our actions carefully with the word of God
[The sacred volume is the only adequate standard of truth and virtue. If we satisfy ourselves with the opinions of men and the customs of the world, we shall be sure to err.
We should take “God's testimonies," and try our ways by them. In particular, we should notice what God has testified to us in his gospel; and see whether in our spirit and conduct we are such as he requires us to be. In this lies the vast difference between the standard of the world and that of God: the world regards nothing but our outward conduct, and that chiefly in reference to the welfare of society; whereas God has respect to all our dispositions towards him and his Christ, and to all our motives and principles of action towards men. We should take the scripture then as our touchstone; and see how far the whole habit of our minds accords with what is required of us there, and what we see exemplified in the primitive saints
a Jer. vii. 6.
b John iii. 19, 20.
c Hos. vii. 2.
Yea, we should set Christ himself before us, and try ourselves by the standard of his perfection -]
And, having ascertained what God's word requires, we should rectify our lives according to it
[We must " turn," not our thoughts only, but “our feet" also, unto his testimonies. Having found out our past errors, we should humble ourselves for them, and determine, through grace, to run into them no more: and having discovered "the good old way,” we should strive, through grace, to "walk in it.” As for obstacles of any kind, we should not regard them. We should have it settled in our minds, that “the high-way of holiness” is the only road that will lead to heaven; and we should resolve, that, however narrow and unfrequented it may be, we will walk in it, even though earth and hell should conspire to obstruct our progress -- This is the advice given us by the voice of inspiratione ; and to follow it is the duty, the interest, the happiness, of every human being"]
In this however there should be no delay: we should all address ourselves to this work, II. With promptitude and decision
Next to utter thoughtlessness is the evil of procrastination
[There are none so blind as not to know that they have some occasion for repentance, or so hardened as to have formed a determined resolution that they will never repent. All have a faint purpose in their minds, that at some future period they will repent: but then they put it off at present, in expectation of some “more convenient season.” The young think that they have time enough before them, and that any great attention to religion is unsuited to their age. The busy are so engaged in their several concerns, that they think they may well be excused attending to religion, till a time of greater leisure. Every one finds some excuse for himself, and puts off the evil day, in hopes that some period will arrive when he shall be better disposed to the great work of turning unto God --
d Matt. vii. 13, 14. e Lam. üi. 40. f Eccl. xii. 13. Luke x. 42.
But it is folly and madness to defer this important work
[It must be done; or else we inevitably and eternally perish
No man can call an hour his own. “ We know not what a day, an hour, a moment, may bring forth:” whilst we are looking for days and years to come, God may say, “ Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”
The difficulty of the work increases daily. The force of habit is exceeding great: and the longer we fulfil the desires of the flesh and of the mind, the more difficult it will be to mortify and subdue them -We are in danger also of provoking God to withdraw from us all the assistances of his Spirit. We may “grieve the Holy Spirit,” yea, may“ quench” also his sacred motions. God has said, “My Spirit shall not alway strive with man:” and if once he say respecting us, “Let them alone,” our doom is sealed as surely as if we were already gone beyond redemption. And how awful is the state of those who
unprepared! What “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” will they experience, cursing their own folly, and vainly wishing it were possible for them to have another opportunity afforded them for working out their salvation 8!
Say then whether any man should defer one hour this necessary work! surely we should "make haste, and not delay, to keep God's commandmentsh."] That in this great work you may not miscarry, we
would subjoin some useful ADVICECry mightily to God
and seek of him, 1. Impartiality in judging
[Self-love always prompts us to form a favourable estimate of our own conduct. If we search at all, we search rather for excuses than for sins; for grounds of self-approbation, rather than of self-reproach. But what folly is this! God will form his estimate aright, whether we do or not; and by his own estimate he will judge us in the last day. Professors of religion, no less than others, are warped by self-love; and thousands there are whose spirit and conduct are directly at variance with the Gospel, whilst yet they boast of themselves as lights in a dark world O search your hearts, as the Jews searched their houses for leaven, or as you would search a room for jewels which you had lost. You would not hastily shut your eyes, and say, There is no jewel here; but you would be examining every corner, to find as many as possibly you could; not content to leave so much as one undiscovered. If such impartiality were once exercised by us in detecting our sins, we should not be far from the kingdom of God.] 8 Eccl. ix. 10.
h See Heb. iii. 7-14.
2. Fidelity in acting
[Were a traveller, after long and laborious search, to find the true way to the place whither he was journeying, he would retrace his steps, and proceed in the path which led to the place of his destination. It might be less pleasant than his former path; but still he would walk in it. Say not then that a life of entire devotedness to God is difficult, or that the ways of Christ and his Apostles would make you singular, or require sacrifices on your part. Be it so: but still you must go forward : you must "not confer with flesh and blood :” you must give yourselves up, in body, soul, and spirit, to the Lord. You must strive to “walk altogether as Christ walked,” and to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”] 3. Firmness in persevering
[It is comparatively easy to begin well: the difficulty lies in persevering. The fear of death, or some strong impression on our minds, will operate for a time; but, if there be not a root of grace in us, we shall soon turn back to our evil ways. And, if we do that, we make our state really worse than it was before we thought of our ways at alli. O " be not weary in well doing.” Make up your mind to encounter difficulties, and to endure hardships : and know that the end will richly repay for all the difficulties of the way.]
i 2 Pet. ii. 21.
THE GOODNESS OF GOD.
Ps. cxix. 68. Thou art good, and doest good : teach me thy
statutes. THE perfections of God, if considered only in a speculative view, must excite our admiration ; but, if contemplated in reference to our state and conduct, they will be to us a source of unspeakable comfort, and a spring of incessant activity. What emotions a knowledge of the Divine goodness will produce in the soul, we see in the words before us; in discoursing upon which we shall notice, I. The goodness of God
In conformity with the text, we shall call your attention to,
1. His essential goodness
[This is not an indiscriminate regard to all, whether they be good or evil; for such a regard would not consist with justice, or holiness, or truth: but it is a general benevolence towards the whole creation, operating incessantly for the good of the whole. The manner in which it discovers itself is as various as the states of men : but, however diversified its operations may be, it is the same principle in God. It is the sum of all his perfections: towards the undeserving it is grace; and to the ill-deserving, mercy: to the indigent it is bounty ; to the distressed, pity and compassion : towards the impenitent it is forbearance, and to the obstinate and incorrigible it is justice. This is the view which God himself gives us of his goodness; and, in this view, it resides in him necessarily, in him only, and in him continually.] 2. His communicative goodness
[This he manifests to the world at large. When first he created the world, he formed every thing very good.” And if we look around us, we shall be constrained to say, “ The earth is full of his goodness."
Towards man in particular, his goodness is more abundantly displayed. Towards the ungodly he has shewn it, by giving his only dear Son to die for them, and his good Spirit to instruct them: yea, he has set apart an order of men also to entreat them in his name to accept the proffered salvation. Towards the godly he has abounded yet still more in the exceeding riches of his grace: for, in addition to all that he has done for the ungodly, he has made his word effectual for their conversion; and he watches over them with paternal care, supplying all their wants, and protecting them in all their dangers; and, to complete the whole, he will crown them finally with his glory.]
Such a view of God as this cannot but lead us to adopt, II. The petition grounded upon it
The petition itself is such as all ought to offer for themselves
[By “ the statutes" of God we understand both the truths he has revealed, and the precepts he has enjoined. Of these we are by nature ignorant; nor can we by mere human exertions ever acquire a right understanding of them. We must be taught of God: our eyes must be opened by his Spirit:
a Moses prays for a sight of God's glory; God promises to shew him his goodness; and then represents it as consisting in an united exercise of all his perfections. Exod. xxxiii. 18, 19. and xxxiv. 6. 7. b Ps. ciïi. 1-5.
c 1 Cor. ii. 14,