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exercises, and so great his delight in them, that he "prevented the dawning of the morning,” and rose often while it was yet dark, in order to pour out his soul before God.
Now this shews us how the renovation and salvation of the soul should be sought by every child of man. It should occupy our whole mind; it should engage our whole soul. To seek it in à lukewarm and listless way, is to shew that we have no just value for our souls, and no real delight in God. Examine, we beseech you, beloved Brethren, how it is with you in this respect
ye may as surely know by this the state of your souls before God, as if ye were to look into the very book of God's remembrance - You must distinguish also carefully between the exertions that are made in your own strength, and the efforts which are made in prayer to obtain help from God. It is from these that you must judge of your selfknowledge, and humility, and dependence upon God: for in proportion only as you feel your own weakness, and his readiness to aid you, will your application to him be such as David's
[The word of God meditated on, and applied to the soul by faith, is the great support and encouragement of all who desire mercy at God's hands : and David“ prevented the night-watches in order to read it, and meditate upon it, and pray over it. Thus it should be with us also. O then let me ask, Is the blessed word of God the one rule of your desires, and the one ground of your expectations? and in this view is it your meditation day and night? Here again you may obtain an insight into the state of your souls, and learn to estimate with precision your spiritual attainments. You may, as biblical students, be extremely diligent, consuming the midnight oil, and labouring all the day, without being at all nearer to God than those who never look into the sacred records. The question is, Whether you lay hold of it as a word of promise from God to you, and whether you plead it day and night before God in prayer? This will prove you Christians indeed ; more especially if the promises of grace for your sanctification be as dear to you as the promises of mercy for your pardon and acceptance. This is the habit of mind which God approves, and which will assuredly issue in everlasting salvation -- -] APPLICATION
1. How have your minds hitherto been exercised in relation to eternal things ?
[Have you thus redeemed time, even from your sleep, for the purpose of forwarding with all possible earnestness the welfare of your souls? - -]
2. What are your views and purposes respecting them in future ?
[Are you procrastinating, and wasting your time in indolent habits or worthless pursuits?
O! awake from your slumbers: up, and be doing: and the Lord be with you!
DCCXIII. BLESSEDNESS OF THOSE WHO LOVE GOD'S LAW. Ps. cxix. 165. Great peace have they which love thy law : and
nothing shall offend them. THE force of principle is exceeding great, even where the principle itself is erroneous and vicious, but much more where it is founded upon the unerring word of God. It produces in our conduct, promptitude, uniformity, decision : and, whilst it stimulates to action, it supports the mind in case of failure and disappointment. Now of all principles, that of love to God and to his revealed will is the strongest. We see in the saints of every age what wonders it is able to effect --- In the words before us, David informs us what peace it will bring into the soul amidst the heaviest trials, and what stability amidst the greatest difficulties. But for the more full elucidation of his words, we will consider, I. The character here described
“ The law of God” generally throughout the Psalms means the whole revealed will of God. It is not to be confined to the moral, or the ceremonial law; it comprehends the Gospel also : it is “ the law which should go forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem;" even, as St. Paul calls it, “ the law of faith.”
To “ love" this law is a strong expression, importing much more than a mere obedience to it: for we may conceive persons to obey it through fear; whereas those who love it, see an excellency in it, and cordially approve of it in all its parts. They love it, 1. As a mirror of truth
[In this view it is spoken of by an inspired Apostle“; and it is justly so represented, because it reflects with perfect fidelity every feature of the human heart. It never flatters, never distorts; but shews, to every one who will look into it, precisely what character he bears in the sight of the heart-searching God. An insincere person does not like it; he turns away from it: he will not come to it, because it presents to his view his own deformities. But the true Christian loves it on this very account. He desires to know the worst of himself. He sees that it will be to no purpose for him to deceive his own soul: he is assured that God will not form his estimate according to the partial views which he himself may take: and therefore he desires to see himself just as God sees him. True it is, that he never looks into this glass without finding deeper and deeper cause for humiliation but still he loves it; yea, he loves it on this very account; even as David did, when he said, “Thy word is very pure; therefore thy servant loveth it."] 2. As a revelation of mercy
a Jam. i. 23-25.
[In this view it is particularly delightful to him. The plan of salvation which it unfolds is so grand, so wonderful, so suitable in all its parts, and so sufficient for all his necessities, that he can never sufficiently admire it It is his meditation, and his song, all the day. The Scripture represents the Gospel as " a feast of fat things, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined :” and such indeed he finds it to his soul. In comparison of it, and of the knowledge of it, he "counts all things in the universe but dross and dung" — -] 3. As a rule of life
[From the moment of his having found the way of salvation by a crucified Redeemer, the one desire of his soul has been to “ live to Him who died for us and rose again.” “ What wilt thou have me to do ?” has been his constant inquiry at the throne of grace: and he delights exceedingly in this word as a sure directory under every situation and circumstance of life. From day to day he reads it with this particular view, that he may know “ how to walk and to please God.” He perceives that men are always endeavouring to lower the requisitions of this law: but he strives rather to have his attainments raised to that perfect standard. Not one of all its commandments is regarded by him as grievous. Nothing is grievous, but his own want of conformity to them. Could he have his heart's desire, it would be to " walk in all things as Christ walked," and to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God" — --]
In proportion as this character exists in any, is, II. The blessedness of those in whom it is found
This, as might well be expected, is exceeding great. We notice it in two respects;
1. The happiness of their minds
[“ Peace," in the Scripture use of the term, is not a mere absence of trouble, but an actual state of very sublime enjoyment.
“ who loves God's law” in the way before described, has, as the very first-fruits of his faith in Christ, a sense of reconciliation with God: “ being justified by faith, he has peace with God: God has said to him, both by his word and Spirit, “ Peace, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Combined with this, he has the testimony of a good conscience. Though he sees nothing in himself but what furnishes him with grounds for humiliation and self-abasement, he cannot be insensible of the change that has been wrought in him: he dares not deny the work of God in his soul.
He has the witness of the Holy Spirit, and the testimony of his own spirit, concurring to assure him, that “old things have passed away within him, and all things become new :” and though he cannot attain that measure of perfection that he aspires after, he is conscious that, if he could, he would be
pure as God is pure,” and “perfect as God is perfect.” His daily and hourly employment brings in an abundance of peace to his soul. He is engaged in doing what he believes to be the will of God; and he finds by sweet experience the truth of that saying, “ The work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance for ever b.” Nor has he less comfort in looking forward to the eternal state. He is not left to be a prey to fears and apprehensions about his future destiny. He knows in whom he has believed, and that his God and Saviour is able to keep him unto that great and awful day. He sees also, that he has in Christ a right and title to the heavenly inheritance; and that, "when the earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, he has a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Hence, instead of dreading the approach of death, he looks forward to it as the consummation of all his wishes, and the completion of all his happiness; and “ desires to depart, that he may be with Christ.” Such is the peace which it is the privilege of all who love the Gospel to enjoy, and which Christ himself has left them as a most invaluable legacy, saying, “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you:” and verily it is “ a peace which passeth all understanding.") 2. The stability of their goings
[Those who have not this divine principle within them, are liable to be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, and to be “ moved from their steadfastness" by every temptation. But not so the true Christian, in whose heart the law of God is engraven. He, though still assaulted with manifold temptations, is enabled to withstand them all. At the very moment of the assault, he says, with Joseph, “How shall I do this wickedness, and sin against God?” And throughout the whole course of his life he experiences, on the whole, the truth of that promise, “ God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” If he be tried with the most formidable persecutions, he does not, like the stony-ground hearers, presently desist from following the Lord, but takes up his cross manfully, and makes up his mind to suffer the loss even of life itself, rather than dishonour and deny his Lord. Be his trials ever so numerous, he says concerning them, “None of these things move me, neither count I
b Isai. xxxii. 17. See also Ps. xix. 11. and Prov. iii. 17.
my life dear unto me:" “ I am ready, not to be bound only, but also to die, for the Lord's sake.” Perhaps one of the greatest stumbling-blocks which lie in the way of the sincere, is the fall of many who once appeared to run well. These, in their fall, sweep away, as it were with their tail, many, very many, of the stars of heavena. But those who truly love God's law are fixed as the sun in the firmamento. They know that the truth and excellence of religion does not depend on those who profess it: and therefore, whatever be the conduct of others, he determines, through God's assistance, to hold it fast even to the end. Thus does he surmount the obstacles which sin and Satan place in his way; and is finally" made more than a conqueror through Him that loved him."] ADDRESS1. To those who possess not this character
[It is indeed a great thing to love God's law. Let not any imagine, that a general approbation of it is that which will either satisfy God, or bring peace into the soul. We love it not aright, if we do not love it universally, in every thing that it requires, and supremely, above all that the world can give or take away. Nor let any one who does not thus love it, expect peace to his soul; for God has said that there is no peace unto him?: nor can he have stability, seeing that he is in darkness even until now. You must inquire for the good old way, and walk therein, if ever you would taste this inestimable blessing'
2. To those who, whilst they profess to have attained this character, enjoy not the blessings connected with it
[God's word is true ; nor shall any who trust in it be
(1 Cor. x. 13.
d Rev. xii. 4.
e Ps. lxxii. 5.