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down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God P." You must never forget that appeal which God himself makes to the whole universe, “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vainq.” Even in this world you may be sure that God will accept and bless you: for he has said, “ They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up
with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint?." But in the world to come, can any one doubt the acceptance of a penitent, contrite, and believing soul? You might as well doubt the existence of God himself: for he has said, that “we shall reap if we faint nots:" and to all his believing Israel he has engaged, that “they shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, and shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without endt."] p Ps. xlii. 11.
q Isai. xlv. 19. r Isai. xl. 31. s Gal. vi. 9.
t Isai. xlv. 17.
THE DUTY OF HOPING IN GOD. Ps. cxxx. 7,8. Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the
Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
THAT advice which flows from experience is at all times most worthy of our attention. In this view the words of our text claim peculiar regard. David, in the psalm before us, records a very signal deliverance which he had recently experienced, probably from an overwhelming sense of his own guilt and corruption : and, having informed us what methods he had used to obtain deliverance, and how effectual they had proved for his restoration to happiness, he recommends the adoption of them to all the people of God under all difficulties whatsoever; and assures them, that they shall not in any instance fail of success : “ Let Israel,” &c.
He sets before us, I. Our duty
Hope in God, as men generally use the term, is nothing more than an unfounded expectation that God will save us, whatever be our state, and whatever be our conduct. But a scriptural hope implies a suitable regard to the things we hope for, and to him in whom our hope is placed. It implies, 1. That we pray to him with fervour
[This was united with the Psalmist's hopea: and it must also be with ours. To pretend to hope in God while we neglect to spread our wants before him, is the grossest hypocrisy, and the most fatal delusion] 2. That we wait for him with patience
[It was in this manner that David exercised his hoped. Nor can we act otherwise, if we be sincere in our profession®. To be impatient, is an unequivocal mark of unbelief, and despondency'. But to wait patiently the Lord's leisure, is the office and evidence of faith and hope.] 3. That we depend on him with steadfastness-
[The promises of God to those who seek him, must be the ground of our hope". We are not to regard difficulties of any kind, as though they could prove any obstacle to God. However circumstances, both within and without, may seem to justify despair, we must "hope beyond and against hope'," assured that, as nothing is impossible with God, so not one jot or tittle of his word shall ever fail.]
This duty being of infinite importance, and of universal obligation, let us consider, II. Our encouragement to perform it
If we look inward, we shall find nothing but discouragement. But if, with David, we look to God, we may find abundant encouragement, 1. In his attributes
[While justice bears a frowning aspect, mercy smiles on the repenting sinner. God has opened a way for the exercise of his mercy in perfect consistency with the demands of justice; and to exercise it is his delightk. This attribute is as essential to his nature as wisdom, or power, or any other? Nor needs he to have it excited by a view of our misery (much less by any meritorious services of ours;) it is ever “ with him;" and is ready to manifest itself towards all those who call upon him.m]
2. In his works& ver. 1, 2.
b Matt. vii. 7,
3. c Ezek. xxxvi. 37. ver. 5, 0.
e Rom. viii. 25. | Isai. xxviii. 16. 1 Sam. xiii. 11, 12. & Hab. ii. 3. h ver. 5.
Tap' és ríða, Rom. iv. 18. Job xiii. 15. Isai. 1. 10. k Mic. vii. 18. 1 Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. m Rom. x. 12.
[“ Redemption” is the crown of all his works: and this also is with him, that he may impart it to those who groan under their sore bondage. Yea, with him is “ plenteous" redemption: he himself, as our near kinsman, (bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh") has the right of redemption vested in himo: and, having ability to pay the price, he will discharge our debt, and restore us, not only to liberty, but also to the inheritance which we have so basely alienated.] 3. In his word
[The declaration of his determined purpose by an inspired writer, is equivalent to an express promise. And, if the extent and certainty of this promise be considered, what an encouragement will it afford us to hope in God! There is no limitation whatever to the promise, provided, like “ Israel" of old, we wrestle with God for the performance of itp. However numerous and inveterate our iniquities may be, they shall “ all” be pardoned, and “ all” subdued 9.] APPLICATION
1. To prevent any abuse of this subject, we shall guard it
[The repetition of the name “Israel" distinctly marks the characters to whom the text is more immediately to be applied. It is the praying, waiting, and depending sinner that is exhorted to hope in God: and it is he alone who can expect redemption at the hands of God. Let such therefore see their duty and their privilege: but let those who live in the habitual neglect of God know, that their “hope is as a spider's web, that shall soon be swept away with the besom of destruction'."]
2. To impress the subject more deeply on our minds, we shall enforce it
[The advice here given is the most suitable that can be given, and if followed, will be productive of the greatest happiness. Were any of us directed to indulge a hope from our own endeavours, we should soon perceive the folly of such advice. Every day and hour would bring us fresh occasion for despair. But in God there is nothing wanting: he has the right, the power, and the will to redeem us. Nor, if we trust in him, shall we ever be confounded .
Let us therefore not limit either the mercy or power of our God; but putting away all self-righteous hopes, or unbelieving fears 4, let us repose an unlimited confidence in our merciful and faithful Redeemer.] n Eph. v. 30.
o Lev. xxv. 25, 47, 48, 49. P Gen. xxxi. 24-28. 9 Isai. i. 18.
r Job viji. 13, 14. s Isai. xlv. 17.
t Phil. iii. 3. u Ps. xlii. 11.
WEANEDNESS FROM THE WORLD.
Ps. cxxxi. 2. My soul is even as a weaned child. AMONG the great variety of representations whereby the Christian's character is set forth in the Holy Scriptures, that of a little child holds a very distinguished place". To this we annex the idea of humility, and teachableness, and resignation to the will of our heavenly Father. In this last view more especially the behaviour of a child was beautifully exemplified in the conduct of David. He had been anointed to the kingly office by God's command; yet he waited patiently for many years without ever aspiring to the kingdom, till the Lord's time came to give it him. Though he was persecuted with murderous rage and jealousy by Saul, he would never lift up his hand against the Lord's anointed, or give occasion of offence to the government under which he lived: on the contrary, he appeals to God in this psalm, that he had not indulged any ambitious thoughts, or interfered in any affairs of state, but had acquiesced in the disposals of an all-wise Providence, even as a weaned child does in the directions and government of his mother.
To illustrate this disposition of mind, we shall shew, 1. What those things are from which we ought to be
[The circumstances alluded to in the text will serve to direct our thoughts. David's indifference to all the pomp of royalty shews, that we should be weaned from pleasure, from riches, from honour, from every thing which we possess in this world.
Pleasure is but ill suited to the advancement of a soul in the divine life. There are indeed pleasures which we may lawfully enjoy: but if the heart be set upon them, we cannot properly engage in that race which we are to run, or that warfare we are to maintain: nor can we have any more decisive evidence of our being still unrenewed by divine grace.
Riches also may be possessed with innocence; but they must a Matt. xviii. 3.
ver. 1, 2. c Luke viii. 14. 2 Tim. iii. 4. Jam. v. 1, 5. 1 Tim. v. 6.
not be coveted. They should rather be considered as a snare which we are to dread, than as a blessing we are eager to obtain. They are as clay upon the feet of one that is running a raced, or as a weight tied to the neck of one that is swimming for his life. There has scarcely ever occurred an instance wherein the acquisition of them has furthered the divine life ; but thousands have been retarded by them, and not a few eternally destroyed.
Reputation is that which men in general are most averse to sacrifice: but we must be willing to part with that, if we would be Christians indeed. If we seek the honour that cometh of men, we cannot possibly be steadfast in the faith; we shall shrink from reproach, and prove unfaithful to God in the time of trial"; and being ashamed of Christ, we shall cause him to be ashamed of us in the day of judgment'.
There is not any thing, not health, nor friends, nor liberty, nor life itself, that we should value any further than as it may be improved to the glory of Godk. Our hearts must be weaned from all, so as to be ready to part with every thing, whenever God, in his providence, shall call for it.]
To evince that such a state is attainable, we shall shew, II. What methods God employs to wean us from them
[Without any indelicacy or impropriety we may observe, in allusion to the metaphor in the text, that to wean us from creature-comforts, our heavenly Parent embitters them to us, withdraws them from us, and gives us something more suitable in their stead.
Such is our attachment to earthly things, that we should never be willing to part from them, if they were not in some way or other embittered to us. God therefore, in mercy to us, mixes gall and wormwood with every cup he puts into our hands. In the pursuit of pleasure, our brightest prospects become clouded, our highest gratifications cloy, and numberless unforeseen accidents arise to damp our joys, and to disappoint our expectations. In the attainment of wealth, there are many cares to corrode, many vexations to disquiet us, so that we must write on all the bags that we have amassed, “ This is vanity and vexation of spirit.” The acquisition of knowledge seems to promise the most permanent satisfaction; but such is the labour requisite to attain it, and so little, after all, is within the reach of human intellect, that the wisest of men was constrained to say,
“Much study is a weariness to the flesh; and d Hab. ii. 6. e Matt. xix. 23, 24. f 1 Tim. vi. 9-11. g John v. 44. h John xii. 42, 43.
i Mark vüïi. 38. k Col. iii. 2. 1 John ii. 15--17. Luke xiv. 26.