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he that increases knowledge, increases sorrow!" Even those dear relations of life which God has given for our richest consolation, the wife of our bosom, or the fruit of our body, are not without their attendant troubles; which are designed to teach us, that “this is not our rest m" and that God alone is the proper portion of the soul.
But notwithstanding all our disappointments, we are prone to seek our happiness in the creature; on which account God is necessitated, as it were, to deprive us of things, which, if, continued to us, would rob him of our hearts. Hence it is that the dearest of God's children are often most heavily afflicted. He sees perhaps that our health, our riches, our friends, have drawn us aside from him, or impeded our progress in the divine life, or that they will prove disadvantageous to us in the issue; and therefore he lays us on a bed of languishing, or causes our “ riches to fly away,” or “cuts off the desire of our eyes with a stroke." But his design in all this is, to weaken our idolatrous regard for created enjoyments, and to make us seek our happiness in him alone. And thousands have had more reason to bless him for the bereavements they have experienced, than for all the bounties he ever bestowed
upon them". Nothing however will finally destroy our attachment to earthly things, till we have learned how much more suitable provision God has made for the souls of his people. When therefore God, by his providence, has embittered or withdrawn our comforts, he leads us, by his grace, to that fountain of consolation, the sacred Oracles. There he proposes himself to us as a reconciled God and Father in Christ. He sets before our eyes “ the unsearchable riches of Christ," the “honour that cometh of God," and the “ pleasures that are at his right hand for evermore;" and, having enabled us to taste of these, he makes us to despise every thing in comparison of them, and willingly to relinquish the husks of this world, for the bread that is in our Father's house.]
But that we may not form a wrong opinion of our state, we shall declare, III. When our souls may be said to be as a weaned
[The whole world, with respect to earthly enjoyments, are like a child either before it is weaned, or while it is weaning, or when it is altogether weaned.
The generality are like a child at the breast, minding nothing but their carnal gratifications. The world, in its pleasures, riches, or honours, is the one object of their desire, the one source of their comfort: they feed upon it all the day long; they fall asleep, as it were, with it in their mouths; they are clamorous for it as soon as they are awake. In their very slumbers they not unfrequently shew, how wholly their minds have been occupied with that one object. Give them their favourite gratification, and they care for nothing else: rob them of that, and not all the world can pacify them.
1 Eccl. i. 18. and xii. 12. m Mic. ii. 10. n Ps. cxix. 71, 75.
Such are they who have a fulness of earthly comforts. But others, to whom these things have been embittered, or from whom they have been withdrawn, are, like a weaning child, disquieted beyond measure: they are unhappy in themselves; and they disturb all around them with their peevishness and discontent. Having lost that in which alone they found delight, they can take comfort in nothing else: yea, because of one thing of which they are deprived, they have no enjoyment of all the other things that they possess. In vain have they more suitable and substantial blessings offered them; they have no appetite for the provisions of the Gospel ; they refuse that which would infinitely overbalance their loss; and they pine away in querulous lamentations, when they might be nourished with "angels' food."
Some there are, however, who with David, resemble a weaned child. They are become indifferent to carnal enjoyments. They use with gratitude whatever God has bestowed; but they do not set their hearts upon it, or consider it as essential to their happiness". They suffer the loss of all earthly things with a holy resignation and composure of mind. Doubtless they have their feelings, like other men: but these feelings are moderated by religion, and brought into subjection to the Divine willp. The more they are bereaved of earthly comforts, the more entirely do they live by faith on Christ, and the more abundantly do they grow in every grace. Afflictions drive them, not from God, but to him: and in the midst of all their bereavements they shew, that they “ have meat to eat which the world knows not of,” and “ joys with which the stranger intermeddleth not."] APPLICATION
[Let those whose hearts are set upon the world, remember, how transient and unsatisfying their enjoyments are Let those who are disconsolate on account of their troubles, consider for what gracious ends God has caused them to be afflicted
And let those who feel a measure of David's spirit, strive for yet higher attainments, in the assured expectation that the more they are weaned from all but God, the more will God communicate to them out of his inexhaustible fulness.] DCCXXVI.
o Phil. iv. 12. Heb. xi. 24-26.
P 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26.
ZION A TYPE OF THE CHURCH.
Ps. cxxxi. 13-16. The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath
desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever : here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision : I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation : and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
THE efficacy of fervent prayer is strongly marked in the Holy Scriptures: there is scarcely a saint, respecting whom any information is given us, who may not be adduced as an example of God's readiness to answer prayer. Solomon, if, as some suppose, he was the author of this Psalm, records the answer which God vouchsafed to the supplications he had offered at the dedication of his temple : and it is worthy of observation, that the very language of his petition was made the vehicle of God's promise".
In considering these words we shall notice, 1. God's love to his Church
Mount Zion must be numbered among the most distinguished types, not only because its very name is given to the Church of Christ, but because God's love to his Church was represented to the world by the favours conferred on that chosen hill. As formerly on Mount Zion, so now in the Christian Church, God, 1. Dispenses his ordinances
[The Jews were not suffered to present their offerings in any other place : there alone were the sacrifices to be slain; and there alone were the means of reconciliation with God to be exhibited before their eyes. Thus in the Church of Christ, and in that only, have we the way of life and salvation fully opened. Among the heathen world we behold no traces of that path marked out for us in the Gospel: but wherever God has called a people to the knowledge of his Son, and appointed over them a faithful shepherd, there his word is preached with power; there the atoning blood of Jesus flows; the administration of the sacraments is not there an empty ceremony, but a lively and impressive exhibition of the doctrines of grace.]
a Compare ver. 8—10, and 2 Chron. vi. 41, 42. with the text and the verse following it.
2. Vouchsafes his presence
[When the ark, which had long abode in a moveable tabernacle at Shiloh, was brought to Zion, its residence was fixed; and the Deity, whom it represented, called that place his “ rest.”. From that time his visible glory was revealed there : he dwelt between the cherubims; and was accessible to all through the blood of the sacrifices, and the mediation of the high-priest. In the Church also is his glory seen, even the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Whatever may be known of him in the works of creation and providence is darkness itself, in comparison of that light which shines in his Gospel. To those, who seek his face," he manifests himself, as he does not unto the world ;” and often constrains them to cry out with astonishment, “How great is his goodness! how great is his beauty!"] 3. Communicates his blessings
[When the high-priest had finished his work within the vail, he came forth to bless the people ; and his word was confirmed by God to all penitent and believing worshippers. So now in his Church does God bless his people with all spiritual blessings. He imparts pardon to the guilty, strength to the weak, consolation to the troubled : whatever any stand in need of, they are sure to obtain it, if they come to him in his appointed way. This thousands can attest; this thousands yet unborn shall, in every succeeding age, experience.]
But his love to the Church will yet further appear by considering, II. The promises made to her-
These, as has been observed, precisely accord with the petitions offered. In them God assures his Church that he will bestow abundant blessings, 1. On the ordinances
[There may be in the text some reference to the assembling of all the males three times a year at Jerusalem, when it was probable that the conflux of such multitudes to one place might produce a scarcity of provisions, and thereby distress the poor. This effect God promises to counteract by giving them abundant crops. But certainly we must understand this as relating also to spiritual food : and how delightfully is it verified under the ministration of the Gospel ! The word, dispensed in one short hour, has, like the bread multiplied by our Lord, been food for thousands; and though simple, and unadorned, has, like the pulse given to Daniel and his companions,
b Ps. xlviii. 2, 3.
been more nutritious than all the dainties sent from the monarch's table] 2. On those who administer the ordinances
[The priests who served in the temple, were clad with linen, to denote the purity that was expected of them. But they, who minister under the Gospel, provided they walk worthy of their high and holy office, shall be “ clothed with salvation" itself: “ in watering others, they themselves shall be watered ;" and "in saving others, they themselves shall be saved." Nor is this a blessing to themselves alone ; for, in proportion as ignorant and ungodly ministers are a curse to those over whom they are placed, the superintendence of pious, intelligent, and faithful ministers must be esteemed a blessing.) 3. On those who attend the ordinances
[The request made by Solomon was, that “the saints might shout for joy :” and God tells him that they shall shout aloud for joy: thus does God on numberless occasions give us more than we either asked or thought. A faithful dispensation of the ordinances is a source of joy to many souls. The saints especially, who receive the truth in the love of it, are often enabled by it to " rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorified.” And this is a blessing, not to themselves only, but to the whole Church. By this they adorn, and recommend the Gospel; and are stimulated to diffuse the savour of it all around them.] INFER
1. How little reason have mere formal worshippers to think that they belong to the Church of God!
[The enjoyment of these promises is inconsistent with habitual formality: either therefore God falsifies his word (which it were the vilest blasphemy to imagine), or the formalist is yet an "alien from the commonwealth of Ísrael."]
2. How impotent are all attempts to destroy the Church!
3. How strong is the Christian's obligation to serve and honour God!
[Does God so delight in his Church as to make it his rest, and to load it with so many benefits? Surely every member of it should testify his gratitude by a cheerful and unreserved obedience.]
c Dan. i. 12, 13. d Ps. cxxv. 1. and xlviii. 12, 13. and xlvi. 5. and Matt. xvi. 18.