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to the Lamb: to this state were they all brought by that blessed word, which alone could ever prevail for so great a work. Thus it is that God has magnified his word; and thus it is that he will magnify it to the end of time; yea, through eternity will it be acknowledged as the one source of all the blessings that shall ever be enjoyed.]
Does God so honour his word ? Surely, then, we may see, II. What honour we should put upon it
I will here content myself with specifying only two particulars : 1. We should regulate ourselves altogether by it
[We should know no other rule, either for our faith or practice.
Whatever that speaks, we should receive with the most implicit confidence. Reason must judge whether there be sufficient evidence of its divine origin : but, that once admitted, the whole must be received by faith. We are not to be sitting in judgment on God's word, and saying, I cannot understand how there should be three persons in the Godhead; or how the Son should become incarnate; or how the Holy Spirit should dwell in the heart of a believer; or how we should be ultimately saved by a righteousness not our own. I say, we are not called to sit in judgment upon these things, but to receive them on the authority of God himself, who alone knows the manner of his own subsistence, or what is that mode of imparting salvation which is most suited to his own divine character.
If it be thought, that to expect a rational being so to submit his reason to the authority of revelation, is to require a sacrifice that is unworthy of him; I answer, that this is the very way in which all human knowledge is acquired. What knows a child, for instance, respecting the elements of language? You tell him, but in terms which he cannot comprehend, what grammar is, and what its rules are for the construction of language. What your instructions mean, he has no conception : but he takes for granted, that what you tell him is true: and from first receiving it simply on your authority, he comes, in time, to see that things are so, and must be so; that there is, in fact, no other way of communicating any abstract idea; and that, by that contrivance, we may open to the mind of another person the very inmost recesses of our own. Thus, in receiving the mysterious truths of God, we first take them on the authority of our Divine Teacher; then, gradually finding that they correspond with our own experience, we see that they are precisely as they have been represented to us : then we come to find that they could not be otherwise : and, in the issue, we obtain such views of their individual importance, their general harmony, and their mutual subserviency to the glory of God in the salvation of man, that we have no more doubt of them than of our own existence.
But it is not in speculative views that we must rest: we must, if we would indeed magnify the word, take it also as the rule of our conduct. We must not take offence at any thing because it requires more than we are disposed to yield : but, instead of lowering the command to our attainments, we must endeavour to elevate our attainments to it. The very “thoughts and imaginations of our hearts must be brought into obedience to God's blessed word;" and our whole souls be cast into it, as into a mouldk, not leaving a lineament in that unimpressed upon our souls, or retaining a feature upon our souls unconformed to that.
This is the way in which we are to honour the word; and to fail in any part of this, is to refuse it that entire submission which it requires at our hands.] 2. We should endeavour to circulate it to the
very ends of the earth
[This must follow as a matter of course. For, do we possess a mirror that reflects all the glory of our God; and shall we not desire that every human being may behold its light? Have we a standard to which every thing that is interesting to man may be referred; and shall we not give to the whole world the advantage of it? Have we a fountain from whence all imaginable blessings flow; and shall we keep it to ourselves, and not endeavour to impart its blessings to every child of man? Surely we must rather pant for an opportunity to make it known to the whole world. We must strive to circulate it through every country under heaven, whether civilized or savage: we must be ready to engage in translating it into every language in the world, in order that all men may be able to read in their own tongue the wonderful works of God. To preach it, too, we should account our highest honour, though it be amongst the most uncivilized nations of the earth: nor let it be thought that the most transcendent talents can be applied to any better purpose than this. On the contrary, the more eminent any person's talents are, the more would we urge him to consecrate them to the blessed work of translating this sacred volume into languages in which it has never yet appeared, and of instructing his fellow-creatures who are yet sitting in darkness and the shadow of death. Even an angel from heaven accounts it an honour to carry this book through the vast expanse of heaven, “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people!." Let it not then be thought an occupation k Rom. vi. 17. The Greek.
1 Rev. xiv. 6.
unworthy of us; and, whilst we are earnestly praying to God that he would send forth his light and his truth to every quarter of the globe, let us, by every possible means, endeavour to promote this glorious and blessed object. Let us first seek to have" the word of Christ dwelling richly in all wisdom” in our own souls, and then labour that“ it may have free course, and be glorified" throughout the earth.]
ANSWERS TO PRAYER.
Ps. cxxxviii. 3. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me,
and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. THE blessed word of God abounds with promises, with promises of all that we can need, grace, mercy, peace, strength, victory. But will these promises be so performed, that a poor sinful man like ourselves shall be conscious of the performance of them to his own soul? Here is the peculiar excellency of the Book of Psalms; in which we have a record of David's own experience. We see in this book a faithful delineation of a man's intercourse with his Maker; and, in the words which I have read, a testimony that God had fulfilled his word, yea, and magnified it above all his name.”
Let us consider, I. David's testimony to the compassion of his God
David was in the habit of spreading all his wants before God
[Exceedingly had he been tried from his youth up. With such unrelenting malignity was he persecuted by Saul, that nothing but a direct interposition of the Deity could preserve him
But he committed his cause to God in prayer
And when no hope, according to human appearances, remained to him," he encouraged himself in the Lord his Goda."]
And from God he received many signal answers to prayer
[Of this he testifies with much joy and gratitude In my text, he particularly declares that God's answers to his prayers had been both speedy and effectual. “In the very day that he cried, God had answered him," when he was shut up in the city of Keilah. He had heard that Saul was coming to besiege him there ; and he had reason to fear that the men of Keilah would deliver him up into the hands of Saul. On both these points he sought information from the Lord, who knew perfectly not only what designs actually existed in the minds of men, but what would be formed under any circumstances which might occur. Here was no time for delay: nor did God delay to give him the information he desired. Thus, through the speed with which his prayer was answered, his life, together with that of his followers, was preserved. Exceeding abundant, too, had been God's gracious communications to him in answer to his prayer. Any man who was not miraculously sustained by God would have sunk under the weight of his afflictions, or at least would have availed himself of the opportunities which were repeatedly afforded him of terminating them by the death of his inveterate enemy. But, though urged to it by his own friends, he would in no wise consent to such a method of extricating himself from his calamities. Well might he say, as in my text, “ Thou strengthenedst me with strength in my soul :” for, if not strengthened in a very extraordinary degree from on high, he never could have maintained such a conduct as this.]
a 1 Sam. xxx. 6. b Ps. xviii. 4-6. and xxxiv, 3-6.
When we see such a testimony as this, it becomes us to consider, II. The instruction to be derived from it
It would be impossible in one discourse, or in many, to unfold all the important lessons that are to be learned from this testimony: I will, therefore, confine myself to two : 1. The efficacy of prayer
[O that this were duly considered! How urgent should we be at the throne of grace! Who amongst us should not be able to bear the same testimony with David, if, like him, we habituated ourselves to fervent and believing prayer? Never did God say to any,
“ Seek ye my face in vain.” No: he is “a God that heareth prayer. “ The prayer of the upright is his delight.” And such is the efficacy of it, when poured out in faith, that, when he had determined to punish Israel for their iniquities, he forbad Moses to intercede for them: saying, “Let me alone, that I may consume them;" that is, ' If you intercede for them, you will bind my hands, so that I cannot execute the threatened vengeance: and, therefore, let me alone, that I
may be free to act.' Be assured, Brethren, that whilst you have a heart to pray, God has an ear to hear, and answer.
C 1 Sam. xxii. 9-12. d 1 Sam. xxiv. 47. and xxvi. 7-12.
David succeeded by“worshipping towards God's holy Temple :" and shall not you,
your prayer to Him whom the Temple typified, even the Lord Jesus Christ? Shall it be in vain to supplicate your incarnate God, or to go to the Father in the name of his dear Son? Try it; and you shall soon have to say with David, “ I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee: for in the day when I cried, thou answeredst mef.” Yes, you shall understand, by sweet experience, the truth of that promise, “ It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will heart." Nay, more, your God will do for you not only what you ask, but "exceeding abundantly above all that you can ask or think."] 2. The use and intent of trials
[We are apt to regard them as enemies that are greatly to be dreaded ; (and, no doubt, “ they are not for the present joyous, but grievous:") but they are indeed blessings in disguise. They are often sent to quicken us to prayer; to make us feel our dependence on God; and to discover to us the abundance of his condescension and grace. What would David have known of God comparatively, if he had not been placed in circumstances of great difficulty, where none but God could help him, and where God, in answer to his prayers, appeared for his support? No man ever more abounded in praises than he; but they all had their foundation in the deliverances vouchsafed in answer to his prayers. When, therefore, any trial comes, say with yourselves, Now God is preparing me for richer discoveries of his own glory; and if he make me to feel my own weakness, it is only that he may “perfect his own strength in and by that weakness.” Fear not, then, to go into any depths; since from them shall your prayer come up, even as Jonah's did, into the ears of the Most High; and God will take you from them, to set your feet upon a rock, and to fill you with praises and thanksgivings to him for the manifestations of his love h.] ADDRESS1. Those who restrain prayer before God
[The generality know not what prayer is, but content themselves with reading or reciting a form in which they feel no interest And of those who have on some particular occasions called upon his name, how many relapse into a cold and formal state, as though they had ceased to need the blessings which they once solicited! Alas! what enemies are both of these characters to the real welfare of their own souls! They are enemies even to their present happiness, and much more
f ver. 1. & Isai. Ixv. 24. h Ps. xl. 1-3.