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unto that which is before, and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus 8.”] 2. Let your dependence be on God alone[It was to God alone that David looked for the "
perfecting" of all his concerns. And to God alone must you look. No dependence whatever must be placed on your own wisdom or strength. It is “God who has wrought all your works in you” hithertoh: and he who has been “ the Author, must also be the Finisheri.” “ The same hand as laid the foundation of the good work, must bring forth the top-stone, that Grace, grace, may be ascribed to it,” for ever and everk.] 3. Blend your confidence with fear
[The confidence which David expressed did not supersede the necessity of holy fear. On the contrary, at the very moment that he so expressed it, he cried, “ Forsake not the work of thine own hands?!" It was thus with the Apostle Paul. No man ever had stronger confidence in God than he: yet “he kept under his body, and brought it into subjection, lest by any means, after having preached to others, he himself should be come a cast-away m.” Extremely important do I consider this suggestion. For, amongst those who express this confidence in God, many think themselves at liberty to relax their vigilance; taking for granted, that God will keep them, whether they labour to " keep themselves ” or not. But this is an abuse, and a very fatal abuse, of the doctrines of grace. The assistance promised us by God, is intended to encourage, not to supersede, our own endeavours: as it is said, “ Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you, to will and to do of his good pleasure." To every one amongst you, then, whatever his attainments be, I say, “ Be not high-minded, but fearp:” for “ blessed is the man that feareth alway?." Whilst you say with David, “ The Lord will command his loving-kindness in the day-time, and in the night his song shall be with me;" be sure to add, “My prayer shall be unto the God of my life"."] 4. Unite with fear, a firm unshaken confidence
[Arduous as David's circumstances were, he entertained no doubt respecting their final issue. He looked to “ God, as performing all things for him," and was satisfied. Now, in like manner, I would have you " encourage yourselves in the Lord your God.” Treasure up in your minds “ his exceeding great and precious promises,” and expect the accomplishment of them all to your souls. He has said, that “ he will never leave you;
& Phil. ii. 12-14. h Isai. xxvi. 12. i Heb. xii. 2. k Zech. iv. 9.
m 1 Cor. ix. 27. Jude, ver. 21. o Phil. ii. 12, 13. p Rom. xi. 20. a Prov. xxviii. 14. r Ps. xlii. 8.
s Ps. lvii. 2.
never, never forsake yout:” and you may rest assured that he will fulfil his word; for “ He is faithful who hath promised u.” "Cast, then, your care altogether upon him ";" and "commit the keeping of your souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creatory."]
t Heb. xiji. 5. u Heb. x. 23. x1 Pet. v. 7. y 1 Pet. iv. 19.
DCCXXXIV. THE OMNIPRESENCE AND OMNISCIENCE OF GOD. Ps. cxxxix. 1-12. O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known
me. Thou knowest my down-sitting and mine up-rising; thou understandest my thought afar off Thou compassest my path, and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways: for there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knouest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me ; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall
I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea ; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
DAVID was a man bitterly persecuted and greatly calumniated. Nothing could exceed the acrimony with which Saul pursued him to take away his life. But David had the comfort of a good conscience: and he often appealed to the heart-searching God to attest his innocence of those crimes that were laid to his charge. It is probable that such were his circumstances when he composed this psalm ; and that, when traduced by men, he consoled himself with the reflection, that every thought of his heart was fully known to God. The sentiments are delivered in an immediate address to the Deity himself : and they are such as ought to be deeply impressed on every mind.
Let us in our comment on this passage consider, I. The truths here acknowledged
David asserts in a most solemn manner the omnipresence of the Deity
[Certain it is, that God is everywhere present. “ If we should go up to heaven, he is there; or down to the grave or the abodes of departed spirits, he is there.” There is no point of space where he is not, or where he is not as wholly and entirely present as in heaven itself. “The heavens cannot contain him.” He himself puts the question to every child of man; “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lorda.” It is in vain therefore for us to think of hiding ourselves from him, since in every place “ he besets us both behind and before, and so lays his hand upon us,” that it is not possible for us to escape. He is present with us, " to lead us," if we seek his guidance ; or “to hold us,” if we would attempt to run from him.]
Together with the omnipresence of the Deity, the Psalmist further asserts also his omniscience
[The eyes of God are continually upon the ways of the children of men. What men know only by searching, God knows by a single glance of his eye, and as perfectly, as if he had “searched” with the utmost care and diligence into the minutest parts and circumstances of every transaction. Even the thoughts, yea, and every imagination of the thoughts of men's hearts, are open to him, together with the whole frame and habit of our minds. Are we retiring to rest, or lying upon our bed, or rising from thence after our night's repose ? he knows precisely in what state we are. He sees whether we are calling our ways to remembrance, and humbling ourselves before him, and imploring mercy at his hands, together with grace that we may serve him more acceptably; or whether our minds be running out after earthly objects, and occupied about the things of time and sense. Do we go forth to our respective callings? he sees by what motives we are actuated, and by what principles we are governed. Whatever fraud we may practise in our dealings with men, or whatever artifice we may use to promote our own interests, he is privy to it: on the other hand, whatever dispositions we may exercise, or actions we may perform, for the glory of his name, he beholds them also. We may be so unostentatious, that even our right hand may not know what our left hand doeth: but he knoweth it, and marks it with his special favour. So likewise in the public assemblies of his people, he sees whether in our devotions we be humble, fervent, and believing; or whether we have a mere form of godliness, without the power of it. In a word, wherever we be, in public or in private, he knoweth infinitely more of us than the best-instructed Christian in the universe can know of himself: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; we cannot attain unto it.” As for light or darkness, it makes no difference to him: " the night and the day to him are both alike." “ All things” without exception, even the most hidden recesses of the heart, are naked and open before him;" as the inmost parts of the sacrifices, when cut down the back-bone, were to the priest appointed to inspect them.]
a Jer. xxiii. 23, 24.
These are solemn truths: and the importance of them will forcibly appear, whilst we suggest, II. Some reflections naturally arising from them
On this subject we might multiply reflections without end, seeing that there is not any part of a Christian's experience which is not most intimately connected with it. But we will confine ourselves to two; namely,
1. That many, however high they may be in their own estimation, will be found most awfully to have deceived themselves in the last day
[Among the foremost of these are the ungodly and profane. These, with an atheistical contempt of God, go on in their own way, saying, “ Tush, God shall not see, neither shall the Almighty regard it:” “How doth God know ? can he judge through the dark cloud? Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth noto.” But how will they be surprised in the day of judgment, to find, that not one single act, word, or thought of their whole lives had escaped the notice of the Deity! They, if no human eye beheld them, prosecuted their licentious pleasures without fear; little thinking Who was present, beholding their every act, hearing their every word, noting their every thought. Had but a child been present, they could not have proceeded with such indifference: but Jehovah's presence they regarded not, any more than if he had been, like the heathen gods, unknowing, unconscious, unconcerned. Truly, it is a fearful account which they will have to give, when they shall see the long catalogue of their crimes written with unerring accuracy, and brought forward against them as the ground of their eternal condemnation.
Next to these are the proud formalists, who, because they have never run to any excess of riot, applaud themselves as righteous and secure of the Divine favour. But whilst they boast of their negative righteousness and their performance of some external duties, and look with contempt upon those who have been less moral than themselves, little do they think in what. a different light they are viewed by“ God, who knoweth their hearts; in whose sight that which is highly esteemed amongst men is not unfrequently an utter abomination." Very different is the standard by which he estimates them, from that by which they estimate themselves. The things for which he looks are, a tenderness of spirit, a lowliness of mind, a brokenness of heart, a deep self-lothing and self-abhorrence; not one atom of which has he ever seen in these self-applauding Pharisees. Say, thou formal moralist, when did the heart-searching God ever see thee weeping for thy sins, and smiting on thy breast, like the repenting publican, and fleeing to Christ as the manslayer to the city of refuge? When did he ever hear thee adoring and magnifying him for the exceeding riches of his grace in Christ Jesus? Know that He can discern between true and false religion, whether thou canst or not; and that it is “not he who commendeth himself, that shall be approved in the judgment, but he whom the Lord commendeth."
b Heb. iv. 12, 13. TETpaxnalouéva. See also Jer. xvi. 17. and Job xxxiv. 22.
c Job xxi. 13, 14. Ps. lxxiii. 11.
But of all self-deceiving people, there are none who have so much reason to tremble at the idea of God's omniscience as the false and hypocritical professor. True, if there were ten thousand of this complexion present, not one would apply the title to himself, or suppose himself to be comprehended under this head. Yet are there many such in the Church of God; many, whose religion consists in hearing and talking about the Gospel, rather than in exercising the spirit it inculcates. If a zeal about certain tenets, or running to hear sermons, or putting themselves forward in religious meetings, or sitting in judgment upon others who are not of their party, if this were religion, they would be very eminent: but if religion consist in humility of mind, in meekness and lowliness of heart, in patience and forbearance towards those who differ from them, in a diligent attention to the duties of their place and station, and in a secret walk with God, they will be found most awfully wanting in them all. Alas! the religion of many makes them not a whit more amiable and lovely in their dispositions and habits, than if they had never heard of “the example of Christ :” on the contrary, their pride, and conceit, and forwardness, and presumption, render them ten-fold more disgusting both to God and man, than if they made no profession of religion at all. When such persons come into the presence of their God at the last day, what testimony will they receive from the heart-searching God but this, that " they had a name to live, and were dead;" and that whilst " they said that they were Jews, they lied, and were in reality of the synagogue of Satan?” Yes; "their excellency may mount up to the heavens; but they shall perish like their own dung; and they that have seen them shall with surprise and grief exclaim, Where are theye?"
d Luke xvi. 15. e Job xx. 4-7.