« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
The confidence which any of these classes may profess, only binds upon them the more strongly the fetters they have forged for themselves, and ensures more certainly their everlasting ruin'.)
2. That many who are low in the estimation both of themselves and others, shall receive at last from God himself a glorious testimony in their behalf
[Many there are of the Lord's “ hidden ones," who have been kept back by diffidence or other circumstances from joining themselves to the Lord's people in an open and ostensible way, who yet shall receive from God the strongest tokens of his approbation. They perhaps envied the gifts and talents of some more forward professors, and thought themselves unworthy to join in their society: but God, who knew their hearts, said of them, “ I know thy poverty; but thou art rich.” He heard the sighs and groans which they uttered from day to day under a sense of their own unworthiness. He treasured up in his vial the tears they shed from a lothing of themselves, and an admiration of their God. He saw how precious the Lord Jesus Christ was to their souls, as their hope, their peace, their strength, their all
. They were of no account perhaps amongst their fellow-Christians; but they were greatly beloved of their God. The more abased they were in their own eyes, the more exalted they were in his. He saw that in their prayers, their fastings, their alms, they sought not glory from men; and therefore“ he in the last day will reward them openly." He will say of them in that day," I saw thee under the fig-tree:”.“ if thy talent was small, thou madest a good improvement of it:” thou thoughtest that in “giving thy mite to the sanctuary," thou hadst done nothing ; but I testify for thee, that "it was more in my sight than all that the rich gave out of their abundance." Yes, Beloved, as ye desire to serve and honour God, so will God accept and bless you : " He will bring to light the counsels of the heart; and then shall every man, who was of no account in his own eyes, have praise of God.” If then, Brethren, ye be overlooked, or even calumniated and traduced by men, lay it not to heart, but seek to approve yourselves to the heart-searching God. Let man have his day, knowing assuredly that God will have his also 6, and that “ his judgment will be according to truth."] APPLICATION
(Let all now shew what regard they have for God. Let all retire, with a consciousness that God sees them: let them go to their secret chamber, and there implore mercy from him for their past neglect of his presence, and grace that they may henceforth be enabled to " set him always before them,” and to “walk in his fear all the day long."]
f Prov. xxi. 2. and Ps. l. 21. 8 1 Cor. iv. 3, 4. See the Greek.
A CHRISTIAN'S DELIGHT IN GOD. Ps. cxxxix. 17, 18. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me,
O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand : when I awake, I am still with thee.
THESE words will admit of a twofold interpretation: they may be considered as referring to the thoughts which God had entertained in his bosom respecting David, or to those which David entertained respecting God. If we take them in the former sense, the import of them is to this effect: * It is impossible for me ever to enumerate the mercies which, in thine eternal counsels, thou hast prepared for me, and which I am daily receiving at thy hands: and if I should attempt to number them through the whole day, I should make so little progress, that in the following morning I should have all my work to do again. In this view, they agree with what the inspired penman says in another psalm, “ Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward : they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbereda." If we take them in the latter sense, their meaning is, 'My delight in contemplating all thy glorious perfections, and all the wonders of thy love, O my God, is inexpressible: it is my sweet employment day and night, insomuch that my first waking thoughts ever recur to thee.' In this sense they accord with what he says in the 104th Psalm : “ I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise unto my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.” It is to this latter sense that I rather incline; because there is a remarkable coincidence between the general subject of the 104th Psalm with that which is before us, (both of them speaking altogether of God as the Creator and Governor of the world ;) a Ps. xl. 5.
b Ps. civ. 33, 34.
and because the expressions of delight in God, in both the psalms, stand in immediate connexion with his aversion to sinners, whom, for their opposition to God, he consigns over to merited disgrace and punishment'. But, in either case, this is clear, namely, that David found his happiness in contemplating the Deity: and whether we extend his views to the wonders of God's love in general, or confine them to those which had been vouchsafed personally to himself, they will equally afford me occasion to shew you the nature and blessedness of Christian experience.
Let us consider,
The world at large have no conception of delighting themselves in God: they rather say to God in their hearts, “ Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” And they endeavour to put him far from them: for they will not entertain him in all, or any of their thoughts. Nor has the hypocritical professor of religion any real delight in God: for Job says of him, “ Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God'?” But of the true Christian this is a very leading features: he delights, 1. In the contemplation of God
[His mind soars upwards to the Deity; who is, as it were, ever present to his view. In all the works of creation, in all the dispensations of Providence, and in all the wonders of redemption, he sees the glory and excellency of his God. He can behold nothing, he can think of nothing, which does not set God before him in some of his glorious perfections. The wisdom, the power, the goodness, the patience, the forbearance, the love, the mercy of his God, pass in review before his eyes, and call forth his devoutest acknowledgments; and the display of these, in his own personal experience, calls forth in him such admiring thoughts as no language can adequately express.
But it will be remembered, that this psalm speaks particularly of the omnipresence and omniscience of the Deity; and these perfections, which are so terrible to the ungodly, and of which they would, if possible, divest him, are to the true Christian a source of exquisite delight. Wherever he goes, he sees God at his right hand, ready to direct him in all his ways, ready to succour him in all his exertions, ready to preserve him in every danger. In many instances, his views are misapprehended, his actions misinterpreted, his character traduced. But he comforts himself in the thought that God knoweth his heart, and is acquainted with every motion there; and that, whether he interpose or not to vindicate his character in this world, he will do it in the world to come; and that, if man have his day, God also will have hish. True, he is conscious that God sees his infirmities; but he knows that God can distinguish what man cannot so easily discern, the difference between unallowed infirmities and wilful sins; and that if he behold our weaknesses, he is also acquainted with our sighs, our tears, our groans, every one of which attests the desire of our hearts, even where there has been too evident a failure in our attainments.] 2. In communion with him
c Compare Ps. civ. 34, 35. with Ps. cxxxix. 18, 19. d Job xxi. 14.
e Ps. x. 4 Job xxvii. 8, 10. & Ps. xxxvii. 4. Isai. lviii. 14.
[These perfections of God, which are the subjects of the Christian's contemplation, are also the subjects of his devoutest praise. " Truly, his fellowship is with the Father, and with the Son, Jesus Christ.”
Throughout the day “ he walks with God," as Enoch did, communing with him, and committing to him his every concern. He would not willingly take a step but in entire dependence upon God. Not in his stated devotions only does he call upon God, but in ten thousand ejaculations through the day, according as circumstances arise to call them forth. In the whole habit of his mind "he dwells in God;" as “God also, by the constant communications of his grace, dwells in him.” This mutual in-dwelling of God in his people, and his people in him, is frequently spoken of in the Holy Scriptures); and it well conveys the idea of that rest in God which every true Believer enjoys, and of that familiar intercourse, if I may so express myself, which subsists between his God and him.
But the expression in my text deserves a more particular consideration : “ When I awake, I am still with thee.” This implies all that we have before spoken; namely, that in his meditations and prayers he was with God through the day: and it goes further to remark, that such was the entire rest of his soul in God, that, with the early dawn, as soon as he awoke, his very first thoughts rose to God, who was the one object of all his desires, and the one source of all his happiness. Now this is, perhaps, as striking a feature in the Christian's experience as any that can be named. During the day, a Christian may have much to occupy his mind, and much to engage a great intensity of thought: at such seasons, therefore, the contemplation of the Deity, and of communion with him, may be in appearance suspended: but, as the needle of a compass, which, by force, or superior attraction, has been diverted for a while from its proper rest, as soon as it is at liberty to resume its wonted position shews to all its faithful subjection to the polar influence; so does the soul of a Christian, as soon as it is relieved from the pressure of contingent circumstances, return to God, as its proper, its chosen, and its only rest. And I wish you all, my Brethren, to be observant of yourselves in this particular; and never to think that you have attained the full measure of communion with God, till you can say, “ When I awake, I am still with thee."]
h See 1 Cor. iv. 3, 4. The Greek. i John vi. 56. and 1 John iv. 15, 16.
Having described the nature of Christian experience, I shall need but few words to shew, II. The blessedness of it
The Psalmist strongly marks this: “ How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God!" Whether we understand him as speaking of God's thoughts of him, or of his thoughts of God, it is evident that the preciousness of them was felt in his own soul. Now this experience is truly blessed, because it fills the Christian's soul, 1. With a sense of its obligations
[What do the ungodly world lose, whilst they overlook the hand from whence their blessings flow! Verily, in their richest enjoyments, they have little perception of them, wherein they are not equalled by the beasts themselves. It is the taste of God's love in them which gives to every one of them its highest zest. I hesitate not to say, that Lazarus, in the midst of his utter destitution, had, in the crumbs with which he was sustained, a sublimer gratification, than the Rich Man ever knew in all the pomp and delicacies with which he was surrounded. In truth, the discovery of God in every thing gives to the Christian a continual feast, and furnishes him with incessant occasions of unfeigned joy --- Inanimate things proclaim unwittingly the honour of their God; but the believer sounds it forth continually with the devoutest acclamations. “All thy works praise thee," says the Psalmist; “but thy saints bless thee.") 2. With a persuasion of its security
[Those who know not God are at a loss where to flee, or what to do, in any great emergency. But the Christian is assured, that “God is at his right hand, and that therefore he can never be moved."
“ God as a wall of fire round