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But whilst we view the text as establishing the fundamental principles of the Gospel, let us view it also, II. As exhibiting a pattern for our imitation

Who amongst us does not need to deprecate the severity of God's justice, precisely as David does ? Let us examine, 1. The general tenour of our past lives,

[From our youth up, what have we been, and what have we done? Has it been the one object of our lives to answer the great end of our creation? — Have we duly estimated and sought the blessings of redemption? --- Have we under the influences of the Holy Spirit laboured continually to fulfil the will of God, and attain his image, and possess his glory?

Have we not rather been so occupied with the things of time and sense, as to live almost, if not altogether, “without God in the world ?". 2. Our conduct during the last year

[We have received innumerable blessings at God's hands; and how have we requited him? - We have committed innumerable sins; how have we humbled ourselves for them?

-- We have enjoyed many opportunities for spiritual advancement; how have we improved them? Perhaps we have formed some purposes of amendment: have we carried them into effect to the extent we intended ? Has the loss of the years that preceded it made us diligent to improve, as it were, every hour of this? and are we as much fitter for the eternal world as we are nearer to it?

--] 3. The very best work we ever performed

[Weigh it in the balance, and see if it be not found wanting. Examine the principle from which it flowed: was it as purely and entirely from the love of God, and from a sense of gratitude to the Redeemer, as it ought to have been? Look at the manner in which it was performed: was there all that humility, that zeal, that dependence on God for his grace and strength, which became you? Mark also the end for which it was done: was there a simple desire to serve, and please, and glorify God, without any mixture of self-pleasing, self-seeking, selfglorying? Alas! alas! if only we would try ourselves by the perfect standard of God's law, we should see, that we need One to “ bear the iniquity of our holiest things;” and, for the best as well as for the worst of our actions, to cry out, Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified! If David and Job could not answer for the best of their actions, how much less can wek?]

k Job ix. 2, 3. Ps. cxxx. 3, 4.

ADDRESS-
1. The self-righteous and self-sufficient-

[How unlike are you to David, or indeed to any other of the saints of God! Look at Job!, Isaiahm, Pauln; Are you better than they? Seek then to possess more of their spirit: for it is “he who humbleth himself, and he only, that shall ever be exalted" ---] 2. The broken-hearted and contrite

[Be not discouraged because you see your vileness; but rather be thankful to God, who has made you sensible of your desert. And do not imagine, that, because you cannot be justified by any thing of your own, you cannot be justified at all: for Christ came into the world for such as you; “ He came to seek and to save that which was lost:” and the vilest person in the universe, if with a penitent and contrite heart he believe in Christ, is authorized confidently to say, " In the Lord have I righteousness and strength o”. --]

| Job ix. 20, 21, 30, 31, 32, and xlii. 6. m Isai. vi. 5.
n Rom. vii. 18.

o Isai. xlv. 22, 24.

DCCXXXIX.

GOD A REFUGE TO THE DISTRESSED.

Ps. cxliii. 7–10. Hear me speedily, O Lord! my spirit faileth:

hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning ; for in thee do I trust : cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me. Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good ; lead me into the land of uprightness.

THIS is the last of what are called the Penitential Psalms; and it is appointed by the Church to be read at the beginning of Lent, as being peculiarly suited to that season which is more particularly consecrated to humiliation before God. It is supposed, by many, that it was written at the time of Absalom's rebellion: but I conceive that it must rather have been penned during the persecutions which he suffered at the hands of Saul: because his trouble had evidently been of long continuancea; whereas that which arose from Absalom's rebellion was soon terminated. However

a ver. 3.

this may be, it is plain that he was brought into great distress, and that he sought help, where alone it could be found, in the Lord his God.

That I may bring the substance of the psalm distinctly before

you,

I will take occasion to shew, I. To what a state a good man may, by accumulated

troubles, be reducedOf David's piety, except in the matter of Uriah, we have no doubt. But he was exposed to many and sore trials

[Even from his youth he was in continual danger, from the persecutions of Saul: and how heavily they bore upon his mind, the psalms which he composed most amply testify. “ Save me, O God! for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying; my throat is dried: mine eyes fail, while I wait for my God." Would we know what was the occasion of this overwhelming sorrow? He tells us; “ They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty.”

Much also was that holy man exercised with spiritual affliction. His feelings were quite in accordance with those of Heman in the 88th Psalm: “O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee: let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry; for my soul is full of troubles; and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength: free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves why castest thou off my soul ? why hidest thou thy face from me? I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted. Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.”

In the psalm before us, the affliction which pressed the more heavily on his mind seems to have been of a temporal kind : but it was very heavy, insomuch that “his spirit was overwhelmed within him, and his heart within him was desolated." This accounts for a degree of impatience which he manifested; which yet was the impatience of importunity only, and not of murmuring; and, consequently, was well pleasing to the Lord: b Ps. Ixix. 1-4. c Ps. lxxxviii. 147, 14–16.

ver. 4.

. Lord,

.

d

“ Hear me speedily, O Lord! my spirit faileth.” But froin whatever source it flowed, it shews that]

Good men amongst ourselves may be reduced to like extremities,

[No man is exempt from trouble, whether of a temporal or spiritual kind. Heavy trials, from whatever quarter they come, will still overwhelm the mind, especially if they be of long continuance. And Satan will take advantage of a season of dejection, to instil into the mind hard thoughts of God, and to sink it into utter despair. The experience of holy Job clearly shews us how powerful the devices of Satan are, and how terrible his assaults. “ The arrows of the Almighty are within me," says he; "the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against mee." Let not any, then, take offence at religion, if they still find that persons of real piety be occasionally harassed with: temptation, or oppressed with a dread of God's avenging wrath. They may not immediately see wherefore God contendeth with them: but they shall be made victorious in the end, yea, and " more than conquerors, through Him that loveth them."]

In confirmation of this, I proceed to shew, II. What a blessed refuge yet remains open to him

To whom did David betake himself in this extremity ?

[In the preceding psalm this point is answered: “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou ART MY REFUGE?.” Accordingly, in the psalm before us, we find him crying unto the Lord, and saying, “I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land.” But let us mark how strongly he reiterates this in the words of my text: Hear me speedily, O Lord! for in THEE do I trust: I lift up my soul unto thee: I flee unto thee to hide me: for Thou art my God.” He knew how utterly unable he was to deliver himself; whilst of God's condescension and grace he had had ample experience: and therefore, whilst destitute of all other hope," he encouraged himself in the Lord his God.")

And is there not the same blessed refuge for us at this day?

[Yes; “God is a refuge for us %:” and it is the privilege of every true Believer to say, “ In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in Godh.” Of whatever kind our trials be, the direction given us is this : “ Cast thy burthen on the Lord, and he will sustain thee." Are we assaulted by persecutors ? David's example will shew us where to go, and how to obtain relief: “ Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight thou against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help. Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me : say unto my soul, I am thy salvationk." Is our trouble rather of a spiritual kind? The Prophet Isaiah clearly directs our way: “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God'.” To all, then, in the name of God himself, I would say, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, (the perfections and the promises of thy God;) and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast m."]

e Job vi. 4.

f Ps. cxlii. 4, 5.

& Ps. lxii. 8.

h Ps. lxii. 7.

Not to rest in this general view, I will go on to shew, III. What he may hope to obtain by fervent and per

severing prayerSee what the petitions of David were : “ Hear me speedily, O Lord ! my spirit faileth : hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go

down into the pit. Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning: cause me to know the way wherein I should go : deliver me from mine enemies : teach me to do thy will; and lead me into the land of uprightness.” Now, what in these petitions he sought, we also may hope by similar importunity to obtain : 1. The manifestations of God's favour

[An upright soul cannot but earnestly desire these : for “ in His favour is life, and His loving-kindness is better than life itselfn." In comparison of this, there is nothing good, nothing desirable, in the whole universe: “Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance

If a sense of God's favour be withdrawn, and his face be hid from an upright soul, it is as the precincts of hell itselfp. Seek then, in the first place, to be reconciled to God through the Son of his love: and cease not to importune him, till the morning arise upon you, and a sense of his lovingkindness be shed abroad in your hearts.] i Ps. lv. 22. k Ps. xxxv. 1-3.

1 Isai. 1. 10. m Isai. xxvi. 20. n Ps. lxiii. 3.

o Ps. iv. 6. P Ps. lxxx. 3–5.

upon uso!”

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