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This subject affords me a fit occasion to IMPRESS
upon your minds, 1. The wisdom of industrious habits
[Think not that this is a suggestion unworthy of a minister of the Gospel. St. Paul inculcates strongly and frequently this lesson: “ Be not slothful in business?:" If
will not work, neither shall he eatm:" “ Let him that stole, steal no more; but rather let him labour with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth". God has, in relation to the greater part of the world, appointed a connexion between industry and the possession of earthly comforts. He has told us, and we daily see the truth of it, that “the diligent hand maketh rich;" and that" idleness will clothe a man with rags." I would, therefore, say to all, Be diligent in your respective callings; and account it not beneath you to exert yourselves to the uttermost in every work that is assigned you, whether it be intellectual, for the improvement of your minds, or corporeal, for the discharge of any inferior duties. I am not prepared to go the full length of a profound writer°, and say, that, in the pursuit of happiness, “occupation is all:" but certainly a constant and diligent prosecution of our respective duties contributes essentially, in the very act, to the happiness of our minds, and ultimately, in its consequences, to the comfort of our lives. Nor will it in the least interfere with the exercises of true piety: for when St. Paul says, “ Be not slothful in business," he adds at the same time,
“Be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord P."] 2. The wisdom of seeking after God
[Diligence in the prosecution of earthly good may be defeated by a thousand unforeseen occurrences: but who ever failed in seeking after God? Moreover, many who have possessed the good things of this life, have afterwards, by untoward circumstances, been bereaved of them: but who, or what, can rob you of your God; who, if you really give yourselves up to him, has said, not only that "he will never depart from you, and that he will put his fear in your hearts, that you shall not depart from him?" Besides, in the full possession of earthly things you may have no comfort in them, by reason of pain of body or distress of mind : but in those seasons God will be nearer to you, and will impart his consolations to you more abundantly, in proportion as you need his gracious help?. I say, then, Seek after God: seek him as a reconciled God in Christ Jesus: seek him, till he has revealed himself fully to your souls, and enabled you to say, "O God, thou art my Gods." Then, without fear of contradiction, I will pronounce you happy; and if, in reference to earthly comforts, I must qualify my language, when I say, “happy are the people which are in such a case," I will, in the broadest and most unqualified terms, say, in reference to you, "Happy is the people whose God is the Lord."]
i Rom. xii. 11. m 2 Thess. iii. 10-12. n Eph. iv. 28. Paley.
P See 1 9 Jer. xxxii. 40. r 2 Cor. i. 5.
s Ps. lxiii. 1.
PRAISE TO GOD FOR HIS GOODNESS AND MERCY. Ps. cxlv. 1, 2. I will extol thee, my God, O King: and I will
bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee, and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.
THIS is one of the psalms, the verses of which successively begin with the different letters of the alphabet: and it is one in which (as in the five that follow it) there is nothing but uninterrupted praise and thanksgiving. It is as fine an exhibition of a spiritual frame of mind as any that can be found in all the Holy Scriptures : and we suppose, it is on that account that it was appointed by the Church to be read on Whit-Sunday, when the descent of the Holy Spirit, and his influence on the minds of the first Christians, are particularly commemorated. The subject contained it has so much of unity, that the whole of it may not unprofitably be brought under our review. In it we observe the disposition of David's mind towards God. He determined to praise God himself, and he wished all others to praise him also. On this he speaks with fixedness of mind, to the same effect as in another psalm, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise?”. He regards the Messiah as his “ King,” who justly claims this tribute at his hands : and he determines to pay
daily,” and to the latest hour of his life, yea, and “ to all eternity” also in a better world. Every succeeding generation of men he would wish to be occupied in that blessed employment; and gladly would he lead the band, that all creation might join him in one universal chorus.
a Ps. lvii. 7.
But we will consider more distinctly the subjects of his praise. Having stated his determination to praise his God, he celebrates, I. The perfections of his nature
[This he declares to be “unsearchableb:" and indeed it is so: for who can form any idea of his immensity? We speak of his filling all space; but in so speaking we only “ darken counsel by words without knowledge.” If we look at his “ works,” he is altogether incomprehensible there also: for, what conception have we of his calling forth into existence this terraqueous globe, together with all the heavenly bodies, and fixing them all in their order by a mere act of his will? Nor are the “wonders” of his providence less worthy of our admiration, seeing that his greatness is no less visible in upholding all things by the word of his power, than it was in the first formation of them. Even the most “ terrible of his acts" are also fit subjects for praise, inasmuch as they display the terrors of his Majesty, who gets honour to himself as well in the destruction of his enemies, as in the preservation of his obedient subjects. Doubtless the judgments inflicted on the old world, and those also with which Egypt, and Sodom, and the seven nations of Canaan, were visited, were most awful: but yet, as vindicating the holiness of God, and displaying “the honour of his Majesty,” they are worthy to be contemplated with awe, and to be celebrated with the profoundest adoration] 2. His goodness
[This was a favourite topic with the Psalmist; and therefore in speaking of that he says, " They shall abundantly utter the memory of it." See how every thing in the whole creation bears the stamp of God's goodness! every thing so fitted to its use; every thing so conducive to the good of man, and to the happiness of the whole creation. Consider every thing as originally formed; there is not the minutest thing in the universe that could, even with all the experience of six thousand years, be altered for the better. See with what blessings all the returning seasons are fraught! Let every individual search the records of his life, and what unnumbered instances of God's goodness towards him will he see! Surely, with David, we should “abundantly utter the memory of it," so as to make it the prominent subject of all our meditations, and of all our discourse: and at the same time we should "sing of his righteousness," in that, whilst he has given us innumerable blessings which we ver. 3.
c ver. 4-6.
never merited, he has never withheld one, which by his promises he had made our dued.] 3. His mercy
[In what has hitherto been spoken we are concerned as creatures : but in this attribute we are interested as sinners. And O! what reason have we to adore the tender mercy of our God! Who must not say with David, " The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy? Yes indeed, “ He is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his workse.” David, it is true, had very abundant cause to sing of mercy : but, Who has not? Who that knows any thing of himself, is not penetrated with the deepest sense of God's“ grace,” in looking upon so vile a sinner; of his “ passion" towards him, when reduced to the most destitute condition; of his “ patience,” in bearing with such manifold backslidings; and of his “ great mercy," in pardoning such innumerable transgressions? If we do not extol our God, and bless his name, yea every day, and all the day long, methinks "the very stones will cry out against us."]
Having thus expatiated on the virtues of his King, David proceeds to bless him for, II. The administration of his government
Here the reference to Christ is more plain and direct. He is the King of Zion; and it is his kingdom that is established over the face of the whole earth. There is not any thing in the whole creation that is not benefited by his reign; but most of all his believing people. Hence David says, “ All thy works, whether intentionally or not, shall praise thee,” (as any thing of curious workmanship praises the maker of it) “ but thy saints shall bless thee,” having their whole souls turned to the delightful work'. 1. It is a glorious kingdom
[It is extended over heaven, earth, and hell. In heaven there are myriads who are the subjects of it, and who are ascribing all possible honour and glory to their Almighty King. On earth, his power is seen in every nation under heaven. The most potent monarchs bow down to him with the deepest reverence; whilst the most degraded savages are enriched with all the blessings of his kingdom. In hell, the principalities and powers, with Beelzebub at their head, confess his power, and are, however reluctantly, obedient to his commands. His à ver.
e ver. 8, 9. f ver. 10.
moral commands indeed they do not fulfil; but his positive injunctions they are unable to resist: they are constrained to yield up to him the spoil which they had once seized for themselves, and to flee even from the face of a poor helpless sinner, when once he sets himself, in dependence on Divine aid, to resist their tyrannic sway.
In this kingdom, every subject is himself a king; a king in this world; and entitled to a crown, a throne, a kingdom, in the world to come. Well then might David say of these subjects, “ They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom 8."] 2. It is also an everlasting kingdom
[Other kingdoms have perished, and shall perish: but this shall endure for ever h. Though it is a stone cut out without hands,” and neither founded nor supported by human power, it “ shall break in pieces all other kingdoms, and shall stand for ever and ever.” “ The gates of hell (with all their policy and power) shall never prevail against it;” no, nor against the meanest subject in it. Nay, when “the earth, and all that is therein, shall be burnt up and utterly dissolved,” this kingdom shall continue in its utmost vigour; nor shall its prosperity languish as long as God himself shall endure.
What a theme for praise is here! O reflect upon it, all ye who believe in Jesus; and sing of it, all ye, who have sworn allegiance to his name.]
The Psalmist proceeds yet further to notice, III. The operations of his grace
Here the influences of the Holy Spirit come more immediately to our view. It is he who carries on the whole work of grace in the hearts of men, and fits them for the enjoyment of that kingdom that is prepared for them. Behold his operations ; 1. How gracious!
[There is not a saint on earth whom he does not aid, according as his situation and circumstances require.“ Are any fallen? he upholds them; and raiseth up all that are bowed down,” whether with sin or sorrow. “ The eyes of all are directed to him” as the only source of spiritual nourishment and strength; and “ he gives them such a portion as they need, in the very season" that they need it. Yes; as in the kingdom of nature, God, as the father of all, “ opens his hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing," so, in the kingdom of his grace, he administers to every saint whatever is necessary & ver. 11, 12