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for his consolation and supporti --- He will indeed “be inquired after for these things;" but He will “suffer none to seek his face in vain.” He " draws nigh unto all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth :” or, if they be not able to express their wants in words, “ he will fulfil their very desires;" yea, if only, as on any sudden emergency, they "cry unto him, he will hear their cry, and will save them.” How astonishingly kind and gracious are these declarations; and how suited to encourage his weak and drooping saints! It frequently happens that they can do little else than sigh and groan: yet even these expressions of their minds he will favourably receive, and richly recompense unto their soulsk — --] 2. How righteous !
[Though God, as a sovereign, dispenses his gifts according to the good pleasure of his will, yet there is an equity in all his proceedings, whether of providence or grace:
or grace: “gracious is the Lord, and righteous :" " he is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works?.” We, from our pride and ignorance, are ready to accuse him of injustice, if he distinguish any as monuments of his grace. But though“ he has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and has compassion on whom he will have compassion,” yet is there, in truth, no inequality in his ways: “our ways are unequal; but his are equal :” he invariably “ rewards those who diligently seek him,” and “ becomes the enemy of those only who rebel, and vex his Holy Spirit:" "he filleth the hungry with good things, and the rich only doth he send empty away.” He puts, as it becomes him, “ a difference between those who serve him, and those who serve him not." “ They who love him shall be preserved,” though the whole universe were combined to destroy them: but “ all the wicked,” whether old or young, rich or poor,
" shall be destroyed :" " though hand join in hand, not one of them shall pass unpunished m.”
Say now, Whether, in this view of the Deity, David's purposes and desires were not highly commendable; “My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord; and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever"."] From the perusal of this psalm, two REFLECTIONS
naturally arise : 1. What an elevation of character does true religion produce !
[We would not speak in a degrading manner of any, and much less of those who are renowned for wisdom: yet who does not see how low and grovelling are the thoughts of statesmen i ver. 14–16. k ver. 18, 19. I ver. 17. m ver. 20. n ver. 21. and philosophers, in comparison of those which occupy the believer's mind? He soars, as it were, on angels' wings: he contemplates the subjects “ which angels desire to look into :" “his conversation is in heaven." Brethren, let us not forget for what high destinies we are formed. The brute creation have their faces towards the earth, and have no conception of any thing but what belongs to earth : but man is made erect, with his face, as it were, toward heaven, whither he should always direct his views, and from whence he should expect all his happiness. Let us then think and speak as those who are partakers of a higher nature: and whilst the wise of this world content themselves with the subjects that relate to time and sense, let us explore the blessings of redemption, the mysteries of grace, and the glories of eternity.]
2. What loss do they sustain who live far off from God!
[It is the diligent and watchful Christian alone that feels the devout affections which are exercised in this psalm. Too many of those who profess religion are content with a low state of mind. They look upon the work of praise and adoration as rather to be desired than attained; as that which will engage them in heaven, rather than as that which they can be much occupied with on earth. The most of their devotions consist of formal lamentations on account of the deadness of their souls, and lukewarm petitions for pardon and acceptance.
Ah! what enemies are these to their own welfare! They might enjoy a very heaven below; and yet scarcely exceed in happiness the people from whom they have come forth. O, Brethren, let it not be thus with you: aspire after high and heavenly things: be not satisfied without the brightest manifestations of God's love, and the richest communications of his grace: “Delight yourselves in God; and then he will give you the desire of your heart.”]
THE GOODNESS OF GOD TO MAN.
Ps. cxlv. 8, 9. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion ;
slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all : and his tender mercies are over all his works.
THE great mystery of the Gospel is that which ought chiefly to occupy the Christian's mind. But it is well occasionally to contemplate the Deity in a more enlarged view, as a God of providence and grace. The Psalmist in particular abounded in such “meditations,” and found them exceeding “sweet" unto his soul.
In the psalm before us his heart was greatly enlarged; and I pray that our hearts may be enlarged also, whilst we consider, 1. The character of God, as here portrayed
Let us view it, 1. Generally
[Look at the state of the world around us. See how all mankind are involved in guilt and misery! See how incapable they are of restoring their fallen nature in any respect to purity or peace! But God Almighty is “gracious" unto them, for his own great name's sake: and is “full of compassion” towards them, "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and live." Their rebellion against him is most daring and universal : yet does he “ endure them with much long-suffering,” being “ slow to anger, and of great mercy.” Were not this his character, another deluge would come and sweep away every living thing; or fire from heaven would descend, as on the cities of the plain, to consume us in an instant. But, instead of breaking forth in wrath to destroy us, he is daily loading the whole world with benefits. The most evil and unthankful of the human race are visited by him in mercy, and replenished by him with all things that are needful for them. Above all, he has given up his beloved Son, to die in the place and stead of his rebellious creatures, to expiate their guilt, and to make atonement for their sins. He has commanded his Gospel also to be preached to them, even to the very ends of the earth, and a free salvation to be offered to every child of man.
In this respect he makes no difference between Jews or Gentiles: “He is good to all without exception; and his tender mercies are over all his works."] 2. In our own personal experience
(Where is there one amongst us who is not a living witness for God, in reference to these things? Who has had any claim upon him? Who has not, on the contrary, greatly offended him, and that times without number? Who cannot look back to some particular period of his life, when God might, if I may so speak, have cut him off with advantage, and made him a signal monument of his fiery indignation? And who, in the midst of all his rebellion, has not been loaded with benefits? Not only have we received temporal blessings in abundance, but spiritual blessings also; so far, at least, as we could be prevailed upon to receive them. We all have experienced the strivings of his good Spirit in our hearts and consciences : and if we would have listened to his voice, there is not one amongst us who should not have been guided into all truth, and been made a partaker of the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. He has “ waited to be gracious unto us;" and at this very moment does he follow us with his overtures of mercy, saying, “ As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: for why will ye die, House of Israel?”]
From viewing the character of God, let us proceed to notice, II. The reflections naturally suggested by it
We cannot but see here, 1. Our base ingratitude
[What might we justly expect to be the state of our minds towards such a God as this? Methinks, we might well be filled with wonder and amazement at his forbearance towards us, and be striving to answer all the purposes of his grace by turning towards him with our whole hearts. But how is it with
We are, for the most part, altogether insensible of his mercy. We receive his benefits very nearly as they are received by the brute creation, without any distinct acknowledgment of him, or any heartfelt gratitude towards him. Scarcely of any mercy whatever are we sensible, but by the loss of it: when it is gone, we see what we have enjoyed: but, whilst we possess it, it makes very little impression on our minds. Even the great mercy of Salvation, that which fills all heaven with wonder, is scarcely contemplated by us at all. Perhaps in the whole of our lives, we never spent one hour in adoring him for the gift of his only dear Son, and in imploring mercy at his hands in the Saviour's name! Say, Brethren, whether this have not been your sad experience ? and whether it do not mark you as base-beyond expression or conception base?] 2. Our awful desert
[Take only this view of your state, and then say what you deserve at the hands of a holy God. What would you think a fellow-creature would deserve at your hands, if he should deal thus with you? Suppose you had exerted yourselves all your days to make him happy, and that with unbounded beneficence and inconceivable self-denial; and suppose, that, notwithstanding this, he never testified any regard for you, never concerned himself about you, never sought to please you, never obeyed any of your commands, but trampled under foot your authority, and made use of all the favours which you heaped upon him, for no other end than to wound your feelings and cast dishonour upon your name : would you not say, “You are unworthy of my “compassion,” and shall be an object of it no longer. 'I have been "slow to anger" against you, and "of great mercy towards you ;” but my patience is now exhausted, and can find no more scope for exercise. The mercies you
have so despised shall be now withdrawn, and you shall be left to eat the fruit of your own doings ?' If, then, you would think this an equitable retribution from one creature to another, judge what is due to yourselves from the hands of an offended God. You need not ever have committed one heinous sin to subject you to the wrath of God: this ingratitude alone will justify the infliction of his heaviest judgments on your souls.] 3. The extreme folly of not turning unto God
[Is God so full of compassion towards you, so patient, so long-suffering, so abundant in mercy; and will him to the uttermost, till his patience is come to an end, and “his mercy is clean gone for ever?" Nay, will you make use of all God's mercies for no better purpose than to aggravate your guilt, and to enhance your eternal condemnation? Think what reflections will press upon your mind in the eternal world, when your hope is perished, and you are lost without a remedy. How bitter will be the thought, that you thus wasted your day of grace, and constrained your God to “swear in his wrath that you should never enter into his rest.” Methinks the recollection of these things will be the bitterest ingredient in that bitter cup which you will have to drink of to all eternity. Can you conceive, that if such tidings as now sound in your ears were sent to the heirs of perdition that are shut up in hell, they would be so slighted as they are with you? No, verily : there would be in them, at least, a desire to escape from their torment, even though they did not affect the felicity of heaven. But neither the allurements of heaven nor the terrors of hell can move you. I pray you, Brethren,“ harden not your hearts any longer;” but “to-day, whilst it is called to-day," avail yourselves of God's proffered mercy in Christ Jesus, and “flee for refuge to the hope that he has set before you."]
GOD'S READINESS TO ANSWER PRAYER. Ps. cxlv. 18, 19. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon
him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him : he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
ONE of the most endearing qualities of a monarch is, a readiness to listen to the petitions of his subjects, and to relieve, to the utmost of his power, their necessities. But no earthly potentate can be accessible to all ; nor, if he were, could he supply their wants. God alone is competent to this great task.