« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
world, for the conversion of both Jews and Gentiles to the faith of Christ, for the instruction of the rising generation, and for the promotion of piety in every possible way, have far exceeded all that had arisen during whole centuries before. Truly these things abundantly shew how greatly God has blessed us; insomuch that we may say, like Israel of old, " He hath not dealt so with any nation?"] 3. The restoration of peace in our borders
[With only two short intervals, the war has continued five and twenty years: and now at last we are favoured with a peace, which, we hope and trust, will be of long continuance. It is not such a peace as has been often made, a peace no better than an armed truce ; but one which our enemy will scarcely venture to violate, seeing that all Europe is leagued together for its preservation. To say that it is a favourable peace, is to disparage it altogether: for it infinitely surpasses all that our most sanguine or ambitious statesmen of former days ever ventured to desire. It has left us too in a state of elevation, prosperity, and power, which our country never before attained. And we have the happiness to say, it is universal, in India, no less than in America and Europe. Now is the happy time come, when we may “beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning-hooks,” and “sit every one of us under our own vine and fig-tree, none making us afraid."]
4. The abundant provision he has made for our wants
[When an extraordinary plenty was predicted by the prophet Elisha in Samaria, the answer given him by the chief courtier was,
Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing beh?" or, in other words, " The thing is impossible.” In the same strain would any one have replied, if the existing state of things had been predicted as to be accomplished amongst us. But behold, we are, contrary to all reasonable expectation, so “ filled with the finest of the wheat," that the very cheapness of it creates a general embarrassment: and this singular phenomenon exists, that the only subject of complaint heard in the nation at this time is, that God has been too good to us, and has overwhelmed us, as it were, with his superabundant kindness and bounty. The promise made to Israel has been almost literally fulfilled to us: he has given us such abundance, that " we have scarcely room to receive it.")
Such being the circumstances of our country at this day, let us consider, II. Our duty arising from them-ver, 20.
& Mic. iv, 3, 4. h 1 Kings vii. 1, 2. i Mal. ii. 10.
Every blessing which God bestows, whether on nations or individuals, calls for a suitable tribute of praise and thanksgiving. Such a tribute are we at this time called to pay: “ Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, o Zion.”
In order that we may discharge this debt for so many mercies, 1. Let us view the hand of God in them—
[As “ war and pestilence and famine are judgments sent of God,” so peace and all other national blessings are the gifts of his gracious providence. “ There is neither good nor evil in a city, but it proceeds from God.” Especially must he be viewed in all those great mercies which have been vouchsafed to us. Israel of old had not more abundant reason for the acknowledgments made by them, than we ourselves to adopt their strainsk
We are but too apt to be looking to second causes, and to be giving to the creature the honour that is due to God only. But let us be on our guard against this, lest we turn into a curse every blessing that has been bestowed upon us.] 2. Let us duly appreciate their value
[It is not easy for us, who have seen so little the calamities of war, to estimate in any measure aright, either the protection we have experienced, or the peace which has terminated all our dangers. But, if we could go over a field of battle where myriads of the dead and dying are strewed upon the ground; if we could traverse whole provinces which have been desolated by fire and sword, where countless multitudes are reduced to the utmost possible distress and misery by their pitiless enemies; if we could see with what rapid strides pestilence and famine are following in the train of war; methinks we should need no exhortation to gratitude for the blessings we now enjoy.
True it is that spiritual blessings are of incalculably greater importance: and if we could say, that we had been protected from the incursions of sin and Satan—that we had been "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ Jesus;"—that we had been brought to a state of peace with God and in our own consciences--and that we enjoyed in rich profusion the bread of life—we should then have more abundant cause for praise. But we must not forget that our temporal blessings, especially when compared with the troubles which we might have been at this time enduring, have a most favourable aspect on our spiritual welfare; and that the more spiritual we are, the more disposed we shall be to acknowledge God's kindness towards us, whereinsoever it has been displayed.
k See Ps. cxxiv. 1-8.
We must remember, too, that, as members of the great body of the nation, we are called to bless God for our national mercies. Now national mercies are of a temporal nature: no nation, as a nation, participates spiritual blessings, any further than the mere external enjoyment of them: individuals alone have the grace of God in their hearts: and therefore, as members of the national body, we are bound, in whatever capacity we have received God's mercies, in that capacity, as far as possible, gratefully to requite them.]
3. Let us render unto God the tribute they demand
[“ Praise" is surely the least that we can render for such accumulated blessings and this, as is observed in the psalm before us, is “ both comely and pleasant!.” Behold how Moses adored God for the deliverance of Israel from the Egyptian hosts m! See how David makes every distinct blessing a subject of distinct acknowledgment, and no less than twenty-six times in as many short verses ascribes every thing to the free and everlasting mercy of his Godn! And as David elsewhere calls on every rank and order of society to discharge that debt to Godo, so in our text both “ Jerusalem and Zion," both priests and people, are called upon to praise the Lord: yea, the psalm both begins and ends with this just requirement, Praise
ye the Lord; praise ye the Lord.” Let every one amongst us then stir up his soul to this blessed work, and “ let all that is within us bless his holy name.”
Let us not however rest in acknowledgments, however devout. There is a more
substantial in which we are bound to praise him, that is, in our lives, " by giving up ourselves to his service, and by walking before him in holiness and righteousness all our days.” This is the union which God himself prescribes; “Whoso offereth me praise, honoureth me; and to him that ordereth his conversation aright, will I shew the salvation of God P."]
m Exod. xv.
Ps. cxlviii. 14. A people near unto Him. THE Psalmist, wrapt in ecstasy, is here calling upon the whole creation to praise God. He addresses himself to all creatures in heaven and in earth, rational and irrational, animate and inanimate, to render to their Creator that honour of which they are capable. Last of all he addresses “ the saints," “ whose horn God has exalted with peculiar honour,” to abound in this duty; to which, indeed, they are called far more than even the angels themselves. The angels may well magnify his name, for forming them so holy, for making them so happy, and especially for preserving them from falling; when myriads, as high and holy and happy as themselves, fell from their first estate, and plunged themselves into irretrievable and endless woe. But they cannot speak of Redeeming Love. They know nothing of pardon; of pardon bought with blood; and that blood the blood of God's co-equal, co-eternal Son. They know nothing of a righteousness wrought out for them by God in their own nature: and hence it is observable, that, in heaven, whilst the redeemed “stand round about the throne,” “ the angels stand round about the elders," and consequently at a greater distance from their God. This was intimated by the admission of the Children of Israel into the courts of the Temple; whilst no Gentile, of whatever rank, or under any pretext whatever, was admitted there, except into the court especially assigned to them. This was intended to shadow forth that spiritual nearness to God which his saints alone can either enjoy or conceive. They alone, of all the children of men, answer to the description given in the text; they are near to him, I. By relation
[God has from eternity “ chosen them in Christ Jesus," and "predestinated them to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himselfa.” In due season he called them by his word, and begat them by the incorruptible seed, the word of God; so that they are actually “ partakers of the divine natureb;' and are, in the most strict and comprehensive sense, “sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty." He has yet further united them by faith to his only-begotten Son; so that they are become one with him, one in nature, “ members of his body, even of his flesh and of his bones";" yea, and one spirit with him too; for “ he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit .”
Of all this, not one syllable can be spoken by the world at a Eph. i. 4, 5. b 2 Pet. i. 4. c Eph. v. 30. d 1 Cor. vi. 17.
large: it is all the peculiar and exclusive privilege of the saints; who, from having been “strangers and foreigners, like others, have been made fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."]
But they are also near to him, II. By choice
[It is certainly true, that “ they have not chosen God; but God, in the first instance, chose them." It is true, also, that they have been “ drawn by the Father” himself to the state in which they stand. They have, however, been drawn, not as stocks and stones, but “ with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love h;” and they have been made " a willing people in the day of God's power?” They no more serve God by compulsion, than they served Satan. They were free agents in their former state ; and they are so still
. They come to God in Christ, and “ offer up their whole selves to him as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God as a reasonable servicek. They wish to be entirely and altogether his, " sanctified wholly unto him in body, soul, and spirit?.” Were it in their power, they would have "every thought of their hearts captivated to the obedience of Christm." This they would account perfect freedom: it is the freedom and felicity of heaven; and every approach to it they regard as a heaven upon earth. Could they attain their perfect wish, they would be ever with, and altogether like, him; being "holy, as he is holy; and perfect, as he is perfect."]
In consequence of this choice, they are also near to him, III. By habit
[They live as ever in his presence, and as “ seeing Him who is invisible"." When they lie down to rest, they commit themselves altogether to his care. “ When they wake in the morning, they are still with himo,” and he is present to their minds. With him they hold sweet converse, not only in the stated seasons of prayer, but throughout the day. They “set him always before them;" and " whether they eat or drink, or whatever they do, they do it to the glory of his name.” him they live and move and have their being.” They “walk with him, even as Enoch did P;" consulting him in all their doubts, relying on him in all their difficulties, and receiving both good and evil at his hands. So intimate and continued is
Eph. ii. 19. 1 Hos. xi. 4. 11 Thess. v. 23. o Ps. cxxxix. 18,
f John xv. 16.
8 John vi. 44. k Rom. xii. 1. n Heb. xi. 27.