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their fellowship with him, that “ they dwell in God, and God in them; they are one with him, and he with them?.” In a word, “ Christ liveth in them," and " is their very life;" so that it is “ no longer they that live, but Christ that liveth in them;" so entirely do “they live the life which they now live in the flesh, by faith in the Son of God, who hath loved them, and given himself for them.” To them, in a measure, is the Paradisiacal state restored; so that “they walk altogether, as it were, in the light of God's countenances."] IMPROVEMENT1. What cause, then, have the saints for gratitude!
[Are you brought to this state? Remember in what state you once were: you were once as far from God as any of the human race are at this hour; and you would have been as far from him as hell itself, with an impassable gulph between you, if he had not mercifully interposed by the blood of his Son, and the operations of his Spirit
, to prevent it. When, therefore, you look at others of the human race, and see the difference which Divine Grace has made between you, say, • Why me, Lord? why me?' You cannot but see that “ are taken, and others leftu:” and you can trace this to no cause but the sovereign grace of God. Are you then taken? O! admire and adore the grace of God; and let your adoration be such as is observed amongst the heavenly hosts : they “ fall upon their faces,” whilst they sing? Do ye likewise so: let there be no self-preference or self-complacency in you; but let God be magnified, and your souls be abased in the dust.] 2. What cause have they, too, for shame!
[It is surprising that persons thus highly favoured should ever be found at a distance from God. But the very best of men have hearts“ bent to backslide from God," and to “ start aside, even as a deceitful bowy.” Who amongst you, Brethren, is not sensible of this? You can know little of your own hearts, if you do not see it; and little of God's
do not bitterly lament it. Ah! be ashamed, that ever your desires after God should languish, or your delight in him abate. Stir up yourselves, Brethren, and beg of God to quicken you; that you may correspond fully with the description in my text, and be at all times a people near to him." See how he complains of you in relation to this matter: "O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. I would have fed them also with the
9 John vi. 56. and xiv. 23. r Gal. ii. 20. s Ps. lxxxix. 15. . Eph. ii. 13.
u Matt. xxiv. 40, 41. * Rev, vii. 11.
y Hos. vii. 16. and xi. 4.
finest of the wheat; and with honey out of the rock would I have satisfied them?." Yes; you cannot but know whence it is that your strength is so small, and that your consolations are so few. It is altogether owing to your not walking more closely with God: for, if you were near to him, as you should be, your souls should overflow with all manner of good; according to that promise which he has given, “ The faithful man shall abound with blessings."]
z Ps. lxxxi. 13, 14, 16. a Prov. xxviii. 20.
JOY IN CHRIST.
Ps. cxlix. 2. Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
IT appears somewhat strange that a religion coming from heaven, and purporting to make men happy, should almost universally be considered as a source of melancholy, and as destructive of all personal and social comfort. But it may be easily accounted for : religion calls men from the pleasures of sin, and promises them sublimer pleasures in its stead. But unregenerate men, knowing nothing of spiritual joy, have no idea that any such thing exists; whereas the joys, which they are to sacrifice, have afforded them many a delicious feast. Hence, till, through faith in the divine records, they feel the bitterness of sin, or taste the felicity of God's chosen, they will and must suppose, that they are called to relinquish what is substantial, and to grasp a shadow. But the saints of old have invariably attested, that religion's ways are ways of pleasantness and peace : and David, who was no incompetent judge of this matter, exhorts every subject of the Redeemer's kingdom to rejoice in Zion's King. We shall, I. Explain his exhortationWho are the children of Zion ?
[Not every man by nature, seeing we are children of wratha ;” not any man by education, since it is beyond the power of man to convey to others such principles and dispositions, as are necessary to bring them into that near relation to the Church of Godb: we must be born from above, through the influence of God's word and Spirito; and till a supernatural change has been wrought on all the faculties of our souls by God himself, whatever we may profess to be, we are, beyond a doubt, aliens from the commonwealth of Israeld.] Who is their King ?
* Eph. ii. 3.
[It is to Christ alone that this name belongs. He is indeed the King of all the earth, and has the whole creation under his control. But, in this sense many are his subjects who despise his person and hate his government: whereas over Zion he reigns by the most cordial consent of all his people, there not being so much as one who does not know him, love him, serve him, and desire the very thoughts of his heart to be subjected to his law. On the other hand, he affords them his protection, supplies their every want, and makes them victorious over all their enemies.] What is their duty towards him ?
[It is not sufficient that they yield obedience to his will, as slaves to a tyrant whom they fear: they must love his person, delight in his commands, be zealous for his glory, and rely humbly on his care. In a word, they must rejoice in him. This is essential to the Christian character': and, if we attain not to this spirit, we are more inexcusable than the Jews, and obnoxious to a heavier doom. We say not indeed that the children of Zion are never to mourn : for mourning is both introductory to joy, and consistent with it; yea, it is even a very necessary ingredient of that joy, which we ought to feel in the contemplation of Christ's character and offices : and the more fervently we love him, the more deeply shall we lament, that our love and joy are so disproportioned to his worth.]
The several parts of the exhortation being explained, we shall, II. Enforce it
Here, changing only the order, each part that has been explained, suggests a powerful argument for rejoicing in Christ. Consider, 1. The duty itself
[What can be more pleasant? It is not to any painful duty we are called, but to rejoice, and to have all the faculties of our souls engaged in the very employment of heaven. What can be more reasonable? If religion furnished us with no grounds of joy, or were as empty and unsatisfying as the world, it would be unreasonable to expect any happiness to flow from it: but it sets before us innumerable occasions of joy; and not only permits, but enjoins, us to bear our part in the felicity of God's chosen. Shall we not then obey the call ?] 2. The object in whom we are to rejoice
b 1 Cor. iïi. 7. John i. 13. c 1 Pet. i. 23. d 2 Cor. v. 17. John iji. 5. e Zech. ix. 9. [ Phil. iv. 4. and ii. 3.
8 Deut. xxvii. 45, 47.
[This is none other than our adorable Emmanuel, who combines in himself all the perfections of the Godhead, and all the excellencies of the most spotless manhood. Moreover, the love he has manifested towards his subjects, is such as infinitely surpasses our highest conceptions: he assumed our nature, and died for us, while we were in actual rebellion against him. And what a delightful sway does he exercise over them! So light and easy is his yoke, that there is not one of his laws, no, not one, which may not be summed up in this, Be happy. What rewards too does he bestow, not on a few favourites only, but on all his subjects ! There is not one of them whom he does not make a king like unto himself, and place upon a throne like unto that on which he himself is seated at the right hand of God". Shall we refuse to rejoice in such a King as this?) 3. The persons called upon to rejoice
[If this exhortation were addressed to the children of this world, they might reply, We know him not; we see no beauty in him for which he is to be desired; nor have we cause to expect any thing at his hands but wrath and fiery indignation: how then shall we rejoice in him? But the children of Zion know that “he is fairer than ten thousand, and altogether lovely :” they have experienced the virtue of his blood to purge a guilty conscience, and the efficacy of his grace to sanctify a polluted heart. For them he makes continual intercession in the presence of God; for them he every moment exercises his almighty power; and for them he is coming shortly to judge the world, that he may take them to himself, to behold his glory, and participate his blessedness, for ever and ever. Shall they then be reluctant to comply? Surely, if they be," the very stones must cry out against them."] ADDRESS 1. To those who have never yet rejoiced in Christ
[What relation can you have to Zion? How can it be said of you, This man was born in herk? And what excuse can you urge before God? Your ignorance of Christ? This is your sin, and not your excuse. He is willing to make you happy under his government, if you will submit yourselves unto
h Rev. i. 6. John xiv. 3.
i Luke xix. 40. k Ps. Ixxxvii. 5, 6.
him. “ Kiss him” then, in token of your reverence and subjection, “ lest he be angry, and ye perish for ever?."] 2. To those who are going on
on their way rejoicing[Take care that you make Christ, and not your own frames or feelings, the object and ground of your joy. And guard against pride, self-confidence, and sin of whatever kind, knowing that such things will vitiate, and destroy, all the happiness of the soul. David's advice must ever be attended to, "Rejoice with trembling m."] 1 Ps. ii. 12.
m Ps. ii. 11.
THE DUTY OF PRAISING GOD FOR HIS GOODNESS. Ps. cxlix. 4–6. The Lord taketh pleasure in his people : he
will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.
THE world are ready to account those weak and enthusiastic who abound in the exercise of spiritual duties: but there is nothing in the universe that more accords with the dictates of reason, than such a state. If God have not given us sufficient grounds to love and serve him, then we may doubt whether the supreme affection of our souls be due to him. But we need
go no further than the text in order to justify the warmest expressions of our love to him, and the most unreserved dedication of all our powers to his service.
The exhortations in the text are full of energy; but they are founded on God's love to us. In order therefore to be duly sensible of their force, we must consider, I. God's kindness to us
This is expressed both by the internal regard which he bears towards us, and by the outward manifestations of it to our souls. 1. He loves his people
[They who fear God are considered as “his people," in contradistinction to those who belong to Satan. He esteems them as “his peculiar treasure a.” He “has pleasure” in their persons, notwithstanding all their vileness; for he views them as
a Exod. xix. 5.