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“ complete in Christ 6." When they are mourning and weeping for their extreme sinfulness, he looks on them with heartfelt complacency, and delight. Even when they are doubting his love towards them, he marks them as the objects of his tenderest affection and incessant care
He takes pleasure also in their services. Their prayers are his delight': their tributes of praise are esteemed his glory; their alms, a sacrifice with which he is well pleased : their every grace is in his sight of great price. Their holy purposes, though not suffered by him to be carried into effect, are noticed by him with approbation, nor are even their fainter inclinations', or their transient thoughts ®, suffered to pass without a suitable reward.] 2. He makes them lovely
[The distinguishing characteristic of the Lord's people is, that they are “meek:” their hearts being humbled, their proud impetuous passions are hushed to silence. These the Lord “ beautifies with salvation ” now. The lion becomes a lamb : instead of the brier and thorn, the fir and myrtle-tree spring upo: and even blood-thirsty murderers become humble and loving saints P. The very countenances of God's people often bear a visible mark of the change wrought in them; so that we may almost literally say, “They have the mark of the Lamb in their foreheads 9. There is a beautiful symmetry discernible in all their conduct. “ The beauty of the Lord their God is upon them":" and as that consists, not in the exercise of any one perfection, but in an union and harmony of all, however opposite to human appearance; so their beauty is seen, not in the exercise merely of meekness or fortitude, of fear or confidence, but in the just temperament, and combination, of every Christian grace. In a word, they are renewed after God's image"; and have the change carried on from one degree of glory to another by the Spirit of the Lord t.
But in an infinitely higher degree will they be beautified when their salvation shall be complete. Then they shall have no remains of sin or corruption : their bodies shall be made like unto Christ's glorious body u: their souls also shall be without spot or blemish as truly as his *: arrayed in the robes of his perfect righteousness, and adorned with a crown of glory', they shall shine forth above the sun in the firmament for ever and ever. And when Christ himself shall come in his glory, he will be admired in them, and glorified in them a.).
b Col. ii. 10. c Isai. Ixvi. 2. Jer. xxxi. 18, 20.
i 1 Pet. iii. 4. k 1 Kings viii. 18, 19. 1 i Kin. xiv. 13. m Mal. iii. 16. n Isai. xi. 6. 0 Isai. Iv. 13.
P Acts ii. 23, 41-47. 9 Rev. xxii. 4. r Ps. xc. 17.
Eph. iv. 24. t 2 Cor. iii. 18. u Phil. üi. 21.
* Eph. v. 27. y Rev. vi. 11. and vii. 14. 2 Tim. iv. 8,
After viewing the obligations we owe to God, we cannot but be prepared to hear, II. Our duty to him
There is a correspondence between the mercies we receive from God, and the service which he requires at our hands: Does he take pleasure in us? we should delight ourselves in him: Does he exert himself to beautify us ? we should labour to glorify him. 1. We should delight ourselves in God
[They whom God has set apart for himself as “ his people," and rendered “meek” after the example of Jesus, are properly called “ his saints:" and though men scoff at that name, and make it a term of reproach, they whom God has honoured with it, have reason to rejoice and glory in such an honourable appellation. With them, praise should be the subject of their thoughts, the language of their lips, the very element in which they breatheb. It is their privilege as well as their duty to rejoice in the Lord, to rejoice in him evermore, to rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and full of gloryd. When they rise in the morning, their praise should ascend up as incense; yea, when they are lying “ upon their beds," they should have their waking thoughts occupied with God, and " sing aloud” for joy. Nor should they be contented with the solitary expressions of their love to God: they should commend him to others, and stir up all around them to magnify his name. Such was the delightful employment of the Psalmiste; and such a devotedness of soul to God is no other than our reasonable service!.] 2. We should fight the Lord's battles
[The Jews were to approve their love to God by extirpating his enemies among the heathen. There are enemies also with whom he requires us to contend: but “ the weapons of our warfare are not carnal :" it is not our fellow-creatures that we are called to destroy, but “ the lusts that war in our members.” The world, the flesh, and the devil, are our enemies, and God's. Against them we vowed eternal enmity in our baptism; nor are we ever to sheathe the sword till they are all put under our feet. God has prepared for us a divine
z Dan. xii. 3. Matt. xiii. 43.
a 2 Thess, i, 10.
panoply, an armour of heavenly temper8. Clad with this, we must “ go forth continually conquering, and to conquer.”. We must " fight a good fight,” and “ war a good warfare h," and " endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christi."
Thus fighting and singing must be joined together; for “ the joy of the Lord is our strengthk:” and then shall we be most victorious, when we go forth to battle singing the praises of our God?.]
1. Those who rest satisfied with a mere formal religion
[What suitableness is there in such a state to the mercies we receive at God's hands? If he take pleasure in us, should we be indifferent towards him? If he labour to beautify us, should we take no pains to glorify him? If he call us to holy joy, should we be cold or lukewarm? If he command us to maintain a continual warfare, should we yield ourselves willing captives to our enemies, or make a truce with them for a moment? Be it known, that whatever the world may think of such a state, God utterly abhors it m.] 2. Those who profess to serve and enjoy God
[Glorious indeed is “ the vocation wherewith ye are called:” and well may you rejoice in it: but oh! be careful also to “walk worthy of itn.” If you profess that God has pleasure in you, take care that you are also adorned and beautified with his divine image. If you rejoice and glory in God, take care also that the sword is ever in your hand, to cut off whatever is displeasing in his sight°. Beware also lest you decline from the happy state to which you have been brought: beware lest, by cowardice or sloth, you rob your soul of its beauty and happiness, and make him your enemy, who desires nothing so much as to shew himself your friendP.]
8 Eph. vi. 13—17.
h 1 Tim. i. 18. and vi. 12. i 2 Tim. ii. 3.
k Neh. viii. 10. 1 2 Chron. xx. 21-23. m Rev. iii. 16. Eph. iv, 1.
o Matt. xviii. 7-9. p Isai. Ixiii. 10.
THE DUTY OF PRAISING GOD.
Ps. cl. 6. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.
GREATLY diversified has David's experience been, as depicted in the Book of Psalms. Sometimes we find him bowed down under a sense of sin, and sometimes sunk almost in the depths of despondency: but here we view him elevated as on Mount Tabor, and breathing, as it were, the very atmosphere of heaven. It should seem as if all the concluding psalms had been penned at the close of life, when his soul was altogether ripened for glory. In all the five last psalms he speaks the language of praise. Every one of them begins and ends with Hallelujah, that is, “ Praise ye the Lord.” In the psalm before us, short as it is, he repeats his exhortation no less than thirteen times. O that he might not repeat it in vain ! O that we might “drink into his spirit,” and be transported, like him, with love and gratitude, with adoration and thanksgiving !
Be it known, that, I. God deserves all imaginable praise from his crea
[What perfection of the Deity is there, which, if duly contemplated, is not a fit subject for praise ? His goodness, his mercy, his loving-kindness, his truth, and faithfulness, call for the loudest praises of all his creatures —
The same we may say of his justice too: for though to ungodly men it is a formidable attribute, yet to the creation at large it has a bright and favourable aspect, inasmuch as it is adverse to nothing but what is hostile to the interests of the whole intelligent creation
But contemplate God in the person of his Son: think of him as assuming our nature, and expiating our sins by his own blood upon the cross, and as becoming the living Head of all his believing people, and, finally, as engaged to “perfect that which concerneth them," and to preserve them blameless to his heavenly kingdom: think of him, I say, in all that he has done and suffered for a ruined world, and in all that he has engaged to do for those who trust in him, and then say, whether the tongues of men and angels be sufficient to declare his goodness, or whether eternity itself will suffice to utter all his praise a? Surely it is well and justly said, that “ his name is above all blessing and praise b.”]
Yes, II. There is not “a thing that breathes” which has not abundant occasion to praise hima Ps. coi. 2.
• Neh. ix. 5.
We speak not of irrational beings (though they do praise him according to their ability ;) but of “ man, into whose nostrils God originally breathed the breath of life." Of all the children of Adam without exception we say, that they have reason to praise their God. This is true of, 1. Those who are yet in heathen darkness
[Innumerable are the blessings which they enjoy. The constitution of their bodies and the faculties of their souls are fit subjects for adoration and thanksgiving ---The various blessings provided for the maintenance and support of man, call also for the most grateful acknowledgments -- There is no man whose comforts do not far exceed his deserts.] 2. Those who enjoy the light of Revelation
[Unspeakable are the blessings with which they are favoured. The revelation given to the Jews was dark and shadowy; yet that is spoken of as an inestimable benefit conferred upon theme: what thanks and praise then should we render unto God for the clearer light of his Gospel! O, what wonders of love and mercy are there revealed! How plain is the instruction there given to all who desire to have their feet guided into the way of peace! Whoever perishes for lack of knowledge now, must confess, that his desert of condemnation is beyond measure aggravated', and that his destruction arises solely from his contempt of proffered mercy.]
3. Those who are brought to a saving knowledge of Christ
(What thanks can you ever render to the Lord for the benefits which he has conferred on you? Think of the extent and magnitude of those blessings
- Think how entirely you owe them to the sovereign grace of God ---Think what a difference is hereby put between you and others, not in this world only, but also in the world to come; and not for time only, but for eternity- Will not the very stones cry out against you, if you hold your peace? --- Methinks, your every thought should be adoration ; your every word be praise.)
We shall need no farther inducement to praise our God, if only we reflect, that, III. The more we abound in this blessed exercise,
the more exalted will our happiness be
c Gen. ii. 7.
d Acts xiv. 17.