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piety which shone so conspicuously in him. In the psalm before us, he pours out his soul before God under some great and heavy affliction, probably under the persecutions of Saul : but it had produced the most beneficial effect upon his mind; seeing that it stirred up within him more ardent desires after God, and determined him, through grace, to walk more diligently in the ways of God: “ Teach me thy way, O Lord! I will walk in thy truth : unite my heart to fear thy name.”
In these words we see the two great requisites for an acceptable walk with God; which are, I. An illumination of mind, that we may know His
[We know nothing of God or his ways, any farther than he has seen fit to reveal himself to us (How little our unassisted reason can teach us, has abundantly appeared in all the philosophers of Greece and Rome.) Least of all can we know any thing of the way which he has appointed for our reconciliation with him through the blood of his Son: respecting that no finite intelligence could have formed any conception, if it had not been made known to us by a special communication from heaven But we need also, yet further, a special revelation of it to our own souls. The mere report, as contained in the written word, is not of itself sufficient to bring us to a saving knowledge of these sublime truths: Christ must be revealed in usb, as well as to us, or we shall never “know him as we ought." These great things are, indeed, " freely given to us of God:" yet must we receive the Spirit of God, in order that we may know them " aright": He must, as "a Spirit of wisdom and revelation," open the eyes of our understanding, before we can comprehend a this great mystery, so as really to acquiesce in it, and cordially to come to Christ as "the way, the truth, and the life."
If the Apostles themselves, after above three years' attendance on the public and private instructions of our Lord, yet needed to have “ their understandings opened, in order that they might understand the Scriptures?," there can be no doubt but that the same is necessary for us all; and that we all need to cry with David, “ Open thou mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of thy law 6 ;" or, as he speaks more fully in another psalm, “ Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths; lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation: on thee do I wait all the day h."]
b Gal. i. 16.
c 1 Cor. ii. 12.
d Eph. i. 17, 18.
To this must be added, II. A concentration of our souls, that we may walk
[Our heart by nature is divided amongst ten thousand vanities, all of which are sought in preference to God. Whatever can contribute to the satisfaction of the carnal mind becomes, on that account, an object of desire; and according as our prospects of attaining it are varied, our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows, are called forth into powerful and successive operation. But the powers of the soul are not to be so abused: they were given by God in order that they might be employed in his service: and in order to an acceptable walk with him, they must all centre in him. He will not accept a divided heart. Whosoever possesses that, “will be found faulty' God says, “ My son, give me thine heartk:” and it must be given to him entire. To him it must be exclusively devoted, in all its faculties: at least, nothing must be an object of hope or fear, joy or sorrow, but in subserviency to his glory, and in obedience to his command. “ We cannot serve God and Mammon too?.” There is " a singleness of eye,” and “a singleness of heart," that is indispensable to a right walking with Godm: without that we cannot be “ Israelites indeed", or approve ourselves to “ Him who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins"
--] ADDRESS1. Those who think it an easy thing to serve God
[Many have an idea that this is so easy a matter, that they may execute it at any time, whenever satiety shall have rendered them less anxious about carnal enjoyments, or the approach of death shall render a preparation for eternity more an object of desire. But supposing it to be so easy, how great must be their guilt in neglecting it! Is it so easy a matter to please, and serve, and honour God: and will they not do it? Then “out of their own mouth shall they be judged:” and the heaviest condemnation shall be awarded to them, because they would rather rebel against their God and “provoke the eyes of his glory "by their impieties, than they would take on them, what they themselves acknowledged to be, his“ light and easy yoke.”
But if it be, indeed, so easy, try it; and see if it be so easy to come to God in his appointed " way." See, if you can come with brokenness of heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the
h Ps. xxv. 4, 5.
i Hos. X. 2.
k Prov. xxiii. 26.
Father through him, imploring mercy solely through the blood and righteousness of your adorable Saviour You will soon find that the proud heart of man does not easily stoop to so humiliating a way of approaching God. If you might come in your own name, and in your own righteousness, you would perhaps consent to do it: but to come with penitential sorrow in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in a simple dependence on his atoning sacrifice, is a work to which you are utterly averse, and which none but God can enable you to perform.
Again, if it be so easy to gather in all the affections of the soul,
and to fix them exclusively on God, do it. But you will find that this is far beyond the power of man to effect. In order to this, you must have " a new heart given you, and a right spirit renewed within you:” nor can any power short of that wħich created the world at first form such a new creation within you. Lay aside, then, your vain conceits respecting this matter; and begin, without delay, that work, which a whole life is short enough to accomplish, and which, if not wrought speedily, may soon become a subject of remediless and endless woe
2. Those who desire, but find it difficult to serve him[You, probably, have depended too much on the resolu
have formed. I am far from disapproving of resolutions, if formed in dependence upon God. Joshua's has been the just subject of applause in all ages: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lordo." But Peter has sufficiently shewn how weak all human strength is, when unaided from on high. It is by prayer alone that we can hope to prevail, either for the illumination of our minds, or the concentration of our souls, both of which are so necessary in this good work. David was no novice in the divine life; yet did he cry,
“ Teach me thy way, O Lord; and unite my heart to fear thee!" And, if he had not so cried to the Lord, in vain would he have said, “ I will walk in thy truth.” If then he, notwithstanding his attainments, still had recourse to God in prayer, know, that there is no other way for us to prevail; and that, if you would succeed according to your desire, you must cry day and night to God in prayer, and bring down from him those supplies of grace and strength which are so needful for you -]
3. Those who are really walking with God according to his command
(Be not discouraged, if you should find that, notwithstanding your good endeavours, you make not all the advance
o Josh. xxiv. 15.
that you could wish. You yet have flesh, as well as spirit; and " if the spirit lust against the flesh, so will the flesh still strive against the spiritp.”. You will yet find a law of sin in your members, warring against the law of your minds, and constraining you at times to cry out, “ O! wretched man that I am! who shall deliver mea?” But go forward, in humble dependence on God. “ Continue instant in prayer.” Let not your hands hang down; but let them be stretched forth to God in continual supplications; and he will come to your relief. He will embitter to you the vanities on which you are tempted to set your affections, and will gradually get himself the victory over all the enemies of your souls. It was only " by little and little that he drove out the Canaanites” before his people of old; and it is not to be expected that you should have no difficulties to contend with, no conflicts to sustain. But remember where your strength is; and, " as ye have received the Lord Jesus Christ, so walk ye in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith as ye have been taught, and abounding therein with thanksgiving":” so will he "preserve you blameless unto his heavenly kingdom,” and “present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."]
P Gal. v. 17. 9 Rom. vii. 23, 24. r Col. ii. 6, 7.
THE GLORY OF ZION. Ps. lxxxvii. 3. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of
God. THE city here spoken of, is Zion: of whose praises the whole Scriptures speak. She is represented as “ beautiful for situation, and as being the joy of the whole earth a.” Even God himself is represented as delighting in her, and as “ loving the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.” Why she, and the Church which is represented by her, are so high in the estimation of God and man, it will be not unimportant to consider.
To bring the subject fully before you, I will shew, I. What glorious things are spoken of her
Amongst the many things spoken of her in Scripture, she is particularly commended, 1. As the residence of the Deity
a Ps. xlviii. 2.
b ver. 2.
[God chose Zion of old for his habitation, and delighted to make that above all other cities in the universe “the place of his resto.” There he abode in that bright symbol of his presence, the Shechinah, “ dwelling between the cherubimsa.” There his people assembled by his appointment to worship him : thence he dispensed his blessings: and thence in due time he sent forth his everlasting Gospele.
Thus under the Christian dispensation he has honoured his Church, dwelling in it; as he has said, “ I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” There he reveals his glory, even "all the glory of the godhead, in the face of Jesus Christ
- There he makes known all the riches of his grace and love
There he communes with his people who present their supplications before him, “ drawing nigh to them, whilst they draw nigh to him;" and giving them answers of peace; not indeed visibly, as by the Urim and Thummim of old, but really, and satisfactorily to their souls In a word, though unknown in every other place under heaven, “He is known in her palaces as a refuget.”] 2. As the birth-place of the saints
[This is particularly noticed in the psalm before us: “Of Zion it shall be said, This and that man is born in her." Under the Jewish dispensation conversions were comparatively few; but under the Christian dispensation they are very numerous; though at present they are only as the drop before the shower. On the day of Pentecost the Spirit was poured out in richer abundance, and thousands were converted in a day: and still, wherever the Gospel is preached in sincerity and truth, there the power of God accompanies the word, and “subdues the souls of men to the obedience of faith.” Amongst the heathen, Satan maintains an universal sway: and amongst those Christians who are not blessed with a faithful ministry, very few are ever rescued from his dominion: but where the cross of Christ is exalted, there will be found "a stir among the dry bones," and multitudes will be born to God. And may we not ask, Whether this is not confirmed by the experience of many here present? Once you were dead in trespasses and sins, and as destitute of all desire after God, as any people in the world: but, through the preaching of a crucified Saviour in this place, your souls have been “ turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” Here also, when you have been mourning on account of your indwelling corruptions, God has "given you the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heavinessh;” so that you can confidently say, " I was born there.” Blessed testimony, that may well endear to you
c Ps. cxxxii. 13, 14. d Ps. lxxx. 1. e Isai. ï. 3. f Ps. xlviii. 3.
8 ver. 5, 6.
h Isai. lxi. 3.