« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
PSALM lxxxix. 15, 16.
Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound !
They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance : In thy name shall they rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.
I HAVE often wondered at the hardiness of those writers, who have presumed to affirm, that the gospel, or message of free and full salvation by the blood and righteousness of God's co-eternal Son, was unknown to those who lived under the legal dispensation.
Nothing can be more untrue. We may as reasonably affirm, that the sun did not shine during the legal dispensation. And as it was the same sun, which now shines, that then illuminated the world l; so it was the self same Sun of righteousness, who now rises upon the souls of his people with healing in his beams (a), that then shone upon God's elect, visited them with the irradiations of his love, and saved them by faith in his own future righteousness and atonement. Unto us, saith the apostle, is the gospel preached, as well as unto them (b). And again, These all died in faith, having seen the promises afar off; and were persuaded of them [Fs1g0svies, were assured of interest in them], and embraced them (c). So that we may confidently affirm, concerning all God's enlightened people who lived before the Messiah's incarnation, that like Abraham (d), they saw the day of
(a) Mal. iv. 2. (6) Heb. iv. 2. (c) Ib. xi. 13. (d) Johin viii. 56.
Christ in perspective, and rejoiced in the believing anticipation of that blessed sight.
As the depravation of human nature is intrinsically the same in all ages; and as men, in and of themselves, were neither better nor worse, during the Mosaic economy, than they have been ever since, and are at this day; it follows, that, the disorder being the self same, the remedy likewise must be the same; and, of course, that there are not two ways of salvation, one for the believing Jews, and another for the believing Gentiles ; but that our Lord's declaration ever did, and ever must, stand good, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father, but by me (a). Suppose, we carry our appeal to this psalm, for the truth of the observation here made? What do you think David sings of in the text ? Certainly he sings of those supernatural comforts imparted by the Holy Ghost, and which the Psalmist knew would be procured for all the elect, by the blood of Christ. Hence, he likewise celebrates the praises of that righteousness, in which, and in which alone, the redeemed of the Lord are exalted to a state of communion with God, and to the inheritance of the saints in light.
No wonder, therefore, that a Psalm, so richly fraught with evangelic truth, should open in a strain of praise and thanksgiving to that God of all grace, whose love to his people embraced them without beginning, and shall follow them without end. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever; with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. Now, do you think that David did not enjoy, what has since been called, the full assurance of faith ? or can you imagine, that David was unacquainted with what has since been termed, the doctrine of final perseverance ? certainly, he was
(a) John xiv. 6.
led into the clear perception of both these truths ; else, he could not have said, I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever; not only to-day, and tomorrow, if I live; not only this year, and the next, if I live; nor only through life, but when I come to die; and not only when I pass through the streams of death, but when I am landed safe on the other side ; the high praises of his mercy and faithfulness shall be ever in my mouth. David was egregiously mistaken in his views, if what some blasphemously affirm to be true, that “ he who is a child of God to-day, may be a child of the devil to-morrow.” You must either deny that the psalmist wrote under the unerring guidance of God's Spirit ; or you must admit, that the final preservation of God's renewed people is a doctrine of God's book.
But it is not enough for true believers to be sensi. ble of the mercy of the Lord, and of the perpetuity of his grace: they wish to diffuse the savour of his name far and wide, and to realize David's resolution, with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. Some, who know the truth, shun to declare it, and are afraid to speak out; they hide Christ's mark in the palm of their hands, instead of wearing it on their foreheads; and wrap up their Christianity in a cloke of secresy, as if they deemed it their highest dishonour to be seen with Christ's livery upon their backs.
their backs. On the contrary, such believers as are strong in faith, giving glory to God, instead of sneaking to heaven through bye-ways and private roads, concealed in a covered litter, with the curtains drawn close about them ; rather wish to go thither, over the public road of a declared profession, in an open chariot, so as to be seen and known of all men. But ministers of the gospel, above all mankind beside, should, with their mouths, make known God's faithfulness; and, instead of desiring to slink into heaven at the back-door (if any such door there be), march publicly, with colours flying, and with sound of trumpet, to the great
gate of the celestial city, and labour to carry thither as many souls with them as they possibly can.Hence, they must be urgent and importunate, in season and out of season ; reproving, rebuking, and exhorting, with all long-suffering and doctrine (a): the ministry of the word being the principal reapinghook, which God's Spirit makes use of, to cut off the poisonous excrescences of self-righteousness, to cut down the baneful weeds of practical licentiousness, and to gather elect sinners to the sanctifying and saving knowledge of himself. Let it, however, be observed, that the ministerial calls and exhortations of God's ambassadors, urged and addressed as well to the awakened, as the unawakened; do by no means imply, that, in the divine intention, grace is universal, as the Arminians talk; nor that man, by a proper use of his reasonable faculties, becomes the architect of his own salvation. No. Quite the contrary. A fisher, who stands upon the shore, and plunges his net into the sea at large, is not so frantic as to think of catching all the fishes in the sea, though he offers the net indefinitely and without exception. So, when a Christian minister spreads the gospel-net, he preaches to all that come within the sphere of his address; not with an expectation of catching all, but of catching as many as God shall please; knowing, that it is the holy Spirit alone who can drive souls into the net, and effectually catch them for Jesus Christ.
What was it which made David so desirous to sing of the mercies of the Lord ? What was it that warmed and emboldened him, at all events, to make known Jehovah's faithfulness, from one generation to another? It was the glorious gospel of the blessed God, seen in the light of the Spirit, and experienced through the influence of grace. Here is the reason of David's zeal: for I have said, mercy
(a) 2 Tim. iv. 2.
shall be built up for ever, thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.
heavens. What is this mercy, that is built up for ever; but the glorious and the gracious scheme, the glorious and the gracious fabric, of our salvation, founded in the eternal purpose of God -carried into execution by the labours and the death of Jesus Christ-and then applied and brought home to the heart by the illuminating and converting power of the Holy Ghost ? This is that mercy, which is built up for ever. It was planned from everlasting; and will know no ruin or decay, through the illimitable line of eternity itself. Who is the builder of this fabric ? Not man's free-will. Not man's own righteousness nor wisdom. Not human power nor human skill. Every true believer will here join issue with David, that it is God, and God alone, who builds up the temple of his church; and who, as the builder of it, is alone entitled to all the glory.
The elect constitute and form one grand house of mercy: an house, erected to display and to perpetuate the riches of the Father's free grace of the Son's atoning merit, and of the Holy Ghost's efficacious agency. This house, contrary to the fate of all sublunary buildings, will never fall down, nor ever be taken down. As nothing can be added (a) to it, so nothing can be diminished from it. Fire cannot injure it; storms cannot overthrow it; age cannot impair it. It stands on a rock (6), and is immoveable as the rock on which it stands: the threefold rock of God's inviolable decree, of Christ's finished redemption, and of the Spirit's never failing faithfulness. God is neither an unwise, a feeble, nor a capricious architect. He does not form a wretched scheme, liable to be frustrated, and which will hardly bang together at best ; but all is well ordered, all is everlasting, all is sure, and nothing
(a) Eccl. iii. 14.
(6) Matth. vii. 25. and xvi. 18.