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inflicted chastisement upon you, he “has done it for your profit, that you might be partakers of his holiness,” and be rendered meet for his glory.] 3. Affiance
[You know not what is before you: but you know that you are in God's hands, and that “not a hair can fall from your head" but by his special appointment. Look then to him, to order every thing for you: and if you understand not his dealings with you, be content to say, What I know not now, I shall know hereafter.' Never for a moment doubt his power or grace. He has promised to "make all things work together for your good :" and therefore, under the darkest dispensation, assure yourselves that “ He is doing all things well;" and determine, through grace, to say with Job, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."]
DCLXIV. THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS. Ps. xcvii. 11. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness
for the upright in heart. THIS psalm, whatever was the particular occasion on which it was written, undoubtedly refers to the kingdom of the Messiah, in which the whole creation has abundant reason to rejoice. To him it is expressly applied in the Epistle to the Hebrews, even to his incarnation : “When Jehovah bringeth in the First-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." But it is not to rejoice in him merely that the saints are called: they are to love him, to serve him, to honour him, to trust in him, and to expect at his hands the blessedness which he himself, in his exalted state, enjoys. He suffered indeed before he entered into his glory; and so likewise must they: but, for their consolation under their sufferings, let them know that joy is treasured up for them : for “light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart :” and, if only they maintain their integrity, they shall assuredly reap their reward.
In discoursing on these words, I shall open to you, , I. The character here described
• Compare ver. 7. with Heb. i. 6.
a ver. 1.
Instead of entering into a general description of “ the righteous," I shall take that particular representation here given of them, “the upright in heart:” for this is peculiar to the righteous, and to them alone; and at the same time there is not a righteous person in the universe whom it does not accurately depict.
Now, uprightness of heart necessarily includes, 1. A mind open to the reception of truth
[The mind of a natural man is closed against divine truth : he hates the light, and will not come to it: and if it be obtruded upon him, he shuts his eyes against it, lest it should discover to him his corruptions. But a man that is upright in heart will come to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest. He desires to know the whole mind of God; and is as thankful for the light which opens to him his sins, as for that which brings to his view the Saviour of the world. He is conscious that there is a film upon his eyes : but he begs of God to remove it: he is sensible that, through the weakness of his vision, the very light itself will blind him: and therefore he entreats of God to send his Holy Spirit into his soul, to “open the eyes of his understanding," and to " guide him into all truth." Whilst “his eye was evil, he was in total darkness:" but having attained a single eye, his whole body is full of light."]
2. A will determined to follow the truth as far as it is discovered
[He complains of no doctrine as “an hard saying,” nor of any "commandment as grievous.” When he goes to the Lord for instruction, he says with Paul, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?”
Only declare to me thy blessed will, and I am ready, and determined, through grace, to execute it.' As to consequences, he will not regard them. What is duty ? will be his only inquiry. He will expect to have his conduct-disapproved by an ignorant ungodly world; but “ he confers not with flesh and blood.” It is a settled principle in his mind, “ If I please men, I cannot be a servant of Jesus Christd." He will give his whole soul to God, to “be poured into the mould of the Gospel,” and to be employed in " magnifying the Lord, whether by life or deathe."]
3. A conscience faithfully inspecting the whole conduct, and bringing it to the test of God's word
[Conscience in the natural man is partial. Indeed, in multitudes who profess religion, it is far from being a faithful monitor: it will deny in practice what it admits in principle, c Matt. vi. 22, 23.
d Gal. i. 10.
e Phil. i. 20.
and allow in ourselves what it condemns in others. But where the heart is truly upright, conscience will act, not according to any selfish views or principles, but with strict equity, according to the unerring standard of the Gospel. This is essential to real integrity: and, when God has put truth in our inward parts,” and “ renewed a right spirit within us,” such will assuredly be the effects : conscience will be a light within us: it will be like a compass, that will guide us in the darkest night: it will be God's vicegerent in the soul, acquitting or condemning according to truth, even as God himself will do in the day of judgment. It will summon the whole man to give account of himself from day to day: it will cause all the actions, words, and thoughts to pass in review before it: in short, it will suffer no disposition, no habit, no inclination, to exist in the soul, without comparing it with the written word, and having reason to believe that it will be approved of the Lord.]
4. A life in habitual accordance with these principles
[After all, “ the tree must be known by its fruit.” We can know nothing with certainty respecting the heart, but by the life. God sees it as it is in itself: we can discover it only by its acts. Behold then the upright man in his daily walk. See him searching with all humility the word of truth, and imploring direction from God, that he may understand it aright. Behold him giving up himself, in body, soul, and spirit, to the Lord from day to day; and rising, above all earthly considerations, to the contemplation and execution of God's blessed will. Behold his searchings of heart also, and holy fear lest any hidden abomination should lurk within him. Hear him crying to God for his effectual aid: “ Search me, O Lord, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting?” Then compare with this, his temper, his spirit, his conduct: and then you will see, though doubtless with manifold imperfections," an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile."]
Here is real uprightness of heart. Let us next contemplate, II. The blessedness that awaits it
A person possessed of this character will have much to bear
[We greatly mistake if we think that such a person will be approved of all; or that he will have no trials within his own soul. No, indeed: he will, like Paul himself, have "fightings without and fears within." Much as such a character is admired in theory, it never is really exhibited before men without exciting great offence. From the days of Abel to the present moment, have “ those who were born after the flesh hated and persecuted those who were born after the Spirit :" and for the most part has that been found true, that " the greatest foes have been those of a man's own household.” If infallible wisdom, unbounded love, and sinless perfection could have obtained an exemption from the common lot, our blessed Lord would have passed without offence: but He, who was the most perfect of the human race, was pursued with more bitter acrimony than any other from the foundation of the world: and if they so hated him, they will hate us also: “ if they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, much more will they those of his household."
f Ps. cxxxix. 23, 24.
In his own soul, too, the saint feels much to humble and to try him. He still has a carnal principle within him, and is only renewed in part: “the flesh still lusteth against the Spirit, so that he cannot do the things that he would." The Apostle Paul himself “groaned within himself, being burthened;" and, under a distressing sense of his in-dwelling corruptions, cried, “O wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death ?” It may be, too, that he is assaulted with violent temptations, and that the fiery darts of Satan are permitted to pierce his soul. At such a season as this he may be ready to write bitter things against himself, and to call in question all that he has ever experienced of the grace of God.)
But, whatever be his trials, a happy issue of them most assuredly awaits him
[“ Light and gladness are sown for him;" and, though he may wait long for the harvest," he shall surely reap, if he faint not."
There is in the purposes of God a harvest of happiness secured to him. The trials of Joseph appeared, for a season, to defeat all the expectations which his dreams had excited; but they led, all of them in succession, to the accomplishment of his predestined elevation. Our blessed Lord, if viewed in the garden, on the cross, and in the grave, seemed to have been utterly defeated; but these were the forerunners of his glory : his resurrection soon changed the scene; his ascension speedily followed; and his sending of the Holy Spirit shewed, that all which had been ordained respecting him was fulfilled, and that he
was invested with all power to save a ruined world. Thus shall God's purposes be accomplished in the final salvation of all his people. They may be tried, and sorely too, for a season : but they may adopt the language of the Church of old, under her deepest afflictions, and say, “Rejoice not against me, () mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness."
In the promises of God, also, is the same blessed issue secured. “ If we suffer with Christ, God engages that we shall also reign with him,” and “ be glorified together.". “ The trial of our faith, from whatever quarter it may come, is precious, yea, more precious than gold itself; because it will be to our praise and honour and glory, as well as to the glory of our Lord and Saviour, in the great day of his appearing h."
h.” Hear how fully our blessed Lord declared this to his weeping and disconsolate disciples: “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful; but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again; and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you'.” So our “weeping may endure for a night; but joy shall most assuredly come in the morningk.
But even in the very experience of the upright is there a pledge of future glory. His tears are the seed of joy : and,
as surely as he goes on his way, bearing this precious seedbasket, so surely shall he come again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” See this described, in its process, by St. Paul: “We glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope ; and hope maketh not ashamed." Here tribulation is the seed; patience the blade; experience the ear; hope the full corn in the ear; and the completion of that hope in heaven, the ingathering of the harvest into the garner. In truth, “ the light and momentary afflictions of the righteous actually work out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Thus is every upright soul rendered conformable to his Divine Master: "he first “ drinks of the brook in the way, and then, like him, has the happiness to lift up his head!."] ADDRESS1. Seek real integrity
[This is universally held in high estimation : at least, men universally profess so to regard it: and therefore, waving at
8 Mic. vii. 8, 9. h 1 Pet. i. 7. i John xvi. 20—22, k Ps, xxx. 5.
| Ps. cx. 7.