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is their character, that so they act. whose eyes the Lord hath opened, and who possess, accordingly, the only true wisdom, are of another mind. "O! that my head were waters, says Jeremiah," and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people."* And, "Rivers of waters," says David, "run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law. I purpose, by God's assistance,
I. First to consider David's conduct, together with the reasons of it.
II. And then to address a few words of admonition and exhortation to the different sorts of persons, respectively, whom the doctrine of the
I. And, first, as to David's conduct, and the reasons of it.
The words express the depth and bitterness of his grief, even rivers of tears ran down his eyes; so powerfully was his mind affected: and they declare also what was the occasion which moved him. It was the knowledge he had, of the way in which sin abounded all around him, and his sense of the dreadful evil which such prevalence involved. Men would not keep the law of God. That was it which troubled him.
Now the wise man tells us, "There is a time
* Jerem. ix. 1.
to weep. ."* And the question for our consideration is, was this the fit time? or had David sufficient reason for his conduct? For on this it depends, whether he acted wisely and piously, and in a manner acceptable to God; or whether his behaviour was weak and extravagant, and consequently unworthy of our imitation.
See, then, what the breaking of the law of God is, and what must come of it. Is it, indeed, a sad and serious thing, productive of sad and serious consequences; or is it that trifle which it is taken to be by too large a portion of mankind?
1. The Law is the mind of God, made known to man. The rule prescribed by man's Maker, and Master, and Judge, to whom he is accountable, and shall actually give account at last, for showing him what he shall be, in heart and mind and affections; and what he shall do, in thought, word, and action, in order to please God, to answer the ends for which God created him, and to become meet to dwell with God eternally. In itself, the whole law is "holy, just, and good;"† and in the keeping of it," in the very thing itself, "there is great reward." In proportion, I mean, as any man is conformed to it, and observes it, in heart and life, he becomes the nobler, the better, the happier being. For such *Eccles iii. 4. + Rom. vii. 12. Psalm xix. 11.
obedience to it implies and comprehends the love of what, indeed, is lovely; and the hatred of what, indeed, is hateful: and the outward habit of obedience strengthens the right principles from which it proceeds, and reacts upon them, so that the man grows continually in meetness for glory; or, in other words, both in likeness to God, and in capacity for seeing God in heaven. But, on the other hand, in the breaking of the law, in the very thing itself, there is a grievous downfall. In proportion as the commandment is rejected, and the man will not be led by it, and the prohibition is overleaped and sin committed, the noble faculties of man are prostituted. His nature is degraded; his very mind and conscience are defiled; he becomes unfit for the ends for which God formed him, and incapable of the happiness for which God designed him. For how should he be made happy by seeing God, when his mind is become contrary to him, and is enmity against him? in which evil state, nevertheless, he becomes necessarily more and more confirmed, as the habit of sin proceeds. So that in every impenitent breaker of the law, we behold an immortal and originally noble being, spoiled and lost. Conformably with God's own expostulation with Israel, “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou
turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me? And accordingly he proceeds,
Though thou wash thee with nitre and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord."* The sinner is become, in the very nature of things, a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction, and for nothing else: and then, as he hath done, so will the Lord requite him. Supposing that the law takes its course, being marked for destruction, he must surely perish. This was one consideration which affected David's mind with sorrow.
2. But he saw, also, what we ourselves have the means of seeing in a still stronger and clearer light, that sin, being persisted in, does something else besides simply break the law, and something still more horrible and more fatal. Ever since the promise made to Adam of a seed of the woman to destroy the devil's works, it frustrates also the divine grace as revealed in the Gospel for man's recovery, and, under this view of it, makes the sinner "tenfold more the child of hell than he was before."
Let us inquire then into this. God was not willing that the law should take its course to the destruction of sinners, if, consistently with the honour of his government, that awful issue of their disobedience might be avoided. He He gave,
*Jerem. ii. 21, 22.
therefore, his only Son to " put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." * By the self-same act he proclaimed his irreconcilable hatred of the transgression, and his infinite love, notwithstanding, to the transgressors. And his ministers are "ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech sinners by them, to pray those sinners, in Christ's stead, that they would be reconciled to God."† And, "Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land."+ Turn to me, and I will turn to you." And that they may turn, he "gives the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." And, "he shall glorify me," says Christ, "for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." And, "this is the covenant which I will make with them, after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." || "Behold all things are ready," "without money and without price." "God hath provided himself a lamb for a burnt offering;" and no soul need be lost; no soul need fail of glory, to whom the
*Heb. ix. 26. + See 2 Cor. v. 20. ↑ Isa. i. 18, 19. || Heb. x. 16, 17
§ John xvi. 14.