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greatest matters-much more in smaller: but let it teach you also, that when you have sinned, to search out the spirit, and repent. David had finned horribly in the light of God; and where the text takes him up, he was still in the height of his delusion: but his whole life after, as far as we can judge, was a life of repentance. Where shall we find such expressive sorrow for sin as in his penitential psalms, when he went mourring all the day long, and at night watered his couch with his tears. His fins might have been recorded not only to teach us penitence, but to teach us never to despair: the greatest fin, on repentance and a change of life, may be forgiven through the merits of Christ. Each of us hath in his own breast that prophet, which will on every occasion tell him honeftly, as Nathan told David, Thou art the man. To this monitor let us at all times listen; and may God Almighty give us grace fo to attend its warning voice, that we may make our peace here, before all opportunity is loft for ever!
[Preached on the Fast Day, Feb. 25, 1795.)
PSALM xcvii. 1.
THE LORD IS KING: THE EARTH MAY BE
GLAD THEREOF; YEA, THE MULTITUDE OF
THE ISLES MAY BE GLAD THEREOF:
THIS psalm is fupposed to have been written
by king David, on the occasion of a victory. He attributes nothing to his own power, but refers all the glory to God. To God, likewise, he attributes all the misfortunes that befal the wicked, either as punishment or as trial. The holy Prophet therefore rejoices in the idea that God, whether he gives prosperity, or adversity, governs every thing. The Lord is king : the earth may be glad thereof; yea, the multitude of the isles may be glad thereof.
I shall consider these words by shewing you, first, what is meant by the Lord's being king; secondly, on what foundation the earth, and muila titude of the isles, may be glad thereof; and, lastly, I shall make an application to ourselves,
In the first place, the Lord is king, as he is the governor of all nature: all created things are under his control, and are only the instruments of his government. In his vast storehouse he has storms, infected air, earthquakes, and various other evils: he has likewise calm skies, fruitful showers, and abundant harvests. In short, prosperity and adversity, in every shape; and even the wickedness of man, so far as it affeEts mankind, (his own actions being always free,) are only various means by which God tries, punishes, and rewards the children of men.
Again, the Lord is king over mankind, as diyided into nations. Men form themselves into various governments, and amuse themselves with the wisdom with which their several schemes are conducted; but, in fact, all their governments and all their schemes are only the administrations of this great Ruler. Kings may suppose they govern, and generals may suppose they conquer;
but it is God that giveth power to the one, and force to the other, and conducts all their purposes to his own wise ends.
The Lord is king also over men, considered as individuals. There are various stations in the world-high and low, rich and poor; and men suppose their own wisdom, industry, and prudence, procure them their various distinctions in life: but if we believe that the Lord is king, and that he ruleth the affairs of mankind, we must believe also, that nothing happens without his direction.
Thus the Lord is king over all nature-over mankind in general, not only in a state of society, but as individuals also.
But here, perhaps, some may object, that if the Lord is king, and ruleth every thing, what occasion have we to do any thing? Why should the rulers of a country concern themselves about national affairs; or private men, about their several employments? All they do fignifies nothing. The Lord is king, and he will govern the affairs of nations and men as he pleafeth, whether themselves act, or not.
This is false reasoning. We do not know what God intends; but we know what he orders
75 'to do, and therefore at any rate we should obey him. The same God, who ordereth the affairs of nations and men, ordereth us also to use our wisdom and prudence, and every capacity which he hath given us. Our actions, like every thing else, are God's instruments: by these he brings about the great purposes of his will, What these purposes are, we know not; but of this we may be assured, that, by obeying or disobeying him, we may turn ourselves into good instruments, or bad: his instruments, certainly, in some shape we must be. If the wicked man therefore skreen his wickedness by saying, that God turns his vices into benefits, let him consider what the scripture says, It must needs be that offences come; but woe be to that man by whom the offence cometh. God does not make men wicked; but if they make themselves wicked, he turns their wickedness to his own wife purposes.
Again, if a man pretend to say, he hath accomplished any thing by his own wisdom or power, he is equally mistaken. The Lord is king, and for his own great purposes bestows wisdom, and power; which, at the same time the possessor may turn, if he please, to his own advantage: as, in common life, a factor may contribute to Vol. IV.