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disobedience to any other precept of his law. I say that he strumentality by which it is his holy and sovereign pleasure speaks to you from the throne of unlimited sovereignty, that that you shall seek for it, and come to the possession of it. you may be deterred from trifling with his behests when he Your guilt shall remain uncancelled. Your hearts shall be exacts from you the tribute of prayer. But I must add that still under “ the bondage of corruption.” The Holy Ghost his throne of sovereignty is a throne of grace; and that if the will remain at a distance from you. Heaven will refuse to commandment comes armed with the sanction of stern author- unbar its everlasting doors. The terrors of unpropitiated and ity, it also comes recommended by the charms of tender mer- undeprecated wrath will hang over you, and close in upon you, cy. God is the hearer of prayer, in virtue of his compassion and at last bury you in utter and irretrievable ruin. And ali to sinners : and, had he not been a being in whom compas- this misery will come upon you with the unspeakable aggrasions abound, so far from giving you access to his presence, vation that you might have escaped it, had not you so “hardand laying it upon you as a peremptory obligation and an ex-ened your heart” against God, that you would not even pray press duty to make use of that privilege, he would have for- to him—that you would not implore from him the deliverance bidden you to address him, and shut his ear against your cry, which you needed—that you would not offer up one cordial and left you to perish in your apostacy. But, looking upon petition for that which he was willing to grant you, and which you with pity, and desirous to extend to you every needful he is now commanding you to ask for, that you may receive blessing, he is ready to listen to your applications; and, in it, and be happy for ever, O then be persuaded to go to the order to secure, as it were, your coming to him that you may throne of grace. Lift up your soul to him who delights in the have your every want supplied and your every evil remedied, supplications of the penitent. Join yourselves to them of he not only opens up a new and living way" of approach, whom we can say, in the language of mingled admiration and but he clothes himself in majesty, and, by issuing his high pleasure, “ Behold! they pray.' And let this exercise be so mandate, shuts you up to the necessity of praying to him, dear to you, and of so much importance in your regard, that under the penalties of disobedience to the united voice of you shall sympathize with the Psalmist, and catch his devout righteous authority and unmerited love. And I put it to you, spirit, and enter into his pious resolutions when he thus my friends, how you can bring yourselves to be guilty of speaks, “ Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my medisuch disobedience, and yet go on to live as if you were sub-tation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my mitting to the divine will by being men of piety and prayer. God; for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in
I O do not continue any longer in such a delusion as this. the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer Either cease to neglect prayer before God, or cease to think unto thee, and will look up.” that you are submissive to him. Either be habitually given 1. It becomes us, my friends, to form and adopt the purto this exercise, or acknowledge that you are self-convicted pose of the Psalmist. His purpose was to pray; and that rebels against the government of him who "ruleth over all.” purpose should be ours. We have many motives and induceAnd remember that rebellion here is as fatal to those who are ments to engage in this exercise. And if we consider these chargeable with it, as if they had violated the most important aright, and submit to that influence which they are fitted to enactment of the moral law.
hold over our feelings, they will speedily and effectually deAnd now I have to state, in the third place, that without termine us to address ourselves to God in these words, -Unprayer, vain will be to you all the provisions that are made in to thee will I pray.”. We will be satisfied that it is our high
Ι the Gospel for your deliverance and happiness. The Gospel honour, our distinguished privilege, our bounden duty, our is a dispensation of divine wisdom and goodness. It pro- purest comfort, and our truest advantage : and, viewing it in poses to bestow upon sinful men the benefits of salvation. these lights, we cannot but resolve to attend to it, and to give But it proposes to bestow them in a certain way, and accord- ourselves to it, as an observance of the utmost consequence to ing to a certain scheme. And nothing is clearer than that they our welfare. Even the speculative conviction of its excelcannot be received and enjoyed without a humble acqui- lence, as thus contemplated, must, if we are actuated by the escence, on the part of those to whom they are communicated, ordinary principles of a rational nature, constrain us to fix our in the method by which it has pleased God to impart them. attachment upon it, and to employ it as the means of imNow, do you know any ground for thinking that these bene-provement and of happiness. But how much more powerful fits can ever belong to those who do not pray for them? It is will be our regard for it, and how much more deeply and dedistinctly taught, that if you ask them in prayer, believing, cidedly will it affect our minds and our practice, if we know they shall become yours. But where is it taught within the from personal experience all the advantages which it confers, whole compass of the Bible, that the prayerless sinner shall and all the joys which it imparts! Having felt what it is to be saved ?—that you need not supplicate one of the blessings commit ourselves to God in prayer-having received the merof redemption, and yet be as sure of obtaining them all as if cy to pardon, and the grace to help that we implored-having you had ?—that pardon has even been procured, or that hea- been rescued from dangers, supported under trials, fortified ven has ever been reached, by a single individual who has not against temptations, strengthened for duties, and comforted sincerely felt, and cordially put forth the desire for them ? amidst sorrows, in answer to the petitions that we had offer There is no such thing taught in the Bible; and you must be ed up—this must endear the throne of grace to us, attract our sensible that the very contrary of this is what the Bible uni-hearts to it, and encourage us to make it our habitual and formly maintains and inculcates. You cannot fail to perceive chosen refuge, amidst all the vicissitudes, and in all the cirthat, agreeably to the constitution of the Gospel, salvation is cumstances, of our Christian pilgrimage. And, aware how the end at which you aim, and prayer the means by which you apt the world is to break in upon our devotional duties; and are to attain it; that the connection which God has establish-how much we are in hazard, from that and various other caued between these is close and inseparable; and that the hus- ses, of neglecting to perform these as they ought to be perbandman may as well expect to reap a harvest where no seed formed, or of postponing them to concerns and occupations of has been sown, and no culture bestowed, as that you can in- a secular nature, we shall just feel the stronger necessity for herit the fruits of Christ's labour, though they have never" building ourselves up” in this pious resolution, and making been to you the object of devout and believing supplication. a covenant with our own minds, that we will allow nothing And, impressed with the truth of these things, on what prin- to come in between God and our souls, but that, in whatever ciple, or with what consistency, can you neglect to pray? Is we are employed, wherever we are placed, and whatever benot such neglect tantamount to a deliberate casting away of fals us, “ unto him will we pray." every spiritual and every eternal hope ? Is it not equivalent 2. Then it will be with great earnestness that we pray to to saying that you grudge to pray more than you wish to be God. We will not go about the duty in a cold, formal
, or redeemed ? And, it persisted in, must it not necessarily have perfunctory manner, as if it were a matter of indifference to the effect of separating you for ever from God, and Christ, and us, whether we were successful in our application or not. immortality? Yes, brethren; such must be the inevitable and This would be unsuitable to the character of the Being to awful consequence of your being strangers to prayer. And whom our application is made, and to the importance of the what is more, I defy you, by any ingenuity you can employ, blessings that we are desirous to obtain. The God whom we to get quit of this alternative, or, continuing to believe in the address, looks with a jealous eye on the frame of mind in Bible, to flatter yourselves for a moment, that it is either of which we approach him, and could not fail to be angry with trivial importance or of the least uncertainty. I intimate to us, if he saw us careless and unconcerned, either as to the you a truth which you cannot gainsay, and which should go things which we asked from him, or as to the tone of feeling home to the heart of every one of you with awakening power, which we cherish, and the mode of supplication which we that while God will confer upon those who pray for it as they employed, when bending at his throne. It would be irreveought, not only to the half, but even to the whole of his king-rence and mockery, which would have the effect of bringing dom-not one good thing, as pertaining to salvation, will he upon us a curse, instead of a blessing. And then, it we had convey into your lot, if you persevere in disregarding the in- no vehemence of desire, and no fervour of expression, would
it not be a proof that we attached but little importance to the 4. And, finally, you must not forget that the God to whom benefits themselves, which yet we profess to seek? And if you pray is a holy God. It is true he allows us to approach we attach but little importance to the benefits which Christ Him as sinners; and, as sinners, to ask from him with the has purchased with his blood, which God has commanded us hope of receiving all the blessings of salvation. But then, to aspire after with the utmost sincerity and diligence, and in this act of condescension, he does not, and he cannot rewhich are, in every aspect indispensable to our present and nounce that purity and rectitude of character which belong to our eternal advantage-how can we expect that our prayers him as the infinitely perfect Jehovah. We have access to will meet with the acceptance that is essential to their suc- him by the blood of Christ: but by the shedding of that blood cess, or be attended with any one of the advantages of which in sacrifice, he has set before us a most emphatic demonstraprayer is so productive to the true worshipper? When wetion of the divine holiness, which the sacrifice of Christ was pray to God, therefore, let us be truly anxious that our prayer appointed to maintain and vindicate. And though, in virtue may experience his favourable regard. Let our hearts be en- of Christ's meritorious sufferings, God is now reconciling gaged in the exercise, and engaged in it with an ardour and so- the world to himself," and free to bestow salvation upon our licitude becoming the case of those who must have from him fallen race, yet he has not ceased to be as much distinguished what they pray for, or perish. Let us wrestle with the angel of|by holiness in his own character, and as peremptory in his his presence, omitting no importunity of sentiment or of lan- exaction of it in the character of his creatures, as he was beguage which the occasion may justify. Let the words which fore the existence of any atonement, or of any satisfaction. we utter be the vehicle of that earnestness which we feel, and Most true is the representation here given of him by the let us beseech him to hear them as coming from the dependants Psalmist; and most necessary is it that we bear it in mind, and pensioners of his bounty. Let us meditate with deepest in- and be influenced by it, in all our devotional exercises. “ He terest on the extent and urgency of our need, and entreat him has no pleasure in wickedness. Neither shall evil dwell to “consider our meditation," and think of the necessities with him; the foolish shall not stand in his sight; and he of our condition, and exert his wisdom as well as his mercy, hateth the workers of iniquity. He shall destroy them that in giving a supply to all our various wants. Let us cry to speak leasing or falsehood; he will abhor the bloody and him with all the fervour of men who have no other refuge but deceitful man.” himself, to whom there is no hope but what is to be found in Now, this statement, of which we need not at present give the riches of his grace, and whose ruin is inevitable, unless any particular illustration, its general meaning being quite he will have pity, and send deliverance; and let us implore obvious, and quite sufficient for our purpose, is not set before him to “harken to the voice of our cry,” as the cry of guilty, us to deter us from praying to God. It would have that condemned, helpless, and miserable creatures. And, alive effect, indeed, were we to confine our views to the immacuto the unspeakable moment of receiving from him an answer late holiness of God on the one hand, and to our moral dein peace, let us not cease to cherish all this intensity of de- pravity and guilt on the other. But we know that God is sire; let every dawning day find us in the spirit, and in the merciful as well as just; that while his mercy is displayed, attitude, of importunate supplication ; let our powers, when his justice is satisfied; and that according to the wonderful invigorated by the refreshments of sleep and rest, be called plan of redemption, even the chief of sinners may return to forth to the performance of this good work; and let our minds him through the appointed mediator, and for the sake of that be continually and earnestly directed to heaven, as the source mediator, be pardoned, and accepted, and saved. Still, howfrom which we are to draw whatever is needful for our pil-Jever, if we thus believe in Jesus Christ, and thus return by grimage through life, and for our felicity in a better world. him to God, our very faith, and our very return, necessarily
3. But we are not to pray, as if God were unwilling to direct our views to him as a God, “glorious in holiness," hear us, and to bestow the blessings that we need. He has and requiring holiness in all that draw nigh to him, and are revealed himself as the hearer of prayer. He has manifested admitted to the enjoyment of his favour. And, accordingly, his readiness to give us whatever our situation requires. it is one provision of the gospel, that we be sanctified for his “ He that spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him service, while it is one prescribed qualification for engaging up to death for us, how shall he not with him, also freely in that service, that we have “clean hands and pure hearts." give us all things ?" And having by this wonderful display When we pray to him, we must pray in the spirit of peni. of love, and by various affectionate declarations of his word, tence. We must be animated by a hatred of sin; for, "if taught and encouraged us to confide in him for the attain- we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us." ment of every thing for which we are either permitted or in- We must have a sincere, and decided, aud paramount affection structed to pray, it follows that our prayers should always be for holiness; for without this, we could not fix our minds with accompanied with lively faith, and with humble hope. Con-comfort, or with hope, on him whom we pretended to worsidering the representations he has afforded to us of his ship: If conscious that we were “enemies to God in our character, and the assurances he has reiterated us of his minds, and by wicked works," and that we were persevering mercy, any thing like distrust or despondency is as unbecom- in our enmity, notwithstanding all that he had done to subdue ing, as the carelessness and indifference against which we it, we could not possibly cherish towards him one devotional have already warned you. You must honour God, as well sentiment, or utter one sincere supplication. It becomes us, as consult your own comfort, by giving place to no doubt or therefore—it is requisite for us—to be holy, that we may pray disbelief, when you draw near to him in prayer. Rest im- to God as we ought. And, for the purpose of impressing us plicitly on the faithfulness of his promises, which are all with the importance of having that qualification, and with yea and amen in Christ Jesus ;” and pleading on the merit the necessity of having it in active operation when we adof your great High Priest and Intercessor, plead with the dress God in prayer, let us always contemplate God as he is boldness, and the expectation of those who know that they here delineated by the Psalmist. And while a sense of our “have an advocate with the Father,” whom he “heareth al- guiltiness before such a holy Being, determines us to seek ways," and with whom he is ever “ well pleased.” But for acceptance through the sacrifice of Christ, let the purity while you “look up” to God with the conviction that he will of him to whom we pray determine us to be earnest in not turn away your prayer from him, nor his grace from you, seeking for the renewing and purifying influence of the Divine let this conviction be mingled with bumility, when you re-Spirit, in banishing froin our hearts every sinful affection and collect your great unworthiness, and the weakness and im- every unworthy thought, and in cultivating all those graces perfection of your faith itself. Let it be mingled with sub-and virtues which shall qualify us for holding communion mission, that you may not be cast down and disappointed, with the “father of our spirits" upon earth, and for enjoying when he withholds any particular blessing which you had his beatific presence in the kingdom of heaven. asked with peculiar solicitude, and on which you had counted as But while the holiness of God is a commanding reason for at once important to your welfare, and certain in its attainment. our praying to him in the spirit of penitence, we may also And let it be mingled with that patience which shall prevent take encouragement from it to apply to him when men are you from repining at delay in the communication of what you assailing and persecuting us. This was the particular view have besought your heavenly Father to send, which shall make of it taken by the Psalmist in the passage we are consideryou still trust in him for the accomplishment of all that con- ing. He knew that the conduct of his enemies could not fail cerns your well-being, notwithstanding the frustrations of to be most offensive to that Being who ruled the world in hope which you may have experienced, and which is not only righteousness, and who saw in their hostility to his servants, quite consistent with a continued and unwavering expectation a practical contempt of his law, and a daring opposition to of the gifts that you implore, but imparts such a tone of holy his authority. And, therefore, he concluded that, however resignation to the petitions in which you supplicate them, as unworthy he was in himself of the divine favour, and howto give additional grace and piety to the sacrifice which you ever necessary it was to pray in the name of a mediator, the thus lay on the altar of your God.
very perfection of God's moral excellence, would justify him
for asking his interposition, and for asking it with the as- him as a God of mercy, we will feel ourselves encouraged to sured hope that it would be granted. In like manner, when hope for a favourable reception, yet still thinking of his unwe suffer from the malice and injustice of our foes, and apply spotted holiness, and of our own great depravity, it will be to God for deliverance or for help, it is a warrant for us to do with godly fear that we lift up our eyes to the place where so that he is infinitely holy and just. Were he " altogether his honour dwelleth," whether we give him the tribute of our such a one as ourselves," were his nature tinctured with sin, thanksgiving, or ask from him the blessings that we need. or were he indifferent to its prevalence among his creatures, Thus going into the house of God " in the multitude of his we could not expect that he would "give an attentive ear” mercy,” and worshipping towards his holy temple “ in his when we besought him to guard us against the machinations fear," we may cherish the expectation that he will graciously and the malignity of those who, by the commission of it in receive us; that he will “cause his face to shine upon us; some of its most obnoxious forms, aimed at our destruction. that he will listen to the voice of supplication which we lift But, convinced that he is : the Holy One of Israel," that up to him from amidst “tlie assembly of the upright;" that every species of iniquity is hateful in his sight, that the work- he will help us in the performance of our sacred duties; that ers of it are tie objects of his displeasure, and that one great he will bless them for onr comfort and advantage; and that purpose of his administration musi be to check and to punish he will make the services of his temple below, a preparation them, we feel ourselves constrained to make use of that as an for the purer and more exalted services of his temple above. argument for “calling upon him," when we are treated by our fellow-men with cruelty or injustice. It is appealing to the honour of his character and of his government, and to the pledge which he has given, in all that he has revealed of him. self in the law and in the gospel, in the ways of providence,
LECTURE II. and in the word of truth, to prevent the triumph of ungodli. ness, when we invoke him as a God of righteousness, to come “ Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enebetween the oppressor and the oppressed, and to save us from mies: make thy way straight before my face. For there is no our false, Jeceitful, and blood thirsty foes. We must never faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is lery
wickedforget that this attribute of God should make us approach ness; their throat is an open scpulchre; they flatter with their at all times with much self-abasement, and with reliance on tongue. Destroy thou them, O God: let them full by their his mercy through the blood of atonement; but neither should own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transwe forget that, in particular circumstances, it furnishes the gressions, for they have rebelled against thee. But let all moet animating motive that we can have for fervent suppli- those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout cations; and that, when situated as the Psalmist was, we for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love may freely adopt the language which he employed, when he thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, Lord, wilt bless the said, “I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up; rightcous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, shield.”—Psalm v. 8.-END. neither shall evil dwell with thee." The Psalmist did not satisfy himself with private prayer;
David had addressed himself to God as the hearer of prayer, he also resolved to engage in the exercises of public worship. and he did so, when he was in distress by reason of the opThe same feeling of piety which constrained him to do the one, position and hostility of ungodly men.
He took encourageconstrained him also to do the other. And then, he did not ment in praying for help and deliverance, from the considerathink himself at liberty to go to the house of God, without a tion that God was a holy being, who had no pleasure in due consideration of the service with which he was to be there wickedness," and who would take part with his servants occupied, and of the dispositions and views which it required when they were persecuted by the workers of iniquity. And from him, as both becoming and necessary. “As for me,” he expressed his determination, amidst all his trials and trousays he, “ I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy bles, to adhere closely to the worship of his Maker, to apmercy; and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy proach him in a dependence upon his mercy, and to temple."
him with reverence and godly fear." The resolution of the Psalmist should be ours.
He procoeds thus: “ Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousbe tempted by our natural disinclination to spiritual employ- ness, because of mine enemies: make thy way straight before ment, and by the allurements of a degenerate world, and by my face.” David's enemies were numerous, malicious, and the example and counsel of ungodly men, to "forsake the as- inveterate. They watched to spy out his faults; they waited sembling of ourselves together." But, " as for us,” if we are for his halting: they were anxious to discover him acting inactuated by the principles and the spirit of true religion, we consistently with his professions: they longed for some viowill resist all these temptations, and account it our honour, lation of that law by which he pretended to be guided, for our privilege, and our duty, to " wait on the Lord" in the ser- some departure from that character by which he laboured to vices of his sanctuary. This we will do, regularly and punc. be distinguished—that they might acease him before the tually, in the ordinary circumstances of life. But we will world, that they might disgrace him in the eye of the church, especially have recourse to God in his house of prayer, when that they might overwhelm him in infamy and ruin. Now, we are distressed by the hostility and persecution of our foes, in this situation of peril, he applied to God. He was sensible in order that we may derive consolation from the communion that of himself he was not proof against their enmity; that if which we there hold with our heavenly father, and be in-left to his own wisdom, and strength, and resolution, their structed by what is there delivered to us, in all that can re-assaults would be successful and their object accomplished; concile us to our Troubles, and guide us in our difficulties, and that nothing could preserve him but the interposition of divine support us under our trials. And, far from rushing into his aid. And, therefore, he trusted in it, and he prayed for it. holy place, as too many do, without any serious thought con- He prayed that the Almighty would prevent him from comcerning him to whom we are about to pay our homage, and miting any sin which would have given his foes an advantage the manner in which he must be approached, if we would ap- over him, or an occasion against him; that he might be enaproach him with acceptance,-we will study to have our bled at all times, and in all circumstances, to present to them minds impressed with just conceptions of his character, to the commanding aspect of a blameless and holy life; that the bring with us those offerings which the occasion requires, way of duty might be made so plain to him, that he could not and to present them with suitable affections, and in a suita- miss it; that its ruggedness and its difficulties might be so ble manner. Instead of merely going to his tabernacles, we smoothed down, that he could walk in it easily, and surely; will go to them with the conscious purpose of worshipping that those who looked on him with the most suspicious and him,--of offering to him our prayers and our praises, and of malignant eye, might be unable to detect any fault in his conlistening to his word. And instead of merely going to wor- duct; that their captiousness might be ungratified, their claship him, we will go to worship him in that way which is mours put to silence, and their expectations disappointed. dictated by his own express injunctions. Contemplating the Psalmist, and we must act like him. We have all of us eneimmaculate purity by which he is distinguished, and aware mies to encounter, whose aim is deadly, whose vigilance is of our own unworthiness and guilt, it will be with the deep- ceaseless, whose attacks are unremitting, whose numbers, and est humility that we enter his courts; it will be with de- power, and devices are formidable. And what have we whercpendence on his unmerited mercy; and it will be with a with to resist them? Nothing that is adequate to the arduous believing reference to that scheme of reconciliation by which task. Unskilful, ignorant, and weak; api to slumber at our bis mercy has been manifested to sinful men. And though post; easily tempted, or easily frightened into dangerous condrawing near to him in faith, and beholding and trusting in Icessions; unwilling to undergo the toils, or to submit to the
sacrifices which our warfare deinands,—we have scarcely be- culiar grounds, in explanation of which, we would offer these gun the contest, when we lose the victory, and fall a prey to two short remarks. In the first place, David did not pray for those who have nothing else at heart than our everlasting de- the destruction of his enemies, from any feelings of personal struction. But though such is our condition, is it quite resentment. They had, indeed, given him every provocation helpless and irremediable? No, brethren; the God whom we that insult and persecution could furnish. But he did not serve is for as, and he is mightier by far than all that can be yield to it; he took higher and more important views. His against us. He has promised guidance, and protection, and own wrongs were forgotten amidst the affronts that were of assistarice; he has promised to give courage to our hearts, fered to the majesty of heaven. It was upon this ground that and wisdom to our counsels, and vigour to our arın; he has he pleaded for the divine vengeance to fall upon his enemies. promised to be himself our leader and commander, to sup. In aiming a blow at him, they were opposing the appointport us through the perils of the combat, and to conduct us io ments of Jehovah, and they were doing so by means which conquest and to triumph. What then should we do, but con- implied a violation of the most important and sacred enactfide in these promises, and pray for their fulfilment? Let it ments of the moral law; and hence, he urges his soit against be our fixed purpose to oppose a firm and unyielding front to them with this argument, “ for they have rebelled against our adversaries. Let us be resolved, that in spite of all their thee." And in the second place, when interpreting this and efforts, we will “ hold fast our righteousness, and never let it similar passages, we must never forget that David sustained go;" that nothing they can say or do shall prevail upon us to a particular character, and was the champion of a particular surrender one iota of our principles or our purity; that we will dispensation. He was the anointed King of Israel; he was wage interminable war with them, rather than suffer them in inspired, and invested with the prophetical office; and he a single point to acquire the mastery over us. And let all the was ordained to 'act a most important part in carrying formeans which we possess of repelling their assaulls, of coun. ward the arrangements of God, not merely for the immeteracting their stratagems, and of defeating their attempis, be diate safety and prosperity of the Jewish state, but also employed with every degree of care and energy. But siill, and chiefly for the coming of the Messiah, and the ultimate with all this, let us never forget that there is no hope for us, salvation of the world. When praying, therefore, for the if we rely on our own independent rescurces; that we must be destruction of his enemies, he was not an unguided, unau"strong in the Lord, and 'in the power of his might;” and thorised individual, praying for ruin to the common enemies that his all-sufficient help must be obtained by prayer and sup- of his person, or of his country. But he was an individual, plication. Let us, therefore, beseech him “ to lead us in his specially gifted and called of God, and “moved in what he righteousness, because of our enemies, and to make his way spoke by the Holy Ghost,” praying for the destruction of straight before our face.” Let us not only ask him to be thus those who “set themselves" obstinately and malevolently mindful of us, and thus assisting to us, in the extreme or " against the Lord and his anointed,” who were levelling the more trying exigencies of our lot; but let us habitually apply shafts of their malice against the cause both of God and man, to him for the wisdom that is necessary to direct, and the and doing what they could to frustrate the counsels of heaven strength that is necessary to resist, and let us be specially concerning the advent of the Saviour, and the redemption of careful to implore grace to prevent is from doing any thing, the human race. which, though apparently or comparatively insigoificant, may But while these extraordinary circumstances fully justified yet pave the way for a succession of evil works, which would the Psalmist in imprecating destruction upon his enemies, gradually undermine the foundations of our Christian charac. there is nothing in our situation by which we can be justified ter, and finally involve us in the moral desolation which our in following his example. Evil men may calumniate us, enemies are seeking to accomplish. And let us thus labour, and do us all manner of injury; and its afflicting us they may and thus pray, not merely because it is requisite for working - they must, be offending God; but we have no more warrant out our own personal salvation, by keeping is sted fast in the to pray for divine wrath io consume them, than we have warpath of God's righteousness, but also because it contributes rant to cherish personal revenge against them. We are under to the honour, and the influence, and the prosperity of that the law of Christain charity; and that law forbids ondue regreat cause which we have espoused, as believers in the Gos- sentment; it requires us to love our enemies, and to pray for pel, by depriving our foes of that handle with which our mis- thern." We must be regulated by the example of Jesus; conduct would furnish them for “blaspheming the holy name and from the cross of his agony, he lifted up the voice of inby which we are called," and by exhibiting to them ihe vir- treaty in behalf of his murderers, and said, " Father, forgive tuous and irreproachable deportment which is formed, and them, for they know not what they do." We must be " folnurtured, and matured by the religion of Jesus Christ. lowers of God as dear children;" and we know thai he “has
The Psalmist next gives an account of his enemies, and no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but is willing that all petitions for their destruction. “For there is no faithfulness men should come to repentance," and therefore it becomes us in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness: their 10 pray that even those who, in the wantonness or the wickthroat is an open sepulchre, they flatter with their tongue. edness of their hearts, have done us most evil, may be “conDestroy thou ihem, O God; let them fa!l by their own coun. verted from the error of their ways,” and made partakers of sels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, that grace in which we ourselves rejoice, and which teaches for they have rebelled against thee." They had no regard to us to remember the very worst of them in our supplications truth, and scrupled not to invent and propagate deliberate at the throne of mercy. falsehoods, if they could thereby injure the interest, the repu- When we come, however, to consider onr spiritual enetation, or the comfort of the King of Israel.' And this they mies, the case is altered, and in so far as we exclude from did under the influence and by the impulse of inherent de our regard whatever is at once an object of pity and capable pravity, of an inborn enmity against Ciod and the people of of change, it is not only allowable but dutiful in us to pray God, which neither kindness nor virtue could subdoe, and for their destruction. With that limitation, it is impossible which startled at no lie and at no malignity, by which its feel- for us to be on any terms with them, and not endanger our ings might be gratified and its purposes gained. Nay, they well-being. And as we should use every method in our carried this odious and reckless passion so far, that they power, for breaking down their dominion and annihilating thirsted for David's blood; they were ready to devour him; iheir very existence, seeing that their hostility is equally diand insatiable as the grave, which never says “it is enough," rected against us, and against God, and against all that is they longed to swallow up not him only, but all who were good and holy, we must not omit the instrument of prayer, embarked in the same holy cause, and distinguished by the which, when employed in sincerity, and in faith, and with same devotedress to the King of Heaven. Ånd so far did perseverance, is not less availing than it is necessary. It is they carry their diabolical practices, that they put on the right for us to pray that the kingdom of Satan may be overmask of friendship, and spoke in the accents of applause, that turned, that he may be seen "as lightniny falling from heathereby they might more easily lull the suspicions, and effec- ven," that he may be banished from the hearts and the habitatuate the ruin of all who were the objects of their hatred. tions of all men, and driven away, baffled and defeated, " jnto
Such were the Psalmist's enemies; and he prayed for their his own place.” It is right for us to pray that the spirit destruction. He prayed that they might be subjected to the which worketh in us as the children of disobedience," may punishment which they had so justly merited; he prayed that be crushed and subdned--that "the old man with his corrupt ihe counsels which they took, and the measures which they deeds and deceitful lusts” may fall down and die—that every devised against others, might be so overruled as to turn to vestige of that authority which sin has established in our their own overthrow; he prayed that in the midst, and on ac- fallen nature, may perish and become as if it had never been, count of, their multiplied offences, they might be cast out It is right for us to pray, that the world may be divested of from the land of the living, and the place of hope. These its charms to seduce, and of its terrors 10 frighten us from were dreadful imprecations, and could only be justified on pe- the paths of virtue; that it may fall prostrate and without strength at the feet of a triumphant faith; that it may be tempers: they are righteous in their conduct. Righteousness hurled from its proud pre-eminence among men; and that on its is their grand distinction. It adorns them wherever they ruins may be erected the bright and purifying hope of that are, and points them out as children of the Most High, and "new heaven and that new earth, in which dwelleth right- as heirs of immortality; and following after it with unremiteousness.”... And if among our fellow men, there are those ting zeal, and willingly subjecting themselves to the sancwho by their counsel, their example, or their ridicule, are tification of the Spirit,” their path is like the shining light trying to wound oor conscience, to shake our confidence, and which shineth more and more until the perfect day.” roin our souls, and thus proving themselves to be the worst Such are God's people according to the description given enemies with whom we have to struggle,-it is right also to of them by the Psalınist. And, judging of yourselves by this pray with respect to them, that the character in which they test, are you, my friends, among the number of God's peoappear as foes to the followers of Jesus Christ may be utterly ple? If you are not, I need not tell you how much you are extinguished; that the very devices which they have con- lost to all that is greatest and happiest and best. There is trived and are executing against us, may be made the instru- but one other alternative; and if you have chosen it; if you ments of their discomfiture; that, whether by mercy or by are indeed the enemies of God; if, instead of " trusting in judginent, the Lord may be pleased to break their stubborn him," you are trusting in “refuges of lies;" if, instead of wills, and bring them inio subjection to himself and into cap- " loving his name,” you are hating, and blaspheming, and tivity to Christ; and that the enmity of their minds being thus tnrning away from it; if, instead of being “righteous,” you conquered, and all the strong holds of unbelief taken from are living in sin, eager in its pursuits, and contented with its them, and their souls spoiled of every carnal affection and pleasures; then, what can you expect, or what can we hold every hostile feeling, they may be so effectually converted as out to you, but the destruction for which David prayed, and to become “lovers of God," the friends of his people, and which the Almighty has threatened, and with which he will the supporters of his cause throughout the world. It is right assuredly visit all those who will not " repent and be confor us to pray in this manner and to this extent for the de- verted” ihat they may be saved? O, be persuaded to forsake struction of our spiritual enemies: and if we thus “pray with your evil ways, and to return to the Lord. Abandon the ranks all prayer and supplication in the Spirit," He to whom our of his focs. Come out from among them, and be ye sepapetitions are addressed will answer us in mercy, taking to rate." And join yourselves to them who love God and keep him his great power, and thereby accomplishing our deliver- his commandments. He will " receive you graciously." He ance, securing us eqally against the wiles and the violence of will pardon you freely for the sake of his dear Son. He will our foes, and giving us that victory over them all, which shall treat you with every mark of affection that may be hoped for terminate in "glory, honour, and immortality.”
from a tender parent-froin a reconciled God. He will put Having described the enemies of God and prayed against it into the hearts of his saints to pray for you, as David praythem, the Psalmist next describes the people of God, and ed for the righteous. He will teach them the supplications prays for them. “ But let all those that put their trust in they are to prefer in your behalf. And among all the variihee rejoice; let them ever shout for joy; because thou de- ous blessings that, under his guidance, will be ihe subject of fendest them; let them also that love thy name be joyful in their petitions, this will be none of the least fervent nor least thee. For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous, with favour effectual, that you may be “comforted concerning all that has wilt thou compass him as with a shield."
befallen you;” that you may be enabled to rejoice in God, to God's people are described as putling their trust in him. whose friendship you have been restored, and “under the Their confidence is withdrawn from the creature, and reposed shadow of whose wings” you have taken refuge froa: the in the Creator. They contemplate his perfections; and in guilt and the calamities of an unholy life; that you may even them, they behold every thing which can render God worthy shout for joy”—the joy of perfect security from all that of their affiance as a guide, a protector, and a friend. They once harassed your mind and robbed it of its peace-the joy read his promises; and these, while they come from him of complete triumph over the foes under whose cruel power who is faithful and almighty, apply so kindly and minutely you were fast "filling up the measure of your iniquities," to all their circumstances, as to invite and secure their un- and fast sinking into the perdition of ungodly men,”-the suspecting reliance upon him for all that they need. And the joy of nnwavering faith in the merit and intercession of him experience they have had of his gracious and providential who redeemed you, and opened up the way of return to your treatment of them during what is past, teaches them to look offended Maker—the joy of assured hope ihat the time is not up to him, with an unwavering conviction; that he will not far distant when you shall be rescued froin every remaining forsake them during all that yet remains of their earthly pil- evil, be admitted into the celestial presence of your redeemgrimage. They " trust in him at all times;” they trust in ing God, and there rejoice for ever with a joy that is unhim with their whole heart: they trust in him for present speakable and full of glory.” And most unquestionably this safety: they trust in him for support at death; they trust in prayer will be heard and answered. God is already pledged him for the happiness of eternity.
by his character and by his promises to grant what is thus God's people are also described as loving his name. He is implored. “For he will bless the righteous; and with fa. the object of their devout and grateful attachment. Their vour will he compass him as with a shield.” Yon need his understandings have been enlightened to see, and their hearts blessing, and you shall have it; and you shall find that it is have been purified to relish, the transcendent excellence " a blessing which maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow." which resides in his character. And the forbearance, the You need his favour, and you shall have it; and you shall mercy, and the kindness which he has shown thein, and find that his “favour is life, and his loving kindness better which run through all their temporal, and all their spiritual than life.” You need his defence, and you shall have it; and lot, have drawn iheir hearts to him in delighted admiration you shall find that they whom the Lord defends have a shield and everlasting gratitude. So that they think of him with which compasses them about on every side, and keeps them complacency. They take pleasure in every thing by which in perfect safety. And, amidst all your difficulties and all he condescends to make himself known. They are glad- your dangers, this will be your song, till you reach the teindened by every token of his bounty which they themselves ple ont of which you shall no more go out, and the kingdom receive, and by every demonstration of grace and power ihat shall never be moved; " The Lord is my light, and my which he gives in the world around them. And they long salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of for the period, when from that clearer view of his character, my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, and from that more enlarged experience of his mercy, and even mine enemies and my foes come upon me to eat up iny from that more sainted capacity of appreciating “the beauties flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should enof holiness," which they shall attain in heaven, they shall camp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should be enabled to love him with boundless, uninterrupted, and rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have never-ending affection.
I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell God's people are also described as righteous. To confi- in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to behold the dence in his attributes and administration, and sentiments of beauty of the Lord, and inquire in his temple. For in the devoted attachment to him as their heavenly Father, their al- time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret mighty friend, their eternal portion, they add the substantial of his tabernacle shall he hide me: he shall set me up upon and practical attainment of conformity to his will. They do a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine not rest satisfied with honouring him by the mere feelings of enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his taberdependence and affection: they honour him also by the obe. nacle sacrifices of joy. I will sing-yea, I will sing praises dience which he requires, and which it is at once their privi- unto the Lord.” lege and their duty to render to his holy law. They are righteous in their principles; they are righteous in their