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and patience, and which he will not overrule for promoting confidence in every assurance he has given you; and act as it your highest advantage. No temporal blessing will be re- becomes those in whose minds this alliance is lively and unfused to you, or taken from you, except where its bestowal wavering. Then shall ye be happy indeed; happy now as or its continuance is inconsistent with what you should value having the communications of his love and the hopes that infinitely more than all that the world can furnish,-your stretch into eternity; and happy hereafter in the full and everadvancement in the work of preparation for judgment and lasting enjoyment of all that can constitute the felicity of a eternity. It is the general fact, announced in Scripture, and rational and immortal being. confirmed by experience, that as the people of God you have not only the promise of the life that now is,' but the actual and liberal fulfilment of that promise. And all the exceptions to it that you may meet with in your journeyings throngh the wilderness, all that you suffer in these from poverty, from sickness, from the loss of friends, from disap
LECTURE X. pointments in business, from unmerited neglect, from base ingratitude, or from any other of the privations and sorrows to which humanity is liable,-all these things are but varied I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my suppliexpressions of the same paternal love which cared for the cutions. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore salvation of your souls ; many of them, even while they will I call upon him as long as I live. TK sorrows of death last and operate in all there bitterness, will be recognised by compussed me, and the pains of hell got hold upon me: I found you as tokens of kindness; and there is not one of them trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the which, when looked back upon from the land of promised Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. Gracious is rest, and contemplated in the light of celestial truth, will the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The not furnish a theme of gratitude and praise, as having fomed Lord preserveth the simple : I was brought low, and he helped a part of that plan of grace by which you were fitted and Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath matured for glory.
dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul Such, my friends, is that God whom ye are called to wor- from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. ship in his holy temple-such is the generous treatment I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.–PSALM which you may expect from him-such is his willingness, cxvi. 1-9. bis ability, his sufficiency, his promise, to be unto every one of you all that is needful to make you perfectly and for ever ere are two motives which should constrain us to love happy. And will not you give yourselves in the full tide of God. In the first place, God has, in his nature and character, admiration and affection, to the service of such a wise, and all those qualities which are naturally fitted to awaken this merciful, and mighty being? Will not you feel regret when sentiment in our hearts. And, in the second place, these amiyou lose an opportunity of approaching him in the sanctu- able qualities have been exhibited in promoting our welfare; ary? Will not you lament the imperfection and the sinful- and from a principle of our moral constitution, we love him, ness which mix with all your best endeavours to honour him because he first loved ns. It is to the latter motive that the in his house of prayer ? Will not you labour more and Psalmist here refers. • I love the Lord because he hath heard more that you may be disposed to engage in his ordinances my voice and my supplications.” David had asked the interwith heartfelt devotion, and enabled to engage in them with position of God's mercy in his behalf. It had been granted a keener relish for the comforts which they inspire, and a to him according to the desire and petition of his heart. And more resolute ambition for the advantages which they im- in the benefits which he received, he not only saw goodness part? And will not you pray and strive that you may attain manifested as an attribute of Deity, but he felt it in his own that height of pious regard for them which dictated the personal experience, as goodness of which he was the object, strong and impassioned language of the Psalmist, How and as constituting an urgent and irresistible claim on his reamiable are thy tabernacles, o Lord of Hosts! My soul ciprocal affection. There arose, therefore, in his breast, and longeth, yea even fainteth for the courts of the Lord'; my there was cherished there, the gratitude and love which he heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God?'
owcd to his heavenly father; and in simple language he acRemember, however, my friends, that the blessings pro- knowledges and records at once the feelings of which he was mised to them who love and observe the ordinances of God, conscious, and the consideration by which they had been are connected with a certain prescribed character. They will excited. be given to those only who walk uprightly;' who have their The experience of the Psalmist, on this point, must be conduct both in the sanctuary and out of it agreeable to the more or less the experience of every true Christian. Every divine will; who • worship God who is a spirit, in spirit and true Christian habitually lifts up to God the voice of suppliin truth;' who have their conversation in the world in sim- cation; praying for the various blessings, temporal and spiplicity and godly sincerity;' who are habitually and strenu- ritual, which his circumstances require. Every true Chrisously aiming at the possession of a good conscience, and at tian, praying with all prayer and supplication in the spirit,' the cultivation of a holy life. You cannot otherwise be qual- has the promise of divine faithfulness that he shall receive ified for the services of the sanctuary, or the reception of spi- according to his need. And every true Christian labouring ritual benefits. As, therefore, you value these, be careful to to fulfil the first and great commandment, will meditate on the walk uprightly,' and remember for your encouragement that inanifold tokens of kindness which God has shown him in it is one manifest and appointed end of the services of God's answer to his applications at a throne of grace, and yield to house, to improve your principles and dispositions, and to the native influence of that kindness, by cherishing a still send you back to the world better prepared for discharging its more cordial, and still more devoted attachment to the giver ordinary duties, and keeping yourselves unspotted from its of all his mercies. pollations. And remember also that your knowledge of the My friends, if yon are real Christians, it is one of your charactor in which God has represented himself to you as leading characteristics, that you continually look to God as your sun and your shield, and as giving grace and glory, and the fountain of all good, and that while you regularly ask withholding no good thing from you, is calculated to produce from him in his own appointed way, what is necessary for the same effect in your heart and your deportinent; and that your well-being, in the ordinary course of life, you ask from especially the divine influences are promised to comfort, and him with particular emphasis and importunateness, those benpurify, and strengthen you, and to make you fruitful in every efits which are of the highest general importance, and those good word and work. Study then to live and act as the which are most suited to your special and unexpected exigenpeople of God, that you may be fit worshippers in the templecies. And I am sure that, having done so, you can bear your of God, and worthy receivers of the bounty of God: and let personal testimony to the truth of that declaration which God God's bounty be often and affectionately thought upon, and has addressed to every member of his church, Call upon me, let God's temple be regularly and devoutly attended, that you and I will answer you.' It has been your privilege and your may feel their reciprocal advantage in having your faith in- happiness to find, that he provides for the temporal wants of vigorated, your piety exalted, your hatred of sin increased, his people with wisdom and liberality; that he communicates your love of holiness strengthened, and your whole character in still richer abundance the blessings after which their souls brought to a nearer and a nearer resemblance to the character are hungering and thirsting; that he gives them grace and of him to whom you owe all your comforts and all your hopes. glory, and withholds from them no good thing which is essen
And finally, "put your trust in the Lord;' for it is in this tial to their comfort, their improvement, their salvation. You ease only, that you can be truly blessed. Trust in him that may have had your seasons of mental dejection and distress; he will perform all that he has promised'; place unlimited and you may have been sometimes ready to cry out, “hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious, and will he be favourable to trust in him, amid all the coming difficulties and hardships no more ?' but say, my believing brethren, if, when the Spirit of our Christian journey. And we will but ill understand and carried you to the mercy seat, and with the faith which rests ill improve the lesson, if it does not serve to keep alive in us on the merits of your heavenly intercessor, you there poured an active spirit of prayer and supplication, and if it does not forth the petitions of your hearts, these petitions were not an- make us go boldly to the throne of grace,' and ask with conswered by God's appearing in mercy as a sun to enlighten fidence, that we may receive with freeness, mercy and grace, you in the midst of your darkness, and as a shield to protect and every needful blessing: you from all the dangers by which you were afraid of being Having stated, in general, God's mercy to him, and the geoverwhelmed? And when you have been weighed down with neral effect which it produced upon his sentiments and conworldly cares and aflictions, and the whole scene of human duct, the Psalmist proceeds to take a more particular view of life perhaps put on the garb of melancholy and of woe, and God's gracious dealings with him, and of the impressions you have still had recourse to prayer, have not you felt your which these made upon him, both as to his present feelings sorrowful spirits visited with consolation ; and though it may and his resolutions for the future. The sorrows of death be that the bitter cup is still pressed to your lips, have not compassed me,' says he, the pains of hell got hold upon me; you been taught that it is the hand of your heavenly father I found trouble and sorrow. He was menaced with death. which gives you this cup to drink, and have you not learned It was not some bodily distemper which might be easily and that it is in faithfulness and in compassion that he has ming-speedily removed. It was not some ordinary calamity which led it for you, and have not you been enabled even to rejoice ordinary fortitude would enable him to endure. It was a disin the midst of your tribulation?' Has not this been in one temper which seemed to be mortal-it was a calamity which degree or another your comfortable experience ? Has not such threatened to prove fatal. The prospect of dissolution was experience constrained you more and more to love God who before him; and there was something more alarming stillthus hears you when you cry to him, and delivers you out of something after death which made him shrink back from it as your distresses, and makes it good for you that you have his worst enemy, and which filled him with trouble and been afflicted,' and causes you to be glad in the light of his sorrow. countenance ?' And is not this the language by which you It is truly a fearful thing to die; to go from the place of at once express your gratitude, and encourage it, Bless the hope to the place of unalterable retribution; to leave this Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgiveth world, in which, amidst all its sinfulness, we are still perall thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who re-mitted to hear the voice of divine mercy, and to pass into that deemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with untried scene where we must encounter all the perils of a loving kindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth righteous judgment, and have our doom irrevocably and everwith good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the lastingly fixed. It is the prerogative of faith, indeed, to coneagle's.
vert the king of terrors into a messenger of peace-to shed a But the Psalmist not only declares his love to God on ac- cheering, light along the dark valley—and to realize in the count of God's goodness and mercy to him in answer to his most holy judge a most compassionate Saviour. But even prayers, he adds, Because he hath declined his ear unto me, in those whose belief has been heretofore strong, and lively, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live,! And this is and influential, and who have often said, under the impressions precisely what all the people of God will do in similar cir- of its elevating power-O death where is thy sting, O grave cumstances. If God has graciously condescended to grant where is thy victory? To me to live is Christ, and to die is us deliverance and the other blessings that we implored from gain;'-even in them, there may be misgivings at the last hour, him, there is, in the first place, laid upon us an obligation to and terrible apprehensions of a coming tribunal, and a coming be thankful which we shall never be able to exhaust; and, in eternity. They may be visited with the compunctions of guilt; the next place, there is suggested to us a powerful encourage- and thinking of all their transgressions and all their aggravament to persevere in our supplications, to which a regard to tions, they may be agitated with the terrors of the Lord, and our own welfare will determine us to yield. When we think feel as it were the punishment of hell beginning in their souls. of our personal unworthiness of any of the least token of Melancholy and distressing is their situation. It is not inGod's mercy ; when we think of our just obnoxiousness to his deed to be compared with the situation of those who are not displeasure on account of our manifold and aggravated pro- only thus afraid to die, but who have reason to be thus afraid ; vocations; and when we recollect, that notwithstanding all who have sinned, and never repented; who have been offerthis we have been invited to the throne of his grace, and have ed a Saviour, but have not believed in him; who are called to been allowed to make our requests known to hirn, and have give in their account, but have made no prepraration for such received what was necessary to support, and comfort, and a dread reckoning; and who either are not aware of their bless us, can we ever cease to sacrifice the sacrifices of danger, or try to banish it from their thoughts, or, roused to a thanksgiving, and to declare his works with rejoicing ? sense of it, breathe nothing but the language of despair. The Supposing that we were left to go mourning all the remainder situation of the believer whose heart is fearful of dying, is not of our earthly pilgrimage, still the remembrance of what we indeed for a moment to be compared with that of the careless have already experienced of the goodness of the Lord in the and hardened, or the awakened and hopeless sinner. Still, land of the living,' and the hope which that experienced good- however, it is one of severe suffering; and he is frequently ness has taught us to ropose in his continued favour, will not heard to express the mental anguish which afflicts him. But only cheer us as we travel through the wilderness, but will then there is a refuge for him. To that refuge he flees. He call forth all our powers and affections to bless and to mag- looks to God as a God rich in mercy. He relies upon the nify his holy name. And the last breath that we draw will mediator of the new covenant. He calls upon him whose • ear whisper the beginning of that song of praise which we are to is open to his cry ;' and finds relief by committing himself to sing to our redeeming God, when we enter upon the unmin-him in the earnestness and the confidence of prayer; then gled and eternal joys of the promised land.
called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee But we will not only celebrate the praises of God so long deliver my soul.' as we live, on account of his merciful answer to our prayers ; This prayer is short and simple, but it is the prayer of the -having received such an answer, we shall feel encouraged heart and the prayer of faith, and cannot fail to succeed. He to pray to him in every succeeding emergency of our spiritual who prefers it, asks the deliverance of the soul ; its delivercareer. There is no period when we can expect to be exemptance from the guilt of sin, which would leave it under the from those necessities which require the interposition of di- sentence of condemnation; and its deliverance from the polluvine aid and the communication of divine bounty ; and we may tion of sin, which would disqualify it for the kingdom of healay our account with being sometimes placed in those circum- ven. And he does not merely ask it as if it were a matter of stances of peculiar trial, danger or distress, which demand the indifference whether he obtained it or not. He asks it as a peculiar supplies of Almighty grace to uphold and to save us; blessing of the highest; of infinite importance; as a blessing and our only resource in such cases is to be found in earnest, without which he must be undone ; as a blessing with which believing, unwearied prayer. And how much must we be his happiness is secure and complete. O Lord, I beseech thee, animated to engage in thet exercise, not only by the promises deliver my soul.' Then again he appeals to God as a God of held out to us in the word of God, but by the fnlllment of mercy and of grace. "Gracious is the Lord, yea our God is these promises which have actually taken place in the his- merciful.' He knows and feels, that were God to deal justly tory of our own lives! He who heard and answered us from with him, instead of obtaining deliverance, he should receive his holy hill when we formerly petitioned him, will not fail condemnation; and therefore he relies upon his mercy; Ho to hear and answer us on every future occasion that we cast refers to that as the source of all his expectations; and laying ourselves upon his compassion and his power. He has em- aside as presumptuous and vain every claim on the ground of phatically taught us by his past kindness, to apply to him and personal deserving, he looks
and applies to the free and un
merited grace of him whose memorial it is, that he possesses exclusion from the rest which he is so anxious to obtain, and this endearing attribute, and that he delights in the exer- to the continued endurance of that misery out of which he is cise of it.
so anxious to escape. But, blessed be God, while he feels But the believer does not rest satisfied with the conviction that this is not his rest,' he knows where to find it. He of God's mercy, and with resting his hopes upon that as if it arises and departs out of the land which is polluted,' and he were the only perfection in God's character. He entertains goes into the land in which the dominion of sin is destroyed, more worthy and consistent notions on the subject. He re- and in which he can lie down on the green pastures,' and gards God, not as his own corrupt nature would perversely walk beside the still waters' of divine grace. He sees the wish him to be; but as he really is, and as he has been pleas- ocean of a worldly and unsanctified life to be without an ed to reveal himself to sinners. He regards him as no less island on which he may dwell securely, and without a twig holy than he is merciful. "Gracious is the Lord, and righte- even on which for one moment he may plant his foot; and, ous. And this leads him not merely to glorify and do hom- therefore, he returns to the ark of safety and of peace. He age to the character of God, by ascribing to it all its native takes the good and ever-living God for his portion; and in the excellence, but to attend to that provision which the high and riches of his bounty he finds all that can give • rest to his soul,' holy One has made for the consistent and effectual manifesta- amidst his most numerous troubles and his most aggravated tion of his love to guilty men. He contemplates the gospel sorrows. There is no evil in his existing condition, and no scheme; he sees there the arrangement which supreme wis- evil that he can anticipate, from which he is not emancipated, dom has contrived for reconciling the bestowal of mercy with or under which he is not upheld and comforted, by that merthe demands of justice; and he seeks for the deliverance of ciful and mighty being to whom he has surrendered himself his soul in the way which has been divinely appointed; in faith and in well-doing. through faith in the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ, The Psalmist herè gives an enumeration of the blessings which is God's instituted method for a sinner's justification. which he experienced from the bountiful dealing of the Lord.
Nor does the believer rest even here. He knows that while There is first, the deliverance of the soul from death. The he must depend entirely upon the merit of Christ as the pro- soul that sinneth, it shall die.' And having sinned, we are curing cause, and upon the mercy of God as the originating justly and necessarily condemned to die. But as it is imposcause of his deliverance, still it is not in any spirit that he sible to describe, or even to conceive, all the horrors of that feels himself entitled to ask for that boon. He does not con-punishment which we have incurred by our transgression of ceive it to be enough that he makes use of the mere words God's law, so proportionally awful must be the convictions and phrases of a petition, or that he makes a verbal reference, of the awakened sinner who has in any measure realized these however decided and orthodox, in that petition, to the work in his imagination, and is conscious of deserving them, and is of the Redeemer. He knows that in all this, in order to its impressed with the apprehension of suffering them. But if, being of any weight, there must be simplicity and godly sin- in the midst of all these dangers, and all this anguish, we cerity;' for it is only the simple that the Lord preserves.' have 'fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us," And therefore he studies to be without guile' before God, to and have put our trust in God's mercy as exhibited in the mehave a single eye to what God reqnires of him, as well as to diation of Jesus, it is the assurance of him who cannot lie,' what he is asking from God; and conscious of being without that our guilt is remitted, that we obtain reconciliation, that wisdom and without strength himself, he casts himself en- we become partakers of an “eternal redemption. And what tirely and unreservedly on the divine protection.
can be wanting to give us rest from the agitations of guilt, Now, the consequence of such an application to God, is the when we hear that great and gracious being whose wrath we attainment of that support and deliverance which were im- had incurred, saying to us, son, • daughter, be of good cheer, plored. •I was brought low, and the Lord helped me.' I thy sins are forgiven thee?' Surely this declaration, so full was brought so low ; I was so beset with danger and so over- of mercy, and so full of meaning, must impart to us that whelmed with fear; I was in such a miserable and hopeless peace of mind which passeth understanding, and fill us with state, that not only was there no help for me in man, but I ' a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory. was almost despairing of help from God. And yet he has But, besides delivering our souls from death, the Lord also disappointed all my fears, he has scattered all mine enemies, in his bounty delivers our eyes from tears. In this sinful he has taken me out of the fearful pit and out of the miry world, there is no complete exemption from evil that is either clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings.' promised to us, or that can be experienced by us. It abounds As a poor, destitute, and wretched man, 'I cried unto the in causes of mourning, to the operation of which we must be Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me out of all my dis- subjected in common with all the children of mortality, and tresses. I was cast down, but he raised me up: the waves there are some by which we are peculiarly affected as the disand billows of adversity were threatening to swallow me up; ciples of a holy and crucified Redeemer
. But though we are bat he made the overflowing of the proud waters to pass by,' exposed to these, and must often endure them in all their vaand brought me to the shore of safety and of peace. His ever- riety, and in all their weight, still being reconciled to God lasting arm has rescued me from the jaws of destruction, and through Christ, and consequently interested in all the pronow I fear no evil.' . Return unto thy rest O my soul, for mises of the well ordered covenant, we have wherewithal to the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.'
comfort our hearts in the darkest and most distressful hour. If our souls are properly aifected they will be perpetually No affliction befals us which is not accompanied with its apseeking rest; a rest in which they can delight themselves, propriate consolation. Even our heaviest calamities are reand on whose permanence they can count with certainty: presented and brought home to us as expressions of God's And this rest is no where to be found but in the bounty and paternal love. And in the gloomiest vale of sorrow, we are favour of the Lord. «The depth saith, it is not in me, and permitted to lift up the eye of hope to that region of uncloudthe sea, it is not in me. It cannot be gotten for gold.”. All the ed sky and undisturbed repose which is reserved for the faithwealth of the world cannot purchase it. The soul has wants ful ; and to consider what we suffer now as a preparation for which no human beneficence can supply. It has diseases that blessed period longed for, though not distant, by all the which no human skill can heal. It has desires which no hu- afflicted followers of Christ, when God shall translate them man power can satisfy. It has sorrows which no human sym- into his unsuffering kingdom, and shall • wipe away all tears pathies can charm away. And if left to the resources of cre- from their eyes.' With this prospect before us, secured to us ated being, it is indeed weary and heavy laden,' and can re-by the word of promise, and brought near by that • faith which pose neither in what it bas, nor in what it expects to attain. is the evidence of things not seen,' we may not only .posThis is the case in some measure with every worldling; who, sess our souls in patience, but even rejoice in our tribulathough not aware, perhaps, of the cause, or not inclined to tions,' have it removed, yet feels that in all his most eager pursuits, And while God delivers our souls from death, and our and in all his choicest pleasures, there is little else than va- eyes from tears, he also delivers our feet from falling.' If nity and vexation of spirit.' But it is more especially the we are true believers, sensible of our obligations to God, and case with the believer, who views things in the light of rea- desirous of final admission into heaven, we must be perpetuson, and in the light of Scripture, and in the light of eternity; ally concerned to maintain a conscience void of offence,' and who sees in the very best and highest of earthly enjoyments to be .holy in all manner of conversation.” And, aware of nothing that is worthy of an immortal mind—nothing that ac- the numberless temptations that surround us, and of our own commodates itself to the necessities of a guilty conscience or weakness and inability to resist and overcome them, the fear of a depraved heart; nothing that can make affliction light, of falling a prey to them must frequently harass and distress death comfortable, and futurity blessed ; and who would, us. But here also a bountiful God has provided rest for us. therefore, regard a sentence dooming him to seek and to find We are assured by him that his .grace will be sufficient for bis happiness in these, as a sentence dooming him to an utter us, and that his strength will be perfected in our weakness;' that the divine Spirit is to be given us for our guidance and before us, be exposed to ridicule and reproach. Our undersanctification; that Christ has vanquished our spiritual foes, standing may be impeached; our sincerity may be denied; and that believing in him, his victory becomes ours. And our good name may be traduced, and our worldly interest imhaving such an assurance, what reason have we not merely paired; and we may be beset with evils as many and as seto exclude all despondency as to our perseverance, but even to vere as those which harassed the King of Israel and the go on our Christian way rejoicing, humble indeed under a Apostle of the Gentiles. But, amidst them all, we will never, sense of our manifold dangers and deficiencies, but yet ani- if we are true Christians, be deterred nor discouraged from mated by the encouraging truth, that we are strong in the confessing the Redeemer of our souls, and the God of our salLord, and in the power of his might,' that even in the wil- vation. We will make this confession, when called upon to derness we shall have . rest from our enemies,' and that by a do so, even though it should increase the hatred of our enecourse of cheerful and universal obedience, we shall be ma-mics, and the scverity of our hardships a thousand fold. And turing our meetness for enjoying that sinless, and perfect, we will be the more resolute to do this, not only because it is and eternal rest which remains' above for the people of right in itself, but because by the noble testimony which we God!'
thus give, of a good conscience, and to a righteous cause, we Now, what is the practical result of this experience ? may be instrumental in awakening, and finally converting the What was it with the Psalmist? And what should it be hearts of those who so unjustly vilify and oppress us. with us? "I will walk before the Lord,' says David, in Nor my friends can we possibly act otherwise, if we truly the land of the living.' This was his resolution, this was and firmly believe. Let us only be convinced that the his endeavour; and it must be ours. We must act with a Lord reigns, and that his word concerning his people is as spirit of confidence in his wisdom and goodness; with un- true as his purpose is merciful, and as his arm is mighty ; let feigned submission to his authority, with a single eye to his our minds be influenced by realizing views of the necessity glory,' with the blessed hope of seeing him in heaven. And and the greatness of that deliverance which he has provided especially we must act as it becomes those who have experi- for us, by the meritorious righteousness and atoning death of enced so much of his loving kindness, recognising in this a his own Son; let our belief extend to all that he has spoken powerful motive for being more active and zealous in his of the compassion and the kindness, with which he will reservice, more anxious in promoting his honour among our gard us as we journey along the pilgrimage of life, and travel fellow-men; and more careful to embrace every opportunity through the dark valley of death ; let our hope . enter into that is offered, of showing to the souls and bodies of others that within the vail,' and contemplate whatever is great and that mercy which we have received from him.
good and happy in the sinless and unsuffering kingdom And there must be no delay, no remissness, no indolence which is prepared for us in heaven; and what is there in in the great duty of walking before the Lord. 'I will walk the hostility of mortal man; what is there in the privation before the Lord in the land of the living.? O mny friends, of carthy comfort; what is there in the last and deepest agolife is short. We are now in the land of living men : nies of bodily suffering, that should prevent us from proWe shall ere long be immured in the darkness and the si-claiming in the loudest strains our unshaken trust in the lence of the tomb. Let us work the works of God, there-Lord Jehovah, in the grace and power of Jesus, in the virtue fore, while it is day; the night cometh' soon, and it may and the faithfulness of the everlasting covenant? The affliccome unexpectedly, when no man can work.' • Whatever tions to which we are subjected, cannot alter the objects toour hand findeth to do;' whether it be an exercise of faith in wards which our faith is turned: they cannot alter the the Redeemer, or whether it be an act of repentance towards grounds upon which it is established; they cannot alter the our offended Maker, or whether it be an application by prayer reasonableness of that connexion which subsists between the at the foot-stool of mercy, or whether it be a deed of justice principle itself, and the arguments, whether speculative or and reparation to some one that we have wronged, or whether experimental, which have produced it; they cannot alter these it be a work of piety and beneficence, in behalf of the vic-things, and, therefore, why should our faith in snch circumtims of disease and poverty, whatever our hand findeth to do, stances, be either enfeebled or destroyed ? Nay, if that faith let us do it with our might, for there is no work, nor device, be genuine and enlightened, it will not merely brave the storms nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither we are of persecution, but will gather strength and vigour from going.'
them. For while he in whom we believe gives us no reason to expect any exemption from the ills and calamities of life, he has even told us that our lot in consequence of our Christian profession, and Christian practice, may be more troubled than that of other men, and that it may happen that
every proof we give, cither in word or deed, of our devotedLECTURE XI.
ness to the doctrine of a particular providence, or of a cruci
fied Saviour, may be the signal for opposition, and contumely, I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted. I and scorn. And, consequently, when such things befal us,
said in my haste, All men ure liars. What shall I render they give us additional evidence of the truth of the Gospel, unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the and of the veracity of him to whom we have committed our cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will interests. This cvidence becomes the more interesting and pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his peo- powerful, when we recollect the promise with which the preple. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his diction of suffering is accompanied, namely, that it will be all saints. O Lord, truly I am thy servant, and the son of thine overruled for our ultimate happiness; and, indeed, that it is handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thec the to operate as a wise and intended means of sanctifying us for sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the the presence of the blessed God. And, in this view of the Lord. I will pay my vovys unto the Lord now in the presence subject, it surely becomes us to be strong in the faith;' to of all his people, in the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst sing at once of mercy and of judgment;' to lift up a witof thee, 6 Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord.—Psalm cxvi. 10 nessing voice to the unceasing and unchangeable love of him
ander whose permission, or by whose appointment, we are put
into the furnace of affliction; and to tell the church and the “I believed,' says David, therefore have I spoken.' The world, in the language of settled and animated belief, that we Apostle Paul, in his second epistle to the Corinthians, quotes rejoice in him who suffered on Calvary, and that in spite of this language, and applies it to himself and to his fellow la- all the obloquy that can be heaped upon us by infidel and unbourers, as enduring affliction, and yet preaching, and openly godly men, we still cling to his cross as • all our salvation declaring their attachment to, the truths on account of which and all our desire.' "Thus believing, we will thus speak.' that affliction was suffered. And hence, we may learn, ac- But, my friends, though this be the language of true and cording to the judgment of the Apostle, that the Psalmist in- genuine faith, we know enough of the frailty of men, and of timates, in this concise phraseology, that he was bold to con- believing men, not to be aware that believing men do not unifess his reliance on the divine promises, even in the midst of formly hold this language; that they sometimes allow their all his persecutions and distress, and that he was enabled to convictions to be weakened, or to fall into a temporary slummanifest this boldness by the strength and the vividness of ber; that when assailed by bitter provocations, or by uneshis religious faith.
pected miseries, they occasionally become uncharitable, fretThe conduct of David and of Paul was rational as well as ful, and disconsolate. In the intensity of their feelings topious, and it must be our conduct if we would be wise, and wards those who are but the instruments of what they endure, consistent, and holy. Trusting in the providence, and "glory- they forget the perfection and the character of him by whom ing in the cross of Christ,' we may, like many that have gone these instruments are guided or restrained. And irritated by
the pains that they suffer, or perplexed by the difficulties inful to him, and delivered him out of all his troubles : 'set his
blessings which God has conferred upon us.
From the earliOf this we have an example in the Psalmist. "I was great- est moment of our existence until now, he has watched over ly afflicted. I said in my haste, all men are liars.'. He had us to do us good. How often has he rescued us from pain been deserted by those on whom he relied as his friends; he and danger! How often has he guided us in our difficulties, had been deceived, as well as thwarted and persecuted by and comforted us in our sorrows! How liberally has he such as might have been expected to stand by him, and sup-provided for .our ever returning wants! How abundantly port him in his time of need. But, not contented with express-has he favoured our lot both with temporal mercies, and with ing.
his indignation at the treachery and misconduct of these spiritual privileges! And how undeserving have we been individuals, he concludes that every other person is actuated even of the very least of those benefits which we were daily by the same spirit of falsehood and deception, and involves and hourly receiving from his bountiful hand! Surely then, the good and the bad, friends and foes, in one sweeping cen- if gratitude be due to a benefactor, it becomes us to be gratesure. And he does it in such a way as to show that he ful to the Lord our God; and if our gratitude to a benefactor was thinking with more concern, about the guilt and the should be enhanced by the generosity of the giver, and the malice of his adversaries, than about the power and the provi- unworthiness of the receiver, what a debt of gratitude do we dence of his God.
owe to him whose loving-kindness to us has been equally But then he acknowledges that he did this rashly and un- unbounded and unmerited! Let us often think of the preadvisedly. He did not sufficiently consider the nature and serving and redeeming goodness of our Maker : let us call up grounds of the sentiment which he uttered. He yielded to every thankful emotion of which our hearts are susceptible; a sudden ebullition of temper, instead of having recourse to let every year, and let every hour, as it increases the weight the great truths in which he believed, and which would have of our obligations, find us more disposed to acknowledge and served in this, as in former cases, to fortify his courage, to to fulfil them; and let it be our serious and perpetual inquiry, comfort his heart, and to guide his steps. And this sinful how we shall give the most unequivocal and most suitable conduct originated in the greatness of his affliction. His expression to that gratitude, which such a rich experience of affliction was so great as to overwhelm his better principles the divine beneficence should awaken in our breasts. What and feelings, to bring into action the angry passions of his shall we render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards us ?' nature, and to make him speak as if he had been faithless, as • I will take the cup of salvation,' says the Psalmist, and well as resentful.
call upon the name of the Lord.' The Psalmist, it is proba-, This, however, is not to be viewed so inuch in the light of ble, by the cup of salvation,' means the drink offerings apan excuse for him, as of a warning to us. We may suffer pointed by the law in token of thankfulness for any delivergreatly and grievously from the malice of men. There may ance that had been experienced ; or he may refer to a custom be fourd among our foes, those whom we had befriended, that prevailed among the pious Jews, of the master of the who had . eaten of our bread,' who had shared of our bounty, house having at his private meal a cup of blessing of which who had taught us to confide in their affection : And they he drank first, and in which his guests and family pledged may employ the very tokens of our confidence as the weapons him,--all uniting in the act of thanksgiving to God with of their malignity. But what is there in all this to justify us which the ceremony was accompanied. Whichsoever of these in anathematising the whole of our species, and in branding interpretations be the just one, the instruction which it imwith duplicity such as have never done us wrong? We parts to us is, that we should adopt every appointed and every know noi how many hearts may be sympathising with us in proper method of signifying how much we owe to our heavour distresses; how many voices are lifted up in prayer for enly father ; that in the exercises of public worship and of our deliverance; how many hands are actively engaged in domestic piety, as well as of private devotion, we should not our defence. And why should a sense of injuries, however fail to make mention of our debt of gratitude ; that we should unmerited, and however great, crush in our souls that charity call upon the name of the Lord,' praising him for his works which would make us believe to be good in onr brethren, of mercy and of kindness, and praying to him for a mind more what we do not kno:v to be evil? Or why should the perse- willing to make those returns to which he is entitled, and cution of a few, or of many, sour us against the rest, and for ability more ample to act according to what we feel in our alienate our affections from all? Granting, however, that hearts and utter with our lips. there were a countless multitude against us, why should we And especially should we be faithful to the vows that we give way to the feelings, or why should we utter the lan- have made in the season of distress. It too often happens guage of disappointment and of querulousness, when we that these vows are broken and forgotten. Under the pressknow who is for us? We believe in God; we believe also sure of affliction, and more particularly in the prospect of its in Christ: Let not, therefore, our hearts be troubled ; neither terminating fatally, we are apt to form resolutions and to let them be afraid. Instead of the discontented and unbe- make promises of amendment, and to say, that if it pleases coming effusion which David pourėd forth in his haste and God to spare us and to deliver us, we will henceforth“ render his forgetfulness, let us adopt the tone of triumphant confi- him a new and a better obedience; that we will be careful to dence which animated him on another occasion, when he said, avoid the sins of our past lives, which we now see to have • The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? been sinful far beyond what we had ever conceived them in The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be the season of health and safety; and that all who shall hereafraid ? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes after witness our conduct, shall behold it adorned with the came upon me, to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. fruits of sincere penitence, and holy purposes, and sanctified 'Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall distresses. All this is well: but alas, how often does it all not fear; though war should rise up against me, in this will vanish like the goodness of Ephraim, which was as the I be confident. But, sensible how weak we are, how apt we morning cloud and the early dew that passeth away! How are to be thrown off our guard, and overwhelmed by unlooked often have we risen from the bed of sickness, or escaped from for calamities; warned of this, if not by our own experience, the jaws of death, and thought little more, or thought no more, at least by the experience of the Psalmist, and by the teach- of the contrition that we had felt, of the confessions that we ing of the Bible, let us be vigilant against the influence of had made, of the determinations that we had formed to be such circumstances; let us study to live in the habitual exer- more watchful against temptation, and more vigorous in duty, cise of faith ; let us be especially careful to call forth its en- and more abundant in faith than we had ever been before! ergies in such trials as that which made David unmindful of How often have we exhibited the spectacle of employing our his trust in the Almighty ; let us be continually employed in renovated health, our restored life, our returning prosperity, nourishing and invigorating it, by meditations on the divine far more for the gratification of our own perverse dispositions, character, and the divine promises; and let us pray earnestly than for the honour and the praise of him by whom these blessthat, in every season of peril and of perplexity, it may be made ings were bestowed, and to whom we solemnly covenanted strong by the might of heaven to overcome every foe, and to them all the rest of our days! Brethren, these things ought banish every fear.
not so to be ; and let them not be so with any of us. But as Notwithstanding the sinful and uncharitable despondency we have vowed unto the Lord, let us be faithful to pay our into which the Psalmist had fallen, the Lord had been merci-vows. Instead of coming short of what might have been ex