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ment. Weak Jacob and his strong God are too hard for all the world.
On the other side, what serve multitudes without Him? All were originally nothing, and when He wills, they prove as nothing. Severed from His concurrence, as ciphers, multiply them as you will, still they signify nothing. Ten thousand men, without God, are ten thousand nothings. We have had very late and very clear experiment of this, both to our grief and to our comfort. But both are forgotten, and indeed were never duly considered; for if they had, they would not so soon, yea, they truly would never be forgotten by us. Well, however, it grieveth us, by reason of our own continuing hard in wickedness. Yet this I am sure of, that the strong arm of the Lord is engaged in this work : He hath already appeared in it, and therefore will not let it fall; and though we were at a lower ebb than lately we were, yet should we rise again by His strength. Doubt it not, the enemies of our peace shall be ashamed, and God shall be yet more glorious in the world than ever, not only in our outward deliverance, but in that which is far richer and of higher beauty, the power and glory of His ordinances. He shall make things that are not, to be, by the mighty power of His mouth, and throughout the world, Jesus Christ shall go on conquering. In His Name lies the reason of His prevailing. His name is called the WORD OF God, that same Word by which all things were made ; therefore, no opposite power is able to stand before Him. It is a great work to ruin great Babel, but His strength is enough for it. Mighty is the Lord God who judgeth. It is a great work to restore His Church, but here is power enough for it, and it is spoken of under the resemblance of the creation, Isa. li. 16.
For the estate of thy soul, thou that art thoughtful of that, what cause hast thou to suspect? Is there any plea left for distrust in thy lowest condition? Thou art about great things, and findest all, not only difficulties, but impossibilities to thee.
is it that thou shouldst find it so, and be emptied of all
fancy of self-strength. But then, look up above thyself, and all created, to a creating power. If thou canst not subdue thy lusts and iniquities, resolve to wrestle. Wrestle as thou wilt, still they are too hard for thee; but look to Him who came to destroy the works of Satan. Hath not thy Almighty Lord resolved to do it for thee? Thou findest nothing within but blindness and hardness, canst not repent, nor believe, nor think a right thought of God. It is so. But one word from Him can do all this, and make all those to subsist that now are not. Therefore, lay thyself before Him, as dead, yea, as very nothing. Say, Lord, I am nothing of all that which constitutes the being of a Christian in holiness, in faith, in love; but speak Thou the word, and I shall be a new creature, to Thy praise. There is nothing upon my soul but darkness; but art not Thou he who said, “ Let there be light, and there was light p* That word, again, Lord, say it to my soul, and it shall be so. Think not to bring any thing with thee. Renovation is as absolute and free a work, as Creation. Could His creature oblige Him to make it, before it had a being! No more can
? it oblige Him to save it, or to give it a new being in Christ: all is free. The miracles of Christ, signs of power and goodness, are preludes to His greater work. It is most senseless to have a thought of preventing Him, from whom all good and all being flow. And this He does : If any be in Christ, he is a new creature: the word is, all made new, new delights and desires, and thoughts new-a new heaven and a new earth-a new soul, and a new body; renewed in holiness, sanctified, and made comformable to Jesus Christ. And when thou findest some work of grace, which thou canst not wholly deny, and yet wantest that peace and joy which thou desirest, look to Him for that too. Thou findest it not from the word preached; yet, He can speak it, and even by that word wherein formerly thou didst not find it. It is the fruit of the lips, but it is so withal, that it is His creation : He only causes it to be. I create the fruit of the lips, peace, peace. Isa. lvii. 19. The Father wrought by the Son in the first creation, but in a new and spe
cial manner works by Him in this second creation. He is that Word made flesh, who is the life and the spring of all the grace and comfort thou desirest or readest of. Go to Him: He delights to let forth His mercies to thirsting souls; to revive them, to restore or turn them again, when they are in a swoon, as the word is, Psal. xxiii. The more thou puttest Him to it, the more shalt thou find His prevailing power, and the fulness of grace that dwells in Him, which is no more diminished by all He shews forth, than His Divine power was weakened by the framing of the world. There is no scarcity of spirit in Him; therefore, He proclaimed it as plural: If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. He that believeth in me, out of his belly shall flow RIVERS of living water. How manifold are Thy works, O Lord ! says the Psalmist,
O Psal. civ. 24; and then he adds that wherein all the variety of them agrees, the holding forth of His imcomparable wisdom, from whose wisdom they are: In wisdom Thou hast made them all. As there are some of them more excellent than others, they certainly do, in a clearer and more eminent degree, glorify God.
In the great fabric, that part which hath the place, the heavens, hath also this advantage; the greatness of the Great Architect appears somewhat more bright in them. Therefore are they singled out from the rest for that purpose, both here, ver. 3, and Psal. xix. ver. 1. But, beyond all the rest, and even beyond them, are the wisdom and goodness of God displayed in the framing of His reasonable creatures.
There are of them two stages; the one higher, the angels, the other lower, yet, but a little lower, man; as here, we have them together.
Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,-of the nature of a spirit, a rational, intelligent spirit
Ver. 1. I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my
tongue ; I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is
before me. CERTAINLY it is a high dignity that is conferred upon man, that he may as freely and frequently as he will, converse with Him who made him, the great King of Heaven and Earth. It is, indeed, a wonder, that God should honour poor creatures so much; but it is no less strange, that men having so great privileges, the most part of them do use them so little. Seldom do we come to Him in times of ease. And when we are spurred to it by afflictions and pains, commonly we try all other means rather than this, which is the alone true and unfailing comfort. But such as have learned this way of laying their pained head and heart in His bosom, they are truly happy, though in the world's language they be never so miserable.
This is the resource of this holy man in the time of his affliction, whatever it was,-prayer and tears, bemoaning himself before his God and Father, and that the more fervently, in that he finds his speaking to men so unprofitable; and therefore he refrains from it.
The Psalm consists of two parts, his silence to men, and his speech to God; and both of them are set with such sweet notes of music, though they be sad, that they deserve well to be committed To the Chief Musician.
* First published in the edition of the Expository Works, in two volumes, printed for David Wilson, Edinburgh, 1748.
I said, I will take heed to my ways.] It was to himself that he said it; and it is impossible for any other to prove a good or a wise man, without much of this kind of speech to himself. It is one of the most excellent and distinguishing faculties of a reasonable creature; much beyond vocal speech, for in that, some birds may imitate us; but neither bird nor beast have any thing of this kind of language, of reflecting or discoursing with itself. It is a wonderful brutality in the greatest part of men, who are so little conversant in this kind of speech, being framed and disposed for it, and which is not only of itself excellent, but of continual use and advantage; but it is a common evil among men, to go abroad, and out of themselves, which is a madness and a true distraction. It is true, a man hath need of a well set mind, when he speaks to himself; for otherwise, he may be worse company to himself than if he were with others. But he ought to endeavour to have a better with him, to call in God to his heart to dwell with him. If thus we did, we should find how sweet this were to speak to ourselves, by now and then intermixing our speech with discourses unto God. For want of this, the most part not only lose their time in vanity, in their converse abroad with others, but do carry in heaps of that vanity to the stock which is in their own hearts, and do converse with that in secret, which is the greatest and the deepest folly in the world.
Other solitary employments, as reading the disputes and controversies that are among men, are things not unuseful; yet, all turns to waste, if we read not our own heart, and study that. This is the study of every holy man, and between this and the consideration of God, he spends his hours and endeavours. Some have recommended the reading of men more than books; but what is in the one, or in'both of them, or all the world beside, without this? A man shall find himself out of his proper business, if he acquaint not himself with this, to speak much