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is not so cannot receive it, but what it seems to receive it corrupts and destroys. It is a confidence arising from peace, agreement, and friendship, which cannot subsist betwixt the God of purity and those who allow unholiness in themselves. It is a strange impudence for men to talk of their trust and hope in God, who are in perfect hostility against Him. Bold fellows go through dangers here, but it will not be so hereafter. Jer. ii. 27. They turn to Me the back, and not the face; yet, in their trouble, they say, Arise and save us : they do it as confidently as if they never had despised God, but they mistake the matter; it is not so. Go and cry, says He, to the gods whom ye have chosen. Judg. x. 14. When men
. come to die, then they catch hold of the mercy of God; but from that their filthy bands are beat off, there is no help for them there, and so they fall down to the pit. A holy fear of God, and a happy hope in Him, are commonly linked together. Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy. Psal. xxxiii. 19.
And even in those who are more purified from sin, yet too large draughts of lawful pleasures do clog the spirits, and make this hope grow exceedingly weak. Surely the more we fill ourselves with these things, we leave the less appetite for the consolations of this blessed hope. They cannot know the excellency of this hope, who labour not to keep it unmixed : it is best alone, as the richest wines and oils, which are the worst of mixtures. Be sober and hope, says the Apostle Peter, 1 Ep. 1. 13: keep your mind sober, and your hope shall be pure. If any thing or person leans on two supporters, whereof the one is whole and sound, and the other broken or crooked, that which is unsound will break, though the other remain whole, and that which was propped up by it will fall; whereas the one that was whole had been sufficient : thus it is when we divide our hopes betwixt God and this present world, or any other good. Those who place their whole hopes on God, they gather in all their desires to Him: the streams of their affections are not scattered and left in the muddy ditches of the
world, they do not fall into stinking pools, but being gathered into one main torrent, they run on in that channel to the sea of His eternal goodness.
My hope is in Thee.] We cannot choose but all of us think that God is immensely good in Himself; but that which is nearer, whereon our hearts most rise, is a relative goodness, that He is good to us, and that He is so perfectly and completely good, that having made choice of Him, and obtained union with Him, we need no more. Were once the hearts of the children of men persuaded of this, all their deliberations were at an end : they would not only choose no other, but defer no longer to fix on Him. And what can trouble the soul that is thus established ? No change or overturning of outward things. Though the frame of the world itself were shaken to pieces, yet still the bottom of this hope is upon Him who changeth not. And whatever thy pressures be, whether poverty, sickness, or disquiet of mind, thou mayest draw abundant consolation from Him in whom thou hast placed thy hope. There is only one thing that cruelly assaults it by the way, and that is the guilt of sin. All afflictions and troubles we meet with are not able to mar this hope or quench it, for where it is strong, it either breaks through them or flies above them : they cannot overcome it, for there is no affliction inconsistent with the love of God; yea the sharpest affliction may sometimes have the clearest characters of His love upon it. But it is sin that presents Him as angry to the view of the soul. When He looks through that cloud, He seems to be an enemy; and when we apprehend Him in that aspect we are affrighted, and presently apprehend a storm. But even in this case, this hope apprehends His mercy. And thus David here.
Ver. 8. Deliver me from all my transgressions : make me not the reproach
of the foolish.
This is indeed the basis and foundation of all our other hopes, the free pardon of our sins. But none must entertain those sins, if they desire to be pardoned. Repentance and remission of sins are still linked together in the Scriptures ; and he that would have sin pardoned, and yet live in it, or retain the love of it, would have God and sin reconciled together, and that can never be. David finds his sins pressing him down; he sees them as an army of men set in battle array about him; and whither flies he for a deliverance ? Even to Him whom he had offended.
Ver. 9, 10. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because Thou didst it. Remove Thy stroke away from me: I am
. consumed by the blow of Thine hand. We are naturally very partial judges of ourselves; and, as if we were not sufficiently able by nature, we study and devise by art to deceive ourselves. We are ready to reckon any good that is in us to the full, nay, to multiply it beyond what it is; and further to help this, we use commonly to look on those who have less goodness in them, who are weaker, more foolish and worse than ourselves; and so we magnify the sense of our own worth and goodness by that comparison. And as in the goodness we have, or imagine we have, so, likewise, in the evils we suffer, we use to extol them very much in conceit. We account our lightest afflictions very great ; and to heighten our thoughts of them, we do readily take a view of those who are more at ease and less afflicted than ourselves; and by these devices we nourish in ourselves pride, by the overweening conceit of our goodness, and impatience, by the overfeeling sense of our evils. But if we would help ourselves by comparison, we should do well to view those persons who are, or have been, eminent for holiness, recorded in holy writ, or whom we know in our own times, or have heard of in Vol. II.
former times; and by this means, we should lessen the great opinion we have of our own worth. And so likewise should we consider the many instances of great calamities and sorrows, which would tend to quiet our minds, and enable us to possess our souls in patience, under the little burden of trials that lies upon us. And, especially, we shall find those instances to fall in together, that as persons have been very eminent in holiness, they have also been eminent in suffering very sore strokes and sharp scourges from the hand of God. If we would think on their consuming blows and broken bones, their bones burnt as a hearth, and their flesh withered as grass, certainly, we should entertain our thoughts sometimes with wonder at God's indulgence to us, that we are so little afflicted, when so many of the children of men, and so many of the children of God, suffer so many and so hard things; and this would very much add to the stock of our praisesi
. We should not think that we are more innocent in not deserving those things that are inflicted on others, but rather, that He who thus measures out to them and to us, knows our site, and sees how weak we are in comparison of them; and that therefore He is indulgent to us, not because we are better, but because we are weaker, and are not able to bear so much as He lays on the stronger shoulders. Even in the sharpest of these rods, there is mercy. It is a privilege to the sheep that is ready to wander, to be beaten into the right way. When thou art corrected, think that thereby thy sins are to be purged out, thy passions and lusts to be crucified by these pains; and certainly, he that finds any cure of the evils of his spirit by the hardest sufferings of his flesh, gets a very gainful bargain. If thou account sin thy greatest unhappiness and mischief, thou wilt be glad to have it removed on any terms. There is at least in the time of affliction, a cessation from some sins; the raging lust of ambition and pride doth cease, when a man is laid upon his back; and these yery cessations are some advantages. But there is one great benefit of affliction, which follows in the text, that it gives him the true measure of himself.
Ver. 11. When with rebukes Thou dost correct man for iniquity, Thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth : surely, every man is vanity. Selah.] Man, at his best estate, is altogether vanity; but at his lowest estate, it appears best unto him, how much vanity he is, and how much vanity he was at his best estate, seeing he was then capable of such a change, to fall so low from such a height. As that great man who was seeking new conquests, when he fell upon the sand, and saw the print of his own body, “Why," says he, “so small
“ a parcel of earth will serve me, who am seeking after new kingdoms ;"—thus it is, when a man is brought down, then he hath the right measure of himself, when he sees how vain a thing he is.
Thus the Psalmist represents it here both as an argument to move God to compassion, and to instruct himself and other men. So Job xiii. 25. Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro with the wind ? and wilt thou pursue dry stubble? And Psal. ciï. 14. For He knoweth our frame: He remembereth that we are dust. And his beauty, which seemed to be his perfection, yet, when the hand of God is on him, it is blasted as a moth-eaten garment. This should teach us humility, and to beware of sin, which provokes God to pour out His heavy judgments upon us.
If any be proud of honour, let him remember Nebuchadnezzar and Herod ; or if proud of riches, or of wit and endowments of mind, let him think how soon God can make all these to wither and melt away. Surely, every man is vanity.
Ver. 12. Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not Thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.] What is this life we cleave so fast to, and are so uneasy to hear of parting with, what is it but a trance, and a succession of sorrows, a weary tossing and tottering upon the waves of vanity and misery ? No estate or course of life is exempted from the causes of this complaint: the poorer and meaner sort are troubled with wants, and the richer with the care of what they have, and sometimes with