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may rejoice, even as if he were already in possession of the
[The people of the world imagine it an easy thing to get to heaven: but the real saint finds it far otherwise. They glide down the stream in a way of carnal gratification : but he has to go against the stream of corrupt nature, and to stem the tide of a voluptuous world. Were it so easy a matter to serve the Lord, it would never have been characterized by terms which convey so different an idea. The wrestler, the racer, the warrior, find that they have enough to do, in order to obtain a successful issue to their exertions.]
2. An anxious life
(St. Paul says, “ I would have you without carefulness.” But our Lord says, “ Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” Unbelieving anxiety is doubtless to be put away: but watchfulness and holy fear are never to be intermitted one single moment. St. Peter knew, by bitter experience, how needful that caution was, “ Be sober, be vigilant; because your Adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour.” It would ill become a man on the borders of eternity to indulge a careless frame of mind. The most eminent saint in the universe should " take heed lest he fall," and should “walk in the fear of the Lord all the day long."] 3. A happy life
[It should seem as if anxiety were inconsistent with happiness. And it would be so, if we knew not where to look for the grace that is needful for us. But the very trials which drive us to our God for help, are the means of drawing forth the succours which God has promised, and of bringing God himself into closer union with us. In truth, it is from such discoveries of the divine character, and such communications of the heavenly grace, that the Believer derives his sublimest pleasures : and he is then most truly happy, when“ his fellowship is most intimate with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ i."] 4. A glorious life
[To the eye of sense, a Believer is only like a common man, and his walk like that of other men: but to the eye of faith it is not so. A Believer walks with God : his soul is
ution, evil, as a roaring ill become a mind. The
4. A ehe eye of sen shat of others with God:
h Rom. viii. 33–39.
i 1 John i. 3.
brought into closest union with the Deity. What has been said of a father and a son, does but very faintly convey what actually passes between God and him. There is, on the one part, the entire dependence of his soul on God; and, on the other part, the tender care of a father exercised towards him in every step he takes. Throughout the whole of his life is this continued, till the period has arrived for his being invested with all the glory and felicity of heaven. And is not this a glorious life; ordered as it is by the Father; prepared by the Son; effected by the Holy Spirit; begun in grace; consummated in glory? Think what ye will, this is a glorious life indeed ; a life which even an angel might affect; and which is, in some respects, more glorious than that of angels, inasmuch as it is the effect of Redeeming Love, and will issue in louder songs of praise and thanksgiving, than the angels, who never experienced such trials, will ever be able to sing.)
THE CHRIstian's choice. Ps. lxxiii. 25. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is
none upon earth that I desire beside thee. THIS evil and deceitful world promises happiness to its votaries; and men, naturally carnal, are too willing to be deceived by it. Even the godly themselves are sometimes drawn aside by its delusions; but when the snare is broken, they see, and lament their follya. David contrasted the mirth of the wicked with the troubles he had to conflict with, and was ready to conclude that they had a better portion than himself”; but on deeper investigation he found, that their happiness was soon to end. Whereas, however difficult his path at present was, God would guide him safely to the regions of eternal felicitya.
Hence, as the result of his more deliberate judgment, he determines to take God as his only portione. I. The Christian's choice
The Christian, by nature, differs not at all from those who are still in darkness. He once chose the world as the portion in which his soul delighted, but now he renounces it as sincerely as he ever loved it,
a ver. 22.
b ver. 3, 4, 5, 10, 12, 13, 14.
e The text.
[He does not indeed treat it with stoical indifference. He knows that wealth and honour are capable of important uses, and that, if God bestow them, they may be richly enjoyed". But he is well assured that they are not a satisfying portion : he is persuaded that our cares increase with our possessions, and that Solomon's testimony respecting the world is trueh.] God is the one object of his choice
(Before his conversion he could think as lightly of God as others', but grace has altogether changed his sentiments and desires. God appears to him now exceeding great and glorious. The love of God in sending his own Son to die for us has made an indelible impression on his mind. Since the Christian has been enabled to see this mystery, all created beauties have vanished as the stars before the sun. There is nothing “ on earth” which, in his eyes, can stand for one moment in competition with his incarnate God. The pleasures, riches, and honours of the world seem lighter than vanity: by the cross of Christ he is utterly crucified to them allk. Without the Saviour's presence there would be nothing desirable even “ in heaven" itself; the glorified saints and angels would have nothing to attract the soul, nor would the bright regions in which they dwell, be any better than darkness itself. Created glory would be utterly extinguished, if the Sun of righteousness were withdrawn? The Christian has ALL in God; without him NOTHING.]
Nor is this an exaggerated description of the Christian's character
[The children of God in all ages have been of one mind in these respects. Though their attainments have been different, their aims have been the same. David frequently expresses, in yet stronger terms, his desires after God, and declares that he coveted nothing so much as the divine presence". St. Paul had as much to glory in as any man whatever, yet he despised it all as dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ'. Nor were these views peculiar to these distinguished servants of God, they were common to all the saints in the days of oldP; nor is there a true Christian now, who, if interrogated respecting true happiness, would not reply in the language of the Psalmisto.]
f 1 Tim. vi. 17. & Eccl. v. 11. h Eccl. ii. 11. i Job xxi. 15. k Gal. vi. 14. i Rev. xxi. 23. m Ps. xlii. 1, 2. and lxiii. 1, 2.
n Ps. xxvii. 4. o Phil. iii. 7, 8. P Isai. xxvi. 8, 9. 9 Ps. iv. 6.
However enthusiastic such a choice may be thought by a blind and sensual world, it is perfectly rational and wiseII. The reasons of it,
Whatever men choose, they invariably choose it under the idea of good. Now there is no created good that can be at all compared with God: 1. He is an ever-present portion
[We may possess many things, yet not have them with us in the time of necessity; yea, we may be utterly deprived of them by fraud or violence : but God is every where present to afford us help: though we be immured in a dungeon, he can visit us; nor can any human power intercept his gracious communications. This was a reflection peculiarly grateful to the Psalmist', and, doubtless, was an important ground on which he fixed his choices.]
2. He is an all-sufficient portion
[A man may enjoy all which this world can bestow, but what can it avail him while racked with excruciating pains? What relief can it afford him under the agonies of a guilty conscience? Or what can it do to appease the fears of death? But there is no situation wherein God is not a suitable portion. In the possession of earthly blessings, his presence will greatly enhance our enjoyment of them. In the absence of all temporal comforts, with him we can feel no wantt. A view of him as our friend will allay every fear, and assuage every pain ; nor, having him, can we want any other thing that is goodu] 3. He is an eternal portion
[However long we retain earthly things, we must part with them at last. Death will reduce us to a level with the poorest of mankind, nor can we carry any thing along with us into the invisible world. But, if God be ours, we shall possess him for ever. We are not left without many rich communications from him now; yea, sometimes, even in this vale of tears, our joy in him is unspeakabley. But it is not till after death that we shall have the full enjoyment of him. Now we taste of the streams; then we shall drink at the fountainhead. Now our capacity to enjoy him is but small; then all our faculties will be wonderfully enlarged. Now our delight
in him is transient; then, without intermission or enda. Hence the Psalmist looked forward to that period for his full satisfactiona.] INFER1. How little is there of true religion in the world!
[If to be called after the name of Christ were sufficient, his flock would be large. If to attend his ordinances and profess his faith were enough, there would be many in the way to heaven. But God will judge us, not according to our professions, but our practice. That, which alone can constitute us truly religious, is, to choose God for our portion. Can we then, like David, appeal to God himself, that we do this? Could we make Peter's reply to the question which was put to him b? Does the ardour of our devotions attest the strength of our desires after God? Have we the same evidence of our supreme regard for him, that the sensualist or worldling have of their love to the things of time and sense? Let us be assured that God can never be our portion, unless we deliberately choose him in preference to all others.] 2. How enviable a character is the true Christian!
[He can adopt the language of David", and of the ancient churchd. Hence, however destitute he may seem to be, he needs envy none; he is freed from the cares which corrode the hearts of others; he is sure, not of attaining only, but of possessing for ever, the object of his desires, and that, in proportion as he delights in God, his God will delight in him. Surely we cannot but subscribe to the truth of that assertion? Let us then beg of God to deliver us from the love of this present evil world, and so to cast the mantle of his love upon us, that we may both follow him and serve him for ever.]
2 Ps. xvi. 11. a Ps. xvii. 15. 5 John xxi. 17. c Ps. xvi. 5.
d Song v. 10. e Zeph. iii. 17. | Ps. cxliv. 15. & 1 Kings xix. 19-21.
THE dispensations of Providence are often so dark and inscrutable, that the proud man is ready to question the wisdom of them, and almost to doubt whether they are the result of design or chance. The prosperity of the wicked is more particularly a stumbling-block to those who limit their views to the