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members a.” In fact, there is not any one so ignorant, but that even his unenlightened reason prescribes to him a better path than he pursues. Let us look around, and see what are the dispositions and habits of all around us. Are not all “ fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind," without affecting any thing higher than the gratification of their own corrupt appetites? We are told, that “ they who are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh":" and we know, from infallible authority, that to whomsoever we yield ourselves servants to obey, his servants we are to whom we obey &." In truth, even to our dying hour will our conflicts with this tyrannical master continue; for even St. Paul himself complained, “ O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death h ?"] 3. To the Devil
[Well is Satan called “ the god of this world: for he worketh in all the children of disobediencei.” Ever since he prevailed over our first parents in Paradise, he has subjected the whole race of man to his dominion, “ taking them in his snares, and leading them captive at his willk.” That men deny the agency, and even the existence of this great adversary, is only a proof to what an extent they are “blinded by him," and how effectually he has lulled them to sleep in his very arms m. Doubtless it is very humiliating to think of ourselves as his vassals: but this is the true state of every unconverted man; and even the saints themselves are not delivered from his influence, but through the mighty power of Jehovah himself, given in answer to fervent and believing prayer"]
But the Psalmist's mention of liberty leads us more particularly to shew, II. What sweet enjoyments they have of it who love
and serve their God David accounted the service of his God to be perfect freedom. And so, indeed, it is : for the man whom “the truth of the Gospel has made free"," and who “looks to God's precepts” as his only rule of conduct, he, I say, walks, 1. According to the dictates of his own judgment
[He has an insight into the mind and will of God, and clearly discerns that there is not, in all the Holy Scriptures,
d Rom. vii. 23. e Eph. ii. 3.
f Rom. viii. 5. & Rom. vi. 16.
h Rom. vii. 24. i Eph. ii. 2. k 2 Tim. ii, 26. 1 2 Cor. iv. 4. m Luke xi. 21. n Eph. vi. 12—18. Jam. iv. 7. Rom. xvi. 20. • John viii. 32.
a command which does not conduce to the happiness of all who obey it. His own mind and conscience go along with the word of God, and set their seal to the truth and excellency of every thing contained in it. “Not one commandment appears to him to be grievousP:" the whole law of God is esteemed by him as “ holy, and just, and good 9." To “ love God with all his heart and soul and strength, and his neighbour as himself," does not appear to him any hardship imposed upon him, but the perfection of his nature and completion of his felicity : so that he would on no account have one atom of this law cancelled, or mitigated in the least degree. His own judgment tells him that it is no less his privilege, than it is his duty, to be “ holy, as God is holy;" and “perfect, as his Father who is in heaven is perfect."] 2. Agreeably to the inclination of his own will
[He is neither drawn nor driven against his own will. He is, indeed, “ made willing in the day of God's power";" but she is drawn with the cords of a man, and with the bands of loves." He does not, indeed, all that he would ; yea, in too many respects he does what he would nott:" but this very thing shews that it is rather strength than inclination that he wantsu. Could he have but the desire of his heart, he would leave no sin unmortified, no duty unfulfilled. He is in the situation of one who is running a race, or “fighting a fight :” had he but his will accomplished, his every antagonist would be vanquished in a moment, and “ death itself, his last enemy, be swallowed up in victory."] 3. In an unbiassed exercise of his own affections
[He has a real delight in God. He does not observe the duties of prayer and praise through the fear of hell, but from a real pleasure which he feels in drawing nigh to God, whom it is his privilege to call by the endearing name of Father, and in communion with whom he would gladly walk all the day long. Conceive of Adam before his fall; and there you have an image of those who, through the tender mercy of God, are restored. True, they still have " the flesh lusting against the Spirit, as well as the Spirit lusting against the flesh; so that they neither do, nor can do, all that they would*:" but their taste is the very same with that of angels; and the felicity of angels is begun in them: for their life, so far as they have really attained, is both a preparation for heaven, and a foretaste also of heaven, in their souls.]
P 1 John v. 3.
Rom. vii. 12. and Ps. cxix. 128. ir Ps. cx. 3. s Hos. xi. 4.
+ Rom. vi. 15. , u Rom. vii. 16-20. x Gal. v.17.
Let me then, in conclusion, commend this liberty
to your acceptance
[Think not, my Brethren, that the Gospel is a mere system of restraints : no, it is a “perfect law of libertyy:" and “all who are made free by Christ, are become free indeed.” O that religion were but understood in this view! No captive would more delight to shake off his chains, than sinners would to emancipate themselves from the sore bondage in which they are held. Know then, Brethren, that I am authorised, in the name of Jesus Christ, to“ preach deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bruiseda.” The jubilee trumpet now sounds in your ears, and proclaims to you a restoration to all that you have ever lost and forfeited. Did not the poor slave, think you, when called to resume his liberty and his inheritance, account the trumpet a joyful sound? Let the Gospel, then, be such a sound to you : and, instead of regarding God's service as a hard bondage, adopt the language of the Psalmist: “I will walk at liberty; for I seek thy precepts." “ Take upon you the yoke of Christ, and I pledge myself that you shall find it light and easy; and you shall obtain everlasting rest unto your souls b."] y James i. 25. 2 John viii. 36. a Luke iv. 18, 19.
b Matt. xi. 28, 29.
COMFORT UNDER PERSECUTION. Ps. cxix. 51, 52. The proud have had me greatly in derision ;
yet have I not declined from thy Law. I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself.
THERE is not, throughout the whole Scriptures, any woe so little feared, so little thought of, so little credited, as that which was denounced by our blessed Lord, “ Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of youa!” But, in truth, there is no denunciation more certain to be executed than that: for there is nothing that can more infallibly prove us to be the enemies of God, than the approbation and love of an ungodly world. If it be asked, Whence this should be? I answer, that “the things which are highly esteemed amongst men are an abomination in the sight of God; and that the things which are pleasing to God are no less an abomination in the sight of
a Luke vi. 26.
men: and consequently, that, whichever of the two we serve, we must of necessity lose the favour of the other. This is what our blessed Lord has told us : “ Ye cannot serve God and mammon;" ye cannot adhere to either without despising and renouncing the otherb. And the truth of this has been exemplified in all the saints, from the time of Abel to the present moment. What David speaks respecting his own experience of it, will lead me to consider, I. The trials he endured
He was held greatly in derision by his ungodly subjects
[If any one could have escaped contempt, we should have supposed that David would be the happy man. His rank in society, as the king of Israel; his extraordinary prowess in arms; the services he had rendered to his country; and the marvellous sublimity of his piety, must, we should have thought, have rendered him an object of universal love and admiration. But, amongst his proud and envious subjects, this last quality neutralized, as it were, all his merits, and reduced him to an object of hatred and contempt. The highest people in his kingdom delighted to speak against himo; whilst the lowest readily joined in their opprobrious treatment of him a. The fat bulls of Bashan on the one hand, and the dogs on the other, compassed him aboute, and treated him with every species of indignity. Even his own wife, who should have been ready to stem the torrent of abuse that was cast upon him, herself joined in it with peculiar malignityf; and the very best actions of his life were made the chief subjects of their profane raillery 8. And let not this be thought a light affliction. "Truly it is painful to flesh and blood to bear such contemptuous treatment: so, at least, the Apostle represents it in the Epistle to the Hebrewsh; and so David himself found it to be: “ Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us !” says he : "for we are exceedingly filled with contempt: our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proudi."] And can we hope to escape a similar trial ?
(Look at the saints from the beginning, and find one that ever escaped it? How contemptuously did the scoffers of the antediluvian world ridicule the conduct of Noah, all the time • Matt. vi. 24.
d Ps. lxix. 12. e Ps. xxii. 12, 16. 2 Sam. vi. 20. & 2 Sam. vi. 16. and Ps. lxix. 10–12. h Heb. x. 32, 33. i Ps. cxxiii. 3, 4.
that he was preparing the arkk! What an object of derision, too, was Isaac, on account of his confidence in God!! Behold Lot also in Sodom m, and Elisha" and Jeremiaho in Israel: or rather, look at our blessed Lord himself, and all his holy Apostles; what was there too contemptuous for the ungodly to say either of him P or them?? ---How, then, can any one hope to escape in the present day? Is “ the carnal mind less at enmity with God” now, than in former ages? That the laws of the land protect the godly to a certain degree, is true; but from the shafts of calumny and contempt, no laws, whether divine or human, can protect us: and this species of persecution, at least, shall every one experience, who will come out from the world, and boldly declare himself to be on the side of Christ'. “ If they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, much more will they those of his households."]
For our direction, then, let us contemplate, II. The graces he exercised —
Whilst he bore his trials with patience, he suffered none of them to divert him from the path of duty
[David's mind was too firmly fixed on God to be moved by the scoffs and raillery of a profane world. What he did, he did from principle. He regarded God's Law as a rule from which no trial whatever should induce him to depart. Not only would he not turn back from the path of duty; he would not turn aside from it, no, not for a moment. The more contemptuously he was treated by men, the more diligently he sought communion with his God, in the study of his blessed word, and in the exercise of fervent prayer 4. Hence, when he and his people were treated with the utmost possible scorn and derision, he could appeal to God in the following triumphant language: “ All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant: our heart is not turned back; neither have our steps declined from thy ways?."]
And such, also, is the firmness which we should manifest
[It should be with us “ a small matter to be judged of man's judgmenty.” We should have but one object, and that is, to approve ourselves to God; and, having the testimony of our consciences that we have pleased him,” we should not
k 2 Pet. iii. 3—6. Gen. xxi. 6. with Gal. iv. 29. m 2 Pet. ii. 7, 8. n 2 Kings ii. 23. • Jer. xx. 7. P Matt. xxvii. 39–44. 91 Cor. iv. 13. r John xv. 19. s Matt. x. 25. i ver. 23, 24.
u Ps. lxix. 13. * Ps. xliv. 13—18. with lxix. 20.
y 1 Cor. iv. 3.