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useful instruction. Mercy is to be sought in the first place. To look for sanctification first, and make that a ground whereon to hope for mercy, would subvert the whole Gospel of Christ. We mean not to say, that we should build such an observation as this on the mere circumstance of the petitions occurring in that particular order; for that circumstance would by no means justify any such conclusion : but from that circumstance we may fitly take occasion to make such an observation which is sanctioned and confirmed by every part of the inspired writings. And we cannot too strongly impress it on the minds of all, that in constructing the spiritual edifice, we must ever be careful to distinguish between the foundation and the superstructure, and to assign to each its appropriate place and office ---] 2. To Christian practice
[Here the just improvement of the petitions is clear and obvious: they teach us to be humble Christians, practical Christians, consistent Christians.
We should be humble Christians. The manner in which the petition for mercy is expressed conveys an idea of deep humility. It is as if he had said, “ Lord, I am unworthy that thou shouldst look upon so base, so vile a creature as I am: well might my sins provoke thee to hide thy face from me for ever: but O! look upon me, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.” Thus it is that we should ever seek for mercy. It is impossible for us ever to lie too low before our God. To the latest hour of our lives we should preserve the spirit of the publican, who, whilst he sought for mercy,“ dared not so much as to lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner!" --
We should also be practical Christians. To think that we can be interested in the mercy of God whilst we are continuing in sin, is a horrible, a fatal delusion. Let not any one entertain such an idea for one moment. Christ's work is finished indeed as it respects himself ; but not as it respects us: there is a work to be wrought in us, as well as that which has been wrought for us: and whatever we may imagine about the secret purposes of God, this is revealed as an immutable decree, that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” --
To crown the whole, we must be consistent Christians. To harbour any sin, of whatever kind it be, will prove us hypocrites. “ If we regard iniquity in our hearts, God will never hear us," never accept us. The right hand or right eye must be sacrificed, as well as those sins which may be more easily put away --O let us seek to be “ Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile," and to be “ sincere and without offence until the day of Christ !"]
DCCXI. REASONS FOR WEEPING OVER SINNERS. Ps. cxix. 136. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because
they keep not thy law. THE generality, if exhorted to labour for the salvation of others, are ready to reply, “ Am I my brother's keeper a ?” But they who have truly the fear of God in their hearts will be anxious for the welfare of their fellow-creatures. This concern has at all times distinguished the saints of Godb: and it was eminently conspicuous in David. Repeatedly in this psalm does he declare his feelings on this subject"; and with peculiar energy in the words before us.
We propose to shew on what account we ought to weep for sinnersI. On account of the blessings they lose
There are many present blessings which men lose by not keeping God's law
[There is a "peace that passeth understanding," and a “joy unspeakable," that attends the believing in Christ, and the devoting of ourselves to his service. The having all one's lusts in subjection must contribute not a little to serenity of mind; but the enjoying of God's favour, and the light of his countenance, is a source of the richest happiness that mortals can possess on earth d.”
But what peace is there to the wickede? What can he know of the love of God shed abroad in his heart? What comfort can he have in the prospect of death and judgment?]
But the eternal blessings which they lose, exceed our highest conceptions
[The obedient believer has “ an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and never-fading f.” There is a crown of righteousness, and a throne of glory, reserved for him in heaven & : and he shall spend eternity itself in the immediate vision and fruition of his God.
But can we say this respecting the impenitent and unbelieving? No: there is no admission for him into those bright abodes: “the unrighteous cannot inherit that kingdom);"
a Gen. iv. 9.
b Jer. ix. 1. d ver. 165. Prov. iii. 17. Isai. xxxii. 17. f 1 Pet. i. 4.
8 2 Tim. iv. 8.
c ver. 158. and 53. e Isai. lvii. 20, 21. h 1 Cor. vi. 9.
" the unclean cannot enter there!" There shall be “ a difference between those who serve God, and those who serve him notk:” and the wish that ungodly men feel to be found at last in the place of those whom they now despise, is a proof that they have in their own minds some apprehension of the sentence that awaits them in another world!.] And are not these things matters of just lamentation?
[It is much to be regretted that men will “feed on ashes m," and seek to “ fill their belly with the east wind "," when they might “ eat the bread of life,” and “ delight their souls with marrow and fatnesso.” And still more must we pity him, who, when there is a rest prepared, and a supper spread for him in heaven, has provoked God to swear, that he shall never enter into that rest?, nor ever partake of that supper]
But there is yet greater reason to weep, II. On account of the miseries they bring upon them- .
Not to mention the misery of a guilty conscience, which in many instances is so great as to render life itself a burthen
How inexpressibly dreadful are the judgments which the wicked will endure in hell !
[However men may labour to disprove it, hell must be the portion of all that forget God. And who can form any adequate conception of the torments that shall be there endured? To spend an eternity in such a furnace as that which Nebuchadnezzar kindled for the destruction of the Hebrew youths, would be beyond measure dreadful : but what must it be to lie down in that lake of fire which the breath of the Almighty hath kindleds ?]
And can we view sinners hastening to that place of torment, and not weep over them ?
[Our blessed Lord wept over Jerusalem on account of the temporal calamities that should come upon it: and shall not we weep over the eternal miseries which men are bringing on themselves ? Must not our hearts be harder than adamant, if they do not melt into tears at such a sight? Can we weep at the recital of a story we know to be fictitious, and not mourn over such awful realities ?]
There is, however, yet greater reason to weep, i Rev. xxi. 27. . k Mal. iii. 18. | Numb. xxiii. 10. m Isai. xliv. 20. n Job xv. 2.
o Isai. lv. 2. p Heb. iii. 18.
9 Luke xiv. 24. r Ps. ix. 17. $ Isai. xxx. 33. VOL. V).
III. On account of the aggravated guilt under which
they perish-Devils and heathens will have more to urge on their own behalf, than they who perish under the light of the Gospel —
[The devils may say, Had the Son of God taken our nature, and died for our redemption, we would gladly have availed ourselves of such a provision for our safety; we never would have despised one that had been sent from heaven to redeem us. The heathens may say, Though there was a Saviour given, yet we were never privileged to hear his gospel : had his mercy been ever offered to us, we should “ long ago have repented in dust and ashest.” But what will ungodly Christians say before God? Will they say, They had not a Saviour ? or, That his Gospel was not proclaimed to them? No: you know there is a Saviour, who bought you with his blood, and who has offered you, times without number, a full and free salvation. Your mouths therefore must be for ever shut"]
What additional reason does this give for weeping over the ungodly!
[Every offer of salvation greatly aggravates the guilt of those who reject it: and every increase of guilt will be followed by a proportionable increase of misery. How lamentable then is it, when that very gospel, which should have been a savour of life unto life, is made, through the obstinacy of man, a savour of death unto death*! How truly lamentable when Christ himself becomes an occasion of greater damnation to the very people whom he died to save! Alas! that men should ever so despise their own mercies! O that " rivers of tears might run down our eyes!"] INFER1. How little true love is there in the world!
[However strong and numerous the instances of men's carnal attachment be, there are few indeed who manifest any regard for the souls of their fellow-creatures. Instead of weeping for others, the generality would laugh at those who wept for themselves. But, if we have not this mark in our forehead, we are destined to feel the stroke of God's avenging rody.]
2. How earnest ought ministers to be in dealing with the souls of men !
[If all ought to weep for the ungodly, much more should ministers, who are sent to call them to repentance, “warn them * Matt. xi. 21.
u Matt. xxii. 12. * 2 Cor. i. 15, 16.
y Ezek. ix. 4–6.
night and day with tearsz.” Forgive then the earnestness, we should rather say, the want of earnestness, of him who labours among you; and pray, that he may so “ declare the whole counsel of God,” as to be pure from the blood of all men."]
3. How earnest ought men to be in seeking the salvation of their own souls !
[If it be the duty of others to weep for us, how much more should we weep for ourselves! Let us then lay to heart the state of our souls, and sow in tears that we may reap in joya."] 2 Acts xx. 31.
a Ps. cxxvi. 5.
DAVID'S DESIRE TO SERVE GOD. Ps. cxix. 145–148. I cried with my whole heart; Hear me,
O Lord: I will keep thy statutes. I cried unto thee ; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies. I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried : I hoped in thy word. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
IN reading the Psalms of David, we are of necessity led to contemplate the constant spirituality of his mind, and the extraordinary fervour of his devotions: but we are apt to overlook, or to notice only superficially, one of the inost lovely features in his character, namely, his ardent desire to fulfil the whole will of God. If we were to read the psalm before us in this particular view, we should be surprised, that we had not been more forcibly struck with this sentiment before. He begins the psalm by declaring those persons pre-eminently blessed, who are most distinguished by their obedience to the laws of Goda. In this way alone had he any hope of avoiding shame and disappointment in the last dayb; and therefore he prayed with all imaginable earnestness, that he might be kept from ever deviating from the path of duty, and be enabled to “ run the way of God's commandments with an enlarged heartd.” The words which we have just read do not, on a superficial view, convey this idea very strongly to our minds : but on a closer inspection of them, we shall see, that a desire to serve and honour God was the primary object in a ver. 1, 2. b ver. 6. c ver. 10, 19, 20. d ver. 32.