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Whilst God himself thus becomes their light and protection, he informs us further,] What he will do for them
[He will give them grace. Certain it is that he must have given them grace before, or else they never would have been able to attain to real uprightness. But, as their conflicts increase, he will give them more gracem. As particular occasions call for it, he will give them seasonable grace, even in the very time of need". And if their temptations should exceed all that ever were experienced by man, he will give them grace sufficient for them. “My grace is sufficient for thee,” is his word to every soul, however buffeted by Satan, or ready to sink under the violence of his assaults. “They shall receive continually out of Christ's fulness, even grace for grace.”
He will also give them glory. His favours to them shall not terminate with their present state of existence. He will not only make them more than conquerors here, but will give them an unfading crown of righteousness and glory in a better world. Whatever felicity the angels enjoy in heaven, that shall his saints also participate. And as our first parents were banished from the tree of life for yielding to the tempter, so shall they, who resist and overcome him, be admitted to the tree of life that grows in the midst of the paradise of God, and shall go no more out for everP.
“Nor will he withhold from them any thing that is truly good.” Were wealth and honour good for them here below, they should possess it. If God withhold those things from his people now, he does it because he knows that they would not, on the whole, be good for them. He that gave his own Son to die for them, will assuredly give them all other things that will promote their welfare. They shall never want any thing for body or soul, for time or eternity.] INFER
1. How truly blessed are they who are upright before God!
[This is the Psalmist's own reflection. He varies indeed the term by which he describes the people of God; but his meaning is the same; for none can be upright except those who trust in him, because nothing but the grace of God can make them so: nor do any trust in him without receiving that grace which shall make them upright. The manner in which he expresses his reflection, is worthy of notice; he does not merely assert it as a fact, or appeal to men for the truth of it, but appeals to God himself respecting it. " O Lord God of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee." How strong must have been the conviction of it in his mind! And can any thing be more clear? To have the Lord God himself for their light and defence, and to have all the blessings of grace and glory ensured to them by the unalterable promise of Jehovah; what can they have more? Let every upright soul then rejoice; for he is and shall be blessed. And let all be stirred up to walk worthy of their high calling. So shall God be glorified in them; and they, ere long, be glorified with him for evermore.]
m Jam. iv. 6. n Heb. iv. 16. 02 Cor. xii. 9. P Rev. ii. 7.
9 ver. 12.
2. In what a pitiable state are the generality of mankind !
[There are many who are honest and just even among the heathen. But, alas! the generality labour not in earnest to find out their duty; nor do they know any thing of that unreserved devotedness to God which characterizes the true Christian. Is God then a sun to them? Is he not rather a cloud of darkness to them, or rather, I should say, a consuming fire"? Is he a shield to them? Is he not rather an irresistible adversarys? Will he give them grace and glory? Shall he not rather visit them with wrath and fiery indignationt? Will he withhold from them no good? Is there not rather a time shortly coming when they shall not have so much as a drop of water to cool their tongue? O that men would consider this ! Surely their state calls for much compassion. Let every one lay this to heart. Let every one seek to be found “ an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” And let it be the one ambition of us all to be found of God in peace, without spot and blameless u.]
Exod. xiv. 20. Heb. xii. 29. s Matt. v. 25. + Rom. ii. 8.
u 2 Pet. iii. 14.
DCXLII. ATTENTION TO GOD'S WORD ENCOURAGED. Ps. lxxxv. 8. I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for
he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints : but let them not turn again to folly.
IF we would obtain any blessing from God, we must seek it in the exercise of fervent prayer. Yet shall we not really obtain a blessing, unless we look up to God in expectation of an answer to our prayers. In this respect we must resemble a beggar who supplicates for alms. He is not satisfied with having presented his petition: he waits for an answer; and never considers himself as having succeeded in his
requests, till he is in the actual enjoyment of the desired boon. This waiting spirit was exemplified in David, when he said, “In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look upa.” In like manner it is illustrated in the psalm before us, which seems to have been written after the Babylonish captivity, but previous to the complete and quiet settlement of the people in their own land. The petitions which are offered are extremely urgent: * Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger towards us to cease! Wilt thou be angry with us for ever ? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations ? Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation b.” The petitioner, then, determines to listen to God's voice, in the hope that he shall, in due season, receive an answer of peace: “ I will hear what God the Lord will speak.”
Let us, for the elucidation of this subject, consider, 1. The attention to be paid to the word of God
[The word, whether as contained in the inspired volume, or as delivered to us by the ministers of Christ, is truly and properly God's; and, as his, it should be received by us with the deepest reverence. When St. Paul ministered at Thessalonica, the people “received his word, not as the word of man, but as the word of God :" and for that he specially commends them. And thus, whether written or preached, it must be received by us. Whether we open the inspired volume ourselves, or go up to hear it in the house of God, we must, like Cornelius and his family, place ourselves as in the immediate presence of God, “to hear all that is commanded us of Godd." and with meek submission we must say, like Samuel, “ Speak, Lord, for thy servant hearethe."]
But in our text we are informed, II. What particular reason there is for that attention
[" The Lord will speak peace unto his people and to his saints: ” however much they have deserved his wrath and indignation, he will not retain his anger against them, if only they give ear to his word, and set themselves diligently to obey it. To the impenitent he never utters a single word of peace:
c 1 Thess. ii. 13.
a Ps. v. 3.
d Acts x. 33. VOL. VI.
b ver. 447.
but to the humble and contrite soul, that relies on his promises in Christ Jesus, there is not a syllable throughout all the inspired volume that leads to discouragement: grace, mercy, and peace are held forth to all of this character. These, though but in an infantine state, are God's "saints and people;" and for them are prepared “a peace that passeth all understanding,” and “ a joy that is unspeakable and glorified.” Shall such tidings, then, be announced, and the trembling soul not listen to them? If there were nothing but precepts proclaimed, they should be listened to with the most reverent attention : but, when nothing but the voice of love and mercy sounds in our ears, it must be strange indeed if we do not hear it with the devoutest gratitude, and treasure it up in our minds as a source of the richest consolation.]
With this attention, however, must be blended a regard to, III. The ultimate scope and object of all his gra
[Sin, under what circumstances soever it be committed, is “ folly" in the extreme: and to turn us from that folly is the true end of all that God has done for us. “Our Lord Jesus Christ gave himself for us, to deliver us from this present evil world, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works." To him, therefore, we must cleave in a way of holiness, never for a moment turning back to our evil ways, or even so much as “ looking back after having once put our hands to the plough 8." For, whatever we may have experienced, it will all cease to be of any value in the sight of God the very instant we depart from his holy ways h: yea, it will be “ better never to have known the way of righteousness at all, than after having known it, to depart from iti.” It is " by patient continuance in well-doing that we must seek for eternal life k;" and only by enduring to the end, can we ever attain the promised salvation !.] Let me, then, ADDRESS — 1. The inattentive hearer
[God speaks in his word: but the generality of the world, though within reach of the sound, hear him not : “ They have no ears to hear.” But let me ask, Will you be always able to shut your ears against his voice? Will you not hear him when he shall summon both the quick and dead to his tribunal? Will you be deaf to his voice when he shall pronounce upon you that awful doom, " Depart accursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels?" If, then, you must listen to him in that day, would it not be wise to regard him now? Be assured the day will come when you will regret that presumptuous indifference which now you manifest; and when, if you turn not to him in sincerity and truth, you will “call upon the rocks and mountains in vain to hide you from his wrath."] 2. The backsliding professor
f Tit. ii. 14.
& Luke ix. 62.
h Ezek. xxxiii. 18.
[What have you gained by returning to the world ? Nay, have you not lost the peace which you once enjoyed ? You may pretend to possess a quiet mind; but you do not: or, if you do, it is only by drowning the voice of conscience, and silencing its remonstrances. Compare the penitential sorrows which you once felt, with the liveliest joys that you now experience; and then say, whether you were not really happier when weeping for your sins, than you now are when launching into either the cares or pleasures of the world? I well know the answer you must give, if you will speak truly; and therefore you, of all men, are constrained to acknowledge the folly of sin. “Remember, then, whence you have fallen, and repent; and do your first works m.” But if you will not repent and turn to God, then prepare to meet him in judgment, and to receive at his hands the just recompence of your deeds.] 3. The obedient saint
[It is your privilege to have your “ peace flowing down like a river.” And such it will be, if you apply to your souls the many “great and precious promises " which are given you in the Gospel. Search them out, therefore, and treasure them up in your minds. Hear God himself speaking to you in them: and so embrace them, as to live upon them, and to derive from them all the consolation which they are calculated to impart. In this way will you be kept from spiritual declension, and will be enabled to “ cleanse yourselves from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God"."]
m Rev. ii. 5. n 2 Cor. vii. 1.
DCXLIII. THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD RECONCILED IN CHRIST JESUS. Ps. lxxxv. 9, 10. Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear
him, that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
WE are told in Scripture, that “the prayer of the upright is God's delight :” and in instances without number has he evinced the truth of this saying. If