Page images


[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

PSAL. cxliv. 3.—Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him? or the Son of man, that thou makeft account of him.

ERE is a question put, that is both anfwerable and unand difficult: it is eafly to


tell what man is, for the end of his perfection 'is foon difcovered; but why God takes knowledge of man, or makes fo great account of him, as to heap his favours on him, is a thing that God only can beft account for. David, in the two preceding verfes, declares, firft, what a reconciled God in Christ was to him, and makes it the ground of his praise and triumph 1. Says he, My God is my ftrength; he is the ftrength of Ifrael, the glory of their ftrength. However feeble and weak the faints be in themselves, yet" their Redeemer is strong, the Lords of hofts is his name. O bleffed is the man whofe ftrength is the Lord Jehovah, with whom there is everlasting ftrength; for he fhall go from ftrength to ftrength, till he appear before the Lord in Zion," &c. 2. His God was his goodness; for "there is none good but one, that is, God;" who, as he is the chief good himself, so he is truly good to Ifrael; good to them that wait upon him, and to the foul that fecks him. And whatever goodness is in any of the fons of men, or faints of God, he is the glorious fource and fountain of it; " for every good and perfect gift cometh down from above," from an infinitely good God, &c. 3. His God was his fortrefs and his high tower. David faw himfelf in God, as a man is in his caftle, that can look down on all his enemies with contempt: and hence we find him frequer tly expreffing himfelf with the greateft confidence of fafety, "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of mine enemies against me round about:" O! who can hurt them that have


the eternal God for their refuge, and his everlasting arms underneath them?" 4. His God was his deliverer. Many a danger David had been in, from Saul, from Abfalom, and his other enemies; but his God had always interpofed for his prefervation; probably he may have his eyes upon the great deliverance that God wrought for him, and all his faints, by Jefus Chrift, in finding a ransom for him, that he might not go down to the pit, &c. 5. His God was his fhield as a fhield in the day of battle defends against darts and arrows that are shot against a man's body, and wards off the blows that are levelled against him; fo his God had protected him against the malicious arrows of reproach and malice, & 6. His God had made him a fkilful and fuccessful soldier: his hands had been used to the fhepherd's crook, and the mufician's harp; but God had taught his hands to war, and his fingers to fight," and to lead and head the armies of Ifrael, &c. 7. His God had taught him not only to manage the fword, but to fway the fceptre; in the clofe of verfe 2. "He fubdueth my people under me." He who had ordained him to be king of Ifrael, in the room of Saul, fwayed the hearts of all the tribes to acknowledge him as their king and ruler; juft fo he, in a day of power, bends and bows the wills and minds of men to fubmit to the government of the Son of David, Chrift Jefus, every one crying, Thou haft delivered us out of the hands of our enemies, therefore rule thou over us.

Well, David having thus viewed the goodness of God unto him, and remembering the greatnefs, glory, and majesty of his Benefactor, who had done all this for him; he extends his views unto the goodness of God to mankind in general, and especially to the faints, and cries out, in a rapture of wonder, in the words of my text, Lord, what is man, that thou takeft knowledge of him! and the son of man, that thou makeft account of him! So then the words are a queftion of admiration. And more particularly we may note, 1. The subjectmatter of the question, and that is man; earthly man, as fome read it; man that is "fprung of earth, and whofe foundation is in the duft;" man who was "made a little lower than the angels," but who is now funk into the greatest ignominy and contempt, by his apoftafy from God. 2. We have a question of contempt put, concerning this creature, man, or the fon of man, what is he? or wherein is he to be accounted of? We may hear the folution of this queftion afterwards. 3. Notice to whom this question is proposed; it is to the Lord: Lord, what is man? The Lord is a God of knowledge, VOL. III.



and there is no fearching of his understanding: he needs not that any should testify of man to him; he knows the inward value of perfons, things, and actions: God has balances in which he weighs all mankind, and therefore he can well tell what man is; "he fearches the hearts, and tries the reins of the children of men," and knows far better what you and I are, than we do ourselves. 4. We have the ground and reafon of this inquiry concerning man; it is the knowledge that God takes, and the account God makes, of such an inconfiderable creature, that "the high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity, and who dwells in the high and holy place," that he fhould" bow his heavens, and come down," to visit man in a way of love.

OBSERVE, "That the regard that God fhews unto man is truly wonderful and surprising.”

This I take to be the plain import of the queftion. We have the like question put, Job vii. 17. 18. "What is man that thou fhouldft magnify him? and that thou shouldft fer thine heart upon him? and that thou shouldft vifit him every morning, and try him every moment." Pfal. viii. 3. 4. "When I confider the heavens the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou haft ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the fon of man, that thou vifiteft him." These are down-bringing queftions. It is ob fervable in fcripture, that questions, when they are put concerning God, they are intended to raise our affections and admiration to the higheft. So Exod. xv. 11. “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?" and Micah vii. 18. "Who is a God like unto thee?" Thefe are uplitting queftions. But when the queftion is concerning man, it brings him down in his own eyes unto nothing, "that no flesh may glory in the prefence of God."

Now, in difcourfing this doctrine, through the Lord's affiftance, I fhail endeavour,

I. To give a fcriptural folution of this diminutive and and down-bringing queftion, What is man?

II. What is imported in God's regarding man, or making account of him.

III. Wherein doth God discover his regard unto man?
IV. Shew that this is truly wonderful and furprifing.
V. Apply.

I. The first thing is to give a fcriptural folution of this queftion, What is man? for we can never wonder at and admire the regard that God fhews unto man, until we know what man is. Come, then, Sirs, let us weigh ourselves in the balances of the fanctuary, and fee what we are; ft, As creatures; adly, As fallen creatures.

ift, What is man, as he is a creature of God? Why, trace him to his first original, he is but a piece of modified duft, enlivened with the breath of God: Adam fignifies earth, and red earth, Gen. ii. 7. “The Lord God formed man of the duft of the ground." Hence is that of the apostle, 1 Cor. xv. 47. “The first Adam was of the earth, earthy;" alfo that of the prophet Jeremiah, who, addreffing himself to Ifrael, cries out, "O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord," &c. Again, What is man? He is in fcripture reckoned a potter's veffel, that is easily dafhed and broken: "Hath not the potter power over the clay of his hand, to make one veffel unto honour, and another unto dishonour ?" Rom. ix. 21. and Pfal. ii. 9. Chrift "will dash all his enemies in pieces, as a potter's veffel." If you ask further, What is man? the prophet Isaiah will tell you that he is but grass; Ifa. xl. 6-8. "The voice faid, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grafs, and the goodliness there of as the flower of the field. The grafs withereth, the flower fadeth, because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: furely the people is grafs." What is all this multitude here prefeat, but just a pickle grafs: for as grafs springeth out of the earth, and falls down again to the earth, so shall we and all living; and then the place that knows us fhall know us no more. If you afk again, What is man? the Spirit of God will tell, Ifa. xl. 15. That " all mankind is before God but as the drop of the bucket, and the small duft that will not turn the fcales of a balance," no body regarding it; and yet all mankind before the Lord is no more. Oh then, What is man, that God fbould take knowledge of him?" If you afk yet again, What is man before the Lord? Why, you have an answer that reduces man, and all nations of men, into nothing. Ifa. xl. 17. "All nations are before him as nothing." Can any thing be less than nothing? yea, it is added in the close of that verfe, "They are accounted before him lefs than nothing and vanity." And thus you fee an answer to that queftion, What is man, confidered as a creature? But,

2dly, What is man as a fallen creature? Man, even in his beft eftate, is altogether vanity before God: what then is he in his worst estate? "God planted him a noble vine, but he


is become the degenerate plant of a ftrange vine." Let us confider what he is in this refpect: a creature he is indeed; but then he is the worst of all creatures through fin; for if we fearch out his character from the record of God, we shall find him described, 1. To be a diseased creature, over-run with a loathefome leprofy, from the crown of the head to the fole of the foot: the disease of fin has invaded the very vitals, infomuch that the very mind and confcience is defiled and wafted, &c. Hence it follows, 2. That man, fallen man, is become an ugly and a loathesome creature, Job xv. 16. “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh ini. quity like water? Sin is called the abominable thing that God's foul hates. Oh! how abominable then is man, who is nothing else than a mass of fin, a compound of all manner of iniquity? 3. What is man? He is an impotent and a helpless creature, without ftrength, "like the helpless infant caft out into the open field," Ezek. xvi. Men may talk of the power of nature, and of their ability to convert and turn themselves, as they have a-mind; but, if we believe the Spirit of God, speaking by the Son of God, he will tell us that "no man can come unto him, except the Father who fent him draw him." What can a`new-born infant do for its own help, cast out into the open field? Of all creatures it is the most helpless and impotent; and yet this is man's condition in his natural state. 4. What is man? Why, the Spirit of God will tell you that he is a rebellious creature; that he has lifted up arms against his great Lord; broken his allegiance to God, and joined in a confederacy with the devil against God. With proud Pharaoh, "we have difowned God, faying, Who is the Lord, that I should obey him?" Numb. xx. 10. “Hear now, ye rebels, muft we fetch you water out of this rock?" &c. 5. What is man, fallen man? Why, he is a condemned creature, under fentence from the great Judge of heaven and earth: "He that believeth not is condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on him," &c. Condemned by God, condemned by the law, condemned by confcience, &c. 6. What is man, fallen man? Why he is a noxious and a hurtful creature; (he has hurt the creation of God; “Cursed is the ground for thy fake," fays the Lord to Adam); a cumberer of the ground; " Yea, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, under the burden of his fin." 7. He is a noisome creature, that hath a filthy fmell in the noftrils of God, angels, and faints; and therefore compared to the ftench of a green opened grave, that is ready to raise the peftilence: "Their throat (fays David, fpeaking of the wicked)

« PreviousContinue »