« PreviousContinue »
their corn and their wine increased. * Is he called to pass through great and fiery trials ? Fear not, for I am with thee. When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.t Does he, as well as another man, look on to the bour of death? But he may say, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me. He may die with the words on his tongue, My flesh and my heart faileth ; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. I Yea, death itself is but the fulfilment of one of his Saviour's sweetest promises,,I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. Now, my brethren, let us not lose the sweetness of these promises: they amount to nothing less than this; that, in all circumstances, stations, accidents of life, God is with us, God in Christ; and surely, then, all things are ours. All things—life, death, sickness, health, wealth, poverty, bereavement, persecutions : all things ;there is no exception, from the most prosperous to the most adverse event of your life, from the greatest to the minutest, all things shall work together for our good. If God be with us, we are necessarily encircled with loving-kindness and tender mercy; for, with favour wilt Thou compass the righteous as with a shield. The believer, then, walks through the world with a divine and shield
* Psalm iv, 7.
+ lisaiah xliii. 2.
Psalm lxxiii, 26.
ing atmosphere about him,—the favour of God: many darts cannot pass through it to hurt him; and those that do pass through it are tinctured with that favour, and carry it into the wound they make.
5. Once more, under this head: Who satisfieth thy mouth with good thing's, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The worldling has his good things : Son, remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things. There is pleasure, such as it is, in the gratification of the appetites, in the accumulation of wealth, in the honour of men ; but, my friends, these pleasures wear out. They may be, and they often are, pursued with as much anxiety in old age as in youth; but the pleasure which they gave in the attainment, is gone. With the pleasures of God's people it shall not be so. As a gracious God originally fitted the blessings of creation, and the senses of the creatures therein to be placed, for one another; so it is in the new creation. He prepares the Gospel-feast of fat things, the bread and water of life, and he gives the hunger and thirst to enjoy them; a hunger and thirst perpetually renewed, and perpetually filled by his good Spirit. They that wait upon the Lord (and every experienced Christian will declare the truth of the promise) shall renew their strength. They shall still bring forth fruit in their old age.*
And was not this to be expected ? Was it not to be expected that the more experience the believer
* Psalm xcii. 14.
has of the grace and faithfulness of God, the more he should trust and love Him, and the happier he should be in that trust ? the more he studies and prays over the Scriptures, the brighter revelation he should be favoured with of the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ ? the more he sees of the vanity of the world, the more ready he should be to leave it? the nearer his salvation, his complete salvation,- the more spent the night, the more at hand the day, so much the more he should rejoice in hope of the glory of God ? the nearer the putting off of this his tabernacle, with so much the more exulting joy he should look forward to the being clothed with his house which is from heaven?
These, then, are the blessings enumerated by David, when he would call up all his powers to love, and gratitude, and adoring praise ;—the forgiveness of sins by the blood of Christ; the gradual renovation of a diseased nature by the power of the Holy Spirit; the being called from death unto life, according to the working of that mighty power which was wrought in Christ, when God raised Him from the dead; the continual presence, whether at all times felt, or not, of God encircling him with love; and the renewal and increase of these holy delights, at a period of life when all other pleasures are fading away.
Now, are not these blessings enough to call for our praises,-our heartfelt, affectionate, joyful praises? Yes, you will say, I know and see that they are ; and if I did but always feel them so, I were happy indeed. Well, but endeavour to feel them. Most assuredly you will not, if you never think of them ; if, on the one hand, your faculties and time are all given up to the prospect of earthly good, and you bring only a languid frame and a wandering heart into your closet; or if, on the other, you are always brooding over your own infirmities, and forgetting the perfections of Jesus; looking at the malignity of your disease, and not at the skill of your great Physician. You must do as David does, in the words which we are now briefly to consider:
II. Rouse up all your faculties to the celebration of the praises of your God. . Bless the Lord, O my soul ; and all that is within me bless His holy
The sickly appetite, that loathed perhaps the daintiest food, may be awakened and stimulated, if you can but get your patient to taste what is set before him: on the contrary, if he gives way to his disinclination for food, the stomach becomes weaker and weaker, and the disinclination greater. Now, so it will be with you: if you give way to your corrupt disinclination to the word and blessing of God, and to spiritual exercises, it will increase upon you; and to what an alarming and fatal degree, God only knows. Be persuaded, take up the matter in time. Set the good things of the Spirit of God before your faculties, and then call them up to the enjoyment thereof.
My understanding ! art thou acquainted with these things? dost thou indeed know them; or art thou content with hearing the words, and letting the things pass by? I know that they exceed thy utmost powers; I know that the love of Christ passeth knowledge; but, art thou endeavouring to know all thou canst ? Oh, there is infinite store for thee in the book of God; and the Spirit of God, which is given to him who asks, searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. Art thou then studying this word ; and under this Spirit, not for critical knowledge, not for the satisfaction of an idle curiosity, not to attain the applause of men, but really and simply to know the love of God, and the spiritual blessings with which he hath blessed thee in heavenly places in Christ? Are thine eyes enlightened to know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints? Art thou blessing God in the way thou canst, by showing to the world around what thou esteemest worthy of thy search, by counting all things but dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus thy Lord?
My will! these things are set before thee: dost thou choose them entirely, and before all other pleasures and all other offers ? What is thy request? Ask, what shall be given thee. I know the offers of the world, how tempting they are. What fair promises, what an amiable outside! but O, I warn thee! her vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah ; her grapes are grapes of gall, her clusters are bitter. * Come, then, thou choosest that good part which shall not