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or of walking along a road so steep and narrow! Deliver me from the body of this death; but not by “ mortifying the body," or by “ crucifying the flesh,” or by “putting to death the old man;" in one word, cure me, but give me no medicines bitter and disagreeable to flesh and blood !” And thus argues in his heart many a man, who has light enough to see the danger of sin, but has no heart to part with it. “Save me from falling into sinful acts; but permit me to indulge in sinful thoughts, and to enter into every kind of temptation. Save me from selfishness; but permit me always to gratify self. Save me from filth ; but let me wallow in the mire. Save me from intoxication ; but let me drink on. Save me from covetousness ; but let me keep my gold. Save me from sloth; but do not give me any thing to do. Save me from a bad temper; but let me indulge it. Give me strength; but not exercise. Daily delight; but not daily duty. Patience; but nothing to try it. Faith ; but nothing to shake it. Zeal; but nothing to engage it. Weanedness from the world; but no sorrows or afflictions to produce it. I wish light, comfort, and peace, without secret or earnest prayers at a throne of grace-without the Spirit of God being asked and obeyed-without hearing, reading, or believing the truth. I wish, in one word, to be a partaker of all the benefits of redemption—to share Christ's glory-Christ's inheritance-Christ's throne ;-but not to share Christ's holiness and self-denial-Christ's sufferings and cross !” And is this the way in which dying, perishing sinners treat the blood-bought remedy, and receive the offer of eternal life! Is this the way they deal with the Saviour ? arguing and disputing as if He were an equal—insulting Him with offered compromises between His awful commands and merciful invitationsand the demands of a corrupt, evil heart? “How can men escape if they neglect so great salvation !”
Oh! where are the souls who are in earnest about salvation ! where the upright souls who will meekly believe God's Word, and humbly and reverently do His will—where are they who will put their trust in the Physician ; and, instead of prescribing to Him, be administered to by Him? Where are they who will truthfully go to Him in confiding prayer, saying, “ Lord Jesus, we have tried many Physicians, and they could not heal us; we now go to thee :-we are dead in trespasses and sins, poor and needy, blind and naked. The harvest has past, and the summer ended; yet we, guilty sinners, are not saved. But we are spared—and we have heard the glad tidings that there is balm in Gilead—and that thou art the Physician there-able and willing to save to the uttermost all who go to thee. Our hope is in thy Word. We believe ; help our unbelief. We give ourselves, soul, spirit, and body, into thy hands. Send us adversity or prosperity, life or death. Give to us what remedies seem to thy love and wisdom best suited to us, and humble hearts to receive them ; but, for thy great mercy, save our poor perishing souls !"
May the Spirit of God, without whose teaching man's teaching is vain, open the eyes of your understanding, that you may know the truth as it is in Jesus ;-and open your hearts to receive it, in love; that believing in Christ, and receiving His Spirit, you may be saved. And to Father, Son and Spirit, one God, be all the glory! Amen.
THE TRUE SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL SONG.
REV. WILLIAM STEVENSON,
SENIOR MINISTER OF SOUTII LEITH.
PSALM lvii. 7. " My heart is fixed, O God; my heart, is fixed; I will sing
and give praise.”
The text affirms a fact, and declares a resolution. “My heart is fixed;" this is the fact; and hence, apparently, the resolution, “ I will sing and give praise.” For it is to be carefully observed, that we must not regard these two things as thrown together by accident. It is indeed true, that we often meet, especially in the poetical parts of Scripture, with singularly abrupt transitions, and thoughts that either have no natural affinity at all, or none that we can trace, come before us in immediate succession. The proof and illustration of this statement are furnished in abundance by this
fifty-seventh Psalm itself; for though it be characterized by striet unity as a whole, yet its unity is rather that of poetry than of logic, consisting not so much in coherency of thoughts as in identity of sentiment. The various and somewhat incongruous topics that have been assembled in it, are so arranged and treated as to reflect the same light of confidence in God, and to breathe the same spirit of devotion to Him. When we pass on, in reading the Psalm consecutively, from the “ Sons of men whose teeth are spears and arrows,” in the fourth verse, to the rapturous burst of adoration in the fifth,—“ Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, thy glory above all the earth,” we feel that these two dissimilar strains of inspired song concur in elevating our conceptions of the divine supremacy, while yet it might be over-bold in any expositor to affirm dogmatically through what intermediate ideas the writer had advanced from the one to the other. But the judicious interpreter will always presume that the contiguous sentences of Scripture are closely related, whether he may be able to unfold their relation or not; and therefore, after having ascertained the meaning of words and phrases, he will exert all his strength in an earnest endeavour to discern how they are connected; for not otherwise can he enter thoroughly into the spirit of the author, or see the truths that are presented by the same light through which the author viewed them. And often the most precious truths themselves, still oftener, the most affecting views of these truths, lie hidden among those links and folds of thought by which they are grouped together. Besides, doctrines and precepts, when standing single and alone, are neither so interesting nor so easily memorable, as when they are contemplated under all their mutual dependencies, as cause and consequence, or argument and conclusion, and are therefore so interlaced as to form parts of one compacted system.
I. Assuming, then, that some such relation exists between the fact and the resolution of the text, let us endeavour to ascertain what it is,-enquiring, as the first step towards this end, into the meaning of the words. What then does the Psalmist affirm by the expression, “My heart is fixed ?” The language which he uses is so perfectly simple, that any attempt at verbal explanation is altogether needless; and this part of our enquiry will be satisfactorily met, when it shall be shewn on what the Psalmist had fixed his heart, and in what way it was so fixed. Now although he has not distinctly expressed it in the text, it is scarcely possible to mistake the object of his cordial and confident regard. David appears, from the title, to have written the Psalm in the time of the hottest of those persecutions which he endured at the hand of Saul, and he describes his situation as, in so far as human help was concerned, utterly desperate. “My soul,” he says, “ is among lions; “ I lie even among them that are set on fire." “ They have prepared a net for my steps ; my soul is bowed down." These were the troubles respecting which he cries," Be merciful to me, () God, be merciful to me; for my soul trusteth in thee; yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these