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consequently, that they could do nothing against him but by His permission.
From this view of the text we are led to notice, I. Our dependence on God
God is the Governor of the universe: he appoints the stars their courses; he makes the raging elements to fulfil his will“; he imposes a restraint upon the most savage beasts, causing them to suppress or forget their instinctive ferocity, or overruling the exercise of it, for the preservation' or destruction of men', as he sees occasion. The affairs of men he more especially controls. In his hands are, 1. The occurrences of life
[There is nothing really casual or contingent in the world. It is God that disposes of us from our earliest infancy to the latest hour of our lives. “ He determines the bounds of our habitation!" If we are called to the possession of wealth, or deprived of it by any untoward circumstances, it is “the Lord who gives, and the Lord who taketh it away." If we enjoy health, or pine away in sickness, it is “ the Lord who both wounds and heals, who kills and makes aliveh." “ There is neither good nor evil in the city, but the Lord is the doer of it.” Even the falling of a hair of our head, trifling as it is, takes not place but by his appointmentk.] 2. The seasons of death
[To every man " there is an appointed time upon earth":" there are " bounds which he cannot pass "
“God holdeth our souls in lifen." and " when he taketh away our breath, we die, and return to the dusto.” Youth and health are no security against the stroke of death: the most vigorous constitutions are soon broken, when God is pleased to afflict usp: the skill of physicians, however useful when attended with his blessing, is of no availą. So numerous are the occasions of death, that no caution can possibly avoid them: “a man may flee from a lion, and a bear meet him; or he may go into a house for safety, and a serpent bite him"." When God "requires our souls,” we must surrender them at his calls.” Our days are protracted to an advanced age, if he be pleased to uphold us; if not, our course is finished as soon as ever it is commenced. It is “in God, and in God alone, that we live, and move, and have our being"]
a Ps. cxlviii. 8.
6 1 Kings xiii. 28.
c Dan. vi. 22.
But though these ideas are certainly comprehended in the text, its more immediate scope is to declare, II. Our security in God
We have already observed, that the words of the text were introduced by David as a consolatory reflection, under the cruel treatment which he had received from friends and enemies. We are therefore taught by them to assure ourselves, 1. That none can destroy us before our time
[We appear to be, yea, we really are, in the midst of many and great dangers. But however we may be encompassed with enemies, they cannot prevail against us till the Lord's time for our removal is come. David was continually exposed to the rage and jealousy of Saul, who repeatedly cast a javelin at him, and hunted him incessantly with armed hosts" like a partridge upon the mountains.” Yet though he was often in the most imminent danger", and certainly would have been betrayed by the men of Keilah”, yet God watched over him, and kept him in perfect safety. Many sought to apprehend our Lord; but “they could not lay hands on him till his hour was comey:" and even then Pilate “could have had no power against him, unless it had been given him from above?." Paul was in perils innumerable, “and in deaths ofta:" once he was stoned, and even left for dead); but none could take
his life, till he had finished the course marked out for him. Thus we also are immortal, till our work is done. We are surrounded with “chariots of fire, and horses of fire:" yea,“ God himself is a wall of fire round about usd.” And sooner shall successive bands of enemies be struck dead upon the spot by fire from heaven", than one of the Lord's little ones shall perish?"] 2. That none shall hurt us without his permission
[As we depend on God for our happiness as well as for our existence, so are both our being and our well-being secured by him. Satan could not touch the person or the property of Job, till he had obtained leave of God to do so. weapon that is formed against us, prosperh,” any further than
" Nor can any
+ Acts xvii. 28. u 1 Sam. xxiii. 26. * 1 Sam. xxiii. 11, 12. y John vü. 30. and viii. 20. Luke xüï. 33. 2 John xix. 11. a 2 Cor. xi. 23—27. b Acts xiv. 19, 20. • 2 Kings vi. 17. d Zech. ii. 5.
e 2 Kings i. 10–12. f Matt. xviii. 14. & Job i. 12. and ï. 6. h Isai. liv. 17.
our God shall see good to permit it.
“ His angels encamp round about us," and have an especial charge to " keep us in all our ways, that we dash not our foot against a stonek." “ Neither the arrow that flieth by day, nor the pestilence that walketh in darkness, can hurt us. Thousands
fall at our side, and ten thousands at our right hand; but it shall not come nigh us!." We
e are not indeed at liberty to rush needlessly into danger, from an expectation that God will deliver us; (this were to “tempt the Lord our God m;") but in the path of duty we have nothing to fear: we may “ tread upon the lion, the adder, or the dragon ";" we may drink poison itself", or suffer ourselves to be committed to the flames, without experiencing the smallest injuryP: nothing in the whole universe can " harm us, if we be followers of that which is good 9:" if God see fit to keep us, we are as safe “in a den of lions” as in a house of friends.] From this subject we may LEARN, 1. To seek God without delay
[There is no period of life when we can call one day, or one hour, our own. We are altogether “in God's hands;" and, if he withdraw his support for one moment, we perish, as certainly as a stone gravitates to the earth. Shall we then, when so entirely dependent on our God, provoke him to cast us out of his hands ? Shall we continue to despise his patience and forbearance, till he swear in his wrath that our “ time shall be no longer"?” Think, how many have lost the time afforded them, and how bitterly they now bewail their folly: and beg of God, that he would “só teach you to number your days, that you may apply your hearts unto wisdom"] 2. To serve him without fear
[We are too apt to keep back from serving God through fear of the persecutions we may endure from man. But, if our times be in God's hands, all our concerns inust be there too; and nothing can befall us but by his appointment, “Who art thou, then, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker* ?” Are we not told, that " the wrath of man shall praise him; and that the remainder of it he shall restrain u?” Be bold then for God; set your face as a flint against the whole world," and trust in him for protection. He will not indeed screen you from all trials; because it is on many accounts necessary that you should feel themy:
i Ps. xxxiv. 7. m Matt. iv. 6, 7.
k Ps. xci. 11, 12.
1 Ps. xci. 5-7.
Mark xvi. 18. r Rev. x. 6. u Ps. lxxvi. 10.
t Isai. li. 12, 13. x Isai. xlix. 7-9, y 1 Pet. i. 6.
but he will suffer none to come upon you which he will not enable you to bear, none which he will not sanctify to your eternal good 3. To trust him without carefulness
[It is foolish as well as impious to distrust God, or to murmur at any of his dispensations. In whose hands could the disposal of all events be placed so much to our advantage, as in his, who possesses infinite wisdom to devise what is best, and infinite power to effect it? Would we be made the sport of chance or fortune? Or would we have our present and everlasting concerns left wholly to our own management ? are not fit to regulate our temporal affairs till we attain the age of manhood, how much less can we ever be competent to take the reins of God's government into our own hands, and to order the affairs of his kingdom? But our times will be in God's hands, whether we acquiesce in it or not. Let us therefore contentedly leave ourselves to his all-wise disposal, assured that “ he doeth all things well,” and will make “ all things to work together for good to them that love him."]
z 1 Cor. x. 13.
DXLV. THE GOODNESS OF GOD TO HIS BELIEVING PEOPLE. Ps. xxxi. 19, 20. Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou
hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee, before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
THE salvation of the Gospel is a present salvation : the “ godliness which it inspires is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life which now is, as well as that which is to come.” It is needless to say that the trials of life are great ; and that men in every situation of life need the supports and consolations of religion to carry them through the difficulties which they have to encounter. But of the extent to which these supports and consolations are administered to God's chosen people, very little idea can be formed by those who have never experienced a communication of them to their souls. David was highly favoured in this respect. He lived in a state of near and habitual fellowship with God; spreading before him all his wants, and receiving from him such supplies of grace and peace as his daily necessities required. Hence with devout rapture he expresses his admiration of God's goodness to his believing people.
This is the subject which we propose for our present meditation; and which, in correspondence with the words of our text, we shall consider, I. In a general view
The terms by which the Lord's people are characterized sufficiently distinguish them from all others, since none but they do truly “fear God,” or unfeignedly“ put their trust in him.” They are the true Israel ; in reference to whom it is said, “ God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart."
In speaking of his goodness to them, we shall notice, 1. That which is “ laid up for them"
[In the time of David the great truths of the Gospel were but indistinctly known; the fuller manifestation of them being reserved for the Apostolic age: as St. Paul, quoting a remarkable passage from the Prophet Isaiah, says, “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him ;” and then adds, “ But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirith.” To the Jewish Church therefore these things are only laid up,” as it were, in types and prophecies: and though made known in the Gospel, they are still but imperfectly viewed by the Christian world; and may be considered
“ laid up” for the Church at this time, no less than in former ages: for it is only by slow degrees that any one attains to the knowledge of them; and whatever attainments any one may have made, he sees only “ as in a glass darkly, and knows only in part;" there being in it a length and breadth and depth and height utterly beyond the power of any finite intelligence to explore. The “riches” that are stored up for us in Christ even in this world are altogether “unsearchabled:" what then must the glories be which are “ reserved in heaven for us!” The more we contemplate the blessings which God has treasured up in the Son of his love
the more shall we exclaim with David, “ Oh how great is his goodness!”]
a Ps. lxxiii. 1.
b Isai. lxiv. 4. with 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10