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Having stated thus his own experience, David proceeds to tell us, III. What improvement we should make of it
Unspeakably encouraging is the record here given us.
We should take occasion from it, 1. To seek the Lord for ourselves
[" The godly” will make their prayer unto God; and the ungodly also should do it. If any man ever had reason to despair, David had, after having so grievously departed from his God. But he cried unto the Lord, and obtained mercy at his hands. Shall the ungodly then say, My sins are too great to be pardoned? Or shall “ the godly,” after the most horrible backslidings, sit down in despair, and say, " There is no hope?" No: the example of David absolutely forbids this --- At the same time it shews the folly of delaying repentance: for there is no peace to the soul in an impenitent state: neither here nor hereafter can we be happy in any other way than that which God has marked out for us. If penitential sorrow be painful, it never corrodes like impenitent obduracy: there is in it a melting of soul that participates of the nature of holy joy: and, if “ weeping do endure for a night, joy is sure to come in the morning.” If then we would be truly happy, let us flee to Christ as the Refuge set before us: he is “the Lord our Righteousness;" and the vilest sinner upon earth shall find his “ blood able to cleanse from all sin," and his righteousness sufficient to clothe our souls, so that the “ shame of our nakedness shall never appear.” But let us take care,] 2. To seek him whilst he may be found
[There is “a time wherein he may be found” of every one of us; and a time wherein he may not be found. This is an awful truth; but it is attested by many passages of Holy Writ: “O that thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace!" said our Lord to Jerusalem; “but now they are hid from thine eyes.” God may, and does, "give over many to a reprobate mind," and to final impenitence: “So I gave them up." But if you have the least desire of mercy, we are warranted to say, “ Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." 0 then improve the present hour: “Seek ye the Lord whilst he may be found; call ye upon him whilst he is near.” “ If you cover your sins, you cannot prosper; but if you
confess and forsake them, you shall find mercy."
have no sin, you deceive yourselves; but if you confess your sins, he is faithful and just to forgive you your sins, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness."]
“ If you say
JOY IN THE LORD INCULCATED.
Ps. xxxii. 11. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous :
and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. THERE is in this world, as there will also be in the eternal state, an inconceivable distance between the righteous and the wicked. The Psalmist tells us, that “ many sorrows shall be to the wicked :" and so we find it to be, from universal experience. For, where is there an ungodly man, who does not feel within him an aching void, which the world can never fill ?
- Whose mind is not agitated with tormenting passions, which prove a source of disquiet both to himself and to those around him ? Who feels not a consciousness of unpardoned guilt ; and a dread of that tribunal, before which he is shortly to appear?-- On the other hand, the Psalmist assures us, that “the man who trusts in the Lord is encompassed with mercy all around :” he is happy in the favour of his God, in the subjugation of his passions, in the exercise of all holy affections, and in the prospect of everlasting felicity. Hence he adds, “ Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous : and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart!”
That we may enter into the spirit of his words, I will endeavour to set before you, 1. The character here addressed
“ The righteous” are delineated in the Scriptures, sometimes by one peculiarity, and sometimes by another. The character here assigned them is peculiarly worthy of our consideration, because it is such as the most ungodly man upon earth must, in theory at least, approve. The whole world unites in applauding integrity, as exercised towards man: but here we shall be led to view it as exercised towards God. Now, “the upright” man is one, 1. Whose desire after God is supreme
[Nothing ought to stand in competition with God: we should love him with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and
strength. More especially should we pant after God as reconciled to us in Christ Jesus, “counting all things but loss for the knowledge of him," and saying, with the Psalmist, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee?' and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee --] 2. Whose affiance in him is entire-
[No man, who has not been taught of God, can conceive how difficult it is to divest ourselves of self-righteousness and self-dependence, These evils cleave more closely to us than the flesh to our bones. When we think that we are freed from them, we shall still find the workings of them in our hearts. But the truly upright person “renounces all confidence in the flesh b;” and, like the Apostle, “ desires to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, which is of the Law, but the righteousness which is of God by faith in Christ.” He considers “ all fulness as treasured up in Him” for the use of his Church and people ; and from His fulness he desires to receive all the supplies which he stands in need of, whether of “ wisdom, or righteousness, or sanctification, or redemption."] 3. Whose devotion to him is unreserved
[The upright has given up himself as a living sacrifice to Christ. He would not have any lust unmortified ; nor would he retain any thing that should stand in competition with his duty. Even life itself is regarded as of no value, in comparison of Christ, and the glory of his name
Any thing less than this is hypocrisy: but to possess this character is to be “ an Israelite indeed, and without guile."]
To these persons I will now address, II. The exhortation
To rejoice in the Lord is your high privilege. Let me, then, exhort you to rejoice in him,
1. On account of what he has already done for you
[Here I might speak of “the sorrows" from which you are delivered, and of the mercies with which you are encompassed: but I will rather confine myself to that peculiar blessing vouchsafed to you, the being made“ upright before God."
Who amongst the children of men ever attained this character by any power of his own ? No: whosoever possesses it, must say,
“ He that hath wrought me to the self-same thing, is Goda.” Consider, then, how great a blessing this is
a Phil. iii. 8. Ps. lxxüi. 25.
b Phil. ii. 3.
c Rom. xii, 1.
- In comparison of it, crowns and kingdoms would be of no value. For this gift, therefore, you should bless and adore your God with your whole hearts, yea, and shout for joy with your whole souls.]
2. On account of what he has engaged to do for you
[Would you have stability in life? He has promised it in his blessed word : “ The righteous shall hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and strongere.” Would you have peace in death? This, also, he has engaged to give : “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peacef.” Would you have glory in eternity? This, also, shall be your assured portion at the right hand of God
Is not here, then, abundant cause for joy and thanksgiving ? Verily, “ if you hold your peace, the very stones will cry out against you.”]
3. On account of his sufficiency to fulfil all his engagements
[Whom has Jesus ever suffered “ to be plucked out of his hands?" — There is in him no want of power : is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Nor is he changeable in will: for “ he is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.” “Of those whom the Father hath given him, he never has lost any,” nor ever will ---] ADDRESS,
1. To those who possess not this character, I would say, Seek to attain it
[Be not satisfied with integrity towards man, but seek to have an upright heart towards God. Let there be no hypocrisy harboured within you. See to it, that your desire after God be really supreme
that your affiance in Christ be altogether unmixed with any measure of hope or confidence in yourselves - and that your devotion to him be without reserve Cease not, till you have in your own hearts and consciences an evidence that you are thus given up to God: and then may you claim, at his hands, the blessings which he has promised to the upright in heart h—- - But deceive not your own souls. Rest not in false appearances
of any kind: but beg of God to make you altogether what he himself will approve.]
d 2 Cor. v. 5. e Job xvii. 9. f Ps. xxxvii. 37. & Ps. xv. 1, 2. and xxiv. 3–6.
h Ps. cxii. 2.
2. To those who possess this character, I would say, Live in the enjoyment of your privilege
[It is your privilege to “rejoice even with joy unspeakable and glorified.” Be not satisfied with a low and drooping state of mind. Live nigh to God: let your fellowship with him be more intimate and more abiding. It is not his will that your graces should languish, or your joys be at a low ebb. He would rather that your soul, through a sense of his presence, should be ever “shouting" for joy. See the state of the Church as drawn by the prophet Isaiah': see it as drawn by David also k: and let your present life be, as God would have it, an earnest and a foretaste of the heavenly bliss.] i Isai. xii. 446.
k Ps. xcvii. 449.
GOD'S CARE OF HIS PEOPLE. Ps. xxxiii. 18—22. Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them
that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.
IN the Psalms of David, we do not look so much for the peculiarities of the Gospel as for general views of God's providence and grace. But let them not be undervalued on that account: for the very use of evangelical truth is so to bring us into a state of reconciliation with God, that we may have a richer and more intimate enjoyment of him in all his dispensations.
The words before us declare the interest which he takes in his peculiar people: and, in unfolding them to your view, I will endeavour to shew, I. God's care for his people
The manner in which our attention is called to this subject clearly shews the vast importance of it: “ Behold !” behold the eye of the Lord is on them that fear him.”
Two things in particular we are here called to notice: and,