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of the godly; so exceeding cold are they, and unsuited to our state as redeemed sinners.
We need, therefore, the continuance of God's tender mercies to us yet daily, as much as ever we did in our carnal and unregenerate state.]
And what should we do, if God should withdraw his loving-kindness from us?
[What would our " knowledge of God” avail us, or even our own “ integrity?" Satan prevailed over our first parents, even in Paradise: how, then, could we withstand his power, if God should deliver us up into his hands? In point of knowledge and integrity, David was as eminent as any of the Scripture saints: yet you all know how he felt, when once he was left to the workings of his own heart. Hezekiah was perhaps not inferior to him: yet, when “God left him, to try him, that he might see all that was in his heart," he also fell, and brought upon himself and his posterity the sorest judgments. Who then amongst us could hope to stand, if God should withhold his loving-kindness from us, or suspend for a moment the communications of his grace?
We need, then, all of us to entreat of God to "continue his loving-kindness to us," or, as it is translated in the margin of our Bibles, to “ draw it out at length.” You all know how a rope, or line, or thread, is formed, by adding fresh materials continually, till it shall have attained its destined length. In reference to this, the prophet represents the ungodly as " drawing out iniquity as cords of vanity, and sin as a cartrope,” that is, by constant additions even to their dying hour. And precisely thus we need, that God, who has begun a good work in us, should carry it on even to the end, by drawing out, and imparting to us, such communications of his grace as our necessities require, till we have attained that measure which in his eternal counsels he has ordained, and we be fully " meet for our Master's use."]
Seeing, then, that we all need this blessing, let me
II. On what grounds all “who know God, and are
upright before him," are authorized to expect itThe petition in my text was offered under a full assurance that it should be granted: for he had scarcely uttered it before he saw, by faith, the answer given : “ There,” says he, “ are the workers of iniquity fallen; they are cast down, and shall not be
c 2 Chron. xxxii. 31.
able to stand.” And we also may expect that it shall be answered to all who offer it in faith. We may expect God's continued care, since it is assured
1. By the promises of God
[Numberless are the promises which God has made to us respecting the continuance of his love towards all whom, according to his sovereign will, he has chosen to be the objects of it. David, in another psalm, says, “ The Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance e.” And again, “ The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, upon them that fear him; and his righteousness unto children's children, to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them ?." In fact, the whole Scripture testifies that God will perfect that which concerneth his peoples; and that, having loved them, he will love them to the end. Taking, therefore, these promises, we may spread them before the Lord, in full assurance that they shall be fulfilled; and in the language of David may say to God, “ Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousnessi!”] 2. By the intercession of Christ
[St. John has said, “ If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sinsk.” Yes, were it not that the Lord Jesus Christ lives to intercede for us in heaven, it could not be but that God's displeasure must break forth against us on ten thousand occasions : but he prevails for us, as Aaron prevailed for Israel of old, through his unwearied intercessions. To this Peter was indebted, when he denied his Lord with oaths and curses. Had not our blessed Lord interceded for him, that his faith might not fail, he, in all probability, would have perished as Judas did'. In this view, a greater stress is laid on the intercession of Christ than even on his death: “ Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who died; yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right-hand of God, who also maketh intercession for usm.” And we are encouraged to believe that “ Christ is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us." Put then your cause into the Saviour's hands; and beg of him to “ pray the Father for you°,” and you cannot but succeed: “ for him the Father heareth always P."]
e Ps. xciv. 14. f Ps. ciii. 17, 18. & Ps. cxxxviii. 8. h John xiii. 1.
i Ps. cxliii. 1. k 1 John ii. 1, 2. I Luke xxi. 31, 32. m Rom. viii. 34. n Heb. vii. 25, o John xiv. 16. p John xi. 42.
3. By the honour of God himself
(God from all eternity entered into covenant with his dear Son in our behalf, engaging, that “if he should make his soul an offering for sin, he should see a seed, and should prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hands?.' This covenant our blessed Lord has fulfilled on his part, having taken our nature, and “borne our sins in his own body on the tree.” And whilst yet he was upon earth, he made this a ground of his petitions, and a ground also of his expectations, in behalf of his people: “I pray for them,says he: “ I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine: and all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world: but these are in the world ; and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. Whilst I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me have I kept; and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things speak I in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil"." Then he adds, what insures to us the completion of his desires, “ Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given mes." Now I ask, Is not here abundant ground to expect God's continued care of his people? May we not from hence “ be confident, that He who hath begun a good work in us will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ'?" Yes, surely: and therefore when David, under the influence of unbelief, had entertained a fear, “ Will the Lord cast off for ever? will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? 'Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender miercies?” he corrected himself, and with conscious shame exclaimed, “ This is my infirmityu." We may be sure that God's covenant shall stand. In the 89th Psalm it is declared, again, and again, and again, in terms the most express that can be imagined and therefore we may be assured that for his own name and honour sake “ he will keep his people by his own power through faith unto salvation":" as it was said by Samuel, “ The Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake, because it hath pleased him to make [If you
q Isai. liii. 10. r John xvii. 9-15. s John xvii. 21. t Phil. i. 6. u Ps. lxxvii. 7-9. * Ps. lxxxix. 28–37. y 1 Pet. i. 5.
you his peoplez." “ He is a God that changeth not; and therefore we neither are, nor shall be, consumed a.” We shall be living witnesses for him to all eternity, that “ his gifts and calling are without repentance b.”] APPLICATION1. Seek to answer to the character here described
“ know not God,” you can have no claim upon him: nor, “ unless you be upright in heart,” have you any reason to hope that he will ever look upon you with satisfaction. You must “ have your hearts right with God,” if ever you would be approved of God. Seek, then, to know God as reconciled to you in Christ Jesus and beg of him so to “put truth in your inward parts,” that he may acknowledge and commend you as “ Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile.")
2. Implore of God the blessing you so greatly need
[You need it, all of you, and will need it to your dying hour. It is from God that you have received all that you possess. Never would you have known him, if he had not opened the eyes of your understanding, and revealed himself to you. And never would your heart have been upright before him, if he, of his own sovereign grace, had not "
given you a new heart, and renewed a right spirit within you. It is to Him, then, you must look to carry on the work within you. “No hands but His, who laid the foundation of his spiritual temple within you, can ever finish itd.” “ He alone who has been the author of your faith, can ever complete it."]
3. Whilst you seek this blessing for yourselves, implore it earnestly for others also
[So did David, under all his trials; and so should you. It is our privilege and our duty to intercede one for another; parents for their children, and children for their parents ; ministers for their people, and people for their ministers. And, O! what happiness should we enjoy in our respective families, and in the Church of God, if we were all partakers of these blessings! It is said, in the very words before my text, “ With thee is the fountain of life ; and in Thy light shall we see light:” and no doubt, in proportion as the blessings of salvation flow down into our souls, we shall be blessed in ourselves, and blessings to all around us.]
z 1 Sam. xii. 22. a Mal. iii. 6.
Compare Gal. iv. 9. with Phil. iii. 12. e Heb. xii. 2.
b Rom. xi. 29. d Zech. iv. 9.
CONFIDENCE IN GOD RECOMMENDED. Ps. xxxvii. 3—6. Trust in the Lord, and do good: so shalt
thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord : and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass : and he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day.
IT might be supposed that God, the righteous Governor of the universe, would in this world distinguish his people from his enemies by his visible dispensations towards them: but he does not: he suffers “ all things to come alike to all; so that none can discern either love or hatred by all that is before them.” This is often a stumbling-block to the righteous, who are apt to be discouraged, when they see the prosperity of the wicked, and are themselves suffering all manner of adversity. David was at one time greatly dejected, or rather, I should say, offended, at this very thing; and was led to imagine that he had served God for nought". To guard us against such mistaken views of providence, and against the feelings which they are wont to excite in the breast, he wrote this psalm. That we may not repine at the success of evil-doers, he teaches us to consider, how short their triumph is, and how awful will be their end. He then, in the words of our text, instructs us, I. What we are to do for God
It is here taken for granted that we have many difficulties to contend with. But instead of being discouraged by them, our duty to God is, 1. To go on steadily in his service
[" Trust thou in the Lord, and do good.” It should be an established principle in our hearts, that duty is ours, and events are God's; and that we should attend to our own concerns, and leave God to his. Now beyond all doubt our great concern is, to prosecute and “ finish the work which God has a Eccl. ix. 1, 2.
b Ps. lxxii. 1-14.