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Nor should we be satisfied with approving ourselves to God in secret: we should honour him in the face of the whole world, and endeavour to prevail with all to unite with us in a duty so urgent, so reasonable, so delightful.] 2. He begs of God also to exalt and glorify himself
[Sensible that, with all his efforts, he could affect but few, he entreats God to shew forth his own glory, and, by augmented displays of it, to "exalt himself above heaven and earth." Thus to the same effect he addresses Jehovah in another psalm; “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty! with thy glory and thy majesty; and in thy majesty ride prosperously in the cause of meekness and truth and righteousness; and let thy right hand teach thee terrible things h.” In the 148th Psalm, his whole employment from beginning to end is to call on all the different creatures in heaven and earth, rational and irrational, animate and inanimate, to unite, according to their respective powers, in glorifying God.
Such then should be our prayer also: the manifestation of God's glory should be so dear to us, that we should have no wish, no thought, no desire in comparison of it.] ADDRESS
That you may attain a greater measure of David's piety,
1. Study the divine character, as illustrated in his dealings with you
[To mark the dispensations of Providence and grace is good: but it will be of little service, unless we mark the perfections of God as displayed in his dealings with us. See, for instance, how multiplied your transgressions against him have been, and how wonderful has been his forbearance in not cutting you off in your sins, and making you monuments of his indignation, like the rebellious Israelites of old, or like Ananias and Sapphira in the Apostolic age! Call to mind how ready he has been at all times to receive you to his favour; and, in answer to your prayers, to send you fresh supplies of
grace, or mercy, or peace, according to your necessities. Mark your various backslidings; and contrast with these the richness of his communications to you: and then say, “ Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy." The sense of God's excellency which you obtain from other sources will be speculative, superficial, transient; but that which you derive from his dealings with you will be deep, practical, abiding ----] h Ps. xlv. 3, 4.
i Mic. vü, 18.
2. Seek to have the dispositions of your minds suited to his dispensations towards you-
[What are the feelings which his mercy and truth should generate in your soul? Should they not be those of admiration, and love, and gratitude, and affiance? Should they not be also those of holy zeal in his service? Should they not be accompanied with a desire that the whole world should know him? Here then you see precisely what should be the state of your mind from day to day. This is piety: this is religion. Religion is not a matter of dispute, but of practice; and not of mere morals, but of spiritual feeling, similar to that which is expressed in my text, and venting itself in such language as this : “ Bless the Lord, O my soul! and all that is within me, bless his holy name: bless the Lord, O my soul; and forget not all his benefitsk.” This is your duty, shall I say? No: it is your privilege: and it is a very antepast of heaven. May God in his mercy diffuse amongst us this spirit more and more, and attune all our hearts to sing without ceasing the praises of our God!]
k Ps. ciii. 1, 2.
DXCVII. God's BANNER OVER HIS PEOPLE. Ps. lx. 4. Thou hast given a banner to them that feared thee,
that it may be displayed because of the truth. THIS psalm, in the title of it, is called “ Michtam," a golden psalm; and it well deserves the name. It was written by David after he had come to the full possession of the kingdom, which, during the reign of Saule, and during the seven years' division of the tribes under Ishbosheth", had been reduced to a very low condition: “God had shewed his people hard things, and made them to drink the wine of astonishment. But the union of all Israel under David, and the victories they had already gained over their powerful and oppressive adversaries the Philistines, were tokens of God's returning favour to them, and a pledge to them that all his promised blessings should in due season be poured out upon them. It should seem as if the more pious part of the people had been discouraged by the long continuance of this
a 1 Sim. xxxi. 7.
b 2 Sam. v.
adversity; and had begun almost to despair of ever seeing their hopes realized, respecting the extension and stability of their national power. But David tells them, that, in his advancement to the kingdom, and in their recent successes, “God had given them a banner," and had unfurled it, as it were, before their eyes, as a signal of his presence in the midst of them, and as a pledge of victory over all their enemies.
What God did for them as a pledge of temporal advancement, he has done for his people in all ages, to assure them of success in their spiritual warfare.
To illustrate this, I will shew, 1. What banners God has given us
The Church has a warfare to maintain : and, if, human prowess alone were considered, it is a warfare which would afford not the smallest prospect of success. But God has given to us a banner, 1. In the elevation of his Son
[David was an eminent type of Christ, and especially in the advancement of his kingdom: for Christ was appointed " to sit upon the throne of David for ever and ever.
Was David's elevation then a banner ? so also is that of Christ, who is now seated at the right hand of God, above all the principalities and powers whether of earth or hell. Believer, survey thy Lord. Remember him in the manger, in the garden, on the cross, and in the grave. From a view of him in those scenes thou wouldst be ready to say, There is no hope. But behold him risen, ascended, glorified, and in full possession of his kingdom: and then say, What a change awaits you after your present conflicts. His triumphs are a pledge of yours: “ because he liveth, you shall live also :” and “ as he has overcome and is set down with his Father upon his throne,” so shall you, in your victories and in your triumphs, resemble him.) 2. In the records of his word
[Behold, what " a cloud of witnesses" present themselves to your view! Read the catalogue of worthies, as recorded by God himself. Are your trials heavier than theirs e? Or is the power that was sufficient for them withheld from you? Will not faith bring Omnipotence to your support, even as it did for them? They are set before you expressly for your encouragement, that you, seeing how they have succeeded, may be stirred up“ to run your race with patience, looking unto Jesus as the author and finisher of your faith,” even as he was of theirsf. Are
c Eph. i. 19, 20.
d Luke xxii. 29, 30. Rev. üi. 21. e Heb. xi. 33–38.
you weak ? so were they. Are your enemies numerous and mighty ? so were theirs. Did they prevail through the grace of Christ? that same “grace shall be sufficient for you:" for He is the same gracious and Almighty Friend as ever: time has made no change in him : "his hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor is his ear heavy, that he cannot hear8:" as "he was mighty in them, so will he also be in you:” and “ his strength shall be perfected in your weakness,” even as it was in theirsh.] 3. In the experience of his saints
[You have found a change in your views, desires, pursuits: tell me, Whence has this change proceeded ? Must you not say, “He that hath wrought me to the self-same thing is Godi?” If you will look within, you will find that you have rather resisted the change than helped it forward.
“ Your carnal mind has been enmity against God:” and it would have been so still, if God, by the light of his word, and the influences of his Spirit, had not subdued it to himself. If, then, the heart of stone has been taken away, and a heart of flesh been given to you, that is itself“ a banner” erected in your heart, a token of God's presence, an earnest of his power, and a pledge of yet richer mercies in reserve: for, “if it have pleased him to make you of the number of his people, he will not forsake youk;" and you may “ be confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work within you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ'."]
Let us consider,
As the banner given to Israel in the time of David was to confirm their faith in his promises, and to assure them of God's faithfulness, so are the banners which God has given to us bestowed, 1. To confirm our confidence in him
[We ought to “ know in whom we have believed,” and to feel assured that he is both “able and willing to keep that which we have committed to himm” We should never forget who it is that is engaged for us. We should never forget that in God we have a wisdom that cannot be circumvented, and a power that cannot be withstood. In him, too, we have a faithfulness that is altogether inviolate and incapable of change. What, then, have we to fear? The serpent, no doubt, is subtle, and the devices of Satan are very deep; but can he elude the eye of our heavenly Protector, or by any means defeat His purpose? Our enemies too, both within and without, are mighty: but what have we to fear, who have a Protector that is Almighty? “If God be for us, who can be against us "?" Let our enemies be ever so numerous, we may safely affirm that “they who be with us, are more than they who be with them°;" and if we have no more than a lamp and a trumpet against an armed host, we shall in Jehovah's name prevail against them all P. A stone out of the brook shall suffice us to destroy our mightiest adversary; yea, his own sword shall serve us for the instrument whereby to complete our triumpho] 2. To assure us of victory over all our enemies
f Heb. xü. 1, 2.
& Isai. lix. 1.
h 2 Cor. xii. 9.
[Amongst men, a banner is only a signal to enlist them for the combat: but with God it is a pledge of victory. See how David regarded it: “In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye then to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? for, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at him that is perfect; and, if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple: the Lord's throne is in heaven":” and, whilst he is there, you need not attempt to alarm me: I know my security, and defy the efforts of all my enemies. It was this consideration that enabled Paul also to hurl defiance at his enemies, and to assure himself of victory, as much as if it had been already gained And we also, in dependence on our God, may dismiss every fear, and anticipate, as already ours, the glory and felicity that await us. ] APPLICATION
What now can I say more but this ? 1. Fear God
[You will observe, that this is the description of the persons to whom his banner was given: and for them is the same privilege reserved in every age. Let not any undervalue this grace; for, in truth, it is that which as assuredly interests us in the divine favour as love itself. Of course, it is a filial fear of which we speak: and he who possesses that, may divest himself of every other fear; “Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die, or of the son of man,
that n Rom. viii. 31. • 2 Kings vi. 16, 17. p Judg. vii. 15-22. 9 1 Sam. xvii. 49—51. r Ps. xi. 1-4. $ Rom. vii. 33-39, t 2 Cor. v. 1-4. 2 Tim. iv. 8.