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shall be as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker u?" Beloved Brethren, "sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself in your hearts, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread*."] 2. Trust in God
[Excellent was that resolution of the Psalmist, “In the name of our God we will set up our banners y." It is not possible for our confidence to be too strong, provided only it be humble. There are, I confess, two different kinds of confidence, which yet I consider as dangerous in the extreme: one of them is founded upon systematic notions of divine truth, without any mixture of holy fear; and the other arises from some dream or vision, or enthusiastic conceit, about the word coming to their mind in a peculiar way. Against both of these I would guard you with all my might. The only confidence that is pleasing to God is that which is softened with fear, and tempered with contrition. Let that be in exercise to the utmost possible extent, and then you may adopt the entire language of this psalm: "I will rejoice; I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver: Moab is my wash-pot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.” The plain import of all which is concentrated in the concluding verse, “ Through God I shall do valiantly: for He it is that shall tread down my enemies." Only trust in God; and then, in every place where you go, you may behold an altar with this inscription : “ Jehovah-Nissi, The Lord is my banner?." Yea, the very graces which you exercise shall be in you a pledge, that God will fulfil and perfect in you the good work he has begun.] u Isai. li. 12, 13.
x Isai. viii. 12, 13. y Ps. xx. 5.
z Exod. xvii. 15.
ADVICE TO THE AFFLICTED.
Ps. lxi. 2. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee,
when my heart is overwhelmed : lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
IN whatever situation we be, we shall find both consolation in the promises, and direction in the examples, that are recorded for our use in the Sacred Writings. But in seasons of affliction principally, will the holy Oracles be found precious, because they
exhibit to us God's dearest children in similar circumstances, and point out to us the means, which they, in their troubles, found effectual for their relief.
In recommending the example of David, we shall, I. Mention some seasons wherein our hearts are apt
to be overwhelmed This is a vale of tears to all : but to some more especially, 1. From temporal calamities—
[Bodily pains, loss of friends, embarrassed circumstances, will weigh down the spirits even of the best. And though, at times, religion will enable them to triumph in the midst of all their tribulations, yet its more common operation is, to moderate their grief, to produce resignation in their souls, and to sanctify the affliction to their spiritual advancement.] 2. From spiritual troubles
[The first convictions of penitents are often accompanied with the deepest anguish ; insomuch that, if God did not support them by a hope of his mercy, they might, like Judas, destroy themselves in utter despair. Their subsequent views also of their indwelling corruptions are frequently attended with such dejection, as quite to enervate the body and overwhelin the soul. If to these be added the hidings of God's face, the
have a foretaste even of hell itself in the miseries that it endures. ] 3. From the near prospect of death
[To a person enjoying the divine presence, death has no terrorsd: it is a welcome messenger, that cannot come too
But to one in spiritual darkness and desertion, it is inexpressibly dreadful; and the whole world would appear but a small price to pay for the respite of a few days. The ungodly, it is true, too often die as insensible as the beasts : but the godly, who know the terrors of the Lord, cannot pass through that dreary valley without extreme horror, unless they have an inward witness of their acceptance with Godo]
The example in the text may serve as a model, while we endeavour to, II. Shew how we should conduct ourselves in those
a 2 Sam. xviii. 33. b Isai. xxxv. 3, 4. Rom. vii. 24. c Ps. lxxvii. 249. N. B. " overwhelmed." d Phil. i. 21, 23. e Ps. lv. 4, 5. and perhaps Isai. xxxviii. 10–14.
1. To speak generally, we should betake ourselves to prayer
[God is the only source of strength and consolation. If we apply to the creature in our distress, we shall invariably find him but a broken reedOn the contrary, the pressure that is on our minds will, for the most part, increase: or, if the trouble be removed, the removal will prove a heavier judgment than its continuance. But if we apply with humility to a throne of grace, the desired effect will almost instantly appears. There is no trouble from which prayer has not extricated the sons of men: it prolonged the life of Hezekiah"; brought Jonah from the bottom of the sea'; and restored to peace the tempest-tossed soul of Davidk. For us also, if it be fervent, it shall effectually prevaill: there is no disquietude which it shall not pacify,
no sorrow which it shall not turn into songs of joy m.” Wherever we are therefore, even “at the very ends of the earth,” and however circumstanced, we should make our requests known unto God, in order to the attainment of solid peace"]
2. More particularly, we should beg of God to lead us to the Saviour
[David, though a king, had no sufficiency in himself: he was forced to look to one higher than himself, even to Jesus, the Rock of his salvation'. But how should he come to Jesus, unless the Father should draw himp? Hence he prayed so fervently, that God would “ lead" him to that Rock. Thither then must we also go; for there alone can we find stability. Does guilt appal us? nothing but the blood of Jesus can compose our minds 9. Do temptations harass us? nothing but his grace can enable
to withstand them". Do accumulated troubles threaten to overwhelm us? we can both do and suffer all things, if he strengthen us; yea, we shall be more than conquerors through him that loved us® Like a shipwrecked mariner standing on a rock, we may defy the waves that roar beneath our feet. Such was the experience of David himselft; and such shall be ours also, if the storms that threaten us drive us for security to that place of safety. Let us then, in every affliction, look to Jesus as our help; and, with a deep impression of our inability to go to him aright, let us cry unto God, “ Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I !"]
f Hos. v. 14. Isai. xxxi. 3.
m Ps. 1. 15.
s Rom. viii. 37. t Ps. xl. 1-3. N. B. “the rock."
& Isai. lxv. 24.
1. Those who experience no overwhelming troubles
[However serene the sky at present be, no man knows how soon a storm may arise. But supposing our voyage through life be ever so favourable, it must come to an end : and what shall we do in the hour of death without an interest in Christ? Above all, what must become of us, if we be not fixed upon that Rock at the day of judgment? Let us then improve our tranquil hours in securing an establishment on Christ Jesus; that, however suddenly calamities may come, or death may summon us into the presence of our God, we may be found standing immovably on the Rock of ages. Then, like Noah, shall we rejoice in God's favour, when thoughtless myriads shall be overwhelmed in the deluge of his wrath.] 2. Those who are bowed down under trouble
[You are but too apt to carry your complaints to men, instead of spreading them before God. What wonder then you find no deliverance? Has not David told you, that this was his very experience; and that nothing but the use of this remedy afforded him relief u? Chide then, and resist, your backwardness to prayer. Lay the blame, not on God, who is willing to impart help, but on yourselves, who are unwilling to implore it. Your troubles are sent on purpose to drive you to the Saviour, whom, in a time of prosperity, you are too prone to neglect: and if you suffer them to produce that effect, you shall soon number them amongst your richest blessings.]
u Ps. xxxii. 3-5.
GOD OUR ONLY AND ALL-SUFFICIENT HELP. Ps. Ixii. 5-8. My soul, wait thou only upon God : for my ex
pectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
THERE is scarcely any thing that more offends the ignorant and ungodly, than a profession of maintaining fellowship with Jehovah, and of receiving from him certain communications which are unknown to the world at large. Such pretensions are considered by them as the offspring of spiritual pride
and incurable presumption. But it will scarcely be supposed that the Gospel has reduced us to a lower state than was enjoyed under the law, or deprived us of privileges that were possessed under that less perfect dispensation : yet behold, with what intimate access to God the Psalmist was favoured, and what communion with him he teaches every contrite sinner to expect! It is worthy of observation, that in this psalm there is not one single petition, or thanksgiving: the whole of it is occupied in stating what comfort he found in God, and in encouraging others to expect the same. Especially in the words which we have just read, we see, I. His happy experience
Great and manifold were David's trials, from his earliest youth even to his dying hour. But “ in all he encouraged himself in the Lord his God :" He waited upon God as his all-sufficient help
[The psalm begins with affirming this: and, in our text, he encourages his soul to persevere in this blessed course : “My soul, wait thou only upon God.” As for men, he found that they could not be relied upon: both rich and poor were alike but a broken reed, " a lie and vanity." Nor could power or wealth afford any better ground of confidenceb. God alone has the power requisite for supplying the wants of his creaturese; and therefore " from God alone was all his expectation 4" To him he looked in all his troubles, whether of a temporal or spiritual nature. When persecuted by Saul, he fled to his invisible Protector, and took refuge under the shadow of Jehovah's wings
- In like manner, when assaulted by Satan, his great spiritual adversary," he gat him to his Lord right humbly," and sought in him that salvation which He alone can giveUnder all circumstances he considered God as able, willing, yea and pledged too, to deliver him: and to him he ran, as to a strong tower, in which he found unfailing security. As to the time and manner of his deliverance, he left that entirely to God.]
He found in God all that his diversified necessities required
[He was never disappointed of his hope. The many miraculous escapes which he experienced, testify that God was ever nigh at hand to help him and the peace and stability which he obtained in his soul after his most grievous fall,
b ver. 10.
C ver. 11.
d ver. 5.
a ver. 9. YOL, Y.