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the utmost possible extent of our necessities. In truth, the benefits we do receive are only the emanations of love from him, even as the rays of light which every moment proceed from the sun: and if any possess them not, it is not owing to any want of liberality in God, but because they foolishly and wickedly bar their hearts against the admission of his gifts. Ascend then, Brethren, from the gifts to the Giver, and from the streams to the Fountain-head, and see what a fulness there is in him for all the sinners of mankind! and, from blessing your God and Saviour on account of what he has imparted to you, learn to adore and magnify him for what he is in himself, even on account of his own proper character, as “the God of salvation."] 2. His peculiar office
[“ Unto God the Lord belong the issues from death." And is this also spoken of the Lord Jesus? Hear what Jesus himself, after his ascension, said to the Apostle John: “Fear not: I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death k.” He who is the God of salvation has a perfect control over every enemy; so that none can assault us without his special permission; nor can all the powers of darkness prevail over the least or the meanest of his people. “ He openeth, and no man shutteth; and he shutteth, and no man openeth.” Satan could not assault Job, or even enter into the herd of swine, before he had obtained permission from the Lord: nor can he now prevail to injure us, either in body or in soul, any farther than our infinitely wise and gracious God sees fit to permit. Our Lord has assured us, not only, " that no weapon which is formed against us shall prosper, but that the smith himself, who forms the weapon, derives his very existence from him, and subsists alone by his power. Consequently, we have none to fear; and “ every tongue, whether of men or devils, that shall rise against us in judgment, we shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord ?.”
Contemplate, I pray you, this glorious and all-sufficient Saviour; and there will be no end to your praises, no limit to your adorations and thanksgivings.] See, Brethren, from hence,
1. What is the proper employment of a saint on earth
[The ignorant and ungodly world are mostly occupied in ruminating on their troubles, and in casting reflections upon those who are the authors of them. But how much sweeter employment have you, my Brethren! You are surveying your blessings, and almost groaning under the load with which your grateful mind is overwhelmed and oppressed : and, at the same time, you are adoring your Benefactor, and giving him the glory due unto his name. This is a sweet employment. This is worthy of a redeemed soul. O let it be your occupation day and night! and let the incessant language of your hearts be, “ Bless the Lord, O my soul ! and let all that is within me bless his holy name."]
k Rev. i. 17, 18. 1 Isai. liv. 16, 17.
2. What a preparation the Christian's services in this world are for his enjoyments in the world to come!
[What are they doing in heaven? Verily, they have no other employment than this—to recount all the mercies which they have received at God's hands; and to adore him for all the perfections of his nature, and for all the wonders of his grace. Conceive of a soul just entering into that world of bliss: hear all its acknowledgments : listen to its songs of praise: follow it through all the courts of heaven, and watch it day and night; and you will see, beyond a doubt, that grace is glory begun, and glory is grace consummated --]
THE CHARACTER OF GOD.
Ps. Ixviii. 35. The God of Israel is he that giveth strength and
power unto his people : blessed be God! THE consideration of God's power is to his enemies awful in the extreme; but to his friends it affords the richest consolation. The immediate subject of the psalm before us is the carrying up of the ark from the house of Obed-edom to Mount Zion : but the power of God in destroying his enemies, and saving his friends, is celebrated throughout in terms of exultation and triumph. In the words of our text this interesting topic is summed up in few words, and concluded with an expression of adoration, well suited to the subject.
We propose to consider,
Though at first sight this description of the Divine character does not appear very peculiar, yet, if it be attentively considered, it will be found,
1. Most glorious
[It imports, in the first place, that God does give strength and power to his people : and this is proved by all the sacred annals; yea, by daily experience. He has enabled his people of old to resist the greatest temptations a, to perform the hardest duties, to endure the heaviest afflictions, to triumph over the united assaults of earth and hella. And many can say at this day, “ As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of Hosts e.".
It intimates yet further, that none but God can give strength to his people. The mode of expression in the text strongly intimates this. What could the gods of the heathen do for their votaries? God tells them that their senseless idols could not so much as move: they must themselves be carried'. And as for human confidences, they were also vain: neither the Assyrian, nor Egyptian, nor any other power, could deliver those who trusted in them. It was the prerogative of Jehovah alone to afford his people the succours they stood in need of h.
But the full meaning of the text seems to be, that God delights in supplying his people's wants ; it is that very character in which he most glories, and by which he most wishes to be known. He is always looking out for opportunities of exercising his power on behalf of his people i; and rejoices in every occasion that their necessities afford him of making known to them his power and grace k.] 2. Most endearing
[If a person be advancing with a full tide of spiritual prosperity, how can he fail of loving the great Author of all his happiness ? Surely every exercise of divine power that he has ever experienced, must render this attribute of the Deity precious to his soul, while he beholds the dangers he has escaped, and the difficulties he has overcome.
To a person weak and drooping, this view of the Deity must be still more delightful. How must he check his unbelieving fears; and say, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Hope thou in God?!"
Above all, must this description of God be precious to the poor. They are incapable of entering into abstract views of the Divine perfections : but this representation of the Deity they are as capable of comprehending, as the most learned upon earth can be: yes; he knows both the existence, and the omnipotence, of the Deity, as much from his own inward experience, as he can possibly do from the visible creation ; because he feels himself to be a living witness of them.]
c Heb. xi. 36, 37.
a Gen. xxxix. 10–12.
b Gen. xxii. 2, 9, 10.
h Ps. lxii. 11.
In order to call forth the practical ends of this description, let us consider, II. The sentiments it should excite in us
If the concluding words of our text be understood as referring to the past, they are an expression of gratitude to God; if as relating to the future, they denote a cheerful affiance in him. We may properly take them in both these senses, and learn from them to exercise, 1. Gratitude
[While a sense of our own weakness humbles us in the dust, a view of God's power, and a recollection of the experience we have had of his kindness and all-sufficiency, should kindle in our breasts the liveliest gratitude. Who can “look to the rock whence he has been hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence he has been digged m,” and not bless the name of his God? Who can behold the manner in which others are enslaved by sin and Satan, and not adore the God that has made him free? So deeply was David impressed with the mercies he had received, that he not only called on his soul to bless God, but declared that“ all his bones should praise himn.” And the one inquiry of our hearts should be, "What shall I render to the Lord for all the benefits he hath done unto meo ? '] 2. Affiance
[The perfections of God in general may well encourage us to trust in him: but his power, together with his disposition to exercise it on our behalf, should lead us to place in him the most unbounded confidence. Difficulties should all vanish, and appear as nothing, when we reflect on him who is engaged for us. The same power that “ made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over P,” can smooth all obstructions in our way ?, and make our mountains to become a plain ?. therefore should trust all our concerns in his hands', with an assured hope that we shall never be confounded'.] INFER
1. How little ground is there for the excuses of the presumptuous !
[You are ready to vindicate your ungodly ways, by saying, “I cannot live as God requires. But is not God able, yea, m Isai. li. 1, 2. n Ps. xxxv. 9, 10. • Ps. cxvi. 12. and ciu, 1, 2. P Isai. li. 10. 9 Isai. xl. 4.
r Zech. iv. 7. Prov. xvi. 3. t Ps. cxxv. 1, 2.
and willing too, to assist you? And if you will not seek his assistance, does not the blame rest wholly with yourselves ? Know that, however you may justify yourselves now, there is a day coming when you will stand speechless before him.]
2. How little ground is there for the fears of the desponding?
[We are but too apt to faint in difficulties, and to think them insurmountable : but if we would habituate ourselves more to look at the power of God, we should proceed with confidence and courage.
“Let the weak then say, I am strong." Let them “ know in whom they have believed, that He is able to keep that which they have committed to him"."]
u 2 Tim. i. 12.
SORROWS AND SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST. Ps. Ixix. 1–4. Save me, O God! for the waters are come in
unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow
I am weary of my crying ; my throat is dried : mine eyes fail, while I wait for my God. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty. Then I restored that which I took not away.
SACRED is the retirement of a penitent, and hallowed is the sanctuary where he is pouring out his soul before God: nor could the most obdurate sinner overhear his confessions and supplications, his cries and tears, his importunate pleadings and heart-rending groans, without being filled with awe and reverence. Let us draw nigh then with holy awe to the recesses of that chamber, where, not a sinful creature like ourselves, but our incarnate God, the Saviour of the world, is pouring out his soul under a load of sins imputed to him, and of sorrows the punishment of sin“. He it is that in the psalm before us is saying, “Save me, O God! for the waters are come in unto my soul.” David, it is true, was the writer of the psalm; and in parts of it may be considered as speaking chiefly, if not entirely, of himself:
a Heb. v. 7.